One problem in the world of big and growing scandals is that as allegations and revelations spill out, it’s hard to keep track of which facts are actually in dispute. On one hand, this makes it easy for the people with grudges to make outrageous claims, but on the other side, it makes it possible for the people accused of wrongdoing or their supporters to argue against the most bogus claims and then pretend like their arguments dismiss the scandal altogether. We’re seeing a lot of that in the torture scandal. But, here are a few things that nobody disputes at this point, and which makes it perfectly clear that the responsibility for the scandal falls on the Pentagon, not on the prison guards or even their superiors:
- Torture is part of the interrogation process at Guantanamo.
- The Pentagon sent the guy who set up the torture program at Guantanamo to Iraq to make recommendations on how they could extract more information from prisoners they had captured.
- He ordered that the guards at the prison be placed under the authority of the interrogators, and that the purpose of the guards was to set the conditions for successful interrogation.
- The guards at Abu Ghraib started torturing the prisoners.
Even if nothing else that is being reported is true (highly unlikely), the facts as listed above are not in dispute. Given those facts, I don’t see how the civlian leadership at the Pentagon isn’t on the hook.