American Samizdat

Wednesday, April 16, 2008. *

Permissible Assaults Cited in Graphic Detail
Drugging Detainees Is Among Techniques

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 6, 2008; A03
Thirty pages into a memorandum discussing the legal boundaries of military interrogations in 2003, senior Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo tackled a question not often asked by American policymakers: Could the president, if he desired, have a prisoner's eyes poked out?

Or, for that matter, could he have "scalding water, corrosive acid or caustic substance" thrown on a prisoner? How about slitting an ear, nose or lip, or disabling a tongue or limb? What about biting?

These assaults are all mentioned in a U.S. law prohibiting maiming, which Yoo parsed as he clarified the legal outer limits of what could be done to terrorism suspects as detained by U.S. authorities. The specific prohibitions, he said, depended on the circumstances or which "body part the statute specifies."

But none of that matters in a time of war, Yoo also said, because federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes by military interrogators are trumped by the president's ultimate authority as commander in chief.

The dry discussion of U.S. maiming statutes is just one in a series of graphic, extraordinary passages in Yoo's 81-page memo, which was declassified this past week. No maiming is known to have occurred in U.S. interrogations, and the Justice Department disavowed the document without public notice nine months after it was written.

In the sober language of footnotes, case citations and judicial rulings, the memo explores a wide range of unsavory topics, from the use of mind-altering drugs on captives to the legality of forcing prisoners to squat on their toes in a "frog crouch." It repeats an assertion in another controversial Yoo memo that an interrogation tactic cannot be considered torture unless it would result in "death, organ failure or serious impairment of bodily functions."

Yoo, who is now a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, also uses footnotes to effectively dismiss the Fourth and Fifth amendments to the Constitution, arguing that protections against unreasonable search and seizure and guarantees of due process either do not apply or are irrelevant in a time of war. He frequently cites his previous legal opinions to bolster his case.

John yoo is an elemental cadre within a chain of criminal acts. Most of us here would respect jurisprudence - at least enough to know that the Cheney Bush junta has committed all of the four charges outlined in nuremburg/nürnberg

They have committed these crimes with the assistance & willing action of their cadre - Yoo, Addington, Feith etc etc - all that subspecies of men & women who adore power above all else. Even the most cursory examination would show us how far from the truth - they & their actions are...

Complicity is shared by us all because the criminal conspiracy & the criminal acts continue. but not even the most vociferous supporter, plebeian supporter of the Cheney Bush junta - has the particular 'responsibility' of the cadre. That cadre has engaged in two parallel but contingent practices - unleashing illegal wars of profit against sovereign nations & peoples & at the same time they have emasculated bourgeois jurisprudence of even the pretense of justice or of civil liberty.

The patriot acts & the acts to invade are one & the same. The so called "war on terror" masks the complete & utter degradation of whatever moral center the American empire has had.

Here's links to the new memo (pdf):
part 1
part 2

Also see,

Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algiers to Baghdad

In this book.... I examine torture as an analytical category and practice (that is, a conscious and rule-bound activity) through which to understand how, between 1954 and 1962, the militarized colonial state normalized terror to forestall the collapse of the empire in an age of decolonization. In tracing the etiology and methods of state terrorism, I explore the justifications that allowed for the routinization of torture in a “total” war of decolonization-recolonization. From this perspective, the book seeks to uncover torture’s layered meanings for practitioners and victims; the role it played in techniques of population screening11 and social engineering; and its use as a catalyst for imperial identity formation and crystallization. Torture was not, as was often claimed by military officers, an epiphenomenon of the war. It was central to the army’s defense of a colonial empire in its waning years. The systematic use of torture was the logical outcome of revolutionary-war theory (guerre révolutionnaire) and doctrine developed in the 1950s by a group of veterans of colonial wars, especially in Indochina. Many had also fought in World War II. They were men who had suffered a loss of honor and relevance in fast-changing postwar France. The Algerian War offered them a last opportunity at recouping both. In this context, systematic torture was not just an instance of violence committed by uncontrolled soldiers; it was part and parcel of an ideology of subjugation that went beyond Algeria’s borders.12 Algeria became a testing ground for fighting “revolutionary” wars in Africa and Latin America.13
posted by Uncle $cam at 11:00 AM
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