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April 16, 2009 4:49 PM   Subscribe

Torture Memos Released
As we explained in the Section 2340A Memorandum, "pain and suffering" as used in Section 2340 is best understood as a single concept, not distinct concepts of "pain" as distinguished from "suffering"... The waterboard, which inflicts no pain or actual harm whatsoever, does not, in our view inflict "severe pain or suffering". Even if one were to parse the statute more finely to treat "suffering" as a distinct concept, the waterboard could not be said to inflict severe sufering. The waterboard is simply a controlled acute episode, lacking the connotation of a protracted period of time generally given to suffering.
Ambinder breaks it down, Greenwald rants.
posted by empath (170 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sullivan, as always, is commenting intelligently on his blog.
posted by empath at 4:50 PM on April 16, 2009


This excerpt is particularly damning.
posted by empath at 4:51 PM on April 16, 2009


Woops, i put the wrong Greenwald link. Here's the right one.
posted by empath at 4:52 PM on April 16, 2009


the Justice Department permitted only "six applications of water lasting more than ten seconds" for every two-hour period during which a detainee was strapped to the board. Only 12 minutes of water torture was allowed per 24-hour period.

I picture white men in business suits in a carpeted, air-conditioned Washington D.C. office building discussing the numbers 6, 10, 2, 12, 24...

I think I'll pour an extra measure of whiskey tonight.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:55 PM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


You have orally informed us that you would not deprive Zubaydah of sleep for more than eleven days at a time and that you have previously kept him awake for 72 hours, from which no mental or physical harm resulted.

11 Days? Jesus fuck. I stayed awake for four days once and I was hallucinating and broke down in tears at the end of it. I can't even fucking imagine 11 days.
posted by empath at 4:58 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Lee Greenwood, eat your heart out.
posted by chillmost at 5:00 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


IMO, it's unfair to call Greenwald's blog post a 'rant'. But whatever -- there's no compelling reason not to rant against (1) torture or (2) the 'legal' justifications for torture.
posted by grounded at 5:00 PM on April 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


Yeah, probably could have phrased that better. His blog is always pitched at about 3% too hysterical for my taste.
posted by empath at 5:05 PM on April 16, 2009


And of course the retarded fuckheads at National Review's The Corner are calling the decision to release the memos "terrible." These people aren't afraid of being guilty of committing a crime, they're afraid of being publicly shamed for it. Fucking apologist scumbag jackhole pussies.
posted by dersins at 5:09 PM on April 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


It never ceases to amaze me. Look at these memos. The thoroughness, the meticulous catelogueing of technique, measured number of times you may do X, for Y number of hours, to detainee Z. You'll find similar records kept by those who torture thoughout history. The bureaucratic nature of absolute evil crawls on like a giant iron millipede.

But what breaks my heart the most is, none of these men are looking at any consequences for their actions. They can blithely continue on with their lives, raise their families, enjoy retirement, sleep soundly at night. Those whose lives they've shattered won't be living so comfortably, certainly, but what we won't know for at least a generation is, what did this dark period in our history do to our country? What sort of sick beast will we become, now that we've demonstrated to our children that we do evil, and even admit it, without demanding consequence?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:10 PM on April 16, 2009 [53 favorites]


The United States has formally adopted the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture; they are not some kind of "foreign devilment" messing with our sacred sovereignty: they are the law of the land. But it is clear that the Obama Administration does not have and never had the slightest intention of obeying the law and instigating the required investigations and prosecutions of the high crime -- the capital crime -- of ordering and committing torture. ...

It is understandable that people hunger desperately for change after the open, scalding evils of the Bush years. It is understandable that they would seize on an attractively packaged figure who made a few progressive noises, carried a great deal of genuinely symbolic weight due to his race, and was more personable, cool and articulate than his god-awful predecessor. It is understandable that many people would want to give this figure the benefit of the doubt, to turn a blind eye to the many warning signs that emerged during the campaign, and hope for the best. After all, who would not rather live in hope?

But hope must be grounded in reality; and it must be invested in the right place. When reality gives it the lie, then it must be abandoned. There is no hope to be found in the Obama Administration: no hope for genuine change, no hope for a clean break (or any kind of break) from the relentless and ruthless promotion of empire, oligarchy and militarism. By his own choices -- his appointments, his policies, his court actions, his rhetoric -- Barack Obama has demonstrated beyond all doubt his sincere and abiding commitment to "continuity" in the most pernicious and corrosive elements of America's lawless hyper-state. To place one's hope in such a figure is a crippling, disastrous folly.

The only hope that can be associated with the Obama Administration is the long-shot, rapidly fading, outside chance that they could be forced -- very much against their will -- into at least slowing the militarist-oligarchic juggernaut by strong, sustained, massive, informed political opposition from the public.
- Chris Floyd
posted by Joe Beese at 5:11 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


This excerpt is particularly damning.

Especially when paired with this one.
posted by waitingtoderail at 5:14 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I still believe that the Obama administration WANTS to be forced into prosecuting and investigating these people.

They CAN'T seem eager to do it. That would be seen as political retribution, which would, in fact, be a terrible thing. It needs to be seen as being out of their hands.

There will be a drip, drip, drip of releases, congressional hearings, token resistance from the Obama administration, and it will end with much of the Bush administration in prison and the GOP in tatters.
posted by empath at 5:15 PM on April 16, 2009 [28 favorites]


Just as I believe that tying privacy to the concept of private property was merely a kind of shorthand, one that failed to anticipate the advances of technology, binding the concept of torture to organ failure has also become less and less useful over time.

In the olden days, torture was simple. It made people bleed, they were maimed, they often died, and most were no longer as physically capable as they once were. You could simply look for the gnarled fingers, the burn wounds, the careful pattern of scars. Now, though, the technology of torture has come a long way. With drugs, clever psychological techniques, and the trick of turning the human body's reflexes against itself, it is possible to make someone very, very unhappy, yet not leave an easily visible mark upon them. "Not a scratch on the guy," they can declare. And who can say they are wrong?

My personal idea for how we could judge what is and is not torture in a legal sense would go as follows: everyone in the chain of approval for a given memo saying, "This is not torture" must undergo the procedure themselves. We hear a lot of blowhards who, despite our prosecution of waterboarding as a war crime in World War II, claim that it must be a cakewalk. Our representatives should be willing to put their nervous systems where their print is.

This is part and parcel of the Taser mentality. "Look, I am not shooting this guy through the knee, therefore, it must be okay." The Taser, like other forms of advanced torture technology, leaves little in the way of marks. It has a company behind it dedicated to hindering dissemination of material which would cast the practice in a poor light. It is used wantonly, and often as a first measure, rather than a last recourse.

No prosecutions for those involved in these measured atrocities? We all want safety, security, and a good economy, and, yes, we're glad Mr. Obama is not as willfully ignorant as Bush. "Not as dumb as Bush" is not exactly a hit platform for re-election.
posted by adipocere at 5:16 PM on April 16, 2009 [20 favorites]


it will end with much of the Bush administration in prison and the GOP in tatters.

This is just as unlikely as it is ideal. Silly, but clear.
posted by milarepa at 5:21 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I still believe that the Obama administration WANTS to be forced into prosecuting and investigating these people.

I don't think they care, at all. Between the two of us we might average out to a rational person.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:22 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Anyone else notice how most US news media called them "interrogation memos", but the BBC and Guardian UK didn't pull any bullshit and called them what they really were: "torture memos"?
posted by Mikey-San at 5:22 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is an important post. Don't screw it up by making the discussion head south.
posted by DU at 5:22 PM on April 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


As we explained in the Section 2340A Memorandum, "pain and suffering" as used in Section 2340 is best understood as a single concept, not distinct concepts of "pain" as distinguished from "suffering"... The waterboard, which inflicts no pain or actual harm whatsoever, does not, in our view inflict "severe pain or suffering". Even if one were to parse the statute more finely to treat "suffering" as a distinct concept, the waterboard could not be said to inflict severe sufering. The waterboard is simply a controlled acute episode, lacking the connotation of a protracted period of time generally given to suffering.

Now that is Orwellian. Jesus fuck. I can't imagine the worldview of the person who could write something like that. No doubt they go home to their spouse and children at the end of the day, though, and tell themselves they've helped make the world a little safer.
posted by yoink at 5:24 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


dubyadubyadubya.biteme.com
posted by gman at 5:24 PM on April 16, 2009


I was once shown what appeared to be an official CIA manual regarding enhanced interrogation, as applied both by us or to us by our enemies. In with all this really awful stuff was a technique that involved pouring sugar water onto the captive's face, and then letting insects crawl all over it. That was the only technique in the manual that carried a warning: caution, may cause irreversible psychological damage.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:25 PM on April 16, 2009


everyone in the chain of approval for a given memo saying, "This is not torture" must undergo the procedure themselves.

