Monday, August 24, 2009

A painful investigation

Memos penned under the late, unlamented Bush administration authorizing the use of torture against people suspected of (but not convicted of) engaging in terrorism are making the rounds -- and political waves. The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility has recommended the government revisit past decisions against prosecuting Central Intelligence Agency personnel for their conduct during the interrogation of detainees. In response, Attorney General Eric Holder approved a preliminary review in the matter to determine if federal law was violated. The review, which will be led by Assistant United States Attorney John Durham, may lead to a full review, which may lead to prosecution.

So what's all the fuss about? How did those memos trigger such turmoil? Well, you can dig through the documents yourself, which include such highlights as the following fine words sent by Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA, on May 10, 2005:

In Techniques, we concluded that the individual authorized' use of several specific interrogation techniques, subject to a variety of limitations and safeguards, would not violate the statute when employed in the interrogation of a specific member of al Qaeda, though we concluded that at least in certiain respects two of the techniques presented substantial questions under sections 2340-2340A. The techniques that we analyzed were dietary manipulation, nudity, the attention grasp, walling, the facial hold, the facial slap or insult sIap, the abdominal slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, water dousing, extended sleep deprivation, and the "waterboard."

Or, if you want the short version, you can listen to excerpts read by narrators, including Oliver Stone, in the brief video below, which was prepared by the American Civil Liberties Union.



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