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"I don't talk about techniques"
October 15, 2008 3:30 AM   Subscribe

In a new article in the Washington Post: "The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency's use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding against al-Qaeda suspects". These documents were requested by then CIA director George Tenet, who told 60 Minutes last year (in conjuction with the publication of his book, In the Center of the Storm), ""The image that's been portrayed is, we sat around the campfire and said, 'Oh, boy, now we go get to torture people.' Well, we don't torture people. Let me say that again to you. We don't torture people. Okay?"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing (44 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
If this gets undecideds to come out and vote for Obama, great. But Pelosi has taken impeachment off the table, so what else can be done at this point, within the law, to bring the administration to account for their criminal acts? With apologies to David Cross, WaPo could report tomorrow that Bush bit off the head of a live baby in front of a crowd, and no one would do much about it, who are in a position to do so.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:43 AM on October 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


For a non-American, is the gist of this the executive branch were the ones in favour of torture? Are you really saying the FBI/CIA/NSA were all anti-torture?
posted by bystander at 3:43 AM on October 15, 2008


From Blazecock Pileon: Democrats have "...taken impeachment off the table."
Do you think America cares if a few folk are tortured?
posted by bystander at 3:45 AM on October 15, 2008


LOLSURELYTHIS
posted by nudar at 3:47 AM on October 15, 2008 [5 favorites]


Jan 19, 2009 — Pardons for everyone!
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:47 AM on October 15, 2008


I'm not trying to be willfully dumb, and people outside the USA generally see the US as being sensible about stuff like free markets and free elections, but really, the USA probably has the second worse record (next to communist Russia) for interfering with other countries electoral process - to the point where people wernet't just tortured, but died.
I'm kindof pleased the intelligence sector of the USA sees itself as being against torture these days, they certainly haven't in the past.
posted by bystander at 3:52 AM on October 15, 2008


US Army Military Intel and Military Police units as well as FBI agents were aware of "torture-related activities" taking place in Iraq as and when they were happening. CIA and other intelligence gathering groups were referred to as OGAs (other government agencies) by the FBI who consistently raised the fact that this was taking place. We read about it constantly on MeFi and yet again nobody out there in the real world gave a toss.

International SF operators serving with USSF and CIA SAD operators in Afghanistan went to the press (including Robert Fisk) about Northern Alliance SF troops brutally interrogating suspected Taliban fighters. They didn't have much positive to say about it, or about the capture, beat, apologise and release techniques. We knew this was happening. We knew the Northern Alliance were opium farming thugs who were on our side because of the money and the chance at carving a chunk out of the country.

It's frankly fucking disgusting that with a very small amount of effort and time you can find out about this outrageous behaviour (which you can guarantee is happening right now) and yet people prefer to exist in a bubble where this is not happening and the day revolves around much less distressing issues like "can I afford to buy name brand cola or will I have to change to supermarket branded produce?"

People in Iraq and Afghanistan are experiencing more hardship right now than virtually anyone in the West and yet we've totally forgotten about them during this terrible election cycle and the economic crisis that is driving everyone crazy.

My hope in all of this is that should someone with an ounce of humanity become President that he will relentlessly prosecute anyone who had any part in this. I know it won't happen. The "spirit of bipartisan cooperation" will not allow it. If that's the case then my second hope is that somewhere in this world is a group of people with a lot of talent, a lot of money and a lot of patience who are willing to hunt down and extradite every single piece of shit to the Hague where they will find out that war criminals don't have an easy life.

Being humiliated and vilified in the history books is not enough. There must never be a group of men able to do as these have ever again. They must be some sort of justice whilst they are alive.
posted by longbaugh at 4:09 AM on October 15, 2008 [14 favorites]


America's darkest hour
posted by caddis at 4:24 AM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does the Hague feel in any way bound by a Presidential pardon?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:54 AM on October 15, 2008 [7 favorites]


Two acts of Congress have been instituted specifically to give retroactive legal cover for the Bush Administration. The Military Commissions act of 2006 which gave the Bush administration immunity from torture outlined in the War Crimes Act of 1996 and The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which gave Bush retroactive immunity on illegal wiretapping.

My question is: If Congress can retroactively make old laws invalid can they also make them valid again? It seems to me both FISA and Military Commissions Act should be considered unconstitutional since both violate the Constitution if interpreted literally. Of course Bush has appointed a ton of judges who will declare these Acts as constitutional (because they were probably written with technical loopholes in case of a challenge) so the chances are greatly reduced that the courts will render them null and void so I'm just curious to know if Congress could technically (we all know even a 60 vote Democratic majority would never do something so bold) create a new act that would take away immunity from the older acts and could re-expose Bush to prosecution for his crimes against the constitution? Or can a President only be impeached for ignoring his Constitutional vows?
posted by any major dude at 4:58 AM on October 15, 2008 [3 favorites]


Longbaugh, when the rot comes from the top there is very little the law can do. Just like Pinochet was untouchable for a long time, Bush can pardon himself or any subordinates as required to dodge the consequences of his actions.

