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DoJ Releases Bush-Era Torture Memos

Posted on Apr 16, 2009
torture memo

After President Obama announced that the CIA operatives who employed harsh interrogation methods (read: torture) on suspected terrorists during the Bush administration won’t be subject to legal repercussions, the Department of Justice made four “torture memos” publicly available on Thursday.

Salon’s “War Room”:

First, an August 1, 2002 memo written by then-OLC head Jay Bybee to acting CIA General Counsel John Rizzo, discussing what the OLC said were acceptable methods for use in interrogating al-Qaida member Abu Zubaydah.

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By diamond, April 19, 2009 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

Yes, rfidler on the roof, and several were beaten to death and some went mad and some have disappeared without a trace. Anyway you look at it, it’s kidnapping, assault, sadism and murder. Caterpillar or no caterpillar this man was locked in a box by sadistic monsters. Being locked in a box for a terrified, confused man, is psychological torture. It would be a terrible, claustrophobic feeling to be so powerless and so confined and not to know what you need to do or say to make it stop. That’s why they did it. They didn’t expect to get any useful information: they knew he had none. These would- be Nazis should all be charged with their crimes but only a fool would take on the CIA. They kill inconvenient people. In any case these CIA torturers, deranged as they are, are only footsoldiers. Right at the start, Bush signed the memo written by John Yoo and over all of it looms the obese and depraved figure of Dick Cheney, a man for all seasons and all forms of violence. A man so greedy and power mad he would eat the world if he could. He was indeed the President of Vice.

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By Ed Harges, April 17, 2009 at 2:21 pm Link to this comment

re: By rfidler, April 17 at 2:47 pm:

Are you aware that the question of what is torture is to some extent irrelevant?

The Geneva Conventions, to which the US is signed, has the force of domestic law in the US — because when Congress duly ratifies a treaty, it becomes US law, not just “international law” .

And the Geneva conventions forbid all deliberate mistreatment of prisoners, not just mistreatment that can be called “torture”. So it doesn’t matter that much that you think hitting prisoners is fine.

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By rico, suave, April 17, 2009 at 11:47 am Link to this comment

The torture of those kidnap victims was horrific. Several were actually SLAPPED IN THE FACE! One was put in a dark room alone with a CATERPILLAR!

And to think that Danny Pearl was merely beheaded. Where’s the proportionality, I ask?

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By NYCartist, April 17, 2009 at 10:43 am Link to this comment

rfidler:see DemocracyNow, many segments on the torture memos and the Red Cross Report, from 2006, newly released.  The Red Cross said there was torture.  US laws make what was done illegal.  So the torture broke existing laws and the torturers did the deeds under the law and prosecution is in order.

I hope the US gov’t will investigate/prosecute.  If not, some other country will. 

See Jeremy Scahill’s blog for links to good source info to answer ALL your questions:

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By Purple Girl, April 17, 2009 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

I’m willing to give the ignorant arrogant King George the W a pass, if he gives US Cheney Rummy & Wolfie.W was nothing more than another stooge for this organized Crime Syndicate that has been operating ‘in the shadows’ for 4 decaded.they are not only guilty of Treason, but War Crimes which led to Crimes against Humanity.
I want to Savor their prosecutions- every crime dragged out into the light. I want to hear the enormous number of Counts in each category. I want to hear them pronounce the Death Sentence. I want to see them executed,slowly and Inhumanely ( I’ll settle up with my conscience and God later)- Revenge a Dish Best Served Cold!
And if it means letting the small fish go to get the first hand testimonies, insurmountable Undeniable Evidence- so be it.They have spent the last 40 yrs undermining, thus ruining our country- with forethought and malice.

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By photoshock, April 17, 2009 at 6:36 am Link to this comment

There’s two things that worry me about the release of the ‘torture’ memos;
(1) They show the depths to which the shrub’s   administration shrank in their supposed fight against the ‘forces of evil’ known as the ‘Global War on Terror.’
(2) There will be nothing done about the illegal and immoral acts of the shrub’s administration. They will be safely ensconced in their multi-million dollar mansions, receiving their government pensions, free from prosecution and prison for their acts of terrorism and torture, which is against the laws of the US and the Geneva Conventions, of which the US was the driving force behind these protections
for the soldiers and civilians caught in war and genocide.
I personally fear, that given the circumstances surrounding the shrub’s administration and the influence that the neo-cons have in the CFR and the Bilderberg Conference, nothing will happen to these men and women, who committed such atrocities and/or promoted these genocidal acts, that the same thing will happen as a backlash to the Obama administration.
When and if these committed lawbreakers come to trial, I would gladly serve as a member of the jury, for knowing what I know, even then, I believe that I could render a fair and just verdict based upon the evidence and only the evidence and not emotion and prejudice.

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By peterjkraus, April 17, 2009 at 5:24 am Link to this comment

Now official: We are Them.

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By everynobody, April 17, 2009 at 4:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m going to add to my comment below, that it’s not enough that Spain or some other country take on these war crime issues that belong to us and us alone. That we don’t do it ourselves speaks reams about what we’ve become. Frankly; looking in the mirror, I don’t like what I see. What I see isn’t the America I have been told about all of my very long life. If we don’t collectively address this egregious crime, it makes us all complicit, and I for one will never again proudly say I’m an American.

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By everynobody, April 17, 2009 at 1:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama is @ a C- with me at this point. How can he “okay” the U.S. breaking international laws? This is just nuts!
The only positive thing I can see is the possibility Spain or some other country will act (through their courts) to put out arrest warrants on the top Bush officials for crimes against humanity at best and crimes committed under the Geneva Convention at least. War crimes have been admitted to and cannot be secretly permitted in some dark closet; we gave up our moral high ground with this crap. I want these guys in the docket at the Hague.

