In a fascinating interview with Scott Horton, investigative journalist Jane Mayer talks about her new book, The Dark Side, which chronicles the Bush administration's dealings with torture, and offers some incredible (and depressing) insight into her superb reporting over the past few years.
The reaction of top Bush Administration officials to the ICRC report, from what I can gather, has been defensive and dismissive. They reject the ICRC’s legal analysis as incorrect. Yet my reporting shows that inside the White House there has been growing fear of criminal prosecution, particularly after the Supreme Court ruled in the Hamdan case that the Geneva Conventions applied to the treatment of the detainees. This nervousness resulted in the successful effort to add retroactive immunity to the Military Commission Act. Cheney personally spearheaded this effort. Fear of the consequences of exposure also weighed heavily in discussions about whether to shut the CIA program down. In White House meetings, Cheney warned that if they transferred the CIA’s prisoners to Guantanamo, “people will want to know where they have been—and what we’ve been doing with them.” Alberto Gonzales, a source said, “scared” everyone about the possibility of war crimes prosecutions. It was on their minds.
I strongly suggest you read the entire interview, but this paragraph really stuck with me:
The sadistic treatment of Abu Zubayda also seems to have affected him psychologically in bizarre ways. Two sources said that he became sexually obsessive, masturbating so much his captors feared he would injure himself. One described him as acting “like a monkey at the zoo.” A physician was called in for consultation—one of many instances in which health professionals have played truly disturbing roles in this program. (I personally feel that the medical and psychological professionals who have used their skills to further a program designed to cause pain and suffering should be a high priority in terms of accountability. It has long been a ghastly aspect of torture, worldwide, that doctors and other medical professionals often assist. The licensing boards and professional societies are worthless, in my view, if they don’t demand serious investigations of such unethical uses of science.)
Mayer also says that although Bush officials feared prosecution and frantically sought protection via legislation like the atrocious Military Commissions Act, lawsuit are not likely because many of those in Congress who would spearhead such legal actions are themselves compromised:
An additional complicating factor is that key members of Congress sanctioned this program, so many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised. [...] My guess is that the real accountability for President Bush will be in the history books, not the court room.
Glenn Greenwald pounces and tears apart the Democrats for their complicity in Bush's torture regime/war crimes.