Adminstration: Torture Memos Inoperative

Just spotted in the Washington Post, Document On Prison Tactics Disavowed :

In a highly unusual repudiation of its department's own work, a senior Justice official and two other high-ranking lawyers said that all legal advice rendered by the department's Office of Legal Counsel on the subject of interrogations will be reviewed.

Guess that means those old legal opinions are inoperative now. It's about time. (Don't suppose Judge Bybee will be asked to resign do you? Nah.)

It's unclear from the Post article whether the royalist theory of Presidential power, endorsed by Bush himself, is also being disavowed, but I'd say it going to remain part of Administration doctrine or they wouldn't have released a memo Bush signed approving of it.

Also,

Gonzales … refused to comment on techniques used by the CIA, beyond saying that they “are lawful and do not constitute torture.” He also would not discuss the president's involvement in the deliberations.

A separate Post article notes that,

In December 2002, as Pentagon officials were trying to get detainees to offer more useful information about al Qaeda, Rumsfeld approved a variety of techniques, such as stripping prisoners to humiliate them, using dogs to scare them and employing stress positions to wear them down, the documents show. The tactics also included using light and sound assaults, shaving facial and head hair and taking away religious items.

Pentagon officials say most of the techniques were never used, and a Pentagon working group recommended that Rumsfeld roll back these methods. In a memo to the defense secretary in March 2003, the group wrote: “When assessing exceptional interrogation techniques, consideration should be given to the possible adverse affects on U.S. Armed Forces culture and self-image, which at times in the past may have suffered due to perceived law of war violations.”

A third Post article, which sounds awfully like White House talking points, suggests that liability concerns about the Torture Act, and especially the fear that anything less than a Presidential permission slip might open the door to prosecutions, drove Ashcroft to urge Bush to allow more violence than State or military lawyers wanted. Why Ashcroft didn't trust the troops to obey the law, and wasn't willing to see the bad apples tried, is not made clear in this recitation of talking points.

Are we really expected to believe the Iraq atrocities, and the Administration climate which circumstantially appears to have enabled it, was caused by….an absence of tort reform?

(Actually, on reflection, that's unfair: the legal action would have been criminal prosecution, not civil. So it was a real fear of US Attorneys?)

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7 Responses to Adminstration: Torture Memos Inoperative

  1. Jon Koppenhoefer says:

    All this self-serving legal maneuvering and redefining of what ‘torture’ might mean is reminiscent of the Watergate days three decades ago. It seems awfully hard for Republican presidents to remember that they don’t make the law, they are supposed to carry it out.

    I hope this remake of the exciting original has the same happy ending.

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  4. Scaramouche says:

    If liability for torture becomes an issue it should be noted that it is rather difficult for victims to mount a successful case. If the documentation and pictures disappear or become classified it will be a case of ‘he said she said’ also if the person was hooded it might be difficult to prove which interregators or soldiers commited the crimes.

    As far as the administrations taking points go, they have been used before and are like 9 steps of denial that the British used when reacting to scandal of using torture in Northern Ireland back in the 70’s.

  5. molly bloom says:

    Actually its not unclear if MSNBC report is correct:George W. Bush:“I accept the legal conclusion of the attorney general and the Department of Justice that I have the authority under the Constitution to suspend Geneva as between the United States and Afghanistan, but I decline to exercise that authority at this time,” the president said in the memo, titled “Humane Treatment of al-Qaida and Taliban Detainees.”

  6. molly bloom says:

    Ok that link didn’t work. try http://msnbc.msn.com/ID/5259200/ to see the Bush as quoted by MSNBC

  7. barbann says:

    will we ever learn?people wonder why we are hated all over well duh!!!!

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