The Daily Dish: [T]he administration originally seized far, far more detainees than it could prove guilty (or ever tried to prove guilty) and has released thousands falsely imprisoned. Of the thousands seized... many were abused and tortured, with over a hundred deaths occurring during interrogation, two score of whom the administration has itself conceded were murder-by-interrogation. All this occurred after the president decided his actions as commander-in-chief could not be constrained by the law, after he had waived the baseline Geneva Convention protections for prisoners in wartime - in violation of the policy of every previous president of the United States from Washington on - and after critical memos were signed allowing American interrogators to do anything to prisoners short of death or loss of a major organ.
Larry Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff explains what this means in terms any morally responsible person would understand:
As I compiled my dossier for Secretary Powell, as I did further research, and as my views grew firmer and firmer, I needed frequently to reread that memo. I needed to balance, in my own mind, the overwhelming evidence that my own government had sanctioned abuse and torture which, at its worst, had led to the murder of 25 detainees in a total of at least a 100 detainee deaths. Death, Mr. Chairman, seems to me to be the ultimate torture, indisputable and final. We had murdered 25 or more people in detention; that was the clear low point of the evidence.
And all this was done not in the chaos of a battlefield or even by rogue units or POW camps. It was not done in a war with anything like as many soldiers and battles as World War II. It was done in a closely managed war by a professional military and intelligence service in every theater of combat as a concerted policy... authorized directly in the chain of command by the president, who knowingly broke the law and hired lawyers to tell him he hadn't. No clever argumentation that "only" 270 prisoners remain at Gitmo can gainsay that.... Now, you could argue that the administration, after initial understandable over-reach, has tried to set things right. But you would be wrong....
[I]t may be true that the administration would, in an ideal world, have preferred that every person they seized was actually guilty; and that every person they tortured gave up accurate information. Police states would love it if this were true as well. But the point is that this cannot happen and has never happened in the real world - and recognizing this fact is a core principle of Western civilization. If you suspend the Geneva Conventions, give the green light to anything that will get intelligence, round up thousands all over the globe with reckless disregard for guilt or innocence, you are effectively and knowingly issuing orders to seize innocent people and torture them. Any president who decides to do that and then says it was not his intention to do that is a fraud or a fool. It matters not a whit what fantasy the president had cooked up in his own mind about what he was doing. This is what he was doing.
Major Gen Antonio Taguba, trusted enough by this administration to run an earlier report on the abuse scandal, puts it plainly enough:
After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account...