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April 16, 2009


Another set of the memos in a slightly easier to read format. It's 80 pages.

I'm thrilled to know that "insects placed in a confinement box" was authorized, but apparently never used. How not torture that would have been!

Also good to know that sleep deprivation wouldn't be extended for more than 11 days. Who can't live with not sleeping for 11 days in a row? It's a frat prank!

when you're reading them, don't forget: Obama is no better than Bush; he's Bush Lite; he's continuing the abuses of Bush.

did i forget anything ?

I'm going to read them when I get the time, but I'm curious -- is there any indication of why they wanted to do harsher things? Did they feel that this would get them better information? Or are the memos devoid of context?

Also good to know that sleep deprivation wouldn't be extended for more than 11 days. Who can't live with not sleeping for 11 days in a row? It's a frat prank!

I was unable to get to sleep for about 83 straight hours one time when I was changing medications. Anything more than about 40 is torture, particularly given the ways that they are prevented from getting to sleep.

when you're reading them, don't forget: Obama is no better than Bush; he's Bush Lite; he's continuing the abuses of Bush.

It's not the same if you don't accuse Robert Gates of war crimes.

I still think Obama deserves the "Bush Lite" tag due to his bank bailout and lawless surveillance policies... although it's encouraging to know he doesn't *always* delegate decisions to Goldman Sachs and the CIA, at least when there is countervailing pressure from his constituents.

Calling this a victory for the right is putting it mildly, Hilzoy.

Logging onto my Comcast homepage just now, I saw an AP story that could have ran with this harsher and equally accurate headline: Obama Wimps Out on Prosecuting Torture.

The story includes this particularly lame quote from President Obama: "Nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past."

Regular commentator Nell seemed to be expecting this letdown. I was holding out hope that our new President who was a Constitutional Law professor would stand up for due process and stand against cruel and unusual punishment.

On this one, Bush Lite indeed.

btfb: He ruled out prosecuting CIA people who followed the "law" as laid down in the memos. That excludes both CIA people who exceeded what the memos allowed, and people outside the CIA. Those would be the two groups I'd be happiest prosecuting anyways -- I'd much rather see Cheney or Addington behind bars than a CIA agent.

A girl can dream, at any rate. Even after that pronouncement.

Personally, I think laying charges but not getting convictions would be tremendously unuseful, but that's just me...

Is this like Cubs fans dreaming about the World Series?

I meant to link the Associated Press story I quoted above.

Reading it quickly, I missed what Hilzoy just mentioned. From the AP story: "On the other side, human rights advocates argued that Obama should not have assured the CIA that officers who conducted interrogations would not be prosecuted if they used methods authorized by Bush lawyers in the memos."

Still, I don't see where Obama has any appetite to prosecute those who authorized torture and the whole thing stinks as a cop-out by the former Constitutional Law professor.

Personally I think the Obama administration merely desires to be beaten (like red-headed stepchildren) into it [prosecuting war criminals] because anything else and they'd seem too eager, and the whole process would be tainted by the assumption of political motives.

Much like they had to be "shamed" into releasing the memos. I doubt highly that if they really wanted to keep them secret we would be reading them now. They just needed to seem unwilling.

You'd think the Bushies would just shut up about this subject.

Instead, they are still peddling the notion that we are less safe under President Obama.

Former Bush CIA director Michael Hayden in that AP story: "'If you want an intelligence service to work for you, they always work on the edge. That's just where they work.' Now, he argued, foreign partners will be less likely to cooperate with the CIA because the release shows they 'can't keep anything secret.'"

Not entirely related, but I thought President Obama's decisive performance in the recent Somalia pirate showdown indicated he is up to the job as Commander-In-Chief.