Police officers are required to be tased in order to be able to carry it. That doesn't stop them from torturing suspects with it. You're underestimating the inhumanity of the people who authorize torture to think that a little bit of waterboarding will make them feel the slightest bit of empathy.
posted by stavrogin at 5:27 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is the important work an Assistant Attorney General (and now Federal Court of Appeals judge) did during the War on Terror:
In addition to using the confinement boxes alone, you also would like to introduce an insect into one of the boxes with Zubaydah. As we understand it, you plan to inform Zubaydah that you are going to place a stinging insect into the box, but you will actually place a harmless insect in the box, such as a caterpillar. If you do so, to ensure that you are outside the predicate act requirement, you must inform him that the insects will not have a sting that would produce death or severe pain. If, however, you were to place the insect in the box without informing him that you are doing so, then, in order to not commit a predicate act, you should not affirmatively lead him to believe that any insect is present which has a sting that could produce severe pain or suffering or even cause his death. [Redacted section] so long as you take either of the approaches we have described, the insect's placement in the box would not constitue a threat of severe physical pain or suffering to a reasonable person in his position.
Yeah, the Assistant Attorney General's crucial contribution to the war effort was advises how to scare an already insane prisoner with bugs. Especially valuable, he painstakingly tells our brave warriors torturers they could avoid having to tell the crazy victim that the bug isn't poisonous, by just not telling the prisoner about the bug, letting him discover it in shocked surprise in the cramped little box he was confined in with the bug.

Bravo, Judge Bybee! Truly, you're a hero of the caliber of John McCain or -- even better! -- his jailers at the Hanoi Hilton.
posted by orthogonality at 5:30 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


This is something so simple even I noticed it, and IANAL.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:30 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


What's the opposite of moral authority? As in, when you express an opinion, it's automatically suspect because it was you who said it?

That's about where US statements on human rights are now.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:39 PM on April 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


So fucking shameful. Except that those who have done all this (or enabled it, or justified it, or prettied it up with bloodless legalese) have no fucking shame.
posted by scody at 5:39 PM on April 16, 2009


Lynndie England did 3 years for 'conspiracy to maltreat prisoners.' Why is it that the law applies to a semi-literate 20 year-old from Appalachia and not to the more upscale folks -- the lawyers, the intelligence agents, the contractors, the attending doctors -- who justified and conducted the torture sessions?
posted by grounded at 5:40 PM on April 16, 2009 [29 favorites]




Now that is Orwellian.

It seems so but I think that's an artifact of the translation. It's probably less Orwellian in the original German.
posted by Justinian at 5:40 PM on April 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


For the past year, I've been making a vague effort to actually read some of the old classic stories that have so permeated popular culture. I started with "The Three Musketeers," and read nearly the whole, thick book in only two days.

My point is, that a few weeks ago I started reading "Dracula," and today I have found it much more sedate and relaxing that following the news.

It is really quite a sad day.
posted by paisley henosis at 5:42 PM on April 16, 2009


Lynndie England did 3 years for 'conspiracy to maltreat prisoners.' Why is it that the law applies to a semi-literate 20 year-old from Appalachia and not to the more upscale folks -- the lawyers, the intelligence agents, the contractors, the attending doctors -- who justified and conducted the torture sessions?

Because the poor folk in this country, the ones who fight our wars and spend their lives working minimum wage jobs down at the 7/11? Yeah, see, they thought about getting all riled up and angry about being used as cannon fodder in our wars, and they considered joining together in mass protest to demand a living wage, veterans benefits and legal counsel, and a working public education system, but see, the thing is? They didn't have any time, what with all those tea-parties they had to attend in order to protest their recent tax cuts.
posted by billysumday at 5:52 PM on April 16, 2009 [14 favorites]


At some point in his presidency Obama's poll numbers will head south. Some thing will go wrong. Something else will go really wrong. Instead of invading Grenada all the president will have to do to remind us of just how evil and incompetent Bush's administration was is to discover some new reason to prosecute these people. Americans may not care about the morality of Bush's actions but they will love to have someone to blame.
posted by rdr at 5:54 PM on April 16, 2009


Can't they use a special prosecutor? So then no elected officials get blamed for prosecuting agents, but the prosecuting still gets done.

Obama has now demonstrated that there still remains conflict of interest if the justice department investigates this; that conflict of interest makes a special prosecutor appropriate.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:01 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


You would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement box with an insect. You have informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects. In particular, you would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect into the box with him.

Holy shit. There's a thread down the front page where people are arguing about hyperbolic 1984 comparisons, but this was actually in 1984, wasn't it?
posted by mr_roboto at 6:02 PM on April 16, 2009 [10 favorites]


It's also up to those of us here who are American citizens to make our voices heard on this. Our responsibilities did not end with the election; citizen involvement in public affairs is still necessary if we want to see real change. Let this administration be aware in no uncertain terms that we want justice done.
posted by OolooKitty at 6:05 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I challenge you: let’s assume that you were called upon to build the edifice of human destiny so that men would finally be happy and would find peace and tranquility. If you knew that, in order to attain this, you would have to torture just one single creature, let’s say the little girl who beat her chest so desperately in the outhouse, and that on her unavenged tears you could build that edifice, would you agree to do it? Tell me, and don’t lie!
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
posted by the_bone at 6:17 PM on April 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Surely th-


Never mind.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:24 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not devoting a synapse's worth of thought to that proposition, the_bone, for it supposes that the torturers and the torture enablers believed they were building the edifice of human destiny with peace and tranquility. I doubt that very much. I think that at bottom they were doing it for vengeance, self-advancement, and even pleasure. If they would like to say otherwise, I look forward to hearing their defenses at trial.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:24 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


There will be a drip, drip, drip of releases, congressional hearings, token resistance from the Obama administration, and it will end with much of the Bush administration in prison and the GOP in tatters.

I have repeatedly offered certain individuals on Metafilter to bet money on whether Bush would declare martial law and become dictator for life. I am willing to bet against the above statement with a similar degree of confidence.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:29 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine being one of the people sorting through this stuff, trying to make decisions about what to release. They got into office on a message of "change" (and, Pollyanna as it is of me, I still have to believe they meant it), and then... to go into the office everyday and have to be confronted with the reality that our country did this. Fine: everyone "knew" the guv'ment was torturing people, but that's a whole different, abstract level from reading the meticulous details of how it was codified, rationalized. Just the few excerpts made me want to vomit - preferably all over the highly-shined shoes of the fuckers who perpetrated this.

But our hypothetical, top-secretly cleared White House functionary: he has to read with depth and understanding. He has to have insight into the disturbed, loving logic that went into creating these... documents. And then he has to decide which might be suitable for declassifying. Word from the top, the Oval Office itself, is that the process has to be managed. We're not on a witch hunt -- we're building a case for the American People. We need popular support to bring the malignant fucks who were behind this to rights.

Which I hope is what's happening. I hope Obama is running this gradual airing of our dirty laundry with the accumen and skill that he ran his campaign. And I'm glad I don't have to be the one to has to go through the entire collected works of G.W. Bush et al. After one day I'd be a wreck. After three months I'd have given up, photocopied the lot, and sent it all to press. Where it would likely have been quashed. Immediately.
posted by logicpunk at 6:35 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


The GOP is funny, because it's split into greedy rich assholes and poor tinfoil hats; the greedy rich assholes fuck people in the ass and the tinfoil hats say 'It's not hard enough for us, please fuck us harder!'
posted by kldickson at 6:36 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, I'd like to see another Nuremberg trial.
posted by kldickson at 6:36 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


this was actually in 1984, wasn't it?

Of course not. In the book it was rats.
posted by ryanrs at 6:38 PM on April 16, 2009 [5 favorites]




i_am_joe's_spleen: you're wrong. They had only the best interests of humanity in mind.... However, they had a somewhat restricted view of who counts as human.

Krrrlson: I know why you'd say that, and I sort of agree. I mean, the idea that this is token resistance is laughable to me. But... I think there is a subtle difference here that shifts the dynamic. Obama doesn't want to investigate Bush, because he doesn't like the idea of investigating presidents in general. But whereas Bush had no choice but to fight --the alternative was prison for his friends (and REALLY unlikely, himself)-- Obama has to give up fighting at some point, or he beings to risk prison for HIS friends. So the question is, can the ACLU and other non-democratically-aligned liberal organizations push hard enough to frighten Obama into caving. I'd rate it a solid: doesn't violate any known laws of physics. i.e. I'd bet five bucks against it and laugh with joy if I lost, but I wouldn't bet my car.
posted by Humanzee at 6:39 PM on April 16, 2009


So, if you make it clear that the "interrogated" is not going to die, it's not torture.

