Tying the Hands Of Future PresidentsApril 17, 2009 at 8:43 am | Posted in American politics | 6 Comments
The Obama administration has declassified and released opinions of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) given in 2005 and earlier that analyze the legality of interrogation techniques authorized for use by the CIA. Those techniques were applied only when expressly permitted by the director, and are described in these opinions in detail, along with their limits and the safeguards applied to them.
Torture was approved by the CIA director. That means George Tenet. And George Tenet does not tie his shoes without express approval from the President of the United States.
Moreover, disclosure of the details of the program pre-empts the study of the president’s task force and assures that the suspension imposed by the president’s executive order is effectively permanent….By allowing this disclosure, President Obama has tied not only his own hands but also the hands of any future administration faced with the prospect of attack.
We can only dream! Thank you Obama!
Although evidence shows that the Army Field Manual, which is available online, is already used by al Qaeda for training purposes, it was certainly the president’s right to suspend use of any technique. However, public disclosure of the OLC opinions, and thus of the techniques themselves, assures that terrorists are now aware of the absolute limit of what the U.S. government could do to extract information from them, and can supplement their training accordingly and thus diminish the effectiveness of these techniques as they have the ones in the Army Field Manual.
But, General Hayden, Mr. Mukasey, surely you realize that these bad asses over there already know of our techniques as NONE OF OUR TECHNIQUES ARE NEW!!!! You stupid idiots! Not only that, but even the techniques used by the CIA pale in comparison to what other countries do right now. So… well, what exactly do we have to hide?
Somehow, it seems unlikely that the people who beheaded Nicholas Berg and Daniel Pearl, and have tortured and slain other American captives, are likely to be shamed into giving up violence by the news that the U.S. will no longer interrupt the sleep cycle of captured terrorists even to help elicit intelligence that could save the lives of its citizens.
Who gives a fuck what our enemies think? What the fuck do you care what they think? This has NEVER BEEN ABOUT THEM!
Which brings us to the next of the justifications for disclosing and thus abandoning these measures: that they don’t work anyway, and that those who are subjected to them will simply make up information in order to end their ordeal.
But you do get false confessions. You also have to weigh the action against the political cost of that action being revealed to the world. In terms of that political cost, it was never worth the effort to use torture on our detainees. This is something you will never understand. How the hell did you guys get into the position of power that you did? You guys are dumb.
The techniques themselves were used selectively against only a small number of hard-core prisoners who successfully resisted other forms of interrogation, and then only with the explicit authorization of the director of the CIA.
Once again, torture was approved by the director of the CIA.
Even when the government disclosed that three members of al Qaeda had been subjected to waterboarding but that the technique was no longer part of the CIA interrogation program, the court sustained the government’s argument that the precise details of how it was done, including limits and safeguards, could remain classified against the possibility that some future president may authorize its use.
This is EXACTLY why it was important to get these memos out in the open so NO FUTURE PRESIDENT could enact them! So Fuck You Michael Hayden, and Fuck You Michael Mukasey!
There is something of the self-fulfilling prophecy in the claim that our interrogation of some unlawful combatants beyond the limits set in the Army Field Manual has disgraced us before the world. Such a claim often conflates interrogation with the sadism engaged in by some soldiers at Abu Ghraib, an incident that had nothing whatever to do with intelligence gathering.
That’s what we get for muddying up what was quite clear before 9/11. The Geneva Conventions worked quite well. When you have the Defense Secretary and the Attorney General saying that the Geneva Conventions were quaint and outdated, what the fuck do you think the lowly soldier was going to think?
Indeed, the Army Field Manual was created with awareness that there was an alternative protocol for high-value detainees.
Really? Where does it state that?
Those charged with the responsibility of gathering potentially lifesaving information from unwilling captives are now told essentially that any legal opinion they get as to the lawfulness of their activity is only as durable as political fashion permits
No, what they are told is that the previous administration went out on flimsy legal ground and got burned. They never should have gone out that far. Hence why it is important to prosecute Jay Bybee, John Yoo, Stephen Bradbury, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and any others closely involved with war crimes.
Even with a seemingly binding opinion in hand, which future CIA operations personnel would take the risk?
None, thank God!
Any president who wants to apply such techniques without such a binding and durable legal opinion had better be prepared to apply them himself.
Beyond that, anyone in government who seeks an opinion from the OLC as to the propriety of any action, or who authors an opinion for the OLC, is on notice henceforth that such a request for advice, and the advice itself, is now more likely than before to be subject after the fact to public and partisan criticism.
As it should have been in the first place. The OLC don’t work in a vacuum. They must abide by the laws of this country. They didn’t under Bush, which brings us to the point we are now.
It’s nice to see such idiots as Michael Hayden and Michael Mukasey squirm for once. They know they are on shaky legal ground and are making a full court press to protect themselves politically. They deserve our scorn.