The torture justification memos contrived by the political hacks that ruled the George W. Bush Justice Department should be required reading for every American. Sadly that will not happen—and if President Barack Obama has his way the United States will move “forward” leaving yet another legacy of not holding accountable those responsible for war crimes.
To suggest as, Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder did, that the CIA interrogators should have immunity from prosecution because the techniques were declared legal by Bush sycophants is equivalent to the Nuremberg defense that they “were only following orders”. It is an insult to any but the dimmest of intelligence!
When the torture started in 2002, the FBI objected to the techniques and withdrew from the questioning. CIA lawyers suspended their black hole operations for fear of criminal prosecution and demanded legal cover from the Justice Department. They received it the form of a secret memo by John Yoo and signed by J.S. Bybee, head of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel.
When Yoo and Bybee left the Justice Department, the new Office head, Jack L. Goldsmith apparently viewed the memo so legally incompetent, he advised not relying on that opinion, withdrew it and resigned in June of 2004. Goldsmith’s successor, Steven Bradbury resurrected the opinions, giving the CIA” legal” cover.
In 2005, the CIA was so fearful of legally being held accountable for what some of them knew to be criminal violations of our laws (not to mention international treaties), they destroyed 92 videotapes that documented the torture techniques. Apparently, Obama and Holder do not consider obstruction of justice as an offense worthy of accountability, either.
Moreover, the most offensive excuse for torture is the argument that its specific use on a “top Al Quaida” leader, Abu Zubayda, harvested vital information that has protected America—--specifically, yielding the name of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen whom Bush arrested for plotting to make a dirty bomb—a charge so flimsy that it was later dropped. They also claim Zubayda gave up the much sought after nickname of an Al Quaida leader known as KSM.
However, author and journalist Jane Mayer in her book Dark Side, points out that those two specific bits of information were given up before he was tortured---- and former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations reported that not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of his “confessions”.
Finally, the techniques adopted by the Bush administration are directly out of the interrogation manuals used by communist Russia and North Korea.
Imagine Americans being held for years without charges or trials. Imagine Americans being waterboarded a hundred times in a two week period (as was the case with Zubayda).Imagine Americans being sleep deprived for 11 days at a time, of being forced to kneel leaning backward at a 45 degree angle (and other stressed positions)for hours on end. Imagine repeatedly having your head slammed against a wall.
Imagine, the offending government having doctors there to facilitate the effectiveness of the techniques. Imagine the offending government, declaring such treatment is not torture because its puppet lawyers said so.
Now, imagine President Obama saying yes, we tortured but the perpetrators should not be held accountable. I can’t imagine it!!