Tying the Hands Of Future Presidents

April 17, 2009 at 8:43 am | Posted in American politics | 6 Comments

Ah, some truths come out from Hayden and Mukasey.

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.

Exactly right.

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.



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  1. Don’t you know cursing detracts from you argument Mr. Mormon. Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb.

  2. I know, I know, blah blah blah. I didn’t think you cared about what I thought anyways. What does it really matter that I said fuck.

  3. It is true that the purpose of taking prisoners of war is to keep them from fighting in the future. But consider if an enemy is going to use a weapon to kill people, say a bomb. If you do not shoot him with a bullet, he will use the bomb. So what do you do? Probably shoot him with the bullet.
    What if he will use a bomb, but you have to torture him to stop him or his friends from using it. Of course, it is so very gray. There isn’t a guarantee that torture will work. It’s war, it sucks, people try to kill each other.
    I think you are right to reject torture though. How can we put checks on a government that does it if we don’t decide to not allow it at all. I think the answer is that we have to decide to be so much superior at fighting war. Like the Nephites – war isn’t a pleasure, it’s an unfortunate reality sometimes – so you prepare as much as you can for one outcome: to win. This means more technology, better technology, consistent stance.

    So I agree, no torture, but I do think we need a more unilateral foreign policy. That policy must be open and clear and consistent though. So everybody knows what to expect. We also need high-tech weapons. In the case of Iraq, seeing something through to the end is a good idea, but getting involved in the first place was not. If we had said, this war will be 10 years long and cost X amount from the beginning, and then decided it was worth it, fine. Otherwise, probably not. See what I mean.

    I appreciate your concern, but I see the other side of the argument.

    If it makes a difference, you have provoked me to think and I have decided I am against a policy of torture in general. Though I lack your outrage as of yet.

    Hey btw, I remember you, I was on a mission in Romania, saw your pic on the wall.

  4. ZSorensen,

    What if he will use a bomb, but you have to torture him to stop him or his friends from using it.

    Here is where you lose on the logic. Let’s unpack your scenario.

    1. you’ve got an enemy. He’s about to use a bomb. That means that he is still free, and not held in your custody. He wants to use a bomb, and you’ve gotta stop him.

    2. You cannot torture him while he is not in your custody, so I am assuming you’ve captured him before he could use his bomb, but his friends want to still use that bomb.

    3. You feel like you need to get information fast before that bomb goes off. You’ve captured your enemy and you think he has information that he otherwise is unwilling to give while you are being nice to him.

    4. Thus you have a choice. Torture or not torture.

    5. Your thought is that if you don’t torture, people are going to die because you can’t get that information from this detainee in time without torturing him.

    6. So you try and torture him. Well, what do you do with him? Waterboard him? Doesn’t seem to work. KSM was waterboarded 183 times in one month. Apparently the CIA didn’t like what he told them. Waterboarding apparently sucks as a torture tool

    7. So then what do you do? Sleep deprivation? You could keep a guy from sleep for up to eleven days apparently. What then? Will he give you his information? He’ll probably be gone mentally. Of course, you should weigh the fact that sleep deprivation was used as a tool of torture by the Soviets to extract false confessions! Certainly you don’t want a false confession out of your detainee. You need to know accurate information, because people’s lives are at risk.

    8. So far, you’ve nixed waterboarding (fails) and sleep deprivation (fails). What else do you have?

    9. Put a guy in a confinement box with insects he fears? That’s too 1984! False confession will be the result there too.

    10. There just doesn’t seem to be any real way to torture a guy to get accurate information without, say, electrocuting his testicles, or cutting off fingernails, or pulling eyes out of sockets, i.e. really stuff that shocks the conscience that America would never do… or would it? We apparently turn guys over to Syria and Egypt, who have no qualms about doing such stuff.

    11. But let’s just get back to your scenario. You realize of course that by now, you’ve already spent one month waterboarding your detainee 183 times with no luck. You’ve sleep deprived him for 11 days.

    12. Think about that. Do you think his friends would be waiting around for 42 days to act with their bomb while you try and figure the best way to torture the information out of their friend you captured?

    13. In a “ticking time bomb” scenario, if we’re talking realistically, the friends will not be waiting around, and no torture will give you actionable, accurate information from a detainee you’ve captured in time!

    14. You’re going to have to accept the fact that one got away and people are going to die. Which is okay. Life does go on.

    15. We’re under the belief that we must protect every life, no matter the cost. this is irresponsible thinking. We are here to preserve a way of life, not life itself. The way of life we believe in does not approve of torturing detainees! We reject that in our way of life. Or at least we used to.

    16. People die. It’s a part of life. You cannot sacrifice the way of life you live just so you can make sure everyone lives. That’s not following the Gospel, which teaches us that some will indeed get lost. In fact, it was Lucifer who offered a plan where everyone would be saved. That plan came at a cost. The cost was the way of life!

    I think the answer is that we have to decide to be so much superior at fighting war.

    What about deciding to be much superior at peace instead. Build a strong defense, so if anyone attempts to come to us, they will die upon our walls, but export peace to the rest of the world. It will be a far more beautiful, and far less bloody world.

    Like the Nephites – war isn’t a pleasure, it’s an unfortunate reality sometimes – so you prepare as much as you can for one outcome: to win. This means more technology, better technology, consistent stance.

    The arms of flesh? No, no no. If you want to win, you must rely on the Lord for your protection. Trust the Lord. Do not rely on the arms of flesh. That’s what we are taught. Why do we not have faith that the Lord will be by our side?

  5. Hey btw, I remember you, I was on a mission in Romania, saw your pic on the wall.

    Nice! When were you there?

  6. A good article on how the ticking time bomb doesn’t work

    And another one

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