My only hope is that after this administration is out of power they'll get invited to some ceremony in europe as the guests of honor only to be arrested and sent to war crimes tribunals in the Hague.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:58 AM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gitmo Torture Tips, via Slate.com, "A recently obtained four-page guide describing approved "tactics and techniques" to "break" detainees held at Guantanamo Bay..."
posted by RussHy at 5:00 AM on October 15, 2008


Bizarre quote from RussHy's link:

"Blows with the back of the hand, fists, elbows, feet and knees are prohibited. Insult slaps are only to be used by those interrogators designated in writing by the ICE CHIEF."

Anyone have an explanation for that? (Page 2 of Gitmo torture tips)

Can't quite imagine the people who came up with this stuff...who chooses that career? Patriots, I guess. American heroes.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:18 AM on October 15, 2008


This is a very unattractive look.
posted by Wolof at 5:20 AM on October 15, 2008


Kid Charlemagne: Does the Hague feel in any way bound by a Presidential pardon?

the United States have signed but not ratified the Rome Statue. they wouldn't surrender a former president, they wouldn't even surrender a sergeant. nobody. so even if 'the Hague' wanted him they probably wouldn't get them. or hey, perhaps we just don't know about their secret rendition planes!

furthermore: The Court can generally exercise jurisdiction only in cases where the accused is a national of a state party, the alleged crime took place on the territory of a state party, or a situation is referred to the Court by the United Nations Security Council. (wiki source)

iraq and afghanistan - surprise, surprise - are not parties to the court. the security council won't bring a resolution as the US have veto power and I somewhat don't see any president allowing his predecessor to be extradited for any reason without a war happening.

but who cares, right? you were just being glib. perhaps you confused mefi with youtube. LOLZW00T narf!


BrotherCaine: Bush can pardon himself
intriguing, yet I can't find proof of any president having done so to himself. I also can't find any language confirming your interpretation. (nixon did not pardon himself - ford did that for him.)

please elaborate -- if you didn't make that up.
posted by krautland at 5:33 AM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Does the Hague feel in any way bound by a Presidential pardon?

The Presidential Pardon is for Federal Crimes.

The International Court of Justice doesn't deal with Federal crimes, it deals with International law.

So, no, I don't think they are bound by a pardon.
posted by DreamerFi at 6:18 AM on October 15, 2008


If Congress can retroactively make old laws invalid can they also make them valid again?

No, not in this case (retroactively), see Article I, section 9 of the U.S. Constitution
posted by caddis at 6:28 AM on October 15, 2008


I think a good strategy would be a) wait until the president leaves office; b) prosecute.

Something to think about.
posted by ewkpates at 6:32 AM on October 15, 2008


This is really not news. Everyone knew that the onus to torture had to come from the top. What I want to know is what is going to be done with this knowledge. I hope, as ewkpates suggests, that Bush will be prosecuted after he leaves office.
posted by orange swan at 6:51 AM on October 15, 2008


I'd include Cheney and staff in the prosecution, if I could. However, I doubt that anyone will get prosecuted, which really depresses me.
posted by RussHy at 7:28 AM on October 15, 2008


Everyone knew that the onus to torture had to come from the top.

Not only did everyone not know that the orders came from the top, there are a lot of people who still refuse to believe it, or to believe that torture happened at all. Prosecutions would help diminish the numbers of those people.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:29 AM on October 15, 2008


My only hope is that after this administration is out of power they'll get invited to some ceremony in europe as the guests of honor only to be arrested and sent to war crimes tribunals in the Hague.

You crazy dreamer, you.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:36 AM on October 15, 2008


This seems related to me:

After fighting the Taliban for the past seven years, many working for the Afghan security forces are now switching sides.

Sulieman Ameri and his 16 men were until a month ago serving the Afghan government as police patrolling the border with Iran.

Now they answer to the Taliban and their goal is to drive all foreign troops out of Afghanistan.

...

Ameri and his men are not the only renegade government forces – some 70 police and soldiers have switched allegiances across the western region in the past two months."


