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CIA: Waterboarding Possibly Illegal

Posted on Feb 7, 2008

A former inmate’s painting of waterboarding hangs at Cambodia’s Tuol Sleng Prison, where the Khmer Rouge tortured many of its victims.

CIA Director Michael Hayden told lawmakers Thursday that waterboarding is a useful technique but might not be “lawful under current statute.” Hayden said his agency used waterboarding because of “misshaped and misformed” direction from Washington.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey used similar reasoning when he said he would not investigate what many consider to be torture of suspects.

Hayden is no stranger to skirting legality when it comes to President Bush’s pet programs. As NSA director, he oversaw the eavesdropping project that stirred so much controversy. That role earned him a transfer to the CIA, where he has tried to explain the agency’s torture of prisoners as well as the destruction of evidence of that torture. Hayden appears to be the president’s go-to guy for the defense of unethical programs.


Strapping a person to a surface, covering their face with cloth and pouring water on their face to imitate the sensation of drowning could be used if “an unlawful combatant is possessing information that would help us prevent catastrophic loss of life of Americans or their allies,” said Hayden.

“In my own view, the view of my lawyers and the Department of Justice, it is not certain that that technique would be considered lawful under current statute,” he told the House Intelligence Committee after publicly disclosing that the CIA had used waterboarding on three of the enemy combatants.

He explained that the method was used because of “mis-shaped and misformed” political discussion about waterboarding.

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By Rob in Florida, February 10, 2008 at 11:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

How can the US say Water-boarding isn’t torture when the US convicted Japanese soldiers after WWII for water-boarding prisoners, and in 1983 a Texas Sheriff was convicted for using water-boarding to get confessions from prisoners and that was considered torture, I don’t get the difference someone please help me understand why these people (the US) can get away with it, these definitely appear to be War crime.

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By Alexia, February 9, 2008 at 3:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

McCain doesn’t believe in waterboarding! Hurrah for McCain! Everybody vote for McCain!


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By Expat, February 9, 2008 at 8:07 am Link to this comment

Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck, Fuck,

Who are we????????????????????????

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By cyrena, February 9, 2008 at 4:19 am Link to this comment

I agree Spike. I don’t understand why he has been ‘dodging’ it this long, because there was a time, (and it seems so long ago now) that he seemed willing to take this on. Now that he CAN…there should be nothing preventing it.

It’s ALWAYS been the Congressional mandate, and he need refer only to the Constitution for instructions. It’s not even that involved.

We’re not talking about some complicated tort law, or other contract stuff. It’s a flipping IMPEACHMENT. It’s been done before. I don’t get the big ass deal.

Let’s get ON with this!!!

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By Spike, February 8, 2008 at 4:53 am Link to this comment

Mr. Conyers,  two things will be apparent (how will it look?):
1. You will look smart for having accepted the wise counsel of two good women.
2. It will look as if your were actually going to live up to your sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution.

Sir, you do not need the approval of the lice at the head of our government to proceed with impeachment. Your mandate is clear and you must stop dodging the issue.

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By cyrena, February 8, 2008 at 12:17 am Link to this comment

UN Blasts White House on Waterboarding
  The Associated Ppress
  Wednesday 06 February 2008

  Geneva - The United Nations’ torture investigator criticized the White House Wednesday for defending the use of waterboarding and urged the U.S. to give up its defense of “unjustifiable” interrogation methods.

  The comments from Manfred Nowak, the U.N.‘s special rapporteur on torture, came a day after the Bush administration acknowledged publicly for the first time that waterboarding was used by U.S. government questioners on three terror suspects.

  Testifying before Congress, CIA Director Michael Hayden said the suspects were waterboarded in 2002 and 2003.

  “This is absolutely unacceptable under international human rights law,” Nowak said. “Time has come that the government will actually acknowledge that they did something wrong and not continue trying to justify what is unjustifiable.

  The White House on Wednesday defended the use of waterboarding, saying it is legal - not torture as critics argue - and has saved American lives.

  Waterboarding involves strapping a suspect down and pouring water over his cloth-covered face to create the sensation of drowning. It has been traced back hundreds of years, to the Spanish Inquisition, and is condemned by nations around the world.

  Hayden banned the technique in 2006 for CIA interrogations and the Pentagon has banned its employees from using it. FBI Director Robert Mueller said his investigators do not use coercive tactics in interviewing terror suspects.

  But White House deputy spokesman Tony Fratto said Wednesday that CIA interrogators could use waterboarding again with the president’s approval.

  He said that approval would depend on the circumstances, with one important factor being “belief that an attack might be imminent.” Appropriate members of Congress would be notified in such a case, he said.

  Critics say waterboarding has been outlawed under the U.N.‘s Convention against Torture, which prohibits treatment resulting in long-term physical or mental damage. They also say it should be recognized as banned under the U.S. 2006 Military Commissions Act, which prohibits treatment of terror suspects that is described as “cruel, inhuman and degrading.” The act, however, does not explicitly prohibit waterboarding.

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By Maani, February 7, 2008 at 11:59 pm Link to this comment


“Case example: if I decide that dick cheney possesses information that would help me prevent catastrophic loss of American/European/Canadian lives, can I torture him? That’s all I wanna know.”

Right on.  In fact, I think every member of Congress (plus the AG, VP, Prez, etc.) should be required to undergo a few minutes of waterboarding to see if they still think it’s not torture.


