Torture Memos Released

The Obama Administration today released memos, ones that have been well discussed, written by members of the former Administration's Justice Department that gave the CIA permission to use interrogation methods that qualify as torture or near torture -- including water boarding. The President has made clear that he has banned these methods by executive order and released the memos to make clear what has happened. He has also stated that CIA operatives will not be prosecuted. Nothing in the statement by the President, however, rules out prosecuting those higher up in authority -- but we'll see.

Obama does say in his released statement that they were banned because they run counter to the moral values of our nation and undermine our moral authority as a nation:

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.

He is choosing not to pursue prosecutions so as not to disrupt the unity of our nation. I doubt that this overture will be appreciated by supporters of the former administration, especially of the former Vice President. Indeed, I'm sure the former VP is livid and will attack, but he should be glad he's not be prosecuted, because the memos clearly state that the highest levels of government authorized torture.


Mystical Seeker said…
I have to say that I am deeply offended by the decision not to prosecute these war criminals.
John said…
I am caught between the value which threats of prosecution can have on future government officials to be circumspect about their actions, and the value which exist for officials to know that the nation will protect them should they make a mistake in judgment when they are acting on behalf of the people.

Maybe we need somthing like the post-Aparthied extraordinary reconciliation councils in South Africa to air out the misadvenures - problem is, the culprits here are still not convinced they crossed the line, so it would just be a shouting match.

Anonymous said…
No crap. We need another amendment specifically dealing with torture. This is not a theological question.
This is horse sense. Even a horse knows this is evil.

Forgive ONCE, do NOT forget.

David Mc
Anonymous said…
Deaply offended Mystical?

Maybe it's not over.

David Mc
I understand that this is a politically sensitive matter, which is why no prosecutions. If Obama went after the CIA, or even the Bush Administration it would likely destroy any hope of getting other important legislation passed. He has to make the politically astute decision.

But I'm wondering if, let's say, the American Bar Association could disbar Jay Bybee, now a sitting Appeals Court judge?
MikeQ said…
No more waterboarding to prevent further terror and deaths of thousands.

However, hold one person hostage and Obama authorizes and executes deadly force.

Wheres the outrage???

Whats the difference? Please explain.
Anonymous said…
Mike Q, you appear to be a troll.

One clue is your name links to

The other is the clearly weak arguments you present. Have you some facts?

How many deaths did water-boarding save? What % of the prisoners were/are guilty?

How do we rank the other “unusual” methods? How much more effective if we had treated them “as we would wish to be treated” under the same conditions? It reminded me of the inquisition.

How many new radicals were produced or recruited and innocents involved as a result?

It gained very little useful information from what I know and has caused irreparable harm.

This reminds me of an intern I had a few years ago. She was a devout Mormon, knew I was liberal and without any interest in faith at the time. She decided to bring up her support for the death penalty.

I reminded her that Jesus suffered under the kind of penalty that she wanted to preserve.
She visually shuddered and didn’t continue.

As far as the rescue. I don't know all the details, but there were guns drawn, obvious armed guilty parties and an innocent man in the middle. A police situation, not a court of law.

David Mc
MikeQ said…
I may be a troll.

I like linking to because it leads to all sorts of assumptions. I sometimes link to as well. Its kindof funny.

My post did not attempt to present facts or justify either situation, only asking why they are different.

If you read the torture memos, they clearly indicate intel was received from the interogations that may have helped prevent further attacks and saved innocent lives. The interrogated were not randomly selected but were involved in terrorist organizations. They were not shot and killed which seems much worse than anything in the turture memos.

Have you questioned if Obamas actions might result in escalated hostilities from the Somali pirates? From what I've read its possible the Somali pirates are looking for revenge. They've had a pretty good racket going where they take some hostages, get some ransome and nobody gets hurt.

Then Obama comes in like a cowboy and shoots somebody, imposing the death penalty and acting as judge, jury and executioner.
Mystical Seeker said…
Obama may be making a decision that is politically astute, but in my view it is morally bankrupt. Making compromises over budget bills is one thing; making compromises over torture and war crimes is another.

Obama is basically using the Nuremburg Defense to let these people get off scot-free. He is saying that they were told it was legal and acceptable--which is to say, they were just following orders. That defense is never acceptable, in my view. I'm sure some people would have thought that the Nuremburg war crimes trials were contrary to some sort of spirit of unity, but in fact it is important to get these issues out in the open and the people who commit these crimes need to be held accountable.
We MUST prosecute. It's the law--both domestic and international. We signed and ratified the UN Convention Against Torture and that demands prosecutions. And the Constitution gives ratified treaties equal status with the Constitution itself as supreme law of the land. Obama, a former Constitutional law prof, has to know this.

I'd rather prosecute the higher ups, but I don't like reviving the Nazi "just following orders" defense. At the very least, those involved should be fired and banned from intelligence work or any govt. hire. And the names of the medical personnel present should be released to a committee of the AMA to have their licenses revoked.

But promising NOW not to prosecute the rank and file removes leverage. It doesn't give them reason to cut deals and rat out their bosses--although we have so many smoking guns we ought to be able to get convictions anyway.

I know why Obama doesn't want to go this route, but we are on the clock here. Unlike international law, U.S. law has a statute of limitations for torture. If he waits until re-elected, it is probably too late.

He MUST show the moral courage to appoint a special prosecutor and then just get out of the way.

The South Africa "truth and reconciliation" process is different. The courts were not prepared to handle such trials and far too many whites were involved. It would lead to civil war. But we are not in that state.

If Obama declines to prosecute, he sets an example for the rest of the world, puts our soldiers at risk if captured (as did Bush), stops healing the breach with our allies, and risks that some later administration could restart this. This huge blunder by Obama makes Nixon tell the truth when he claimed, "When the president does it, it's NOT against the law."

We prosecuted (and hung) Japanese soldiers who used waterboarding after WWII. We prosecuted and imprisoned our own soldiers who did this during Vietnam. But now we don't have the guts and moral spine to do the right thing because the GOP might object. I'm furious at the president I helped to elect.

Obama should have had Bush and Cheney arrested right after taking the oath of office.
Anonymous said…
Bless their pointed little heads..

This is sad. Where will the people of the world find moral lead now?

David Mc
John said…
Mercy, mercy! Where did all this rage for justice come from?
Mystical Seeker said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
rainey said…
They must not prosecute, its crazy.
It was not torture. What the enemy does is torture and if this administration keeps up this kind of nonsense, the terrorist will be all over this country chopping off our heads. CIA (top secret files). You go to war and see what its like. He says he is not releasing memo's, he is releasing memo's. Let's release photo's great idea, for what purpose. Just to cause an uprising, against us. Smart guy. I will be glad when these 4 years are over and then the next administration can take all the crooks in this administration to trial.

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