Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Torturers’ Manifesto.

I am really pleased that the New York Times have responded to the release of the torture memos with a sufficient level of disgust:

To read the four newly released memos on prisoner interrogation written by George W. Bush’s Justice Department is to take a journey into depravity.

Their language is the precise bureaucratese favored by dungeon masters throughout history. They detail how to fashion a collar for slamming a prisoner against a wall, exactly how many days he can be kept without sleep (11), and what, specifically, he should be told before being locked in a box with an insect — all to stop just short of having a jury decide that these acts violate the laws against torture and abusive treatment of prisoners.

In one of the more nauseating passages, Jay Bybee, then an assistant attorney general and now a federal judge, wrote admiringly about a contraption for waterboarding that would lurch a prisoner upright if he stopped breathing while water was poured over his face. He praised the Central Intelligence Agency for having doctors ready to perform an emergency tracheotomy if necessary.

These memos are not an honest attempt to set the legal limits on interrogations, which was the authors’ statutory obligation. They were written to provide legal immunity for acts that are clearly illegal, immoral and a violation of this country’s most basic values.
And I am especially pleased by what they wish to see done about it:

That investigation should start with the lawyers who wrote these sickening memos, including John Yoo, who now teaches law in California; Steven Bradbury, who was job-hunting when we last heard; and Mr. Bybee, who holds the lifetime seat on the federal appeals court that Mr. Bush rewarded him with.

These memos make it clear that Mr. Bybee is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. Congress should impeach him. And if the administration will not conduct a thorough investigation of these issues, then Congress has a constitutional duty to hold the executive branch accountable. If that means putting Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales on the stand, even Dick Cheney, we are sure Americans can handle it.

After eight years without transparency or accountability, Mr. Obama promised the American people both. His decision to release these memos was another sign of his commitment to transparency. We are waiting to see an equal commitment to accountability.
I agree that Obama should be going after the people who gave the orders for torture to take place, rather than the grunts on the ground who carried out these orders.

And I feel quite sure that, if an investigation revealed to the public exactly what the Bush administration authorised, that the public would demand that these people be prosecuted.

Obama should fulfill the promises on which he was elected. And, at the very least, that means an investigation into just what exactly the Bush administration did or didn't do.


There is nothing that these lying liars ever told us that turns out to be what it seems. Remember how they used to tell us that they only waterboarded three people, which many right wingers then converted in debates into, "We only used the technique three times."

Well, it turns out they were greatly underestimating the cruelty of the Bush regime:

I've put this detail in a series of posts, but it really deserves a full post. 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.

On page 37 of the OLC memo, in a passage discussing the differences between SERE techniques and the torture used with detainees, the memo explains:

The CIA used the waterboard "at least 83 times during August 2002" in the interrogation of Zubaydah. IG Report at 90, and 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM, see id. at 91.

It turns out waterboarding isn't even very effective if you have to do it 183 times to get a result.

Click title for full New York Times editorial.


nunya said...

I love that painting :)

Kel said...

It's fabulous isn't it. I don't know who it's by.