Obama forgives CIA torturers

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Obama forgives CIA torturers


US President Barack Obama says CIA agents who used harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects during the Bush era will not be prosecuted.

Mr Obama banned the use of methods such as sleep deprivation and simulated drowning in his first week in office.

He has now released four memos detailing techniques the CIA was able to use under the Bush administration.

Rights groups have criticised his decision to protect CIA agents involved in the interrogation procedures.

Amnesty International said the Department of Justice appeared to be offering a "get-out-of-jail-free card" to individuals who were involved in acts of torture.

The Centre for Constitutional Rights, which has championed the legal rights of the "war on terror" detainees, also expressed its disappointment.

"It is one of the deepest disappointments of this administration that it appears unwilling to uphold the law where crimes have been committed by former officials," it said in a statement.



Obama keeps equaling [url=http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/15/do-you-want-to-know-a-st... hope and zero change [/url].


As Greenwald noted, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suing the government for warrantless wiretapping in the case Jewel v. NSA, has described the Obama administration's latest arguments for dismissing the case as worse than those from Bush officials.

The [Obama] DOJ claims that the U.S. Government is completely immune from litigation for illegal spying - that the Government can never be sued for surveillance that violates federal privacy statutes.

This is a radical assertion that is utterly unprecedented. No one - not the White House, not the Justice Department, not any member of Congress, and not the Bush Administration - has ever interpreted the law this way.



Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

"Change we can believe in". Yeah, right.


[url=Obama">http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8006597.stm][u]Obama's torture decision "illegal": U.N. expert[/url]


US President Barack Obama's decision not to prosecute CIA agents who used torture tactics is a violation of international law, a UN expert says.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, says the US is bound under the UN Convention against Torture to prosecute those who engage in it.


And while Mr. Obama vowed not to prosecute C.I.A. officers for acting on legal advice, on Monday aides did not rule out legal sanctions for the Bush lawyers who developed the legal basis for the use of the techniques.

The president’s decision last week to release secret memorandums detailing the harsh tactics employed by the C.I.A. under his predecessor provoked a furor that continued to grow on Monday as critics on various fronts assailed his position. Among other things, the memos revealed that two captured Qaeda operatives were subjected to a form of near-drowning known as waterboarding a total of 266 times.



You shouldn't have to be a lawyer to know that a memo telling you it's okay to torture is wrong and that's why that decision is wrong. Still, it's good to know that the memo-writers could be prosecuted.


Doug wrote:
harsh tactics employed by the C.I.A. under his predecessor provoked a furor that continued to grow on Monday as critics on various fronts assailed his position. Among other things, the memos revealed that two captured Qaeda operatives were subjected to a form of near-drowning known as waterboarding a total of 266 times

"Our's is not to question why. Our's is to do or die."

And our CA's in Ottawa just send the troops wherever Uncle Sam and the American inquisition instruct them to.


Bush administration tortured in effort to find Iraq-9/11 link:


The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. In fact, no evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and Saddam's regime.

The use of abusive interrogation - widely considered torture - as part of Bush's quest for a rationale to invade Iraq came to light as the Senate issued a major report tracing the origin of the abuses and President Barack Obama opened the door to prosecuting former U.S. officials for approving them.






The inerestin ting ere, is that while everyone on the left is aghast at Obama not wanting to prosecute,  it's not Obama's decision to make. 

His only decision was to release the memos.  Which seems to stand a good chance of leading to prosecution of fish a little bigger than CIA agents.  Without it looking at all like Obama dirtied his hands in partizan retribution politics.

Youse guys should really get your hands on "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin.



And,  has anyone else found it significant that Dick Chenney has to do his own rear gaurd action?   There's a shit storm brewing, so bad that no one on the Republican side is willing to step up and play shit catcher for the previous administration.



Even one of Faux's talking heads takes exception to torture:




The assertion of total power through unchecked violence - outside the Constitution, beyond the reach of the law (apart from legal memos from hired hacks instructed to retroactively redefine torture into 'legality') - will be seen in retrospect as the key defining theory of Bush conservatism. It ended with torture. Why? Because reality may differ from ideology; and when it does, it is vital to create reality to support ideology. And so torture creates reality by coercing "facts" from broken bodies and minds.

This is how torture is always a fantastic temptation for those in power, even if they first use it out of what they think is necessity or good intentions: it provides a way for them to coerce reality into the shape they desire. This is also why it is so uniquely dangerous.



It looks like there was someone who saw those orders correctly for what they were - but sadly did something terrible to herself in response.




I think in the news business, they call this a story with legs.




Hmm.   It would be interesting to understand the timing of the decision to use torture in terms of Colin Powel's decision to leave the administration.


Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I'm not looking forward to this.


The Obama administration agreed late Thursday to release dozens of photographs depicting alleged abuses at U.S. prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush White House.

