Memo: Re: Torture

Written By: - Date published: 10:13 am, April 21st, 2009 - 7 comments
Categories: human rights - Tags:

“You know what is in room 101, Winston. Everyone knows what is in room 101”

The release last week of four memos from the legal team of the George W Bush administration confirmed what many already knew. That they were using torture. Anyone who has read those memos cannot deny that and be taken seriously. The memos are chilling in their detail and purpose. They are, simply, legal advice from the official White House lawyers to CIA officials and interrogators outlining what they can do, and how they should go about doing it in order to have a possible legal defence. It should be noted that those lawyers, in the very same memos, note that their opinions are only that, that they have not been tested by the courts and probably wouldn’t be. They also note that many of the techniques allowed are considered torture by the Department of State when it is doing it’s reviews of other regimes.

This post is just to point in the direction of writers who will be covering this mess from an anti-torture perspective. A phrase one would not have thought one would need to write.

Each is to a blog rather than a news piece, because blogs are frankly, covering this kind of issue far better. Each blog will have many more stories about this already up, and many more in the coming weeks and months. I chose these links because the authors have been writing about this issue for the last few years. If you want to follow this issue, bookmark these blogs. They are all smart people. Each link here looks at a different angle and is indicative of the type of thing that blogger talks about.

This post by Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings has in it’s first line a link to the memo’s for those who have not beheld their wonder. Or for fans of Kafka, and Orwell who are looking for source material. Hilzoy is a philosopher and a brilliantly clear and effective writer.

Glenn Greenwald is a constitutional lawyer who has written books on the abuses of the Bush admin. He is abrasive and uncompromising, but as sharp as a sackful of tacks wrapped up in the razor wire they use to surround the victims of the struff he writes about. If you scroll down to the updates on this post you shall find some excerpts of the memo’s. Read this post if nothing else. is also very good. A variety of writers, at least one with interrogation experience. They tend to focus on the military and strategic side of things.

– Pascal’s bookie

7 comments on “Memo: Re: Torture”

  1. lprent 1

    Cool. We’re short of people who do the international focuses.

  2. BLiP 2

    I wonder if its too much to hope that George Bush et al will ever stand accountable for their war crimes.

  3. Con 3

    The release of the memos which authorised torture is a good first step. It’s hard to see how far this will go, though. Obama has “assured” the torturers that they won’t be prosecuted for their crimes committed in “good faith” under the legal advice of Bybee and the other criminal masterminds. It’s not entirely up to Obama though is it? People who were tortured can lay charges themselves. If they don’t get due process then the UN can get involved.

    • Pascal's bookie 3.1

      Yeah, Obama has been disappointing on this so far, but the wheels grind slow, as they say. Congress can and should hold hearings, Bybee, (who wrote some of the memos) is now a state supreme court judge and moves are afoot to have him impeached.

      Criminal charges aren’t up to Obama, but the justice dept, who should appoint a special prosecuter to investigate. Pressure for this should and is coming from congress, activist groups and the people. At this point it’s about making the political pressure for action to move forward. the release of these memos helps create that pressure. As does the Spanish moves to prosecute. And the comments from UN officials

      Obama is actually obliged to investigate under some treaties against torture ratified by the US. Perhpas NZ could mention that before loaning them our SAS.

      • BLiP 3.1.1

        I agree – Obama doesn’t exactly fill me with hope for a new dawn in US politics – although I see that he has left the door open for the prosecution of the authors of the torture memos.

        Could it be . . . dare I dream it . . . justice has rode into town?

  4. Pascal's bookie 4

    Cheney is nervous anyway….

    Good, release it all though. Let’s have a flood of it. The complete transcriptions of the confessions, not the edited pearly nuggets.

    Maybe we can release all the video tapes that were made while we are at it dick, and, I mean shit let’s let it all hang out and you can pop in for a formal chat with a federal prosecuter, just to clear the air like.

    No that’s no good, grand juries are secret and we need to let the people see. What you need to do is pop on down to the congress, take yourself an oath and clear things up in a public committee.

  5. Thank you for the kind words about Newshoggers. Maybe it’s because we include a Canadian and an ex-pat Scotsman (myself) among our writers, but we’re not as hung up on “The Democrats, right or wrong” as many of our lefty compadres in the U.S. seem to be. As you note, one of our partners is ex U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and brings two decades worth of experience there to the issue of torture by U.S. agencies. He isn’t impressed, to say the least, by Obama’s complicity in avoiding accountability for what are surely simple crimes proscribed by international and domestic U.S. law.

    Thank you again. I’m sure I’ll be back to read more at the Standard.

    Warmest regards,
    Steve Hynd

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