Dana Priest has so many scoops in one story, there’s a danger some may get lost:
First, the CIA is getting nervous and has decided to stop doing whatever undisclosed things its has been doing to its prisoners in its series of secret camps in undisclosed foreign locations, pending legal review:
The “enhanced interrogation techniques,” as the CIA calls them, include feigned drowning and refusal of pain medication for injuries. The tactics have been used to elicit intelligence from al Qaeda leaders such as Abu Zubaida and Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
“Everything's on hold,” said a former senior CIA official aware of the agency's decision. “The whole thing has been stopped until we sort out whether we are sure we're on legal ground.” A CIA spokesman declined to comment on the issue.
CIA interrogations will continue but without the suspended techniques, which include feigning suffocation, “stress positions,” light and noise bombardment, sleep deprivation, and making captives think they are being interrogated by another government.
Meanwhile, back in Washington D.C. the coverup over the Torture Memos continues to unravel. Let’s start with the Bybee Memo — which was approved all the way up to the top (Cheney’s office):
Although the White House repudiated the memo Tuesday as the work of a small group of lawyers at the Justice Department, administration officials now confirm it was vetted by a larger number of officials, including lawyers at the National Security Council, the White House counsel's office and Vice President Cheney's office.
And that royalism stuff about how if the President says it’s legal people who rely on that shouldn’t’ be prosecuted, and how Congress, even when approving or implementing treaties (“the supreme Law of the Land” – US Constitution) has no ability to in any way limit the full, plenary, unstoppable power of the President when acting as Commander in Chief? Well, all that was not just approved but demanded and applauded from the top:
A Justice Department official said Tuesday at a briefing that the [OLC] went “beyond what was asked for,” but other lawyers and administration officials said the memo was approved by the department's criminal division and by the office of Attorney General John D. Ashcroft.
In addition, Timothy E. Flanigan — then deputy White House counsel — discussed a draft of the document with lawyers at the Office of Legal Counsel before it was finalized, the officials said. David S. Addington, Cheney's counsel, also weighed in with remarks during at least one meeting he held with Justice lawyers involved with writing the opinion. He was particularly concerned, sources said, that the opinion include a clear-cut section on the president's authority.
What did all this mean on the ground? Tell me this isn’t a form of torture:
Abu Zubaida was shot in the groin during his apprehension in Pakistan. U.S. national security officials have suggested that painkillers were used selectively in the beginning of his captivity until he agreed to cooperate more fully
That’s not the view of the self-satisfied armchair warrior cadre in DC, however. They don't see any torture here:
At the same time, the former official said, “we never had a situation where we said, 'You can do anything you want to.' We never, ever did that. We were aggressive, but our people were very scholarly and lawyerlike.”
“Scholarly”? “Lawyerlike”? Sorry, but the “selective” use of painkillers for someone shot in the groin isn't like any Socratic Method I recognize.