That clears it up. So, in the movies, when the villain says to the henchman "make sure to keep him alive... bwahhahahah" that makes it "enhanced interrogation".
posted by qvantamon at 6:39 PM on April 16, 2009


mr_roboto: "There's a thread down the front page where people are arguing about hyperbolic 1984 comparisons, but this was actually in 1984, wasn't it?"

No, that was a rat.

Being confined in a box with insects was The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. I.

Really, that's one of the torture methods it catalogs. Along with enforced standing, enforced sleeplesslness...
posted by Joe Beese at 6:40 PM on April 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Conservatives protesting tax cuts? Wow, the GOP's jumped the shark.

Okay, idiots, if you want to give the government more money, please, give the government more money.
posted by kldickson at 6:40 PM on April 16, 2009


There will be a drip, drip, drip of releases, congressional hearings, token resistance from the Obama administration, and it will end with much of the Bush administration in prison and the GOP in tatters.

Much as I wish it could come true, this is pure fantasy.

My respect for the Obama administration took a big hit today.
posted by modernnomad at 6:41 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


empath: "I still believe that the Obama administration WANTS to be forced into prosecuting and investigating these people."

Floyd again...

Look again at what Obama actually said:

[[ But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. ... That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future. ]]

If Obama truly believes that prosecuting unknown CIA operatives would constitute some kind of disturbing disunity that the country could not bear in the present situation, then how likely is he to pursue the even more "disturbing" prospect of investigating and indicting a former president and his top officials? ...

It is clear in the context of his statement that "the forces that would divide us" refers to those who are calling for the instigators and perpetrators to be prosecuted. They are the ones insisting on the disturbing, disunifying course of "laying blame for the past."

posted by Joe Beese at 6:48 PM on April 16, 2009


"I am willing to bet against [punishment of the Bush Administraion torture enablers] with a similar degree of confidence."

I'm willing to bet the Wall Street con men and the war profiters never see prison. That it's still possible to lynch a black man in America and get away with impunity. That in Germany, aged Nazis still get government pensions, or that Russia will again unleash the pogroms.

Oddly enough, my realization of these things don't make any of them right. Which is why I don't pop up in threads about corruption or war crimes or lynchings or pogroms to smugly declare how sure I am that the criminals will never see justice.
posted by orthogonality at 6:50 PM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Regarding the officers who carried out the torture, is it clear that they at all acted on their own, or were they given orders to adminster torture? If the latter, I don't really have a problem with their immunity provided they are able to testify against their superiors. Or is that way too simplistic??

I can just see another Abu Ghraib, in which the dumb mooks like Linny England got the (well deserved) shit end of the stick, but their superiors who certainly promoted their behavior got precisely no punishment at all. If handled well, this could be the thing that could actually allow prosecutions of Rumsfeld, Cheney, even Bush. In a perfect world. In other words, I have no problem letting the torturers go if it means Cheney gets frogmarched to Sing Sing.
posted by zardoz at 6:59 PM on April 16, 2009


"Regarding the officers who carried out the torture, is it clear that they at all acted on their own, or were they given orders to adminster torture?"

If you read the Bybee memos, it's pretty clear Bybee's writing, essentially, "you said you want to do this, and you provided research on it, and here's how you can make it 'legal'".

For example, in the bit on sleep deprivation, it reads as if the torturers provided "research" claiming up to eleven days of sleep deprivation is not permanently harmful.
posted by orthogonality at 7:09 PM on April 16, 2009


The one thing I hope - despite the cognitive dissonance - is that Obama's track record of playing a long game, they way he did - then called in - favors as a Senator, is what he's doing now; waiting for momentum to build, all the while quietly or even clandestinely supporting movements that would lead to prosecutions. It's how he took the nomination from Hillary.

I have to believe this, otherwise my vote counted for nothing and I may as well have moved back to Europe as if McCain had won. It's difficult to face the reality of how the administration has acted so far, but I can't give up yet, not after so long.
posted by digitalprimate at 7:15 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


If Obama truly believes that prosecuting unknown CIA operatives would constitute some kind of disturbing disunity that the country could not bear in the present situation, then how likely is he to pursue the even more "disturbing" prospect of investigating and indicting a former president and his top officials? ...
Greenwald quotes three seperate sources saying that this does not mean no prosecutions.
Jameel (a) calls for a Special Prosecutor on behalf of the ACLU and (b) emphasizes that nothing said by Obama or Holder today should be understood to foreclose criminal prosecutions
Given this, I take Obama's stance as trying to appear non-partisan and non-vindictive. Slate's political gabfest was also making a similar point in January; the Administration's position seems to be that they'll "open-source" what went wrong, leaving the possibility of independent prosecutors to pursue justice.

Basically, I'd be outraged at this point, but will allow enough space to allow some political pirouetting.
posted by the cydonian at 7:27 PM on April 16, 2009


One of the interesting consequences of the Obama administration saying that the CIA agents will not be prosecuted, is that those agents now cannot use the 5th Amendment to keep from testifying in any case that involves torture.

If anyone wants to build a case against senior Bush administration officials, I would think that the testimony of these agents would be quite important.
posted by zippy at 7:28 PM on April 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


In the olden days, torture was simple.

In the Olden Days, say, the suppression of the Phillipine Rebellion at the turn of the last century, torture was the same as it is here: the water board, the close confine, sleep deprivation. Most of these techniques were perfected during the Insurrection, as it just so happens. (As was the automatic pistol and submachine gun).

These "techniques" were deemed torture and an abhorrence, the soldiers and sailors involved pretty much cashiered and ruined.

Why that shouldn't be the case here, I'm not clear. Maybe we're not as moral as our forbears, after all. As they were imperialist, racist misogynists, that's pretty terrifying.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:33 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


The adjective "Orwellian" comes up repeatedly in the first impressions of these memos, but Orwell never wrote in such a bloodless legalese prose style, and his supreme creation in 1984, Party member O'Brien, never bothered with such ass-covering casuistry. Consider the conclusion to the most recent memo:
We also conclude that the CIA interrogation program, subject to its careful screending, limits, and medical monitoring, would not violate the substantive standards applicable to the United States under Article 16 even if those standards extended to the CIA interrogation program. Given the paucity of relevant precedent and the subjective nature of the inquiry, however, we cannot predict with confidence whether a court would agree with this conclusion, though, for the reasons explained, the question is unlikely to be subject to judicial inquiry.
After reading as much of these memos as I could stomach, I'd very much like to see that final bit of hedging put to the test.
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:47 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


The 2002 memo contended it was legal to place an insect in a cramped confined space with a prisoner, provided that the insect was not poisonous. The CIA wanted to use this technique on Abu Zubaydah, who was afraid of poisonous insects.

CLASSIFIED TRANSCRIPT - PRISONER QUESTIONING SESSION 925 [07-09-2005]
SUBJECT #4324532 - ZUBAYDAH, ABU


CAPT. [REDACTED]: [wearing novelty "Uncle Sam" hat] Finally I'm going to kill Saddam! That cocky boy who knocked down my towers and enslaved Iraq!

GUARDS: [cheering]

CAPT. [REDACTED]: And who defeated Iraq?

GUARDS: USA!

CAPT. [REDACTED]: Who stopped him?

GUARDS: USA!

CAPT. [REDACTED]: Who chased him into a spiderhole?

GUARDS: USA!

CAPT. [REDACTED]: Who went into the other end of the world and killed his children?

GUARDS: USA!

CAPT. [REDACTED]: And who didn't want me to do it? Who tried to stop me? Who amongst us does not belong? Someone here does not belong, a stranger amongst loyal, I will weed you out.

[enters cell block]

CAPT. [REDACTED]: [points] You! You. Yes. You! You! That's right, you! No, not you. Not you. You. You. You. You acted against me, bringing terror cells back here, didn't you.

ZUBAYDAH: No.

CAPT. [REDACTED]: Aww... tell your interrogator the truth.

ZUBAYDAH: [weeps]

CAPT. [REDACTED]: Aww... say it. Say it.

ZUBAYDAH: I did.

CAPT. [REDACTED]: Yes, you made a boo-boo.

ZUBAYDAH: I did... I did it...

CAPT. [REDACTED]: The boo box.

ZUBAYDAH: No! Not the boo box! No! [screams]

CAPT. [REDACTED]: The boo box. Yes.

ZUBAYDAH: No! No! [screaming]

[prisoner is placed into crate]

PVT. [REDACTED]: [inserts insect] Boo! [laughter]

PVT. [REDACTED #2]: [inserts insect] Boo! [laughter]

posted by Rhaomi at 7:47 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, it's hilarious, isn't it. Jesus.
posted by billysumday at 7:51 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


It seems to me, that what ever The Presidents's personal feelings about the torture issue (and I choose to believe he is an honourable man and finds these acts deplorable) if he lets his administration go down the road of prosecutions then that will be all his administration achieves in his first term. I hope he really had to agonise over the choice, but I can see why, with the recession already threatening to stream rol; so many of the "good works" he was hoping to implement, he might not want to further dilute his focus at this time. That said, it sticks in the craw that it looks we no have no hope of seeing justice done.
posted by adamt at 7:51 PM on April 16, 2009




Holy fucking shit.
posted by chunking express at 7:57 PM on April 16, 2009


billysumday: "Yes, it's hilarious, isn't it. Jesus."

