Democrats & Liberals Archives

Tortured Americans

In my last post I spoke of tortured Republicans. I said that “the torture memos must be so horrible that it is driving Republicans into a torturous frenzy.” Now that the Obama administration has released the torture memos, all decent Americans are dismayed by the horribly immoral and illegal activities fellow Americans have done. Good Americans are tortured.

There are 2 parts to the administration's announcement: the released memos and the accompanying statement. Releasing the memos is welcome. First, it is a direct answer to the Senate Republican threats to "go nuclear" to prevent the nominations of Dawn Johnsen as chief of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice and Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh as State Department legal counsel.

Second, and more important, it helps close a bad chapter in American history when we lost our soul and abrogated our Constitution. And what for? Torture does not work.

This is not the way some extremist Republicans see it. Here, for example, is Rush Limbaugh<:

The idea that torture doesn’t work– that’s been put out from John McCain on down– You know, for the longest time McCain said torture doesn’t work then he admitted in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last summer that he was broken by North Vietnamese. So what are we to think here?

As usual, Limbaugh distorts. Here is what McCain said about his torture:

Eventually, I gave them my ship’s name and squadron number, and confirmed that my target had been the power plant. Pressed for more useful information, I gave the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line, and said they were members of my squadron. When asked to identify future targets, I simply recited the names of a number of North Vietnamese cities that had already been bombed.

Torture is immoral, against American principles, and does not work. What's more, it causes distress to those doing the torturing. Here is what one CIA official involved with the Zubaydah case said:

[T]he harsher handling produced no breakthroughs, according to one former intelligence official with direct knowledge of the case. Instead, watching his torment caused great distress to his captors, the official said. Even for those who believed that brutal treatment could produce results, the official said, “seeing these depths of human misery and degradation has a traumatic effect.”

The torturer tortures himself as well as his captive!

I am happy about the release of the torture memos. But I am not happy about the accompanying statement:

Mr. Obama condemned what he called a “dark and painful chapter in our history” and said that the interrogation techniques would never be used again. But he also repeated his opposition to a lengthy inquiry into the program, saying that “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."

I must say President Obama is wrong. It is not a question of laying blame but to achieve justice. Those who disobey American laws must be punished, whether they are ordinary citizens or officials of an administration. I don't think we should prosecute anyone immediately because we don't have all the facts. But, as the New York Times recommends, we must investigate:

That investigation should start with the lawyers who wrote these sickening memos, including John Yoo, who now teaches law in California; Steven Bradbury, who was job-hunting when we last heard; and Mr. Bybee, who holds the lifetime seat on the federal appeals court that Mr. Bush rewarded him with.

These memos make it clear that Mr. Bybee is unfit for a job that requires legal judgment and a respect for the Constitution. Congress should impeach him. And if the administration will not conduct a thorough investigation of these issues, then Congress has a constitutional duty to hold the executive branch accountable. If that means putting Donald Rumsfeld and Alberto Gonzales on the stand, even Dick Cheney, we are sure Americans can handle it.

It's reassuring to see the torture memos released but we must appoint a commission to determine exactly what happened so we may cleanse our American system.

Posted by Paul Siegel at April 19, 2009 7:19 PM
Comment #280607

Below is my letter to the Obama Administration sent on the 17th, regarding this matter, for those who may wish to contact the Administration similarly:

Why is my president refusing to investigate and prosecute crimes committed by elected officials? Since when, did Pres. Obama, whom I voted for, decide that there should be one law for government officials, and another for the rest of Americans?

My president says of the alleged crimes of torture by the previous administration, “I am a strong believer in looking forward, not backward.” OK. Then let’s apply the same legal standard to murderers, thieves, and rapists, who upon apprehension, say they won’t do it again, and let them go free, as well.

What good is it to have an education in our U.S. Constitution if our president is going to abandon its principles of justice for efficiency, convenience, or whatever other reasons in favor of the King’s minions, while applying an entirely different standard of justice to the citizenry?

I voted for Pres. Obama. I will not let this go as it stands. We fought a Revolutionary War to eliminate just such double standards by those in government. In the strongest possible terms, I urge my president to rethink and rectify this dual system of justice which gives a pass to government officials, while imprisoning the citizenry for their crimes.
Posted by: David R. Remer at April 20, 2009 12:44 AM
Comment #280610

And out today,one suspect was waterboarded 183 times and another 83 times! That’s not torture, that’s punishment.

Posted by: bills at April 20, 2009 7:06 AM
Comment #280611

Pretty insane. You would think that after about 2 times, the idiots in charge, would deduce that water boarding was an effective measure. Insanity, Einstein said, is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. Pretty much makes the Bush Administration’s policies extremely insane.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 20, 2009 7:58 AM
Comment #280619

Poor babies,This will without a Doubt stop these thugs from cutting off heads in the future.They are scared forever.What a bunch of pussy’s on this site!!!

