President Bush admitted over the weekend that he not only was informed of enhanced interrogation techniques for terrorist suspects like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but he also approved them. He thought they were necessary then and still are, though he fell short of actually calling these tactics “torture.” Deciding what constitutes torture has been a fairly frustrating game of legal semantics, until now.
In an interview with Bob Woodward out in the WaPo today, Susan Crawford, a Bush administration official who has been overseeing Gitmo practices and military commissions, used the word torture regarding the treatment of Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi national detained for allegedly planning to participate in 9/11. Crawford said:
“The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for. And coercive. Clearly coercive. It was that medical impact that pushed me over the edge” to call it torture, she said.
Now, I know Obama wants to move forward when he takes office, but how can our government not prosecute members of the Bush admin for war crimes now that it’s clear they were committed? As Jonathan Turley suggested, wouldn’t failure to do so make the new administration complicit?