Thursday, March 11, 2010

Setting the Stage for Torture

George W. Bush’s White House stage-managed the Justice Department’s approval of torture techniques by putting pliable lawyers in key jobs, guiding their opinions and punishing officials who wouldn’t go along, according to details contained in an internal report that recommended disciplinary action against two lawyers.

Though the recently released report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility concentrated on whether lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee deserved punishment for drafting and signing 2002 memos that permitted brutal interrogations of suspected terrorists, the report also revealed how the White House pulled the strings of Yoo, Bybee and others.

The report puts into sharper focus what former Vice President Dick Cheney meant when he told an ABC News interviewer on Feb. 14 that he has spoken out loudly against the Obama administration’s revised counter-terrorism policies to disrupt possible punishments of Yoo, Bybee and CIA interrogators.

“I thought it was important for some senior person in the administration to stand up and defend those people who’d done what we asked them to do,” Cheney said.

A little-noticed subplot in the OPR’s 289-page report was how the Bush administration got the legal opinions that it wanted from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the President and the Executive Branch on the limits of their legal powers.

An important first step for the White House was to make sure that the work on legal opinions regarding harsh interrogations was done by a lawyer like Yoo who already held extreme views on the powers of a President during wartime.

Even then, however, the White House did not leave it to Yoo to decide what limits should be put on the CIA’s interrogation techniques or what parameters should circumscribe President Bush’s power during the “war on terror.”

For instance, John Bellinger, a lawyer at the National Security Council, told the OPR that Yoo was “under pretty significant pressure to come up with an answer that would justify” the interrogation program.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Ill. judge won't toss torture suit naming Rumsfeld

CHICAGO (AP) -- A federal judge refused Friday to dismiss a civil lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of responsibility for the alleged torture by U.S. forces of two Americans who worked for an Iraqi contracting firm.

U.S. District Judge Wayne R. Andersen's ruling did not say the two contractors had proven any of their claims. But it did say they had alleged enough specific mistreatment to warrant hearing evidence of exactly what happened.

Andersen said his decision "represents a recognition that federal officials may not strip citizens of well settled constitutional protections against mistreatment simply because they are located in a tumultuous foreign setting."

Monday, March 01, 2010

Torture Roundup

1) The complete Bush admin lawyer gang who signed off on torture:
* John Ascroft
* Alberto Gonzales
* Larry Thompson
* Jim Comey
* Jay Bybee
* Daniel Levin
* Steven Bradbury
* Michael Chertoff
* Tim Flanigan
* David Addington
* Scott Muller
* John Bellinger
* John Rizzo
* John Yoo
* Patrick Philbin
* (Probably) Jennifer Koester
* Adam Ciongoli

2) On Abu Zubaydah's coffin/mock burial torture.

3) NYTimes editorials on torture have been good:

The Torture Lawyers

Yes, It Was Torture, and Illegal

4) War Criminal John Yoo Has a Public Email Address in case anyone is interested:

The comments in his recent column are a good read. Though, how disgusting to see him gloat about his being cleared by the OPR, and how even more disgusting he is not in jail but rather has a newspaper column to spread his foulness.