The decision will make public for the first time photos obtained in military investigations at facilities other than the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Forty-four photos that the American Civil Liberties Union was seeking in a court case, plus a "substantial number" of other images, will be released by May 28.



[url=Top">http://www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/3/1749-top-of-the-h... of the Heap: The Democrats' Teachable Moment on Torture[/url]

It is really very simple. Ample, credible evidence of violations of federal law have been produced by a plethora of reputable sources -- including the United States Senate and even the Pentagon. It is the function of the Justice Department to investigate possible violations of federal law, and, if warranted, prosecute them.


The second reason why Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership are resisting, with all their might, a full investigation for the torture system is that they want to uphold what is perhaps the central principle of the American state today: the unaccountability of the ruling elite. They want to retain the freedom of action to do "whatever it takes" (that tough-guy phrase so beloved by "savvy" insiders and their sycophants in the press) to maintain themselves and their cronies and their class in a position of dominance, wealth and privilege. The law is not for them; the law is for the rubes, the suckers, the rabble, the losers -- for you and me, in other words.


josh wrote:

Bush administration tortured in effort to find Iraq-9/11 link:

I remember playing pin the tale on the donkey at birthday parties.

"No one expects the inquisition" - Monty Python


"The second reason why Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership are resisting, with all their might, a full investigation for the torture system is that they want to uphold what is perhaps the central principle of the American state today:" 


I dissagree with that analysis.  It's my guess that Obama and the administration are in favour of prosecution, but have to be seen to be a step behind public opinion instead of a step ahead.

The way information is being released resembles too much the methodologies of an election campaign designed to shift political opinion for me to believe otherwise at this point.




[url=http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13323]Professor Marjorie Cohn of the National Lawyers Guild[/url] said:



Obama has made a political calculation to seek amnesty for the CIA torturers. However, good faith reliance on superior orders was rejected as a defense at Nuremberg and in Lt. Calley's Vietnam-era trial for the My Lai Massacre. The Torture Convention provides unequivocally, "An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification for torture."


There is evidence that the CIA was using the illegal techniques as early as April 2002, three to four months before the August memo was written. That would eliminate "good faith" reliance on Justice Department advice as a "defense" to prosecution.


The Senate Intelligence Committee revealed that Condoleezza Rice approved waterboarding in July 17, 2002 "subject to a determination of legality by the OLC." She got it two weeks later from Bybee and John Yoo. Rice, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and George Tenet reassured the CIA in Spring 2003 that the abusive methods were legal.


When the C.I.A. first referred its inspector general's findings to prosecutors, they decided that none of the cases merited prosecution. But Mr. Holder's associates say that when he took office and saw the allegations, which included the deaths of people in custody and other cases of physical or mental torment, he began to reconsider.

With the release of the details on Monday and the formal advice that at least some cases be reopened, it now seems all but certain that the appointment of a prosecutor or other concrete steps will follow, posing significant new problems for the C.I.A. It is politically awkward, too, for Mr. Holder because President Obama has said that he would rather move forward than get bogged down in the issue at the expense of his own agenda.

The advice from the Office of Professional Responsibility strengthens Mr. Holder's hand.

. . . .

Mr. Holder was said to have reacted with disgust earlier this year when he first read accounts of abusive treatment of detainees in a classified version of the inspector general's report and other materials.

. . . .

Mr. Holder, who questioned the thoroughness of previous inquiries by the Justice Department, is expected to announce within days his decision on whether to appoint a prosecutor to conduct a new investigation; in legal circles, it is believed to be highly likely that he will go forward with a fresh criminal inquiry.




Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has decided to appoint a prosecutor to examine nearly a dozen cases in which CIA interrogators and contractors may have violated anti-torture laws and other statutes when they allegedly threatened terrorism suspects, according to two sources familiar with the move.

. . . .

Holder is poised to name John Durham, a career Justice Department prosecutor from Connecticut, to lead the inquiry, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process is not complete.

Durham's mandate, the sources added, will be relatively narrow: to look at whether there is enough evidence to launch a full-scale criminal investigation of current and former CIA personnel who may have broken the law in their dealings with detainees. Many of the harshest CIA interrogation techniques have not been employed against terrorism suspects for four years or more.

The attorney general selected Durham in part because the longtime prosecutor is familiar with the CIA and its past interrogation regime. For nearly two years, Durham has been probing whether laws against obstruction or false statements were violated in connection with the 2005 destruction of CIA videotapes.


N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture



All the hub-bub about torture today is to mislead people into believing that torture is a brand new method of the vicious empire since just dubya. It's not. Theyve been terrorizing the world for a long time.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=http://dissidentvoice.org/2009/08/the-one-term-wonder/]Will Obomba be a One-Term President?[/url]