Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Given George W. Bush's essential nature, it's no surprise to see these two stories together in The Washington Post.

Story #1:

The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a "life-threatening condition."

"We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani," said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. "His treatment met the legal definition of torture. And that's why I did not refer the case" for prosecution....

Story #2:

A former military prosecutor said in a declaration filed in federal court yesterday that the system of handling evidence against detainees at Guantanamo Bay is so chaotic that it is impossible to prepare a fair and successful prosecution.

Darrel Vandeveld, a former lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, ... said the evidence was scattered throughout databases, in desk drawers, in vaguely labeled containers or "simply piled on the tops of desks" of departed prosecutors.

"I further discovered that most physical evidence that had been collected had either disappeared" or had been stored in unknown locations, he said....

That combination is the sign of the Bush gene: no qualms about inflicting pain on the subordinated ... and no interest whatsoever in maintaining basic levels of competence. You'd think you might get one without the other, but no -- in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in New Orleans, in the rejiggering of the economy to favor the wealthy, we saw comfort with inflicting pain combined with a complete lack of interest in doing work properly.

Yeah, I know -- the Bushies felt exempt from normal standards of accountability and didn't think they'd ever have to show their work. But doesn't the Mafia, or a typical large urban drug operation, run the bureaucracy with more attention to detail, just out of pure self-interest?

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