We now know that in the very first weeks of the Terror
War, White House legal lackeys began concocting weasel-worded
“findings” to justify a range of Torquemadaean techniques while
shielding Bush honchos from prosecution for the clear breaches of
American and international law they were already planning. Bush and his
top officials signed off on very specific torture parameters, including
savage physical assault and psychological torment; even beating a
captive to death was countenanced, as long the killer proclaimed that
he had no murder in his heart when he commenced to whupping, the New
York Review reports. Indeed, the lackeys went so far as to establish a
new principle of Executive Transcendence: the president, they claimed,
could not be constrained by any law whatsoever in his conduct of the
Terror War.

Fishback saw the fruits of this vile labor in the vast Bushist holding
pens in Iraq, where thousands upon thousands of Iraqis were herded,
beaten, and tortured – even though 70 to 90 percent of them were
innocent of any crime, the International Red Cross reported in 2004.
The incidents he and the other soldiers detailed took place before,
during – and after – the photographic revelations of torture at Abu
Ghraib. The mayhem “happened every day,” said the soldiers – and was
committed “under orders from military intelligence personnel to soften
up detainees.”

“They wanted intel,” said a sergeant, one of the ordinary, untrained
grunts pressed into duty as interrogation muscle. “As long as no
[captives] came up dead, it happened. We kept it to broken arms and
legs” – sometimes with baseball bats, and occasionally augmented by
scalding naked prisoners with burning chemicals. The soldiers learned
their “stress techniques” from CIA interrogators, dropping into Iraq
from their “unleashed” torture centers in Afghanistan, Diego Garcia and
points unknown.

But of course they didn’t always “keep it” to broken arms and legs.
Fishback, who had been trying desperately to get his superiors to act
on the atrocities he’d witnessed himself, discovered that a captive had
been “interrogated” to death. From that point on, while still urging
official action, he also began gathering evidence and testimony from
fellow officers about the nightmarish regimen, the Los Angeles Times
reports. When at long last he began to realize “that the Army is
deliberately misleading the American people about detainee treatment
within our custody,” he stepped out of the system – and into the storm.

What will come of the good captain’s moral courage? Nothing much. A
Pentagon investigation has been belatedly launched; no doubt a few more
bad eggs will be fried, just as the hapless Lynndie England, poster
girl for Abu Ghraib, was convicted this week for “aberrations” that, as
Fishback confirms, were countenanced and encouraged throughout Iraq.
Fishback himself will be certainly slimed in one of Karl Rove’s
patented smear campaigns. By next week, the upright, Bible-believing
West Point grad – a veteran of both the Afghan and Iraqi wars – will be
transformed by Fox News and the war-porn bloggers into a cowardly,
anti-American terrorist sympathizer under the hypnotic control of
Michael Moore.

Meanwhile, one of the Republican senators Fishback approached – Senate
Majority Leader Bill Frist – has already put the kibosh on legislation
setting clear legal guidelines for prisoner treatment. Frist, a goonish
errand boy now under investigation for insider trading, killed the bill
after hearing Fishback’s evidence. His White House masters don’t want
any legal clarity for their dark deeds; they can only thrive in the
murk of moral chaos.

One thing is certain: the true architects of these atrocities will
never face justice. They’ll go on to peaceful, prosperous retirements,
heedless of the broken bodies and broken nations – including their own
– left behind in their foul wake.

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