[Marxism] Forgive and forget
lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Apr 16 13:13:05 MDT 2009
CIA employees won't be tried for waterboarding
Holder gives first definitive assurance officials are legally in the clear
The Associated Press
updated 3:11 p.m. ET, Thurs., April 16, 2009
WASHINGTON - The Obama administration on Thursday informed CIA officials
who used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics on terror
suspects that they will not be prosecuted.
Even before President Barack Obama took office in January, aides
signaled his administration was not likely to bring criminal charges
against CIA employees for their roles in the secret, coercive terrorist
interrogation program. It had been deemed legal at the time through
opinions issued by the Justice Department under the Bush administration.
But the statement issued Thursday by Attorney General Eric Holder, the
nation's chief law enforcement officer, is the first definitive
assurance that those CIA officials are in the clear, as long as their
actions were in line with the legal advice at the time.
The CIA has acknowledged using waterboarding, a form of simulated
drowning, on three high-level terror detainees in 2002 and 2003, with
the permission of the White House and the Justice Department. Former CIA
Director Michael Hayden said waterboarding has not been used since, but
some human rights groups have urged Obama to hold CIA employees
accountable for what they, and many Obama officials and others around
the world, say was torture.
Interrogation memos release
The Holder statement was issued by the Justice Department along with the
release of four significant Bush-era legal opinions governing — in
graphic and extensive detail — the interrogation of terror detainees,
the officials said. One of the memos was produced by the Justice
Department's Office of Legal Counsel in August 2002, the other three in
The memos, released to meet a court-approved deadline in a lawsuit
against the government in New York by the American Civil Liberties
Union, detail the dozen harsh techniques approved for use by CIA
interrogators, the officials said. A statement from Obama was also being
released along with Holder's comments and the documents.
One memo specifically authorized a method for combining multiple
techniques, a practice human rights advocates argue is particularly
harmful and crosses the line into torture even if any of the individual
methods do not.
Obama says the release of legal opinions governing harsh questioning of
terrorism suspects is required by the law and should help address "a
dark and painful chapter in our history."
The president issued a statement accompanying Thursday's release of four
significant memos written by the Bush administration in 2002 and 2005.
Obama said that the interrogation techniques outlined in the memos
"undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer."
The president said he believes some national security information must
remain classified, but that these graphic memos are different. Obama
said withholding them would deny facts already in the public domain and
would contribute to an inaccurate accounting of the past.
The Obama administration last month released nine legal memos related to
the interrogation program, and probably will release more as the lawsuit
proceeds. But the four released Thursday represent the fullest
accounting by the government of the methods authorized and used, and is
the complete list, the officials said.
There is very little redaction, or blacking out, of detail in the memos,
the officials said.
The methods include keeping detainees naked for long periods, keeping
them in a painful standing position for long periods, and depriving them
of solid food. Other tactics included using a plastic neck collar to
slam detainees into walls, keeping the detainee's cell cold for long
periods, and beating and kicking the detainee. Sleep-deprivation,
prolonged shackling, and threats to a detainee's family were also used.
Among the things not allowed in the memo were allowing a prisoner's body
temperature or caloric intake to fall below a certain level, because
either could cause permanent damage, the officials said.
The techniques were applied to 14 suspects considered very senior
Many of the methods were detailed in a secret 2007 report by the
International Committee of the Red Cross. The New York Review of Books
recently obtained a copy of the report.
The ACLU suit has sought to use the Freedom of Information Act to shed
light on the treatment of prisoners in U.S. custody abroad — even though
the Bush administration eventually abandoned many of the legal
conclusions and the Obama administration has gone further to actively
dismantle most of President George W. Bush's anti-terror program.
Obama has ordered the CIA's secret overseas prisons known as "black
sites" closed, ended so-called "extraordinary renditions" of terrorism
suspects if there is any reason to believe the third country would
torture them, and restricted CIA questioners to only those interrogation
methods and protocols approved for use by the U.S. military until a
complete review of the program is conducted.
Also Thursday, Holder was formally revoking every legal opinion or memo
issued during Bush's presidency that justified interrogation programs.
Obama had already said his administration would not rely upon them.
Still, the documents have been the subject of a long, fierce debate in
and outside government over how much officials should say about the
tough treatment of detainees.
The Bush administration held the view that the president had the
authority to claim broad powers that could not be checked by Congress or
the courts in order to keep Americans safe. Obama and Holder, among
others, have said that the use of such unchecked powers has actually
made Americans less safe, by increasing anti-U.S. sentiment, endangering
American troops when captured and handing terrorists a recruiting tool.
Even so, the officials described the president's process of deciding how
much to release in response to the suit as a very difficult one. Four
weeks in the making, the process resulted in intense debates involving
the president, Cabinet members, lower-level officials and even former
Obama was concerned that releasing the information could endanger
ongoing operations, American personnel or U.S. relationships with
foreign intelligence services. CIA officials, in particular, needed
reassuring, the officials said.
But in the end, the view of the Justice Department prevailed, that the
FOIA law required the release and that the government would be forced to
do so by the court if it didn't do so itself, the officials said. Also,
Obama was reassured about the potential national security implications
by the fact that much of the information contained in the memos was no
longer secret, having been widely publicized — including some of it by
Bush himself — and by the fact that the program itself no longer exists.
Those assurances are not likely to innoculate Obama against criticism
from conservatives. Last month, Vice President Dick Cheney said, for
instance, that Obama's decisions to revoke Bush-era terrorist detainee
policies will "raise the risk to the American people of another attack."
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