Link.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:38 AM on October 15, 2008


Yeah, I'm really hoping that the Dems are just waiting until the administration changes to start prosecuting the unbounded mountain of illegal bullshit pulled by this president. As things stand, the executive branch controls the Justice department; the prosecutors in the case would likely be Bush appointees, and the trials would be a farce. So wait until the leadership changes, purge the cancerous portions of the civil service, and prosecute away.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:26 AM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


My only hope is that after this administration is out of power they'll get invited to some ceremony in europe as the guests of honor only to be arrested and sent to war crimes tribunals in the Hague.

even if some judge signs a warrant, a person being in a foreign country as a representative of another government, even if it is a former president, may very well fall under diplomatic rules. (question: is a diplomatic passport given back at the end of a term in office?)

the last time diplomatic personnel has been attacked was in iran and we all know how that one went.
posted by krautland at 8:43 AM on October 15, 2008


Criminal prosecution just isn't happening. Former administration officials will not be kidnapped and carted off to the Hague, and if they are, the Marines will go and escort them right back to the nearest American embassy. It's a pointless and futile fantasy, and to be honest, counter productive to the end goal: making sure this crap doesn't happen again.

A more productive pursuit would be something like South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Committee. A series of hearings to get the true story from those involved, starting from the bottom up rather than the top down - the dumb kid Private who was ordered to hold the guy down... =and= the guy he was holding down. Get them both to testify. Then move up the ranks to find out who did what, when, who ordered it, and who knew about it.

There should be no punishment for open and honest discussion of what went on, no matter how evil your role in it was. Perjury or refusal to testify, on the other hand, would land your ass in Contempt of Congress.

This would completely destroy those responsible politically, discredit everything they tried to achieve, and serve as a stark reminder to those seeking office that nothing lasts forever, and you will be required to answer for what you've done after it's over.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:48 AM on October 15, 2008 [10 favorites]


Doesn't the acceptance of a pardon require some admission of guilt, and/or is granting of a pardon a confirmation of guilt? It doesn't make sense that a pardon could be granted 'just in case' the person committed a crime; and in Bush's case, granting a pardon would seem uncharacteristic given his portrayal of certainty that his administration has never done anything wrong.
posted by troybob at 8:52 AM on October 15, 2008




krautland - eponysterical as it is, Germany claims universal jurisdiction over the abuses of this administration. Diplomatic protection will apply if a high ranking former politician travels abroad, but you should ask Henry Kissinger why he has trouble travelling.
posted by ryoshu at 9:53 AM on October 15, 2008


Slaphappy: Very good idea. Despite the crowds calling for a scapegoat, I think the people really to blame for the various injustices of the current administration are the American People, myself and everyone I know included. Everyone claims to be against torture or illegal courts or wiretapping and so on, but nobody said shit when the Patriot Act appeared or if they did it was just a concerned mutter. Our politicians were carrying out our orders: PUNISH EVIL, DEFEND US FROM FEAR. Our worst sensibilities took over our culture and government, and when that happens, even for the brief period before most of us realized (much quicker than our leaders did) that something terrible was happening, only then can human rights be degraded. We all deserve the truth, and the blame.

Plus I'd just like to see these assholes admit for a second, even without consequence, that they did something evil, and unamerican.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:06 AM on October 15, 2008


troybob: No, I don't think so; I'm pretty sure Ford's pardon to Nixon was a 'blanket' pardon basically of anything he might or might not have done, without specifically requiring him to admit that he did anything.

It may be a de facto acceptance of guilt but I don't think it's a de jure one.

(While I find all this discussion of pardons and stuff interesting I think Slap*Happy is right on about what actually needs to happen. The next President isn't going to prosecute anybody, and one way or another all those involve are going to retire fat and happy. The question is whether or not we want them to die peacefully in their beds with the truth, or if we want the public to know it first.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:09 AM on October 15, 2008


ask Henry Kissinger why he has trouble traveling.
forgot about him, good point.
posted by krautland at 10:13 AM on October 15, 2008


Since I don't believe there will be prosecutions, I'd rather nothing happen than some half-ass Truth and Reconciliation Committee. Letting everyone know what they did won't matter. Shaming people who have no shame doesn't work. Saying they committed crimes without punishing them for their crimes won't work. Lawbreakers G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North are conservative heros. The Bush Administration hired Iran-Contra felons.

Also, if I committed a crime, I wouldn't get to tell the truth and go home, I'd be thrown in prison. Why should the rules be different for them?

making sure this crap doesn't happen again

FISA was enacted to make sure Nixon's impeachable wiretapping crap didn't happen again. Nixon wasn't impeached, was never prosecuted, and his flunkies like Cheney and Rumsfeld joined the Bush White House and it happened again. Bush isn't going to be impeached and will never be prosecuted. His flunkies won't be prosecuted. There's no disincentive to go even further next time.

