McChrystal On Torture And Abuse Under His Command


“I do not and have not condone the mistreatment of detainees and I never will.” McChrystal said he investigated every abuse allegation. But the interrogation structure was inadequate for his task forces. “We stayed within all the established and authorized guidelines, they were there when I took command,” McChrystal says. He says “constant improvement” turned something “acceptable and legal” into something “I could be more proud of” as time wore on. Concedes that he initially was informed by Rumsfeld’s memorandum authorizing “stress positions, use of dogs and nudity” and said that “some of [those techniques] were used.” He said he was uncomfortable with those authorized techniques and worked to reduce their usage.

I take this to mean that McChrystal did indeed preside over torture and abuse but, like so many others in the Pentagon, refuses to take command responsibility for it.

What he's saying, it seems to me, is that he was operating under Bush-Cheney rules, i.e. torture and abuse of prisoners was permitted and widespread but that authorization was above his paygrade. That does not account for the loss of critical evidence in the investigations into those under his command.

This is his bottom line:

“We must at all times obligation treat detainees humanely … military necessity does not permit us” to deviate from those obligations.

This is a not very subtle disavowal of the 2001 Bush directive that allowed Geneva protections to be suspended in a massive loop-hole called "military necessity." What we have to weigh now is whether having someone so deeply involved in torture and abuse to command Afghan forces under a pledge to refrain from such stupid barbarism in future. Maybe that is the best way to prove that we can win without becoming like the enemy. And maybe it isn't.