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Ear to the Ground

Torture’s Paradigm Shift

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Posted on Apr 22, 2009
Yoo Heritage
theatlantic.com

John Yoo still fiercely defends his legal justification for the harsh interrogation tactics adopted under George Bush’s war on terror.

In their effort to build a “new paradigm” for dealing with enemy prisoners, senior Bush administration officials, according to a report released by the Senate Armed Services Committee, suppressed or ignored conflicting legal opinions to ensure that “aggressive interrogation techniques” (torture) would be available to interrogators.

The Wall Street Journal:

Senior Bush administration officials made possible the spread of aggressive interrogation methods from Guantanamo to Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a report released Tuesday by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Bush officials “solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques” and “redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality,” concludes the report, which, according to committee chairman Carl Levin (D., Mich.), was approved without objection from Democrats or Republicans on the panel. The report says the Bush officials suppressed or ignored conflicting legal advice from senior military officers to ensure that practices would be available to interrogators.

The 232-page report, compiled after years of investigation by committee staff, was adopted in November, but it wasn’t until Tuesday that the Defense Department approved the release of an unclassified version, Sen. Levin said.

The report, focusing on Defense Department actions, adds to the picture of an administration scrambling after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to construct a “new paradigm” for dealing with enemy prisoners, in the words of former White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, who later served as attorney general.

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By cyrena, April 23, 2009 at 7:56 pm Link to this comment

By omop, April 22 at 2:23 pm #
“Will some one make an effort to determine, “who and in what language where the questions asked” of the individual being tortured?
The presumption is that most of those being questioned were Arabs or spoke Arabic. Were those doing the “actual” questioning employees of the US military or other agency such as the CIA or the FBI or “hired hands”?
This whole affair has the characteristics of opening up a smelly Pandora’s Box.”
Well, you’re right about the Pandora’s Box, but we’ve actually been watching it happen right before our eyes, even if we didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to it. (I admit I’ve had an advantage).
So, in answer to your question about who and in what language these ‘detainees/unlawful enemy combatants/terrorists’ (just as an aside, the Cheney/Addington admin also just ‘made up’ the term ‘enemy combatant’ with the ‘unlawful’ part sort of ‘created’ as well – in doesn’t exist in the War Laws produced by the Geneva Convention) there were a bunch of them, and several of them did speak in Arabic, though I don’t know how many know whatever other languages these detainees spoke, because Cheney sent his henchmen (CIA) in there and just kidnapped (swept up) anybody in site of the so called ‘battle field’.  And, bounty-hunting other nefarious groups were grabbing innocent civilians off the ‘battle field’ and selling them to Cheney’s CIA for whatever the CIA or the ISI paid for them.

So while Dick Bush has continued to assert that these were all ‘the most dangerous criminals in the whole wide world’, the fact of the matter is that they rounded up sheep headers, taxi drivers, and pretty much anybody they wanted. So what language? It needed to be a variety of languages spoken in that area, and back then, there WERE actually trained CIA and FBI personnel who DID speak to some of these men, and reported back that –THEY WERE NOT TERRORISTS! And that they did NOT have any useful information to provide.

Cheney wasn’t having it. That’s why he continued to argue so fiercely in favor of the CIA being able to retain the ability to torture, specifically the sexual degradation and humiliation. In other words, Cheney has been obsessed with this since 9/11 or before, depending on who you read. But most of this is all very well documented. Between Yoo, Addington, and Bybee, they were able to twist the definitions of so many things, ‘unlawful enemy combatant,’ and ‘enhanced interrogation’.  AND, the Military Commissions Act, (based on the language of the legislation) essentially IMMUNIZES the perpetrators!!
So, it’s not like the entire CIA or even the FBI was ‘in on it’. SOME of the personnel back then did actually do a professional job, and made it clear that this was illegal, and beyond the pale, and on and on, and that torture was totally ineffective in obtaining any valid information.

In fact, it actually harms the effort, and makes things far worse, if in fact there really IS any information to be gleaned. But when you’re torturing somebody, (a tribal sheep herder for instance) they’re finally gonna give up whatever the interrogators want to hear, even if they have no clue to what they’re talking about, just to stop the torture. Meantime, NONE of the information obtained under torture is EVER admissible in any REAL court, ANYWHERE on the PLANET, which is why Dick Bush set up Guantanamo, and those Kangaroo proceedings for dealing with their captives.

  Meantime, the public debate on this has been raging for some years now, so there’s lots of info out there. Google Karen Greenberg, Arial Dorfman, Mark Danner, and Scott Horton, just for openers. There are several others as well.

(many former public servants have also found themselves without a job – like the ones who wanted to follow the laws.)

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By blogdog, April 23, 2009 at 3:43 pm Link to this comment

RE: the debate is over and we lost.

Not entirely. The case must be made that the torture returns no info. of value, primarily because those directing the Global War Of Terror know everything about everything. Torture is the sharpest tool in the box of psychological terror weapons, which destabilization operatives of the New World Oligarchy have to brandish. Their Global Torture Gulag is not gone, only better hidden and hangs still as a damocletian sword over the entire world. Anyone could fall vicim at any time.

Point in fact, the much publicized torture of KSM, who is probably dead: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/DJ30Df01.html

KARACHI - Ever since the frenzied shootout last month on September 11 in Karachi there have been doubts over whether Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed head of al-Qaeda’s military committee, died in the police raid on his apartment.

Certainly, another senior al-Qaeda figure, Ramzi Binalshibh, widely attributed as being the coordinator of the September 11 attacks on the United States a year earlier, was taken alive and handed over to the US. The latest information is that he is on a US warship somewhere in the Gulf.