I don't know about you, but that scene creeped the hell out of me when I saw it as a kid. Sorry if it came off as flippant.
posted by Rhaomi at 8:00 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


What I'd like to see them release is the actual transcripts of every single 'interrogation' that was conducted, from the most mundane of captives all the way up the line to the most sinister.

Behind nearly all of the torture is the attitude of 'Never Again', referring to 9-11. Were I an advocate of the 'the end result of preventing additional loss of innocent lives justifies any means in attaining that prevention' I would want the record to show that my methods did in fact prevent great catastrophes, so that when I was prosecuted for my decision I could at least have a degree of satisfaction that I gave my own freedom for the lives of others. Were I in possession of those transcripts and they showed that not a single iota of useful information was gained via the torture, then I would want the transcript published so that the next time some megalomaniac tried to play fast and loose with the law under the guise of 'war' I could shove this in their faces as proof that it doesn't work.
posted by spicynuts at 8:12 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


From Politico:
A former top official in the administration of President George W. Bush called the publication of the memos “unbelievable.”

“It's damaging because these are techniques that work, and by Obama's action today, we are telling the terrorists what they are,” the official said. “We have laid it all out for our enemies. This is totally unnecessary. … Publicizing the techniques does grave damage to our national security by ensuring they can never be used again — even in a ticking-time- bomb scenario where thousands or even millions of American lives are at stake."

“I don't believe Obama would intentionally endanger the nation, so it must be that he thinks either 1. the previous administration, including the CIA professionals who have defended this program, is lying about its importance and effectiveness, or 2. he believes we are no longer really at war and no longer face the kind of grave threat to our national security this program has protected against.”
posted by Rhaomi at 8:14 PM on April 16, 2009


Releasing these memos was a good thing, and I'm with those who think that the will to hold high Bush officials accountable does exist, although I agree that we'll have to wait and watch and advocate to see if this goes anywhere good.

It comes as no surprise that the administration's failure to immediately launch Abu Gharib-style prosecutions against mid-level CIA operatives is seen as treasonous by the Aren't You Disillusioned By Obama Yet Brigade.

Dear AYDBOYB: No.
posted by arcanecrowbar at 8:16 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


We have laid it all out for our enemies. This is totally unnecessary. …

Does he really believe that our enemies do not know what the universally practiced torture techniques are with or without these documents? Isn't it all pretty much laid out in published international law under sections titled "Strictly Forbidden"?
posted by spicynuts at 8:27 PM on April 16, 2009


it must be that he thinks either 1. the previous administration, including the CIA professionals who have defended this program, is lying about its importance and effectiveness

It's funny the way he posits this as the unthinkable option.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:29 PM on April 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


Does he really believe that our enemies do not know what the universally practiced torture techniques are with or without these documents? Isn't it all pretty much laid out in published international law under sections titled "Strictly Forbidden"?

That is a pretty tired retort, isn't it? As if first-hand knowledge of these incidents isn't already present with our enemies. It's also striking how he considers "publicizing the techniques does grave damage to our national security by ensuring they can never be used again" a bad thing.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:34 PM on April 16, 2009


Certainly use of these techniques has itself endangered American troops and civilians, since decisions made on the basis of false confessions are unlikely to turn out well, and all Americans are now fair game for these techniques when held by other powers.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:36 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


America needs to have a million man march on Washington, demanding change. Like the tea party, but sane.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:40 PM on April 16, 2009


I would not be surprised in the least if Cheny himself actually waterboarded someone during all of this. You know he watched it on satellite at the very least. Probably had split screen cruise-missile cams and SATCOM during "Shock and Awe" - he was the CEO and the fucking customer for chrissake. Most expensive snuff films ever produced for the most exclusive audience ever in attendance.
posted by HyperBlue at 8:45 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


five fresh fish, we did, but called it "Obama's inauguration."
posted by SirNovember at 8:50 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


As I explained in the Ubu Wedding Memorandum, "to have and to hold" as used in traditional marriage vows is best understood as a single concept, not distinct concepts of "having" as distinguished from "holding"... Extramarital sex, which inflicts no pain or actual harm whatsoever, does not, in my view, contradict marital "having and holding". Even if one were to parse the vows more finely to treat "holding" as a distinct concept, the affair could not be said to constitute holding. The sex is simply a controlled acute episode, lacking the connotation of a protracted period of time generally given to holding.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:59 PM on April 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


Like the tea party, but sane.

I see where you're coming from, but what does Jeff Martin have to do with this?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:02 PM on April 16, 2009


"L'etat c'est moi now, motherfuckers."

B.H. Obama (2009)

Like it or not, Barack Obama now controls the willing hands that insert the poisonous insects into the boxes, that tap the backbone fiber optic lines, that pour the water onto the gaping mouths of the prisoners. Like the Flying Dutchman, he is strapped to the helm of the giant Ship of State--just as George the Unready was. As President of the United States of America, Obama is inescapably subject to the inexorable demands of imperial survival in a dangerous world where, as he has been saying so frequently lately, people are trying to do "US" harm.

The subtle constitutional law professor, an honorable man, now must view the world from the perspective of a Napoleon. I do not envy him. Like any autocrat, he is obligated to protect the agents of his rule. I see little chance, however, that he will not break our hearts as we watch the imperatives of absolute power corrode the better angels of his nature. The process is already underway.
posted by rdone at 9:19 PM on April 16, 2009 [6 favorites]


dersins: "And of course the retarded fuckheads at National Review's The Corner are calling the decision to release the memos "terrible.""

And what say the retarded fuckheads at RedState?

Co-opting the word “torture” to include methods far less offensive than the majority of interrogation techniques I underwent in military SERE training isn’t a victory for moralists and humanitarians in any form; rather, it’s an Orwellian perversion of a word that once had meaning by those who have spent the last eight years on constant lookout for some greviance to hold against a president whose mere existence they resented.

The sad fact is, by co-opting the word “torture” and using it to describe activities going on at Gitmo, Bagram, and elsewhere, these faux-humanitarians have left us with no word to use to describe those activities which used to be classified as torture, like beheading captives on video, hanging people from meat hooks, drilling out eyeballs, using electric current to cause severe pain and physical damage, and cutting off limbs.

Then again, the fact that there is no longer a word to decribe such barbaric activities as those listed above — every one of which has been used by our enemies... — is likely a boon for those who are so outraged at the Bush administration’s actions, since, given all the outrage, wailing, and rending of garments they’ve been driven to over a captive terrorists being kept on their feet for a few hours or deprived of sleep, having any way of describing, speaking about, or comprehending real formerly-known-as-torture would likely cause their heads to simply explode.

Better just not to think about it at all, then, and focus all possible outrage on an administration that, when in office, prevented the homeland from suffering a single man-caused disaster for the final seven years of his presidency, despite an actively subversive opposition. That’ll make everything better.

posted by Joe Beese at 9:28 PM on April 16, 2009


Like the tea party, but sane.

I'll get my poop hat.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:35 PM on April 16, 2009


They say torture doesn't work, but I know it does. I tortured my gardener this morning, and just look at the lawn. My boy was getting mediocre grades, and I caned him, and now he in an honor student. I waterboarded an employee who wasn't making his sake quota, and you'd better believe he passed that quote the very next month. And I had been cheating on my diet, but I found that if I cheated, all I needed to do was crush my testicles in a vice and I was disinclined to repeat the mistake. I have been so pleased with the benefits of torture that I recently tortured my gums for bleeding and tortured my head for hurting. The results were less satisfactory, but I may have used the wrong interrogation technique. If my gums bleed again, I might try beating them with a pillowcase filled with oranges.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some letters I need to torture into being written and a bathroom that must be tortured clean.

I figure I am just doing my part. Because if a terrorist should be making schemes, and just happens to pass me, and sees me torturing my lawn to get rid of weeds, and sees me torturing the sky to make it rain, he's going to know that we Americans are not kidding about torture. If it stops just one 9/11, it's worth it.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:56 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


sale quota, rather. I am torturing my keyboard as we speak for that error.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:57 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


As I explained in the Ubu Wedding Memorandum…

Too soon. I know it's popular to make fun of politics these days, but sometimes it enables the evil. Making a joke of it makes it more difficult to move society to the point where it will demand prosecution of evil.

