At highest levels, US condoned torture
But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.
After World War II, we executed people for doing this kind of thing. It seems pretty clear that the Bush administration contains people who should be prosecuted for war crimes.
Others writing about this story:
If it was up to me, prosecute them and put them in jail.
There is no doubt - no doubt at all - that these tactics are torture and subject to prosecution as war crimes. We know this because the law is very clear when you don't have war criminals like AEI's John Yoo rewriting it to give one man unchecked power. We know this because the very same techniques - hypothermia, long-time standing, beating - and even the very same term "enhanced interrogation techniques" - "verschaerfte Vernehmung" in the original German - were once prosecuted by American forces as war crimes. The perpetrators were the Gestapo. The penalty was death. You can verify the history here.
We have war criminals in the White House. What are we going to do about it?
Crooks and Liars:
I know it’s difficult to muster a new degree of outrage every time the Bush gang sinks to a new low, but today’s revelations highlight American lawlessness at the highest levels of our government.
The Times says that "most lawmakers" didn't know about this secret opinion. That means that some of them did. I'd like to know which ones. I'd also like to hear each of the Democratic candidates tell us whether or not they promise to repudiate all secret Bush administration memorandums on torture and detention during their first day in office. Quickly, please.
I am still stunned that we are talking about the United States of America issuing dry legal opinions about how much torture you are allowed to inflict on prisoners. Stories like this one are the very definition of the banality of evil --- a bunch of ideologues and bureaucrats blithely committing morally reprehensible acts apparently without conscience or regret.Digby is encouraging people to sign the American Freedom Campaign's pledge. I have done so, and most of the Democratic candidates have either signed it or made singed statements similar to it. Hillary Clinton is notable by her absence on that page.
These techniques are not just morally abhorrent; they are flatly illegal. One might think that since the President is required by the Constitution to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed", this might be a bit of a problem. Not for the Bush administration. First, John Yoo wrote his famous "torture memo", in which he argued that interrogation techniques were illegal only if they produced pain equivalent to organ failure or death. When that memo became public, the administration disowned it. But they also issued another secret opinion reaffirming the legality of the various combinations of techniques described above, and then wrote another secret memo saying that none of the CIA's interrogation techniques constituted "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment.