An Executive Order Along Torture's Path
December 20, 2004 4:53 PM   Subscribe

Request for guidance regarding the OGC's EC regarding detainee abuse, referring to “interrogation techniques made lawful” by the “President's Executive Order.” comes from Records Released in Response to Torture FOIA Request.
Smoking Gun ? asks the ACLU--or just another stepping stone from Torture's Path ? As Ex-Military Lawyers Object to Bush Cabinet Nominee, and in Torture begins at the top, Joe Conason suggests that a recently disclosed FBI memo indicates that "marching orders" to abandon traditional interrogation methods came from Defense Secretary Rumsfeld himself and all the while Guantánamo torture and humiliation still going on, says shackled Briton. (more inside)
posted by y2karl (28 comments total)
According to some, Moral values apply to torture, too, and Christians must oppose torture. Meanwhile, the ACLU reports U.S. Marines Engaged in Mock Executions of Iraqi Juveniles and Other Forms of Abuse and Special Ops Task Force Threatened Government Agents Who Saw Detainee Abuse in Iraq. And as Torture and terrorism suggests, even the Religious News Service is beginning to squirm: There is no indication among top Bush administration officials, including the president himself, that there are either suitable feelings of guilt or a willingness to assume responsibility for the acts...
posted by y2karl at 4:57 PM on December 20, 2004

posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:00 PM on December 20, 2004

they wanna blow us up, let's hurt them a little so we can stop them. go bush and rumsfeld.
posted by bakiwop at 5:05 PM on December 20, 2004

I find your beliefs fascinating, bakiwop. Do you perhaps have a newsletter I may subscribe to?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 5:12 PM on December 20, 2004

yes, it's the Tough Love Liberal Hiipie newsletter. I'm pro marijuana and pro torture and believe that the families of murder victims should get to decide what happens to the guilty bastrd who did the murdering.

oh yes, and we have a bake sale every other month to fund our annual trip to D.C.
posted by bakiwop at 5:18 PM on December 20, 2004

Metafilter: pro marijuana and pro torture
posted by Jimbob at 5:19 PM on December 20, 2004

Do you perhaps have a newsletter I may subscribe to?

As long as it explains the 'Lost Period' between September 20, 2001 and October 8, 2004...
posted by y2karl at 5:26 PM on December 20, 2004

i was going for minimalistic thoughtfulness, now i am going for arrogant maximalism, but just for tonight, then i retire.
posted by bakiwop at 5:36 PM on December 20, 2004

Putting bakiwop's less than helpful contribution aside I know that I fail Dershowitz's ticking bomb test in my opposition to the use of torture.

That said I can't see how it's institutionalised application can be in any way morally or ethically defensible nor does its use appear to be expedient or effective - it simply generates too many false positives.

Furthermore I have major misgivings about the use of evidence obtained under torture being adduced in legal procedings. Even as a non-American, the admirable ACLU will be on my Christmas charitible giving list.
posted by dmt at 5:42 PM on December 20, 2004

"The President of the United States may have signed an executive order authorizing the torture of human beings, and the first three reactions here are 'I don't care,' 'I'm too tired to care,' and 'good.'"

Mine was intended to be more along the lines of "Get your own blog, fuckwit", but whatever floats your boat, X-(rnd(X)).
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:51 PM on December 20, 2004

less than helpful? well fuck you very much.

and the aclu? at least they agree with me on drugs (although they like poor peaople too much).
posted by bakiwop at 5:52 PM on December 20, 2004

I don't think this is beating a dead horse, crash. When the torture at Abu Ghraib was revealed, the administration was quick to act outraged and blame a "few bad apples." This executive order shows exactly how false and hypocritical that response was.
posted by tizzie at 6:00 PM on December 20, 2004

less than helpful?

Certainly, one thousand, one hundred and fourteen PUI free days there were for which one can not be faulted.
posted by y2karl at 6:12 PM on December 20, 2004

PUI? i am so not down with the cool cat lingo.

damnit odinsdream, you want honesty? you want the truth? YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH. well, the truth isn't all that interesting, so i am faking it.

i am stimulating conversation, and it is on topic as long as you consider topics fluid things.
posted by bakiwop at 6:15 PM on December 20, 2004

Will someone remind me how to set up those killfiles again?
posted by rooftop secrets at 7:39 PM on December 20, 2004

I get the "Weekly Standard" in the mail--so's I can monitor those bastards--and in the last couple of weeks, I've been completely unable to read it.