OMG, don't scare this guy with an insect. That would be so wrong!

from wikipedia

Born in Saudi Arabia, Abu Zubaydah has been close to al-Qaida since the group's early years, helping to operate a popular terrorist training camp near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan in the early 1990s. He became an associate of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, and served as a chief recruiter for al-Qaida.
According to a BBC news profile of Zubaydah, before his capture "few photographs of him were in existence, [and] he had used at least 37 aliases and was considered a master of disguise."[2]
In the late 1990s, Abu Zubaydah played a lead role in one of the 2000 millennium attack plots, and a possible tangential role in a second. There were plans to bomb a fully booked Radisson hotel in Amman, Jordan, and three other sites. This targeted tourists from the United States and Israel. But on November 30, 1999, Jordanian intelligence intercepted a call between Abu Zubaydah and Khadr Abu Hoshar, a Palestinian militant, and determined that an attack was imminent. Jordanian police arrested 22 conspirators and foiled the attack. Abu Zubaydah was sentenced to death in absentia by a Jordanian court for his role. There is also evidence that Abu Zubaydah approved the Los Angeles airport bomb plot in 2000. This plot was also foiled.
In March 2001, Condoleezza Rice was informed by the CIA that Zubaydah was planning a major operation in the near future. This was one of the first of many reports in the spring of 2001 that increased the threat level and indicated that an attack was coming. Many of these reports mentioned Zubaydah by name. The attack finally came in the form of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
The U.S. government believes he became al-Qaeda's top military strategist following the death of Muhammad Atef in November 2001. A later plot to bomb the U.S. embassy in Paris failed.
American intelligence officials alleged, in October 2001, that six Arab men, living in Bosnia, had been plotting to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, because they believed one of these men had made calls to a phone number in Afghanistan that had once been used by Zubaydah.
Middle East sources have told the Associated Press Abu Zubaydah developed a unique talent in mortars and other heavy weaponry that attracted the attention of bin Laden. He was apparently named bin Laden's second deputy in 1995, responsible for screening recruits and devising terrorist plans. Where bin Laden and deputy Ayman al-Zawahri would set policy, Abu Zubaydah would implement it. U.S. officials said when the inner circle would order the bombing of an embassy, Abu Zubaydah would select the embassy, cell and method of attack. Ahmed Ressam, convicted April 2001 of smuggling, terrorist conspiracy and other charges in the Los Angeles millennium plot, described Abu Zubaydah's role as a recruiter during court testimony. "He is the person in charge of the camps. He receives young men from all countries. He accepts you or rejects you. And he takes care of the expenses for the camps. He makes arrangements for you when you travel coming in or leaving," Ressam said. Prospective recruits in Pakistan would meet Abu Zubaydah, who would assign them to camps. When they finished training, he placed them in cells overseas. Zubaydah is also believed to have been a field commander for the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, in which 17 U.S. sailors were killed, and intelligence and police officials have linked him to at least five al Qaeda plots. Middle East sources said Abu Zubaydah helped set up the terrorist cell in Jordan charged with carrying out the millennium plot to attack American and Israeli targets.[3]

Sorry, my 11:33 comment was supposed to be on "The Obvious Comparison" thread.

"Sorry, my 11:33 comment was supposed to be on 'The Obvious Comparison' thread."

d'd'd'dave, who do you trust to decide which people get tortured? Who in the Obama administration do you want to trust to make that decision?

d'd'd'dave, who do you trust to decide which people get tortured? Who in the Obama administration do you want to trust to make that decision?

You outsource it to the private sector, obviously. How could letting the market decide who should be tortured possibly go wrong?

I've said before that much of what is in the public record about people like AZ doesn't hold up -- Dave's comment above provides another opportunity. I'm not going to comment at length, but on the subject of the Sarajevo bombing plot, let me just observe that the Sarajevo plotters had a trial last fall, and the evidence for the bombing plot wasn't, uh, compelling.

Another purported AZ link was thrown out in a different case just yesterday.

It's foolish to take Wikipedia as gospel for a controversial issue like what Zubaydah might be guilty of.

In any case, how is that relevant, Dave? Is your argument that something doesn't count as torture as long as you're doing it to a bad person?

The right side largely won, but there are some redactions not just of perpetrators' names. They appear to be bits of information held back in order to keep the hackery of the memo-writers from becoming even clearer than it already is.

One example is discussed at Emptywheel here and here.

On the other hand, the redaction was incomplete, revealing that a missing prisoner was taken from Iraq to a CIA torture site, itself a crime.

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