Why might Bybee, Rizzo, Yoo or others have been interested in Ogrisseg’s study of SERE psychological effects? The initial portions of the Aug. 1, 2002 memo are concerned primarily with demonstrating that the techniques migrating into the interrogation arena from SERE training programs were not harmful, physiologically or psychologically, at least not in a way that would violate the law as construed by the OLC attorneys.
Despite the presence of a “SERE training psychologist” from the very beginning of Zubaydah’s interrogation. Captured in March 2002, Zubaydah told the ICRC he was tortured from the time of capture. He was allegedly waterboarded by June 2002. Now, unhappy with their intel, CIA was planning to move into an “increased pressure phase” on Zubaydah. OLC notes in the memo that it is relying on information about Zubaydah and Yoo/Bybee warns Rizzo if the “facts in your possession [are] contrary to the facts outlined here”, then their “advice would not necessarily apply.”
Of the recently released torture memos, then Assistant Attorney General of the United States Jay Bybee’s was the earliest one issued, dated August 2002. According to most of the published reports Zubaydah was tortured by June of 2002. That being the case all the legal memos, bizarre legal reasoning aside, were ex post facto. The the Bybee memo of 2002 provided legal legal cover for actions that had already occurred. If Obama is sincere about prosecuting only those that went by the guidelines – the acted in good faith defense – then those that tortured Zubaydah in June are eligible for prosecution. Though i wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for those prosecutions.
That some military personal underwent supervised torture, including waterboarding, in SERE training is among the Right’s claims that the technique wasn’t much more then fraternity hazing – to date none of those pundits or bloggers has undergone waterboarding two or three times in one day in exactly the circumstances on which the procedure was performed on captives held by the CIA. Thus the argument becomes yet more false bravado from Mom’s Basement Brigade. Dr. Jerald Ogrisseg, a psychologist with Joint Personnel Recovery Agency, United States Joint Forces Command wrote in one correspondence,
Finally, as indicated in my 24 July 2002 memorandum, Lt Col Baumgartner asked me if I’d never seen the waterboard used, and what I thought of it. I told him that I had seen it used while observing Navy training the previous year, and that I would never recommend using it in training. He asked me why and if I thought it was physically dangerous. I responded that I didn’t see anyone getting physically injured when I observed it, and as stated in my memorandum, the Navy was applying it to medically screened trainees with medical personnel immediately available to monitor and intervene if necessary. However, that wasn’t the point, as psychologically the waterboard produced capitulation and compliance with instructor demands 100% of the time. During debriefings following training, students who had experienced the waterboard expressed extreme avoidance attitudes such as a likelihood to further comply with any demands made of them if brought near the waterboard again. I told Lt Col Baumgartner that waterboarding was completely inconsistent with the stress inoculation paradigm of training that we used, and was more indicative of a practice that produces learned helplessness – a training result we tried strenuously to avoid. The final area I recall Lt Col Baumgartner asking me about were my thoughts on using the waterboard against the enemy. I asked [sic] responded by asking, “wouldn’t that be illegal?” He replied that some people were asking from above about the utility of using this technique against the enemy for the same reasons I wouldn’t use it in training. I replied that I wouldn’t go down that path because, aside from being illegal, it was a completely different arena that we in the Survival School didn’t know anything about.
So the military may have used it in some training , but it does not appear to even be a standard part of SERE training.
In summary, even an initial cursory look at the August 1, 2002 Bybee memo on the “Interrogation of Al Qaeda Operative” shows that the memos were written in bad faith, were meant to deceive, and utilized a memorandum by Jerald Ogrisseg that explicitly warned against using at least some of the techniques (waterboarding) that were approved by OLC.
In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida — chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates — was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.
Scott Beauchamp, for those that may not remember (entry at Wikipedia isn’t complete and leans heavily Right in the middle section, but toward the end is not all that bad) was a soldier in Iraq that filed some stories with The New Republic as the “Baghdad Diarist”. The Right was outraged, especially at the suggestion that some of Beauchamp’s fellow soldiers committed war crimes. The debate got silly as it often does with the Right – details like the way a half-track turns and dog versus human dogs were blown up larger then life to, per the Right’s usual modus opernadi, to casts doubts on the larger story. The New Republic rather then take Scott at his word, since there was no counter evidence, caved from pressure by the Right. Michelle Malkin wrote,
Read the whole thing here and watch TNR’s defenders (and advertisers) weep. The maxi-mea culpa runs more than 10 pages and thousands and thousands of words (self-pitying, rationalizing, messenger-blaming), but this is the belated bottom line: The Beauchamp stories are bullcrap. (emphasis mine)
Not to pick on Malkin, but the intellectual elite of the Right, including The Weekly Standard and The National Review had also tired their best to disgrace a young soldier who was putting his life on the line everyday for the war they loved so much. My take was that the Right’s case was weak, Beauchamp had his e-mail and othe privileges taken away and the pressure caused by the Right was also hurting his fellow soldiers. That being the case, Beauchamp might have screwed up, but no longer had the opportunity to freely communicate and express himself and his unit was under the same pressure. In rightwing lala-land there is no reserving final damnation for anyone that opposed their war, one ironically that was based on so many lies that people like the National Review helped echoed. It turns out the major and most damning parts of Beauchamps articles were true, It Looks Like Scott Beauchamp’s Pieces for the New Republic Were Accurate
A senior enlisted Army soldier was convicted on Wednesday of killing four handcuffed and blindfolded Iraqi men with pistol shots to the backs of their heads shortly after arresting them in Baghdad two years ago, The Associated Press reported. A military jury in Germany, where his unit is deployed, found the soldier, Master Sgt. John E. Hatley, guilty of premeditated murder in the deaths of the men, whom he and several other members of his unit had detained after a firefight with insurgents in Baghdad in spring 2007, according to testimony in the case…
If you cannot place the name, Master Sgt. Hatley was the direct superior of Pvt. Scott Beauchamp and the person most used to discredit (along with the gay porn star) the New Republic diary of the life of a soldier in Iraq and the ways they dealt with the pressures of Operation Clusterfuck. All of which Hatley said was absolutely not what his ever virtuous soldiers did.
In February, another military jury convicted the unit’s medic, Sgt. Michael Leahy Jr., 28, of premeditated murder and sentenced him to life in prison. On March 30, Sgt. First Class Joseph P. Mayo, 27, pleaded guilty to murder and received a 35-year sentence. Military legal experts said the soldiers’ rank showed the frustration of fighting insurgents who blended in with the locals…
Which was exactly the subject Scott Beauchamp was writing about. (all emphasis mine)
TNR has never retracted their retraction. The Right, as far as I know has never apologized to Beauchamp or published any updates showing that the guy(Hatley) who put the most pressure on Scott to let the whole story fade away, was guilty of a cover up and convicted of murder.