Friday, July 25, 2008

Documents Detail CIA "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" Performed In Our Name

The New York Times reports (7/25/08) that the American Civil Liberties Union obtained interrogation logs that the Central Intelligence Agency was required to record if it used waterboarding and other harsh techniques.

The documents "add details to the picture of exchanges between the C.I.A and the Justice Department over the legal status of the C.I.A.'s methods." The documents were heavily redacted.

An important marker of the Bush administration's embrace of torture is evident in the observation, "For decades before 2002, the United States had considered several of the methods to be illegal torture."

The Bush administration always finds a way to make the illegal newly legal. If major telecommunications companies illegally helped the administration to spy on Americans, why, let's pass legislation to make it suddenly legal. If certain methods were considered illegal torture in the past, let's reconsider the concept of torture itself. Here the mental gymnastics become truly breathtaking.

The article states, "Another document is one dated August 1, 2002, from the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department that is believed to describe in detail the methods the C.I.A. was using on Abu Zubaydah, A Qaeda logistics specialist captured in Pakistan in 2002. A memorandum released earlier, signed on the same date by the head of the counsel's office, Jay S. Bybee, is already public and said that no method was torture unless it produced pain equivalent to organ failure or death" (italics mine). That, of course, leaves a great deal of leeway to inflict pain.

Equally amazing, "...one section describes a loophole stating that an interrogator would not violate the law against torture unless he has a 'specific intent' to cause pain" (italics mine). The August 2002 document affirms this "loophole": "Based on the information you have provided us, we believe that those carrying out these procedures would not have the specific intent to inflict severe physical pain or suffering."

Exactly how does on measure the "specific intent" of the interrogator? Is there any way short of reading the interrogator's mind? Doesn't this loophole open the door to the interrogator's causing physical pain or suffering and then claiming, "Oops! It wasn't my intent to cause physical pain or suffering"?

Jamel Jaffer, A.C.L.U. lawyer who has tracked interrogation practices, said that the documents "supply further evidence, if any were needed, that the Justice Department authorized the C.I.A. to torture prisoners in its custody." Jaffer also said that the redactions appeared designed to "protect senior officials."

The AC.L.U. has made the memorandums available so that we can read about the "enhanced interrogation techniques" that the C.I.A., with the collusion of the Justice Department, have been using in our name. Click here to read the memorandums.

Click here to read the entire article.

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