But We Closed Saddam’s Torture Chambers!

Speak of the devil.

The Bush administration issued a pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 that explicitly endorsed the agency’s use of waterboarding and other interrogation techniques against al-Qaeda suspects — documents prompted by worries among intelligence officials about a possible backlash if details of the program became public.
The classified memos, which have not been previously disclosed, were requested by then-CIA Director George J. Tenet more than a year after the start of the secret interrogations, according to four administration and intelligence officials familiar with the documents. Although Justice Department lawyers, beginning in 2002, had signed off on the agency’s interrogation methods, senior CIA officials were troubled that White House policymakers had never endorsed the program in writing.

The memos were the first — and, for years, the only — tangible expressions of the administration’s consent for the CIA’s use of harsh measures to extract information from captured al-Qaeda leaders, the sources said.

It is weird that after everything we know today, including other excellent reporting by the Post, they still included the bolded part. Saying that the administration only approved the torture of “al Qaeda leaders” is like arguing that everybody who stops at a sobriety checkpoint is a drunk. America held and tortured tens of thousands of people at a dozen or more sites around the world. How many of those could a credible person describe as “al Qaeda leaders?” A tenth of one percent? We gave cash rewards for warm bodies. Half of the male population of Afghanistan and ‘liberated’ Iraq carries a kalashnikov. None of the people we tortured to death anything to do with anti-American terrorism. Our strategy, like the Spanish Inquisition, was to torture a whole lot of muslims and punish whoever confessed.

Even better, for every story we know there is always something worse.

If there is anything to feel cheerful about in this ethical black hole, at least the Bush administration left a paper trail for war crimes courts to work with.






18 replies
  1. 1
    kid bitzer says:

    i wish i could see a way for president obama to send these people off to the hague without it destroying his ability to govern the country.

  2. 2
    Zifnab says:

    If there is anything to feel cheerful about in this ethical black hole, at least the Bush administration left a paper trail for war crimes courts to work with.

    5 million missing emails from the White House servers. I’ve just got my fingers crossed hoping that the GOP IT flunkies are as recklessly incompetent and perversely overconfident as the rest of this administration. I have a dream that Barack Obama will entire the Oval Office and make "Data Recovery" a top priority of his first 100 days.

    These stories can only get more bizarre and crazy.

  3. 3
    RememberNovember says:

    "We don’t torture……..puppies" is what Bush meant to say.

  4. 4
    SGEW says:

    . . . send these people off to the hague . . . .

    I believe that the Obama administration needs to put this in the hands of a non-partisan inquiry through the Justice Dept., maybe an independent prosecutor (Pat Fitzgerald, maybe?), and handle it entirely under U.S. law (which is definitely doable). The American public won’t stand for extradition to the I.C.J. or I.C.C., and, in my opinion, it would only further undermine our standing and reputation in the world (i.e., it would imply that we cannot handle our own war criminals, and need to rely on international systems, a la Serbia or Sierra Leone – not exactly complimentary associations).

    When asked about war crimes prosecution, Biden responded:

    "If there has been a basis upon which you can pursue someone for a criminal violation, they will be pursued – not out of vengeance, not out of retribution, out of the need to preserve the notion that no one, no attorney general, no president — no one is above the law."

    So we can hope.

  5. 5
    mclaren says:

    You just don’t get it. If you are suspected of terrorism, then you are a terrorist. If you are accused of being sympathetic to terrorists, then you are a terrorist. If you defend anyone accused of being sympathetic of people accused of terrorism, then YOU ARE A TERRORIST.

    Straight out of the Malleus Maleficarum. Anyone who refuses to believe in witches must be a witch. Accusation of witchcraft constitutes proof that the accused is, indeed, a witch.

  6. 6

    @kid bitzer: The Hague? How about Leavenworth? If Bush and Cheney aren’t put in front of a jury then our entire system of jurisprudence is for naught. Justice should be swift and certain. It would be fitting for the War Criminals who have always been certain of there own righteousness.

  7. 7
    Napoleon says:

    it would imply that we cannot handle our own war criminals, and need to rely on international systems, a la Serbia or Sierra Leone – not exactly complimentary associations

    Well we will not be able to handle it because on his way out the door I fully expect Bush to issue pardons of thousands of people.

  8. 8
    kindness says:

    One of the first things I want President Obama to order upon his inaguration is to publish ALL of the Presidential memo’s & directives issued by the bush43 regime.

    It’ll scare even the most rabid of conservatives.

