Sunday, February 19, 2006

Alberto J. Mora was the general counsel of the U.S. Navy and a Reagan conservative. When he was informed of interrogation practices at Guantanomo by the head of the Naval Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS), David Brant, he objected.

Two years before the Abu Ghraib scandal, the general counsel of the U.S. Navy wrote a memo which tried to halt the "disastrous and unlawful policy of authorizing cruelty toward terror suspects,"

I was under the opinion that the interrogation activities described would be unlawful and unworthy of the military services.” Mora told me, “I was appalled by the whole thing. It was clearly abusive, and it was clearly contrary to everything we were ever taught about American values.”

The Constitution recognizes that man has an inherent right, not bestowed by the state or laws, to personal dignity, including the right to be free of cruelty. It applies to all human beings, not just in America—even those designated as ‘unlawful enemy combatants.’ If you make this exception, the whole Constitution crumbles. It’s a transformative issue.”

From his memo obtained by the New Yorker:

In a late afternoon meeting, NCIS Director David Brant informed me that the NCIS agents attached to JTF-160, the criminal investigation task force in Guantanamo, Cuba had learned that some detainees confined in Guatanamo were being subjected to physical abuse and degrading treatment. This treatment--which the NCIS agents had not participated in or witnessed--was allegedly being inflicted by personell attached to JTF-170, the intelligence task force, and was rumored to have been authorized, at least in part, at a "high level" in Washington, although NCIS has not seen the text of this authority. The NCIS agents at Guantanomo and civilian and military personell from other services were upset at this treatment and regarded such treatment as unlawful and in violation of American values. Director Brant emphasized that NCIS would not engage in abusive treatment even if ordered to and did not wish to be even indirectly associated with a facility that engaged in such practices.


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