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By cyrena, February 7, 2008 at 11:58 pm Link to this comment

Conyers Says He’s on Edge of Starting Impeachment

By David Swanson

On Thursday, Chairman John Conyers’ House Judiciary Committee held a hearing at which Attorney General Michael Mukasey said that he would not investigate torture (video) or warrantless spying (video), he would not enforce contempt citations (video), and he would treat Justice Department opinions as providing immunity for crimes (report).

None of this was new, but perhaps it touched something in Conyers that had not been touched before. Following the hearing, he and two staffers met for an hour and 15 minutes with two members of Code Pink to discuss impeachment.

Conyers expressed fear of what might happen following an impeachment, fear of installing a Bush replacement or losing an election. The “corporate power structure”, he said, would not allow impeachment without unleashing “blowback.” Conyers told Ellen Taylor and Manijeh Saba: “You need to be more than brave and courageous. You need to be smart.”

Their response? They are asking people who care about justice to help them let Conyers know that the smart thing right now would be bravery and courage.

On Rosa Parks’ birthday last week, Leslie Angeline began a fast for impeachment. Taylor and over 20 other activists have joined the fast. Conyers has agreed to meet with Angeline to discuss impeachment on Tuesday.

The Chairman told Taylor and Saba that he is listening to several advocates for impeachment, including Liz Holtzman and this author, and asked “So how would it look if I allowed two women to push me over the edge?” Conyers leaned out of his chair for dramatic effect.

A number of organizations will be sending their members this alert Monday morning:

Let’s push Conyers over the edge by flooding his office with phone calls, faxes, and Emails on Monday and Tuesday. Let him know that only impeachment hearings..

1-will make it on TV,
2-will force compliance with subpoenas by eliminating “executive privilege”,
3-will hold brazen criminals accountable, and
4-will convince voters that Democrats care about the Constitution.

Call 202-225-5126
Fax 202-225-0072
Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Angeline, whose father was on the original Freedom Riders bus that was firebombed in Anniston, Ala., in 1961 began her fast and a sit-in in Conyers’ office on Rosa Parks’ birthday, and within a few minutes had been granted an appointment with Conyers for Thursday. He postponed it until Tuesday because of the duration of the Mukasey hearing. Taylor, Saba, and others attended the hearing and were told by Conyers’ staffer Therise West that they would be removed by force if they did not cover up shirts and pins with messages including “No Torture,” “Arrest Bush,” “Not One More,” and even the text of Article II Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. Rather than comply, Taylor and Saba wore shirts displaying that section of the Constitution, were not removed, and were granted the meeting with Conyers to discuss it.
The rest at the link…

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By cyrena, February 7, 2008 at 10:39 pm Link to this comment

Now, here’s what Hayden says “…could be used if “an unlawful combatant is possessing information that would help us prevent catastrophic loss of life of Americans or their allies….”

So, here’s the question: does this only apply to ‘unlawful combatants’? (a term created by the same thugs) Or…should we just do this to ANYBODY who is ‘possessing information’ that can ‘help us’ prevent catastrophic loss of life of Americans or their allies?

And, should we only torture those who are ‘possessing information’ that would prevent loss of American/ally lives, or can we torture people possessing information that would prevent loss of Cuban/Iranian/  Chinese lives, or the lives of little green men, living in the sea?

Case example: if I decide that dick cheney possesses information that would help me prevent catastrophic loss of American/European/Canadian lives, can I torture him? That’s all I wanna know. Hayden says its ‘effective’ so I don’t see what should hold me back. Well, except for that ‘current statute’ that Hayden mentions, which has been around at least since the Geneva Conventions.

And, it hasn’t stopped THEM, (Cheney’s CIA) so why should a little statute get in the way of me waterboarding cheney, since I ‘know’ that he possesses information that would allow me to prevent the catastrophic loss of American and other lives?

But, maybe I have to declare him an ‘enemy combatant’ first? At least according to this language. Unless one is an ‘enemy combatant’ then I guess it doesn’t matter whether or not one ‘possesses information’ that will blah, blah, blah.

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By Gabir, February 7, 2008 at 7:11 pm Link to this comment

The Republicans do not want to lose their grip on the White House so it’s time to get rid of all the nasty clutter lurking around Washington .
    Bad Economy - Heap big tax cut package to “stimulate” the economy .
    Waterboarding - Cheney’s favorite tool of interogation - CIA spins the Wheel of Doom and the pointer lands on “Possibly Illegal” . Meanwhile Cheney defends the harsh methods of interogation as vital to our security .Interestingly , as usual there are no facts , witnesses or filming of this practice to support the administrations empty claims of important information gained through the torture of prisoners .
    You will be hearing much more between now and election day in terms of miraculous changes being made in Washington , artificial economic recovery , lowering of gas prices . Bush II playing Cupid on Valentine’s Day . You name it , the Republicans will become the Love Party . If you can credit the Republicans for at least one thing , it would be sticking together like maggots .
    We will probably wind up with McCain in the White House , mainly because the Dems are still too divided to put together a Ticket or a Platform - political diseases that used to plague the Republicans . Now the Dems are trapped in the House of Mirrors and may not find the way out in time to play ball with the big boys and girls .

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By Ga, February 7, 2008 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

Gimmie that ‘ol time torture!

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By Ga, February 7, 2008 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment

The American (Conservative) Ethic:

It is OKAY to kill or torture “BAD” people.

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By jackpine savage, February 7, 2008 at 5:19 pm Link to this comment

It was good enough for the Inquisition, its good enough for us.

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By Maani, February 7, 2008 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

“Waterboarding possibly illegal.”

“Bush possibly a moron.”

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By Felipe Thomas, February 7, 2008 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Perhaps they can call it ‘the application of severe discomfort’. I wonder how many guys at the DoJ play jack bauer when they get home?

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