« Guest Post: We Have a New START | Main | Guest Post: The Long Game of Nuclear Disarmament »

March 30, 2010

Comments

There really needs to be legal accountability for that if these reports are confirmed.

Didn't Congress retroactively immunize all these guys already?

By looking at videotapes, they concluded that after the 11th consecutive day of being kept awake Zubaydah started to "severely break down." So, the torture memo concluded that 11 days of sleep deprivation was legal and did not meet the definition of torture.

How scientific. All humans react identically to all types stress, right? The calculated depravity wasn't even properly calculated.

Yoo was the principal author of two August 2002 torture memos that Bybee signed, which gave the CIA the legal authority to torture Zubaydah using ten techniques, such as waterboarding, slamming his head repeatedly against a wall and forcing him to remain awake for as long as 11 consecutive days.

And on Sunday Yoo had a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer arguing that the HCR bill is an outrageous intrusion on our natural and constitutional liberties and a sign of dangerous arrogance and overreach by the federal government.

This is why I don't buy irony meters any more--they barely last a couple of days before some schmuck comes along and breaks them.

And on Sunday Yoo had a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer...

What a lovely addition to my hometown paper he has been. I wish I had a bird cage to line with his column.

What kind of immunity did Congress grant (and to whom exactly)? I don't remember the story well, and my googling turned this up:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/04/cia-officers-granted-immunity-from-torture-prosecution-update/16268/

Which says that the DoJ has said it won't prosecute CIA officers who relied on the torture memos in good faith. That sounds like de facto immunity to me, but it doesn't seem to preclude eventual prosecution, though that may be politically unrealistic.

Re the torture revelations above: I had (it may still be around somewhere) a book called The Big Book of Weirdos, which was about famous people and their oddities. I remember that it described Idi Amin's post-exile living quarters (I think) as those of a "deranged, sadistic child." That's what this story, and the others, bring to mind. These people sound like children playing at secret agent. They grasp the forms of responsible behavior (Look! We took notes and made it all scientific and everything) without appreciating the content. And these were not, I assume, desk jockeys at the CIA. I imagine that the task of interrogating Zubaydah went to the best agents the CIA felt it could offer.

I think Ugh was referring to the Military Commissions Act. I don't have time to look back at it.

Hmm. Using enemies of the state as guinea pigs for horrific medical experiment. I swear I've read about that being done somewhere else.

I think Ugh was referring to the Military Commissions Act. I don't have time to look back at it.

Yes. I think there was a start and end date for that immunity.

"I would describe it this way," said one former National Security official. "[Zubaydah] was an experiment. A guinea pig. I'm sure you've heard that a lot. There were many enhanced interrogation [methods] tested on him that have never been discussed before we settled on the 10 [techniques]."

If this is true, then I don't think that reacting with the word, "Mengele," is unwarranted.

Which says that the DoJ has said it won't prosecute CIA officers who relied on the torture memos in good faith.

Note the bolded part well.

This does not in any way preclude prosecution for torture committed /before/ the memos even existed.

Seriously, though: at the risk of bringing down the wrath of Godwin, this seems to be one area where the Nazi analogy is unambiguously apt. When you start performing experiments in torture on human subjects to watch how they break down and see how much you can get away with, you're getting into Mengele territory--and the difference is one of scale, not kind.

then I don't think that reacting with the word, "Mengele," is unwarranted.

No no no, you see, the Nazis kept detailed records of all these things. The CIA, on the other hand, destroyed the video tapes, so there's a big big difference.

plus, the Nazis thought of themselves as a master race of exceptional people to whom the old rules didn't apply.

we aren't like that at all: we speak English.

we speak English.

Which is probably why we had to torture them: they kept giving us information in languages we don't understand. No one to blame but themselves, really.

"Seriously, though: at the risk of bringing down the wrath of Godwin, this seems to be one area where the Nazi analogy is unambiguously apt."

Seriously is right. I was watching Chris Matthews last night (I know, I know) and there was a teapartier guest, who, reacting to the fact that people were calling Obama bad names, reminded Chris that people compared Bush to Hitler. Well, unfortunately, in that case the shoe fit. This is what gets lost in these unfortunate rhetorical battles.

This is what we fight in trying to bring justice to the torture perpetrators through political means (such as a Congressional commission, etc.). The whole false equivalency phenomenon is so frustrating, and many people are confused by it. That's why accountability in a court of law should take place.

That said, I'm hearing more and more political hacks trying to pontificate upon legal issues as well, such as the various lawsuits brought by attorneys general regarding the health care act. If those arguments are argued in a courtroom, they will be based on arguments explicating relevant legal precedent (or theory) and its applicability to very specific language in the act. It just doesn't work well for people who haven't done this research to be musing on the possibilities.

It's pretty depressing. I hope that history sorts it out.

No one to blame but themselves, really.

What?!!? No, goddammit, if English was good enough for God to write the Bible in then its good enough for terrorists to speak.

Oops. I read Hogan's comment as no one to blame but "ourselves.". Clearly no one to blame but themselves is correct.