Nixon's pardon was "a full, free, and absolute pardon...for all offenses against the United States which he...has committed or may have committed or taken part in."

I'm really hoping that the Dems are just waiting until the administration changes to start prosecuting the unbounded mountain of illegal bullshit pulled by this president.

Get used to disappointment.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:24 AM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm really hoping that the Dems are just waiting until the administration changes to start prosecuting the unbounded mountain of illegal bullshit pulled by this president.

1. The democrats are invertebrates.
2. If they win, most of the illegal bullshit starts working in their interests, not against them.
Therefore:
1. It will never happen.
2. It will never happen.
posted by -harlequin- at 10:31 AM on October 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm really hoping that the Dems are just waiting until the administration changes to start prosecuting the unbounded mountain of illegal bullshit pulled by this president.

I was really hoping that McCain's convention speech would be where he admitted that all his changes of position were just a ruse to trick the right-wing rubes into nominating him.

Obama may mouth a lot of words about "Hope", but he's got nothing on us.
posted by roystgnr at 10:35 AM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


troybob writes "Doesn't the acceptance of a pardon require some admission of guilt, and/or is granting of a pardon a confirmation of guilt?"

No and no.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:57 AM on October 15, 2008


...

Legally speaking, of course. And IANAL.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:58 AM on October 15, 2008


kirkaracha writes "Nixon wasn't impeached, was never prosecuted, and his flunkies like Cheney and Rumsfeld joined the Bush White House and it happened again."

Well, the only reason Nixon wasn't impeached is because he resigned first. But some of his cronies did make it to subsequent administrations, including the most recent. Ford pardoned him, which is somewhat controversial, but it does prevent prosecution. Liddy went to prison, but his crime didn't carry with it a lifetime in prison, so eventually he got out. However, Nixon's crimes weren't the same as Bush's. Nixon was trying to rig an election, not secretly authorize torture, but Nixon expanded executive authority and reach with the backing of Rehnquist. Arguably, that could be the seed planted which allowed future transgressions and consolidation of power. We need Congress and the USSC to severely curtail the executive for any of this to matter down the road. The FISA court was supposed to prevent domestic surveillance expanded under Nixon from returning, but we see how that worked out. With a weakened executive which is accountable to other branches of government, it's much harder to pull that sort of thing off.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:29 AM on October 15, 2008


[Prosecution is] ... a pointless and futile fantasy, and to be honest, counter productive to the end goal: making sure this crap doesn't happen again.

If the criminals walk, I honestly cannot see why it won't happen again and again. If we don't jail the criminals, there's such an immense upside with almost no downside at all.

If we allow people to commit crimes, profit, and never punish them, we're showing we approve. If we want people to come back to the political system, we have to start by showing that it's in some way fair.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:23 PM on October 15, 2008


Yeah, I know that the pardon of Nixon did not involve an admission of guilt; I just though it was not challenged at the time because of the general desire of everyone to 'just move on.' Or are there other notable cases where a pardon has been issued without actual prosecution or admission/assertion of guilt?

And if the Nixon pardon were not strictly legal, does the fact that this was not pursued give it the force of precedent?
posted by troybob at 1:17 PM on October 15, 2008


You cannot pardon yourself for something until you're convicted.

The Bush government has committed so many felonies it'd be hard not to find enough to jail all of them. Criminal negligence, fraud for Mr. Cheney and his network of corporations, conspiracy to commit all of the above, war crimes.

Heck, let's throw in "treason". If we really had unbiased judges who looked at the mess that Mr. Bush deliberately made of this country, would he not be convicted?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 2:39 PM on October 15, 2008


Been thinking about the “it’s never been policy” line of country.

Perhaps it’s never been policy because it’s never had to be. There are certain unstated rules, such as, if a cop is killed in your town you know the cops are going to drop the gloves for a bit in finding the killer. They’re going to be a little rough. Back in the day, maybe that was cutting someone’s balls off. Then things got a little more civilized and they switched to phone books and rubber hoses not to leave marks.
But like this - at some point you got people for whom the gloves coming off means only a slight divergence from the rules. Maybe slapping someone around, but not really working them over.

So now it needs to be policy - because you have resistance to the unstated rules by people who have gotten more and more refined. There’s more training, more support, more oversight, so even if they might want to tear someone up, they don’t want to break the law.

Might be a good sign that it needs a policy change now to make it stick.

Of course, the problem is now changing policy and the social order back to resisting torturing.

I still have deep misgivings about anyone (Obama, McCain, anyone) with the apparatus that’s in place now.

Hopefully the assholerly of the Republicans would work towards that, curtailing the presidential powers Obama might have.

I like the idea of a truth committee though.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:47 PM on October 15, 2008






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