What Cheney Fears

From Holden:

Dick is afraid you will read the New Yorker

Two years ago, at Abu Ghraib prison, outside Baghdad, an Iraqi prisoner in [CIA officer Mark] Swanner’s custody, Manadel al-Jamadi, died during an interrogation. His head had been covered with a plastic bag, and he was shackled in a crucifixion-like pose that inhibited his ability to breathe; according to forensic pathologists who have examined the case, he asphyxiated. In a subsequent internal investigation, United States government authorities classified Jamadi’s death as a “homicide,” meaning that it resulted from unnatural causes. Swanner has not been charged with a crime and continues to work for the agency.

[snip]

After being removed from his house, Jamadi was manhandled by several of the SEALs, who gave him a black eye and a cut on his face; he was then transferred to C.I.A. custody, for interrogation at Abu Ghraib. According to witnesses, Jamadi was walking and speaking when he arrived at the prison. He was taken to a shower room for interrogation. Some forty-five minutes later, he was dead.

For most of the time that Jamadi was being interrogated at Abu Ghraib, there were only two people in the room with him. One was an Arabic-speaking translator for the C.I.A. working on a private contract, who has been identified in military-court papers only as “Clint C.” He was given immunity against criminal prosecution in exchange for his coperation. The other person was Mark Swanner.

[snip]

The C.I.A. has reportedly been implicated in at least four deaths of detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq, including that of Jamadi, and has referred eight potentially criminal cases involving abuse and misconduct to the Justice Department. In March, Goss, the C.I.A.’s director, testified before Congress that “we don’t do torture,” and the agency’s press office issued a release stating, “All approved interrogation techniques, both past and present, are lawful and do not constitute torture. . . . C.I.A. policies on interrogation have always followed legal guidance from the Department of Justice. If an individual violates the policy, then he or she will be held accountable.”

Yet the government has brought charges against only one person affiliated with the agency: David Passaro, a low-level contract employee, not a full-fledged C.I.A. officer. In 2003, Passaro, while interrogating an Afghan prisoner, allegedly beat him with a flashlight so severely that he eventually died from his injuries. In two other incidents of prisoner abuse, the Times reported last month, charges probably will not be brought against C.I.A. personnel: the 2003 case of an Iraqi prisoner who was forced head first into a sleeping bag, then beaten; and the 2002 abuse of an Afghan prisoner who froze to death after being stripped and chained to the floor of a concrete cell. (The C.I.A. supervisor involved in the latter case was subsequently promoted.)