  9. 9
    kid bitzer says:

    sgew–thanks. i agree with you that domestic prosecution would be just as good, and less politically risky. i’m also glad to see the biden quote.

  10. 10
    bedlam UK says:

    Obamas a clever mofo and he understands how to play the game.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if he let the ‘rumour’ out when he sits in the Big Chair that he has some IT experts datamining the Oval Office servers.

    Rethugs are notoriously dumb due to their inherent belief in their own invincibility, and I’m sure that would extend to their IT department.

    Once Obama had the info off the servers you’d find certain Rethugs suddenly much more co-operative.

    He’s tech-savvy and intelligent and a mean bastard when he wants to be. Its a win situation.

  11. 11
    Ash Can says:

    I mentioned this in another thread, but I’m going to repeat it here because it fits nicely with this thread, and because it ought to be shouted from the fucking rooftops:

    The head of John McCain’s transition team was a lobbyist for Saddam Hussein.

    Yes, really. You couldn’t make this shit up if you did crack for breakfast for a month straight.

  12. 12
    Tim Fuller says:

    The Hague or Leavenworth? So long as we’re only debating on where the trials should be held, I think we’re on the right track. Let’s not act like these documents are all that necessary or extraordinarily damning than what has already come out of the mouths of Bush and his minion.

    They are all self admitted torture enthusiasts who sat around the White House watching the latest episodes of 24 and micro-managing the daily torture sessions of their favored prisoners.

    Even with the use of such illegal and unsavory tacticsl, they’ve been unable to win their optional war against the saavy Muslim goat herders and Osama’s Been Forgotten.

    It’s not like they were busy tending to the economy and the war just slipped away. The Justice Department, then as now, appears poised to go into high gear against the dangerous and sophisticated young Black folks who stand in the "The Mall" and troll for voter registrations. These justice department officials appear hair triggered when voting rights are involved. When crooked banks and realtors raid our wealth like Vikings and DESTROY THE WORLD’S FAITH IN CAPITALISM they’re much less interested. Wonder why that is?

    Enjoy.

  13. 13
    liberatemeiexinfernis says:

    Bush and his henchmen (especially Rummy, Cheney, Wolfy, Ricey etc) have obviously shown themselves to be sadistic. With new revelations such as this everyday (which I always assumed was taking place, even maybe during the Clinton years), I am now almost beginning to wonder if Bush himself ask the Gitmo people to fly him down there so that he could throw a punch or two at Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or some Al Qaeda type just to release some anger and feel macho

    I mean I am being serious…..with all the revelations on how this admin tried to run a macho war or terror against Arabs, would it be that outlandish to suggest that Bush or Cheney or Rummy….one of these must have actually talked to the prisoners and may even punch them?

  14. 14
    Jay Severin Has A Small Pen1s says:

    Does anyone else see the irony of the gun nuts in the White House being opposed to people in Iraq and Afghanistan carrying rifles?

  15. 15
    SamFromUtah says:

    @Jay Severin Has A Small Pen1s: Does anyone else see the irony of the gun nuts in the White House being opposed to people in Iraq and Afghanistan carrying rifles?

    It’s consistent enough when you consider their ideas about who are and aren’t "people".

  16. 16
    jcricket says:

    So we can hope.

    Blanket pardons, here we come.

    I don’t care whether Bush/Cheney get frog-marched anywhere. I don’t care if Rumsfeld, Rove, Bolten and Miers never do anything other than testify.

    I JUST WANT THE HISTORICAL RECORD TO REPORT THE FACTS.

    Was that loud enough?

    I want the press, whistleblowers, congress, academics, bloggers, etc. to keep up all the pressure until we get real accounting of everything that went down. I don’t care who does/not go to jail. It’s the soul of this country and the American people I want to understand who they were supporting.

    But when Limbaugh and Fox News is joking about waterboarding, and Palin is claiming "exoneration" in a report that clearly states she violates the law – this won’t be enough.

    When the German citizens had a hard time believing their own country could actually commit the crimes it was accused of, the occupying forces brought them to the death camps. I’ve seen the footage (of the people throwing up when visiting mass graves and death chambers). Perhaps we need to organize a similar field trip.

    "And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’"

  17. 17
    bago says:

    Is that Annika?

  18. 18
    TenguPhule says:

    I don’t care whether Bush/Cheney get frog-marched anywhere. I don’t care if Rumsfeld, Rove, Bolten and Miers never do anything other than testify.

    If they are not tried and executed, some damn fool will try what they did and probably be more successful.

    They must die, not just for their crimes, but to discourage future temptation.

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