Thursday, April 10, 2008

More Torture!

I guess you might call this ABC news story a "blockbuster", as it it the most explicit evidence I have seen yet that the people at the top of the food chain were down in the muck with authorizing torture. Apparently the Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft were meeting regularly to approve (among other things) the use of torture in various interrogations. I imagine everyone pretty much assumed that the authorizations came from on high, but this is the first sourced account of how deep into it they were. Others will have more to say about this, including fantasies of seeing these people in cells at The Hague, and I will link to them as I come across them... however what caught my eye was:

A year later, amidst the outcry over unrelated abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the controversial 2002 legal memo, which gave formal legal authorization for the CIA interrogation program of the top al Qaeda suspects, leaked to the press. A new senior official in the Justice Department, Jack Goldsmith, withdrew the legal memo -- the Golden Shield -- that authorized the program.

But the CIA had captured a new al Qaeda suspect in Asia. Sources said CIA officials that summer returned to the Principals Committee for approval to continue using certain "enhanced interrogation techniques."

Then-National Security Advisor Rice, sources said, was decisive. Despite growing policy concerns -- shared by Powell -- that the program was harming the image of the United States abroad, sources say she did not back down, telling the CIA: "This is your baby. Go do it."

(emphasis mine)

Now, the idea the the Office of Legal Counsel can make torture legal, despite numerous statutes and treaties saying otherwise, just because they send out a memo has always seemed... well... freaking insane. But if we ignore that insanity and say that they at least thought what they were doing was legal, and thus it was the Evil Lawyer who is truly at fault for misleading his clients... we have to notice that the OLC withdrew the memo that "justified" the torture and they still kept torturing people!

Unbelievable.


UPDATE: Here's a video of the ABC report...