The US Department of Justice Inspector General’s report was released this week and reveals that the FBI opened a “war crimes” file on the administration citing the numerous instances of abuse and torture witnessed by FBI agents at Guantanamo.

The report makes it absolutely clear that torture was ordered and planned in detail at the highest levels of the government—including the White House, the National Security Council, the Pentagon and the Justice Department. Attempts to stop it on legal or pragmatic grounds by individuals within the government were systematically suppressed, and evidence of this criminal activity covered up.

Pages and pages of the report give testimony from hundreds of FBI agents present during incidents of abuse and torture.

Consider the account of the interrogation of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Mauritanian national who was arrested by his own government, turned over to US forces and brought to Guantánamo in 2002:

“He was left alone in a cold room known as ‘the freezer,’ where guards would prevent him from sleeping by putting ice or cold water on him…

“He was subjected to sleep deprivation for a period of 70 days by means of prolonged interrogations, strobe lights, threatening music, forced intake of water, and forced standing.

In addition, four agents reported the kicking and beating to death of two detainees in Afghanistan who had been subjected to prolonged shackling in a standing position.

The episodes of torture detailed in this report are the tip of the iceberg.

They do not include the treatment of Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen born in Germany, who was arrested during a trip to Pakistan in the fall of 2001 and was handed over to US officials for a $3,000 bounty. First taken to the US base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, he was then transferred to Guantánamo. While by 2002 the US authorities concluded that Kurnaz had nothing to do with terrorism, he was imprisoned until the middle of 2006 and released only because of pressure from the German government.

I know there is a debate on whether or not this abuse and torture is warranted. Quite frankly, I don’t believe there should be a debate at all. You can’t justify by claiming these are “bad people” who would do the same to us. That argument has no weight to it what so ever. The hypocrisy of that argument is so blatant.

These are human beings were talking about. Not animals. No matter what they did or did not do, it doesn’t give anyone the right to treat them this way. The United States is supposed to be a pillar of freedom and a fighter for human rights. How does it look to the rest of the world if we are no better than the dictators we justify wars for in order to remove them from power.

Aside from the fact of whether its right or wrong to torture detainees, has anyone thought about the possibility that some of these people aren’t even guilty of anything? Some of them are captured for being at the wrong place at the wrong time (just like those thrown in the Pier 57 holding center who just happened to be in the vicinity of mass protestings during the RNC convention). Some of them are turned in whether they did anything wrong or not by their neighbors so they can collect the reward money (Don’t like your neighbor? Give him to the US to be tortured relentlessly and get some cash for it). This was the case with Murat Kurnaz.

The episodes of torture detailed in this report are the tip of the iceberg.They do not include the treatment of Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen born in Germany, who was arrested during a trip to Pakistan in the fall of 2001 and was handed over to US officials for a $3,000 bounty. First taken to the US base in Kandahar, Afghanistan, he was then transferred to Guantánamo. While by 2002 the US authorities concluded that Kurnaz had nothing to do with terrorism, he was imprisoned until the middle of 2006 and released only because of pressure from the German government.

Barred from entry to the US, he testified via video link to a sparsely attended hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week.

“I did nothing wrong and I was treated like a monster,” he said. He told how he was subjected to electric shocks, being suspended by his wrists for hours and subjected to the ‘water treatment,’ in which his head was stuck into a bucket of water and he was punched in the stomach, forcing him to inhale the liquid. (The Justice Department Inspector General’s report, it bears noting, affirmed that this last form of torture did not constitute “waterboarding,” but did represent “an effort to intimidate the detainees and increase their feelings of helplessness.”)

“I know others have died from this kind of treatment,” said Kurnaz. “I suffered from sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, religious and sexual humiliations. I was beaten multiple times.”

“There was no law in Guantánamo,” Kurnaz concluded. “I didn’t think this could happen in the 21st century…. I could never have imagined that this place was created by the United States.

When the pictures showing the torture and abuse of detainees at Abu Graib surfaced, they were dismissed as being the example of a few bad apples and, in fact, that is how most people will defend those pictures. The pictures were all but forgotten yet the issue keeps arising again and again only for the White House to deny them over and over again, several years later.

That seems to be their favorite tactic when faced with harsh criticism and accusations–deny, deny, deny. They tout it as “preposterous” or “unfounded” and everyone takes them at their word. Every time new accusations arise they either deny it all together or make personal attacks against the person asking the questions. They never directly take on the issue at hand. They won’t turn over records (every single issue is an issue of national security), they disregard court orders and the congress refuses time and time again to force the administration to have any responsibility for their actions. This is most likely because they themselves are accomplices to these atrocities.

We live in an era where the government no longer believes it works for us. They have become so exclusionary and elitist that the will of the “little people” doesn’t matter at all to them anymore.