Saturday, January 24, 2009

Article Of The Week

A former Air Force counterintelligence agent who later volunteered to go to Iraq to work as a senior investigator wrote under the pseudonym "Matthew Alexander" an article entitled "I'm Still Tortured by What I saw in Iraq" for washington post.com in November.

When "Alexander" arrived in the Gulf in 2006, he found Army investigators were "nominally using the methods outlined in the U.S. Army Field Manual (but) were pushing in every way possible to bend the rules- and often break them." He said that he "refused to participate in such practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead," which emphasized "building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information." Though the methods have been listed in the Field Manual, the team applied them in "unique" ways by getting to know the enemies, negotiating with them, and adapting criminal investigative techniques, ultimately resulting in the capture of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.

"Alexander" argues that "torture and abuse" are "inconsistent with American principles" and "cost American lives." He writes "I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo."

Maybe we need to remember that when we hear conservatives blather on about how George W. Bush allegedly kept us safe for eight years (or at least seven years and four months). Or about how President Bush supposedly dedicated himself to the "war on terror." Or how we needed to attack Iraq because of 9/11. Or how President Obama is, as Sean Hannity is claiming, disgraceful because he used the phrase "ongoing war against violence and terrorism" rather than "war on terrorism."

"Alexander" credits General Petraeus with helping "boost the so-called Anbar Awakening, in which tens of thousands of Sunnis turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq and signed up with U.S. forces, cutting violence in the country dramatically." Nonetheless, the argument advanced by "Alexander" is yet more evidence that the decision by the Bush Administration to invade Iraq damaged the effort to combat terrorism that supporters of the ex-President unashamedly cite as possibly his greatest accomplishment.

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