Join 3,555 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


The American way of torture
November 9, 2005 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Has the C.I.A. legally killed prisoners? Two years ago, Manadel al-Jamadi, a suspected Iraqi insurgent, walked into a Baghdad interrogation room. He was dead in 45 minutes, his head covered with a plastic bag, shackled in a crucifixion-like pose that led to his asphyxiation. U.S. authorities classified his death a homicide. His CIA interrogator has not been charged with a crime and continues to work for the agency. President Bush says "We do not torture." But if that’s true, then why is Vice President Cheney fighting to exempt CIA interrogators from a torture ban? And al-Jamadi? His case is stalled in the Alberto Gonzalez Justice Department, two years after soldiers posed for thumbs-up pictures next to his corpse.
posted by sacre_bleu (49 comments total)

 
The question of whether the CIA kills prisoners has already been addressed. With no oversight over the CIA, it was free to kill al-Jamadi without consequences, and it is known to send prisoners to countries with no human rights oversight, where those prisoners are regularly tortured and killed.

The only question that remains is whether a civilized country that professes notions of due process should legalize torture and murder by way of rhetorical loopholes.
posted by Rothko at 11:04 AM on November 9, 2005


President Bush says "We do not torture." But if that’s true, then why ...
Oh, that's an easy one--it's not true.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:07 AM on November 9, 2005


Does anyone actually believe the president any more?
posted by edgeways at 11:11 AM on November 9, 2005


Lots of people do, edgeways. That's the problem.
posted by you just lost the game at 11:16 AM on November 9, 2005


That depends on what the definitions of "legally" and "killed" are. If it's not illegal, does that make it legal? If someone is tortured extensively and then dies as a result, have they been killed, or did they just "die as a result of their wounds"? Common sense dictates that this is murder, but since when does that have anything to do with the government's oversight of the CIA?
posted by YurikoKinje at 11:21 AM on November 9, 2005


Hey, there's "no controlling legal authority!"
posted by delmoi at 11:24 AM on November 9, 2005


Legally killed prisoners? No.
Illegally? Yes.
posted by nofundy at 11:29 AM on November 9, 2005


That depends on what the definitions of "legally" and "killed" are

The industry term is "Disappeared".
posted by SweetJesus at 11:30 AM on November 9, 2005


People misunderstand the Prez. When he said "we do not torture" he meant "whatever we do, it doesn't count as torture".
posted by clevershark at 11:31 AM on November 9, 2005


This week on This American Life is there is a firsthand report from a kid who goes to Afghanistan where he meets a local who ends up getting murdered by a CIA agent. The agent is now on trial in the U.S.

http://www.thislife.org/
posted by dydecker at 11:36 AM on November 9, 2005


Legally or Illegally - I hate to say it, but I doubt any CIA agent will be successfully prosecuted for the deaths of any "detainees", "combatants" or "civilians" - ever. These guys are much more clever than the PFC's and Army Rangers we've seen paraded through the courts.

This will be brushed under the rug of history and ignored like so many other crimes in the name of national security.
posted by tzelig at 11:44 AM on November 9, 2005


dydecker - I'll gladly eat crow if I'm wrong. Thanks for the link.
posted by tzelig at 11:46 AM on November 9, 2005


Vice President Cheney fighting to exempt CIA interrogators from a torture ban?

My understand is that Cheney is working to get a very specific exemption for the CIA. They would only have no rules on interrogation if national security is on the line and it has person Presidential approval. If each instance has the been individually approved by the President, it will most likely be used sparingly. especially since each instance will put the President's credibility on the line.

Implying that Cheney is attempting to just keep torture fully open for the CIA is a bit misleading.
posted by aburd at 12:11 PM on November 9, 2005


The President's credibility?
posted by S.C. at 12:13 PM on November 9, 2005


As far as "Presidential approval" goes:

Cheney's proposal is drafted in such a way that the exemption from the rule barring ill treatment could require a presidential finding that "such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack." But the precise applicability of this section is not clear, and none of those involved in last week's discussions would discuss it openly yesterday.

