American Samizdat

Wednesday, May 06, 2009. *
A torture memo that slipped through the cracks
This apparently is an oldie but a goody that was recently rediscovered: an emailed memo that directly implicates Bush II in authorizing various torture techniques including stress positions and sleep deprivation:
Jason Leopold had an amazing find when perusing old released FBI documents the ACLU posted has posted on their site. There are about 100,000 such memos at the site, and who knows how much else is buried in that cache? The memo he reports on was first posted by the ACLU in December 2004, but the information in it lay buried until just this week.
Senior FBI agents stationed in Iraq in 2004 claimed in an e-mail that President George W. Bush signed an executive order approving the use of military dogs, sleep deprivation and other harsh tactics to intimidate Iraqi detainees.

The FBI e-mail -- dated May 22, 2004 -- followed disclosures about abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and sought guidance on whether FBI agents in Iraq were obligated to report the U.S. military’s harsh interrogation of inmates when that treatment violated FBI standards but fit within the guidelines of a presidential executive order.

According to the e-mail, Bush’s executive order authorized interrogators to use military dogs, “stress positions,” sleep “management,” loud music and “sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc.” to extract information from detainees in Iraq, which was considered a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Bush has never before been directly linked to authorizing specific interrogation techniques at Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib. Bush has admitted, however, that he personally signed off on the waterboarding of three "high-value" prisoners.
Leopold notes that previously the Bush White House (in the person of Alberto Gonzales) stated in 2004, "The president has not directed the use of specific interrogation techniques." But the Senate Armed Services report on Department of Defense treatment of prisoners did note that at the very least it was President Bush himself whose February 7, 2002 Executive Memorandum denying al-Qaeda and the Taliban Geneva protections, “opened the door” to torture and abuse of prisoners.
Like psychologist Jeffrey Kaye (the blogger who runs Invictus), I'll accept that maybe the journalist Leopold cannot call Bush II regime's operatives liars, but those of us not bound by such limits can call 'em like we see 'em. Obama's "let's all forgive and forget, hold hands, and sing Kumbaya" schtick is not going to cut it. Nor is simply limiting investigations and prosecutions to a handful of low-level military personnel acceptable. It is, to say the very least, highly offensive to those who have been victimized. Refusal by Obama to hold those at the highest levels of the US government responsible either betrays a profound degree of naivete or betrays a desire to have available those very same tools of torture for his own sordid reasons. It appears probable that the US will have to learn the hard way what other great (as well as lesser) powers that have engaged human rights abuses and war crimes have learned: those that fail to investigate and where need be prosecute those responsible for said abuses and war crimes on their own terms will eventually have to deal with outsiders imposing the same investigations and prosecutions on far different terms.

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posted by Don Durito at 11:03 PM
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