Limbaugh falsely suggested that "9-11 Commission didn't say anything about" torture

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

On his radio program, Rush Limbaugh falsely suggested that the "9-11 Commission didn't say anything" about "[t]his whole picture of the U.S. as a torturous, torturing, barbaric institution." In fact, the 9-11 Commission's final report called for the U.S. government to "engage its friends to develop a common coalition approach toward the detention and humane treatment of captured terrorists."

On the December 6 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh falsely suggested that the "9-11 Commission didn't say anything" about "[t]his whole picture of the U.S. as a torturous, torturing, barbaric institution." He asked: "Was there anything about torture from the 9-11 [Commission]?" In fact, the commission's final report, released on July 22, 2004, called for the U.S. government to "engage its friends to develop a common coalition approach toward the detention and humane treatment of captured terrorists." A recent report from the former 9-11 Commission members gave the government a failing grade on accomplishing this recommendation, in part based on the "broad criticism" of American detention policies.

The 9-11 Commission's final report specifically suggested looking at Article 3 of the "Geneva Conventions on the law of armed conflict" for "new principles":

Recommendation: The United States should engage its friends to develop a common coalition approach toward the detention and humane treatment of captured terrorists. New principles might draw upon Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions on the law of armed conflict. That article was specifically designed for those cases in which the usual laws of war did not apply. Its minimum standards are generally accepted throughout the world as customary international law.

Article 3 of the "Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War" states, in part, that "[v]iolence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture" and "[o]utrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment" "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to" prisoners of war.

After releasing their final report, the 9-11 Commission's members formed a private nonprofit group, the 9-11 Public Discourse Project (PDP), to monitor the government's progress in addressing the commission's recommendations. The 9-11 PDP's November 14 "status" report strongly criticized the performance of the U.S. government on the subject of their previous detainee treatment recommendation. The report noted that "[t]he U.S. government's treatment of captured terrorists, including the detention and prosecution of suspected terrorists in military prisons and secret detention centers abroad, as well as reports on the abuse of detainees, have elicited criticism from around the globe," specifically highlighting recent Defense Department efforts to "provide important guidance for the U.S. military on detention and interrogation standards for captured terrorists, reportedly drawing upon Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions." The report also noted that the Senate overwhelmingly approved Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) amendment to a defense appropriations bill banning "'cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment' of any detainee in U.S. custody." Creating internationally acceptable detainee treatment policies, the PDP report continued, will facilitate cooperation against terrorism:

Why this is still important: Dissension either at home or abroad on how the United States treats captured terrorists only makes it harder to build the diplomatic, political and military alliances necessary to fight the war on terror effectively. The closer our detention policies can be to international law, the closer can be our cooperation with international partners on other aspects of counterterrorism strategy.

The report called for treatment policies that adhere closely to international legal standards:

What still needs to be done: Administration policies that provide standards for captured terrorists in accordance with international law should be adopted. These standards should cover the treatment of detainees held by all elements of the U.S. government. The U.S. should work with its allies to develop mutually acceptable standards for terrorist detention.

In its final report, the 9-11 PDP gave the government's efforts to create a "common coalition approach" to detainee treatment a failing grade, specifically citing "broad criticism" of "U.S. treatment of detainees" as evidence:

The U.S. has not engaged in a common coalition approach to developing standards for detention and prosecution of captured terrorists. Indeed, U.S. treatment of detainees has elicited broad criticism, and makes it harder to build the necessary alliances to cooperate effectively with partners in a global war on terror.

From the December 6 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: We're too -- our priorities here don't seem to make any sense in any shape, manner, or form. I'm talking about the U.S. Congress, the Democratic Party. While all this is going on, the Democrats are out there applauding: "Yes, this is what the -- we need to do." We got [Sen.] John Kerry [D-MA] going on television Sunday talking about how our soldiers terrorize Iraqi women and children, sneaking into their homes under the cover of darkness. This whole picture of the U.S. as a torturous, torturing, barbaric institution is taking hold among Democrats and, apparently, some Republicans. And it's taking up all of our congressional time. And it's gotten to the point now, we're gonna talk about granting them constitutional rights after 9-11? 9-11 Commission didn't say anything about this, did it? Was there anything about torture from the 9-11? What a joke anyway. This group coming out, giving everybody report cards. Let's give them a report card. I'll tell you who gets an F right now -- [9-11 Commission member and former Clinton Justice Department official] Jamie Gorelick. She shouldn't have been on that commission. She gets an F for her conduct. She gets an F for the way she served the country during the Clinton administra -- how did they get off scot-free in the Clinton administration, anyway, in all this?

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