Thursday, April 16, 2009

More U.S. Torture Memos Released

U.S. Torture Technique Number 9 - Insects Placed in a Confinement Box

From ACLU:

The Bush Administration's Secret Legal Memos
On April 16, 2009, the Department of Justice released four secret memos used by the Bush administration to justify torture:
A 18-page memo, dated August 1, 2002, from Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
A 46-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
A 20-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
A 40-page memo, dated May 30, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]

Demand Accountability for Torture! >>

For more than five years, the ACLU and other advocacy organizations have been seeking the release of Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memos that supplied the basis for the Bush administration's interrogation, detention, rendition, and warrantless surveillance policies.

The OLC, which is a component of the Justice Department, was created to provide objective legal advice to the Attorney General and to resolve legal disputes among federal agencies. During the Bush administration, however, the OLC became a facilitator for illegal government conduct, issuing dozens of memos meant to permit gross violations of domestic and international law. Some of these memos have become public through leaks to the media and through the ACLU's litigation under the Freedom of Information Act. But most of them are still secret.

The Obama administration should release the still-secret memos...

Glenn Greenwald has quickly zeroed in on this passage from the August 1, 2002 Bybee memorandum that illustrates the truly gruesome and abhorent tenor of these memos:

These ten techniques are: (1) attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap, (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) insects placed in confinement box, (10) the waterboard. You have informed us that the use of these techniques would be on an as-needed basis and that not all these techniques will necessarily be used. The interrogation team would use these techniques in some combination to convince Zubaydah that the only way he can influence his surrounding environment is through cooperation.

The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder comments on the Obama administration's decision to release redacted versions of these memos:

In sum: he's decided to redact the identities of the CIA officers who conducted the interrogations, but everything else will be released without censorship. The full statement is after the jump; here's the part that reflects, I think, what Obama really thinks:

This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views and emotions that these issues evoke. We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. 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. Our national greatness is embedded in America's ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.

Frankly, with prosecutions likely pending against the "Bush Six" in Spain, it is readily apparent that the pursuit of accountability no longer remains in America's exclusive domain - whether the U.S. likes it or not.

Rather, the "accountability issue" appears headed for a global showdown, with America's credibility and international prestige squarely on the line.

If history teaches us anything, it is that the unvarnished truth will inevitably emerge in matters such as these.

President Obama cannot - nor should he attempt to - stand in the way, lest he too be judged by history as a willing accessory-after-the-fact to the embarrassing and unlawful and practices of his predecessor's administration.

The President's half-cocked apologetics on "reflection, not retribution" have the scent of a trial balloon aimed at testing just how much cover-up America - and the world - may be prepared to swallow.

My guess - not much more, at all.

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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