In an interview given to Radio Free Europe over the weekend Gen. David Petraeus backed President Obama’s position that the prison at Guantanamo Bay needs to be closed, and he also disagreed with former vice president Dick Cheney by saying that enhanced interrogation techniques do not help the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Petraeus was asked if the recent moves by Obama help or hurt the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan. He replied, “I think, on balance, that those moves help it. In fact, I have long been on record as having testified and also in helping write doctrine for interrogation techniques that are completely in line with the Geneva Convention. And as a division commander in Iraq in the early days, we put out guidance very early on to make sure that our soldiers, in fact, knew that we needed to stay within those guidelines.”
On the issue of Gitmo, he said, “With respect to Guantanamo, I think that the closure in a responsible manner, obviously one that is certainly being worked out now by the Department of Justice — I talked to the attorney general the other day [and] they have a very intensive effort ongoing to determine, indeed, what to do with the detainees who are left, how to deal with them in a legal way, and if continued incarceration is necessary — again, how to take that forward. But doing that in a responsible manner, I think, sends an important message to the world, as does the commitment of the United States to observe the Geneva Convention when it comes to the treatment of detainees.”
Petraeus isn’t just any expert disagreeing with Cheney. He is the man that the Bush administration put in charge of the whole operation. His statements should be a death blow the idea that torture has helped the American cause in Iraq and Afghanistan. It makes me wonder how Cheney will manage to dismiss Petraeus’ view as wrong.
When the chief of the military operations states that it will help operations if the country closes Gitmo and sticks to the Geneva Conventions this represents a strong endorsement of the current policies. Of course, this will never convince Dick Cheney.
The former vice president will go to his grave solidly maintaining his beliefs that torture worked, and Gitmo kept the United States safe. I don’t think there is anything that can be said by anyone that would change his mind.
(H/T: Think Progress)