Michigan’s Senator Carl Levin is the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He recently stated that his committee released its report on its investigation into the treatment of detainees in US custody earlier this week. The report, which was approved by the Committee on November 20, 2008, has been under review for declassification by the Department of Defense. The Committee’s report represents a condemnation of both the Bush administration’s interrogation policies and of senior administration officials who attempted to shift the blame for abuse, which occurred at places such as Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and in Afghanistan, to low ranking soldiers. Claims, such as the one made by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz that detainee abuses could be chalked up to the unauthorized acts of a “few bad apples,” were simply false. The report continues that, early on, it was senior civilian leaders who set the tone. In September 2001, Vice President Cheney suggested that the US turn to the “dark side” in our response to 9/11. Not long after that, after White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales called parts of the Geneva Conventions “quaint,” President Bush determined that provisions of the Geneva Conventions did not apply to certain detainees. Other senior officials followed the President and Vice President’s lead, authorizing policies that included harsh and abusive interrogation techniques.br /br /While I didn’t know the facts presented in Levin’s report, they are not shocking to me. I expect our national government will do what they need to do to protect the nation. I know that the Geneva Convention only applies to countries that have signed it and the terrorists don’t belong to nations that have signed it—neither do they adhere to the Convention’s rules. I also know that telling the enemy what you will do and how and when you will do it to captured combatants is not smart. I don’t defend the Bush Administration’s actions, because I’m not sure why they made the decisions that they did. I do know that the efforts of Levin’s committee are giving great aid and comfort to those who hate us. While the Obama Administration has deleted the term “Global War on Terror,” we’re still at war; we should be focused on winning it.
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