More on Guantanamo

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Andrew Sullivan’s post on the new Guantanamo report is much recommended, especially this point:

One great merit of the Schmidt report – which is otherwise riddled with worrying euphemisms, dismissal of troubling facts, exoneration of almost all commanders – is that we now know that almost every one of the Abu Ghraib techniques was practised and innovated at Guantanamo. These were not improvised out of nowhere. They were what the report calls “the creative application of authorized interrogation techniques,” and the interrogators “believed they were acting within existing guidance.”

Very true. The “aggressive” interrogation techniques used at Guantanamo may not have amounted to torture, if you really want to parse the word carefully. (Although they were neither “humane” nor legal.) But they certainly set the stage for abuses in Abu Ghraib that did amount to torture. Pretending that the government can set “aggressive” policy and then exonerate itself when that policy horribly spins out of control is, to say the least, disingenuous. Sullivan also offers evidence of whitewash in the report. It’s hard to make a call on this one way or the other—what happened in those interrogation rooms will likely always remain a mystery—which is precisely why transparent democratic processes are so valued for being, well, transparent. Just to add to Sullivan’s list, though, let’s not forget this old story:

The U.S. military staged the interrogations of terrorism suspects for members of Congress and other officials visiting the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to make it appear the government was obtaining valuable intelligence, a former Army translator who worked there claims in a new book scheduled for release Monday.

Meanwhile, Marty Lederman has more on the report, highlighting some of the “flagrant disregard for the rule of law” problems discussed below.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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