Sunday, June 07, 2009

Enhanced tactics legal. Deal with it.

From the New York Times, not known for its rabid support of Bush policy:
When Justice Department lawyers engaged in a sharp internal debate in 2005 over brutal interrogation techniques, even some who believed that using tough tactics was a serious mistake agreed on a basic point: the methods themselves were legal.

Previously undisclosed Justice Department e-mail messages, interviews and newly declassified documents show that some of the lawyers, including James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general who argued repeatedly that the United States would regret using harsh methods, went along with a 2005 legal opinion asserting that the techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency were lawful.
The main authors of memorandums authorizing the methods — John C. Yoo, Jay S. Bybee and Steven G. Bradbury — have been widely pilloried as facilitators of torture.

Others, including Mr. Comey, Jack Goldsmith and Daniel Levin, have largely escaped criticism because they raised questions about interrogation and the law.

But a closer examination shows a more subtle picture. None of the Justice Department lawyers who reviewed the interrogation question argued that the methods were clearly illegal.

The lawyers had to interpret a 1994 antitorture law written largely with despotic foreign regimes in mind, but used starting in 2002, in effect, as a set of guidelines for American interrogators. The law defined torture as treatment "specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering." By that standard, a succession of Justice Department lawyers concluded that the C.I.A.'s methods did not constitute torture.

The only issues that provoked debate were waterboarding, which Mr. Goldsmith questioned, and some combinations of multiple techniques, which Mr. Comey resisted.

Some outside experts agree that the language of the 1994 law is strikingly narrow. "There's no doubt whatsoever that a great deal of coercive treatment that most people would call torture is not prohibited by the federal antitorture statute," said Benjamin Wittes, a Brookings Institution scholar who has studied interrogation policy.

1 comment:

Repack Rider said...

A close reading of the memos from Comey leads to the opposite conclusion. Comey says the lawyers were being pressured to come up with a legal rationale for torture, which we all know had already take place.

This was CYA, since you can't advise a client not to do what he has already done. The only thing left to do is paper it over.

The memos justifying the unthinkable do not approach the minimum standard of legal advice, since the writers, Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury, failed to include any of the many cases that contradicted their claims. Google can find that stuff in a second, but White House lawyers couldn't.

I am a United States Army veteran, as patriotic as the day is long, and I am ashamed of the actions taken in contravention of human rights by Bush et al.

Any court in the land would throw out evidence obtained through torture for the obvious reason that it only represents what the TORTURER wanted to hear.

Glenn Greenwald does an excellent job in dissecting the memos, and Marcy Wheeler has done what the NYT reporters failed to do, she read every word.

Marcy Wheeler is an amazing resource. She reads more documents and connects more dots than anyone who gets, you know, PAID to do that.