No no no, you see, the Nazis kept detailed records of all these things. The CIA, on the other hand, destroyed the video tapes, so there's a big big difference.

The Nazis started destroying the recprds when it was clear Germany was going to lose the war. They didn't destroy them all: too many of them. It's a difference of scale: it's easier to destroy the records when there's not so many of them.

It's not as if Obama unambiguously declared torture illegal. He just unambiguously asserted that the US wasn't going to torture prisoners while he was President. (And then did nothing to enforce that, but that's another shameful story.) The next President can go back to torturing prisoners, and next time will likely have learned that there need to be memos declaring what torture methods are legal right at the start of the Presidency.

That's the tradition established by Bush, continued by Obama. Anyone doubt that the next Republican President will take what he learned from Bush and continue on from there?

plus, the Nazis thought of themselves as a master race of exceptional people to whom the old rules didn't apply.

we aren't like that at all: we speak English.

Posted by: cleek | March 30, 2010 at 03:46 PM

Well, you speak American

I think a slight correction is necessary here. Mengele to my knowledge did not work on better torture techniques but, in his own depraved mind at least, on pure science based on ideology not applicability. The use of human guinea pigs for war related applications (hypothermia and low pressure experiments, tests of new drugs on deliberately infected persons etc.) was done by others with less notorious names. Interestingly a number of those got protected by the US from prosecution and (like the von Braun rocket team) moved to the US to proceed with their work. According to a British documentary from a few years ago (Science and the Swastika, Channel 4, 2004) the US government still blocks all access to related documents and actively tries to suppress and obstruct any inquiry. The results of these inhuman experiments are now part of medical textbooks, rarely acknowledging their origin though.
Today of course it would be difficult to import reputable* experts in the fields of inhumanity, so the US has to do the studies with their own peiople and resources.

*the current expert thugs could, as dirty non-white foreigners, not be given access to the sensitive stuff. The South African white experts are mostly off them market by now iirc.

The results of these inhuman experiments are now part of medical textbooks

I'm not sure this is right. Nazi methodology was really sloppy, due to their ideology. ISTR most of the results they got weren't robust.

the US government still blocks all access to related documents and actively tries to suppress and obstruct any inquiry.

A lot of the documentation concerning the recruitment of Nazis by the OSS (and later the CIA) has been released in the last few years, through the efforts of the Interagency Working Group on Nazi War Crimes.

A good starting point is here.
The FAS has some sources and analysis here.

Old Nazis never die, they just get a new gig.

Jes: The next President can go back to torturing prisoners, and next time will likely have learned that there need to be memos declaring what torture methods are legal right at the start of the Presidency.

This is, I think, essentially correct and also irreversible.

I'm not sure this is right. Nazi methodology was really sloppy, due to their ideology. ISTR most of the results they got weren't robust.

The applied experiments (not the pseudogenetic ones) were for immediate use by the armed forces and the results were rock-solid. E.g. the new methods how to handle people with hypothermia (e.g. pilotes downed in the sea) are essentially the same today.

I'm not sure this is right. Nazi methodology was really sloppy, due to their ideology. ISTR most of the results they got weren't robust.

I don't know the details here, but I always thought that sloppiness was perhaps the only thing the Nazis were not guilty of.

Their evil was so perfect that even their one virtue supported it.

I don't know the details here, but I always thought that sloppiness was perhaps the only thing the Nazis were not guilty of.

Say what you will about Hitler, but at least the trains ran on time...

(ducks, runs from room, out front door, off into the distance, image fades into horizon)

"try the veal, I'm here all week"

"...the Bush administration used human guinea pigs to test out various torture techniques..."

Eric, for quite a while I've thought the same thing regarding Jose Padilla. What legitimate security or penal purpose explains all the sensory deprivation stuff? I mean, sound and audio deprivation while bringing the guy to court? Looks to me like they were using him as a guinea pig, too.

What legitimate security or penal purpose explains all the sensory deprivation stuff? I mean, sound and audio deprivation while bringing the guy to court?

Apparently, you are unaware of eye blinking linguistics, and the threat posed thereby. (see, here)

Snark aside, I think you are probably correct. At the very least they were trying out new techniques.

Looks to me like they were using him as a guinea pig, too.

I don't think so. The effects of long term isolation and sensory deprivation have already been thoroughly demonstrated within the US domestic prison system, no need for further experiments.

russ,

I know about the isolation, but have they really delved into full on sens dep like Padilla?

No, AFAIK the prison system hasn't used sensory deprivation at the level that was used on Padilla. I believe the intelligence community has done some research.

Sensory deprivation in prisons is a product of the strict isolation regimes used in very high security prisons like Florence, and also solitary confinement programs in other prisons.

It makes people insane.

But no, the level of complete deprivation that was used on Padilla is, to my knowledge, not used in the prison system.

I'm not sure what the purpose of it was in Padilla's case. By all accounts, he has been effectively snuffed out as a human being. There's nobody there anymore.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Blog powered by Typepad