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

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Not-About-Torture Torture Investigation

I hope that the self-serving call from past CIA Directors that members of the organization for which they served shouldn't be investigated for murder isn't the motivating factor for this odd article from anonymous DoJ sources assuring everyone that their investigation into CIA interrogation practices are limited:

The Justice Department's review of detainee abuse by the CIA will focus on a very small number of cases, including at least one in which an Afghan prisoner died at a secret facility, according to two sources briefed on the matter. . . .

Among the cases under review will be the death seven years ago of a young Afghan man, who was beaten and chained to a concrete floor without blankets, according to the sources. The man died in the cold night at a secret CIA facility north of Kabul, known as the Salt Pit. . . .

Although earlier reports indicated that [prosecutor John] Durham would look into 10 cases, a source said recently the number is much smaller. . . . A senior official who took part in the review confirmed that of two dozen referrals, the Salt Pit episode was one of two or three cases close to being considered for criminal indictment. . . .

Two other detainee cases were among those that drew significant law enforcement attention: the death by suffocation of Iraqi Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush in November 2003, after which an Army officer was convicted; and the death the same month of Manadel al-Jamadi at Abu Ghraib prison, in the custody of the CIA, where he was placed after being beaten by Navy SEALs.

While I agree that murder is a serious offense, the investigation was sold as a torture investigation, looking into serious violations of international conventions and federal statute. This is apparently even too much for these CIA Directors or many others in the establishment. But it doesn't keep with the mandate of an Attorney General whose country is a signatory to a convention that demands investigation and prosecution of torture. If true, this would be disturbing.

Of course, nobody should be prosecuted for torture or anything else because they've had it too tough already:

Of course, when all is said and done, there is little doubt that some CIA detainees were tortured. This is a stain on our nation's honor that should never be repeated. But the responsibility was so widely diffused, across such a large number of honorably motivated officials who tried (and sometimes failed) to stay within the law, that it makes no sense to seek to atone for the nation's sins by singling out individuals for bar discipline or other punishment.

This is especially true when those individuals have already suffered greatly from being trashed as "war criminals," picketed at public appearances, stalked by grandstanding Spanish judges, and otherwise harassed across the country and around the globe.

True, being picketed and called names is a heavy burden tantamount to imprisonment. I don't know how John Yoo and Jay Bybee go on in their lifetime-tenured positions.

What's more, these CIA Directors are actually asking for the President to illegally involve himself in the independent work of the Justice Department, a la Richard Nixon and the Saturday Night Massacre.

But what's most notable about this letter is that it is not addressed to the individual charged with making decisions about whether an individual should be prosecuted: namely, the Attorney General of the U.S. Instead, it is addressed to the President himself, and they "urge [him] to exercise [his] authority to reverse Attorney General's August 24 decision to re-open the criminal investigation of CIA interrogations." What so-called "authority" are they talking about?

We've now reached a point where former officials of the American government think the President of the United States should squelch murder investigations. Which probably means that they advised this to Presidents during their tenure.

Wait, look! ACORN!

If this Justice Department doesn't look into this, eventually someone else will. When you torture, main and murder people from all over the world, eventually the repercussions will trickle out. Putting a lid on it would be like putting one on boiling water.

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