The memos written by the the Bush administration’s Office of Legal Council have been released by President Obama. This is a good thing, but Obama is still holding to this:
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.
Let’s see, suppose a few years ago I went into a building and took some stuff acting on the guidance of a neighbor who said it was ok. Some people might think I should be charged with robbery, but not Obama–with the current economic problems, now is not the time to revisit old crimes that could cause dissension. Really, does that make sense? If a crime was committed, someone should pay–I agree that the people following the advice of the OLC probably shouldn’t, but someone should. Also, remember that the interrogations started before these memos came out.
I also like the unwitting irony with this statement:
Dennis C. Blair, the director of national intelligence, cited his experience after taking part in the unpopular Vietnam War. “We in the intelligence community should not be subjected to similar pain,” he said.
If you take away the first sentence it would sound like he was saying that people in the intelligence community shouldn’t be tortured.
And, of course, people in the Bush administration are defending the practices:
The release of these opinions was unnecessary as a legal matter, and is unsound as a matter of policy. Its effect will be to invite the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on Sept. 11, 2001.
You see they hope we have forgotten that the intelligence community had all the information needed to have an idea something like the 9/11 attacks were possible. The Patriot act and these ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques were not needed. And then they follow it up with the usual ‘they do it too’ and ‘it wasn’t that bad’ childen’s arguments:
Disclosure of the techniques is likely to be met by faux outrage, and is perfectly packaged for media consumption. It will also incur the utter contempt of our enemies. Somehow, it seems unlikely that the people who beheaded Nicholas Berg and Daniel Pearl, and have tortured and slain other American captives, are likely to be shamed into giving up violence by the news that the U.S. will no longer interrupt the sleep cycle of captured terrorists even to help elicit intelligence that could save the lives of its citizens.
Of course, they ignore that the knowledge that the US tortures helped al-Qaeda get followers is ignored. And they ignore that people were tortured to death by the US (they pretend that allowing these rules for the CIA had nothing to do with what happened at Abu Ghraib, but the rules inevitably flowed down the chain–it was policy).
Of course, they can’t resist attacking those of us that wanted the disclosure:
In addition, there were those who believed that the U.S. deserved what it got on Sept. 11, 2001.
You know what Mukasey and Hayden can jump off a cliff. They’re the ones who are saying the US should act like the terrorists. Good riddance to them.
Update: I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that the writers of the memo lied about conclusions of a sleep study so they could say it was ok to use extended sleep deprivation.
You also won’t be surprised to learn that the Bush administration decided to turn to torture even though interrogation was working and:
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.”
Quoting a 2004 report on the interrogation program by the C.I.A. inspector general, the footnote says that “although the on-scene interrogation team judged Zubaydah to be compliant, elements within C.I.A. headquarters still believed he was withholding information.”
Typical, the bosses think they know more than the people actually doing the job. Of course the CIA types weren’t exactly great:
His interrogation, according to multiple accounts, began in Pakistan and continued at the secret C.I.A. site in Thailand, with a traditional, rapport-building approach led by two F.B.I. agents, who even helped care for him as his gunshot wounds healed.
Abu Zubaydah gave up perhaps his single most valuable piece of information early, naming Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, whom he knew as Mukhtar, as the main organizer of the 9/11 plot.
A C.I.A. interrogation team that arrived a week or two later, which included former military psychologists, did not change the approach to questioning, but began to keep him awake night and day with blasting rock music, have his clothes removed and keep his cell cold.
But I guess the higher ups just wanted to punish him more.