In other words: Bull. Shit.
posted by Rothko at 12:14 PM on November 9, 2005


Well I guess the exemption is just as ugly as it appeared. Please resume the Cheney bashing.
posted by aburd at 12:17 PM on November 9, 2005


It looks like the search function isn't working.
posted by caddis at 12:23 PM on November 9, 2005


The better question is: Does anyone think that we haven't?
posted by V4V at 12:38 PM on November 9, 2005


Lots of people do, edgeways. That's the problem.
Just 40 percent call Bush honest and trustworthy.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:42 PM on November 9, 2005


That's 40% too many fools I'd say.
posted by nofundy at 12:47 PM on November 9, 2005


That depends on what the definitions of "legally" and "killed" are.

Remember when politicians argued over definitions like this, but it was all about blowjobs and such? Thank God that's over; I guess it's 'cause Dubya has restored respectability to the White House.
posted by docgonzo at 12:48 PM on November 9, 2005


40% of 295,734,134 = 118,293,654 people = a lot
posted by you just lost the game at 12:51 PM on November 9, 2005


That's 40% too many fools I'd say.

Strictly speaking, that's 100% too many fools. If the number of fools were to be reduced by 40%, that would still leave the fools as 24% of the American population.

/pedant
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:56 PM on November 9, 2005


The ban on assassinations was lifted a bit back. It’d be legal to kill someone designated an enemy.
I don’t view torturing someone to death as assasination though. Most particularly if they are taken prisoner. Many governments have done and do that, but I don’t know of any off hand that have tried to make it standing policy. Despicable.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:05 PM on November 9, 2005


More details on the John Yoo memos. Article by David Cole in the New York Review of Books, November 17, 2005.

Few lawyers have had more influence on President Bush's legal policies in the "war on terror" than John Yoo. This is a remarkable feat, because Yoo was not a cabinet official, not a White House lawyer, and not even a senior officer within the Justice Department. He was merely a mid-level attorney in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel with little supervisory authority and no power to enforce laws. Yet by all accounts, Yoo had a hand in virtually every major legal decision involving the US response to the attacks of September 11, and at every point, so far as we know, his advice was virtually always the same— the president can do whatever the president wants.

Yoo's most famous piece of advice was in an August 2002 memorandum stating that the president cannot constitutionally be barred from ordering torture in wartime—even though the United States has signed and ratified a treaty absolutely forbidding torture under all circumstances, and even though Congress has passed a law pursuant to that treaty, which without any exceptions prohibits torture. Yoo reasoned that because the Constitution makes the president the "Commander-in-Chief," no law can restrict the actions he may take in pursuit of war. On this reasoning, the president would be entitled by the Constitution to resort to genocide if he wished.


This is completely insane.
posted by russilwvong at 1:08 PM on November 9, 2005


Has the C.I.A. legally killed prisoners?

Is it legal for the CIA to hold prisoners? In most countries, we call this "the secret police" and it's a sign of ultimate corruption and totalitarianism.

John Yoo: "Anything-in-chief" is a title which means "above the law?" Monarch? Goddamn sociopathic lawyer.
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:13 PM on November 9, 2005



posted by The Jesse Helms at 1:18 PM on November 9, 2005


Isn't it extraordinary how it's the people who reject moral relativism and insist on the black-and-white difference between good and evil who argue for making exceptions when it comes to torture?
posted by sacre_bleu at 1:32 PM on November 9, 2005


The President seems to lying, I think torture is the only option to get the truth.
posted by iamck at 1:34 PM on November 9, 2005


Hmm. Judy just retired. Coincidink? Or is the CIA hiring?
posted by bardic at 1:45 PM on November 9, 2005


docgonzo: Exactly the parallel I was thinking of. Thank goodness for that restored respectability, hey?
posted by YurikoKinje at 2:11 PM on November 9, 2005


It's not torture if we lock the terrorists' ten-year-old daughters in cages to be raped by bears. It's just realpolitik, Scooter.
posted by orthogonality at 2:17 PM on November 9, 2005


Jesus christ - is that Fox graphic real?
posted by odinsdream at 2:56 PM on November 9, 2005


Oh come on. It was only hazing.
posted by salmacis at 3:11 PM on November 9, 2005


odinsdream, the horror is not whether it's real. The horror is that we have to ask, because we're no longer sure.
posted by FormlessOne at 3:15 PM on November 9, 2005


FormlessOne, bravo.