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By msgmi, April 16, 2009 at 9:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

John Yoo et al, the author of legal opinions on torture, should face an inquisition to determine whether he broke any laws.

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By Bisbonian, April 16, 2009 at 8:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear rfidler,

Does death count?

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By marcus medler, April 16, 2009 at 8:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Aloha   I agree with the comment that this was a gift. This is a move by an astute politician who has a deep reverence for justice. He has challenged congress and the people to demand it. Zola said; “J’Accuse” but it was the masses that brought justice.

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By Tim Kelly, April 16, 2009 at 7:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Many of the memos document violations of Geneva Conventions and other treaties that the U.S. is a signing party to. Treaties trump U.S. laws, according to the Constitution.  Violating these treaties is beyond violating the law and the individuals who participated in it should be tried in the appropriate global forums, seeing how Obama won’t try them in the U.S.

Many of the participants will be safe, as long as they never leave the U.S.  There becomes a certain point where “following orders thought to be legal” does not justify actions, and that was why Nuremburg Trials and other courts have tried human rights violations.  It is no different - the Americans that participated in these actions are the same as the Nazi prison guards.

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By rico, suave, April 16, 2009 at 7:05 pm Link to this comment


You’re right. There is some fudging going on. But I think it is a simple matter of avoiding retroactive prosecution. Probably not justice, but better than making a rule today which appies to yesterday.

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By Ed Harges, April 16, 2009 at 6:48 pm Link to this comment

This is Obama saying: “OK, here it is. I’m going to give you all the ammunition you need to make me prosecute these people. But you have to make me do it.”

Folks, given the political realities, Obama was obliged to accompany this release with a statement that “Now is not the time for retribution, we need to move forward, and blah blah blah.”

But come on! Why would he release this unless it’s in the hope that this will lead to justice being done? This is a huge gift he has given us. Nevertheless, we have to make him do it. Why should he risk getting too far out ahead on this issue?

Not to put too fine a point on it, but, um, we do have a history of presidential assassinations in this country, you know? Obama risks getting bumped off for going even this far.

WE have to make these prosecutions happen.

(Hint: for a history of this approach to the presidency, Google ‘franklin roosevelt “make me do it” ‘)

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By freedom loving american, April 16, 2009 at 6:07 pm Link to this comment

I would like to see The Rodenator used on any individuals that ordered or tortured anyone.  They simply vermin and need to be exterminated.

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By LibertyWatch, April 16, 2009 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment

I do not want the “technicians” to be charged as much as I want the criminal “executives” within the inner circle of the Bush regime to be brought before an ICC judge for their war crimes and crimes against humanity. The CIA operatives were under control of and commanded by the Whitehouse during the Bush occupation of America and it is those Republican elitist that need to have their heads handed to them starting with Cheney and then his puppet Bush and then the long line of criminal YES men that facilitated the breaking of the law.

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By bEHOLD_tHE_mATRIX, April 16, 2009 at 6:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When Congress granted the telecoms retroactive and preemptive immunity I stated that this is a dark day in American History.  Now an even darker day has come to pass.  The frat club we call the Presidency of the United States lives on in all of its contemptible disrightousness.  Yes, Mr. Obama, you and your predecessor are above the law aren’t you.  Why should you expect any citizen of this country to respect the laws of this land or the office of the presidency after your decision?  The issue of torture remains a festering sore and gives excuse to despots world over to practice it inconsequentially.  Our failed standing in the world of nations remains tainted with the fetid reek of human rights abuse.  Shame on you Mr. Obama!  I am so glad I registered my vote for president with Mr. Nader last fall.

You will forever stand in a shadow for this.

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By dihey, April 16, 2009 at 5:29 pm Link to this comment

Please answer the following question.
Why would President Obama state that no CIA agent involved in torture will be prosecuted if no torture ever happened?

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By Jaded Prole, April 16, 2009 at 4:29 pm Link to this comment

jmndodge, releasing the memo is the first step in doing something about it. Even if the justice department doesn’t initiate action, someone can bring suit using it as evidence. Also, clarity and open records are far less damaging than the alternative.

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By rico, suave, April 16, 2009 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment

I’m new to this planet. Please give me an example of the worst DOCUMENTED (from any credible source) form of torture performed by any US agency on any person captured/kidnapped/rendered/adopted/seduced by said agency in connection with 9/11.

Please- any answer including “you’re a moron/fascist/racist/bigot/Republican” etc., does not qualify as an answer.

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By skulz fontaine, April 16, 2009 at 4:08 pm Link to this comment

“America is a nation of law.” Yeah yeah, sure sure.

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By jmndodge, April 16, 2009 at 3:21 pm Link to this comment

It does not do any good to release the memo’s if we are going to do nothing about the torture.  The difficulty is that we likely will find a few scapegoats way down the feeding chain and punish them, as though their families haven’t already been punished enough,  and those fine officers who set policy and gave orders will be pensioned off, and rewarded.  This is more than a political issue,  and there are democrats on the committee’s who had this knowledge early, and remained silent and make the torture possible.  They must be identified, removed, and in some cases imprisoned.

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By NYCartist, April 16, 2009 at 3:13 pm Link to this comment

Jeremy Scahill’s blog has a good entry on it and links to press releases by the Center for Constitutional Rights.  It’s almost surprising to me.

but deeply sad and scary news.

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