As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

More On The Torture Memos

I'm doing some crowdsourcing on the memos over at Daily Kos. You can read it there, but let me bring this to your attention:

On p. 15 of Memo #1, Bybee concludes that waterboarding "constitutes a threat of imminent death," because it creates the "uncontrollable physiological sensation that someone is drowning." NONETHELESS, it was approved, because "prolonged mental harm must nonetheless result to violate the statutory prohibition on infliction of severe mental pain or suffering." So, the Bush OLC approved a technique that they admitted constitutes a threat of imminent death. Wow.

One of the other techniques included putting insects into a small box with Zubaydah. It's really quite sick. I don't know how these people live with themselves.

In addition, here's part of Eric Holder's statement which states that DoJ would foot the bill for any CIA officers prosecuted:

Holder also stressed that intelligence community officials who acted reasonably and relied in good faith on authoritative legal advice from the Justice Department that their conduct was lawful, and conformed their conduct to that advice, would not face federal prosecutions for that conduct.

The Attorney General has informed the Central Intelligence Agency that the government would provide legal representation to any employee, at no cost to the employee, in any state or federal judicial or administrative proceeding brought against the employee based on such conduct and would take measures to respond to any proceeding initiated against the employee in any international or foreign tribunal, including appointing counsel to act on the employee’s behalf and asserting any available immunities and other defenses in the proceeding itself.

To the extent permissible under federal law, the government will also indemnify any employee for any monetary judgment or penalty ultimately imposed against him for such conduct and will provide representation in congressional investigations.

"It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department," Holder said.

Just sayin', but that violates the Nuremberg principles:

Article 7. The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government Departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.

Article 8. The fact that the Defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determines that justice so requires.

UPDATE: John Conyers:

"I highly commend the President, Attorney General, and Director of National Intelligence for their decision to release Office of Legal Counsel memos concerning techniques used in the interrogation of terrorism suspects between 2002 and 2005. This release, as well as the decision to ban the use of such techniques in the future, will strengthen both our national security and our commitment to the rule of law and help restore our country's standing in the international community. The legal analysis and some of the techniques in these memos are truly shocking and mark a disturbing chapter in our nation's history. Hopefully these practices have been ended for all time. Critical questions still remain, including the role and legal culpability of high-ranking officials in the former Administration in directing and approving the use of these troubling techniques. I urge the Administration to continue to ensure that the rule of law is upheld concerning this matter."

UPDATE: From Memo #3:

Walling "is one of the most effective interrogation techniques because it wears down the [detainee] physically, heightens uncertainty in the detainee about what the interrogator may do to him, and creates a sense of dread when the [detainee] knows he is about to be walled again."

Reads like a proud papa describing his son the star running back.

It occurs to me that this is entirely actionable. You have the US government releasing specific information about specific techniques used on specific prisoners. No wonder the CIA wanted it buried. Obama definitely deserves credit for releasing it, if not for protecting everyone from prosecution. He pointedly did not mention higher-ups in his statement, however, and while he wouldn't work hard to start an investigation he may not get in the way of one occurring.

Greenwald has this amazing bit from Memo #2:

They explicitly recognized that the techniques they were authorizing were ones that we condemned other countries for using -- including as "torture" -- but nonetheless approved them, explicitly saying that the standards we impose on others do not bind us in any way:

Absolutely astounding. At the very, very least, it is time for Congress to impeach Jay Bybee.

...Read Digby.

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