I wondered why this was for awhile, since before the election, I couldn't wait for the magazine to arrive. The other night, I realized what was keeping me from being interested:

It's their fucking war, now. They control almost everything. The House, the Senate, the Presidency, everything. If they want to shit all over the bed with their drunken Imperialistic incontinence, let them sleep in it. They'll fucking get theirs. I don't need to pay so much attention to this.
posted by interrobang at 8:30 PM on December 20, 2004

As apalling as bakiwop's statement in support of turture is, he represents the majority opinion in America, folks. Talk to your friends and neighbors. This story could include photos of Bush giving a prisoner a battery acid colonic and the majority of Americans would say, "well, if it makes us safer..."

And "safer" is, of course, bullshit.
posted by squirrel at 8:37 PM on December 20, 2004

less than helpful? well fuck you very much.

Yes, your comments in this thread have been less than useful.
posted by rough ashlar at 8:59 PM on December 20, 2004

Whew. Good to see all this substantial, thoughtful discussion of the serious issues raised in this well-researched FPP.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 1:07 AM on December 21, 2004

It is widely accepted that information extracted by torture is likely to be unreliable. The security and intelligence agencies accept that. What, they ask, if only 1% of the information obtained through torture abroad - in Saudi Arabia, for example - prevented a terrorist attack here, and saved many lives? The implication is we must continue to go along with torture on the off-chance that one day its product might turn out to be useful. If ministers and their agents continue to argue that torture is acceptable - on either utilitarian or moral grounds - they must provide evidence to back up their case. And explain how this fosters civilised values among our allies - or encourages our enemies to believe in them.

Britain is conniving in torture

A historian in the future or a moralist is likely to think the Bush government's enthusiasm for torture the most striking aspect of its war against terror. This started very early. Proposals to authorise torture were circulating even before there was anyone to torture... Destroying cities and torturing prisoners are things you do when you are losing the real war — the war your enemies are fighting. They are signals of moral bankruptcy. They destroy the confidence and respect of your friends, and reinforce the credibility of the enemy.

To torture is to lose the war
posted by y2karl at 1:26 AM on December 21, 2004

>To torture is to lose war

I second that motion.

The Iraqi defeat coupled with sanctioned torture are just more examples of the magnificent decay in U.S. policy. I can't see how torture, even in the ticking-bomb case, would end this thing -- methinks too many people have Jack Bauer wish-fulfillment.

Anyway, nobody really cares on this one. Maybe it was focus-grouped in advance because it doesn't tip the balance.
posted by gsb at 2:04 AM on December 21, 2004

I, sadly, have to chime in on the "too numb" side. I just ditto Odinsdream. This administration is doing so many things that I find abhorrent, that all I can do is nod sadly and wait for the next affront to American dignity to be revealed.
posted by InnocentBystander at 7:25 AM on December 21, 2004


Every time something excruciatingly awful happens in this country, my job gets a little easier. I'll have tons to write about today. Which is good, 'cause it's a slow news week locally.

I'm too numb to be concerned about it - I'm surrounded by news 24/7. But hey, if it makes it so I get out of work at 5 PM today instead of 6, I'll take it, since that's the best I'm going to get. Oh yeah, and I'll, like, work for change and stuff. Not that anyone reads editorials.
posted by u.n. owen at 7:44 AM on December 21, 2004

Still other agents gave more detailed accounts of abuse.

In June, for instance, an agent from the Washington field office reported that an Abu Ghraib detainee was "cuffed" and placed into a position the military called "The Scorpion" hold. Then, according to what the prisoner told the FBI, he was doused with cold water, dropped onto barbed wire, dragged by his feet and punched in the stomach.

In Cuba, a detainee in May, 2002, was reportedly spat upon and then beaten when he attempted to roll onto his stomach to protect himself. At one point, soldiers apparently were "beating him and grabbed his head and beat it into the cell floor," knocking him unconscious.

