06/12/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

What the Hell Have We Become?

In January, 2009, members of the team of military prosecutors in charge of prosecuting Gitmo detainees had to admit that the prosecutorial system used since 2002 was ineffective. Now we learn that the interrogations used in that system may be the key to freedom for some of the detainees who might really have some connection to terrorism. Susan Crawford, a senior prosecutor in charge of trying the detainees, used the example of Mohammad al-Khatani to make the point. Al-Kahtani was tortured for more than 160 days. The Cheney-endorsed torture techniques no doubt were used. Simulated drowning, body-slamming against walls, snarling dogs, extended periods of no food, no water, no sleep, are just a few of the Cheney-blessed methods we actually know about. But we know that al-Kahtani received the full humiliation torture treatment in addition to those less jazzy methods of getting a confession. In the course of those 160 days of torture, al-Kahtani was dressed up in a woman's bra and a woman's thong. After they had him all dressed up with nowhere to go, they fastened a dog collar around his neck and made him get on all fours and do doggie tricks like rolling over on command.

In May of this year, all charges were dismissed against al-Kahtani, but not before the Cheney team got him to admit that his greatest sin was that he owed his aunt $20,000, and that he had failed to finish school.

Since 2002, of the 800 detainees who have sat in Gitmo, only two have been convicted. That's not because all of them are innocent. It's because just like most everything else that was engineered by Bush and Cheney, incompetence was rampant. If you listen to the best spin the Cheney torture teams can put on the success of Gitmo, they tell us that out of the 800 detainees, they have only been able to charge 40 with an actual crime. In fact, the Gitmo team is now holding 60 of the previously "fully interrogated detainees" who have been completely cleared and blessed with an apology. They are someone's father, husband, or son who have received the Gitmo treatment for 7 years by the same leadership that brought us Iraq and a U.S. economic meltdown. That same leadership never even thought about a plan on how to best release innocent victims after torture. Now that Gitmo is being closed, detainees will be jailed and tried in America. So let's compare the success of prosecutorial standards used in America to try suspected terrorists. Rather than two convictions, non-Gitmo prosecutors have had 148 successful trials and convictions of terrorists. Confessions did not have to be thrown out. The suspects weren't hospitalized from torture. They weren't surrounded by psychopathic guards and made to crawl around naked with each other on the floor in front of snarling dogs while guards snapped souvenir pictures. Dick Cheney and the witless people who did his bidding had no involvement in those 148 successful, constitutionally-guided prosecutions. And the real benefit was that at the end of the day, we didn't have to ask each other as Americans ... what the hell did we become in just 8 years?