Obama releases secret interrogation memos from the Bush era

Techniques discussed include sleep deprivation, various types of “slapping” and the use of nudity and diapers


090416_obama1The ACLU has them here. The descriptions of the allowable techniques are quite detailed and clinical — see in particular the Aug. 1, 2002 memo and the May 10, 2005 memo. Some techniques discussed: sleep deprivation of up to 11 days, “walling”, various types of “slapping,” the use of nudity and diapers, and putting Abu Zubaydah, who was apparently afraid of bugs, in a cramped “confinement box” with an insect.

The fact that these memos are coming out shows that Attorney General Eric Holder and White House Counsel Greg Craig won an internal battle against the CIA. This could also lead to calls for more investigations.

Obama says his administration will not prosecute interrogators involved in waterboarding who followed the legal advice. But the WaPo notes: “Today’s carefully worded statement left open the possibility, however, that agents and higher-level officials who may have ventured beyond the strategies approved by Bush lawyers could face legal jeopardy for their actions”

Obama’s statement is below.

April 16, 2009

Statement of President Barack Obama on Release of OLC Memos

The Department of Justice will today release certain memos issued by the Office of Legal Counsel between 2002 and 2005 as part of an ongoing court case. These memos speak to techniques that were used in the interrogation of terrorism suspects during that period, and their release is required by the rule of law.

My judgment on the content of these memos is a matter of record. In one of my very first acts as President, I prohibited the use of these interrogation techniques by the United States because they undermine our moral authority and do not make us safer. Enlisting our values in the protection of our people makes us stronger and more secure. A democracy as resilient as ours must reject the false choice between our security and our ideals, and that is why these methods of interrogation are already a thing of the past.

But that is not what compelled the release of these legal documents today. While I believe strongly in transparency and accountability, I also believe that in a dangerous world, the United States must sometimes carry out intelligence operations and protect information that is classified for purposes of national security. I have already fought for that principle in court and will do so again in the future. However, after consulting with the Attorney General, the Director of National Intelligence, and others, I believe that exceptional circumstances surround these memos and require their release.

First, the interrogation techniques described in these memos have already been widely reported. Second, the previous Administration publicly acknowledged portions of the program – and some of the practices – associated with these memos. Third, I have already ended the techniques described in the memos through an Executive Order. Therefore, withholding these memos would only serve to deny facts that have been in the public domain for some time. This could contribute to an inaccurate accounting of the past, and fuel erroneous and inflammatory assumptions about actions taken by the United States.

In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution. The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on the front lines of a dangerous world. Their accomplishments are unsung and their names unknown, but because of their sacrifices, every single American is safer. We must protect their identities as vigilantly as they protect our security, and we must provide them with the confidence that they can do their jobs.

Going forward, it is my strong belief that the United States has a solemn duty to vigorously maintain the classified nature of certain activities and information related to national security. This is an extraordinarily important responsibility of the presidency, and it is one that I will carry out assertively irrespective of any political concern. Consequently, the exceptional circumstances surrounding these memos should not be viewed as an erosion of the strong legal basis for maintaining the classified nature of secret activities. I will always do whatever is necessary to protect the national security of the United States.

This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views and emotions that these issues evoke. We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.

The United States is a nation of laws. My Administration will always act in accordance with those laws, and with an unshakeable commitment to our ideals. That is why we have released these memos, and that is why we have taken steps to ensure that the actions described within them never take place again.

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Obama releases secret interrogation memos from the Bush era

  1. MacLean’s contributor Marc Steyn (with Glen Beck) on the treatment of prisoners of Abu Ghraib.

    ” Steyn: Because they know, and our enemies know, that when the United States goes into battle, it fights with one hand tied behind its back. So in your ass-kicking terms, we’re not using the full force of the foot. We’re using the little toe.

    And our enemies realize that. They see the way we go into paroxysms of guilt over Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and all the rest.

    Beck: Well, I mean, Abu Ghraib was … I mean, dontcha think?

    Steyn: Yeah, it was a guy — what, whatever it was, the banana and the Victoria’s Secret panties. Big deal! That’s nothing compared to what goes on in the —

    Beck: Wait a minute, wait a minute. I’ll never get that Victoria’s Secret panties thing out of my head now.”

    I’m sure these memos will provide for even more zany humour.

    • Wow, who would have thought anyone could say something that would make Glen Beck say “whoa, wait a minute there…”

  2. It’s nice to know that Harper just hired an ex-Bush official to be his spokesman and is charging the Canadian taxpayers for this.

    • Mike McCurry worked for Clinton. Does that change your view, Willie?

  3. Bugs in a room? Sleep deprivation? Slapping? These are tortures? The torture sadists who wielded whips, pliers and electrodes for Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Saddam, the Argentine junta and others from history’s chamber of horrors would have despised such squeamishness. Likewise today’s thugs who serve that goofy dork in North Korea and a rogues gallery of despots and presidents-for-life in the Muslim world, Cuba, and Africa.

    I fear Obama has further handicapped his country’s ability to deal with those who wage war on America and her allies ( including Canada). Obama looked strong last weekend authorizing action to free the American merchant ship captain from Somali pirates. Then he takes a turn at being Jimmy Carter redux. This guy is an enigma.

    • As usual, we have the moral imbeciles making pointless comments to deflect from the issue. It’s been that way since the highly sexualized abuse of the prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

      These people disgrace themselves.

    • Absolutely they are torture and in no way should they be condoned by civilized people.

  4. As per usual, the cooks on the right are completely missing the point. These individuals have not been found guilty of any crime, and in many cases are innocent of any wrondoing.

    Desepite this, they are subjected to torture – excluding anything that would likely kill the individual. The other problem, is that information extracted as a result of torture is unreliable, which is why government stopped using it over a 150 years ago.

    People are fine with innocents being tortured until the crosshairs are trained upon them. What if the focus were no longer on islamic terrorism, and focussed on broad sweeps of right wing extremists? Would torture be appropriate in extracting information from these individuals? Have they not proven themselves to be just as dangerous?

  5. If torture, is such a valuable tool, why hasn’t the American people used it to find out information on suspected gang activity, oganized crime, biker groups, serial rapists and murders. Wouldn’t they be safer overall?? Hell what about Timothy MacVeigh?? The White Supremists and other scum. Why because it is illegal!! It punisable by law. Why would Bush and his cronies be above that.

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