Obama is inescapably subject to the inexorable demands of imperial survival in a dangerous world where, as he has been saying so frequently lately, people are trying to do "US" harm.

Obama's task is to decline the empire. Instead of engaging in direct economic war, as it did with Russia, the USA is going to require a guerilla approach in dealing with China.

Part of that is going to require enabling nations to peacefully secure a democracy of some sort: if you try to do it through force, as you did with a good number of South American nations, you end up in intractable wars that inevitably end in your bankruptcy. You fell victim to one of the classic blunders! Never get involved in a…war with Asia!

Come to think it, rather like Britain did with its possession of Hong Kong and colonization of India, the mid-East, and other Asian nations. Interesting thought, then, is that the USA is on the very same path as Britain: a surveillance society; a violent underclass of alcoholics and hooligans; internal terrorist threats; a 30% immigrant population in your city centres; destitute, with a crippled healthcare system, dismal food, and rotting teeth¹

Given that Canada has elected a man to the right of your President, I'm sure we'll be following in short order, just like we always do. God, I've got to move myself to smarter country.

¹just yanking² ya
²a scottish term, not a perogative against New Englanders
posted by five fresh fish at 10:06 PM on April 16, 2009


The sad fact is, by co-opting the word “torture” and using it to describe activities going on at Gitmo, Bagram, and elsewhere, these faux-humanitarians have left us with no word to use to describe those activities which used to be classified as torture, like beheading captives on video, hanging people from meat hooks, drilling out eyeballs, using electric current to cause severe pain and physical damage, and cutting off limbs.

I...uh...what? I think we still have a word for those things: torture. It's a category describing many things. Except beheading, which is more properly described as execution.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:07 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Too soon.

I need to clarify. I did initially get a good chortle. But then I realized that this isn't a Family Guy episode. There are Family Guy episodes that offend the hell out of me, and I laugh my ass off. Bad can be good when it's not real.

But catching myself laughing this bothered me, and it should. The was real abuse of real people. It's not a cartoon. Citizens were given democratic government authority to torture people.

My god. I grew up being taught that Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, Idi Amin, Muammar Qaddafi, Pinochet — EVIL MEN — tortured shit out of people. Next to Hitler, these are the worst people EVER.

And here we're seeing that George Bush and his puppetmasters did the same thing.

That's not something to laugh about. Holy shit, though, it's sure something to get really angry about.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:18 PM on April 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


hey, i was just trying to highlight the absurdity of their mental gymnastics by applying the same kind of thing to another context.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:25 PM on April 16, 2009


Better just not to think about it at all, then, and focus all possible outrage on an administration that, when in office, prevented the homeland from suffering a single man-caused disaster for the final seven years of his presidency, despite an actively subversive opposition. That’ll make everything better.

Yeah, um, about that...
posted by teraflop at 10:26 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


No. 0068 April 4, 1953

Top Secret

The USSR Ministry of Internal Affairs has determined that the investigative work of the MGB [Ministry of State Security] authorities has involved grave perversions of Soviet law, arrests of innocent Soviet citizens, uncontrolled falsification of investigative materials, and widespread use of various methods of torture--brutal beatings of arrestees, round-the-clock use of handcuffs with the arms twisted behind the back, in some cases for several months, long periods of sleep deprivation, the incarceration of unclothed prisoners in cold cells, etc.

By order of the administration of the (former) USSR Ministry of State Security, beatings of arrestees took place in rooms specially fitted out for the purpose in Lefortovo and the internal prisons, and were assigned to a special group of selected individuals from the ranks of the prison employees, with the use of various torture devices.

These monstrous "interrogation methods" led to many of the innocent arrestees being driven to a condition of physical collapse, moral depression, and sometimes loss of human likeness by the investigators.

Making use of the arrestees' condition, the falsificationist investigators slipped them "confessions," fabricated ahead of time, about anti-Soviet and espionage-terrorist activities.


Such vicious methods of investigation led the efforts of the agency staff down a false path, and the attention of the state security authorities was distracted from the fight against the real enemies of the Soviet State.

I order:

1. All use of any methods of coercion and physical pressure against arrestees to be categorically forbidden in the Ministry of Internal Affairs; during investigations all norms of the code of criminal due process are to be strictly observed.
2. Rooms fitted out at the Lefortovo and internal prisons for the purpose of applying methods of physical pressure by the (former) USSR MGB are to be liquidated, and all devices which were used for purposes of torture are to be destroyed.
3. This order to be distributed to the entire agency staff of the MVD authorities; they are to be warned that henceforth not only the immediate culprits but also their superiors will be held strictly responsible, including facing trial.


L. Beria
USSR Minister of Internal Affairs
posted by nasreddin at 10:39 PM on April 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


This should be mandatory reading in law schools around the world.
posted by nihraguk at 10:46 PM on April 16, 2009


(translation mine; original here.)
posted by nasreddin at 10:56 PM on April 16, 2009


Noting that Beria was in the secret police, had no trouble engaging in torture when it suited his purposes, and aided Stalin in gaining power.

I really hope the USA isn't heading down that path. I think it may have been: I believe Cheney is purely evil and would have gleefully orchestrated a purging. I hope like hell that Obama is not some wolf in sheep's clothing.

Actually, I think he's probably more like a sheep that knows several of the martial arts, and stands a good chance of kicking wolf ass if he doesn't develop a taste for power and personal gain. Which is, sadly, what seems to happen to many politicians.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:12 PM on April 16, 2009


Right, I'm not defending Beria--I just thought some historical context might be nice. Note how sleep deprivation is included in the list of monstrous offenses.
posted by nasreddin at 11:15 PM on April 16, 2009


Let us not forget that John Yoo is currently 'on leave' from his job at UC Berkeley's law school.

John, just in case you're out there somewhere, holed up in a cave and killing time by Googling yourself: please consider a new career in fucking off forever.
posted by bhance at 11:26 PM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


Noting that Beria was in the secret police, had no trouble engaging in torture when it suited his purposes

Including his sexual purposes - he used to trawl the streets of Moscow at night in a limo, and abduct women wandering alone for him to rape, torture & kill.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:39 PM on April 16, 2009


I see little chance, however, that he will not break our hearts as we watch the imperatives of absolute power corrode the better angels of his nature. The process is already underway.

I expect him to get shit done, not fuck around with pointless moral battles.

The problem he faces is that 25%-30% of the country are right shitheads, so he needs the muddled middle to get the aforementioned shit done.

This requires political savvy, not moral purity.

Clinton fucked up his first term by swerving away from the middle too soon (instituting don't-ask-don't-tell immediately upon taking office).

If the choice is getting the supertrain corridors built and prosecuting CIA torturers, I'll take the supertrains. This may be a false dilemma fallacy, but given the total stupidity of our discourse -- the rightwing vapor chamber centered around FOX NEWS -- I really don't think so.
posted by mrt at 11:47 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't pop up in threads about corruption or war crimes or lynchings or pogroms to smugly declare how sure I am that the criminals will never see justice.
posted by orthogonality


The fact that I call out these delusional rants really pisses you off, doesn't it?
posted by Krrrlson at 11:49 PM on April 16, 2009


I read the bybee memo as soon at it came out. It's really easy to read, and man that "incect in the box" thing really struck me. It was also interesting how he chose a caterpillar as a specific example, as caterpillars are probably the cutest example of an insect (other then a butterfly, I guess).

here is the chapter from 1984 that talks about the rats, if you want to read it (do a find in page for 'rats'). I also managed to find the "Boo Box" clip referenced above.

I think the first thing we need to do is get Jay Bybee off the federal appeals court bench. He should be impeached.
posted by delmoi at 12:02 AM on April 17, 2009




"No. 0068 April 4, 1953"

Of course, that was Beria covering his ass a month after Stalin's death, and two months before beria himself would be arrested and liquidated. Beria knew about and had approved all the tortures, false confessions, and show trials he pretends in that memo to decry.
posted by orthogonality at 12:46 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"and sometimes loss of human likeness by the investigators."

nasreddin, if that's your own translation, what does that line mean? Does it mean prisoners were beaten so badly their faces were not recognizanly human, or doesit mean the investigators lost any empathy for the prisoners?
posted by orthogonality at 12:48 AM on April 17, 2009


"and abduct women wandering alone for him to rape, torture & kill."

And children.
posted by orthogonality at 12:49 AM on April 17, 2009


To me, the worst thing about those memos (apart from the clinical, detached language) is the intent to draw a line between what's allowed and the ever increasing amount of stuff that can / should / must be done to the prisoners: it's not torture yet ... nooo, not yet ... no, still a bit more ... aaand ... now it's torture.