The ramifications of revelations like this in the Moslem world are terrifying, it really does seem like we're locked in a downward spiral, and these lunatics who run our asylum have put us in grave danger. It's like an Emerich/Devlin debacle, only real. Ugh.
posted by dbiedny at 4:34 PM on November 9, 2005


John Yoo: "Anything-in-chief" is a title which means "above the law?" Monarch? Goddamn sociopathic lawyer.

The guy is a professor at Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley). Damn leftist campuses...
posted by allen.spaulding at 5:11 PM on November 9, 2005


Who still thinks the American people actually VOTED these clowns in TWICE?
posted by Max Power at 5:25 PM on November 9, 2005


People against torture hate freedom.
posted by drstrangelove at 5:25 PM on November 9, 2005


Re: Fox Graphic
Yes, it's a Fox graphic. It was said during an interview. It could have been on CNN just as easily.
posted by tomplus2 at 5:32 PM on November 9, 2005


tomplus2: I guarantee you, it couldn't.
posted by odinsdream at 5:35 PM on November 9, 2005


tomplus2 writes "Yes, it's a Fox graphic. It was said during an interview. It could have been on CNN just as easily."

Oh, it has that Satanic amoral aura that's proper to the Fox News Channel.
posted by clevershark at 5:53 PM on November 9, 2005


This administratin has lost all shame. I think sacre_bleu had something important to say here: "Isn't it extraordinary how it's the people who reject moral relativism and insist on the black-and-white difference between good and evil who argue for making exceptions when it comes to torture?"
posted by publius at 7:00 PM on November 9, 2005


I saw this on Crooksandliars this evening. (it's probably old and you've probably seen it, but...) In response to the "Who still thinks the American people actually VOTED these clowns in TWICE?" kind of outrage that many of us have been feeling lately, I think that it's somewhat relevant to share my complete disgust, utter outrage, and aghast disbelief that not only was everyone (being the gvt, media, most of the citizenry) so gullible and uncritical of case for war in Iraq that it seemed as though the Nation had its critical thinking switched off entirely, but that they seem so, "But how could we have known? We were duped, srammed, and taken!" once the truth becomes unignorably obvious. It makes me sick and sad.
HOW COULD YOU NOT SEE THIS COMING??? HAS EVERYBODY GONE BLIND AND STUPID??
posted by Jon-o at 9:10 PM on November 9, 2005


Personally, I think you Americans should be scared shitless about the direction your government is headed.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:15 AM on November 10, 2005


Is it legal for the CIA to hold prisoners?
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:13 PM PST on November 9 [!]

Short answer? No. They can detain though. They can also use temporary custody to interrogate. It's a military police job to hold and guard prisoners. And I can't see the CIA going over the heads of the MPs on anything. That'd be totally unprecedented. I don't know where such a thing could happen. Commandeer someone's facility and such. No way. You couldn't just comshaw some guys prisoner and torture them. Uh, uh. No how. No chance. Not happenin' partner.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:41 AM on November 10, 2005


five fresh fish, I don't think it's just us Americans who should be afraid.
posted by joegester at 4:18 AM on November 10, 2005


Isn't it extraordinary how it's the people who reject moral relativism and insist on the black-and-white difference between good and evil who argue for making exceptions when it comes to torture?

Not really. It's part of the whole "patriotism" vs. "white liberal guilt" stance. If we're the good guys, and we do something terrible, it's not the same as when the bad guys do it. Orwell describes this mentality:

Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage -- torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians -- which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by "our" side.
posted by russilwvong at 9:05 AM on November 10, 2005


Is there any more proof needed Fox News is condoning torture on childrens ?
posted by elpapacito at 4:32 PM on November 10, 2005


« Older For $1,800, ex-molester Rick Strawn will abduct yo...  |  "A car riged [sic] with a VBIE... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments