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December 14, 2005

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I'm beginning to get the impression that these guys just like torture for its own sake.

As usual, it's hard to know what's really going on. Later in the article it says:

The new manual, the first revision in 13 years, will specifically prohibit practices like stripping prisoners, keeping them in stressful positions for a long time, imposing dietary restrictions, employing police dogs to intimidate prisoners and using sleep deprivation as a tool to get them to talk, Army officials said. In that regard, it imposes new restrictions on what interrogators are allowed to do.

I'd be interested in who's driving this change. It may well be a reaction to the McCain amendment and the pro-torture GOP, but not in the way we think.

It would not surprise me at all if senior career Army officers are trying to eliminate the gray area in which torture and abuse have thrived so as to protect the Army from the damage the Bush administration has done, not enable it.

Good stuff at Hitherby Dragons.

Well, has anyone ever seen hilzoy and R. Sean Borgstrom in the same place at the same time?

Hitherby Dragons

what a great site. thanks for the tip.

Catsy, the person who supposedly wrote this section is Stephen Cambone. He's in up to his neck with these scandals. Bad news.

More bad news may be coming out of the conference committee soon.

This is really, really, really getting old.

This always seemed like a weakness in McCain's approach. I mean, the damn regs aren't written in stone, just a stone-like substance.

Isn't this the story of McCain's later political career? Stand up for something until they say 'Simon says kneel', and then it's old hug-the-George McCain again.

More here on Stephen Cambone

It would not surprise me at all if senior career Army officers are trying to eliminate the gray area in which torture and abuse have thrived so as to protect the Army from the damage the Bush administration has done, not enable it.

I'd love to believe that, but then why is the new section classified? That's unprecedented and bizarre for a field manual. It also makes Congressional oversight that much harder.

Katherine, where did you learn this? the person who supposedly wrote this section is Stephen Cambone

The Times article only says it's on his desk for approval. I'm prepared to believe it, but I don't get that from the linked article.

The language in the Times article also makes it sound as if there is already a CIA exemption in the McCain language. Is that true? I thought it was to apply to all detainees in U.S. custody.

OT: Congrats on the gig, Hilzoy.

One of the arguments the pro-torture side were using was that if those interrogated knew the techniques we would use from the army manual, then they'd train to resist them.

Now we go and spell out the army manual techniques in detail instead of general terms. Eh???

They really have no principles, do they?

One of the arguments the pro-torture side were using was that if those interrogated knew the techniques we would use from the army manual, then they'd train to resist them.

Whereas no one expects the Spanish Inquisition, appears to be Cheney's argument. The world's least likely Python fan--go figure.

Breaking:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- After months of resistance, the White House has agreed to accept Sen. John McCain's call for a law specifically banning cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of foreign suspects in the war on terror, several congressional officials said Thursday.
Okay, what's the catch? Anyone? Katherine?

I remember Stephen Cambone. He was General Taguba's Pentagon minder when he testified about the Abu Ghraib report. He sounded like a slick salesman then, and I bet he sounds like one now.

He may have a rank, but he's a politician.

The catch is that no one will ever be successfully prosecuted for torturing, because they'll use the defense that they were given what they reasonably believed to be a lawful order.

It's functional impunity for torture, available especially to CIA personnel.

McCain's amendment is now just grandstanding; not sure why I ever believed it could be something better than that.

@ Alex: Stephen Cambone is a civilian political appointee, the Asst. Secretary for Defense. He has been Rumsfeld's aide for decades. Rumsfeld put him in charge of all DoD intelligence functions.

Nell, you're right--I was mistaken about Cambone.

The catch is Graham-Levin, made worse by the conference committee. How much worse remains to be seen. But no question in my mind we'll be worse off after this bill than before. And it'll be used to claim that the issue is taken care of.

Marty Lederman has a clear, detailed look at the situation (at least to the extent possible without having access to the actual text of the amendments). Clear, detailed, and more comforting than my own reflections.

I tend to dwell not only on the many ways in which this isn't a step forward, but on the political effects. Which are poison: As Katherine says, it'll be used to pretend that the problem's been dealt with. McCain looks like a big hero, and Bush looks like a moderate (and this feeds into separating him from Evil Cheney). A whole lotta 'looks like', not much 'is'.

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