Reminds me of the classical advice on how to tighten a bolt correctly: tighten it until it breaks, and then back it off a little.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 1:04 AM on April 17, 2009


I'm now wondering how these guys would interpret the 8th Amendment to the US Constitution, which forbids (inter alia) "cruel and unusual punishment"

("it can't be 'unusual' if we do it all the time, right...?")
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:51 AM on April 17, 2009




>I see little chance, however, that he will not break our hearts as we watch the >imperatives of absolute power corrode the better angels of his nature. The process is >already underway.

I expect him to get shit done, not fuck around with pointless moral battles.


Oh come on. So when it's their guy letting this stuff slide it's a horrible crime, and when our guy let's it slide it's just "not fucking around with pointless moral battles"?

Let's have some fucking spine in us, and hold Obama accountable to what we all thought and hoped he would do.
posted by modernnomad at 5:03 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


FDR told the Unions "Make me do it." Because he recognized politically it was not in his best interest to help them at that time. So, they (the Unions) did.

Obama finds himself in somewhat the same situation; what we need then is to 'make him do it' and though it is cathartic, all the moral outrage in the world will do little towards seeing that end achieved.

The real question (hinted at by empath above) is what will it take, politically, to force Obama into letting this happen? I haven't the faintest idea, though I would guess it would be something along the lines of a 'Truth and reconciliation' committee, though there needs to be political will for that as well.

Since the Clinton impeachment proceedings, I've always felt there should be a PAC for regular citizens (isn't that insane? a PAC for the citizens to lobby their own government? But honestly I don't know how else to have the voice of the people get heard otherwise). This fictional PAC would invest the time, money and energy necessary to see to this getting done.

Just as an aside, it is positively insane that we are even having this discussion, and for this alone, I think someone should pay, dearly.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:36 AM on April 17, 2009


Politicians have an intriguing mental derangement. I wonder where I can find some articles on the psychology of politics.
posted by kldickson at 6:02 AM on April 17, 2009


Actually, fuck that; polisci is boring as all fuck.
posted by kldickson at 6:06 AM on April 17, 2009


Let's have some fucking spine in us, and hold Obama accountable to what we all thought and hoped he would do.
Well, let's hold him accountable to what he's said he'd do, and agitate for what we've hoped he'd do. Not the same. And recognize as we go that this isn't yet the End Times, and there'll be chances to get Bush's bastards in time to come.
posted by waxbanks at 6:43 AM on April 17, 2009


The "this isn't torture" argument boils down to this:

1) This person is evil, and I support these things that were done to hurt him
2) Torture is evil
3) I, on the other hand, am not evil.
4) Therefore, this is not torture.

Everything after that is just rationalization.
posted by bitterpants at 6:47 AM on April 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


I think people get worked up because, fuck, they are memos with peoples names on them clearly outlining all this crazy shit, and these same people are still living the good life. I mean, what sort of smoking gun needs to exist before there is any real justice here.
posted by chunking express at 7:11 AM on April 17, 2009


If the choice is getting the supertrain corridors built and prosecuting CIA torturers, I'll take the supertrains.

Heaven forbid that your shiny new toys should be delayed by the exercise of moral principle.
I assume you'll be expecting them to run on time, too?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:41 AM on April 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I guess America is going to get its ass handed to it in this next century because it apparently can't prosecute CIA torturers AND build trains. You guys had a good run, anyways.
posted by chunking express at 7:46 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


So it's time to really start agitating for change. Write your representatives, call your representatives, visit your representatives face-to-face and demand that they do something to restore America's ability to be proud of itself. Join and organize protests and demonstrations.

Prove that America stands behind its President and stands behind doing the right thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:49 AM on April 17, 2009


'Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?'
posted by empath at 8:06 AM on April 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm now wondering how these guys would interpret the 8th Amendment to the US Constitution, which forbids (inter alia) "cruel and unusual punishment"

It's only "punishment" if you've been found guilty of something. This was "interrogation". A similarly weasel-ish excuse was used on us in the Navy when our performance wasn't up to the standards of the higher-ups. "This isn't punishment, it's a 'corrective action'.".
posted by ArgentCorvid at 8:09 AM on April 17, 2009


Andrew Sullivan:
Looked at from a distance, the Bush administration wanted to do two things at once: to declare to the world that freedom is on the march, and human rights are coming to the world with American help, while simultaneously declaring to captives that the US has no interest in the law, human rights, accountability, transparency or humanity. They wanted to give hope to all the oppressed of the planet, while surgically banishing all hope from the prisoners they captured and tortured. And the only way they could pull this off is by the total secrecy they constructed and defended. So we had a public government respectful of the rule of law, and a secret government whose main goal was persuading terror suspects that there was no rule of law at all. It is hard to convey just how dangerous this was and is.
posted by empath at 8:18 AM on April 17, 2009


I'll never forgive Obama for giving me occasion to agree with Larry Johnson, a.k.a. Agent Flowbee:

Ironically the U.S. Department of Justice this week was allowing a former Nazi death camp guard to be deported back to Poland to face possible charges for abuses he committed while carrying out the orders of superiors. Hell, while we are giving everyone a pass for illegal, immoral activity carried out for what the leaders considered to be a good purpose, let’s let Demanjuk go. At least we would be consistent.

Rule of law my ass.

posted by Joe Beese at 8:19 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I am willing to bet against the above statement with a similar degree of confidence.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:29 PM on April 16


It's pretty telling that the best thing you can say about Bush is that he didn't declare himself emperor for life. It's also telling that you have nothing to say about the United States torturing people.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:22 AM on April 17, 2009 [6 favorites]


Man, this shit continues long enough, I'm getting the fuck out. I'm not sure I want to be stuck in a country that's eventually going to be eating its own hat if it doesn't recognize that for law to be effective, it has to be applied consistently. Yeah, it's not anywhere near as bad as some of the shit in the developing world, but I don't think it's unreasonable to demand government asymptotically approaching perfection. It's important.

Hey, Scandinavia or Czech Republic - you got room for a few more people? At least you guys' problems are more tolerable, and the latter of you has the benefit of being mostly atheist.
posted by kldickson at 8:37 AM on April 17, 2009


Not just any people Optimus. Terrorists.

All of them. I can feel that they were guilty. Because I lack actual empathy and will frankly believe any old shit that I am fed on account of my utterly abhorent moral emptiness and inability to imagine my family members being abducted and beaten for several years because someone in a nearby village wanted to make a quick buck.
posted by longbaugh at 8:39 AM on April 17, 2009


If I were doing congressional hearings on this, I'd call Bybee, Yoo, etc to testify and read the following chapter of 1984 to them, and ask them -- in their professional opinions -- if the treatment of Winston would count as torture under US and international law.

'The worst thing in the world,' said O'Brien, 'varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal.'

And not even torture, apparently.
posted by empath at 9:07 AM on April 17, 2009


Ironically the U.S. Department of Justice this week was allowing a former Nazi death camp guard to be deported back to Poland to face possible charges for abuses he committed while carrying out the orders of superiors. Hell, while we are giving everyone a pass for illegal, immoral activity carried out for what the leaders considered to be a good purpose, let’s let Demanjuk go. At least we would be consistent.

What a stupid analogy. Demjanjuk is being deported to face trial. I don't see any evidence at this point that people involved will not be brought to trial. If that doesn't happen, yes, then the analogy might be apt, but right now comparing a case which has taken years, if not decades to come to trial to potential cases that may or may not go to trial, and will possibly take years as well, is ridiculous.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:28 AM on April 17, 2009


oneirodynia: "I don't see any evidence at this point that people involved will not be brought to trial."

Opening your eyes will help.

"it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution"
posted by Joe Beese at 9:48 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


empath: "I still believe that the Obama administration WANTS to be forced into prosecuting and investigating these people.

They CAN'T seem eager to do it. That would be seen as political retribution, which would, in fact, be a terrible thing. It needs to be seen as being out of their hands.

There will be a drip, drip, drip of releases, congressional hearings, token resistance from the Obama administration, and it will end with much of the Bush administration in prison and the GOP in tatters.
"

You have too much faith in Democrats.
posted by symbioid at 9:49 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


"it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution"

Are you assuming that everyone acted in good faith?
posted by empath at 9:50 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not yet widely commented upon are the ramifications of Obama describing men who repeatedly slammed a captive's head into a concrete wall as "good faith" executors of their "duty".

Just the kind of men we're looking for at CIA! Now hiring!
posted by Joe Beese at 10:12 AM on April 17, 2009


The description is all the more obnoxious since the requests to get this sort of stuff pushed through were initiated by the CIA.
posted by chunking express at 10:21 AM on April 17, 2009


Obama describing men who repeatedly slammed a captive's head into a concrete wall as "good faith" executors of their "duty".

