[Marxism] Forgive and forget

Louis Proyect 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.

Reversing Bush
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 
administration officials.

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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