Another agent reported this past August that while in Cuba he often saw detainees chained hand and foot in a fetal position on the floor "with no chair, food or water... Most times they had urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left for 18-24 hours or more," the agent wrote. Sometimes, he reported, the room was chilled to where a "barefooted detainee was shaking with cold." Other times, the air-conditioning was turned off and the temperature in the unventilated room rose to well over 100 degrees. "The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him," the agent reported. "He had apparently been literally pulling his own hair out throughout the night."

The FBI documents also included a report about a prisoner in Cuba whose legs were injured and who said he lied about being a terrorist for fear that otherwise the U.S. military would amputate him. "He indicated he was injured severely and in a lot of pain," the FBI wrote. Yet the prisoner constantly was being asked whether he had attended a terrorist camp in Afghanistan. The agent wrote that the prisoner "stated he wanted to receive decent medical treatment, and felt the only way to get it was to tell the Americans what they wanted to hear."

FBI Claims More Arab Prisoners Abused
posted by y2karl at 8:14 AM on December 21, 2004

This is big news. Not a smoking gun, but big news. I hope the pressure is on, but it's obviously not going to come from the U.S. press, which has completely abandoned this story. Apparently, most Americans think torture of Muslims is OK.

The FBI e-mail is not proof of a presidential order to commit unlawful acts, but it strongly suggests that U.S. interrogators thought they were acting with the president’s approval.

i read editorials. sometimes they actually even influence my opinion, if they're reasonable.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:03 PM on December 21, 2004

The Bush administration is facing a wave of new allegations that the abuse of foreign detainees in U.S. military custody was more widespread, varied and grave in the past three years than the Defense Department has long maintained.

New documents released yesterday detail a series of probes by Army criminal investigators into multiple cases of threatened executions of Iraqi detainees by U.S. soldiers, as well as of thefts of currency and other private property, physical assaults, and deadly shootings of detainees at detention camps in Iraq...

The variety of the abuse and the fact that it occurred over a three-year period undermine the Pentagon's past insistence -- arising out of the summertime scandal surrounding the mistreatment at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison -- that the abuse occurred largely during a few months at that prison, and that it mostly involved detainee humiliation or intimidation rather than the deliberate infliction of pain.

New Papers Suggest Detainee Abuse Was Widespread
posted by y2karl at 7:26 PM on December 22, 2004

And there’s more drip-drip-dripping out – and the dots just keeping pointing toward DC, and even the White House. And though I’ve long since given up on this administration, I have not given up on Americans and honest conservatives. But I am wondering where the outrage is? Why isn’t this being recognized as the scandal it is? To his credit, Andrew Sullivan is the only prominent conservative who consistently denounces these abhorrent Soviet-secret-police tactics.

Perhaps part of the problem is that conservatives are seeing this scandal through the “tinted lens” of partisanship. That’s why I want to try to make them understand that the scandal is more than a left vs. right dispute. In fact, it violates their own most valued principles – and threatens their most strongly desired goals. In short, I want to make the conservative case for outrage...

But all of the legalistic jargon pales in comparison to the more important point – it’s just wrong. Horribly wrong. The things we are doing to people violate the tenets of every major world religion. If you are religious, and you support this administration, I think you need to ask yourself some tough questions about whether what we’re seeing is consistent with your religious views. If anything, I would expect activist Christians to follow the path of their ancestors when they were the moral vanguard in the fight against slavery and for civil rights. I would expect them to be louder than anyone.

But no one seems to care. We’re torturing and murdering prisoners and no one seems to care. It is becoming more and more clear that this torture was directed from on high, and no one seems to care. It’s time to get madder about this, especially if you’re a conservative. The torture undermines the war, threatens your foreign policy visions, jeopardizes our soldiers, exposes them to danger and death, undermines the rule of law, and violates the core tenets of your religion.

It’s time stand up for your values or shut up about ours.

The Conservative Case For Outrage - The Shame of Prisoner Torture
posted by y2karl at 7:12 PM on December 23, 2004

Excellent research and superb use of small text article teasers, as usual, y2karl. Thanks.
posted by squirrel at 7:35 AM on December 25, 2004

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