He did no such thing. Obama is a careful man, and a professional writer. He chooses words carefully, and they should be read carefully.
posted by empath at 10:23 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


This made me so mad last night, I couldn't even find the words to post. Now I just feel incredibly disgusted. You're really going out like a sucker, USA. This is just appalling.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:40 AM on April 17, 2009


But what breaks my heart the most is, none of these men are looking at any consequences for their actions. They can blithely continue on with their lives, raise their families, enjoy retirement, sleep soundly at night.

You may restore your faith in human nature, with a big caveat: we can be influenced and induced to perform torture, as demonstrated by the Milgram Experiment.

The subjects of the experiment didn't know they were not _really_ administering an electrical shock to an human being, yet they kept going on, regardless of the cries. Not all people reacted in the same way, and some subject later written what follows (emphasis mine):
While I was a subject in 1964, though I believed that I was hurting someone, I was totally unaware of why I was doing so. Few people ever realize when they are acting according to their own beliefs and when they are meekly submitting to authority… To permit myself to be drafted with the understanding that I am submitting to authority's demand to do something very wrong would make me frightened of myself… I am fully prepared to go to jail if I am not granted Conscientious Objector status. Indeed, it is the only course I could take to be faithful to what I believe. My only hope is that members of my board act equally according to their conscience
Nobody was _forcing_ the subject, for instance by pointing a gun at their head.The presence of an authority (a white lab coat scientist, but could have been a priest or any figure recognized as authoritative by the subject) and the belief that all of that was being done for a "greater good" was basically enough to make people become callous torturers, at least for the duration of the experiment.

Now imagine having a propaganda system that bombards you with almost incessant, progressive information leading you to believe that "x is an enemy" and that the authority will tell you that somebody belongs to enemy. It doesn't have to be overt propaganda, it could also be uncorrected popular generalizations such as "the woman do" or "the man do" or the, which imply all of the elements of the sets. It works in politics as well, when you listen to certain radio host constantly accusing "the librl"...without ever defining who belongs to this set, but those who disagree with the host or that the host finds to be "immoral" or "repugnant".

Obviously in the military the system is already set to
1. not question the authority
2. belonging to a group of chosen fews
3. having a special "code of honor" that could be, at times, applied or not applied selectively or hypocritically.
4. accept violence as a "necessary" part of life
5. doing all they do for a "greater cause" , so wide it could encompass almost any behavior

I wouldn't be surprised to find that some in the military wilfully joined a torture session, "rationalizing" from here to hell that it was a necessary evil , keeping an accurate record to demonstrate that all was authorized and were only obeying and that they could have been stopped, if just somebody had cared to check the records (removing responsability by blaming others alleged failure).
I think that under other circumstance and without certain indoctrination, a number of them would have not condoned torture.
posted by elpapacito at 11:33 AM on April 17, 2009


I wouldn't be surprised to find that some in the military wilfully joined a torture session, "rationalizing" from here to hell that it was a necessary evil , keeping an accurate record to demonstrate that all was authorized and were only obeying and that they could have been stopped, if just somebody had cared to check the records (removing responsability by blaming others alleged failure).
I think that under other circumstance and without certain indoctrination, a number of them would have not condoned torture.


That would be one of the worst parts of this whole ordeal. I don't look at this situation cartoonishly. I don't believe the men and women of the US armed forces are slavering, blood-thristy sadists who are looking forward to performing acts of cruelty. Ask any one of them if torture is wrong and they would undoubtedly answer in the affirmative. I believe most Americans would agree.

How many of these operatives are horrible creatures inside, and how many were convinced that they were not torturing, or doing anything morally wrong? How many struggled with the question of duty before conscience? How many wake up screaming in a cold sweat remembering what they did?

Look beyond the operatives at who called the shots, who constructed the rationalizations, and you'll find the root of evil.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 12:28 PM on April 17, 2009


Look beyond the operatives at who called the shots, who constructed the rationalizations, and you'll find the root of evil.

Or a relatively little group of people who abused the blind trust they were given. More then eradication, I guess immunization by education could be the key to stop this and other authority abuses.
posted by elpapacito at 1:48 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Opening your eyes will help.

"it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution"


Uh, "in good faith" is something yet to be determined. I'm not sure why so many people have so much trouble parsing this sentence.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:15 PM on April 17, 2009


Not yet widely commented upon are the ramifications of Obama describing men who repeatedly slammed a captive's head into a concrete wall as "good faith" executors of their "duty".


Your logic here is baffling. He says nothing like this. You cannot reason:

there may be operatives who carried out duties "in good faith"

some operatives slammed captive's heads into walls

therefore, these operatives were acting "in good faith"



This is probably the reason that nobody has commented on this- it's knee jerkery at it's finest.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:34 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Did the USA not execute Japanese who used waterboarding on American soldiers?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:45 PM on April 17, 2009


"Look beyond the operatives at who called the shots, who constructed the rationalizations, and you'll find the root of evil."

I don't think it's that easy. Some people could be considered sociopaths, but we already have an historic reference and a framework. You're not supposed to follow orders which are illegal. Granted, there is a strong drive within the military culture to follow orders and not question your superiors. It's regimented for a reason. But the phrase, "I was only following orders" has such historic impact that it is immediately recognized by nearly anyone. What is the difficult truth here is that regular people are capable of evil - we all are. We still manage to imagine fighting interventionist and invasive wars as a noble purpose in our culture's moral framework. There is a certain amount of rationalization in that right there. And we recently found out that even the supposed highly targeted bombing runs were killing a hell of a lot of civilians, though it comes as no real surprise.

It might be the banality of evil that we would entice young people to join the military, and when they are called to duty and pay for it with their bodies and their sanity, we fail to recognize, much less treat, much of the mental anguish it causes for so many of them for the rest of their lives. Treating PTSD is too expensive, though the externalized costs for the untreated vets and society are very high. And it sort of falls by the wayside. It's the slow grinding of the machine that eats some people up like that, the poor policy decisions which result in people's lives being destroyed, people who are considered expendable when their problems caused by the duties they were ordered to do become to expensive for badly prioritized budgets.

Yeah, I want to see Cheney locked up. But I think that we've had our priorities pretty screwed up for a while, and it's lead us to being subjected to giant policy machines which sometimes grind people up. I think we got to a point where people were ready to accept it, to let our worst instincts take over, where someone like Bush looked like a strong leader. I keep hoping that there will be a sort of cultural reconciliation, where we have to accept what happened and work through the consequences, and where conservative comes to mean more cautious and prudent rather than reactionary and authoritarian. It feels like we came pretty close to tipping over into slavish, authoritarian nationalism, where all evil done in the name of the state is acceptable, and there is never a shortage of someone willing to step into the role of running that type of machine. Cheney just happened to be there to fill in the role of Dr. Strangelove. But considering all that's going on, we're still not that far from it. But we might have a chance to get our priorities straightened out, too.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:11 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


five fresh fish: "Did the USA not execute Japanese who used waterboarding on American soldiers?"

It was one of the abuses, but not the only one that factored into the sentence. From Wikipedia:

During World War II both Japanese troops, especially the Kempeitai, and the officers of the Gestapo, the German secret police, used waterboarding as a method of torture. During the Japanese occupation of Singapore the Double Tenth Incident occurred. This included waterboarding, by the method of binding or holding down the victim on his back, placing a cloth over his mouth and nose, and pouring water onto the cloth. In this version, interrogation continued during the torture, with the interrogators beating the victim if he did not reply and the victim swallowing water if he opened his mouth to answer or breathe. When the victim could ingest no more water, the interrogators would beat or jump on his distended stomach.

Also:

In 1947, the United States prosecuted a Japanese military officer, Yukio Asano, for carrying out various acts of torture including kicking, clubbing, burning with cigarettes and using a form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian during World War II. Yukio Asano received a sentence of 15 years of hard labor.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:59 PM on April 17, 2009


orthogonality: If you read the Bybee memos, it's pretty clear Bybee's writing, essentially, "you said you want to do this, and you provided research on it, and here's how you can make it 'legal'".

According to Philippe Sands, that's false. The pressure for aggressive interrogation--that is, torture--was coming from the top, not from the interrogators.
The Bush administration has always taken refuge behind a “trickle up” explanation: that is, the decision was generated by military commanders and interrogators on the ground. This explanation is false. The origins lie in actions taken at the very highest levels of the administration—by some of the most senior personal advisers to the president, the vice president, and the secretary of defense. ...

In June, the focus settled on Detainee 063, Mohammed al-Qahtani, a Saudi national who had been refused entry to the United States just before 9/11 and was captured a few months later in Afghanistan. [Michael] Dunlavey [in charge of military interrogations at Guantanamo] described to me the enormous pressure he came under—from Washington, from the top—to find out what al-Qahtani knew. The message, he said, was: “Are you doing everything humanly possible to get this information?” ...

