Monday, February 13, 2017

Another Rejection

The Trump administration is preparing a sweeping executive order that would clear the way for the C.I.A. to reopen overseas “black site” prisons, like those where it detained and tortured terrorism suspects before former President Barack Obama shut them down.

President Trump’s three-page draft order, titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants” and obtained by The New York Times, would also undo many of the other restrictions on handling detainees that Mr. Obama put in place in response to policies of the George W. Bush administration.

If Mr. Trump signs the draft order, he would also revoke Mr. Obama’s directive to give the International Committee of the Red Cross access to all detainees in American custody.

[C]areer military and intelligence officials rejected a draft executive order that would have resurrected the torture regime that existed immediately after 9/11, reflecting campaign promises by President Trump to bring waterboarding (and “much worse”) back into America’s interrogation arsenal.


The order directed Defense Secretary James Mattis to keep Guantanamo Bay open and use it not just for existing detainees but new ones, too. Trump’s order also directed the military to review its interrogation manual to determine whether it needed more enhanced interrogation tools. And, most notably, the order asked the CIA to consider restarting its “black sites” program for retention, detention, and interrogation of terror suspects, which was shut down by President Bush in late 2006.


Career professionals in the Defense Department, the CIA, and elsewhere don’t want torture because it doesn’t work, corrodes their integrity, makes it harder to work with allies, and carries enormous risk for strategic blowback. The value of human intelligence has also diminished in relative terms as other American intelligence tools have improved, so there is less incentive for intelligence agencies to want torture in their kits.


In response, the Trump White House developed a more milquetoast order, keeping Guantanamo’s prison open but jettisoning plans to revive the CIA’s torture program and the military’s more aggressive interrogations, too.


In the past, America’s torture regime made it very difficult for our allies and partners to work with us or share intelligence with us. The career professionals in Defense, CIA and other agencies know this better than President Trump. They understand all too well that foreign are far more likely to work with the U.S. without the antagonism of torture in the mix. Two recent high-profile cases illustrate this—with cooperation flowing from Turkey, Jordan, and Italy precisely because the U.S. provided assurances it would not use Guantanamo for certain detainees, let alone enhanced interrogation, let alone torture.


Implicit in the statements on torture by then-Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. James Mattis in the counterinsurgency manual they co-authored is a sense that torture degrades the honor of those who practice it. Discipline and integrity are paramount to being effective in war, or clandestine operations in the shadow of war. Mattis, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, and Sen. John McCain understand this better than the president and do not want an executive order that undermines the ethics of their forces or agencies.

No Muslim ban, no torture, and most probably no wall. Sorry, Trumpers.
[T]he deep state is our best hope for putting the Trump administration on a better path.
Whoa. Whoa. You had me until that shit. If the deep state is our best hope for anything, we are totally lost.  I am not going to be rooting for the deep state under any circumstances.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

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