Now it has emerged that Kuwaiti national Khalid Shaikh Mohammed did indeed perish in the raid, but his wife and child were taken from the apartment and handed over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), in whose hands they remain. 

continued here - http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/DJ30Df01.html

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By paul bass, April 23, 2009 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the debate is over and we lost.
the fact that we allowed a debate on torture was how we lost, and now the debate is whether we are torturing enough, if it works for terrorism why not drugs and kidnapping.
even our rhetoric calling for the torture of bush officials is even though a joke is a clear sign.
no one will be held responsible, especially not the people who order these crimes.
there is no law,you have no rights. only the powerful and the permissions they grant you.

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Purple Girl's avatar

By Purple Girl, April 23, 2009 at 5:06 am Link to this comment

Here’s the ‘Rub’ to the Bushie Arguement. If such tactics are admissable during War Time, Then the US Was wrong to prosecute those who practiced these methods after WW2. Essentially they are claiming the Nazi’s had every right to waterboard. As then so did the PolPot Regime.
Following their ‘Logic’ then America did do something Wrong…That seems to conflict with their claims America NEVER does anything wrong.
So which is it boys- We fucked up using torture on Prisoners Now, or we fucked Up prosecuting the Nazi’s for these War crimes?
Let’s not forget too, that these are the techniques that legal clarification was requested. What methods have been used in those ‘Black Prisons’ were legal concerns do not exist. Also what other high crimes were committed no documentation was ever generated- when the guiding adage is ‘When the president does it, it is not illegal’- Unbridled Executive’Priviledge’/ power, a mainstay of the Nixon Admin,the spawning ground of Cheney,Rummy & Wolfie. You think they learned a thing or two about Not recording conversations or having them printed in Black & White. Seems they also took to heart the lesson of Destroying any incriminating tapes - Those Torture videos rather reminicent of those 18 minutes,don’t ya think.
Reason Cheney is willing to have more Memos released is they are the least of their concerns- just enough of a ‘shiny object’ to deflect away from questions or investigations regarding those Black prisons and his assasination ring.What has befallen those prisoners and Who was on that list? Waterboarding may pale incomparison to the other heinous high crimes they have committed- not only over the last 8 yrs, but over the last 4 decades.

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By freedom loving american, April 22, 2009 at 1:58 pm Link to this comment

Torture must be punished. This is a no brainer for any civilized nation.  But wait isn’t war profiteering a war crime and isn’t destroying a country and killing millions and ruining many more millions lives some type of crime also? Isn’t it a crime to run secret prisons and contract the torturing out to others?  But then isn’t a crime to use illegal wiretaps to imprison innocent citizens? Then we don’t want to get into the illegal and illegitimate backroom politics that created the financial fiasco we are in, but those are crimes as well. 

Yes, we need to prosecute those that tortured and those that ordered the torture to take place. But when “We The People” supposedly twice elected the most incompetent, corrupt, foul, vile, leader ever to be elected in any democracy we own it to our posterity and to the world to prosecute the bush cabal for all their crimes.  We also need to make sure the republicans can no longer rig the elections. 

Water boarding has always been torture, it was torture in the 1st century it was torture in the 6th century it was torture in the 13 century it was torture in the 20 century.  Only since these crazy American hating, liberty hating, freedom hating, wingnuts stole our country in the last 5 elections has it not been considered torture. 
These gutless, inhumane, spineless, worthless, subhuman’s, who’s only concern is to steal all the money the hard working citizens pay to the government. The bush cabal should all be tried and hung like the worthless filth they are. Any gutless inhumane bureaucrat that tortured another human should be executed beside their leaders. 

However, this is somewhat sticky since we routinely torture and in many cases murder our own citizens.

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blogdog's avatar

By blogdog, April 22, 2009 at 12:15 pm Link to this comment

RE: The presumption is that most of those being questioned were Arabs or spoke Arabic. Were those doing the “actual” questioning employees of the US military or other agency such as the CIA or the FBI or “hired hands”?

It’s detailed in Erik Sarr’s book “Inside the Wire” - http://www.amazon.com/Inside-Wire-Intelligence-Eyewitness-Guantanamo/dp/1594200661 - Sarr was an Arabic interpreter, who essentially lost his stomach for the work - I based on his descriptions some of the scenes in THE FALL ‘01 - http://www.thefall01.info/

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By omop, April 22, 2009 at 11:23 am Link to this comment

Will some one make an effort to determine, “who and in what language where the questions asked” of the individual being tortured?

The presumption is that most of those being questioned were Arabs or spoke Arabic. Were those doing the “actual” questioning employees of the US military or other agency such as the CIA or the FBI or “hired hands”?

This whole affair has the characteristics of opening up a smelly Pandora’s Box.

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By Han, April 22, 2009 at 11:11 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Indeed, those people who so easily say torturing people is a good thing should be tortured themselves just to make sure they really know what they are saying. No really I wouldn’t mind being tortured if that would mean I could from then on make all people be tortured before they can say people should be tortured. I wouldn’t want to be hypocritical about it of course. grin

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blogdog's avatar

By blogdog, April 22, 2009 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

As it progresses, the Global War Of Terror takes on, in so many ways, the visage of the Third Reich in its self-defined noble mission - so many “patriots” serving as cannon fodder, unwitting fools and useful tools; not to mention careerists, like Mr. Yoo.

What’s an academic professor of law doing authoring legal loopholes for a rogue regime? Curious to see what this all ultimately does for Mr. Yoo’s career, in the defense of which he is now embroiled. His colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law must be suffering serious PC anxiety over this whole thing.

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By skulz fontaine, April 22, 2009 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

Waterboard Dick Cheney 183 times. Then, John Yoo can decide if it’s “successful.” Give John Yoo the ‘walling’ trick 183 times of course and then, have Dick Cheney decide if it’s “successful.” Well, that is if Cheney isn’t all waterlogged. Seems fair enough.

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