I know, I know … the Bush Administration’s war crimes are so passe. Who cares! Get over it, hippie! So, just as Curveball’s latest confession that he completely fabricated the Saddam Hussein-WMD story has caused nary a ripple in the U.S. media’s constant election coverage, I’m sure the largely-unredacted release of Philip Zelikow’s 2006 torture memo won’t register, either. Zelikow was a senior advisor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a strong critic of the Bush Administration’s authorization of torture. You can read his full memo warning that the use of torture is illegal here.
From the story:
Zelikow wrote that a law passed that year by Congress, restricting interrogation techniques, meant the “situation has now changed.” Both legally and as a matter of policy, he advised, administration officials were endangering both CIA interrogators and the reputation of the United States by engaging in extreme interrogations — even those that stop short of torture.
“We are unaware of any precedent in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or any subsequent conflict for authorized, systematic interrogation practices similar to those in question here,” Zelikow wrote, “even where the prisoners were presumed to be unlawful combatants.”
Other “advanced governments that face potentially catastrophic terrorist dangers” have “abandoned several of the techniques in question here,” Zelikow’s memo writes. The State Department blacked out a section of text that apparently listed those governments.
“Coercive” interrogation methods “least likely to be sustained” by judges were “the waterboard, walling, dousing, stress positions, and cramped confinement,” Zelikow advised, “especially [when] viewed cumulatively.” (Most CIA torture regimens made use of multiple torture techniques.) “Those most likely to be sustained are the basic detention conditions and, in context, the corrective techniques, such as slaps.”
The Obama Administration doesn’t get a pass on any of this, either, coming to the same conclusion as the Bush Administration regarding torture. I find this interesting:
Zelikow’s warnings about the legal dangers of torture went unheeded — not just by the Bush administration, which ignored them, but, ironically, by the Obama administration, which effectively refuted them. In June, the Justice Department concluded an extensive inquiry into CIA torture by dropping potential charges against agency interrogators in 99 out of 101 cases of detainee abuse. That inquiry did not examine criminal complicity for senior Bush administration officials who designed the torture regimen and ordered agency interrogators to implement it.
“I don’t know why Mr. Durham came to the conclusions he did,” Zelikow says, referring to the Justice Department special prosecutor for the CIA torture inquiry, John Durham. “I’m not impugning them, I just literally don’t know why, because he never published any details about either the factual analysis or legal analysis that led to those conclusions.”
Here’s a wild-haired tinfoil hat conspiracy theory for you: I have a friend who is convinced that the Obama Administration cut a deal with the Republican Party. The deal was that the GOP would not field any viable presidential candidate in 2012. In return, the Obama Administration wouldn’t prosecute any Bush Administration officials over the faulty intelligence that led to the Iraq War, their use of torture against detainees, etc.
Sounds crazy, I know — especially when you remember that Mitt Romney could easily win in November, what with all of the voter intimidation tactics, the river of money buying this election, the shaky economy, etc. But it’s an interesting theory.
The Bush Administration set the bar to a new low regarding human rights. This is a legacy we’ll be living with for a long, long time. I think this is one of those things they’ll be making movies about in 50 years, the way we look back with horror on the McCarthy hearings. The fact that no one seems interested in even discussing it right now strikes me as a collective admission of guilt by the American people. We know we were wrong, let’s just sweep it all under the rug. No need to worry our beautiful minds about it … yet.