The lawyers in Washington were playing a double game. They wanted maximum pressure applied during interrogations, but didn’t want to be seen as the ones applying it—they wanted distance and deniability. They also wanted legal cover for themselves.
New York Times:
The first use of waterboarding and other rough treatment against a prisoner from Al Qaeda was ordered by senior Central Intelligence Agency officials despite the belief of interrogators that the prisoner had already told them all he knew, according to former intelligence officials and a footnote in a newly released legal memorandum. ...

Abu Zubaydah had provided much valuable information under less severe treatment, and the harsher handling produced no breakthroughs, according to one former intelligence official with direct knowledge of the case. Instead, watching his torment caused great distress to his captors, the official said.

Even for those who believed that brutal treatment could produce results, the official said, “seeing these depths of human misery and degradation has a traumatic effect.”

C.I.A. officers adopted these techniques only after the Justice Department had given its official approval on Aug. 1, 2002, in one of four formerly secret legal memos on interrogation that were released Thursday.

A footnote to another of the memos described a rift between line officers questioning Abu Zubaydah at a secret C.I.A. prison in Thailand and their bosses at headquarters, and asserted that the brutal treatment may have been “unnecessary.”
For "CIA headquarters", I would read "the White House". See Thomas Powers, The Failure:
A long book might be written on this subject, but for our purposes here it is enough to say that no one can understand, much less predict, the behavior of the CIA who does not understand that the agency works for the president. I know of no exceptions to this general rule. In practice it means that in the end the CIA will always bend to the wishes of the president, and as long as the director of central intelligence serves at the pleasure of the president this will continue to be the case. The general rule applies to both intelligence and operations: what the CIA says, as well as what it does, will shape itself over time to what the president wants. When presidents don't like what they are being told they ignore it. When they want something done they press until it happens. As a disciplined organization the agency does not complain about the one, or long resist the other. In a word, it is responsive.
posted by russilwvong at 10:45 PM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


In the spirit of today's posts (but posted here because I inevitably fuck up when making an FPP):

Bayer sold known-tainted medicine, killing many.
On July 16, 1982, things changed… three hemophiliacs had acquired the disease. …By March 1983, the situation got so bad that the CDC warned that blood products "appear responsible for AIDS among hemophilia patients."
That would be non-pasteurized concentrated blood plasma clotting products, contanimated with HIV. Pasteurization was soon the standard. Bayer-Cutter sold raw product to the bitter end.
The United States Food and Drug Administration helped to keep the news out of the public. In May 1985, the FDA's regulator of blood products, Dr. Harry M. Meyer Jr.… asked that the issue be "quietly solved without alerting the Congress, the medical community and the public"
The company continued to sell HIV infected blood plasma until July, 1985 — a solid two years after it was solidly known that it would, absolutely without doubt, kill people.
In early 1995, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago decertified the lawsuit, saying it might bankrupt the industry.
Too big to fail. So we let them get away with killing people. Though granted many of the rights of humans, corporations are allowed to get so big that we "can not" (we could) give them the death penalty.

A bankrupt Bayer? Big flipping deal. Many companies would step in to fill their shoes. There are thousands of research companies, thousands of chemical manufacturing plants, thousands of opportunities for Bayer's employees to find replacement jobs. And meanwhile, make the fuckers who keep hurting us, our families, our society pay for their misdeeds.

When you tell everyone your product is medicine, when it really kills people, you don't get an ungodly paycheque and incentives: you go to jail. When you tell everyone your product is a AAA security when it's not and you end up breaking the economy, you don't get to give yourself a bonus: you go to jail. When you tell your security agencies to torture people, you don't get to pronounce Mission Accomplished and give each other pats on the back: you got to jail, and should probably just go straight to the firing line.

Just following orders. I was told to sell the tainted blood. The shareholders made me do it.

Bullshit. Jailtime.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:16 PM on April 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Whoops. That was supposed to be in Elizabeth-Warrens-Daily-Show-Debut, vis-a-vis the "pulling at the threads of regulation" that allowed the tainted blood scandal to happen, and has allowed the current crisis to happen.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:23 PM on April 17, 2009




Just following orders. I was told to sell the tainted blood. The shareholders made me do it.

Bullshit. Jailtime.


Fits here to fff.

Just following orders. I was told by my commanding officer/DOJ/RumsfeldCheney. The Commander in Cheif made me do it.

Bullshit. Jailtime.
posted by HyperBlue at 8:33 AM on April 18, 2009


need more coffe .
posted by HyperBlue at 8:35 AM on April 18, 2009


An Austrian newspaper quotes the U.N.'s top torture investigator as saying President Barack Obama's decision not to prosecute CIA operatives who used questionable interrogation practices violates international law.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:16 AM on April 18, 2009


Obama: “nothing will be gained
by spending our time and energy
laying blame for the past.”


Yes, We Can...but No, We Won't.
posted by Legomancer at 1:58 PM on April 18, 2009




Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Waterboarded 183 Times in One Month

According to the May 30, 2005 Bradbury memo, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002.

...

Note, the information comes from the CIA IG report which, in the case of Abu Zubaydah, is based on having viewed the torture tapes as well as other materials. So this is presumably a number that was once backed up by video evidence.


Plus this crucial point:

The CIA wants you to believe waterboarding is effective. Yet somehow, it took them 183 applications of the waterboard in a one month period to get what they claimed was cooperation out of KSM.

That doesn't sound very effective to me.

posted by Rhaomi at 1:00 AM on April 19, 2009


Indeed, it sounds very much like the Florida School for Boys was running the operation: sociopathic fucks getting their sick jollies.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:43 AM on April 19, 2009


This harpers article has an embed clip from a film version of 1984.
posted by delmoi at 6:12 PM on April 19, 2009




FWIW - I called for Bybee's impeachment on this site months ago
posted by allen.spaulding at 6:40 PM on April 20, 2009


That's the power of MeFi for ya, alien.spaulding.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:55 PM on April 20, 2009


Indeed. I also just gained some tentacles and a ray gun.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:25 PM on April 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Personally, I would argue this merits its own FPP but, in lieu of that, announced today --

Obama "...did not rule out charges against those who wrote the opinions justifying the methods used on captured terrorism suspects, which human rights groups call torture".
posted by stinkycheese at 1:44 PM on April 21, 2009


A new FPP to hear that Obama is still wishy-washy on the subject? I guess we all have different opinions on what makes a good FPP.
posted by chunking express at 1:50 PM on April 21, 2009


Heh. I didn't say it would be a good FPP.

It's a headline news story today & with good reason. It suggests a) the backlash against Obama's announcement not to pursue charges against the people actually applying the torture is having more effect than anticipated; and b) charges against legislators are at least possible.

Frankly, I'm kind of shocked there isn't any discussion of it on MeFi, even in this thread. I'm a bit of a political junkie though so YMMV.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:59 PM on April 21, 2009


Or he always intended to prosecute and engineered an outcry by releasing the memos.
posted by empath at 2:03 PM on April 21, 2009


Don't get me wrong: I fucking love the shit out of Obama. I love him so much any time he seems to be dragging his feet on shit like this it is all the more disappointing.

I want some raining down sulfur sort of justice.
posted by chunking express at 2:18 PM on April 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


"White House aides suggested a broad bipartisan commission of investigation, rather than individual prosecutions, were the President's preferred course."

"European prosecutors are likely to investigate CIA and Bush administration officials on suspicion of violating an international ban on torture if they are not held legally accountable at home, according to U.N. officials and human rights lawyers."
posted by stinkycheese at 9:32 PM on April 21, 2009












Harsh tactics, abusive tactics - thank goodness there was no torture. That would be real news.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:22 PM on April 22, 2009


I could be wrong here, but it sure seems as if the U.S. is the only country still ambivalent about whether it was "torture" or not. Even the National Post, Canada's most U.S.-friendly paper, is using the word "torture" now.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:06 PM on April 22, 2009


So, what I've learned is this:
- techniques used were explicitly modelled on SERE techniques
- SERE was a programme that used Chinese communist methods for obtaining false confessions
- nobody seems to have done any work to demonstrate that such methods yield actual information
- Rumsfeld in particular agitated for this to demonstrate an Al Qaeda - Iraq connection

Above things all stated in leaked memos as reported in NY Times and other major US papers.

So we can conclude that the US tortured people to extract false confessions to justify invading Iraq.

It's going to take more than 8 years for the civilised world to forget this.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:32 PM on April 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


And of course all this torture was done in the name of trying to link Al Queda and Iraq, so that Bush's mistake could be justified. Fucker needs to be put on trial and then executed.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:29 PM on April 22, 2009


As national security adviser to former President George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice verbally approved the CIA's request to subject alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to waterboarding in July 2002, the earliest known decision by a Bush administration official to OK use of the simulated drowning technique.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:36 PM on April 22, 2009




Torture beaten to meaningless pulp.
posted by phoque at 6:35 PM on April 24, 2009


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