Posted by: tony at April 20, 2009 12:30 PM
Comment #280622

Tony, you have it the wrong way around. The cowards are those who are so afraid that they think they can waterboard their way to safety.

Can we trust Obama’s word on torture if he is going to sweep all of this under the table? Was the information obtained from torture extremely valuable information?

Posted by: jlw at April 20, 2009 1:04 PM
Comment #280627

The problem with the Justice department investigating this, is that it is principally a policy problem, which makes it a political issue rather than a criminal issue.

One must ultimately go after Cheney and Bush, if one is to honestly pursue this. The Congress has the power to do this, and is the appropiate venue for it, rather than Justice. A special prosecutor may be needed at some point. Fine. Let’s put Bush’s policies on trial.

Obama is being wise not to burden his administration with this false chase. If the people are outraged, then let them rise up to their representatives and let Watergate II entrance the media and stymie the Congress.. Obama has a much more important job to do. He must stabilize the economy, and fix healthcare as a longer term fix, as well as seek to repair our foreign policy issues. The damage Bush/Cheney has wrought is long and deep, Obama’s plate is full with that.

Posted by: gergle at April 20, 2009 2:13 PM
Comment #280629

>Poor babies,This will without a Doubt stop these thugs from cutting off heads in the future.They are scared forever.What a bunch of pussy’s on this site!!!
Posted by: tony at April 20, 2009 12:30 PM


Do you honestly believe torture was used at Guantanamo to keep extremists from lopping off heads in the Middle East? Can you suggest a reason for believing that? You left me hanging way up there trying to figure that one out…

Posted by: Marysdude at April 20, 2009 2:16 PM
Comment #280642


“Einstein said, is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. Pretty much makes the Bush Administration’s policies extremely insane.”

doesn’t make the democrats plans look much better.

Posted by: dbs at April 20, 2009 7:13 PM
Comment #280706

Jon Stewart said, “after about ninety times Mohammed probably was saying, ‘gee, they don’t really mean to drown me’…”

Posted by: Marysdude at April 21, 2009 12:47 PM
Comment #280745

I do hope this prosecutions go forward. This will open up a Pandora’s box likes of which we have not seen yet. Remember, war crimes have no statute of limitations.

Let me start with the most recent ones, since the Iraq war is already covered by these posible prosecutions:

Operation Allied Force 1999 Kosovo - as a result of direct attacks on civilian targets, not collateral damage, the US troops under the NATO command headed by the SAFC Wesley Clark, killed as few as 489 and as many as 528 Serb civilians. The UN resolution 119 didn’t authorize use of force. General Wesley Clark, who answered directly to Commander-in-Chief, ordered the operation to go forward on March 24th 1999.

I would like to see the DoJ investigate the legality behind the military action Allied Force and responsibility of the violating the Geneva Convention with regards to targeting the civilian facilities and hospitals. AG should excuse himself because he was one of the advisers to the president Clinton on this matter. Further more, under the NATO occupational authority, there has been ethnic cleansing conducted in Kosovo. By the UN Charter occupying power is responsible for providing security for the civilians under the occupation. 14000 Serbs have been displaces, over 400 churches burned and several hundred ethnic Serbs killed during the NATO occupation of Kosovo. I think it’s appropriate to call the leaders of occupying countries as at least witnesses and maybe charge them for crimes against the humanity for allowing ethnic cleansings in Kosovo while their armed forces occupied the portion of an independent nation.

AG Holder and former AG Reno should be called to testify before the Congress on conducting the WACO investigation and possible cover up by the federal government. I think all the related memos have to be released by the government.

More to come.

Posted by: Crusader at April 21, 2009 5:17 PM
Comment #280789

I read yesterday that the Obama administration has not shut the door on prosecuting Bybee Bradbury and Yoo. These are the guys responsible for the faulty legal advice that allowed the tortures to happen. They are the ones that deserve to be prosecuted for their involvement, however they would only be accessories to the crimes according to the article I read.

Posted by: j2t2 at April 22, 2009 2:19 PM
Comment #280790

j2t2, as I understand this from MSNBC’s Hardball, our system establishes independence of the Justice Dep’t. from the White House, despite what took place the last 8 years. And for that reason, Obama believes Constitutionally that the call to investigate and prosecute crimes by the previous administration is up to Eric Holder, not the president.

At his confirmation hearing, Holder said there cannot be two laws, one for the public and another for those in government, when he was asked about potential Bush administration criminal acts including torture.

My guess is, an independent special prosecutor will be appointed either by Congress or Holder, or both to investigate. Ironically, the Bush administration is responsible for opening 3 investigations of its own before Obama took office. They are ongoing as far as I know.

Posted by: David R. Remer at April 22, 2009 2:30 PM
Comment #281227

It’s OK if they wiretap me, I’m not doing anything wrong.
It’s OK if they torture me, I’m not doing anything wrong.

Posted by: Stephen HInes at May 2, 2009 7:39 PM
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