Every Day A Torture Memo
Now that I've had some time to marinate in these depraved memos justifying and finding legal rationalizations for torture, I am convinced that the members of the Bush Administration who directed and authorized all this just willed themselves to believe they were doing the righteous and just thing. Sure, they knew enough to find some thin strand of legal reasoning to cover their naked bodies, but that was seen by them as a brave and forthright act. I don't see another way to live with approving Room 101 techniques like putting someone in a box with a bug unless you've convinced yourself of your own worthiness. The memos also produce a fact pattern of deliberate lies by the CIA to put their proposed torture of Abu Zubaydah in the best possible light (claiming he was of sound mental health when contemporaneous reports term him a basket case, for example). Combine that with typical Republican victimhood status, and you have the squealing pigs in the media today despairing about the release of these documents.
Two of the rogue's gallery, Michael Hayden and Michael Mukasey, argue in the Wall Street Journal that the President "tied his own hand on terror" due to the release. Here's a choice quote from these moral lepers.
Disclosure of the techniques is likely to be met by faux outrage, and is perfectly packaged for media consumption. It will also incur the utter contempt of our enemies. Somehow, it seems unlikely that the people who beheaded Nicholas Berg and Daniel Pearl, and have tortured and slain other American captives, are likely to be shamed into giving up violence by the news that the U.S. will no longer interrupt the sleep cycle of captured terrorists even to help elicit intelligence that could save the lives of its citizens.
We're always supposed to remember that we simply had to violate laws and shrink to the level of our enemies because that's how they operate, which is certainly telling on behalf of the cretins defending themselves in this. But the contempt of our enemies was never in question; it's the contempt of our allies, of indeed the entire world, which is only exacerbated by the defense of these actions, especially considering that they have for the time being been put outside the criminal justice system and above the law. It's not the "publicizing of the techniques," as this unnamed coward given sanction by useful idiot Mike Allen to rant today, that weakens national security, it's the constant defense of them, the daily shame that there are powerful people in the US government convinced that drowning people is a necessary activity that "can never be used again" - as if that's a bad thing.
And of course, this crowd has no problem lying about the application of torture, its effectiveness, or anything else surrounding the process, as long as it bolsters their argument.
The memos include what in effect are lengthy excerpts from the agency’s interrogation manual, laying out with precision how each method was to be used. Waterboarding, for example, involved strapping a prisoner to a gurney inclined at an angle of “10 to 15 degrees” and pouring water over a cloth covering his nose and mouth “from a height of approximately 6 to 18 inches” for no more than 40 seconds at a time.
But a footnote to a 2005 memo made it clear that the rules were not always followed. Waterboarding was used “with far greater frequency than initially indicated” and with “large volumes of water” rather than the small quantities in the rules, one memo says, citing a 2004 report by the C.I.A.’s inspector general.
Following the IG report, the memo’s authors write, they implemented “a number of changes in the application of the waterboard, including limits on the frequency and cumulative use of the technique.” “All of which means that, for a period of time, these limits were not in place,” notes The Huffington Post’s Sam Stein.
In this sense, Richard Armitage is an anomaly - someone who after the fact would be reflective enough to consider the moral issues involved. The others have brainwashed themselves into believing not just the legality of this monstrousness, but the essential nature of it all. And because they continue to run out in the media and talk about the importance of being torturers, and never face a consequence, they harm national security with each passing moment.
And so do those who refuse to hold them to account. I agree that the largely unredacted release is a praiseworthy act by the President. The push to "move forward" and offer no accountability for violations of domestic law and international convention is a huge mistake - one compounded every day by the continued issuing of "torture memos" in newspapers and on cable TV from the Bush Administration weasels who aren't satisfied with just getting away with the crime, but feel the need to glorify it. This is a Justice Department decision, and they ought to appoint a special prosecutor, taking it out of the political realm. Believers in the rule of law should be screaming for that. Because every day that passes, another torture memo puts distance between us and the world.
As for the impeachment of Jay Bybee, who sits on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco and spends his days officially passing judgment when his judgment is on display in the torture memos for all to see, I know of a movement upon which we can all latch. See here. More later.
“As Americans digest the awful revelations in the Bush-era OLC opinions, our nation faces a critical choice – what will we do to ensure that abuses like those described in these memos are never again ordered by our leaders or justified by our lawyers? To me, the answer is obvious. We must have a full investigation of the circumstances under which these torture methods were created, approved, and implemented, preferably by an independent commission as I previously proposed. And if our leaders are found to have violated the strict laws against torture, either by ordering these techniques without proper legal authority or by knowingly crafting legal fictions to justify the torture, they should be criminally prosecuted. It is simply obvious that, if there is no accountability when wrongdoing is exposed, future violations will not be deterred.
“I believe a Commission is the best forum to resolve the difficult issues raised by the ever-increasing documentary record of Bush Administration interrogation abuses. To take just one example, today two former Bush Administration officials again took to the papers to justify these practices by claiming that the interrogation of Abu Zubaydeh had been a clear success and had led to the disruption of terrorist plots. Yet just two weeks ago, former Bush Administration officials who monitored this interrogation told reporters that ‘not a single significant plot was foiled’ as a result. The American people deserve a non-partisan answer to such fundamental questions.
“Finally, I do not understand the statements by the President and the Attorney General yesterday on the issue of potential prosecutions to address the senior officials and government attorneys who crafted and approved these programs. Further, yesterday’s statements did not address the legality of any conduct that exceeded even the minimal boundaries established by the OLC memos, or any interrogations that occurred before legal guidance was provided.”
We need to keep pressing to make this happen.