It is clear that increasingly abusive interrogation techniques were used on Abu Zubaydah, the first high-value detainee, in the months between his capture and the first Justice Department memo authorizing harsh interrogations. But the legal guidance that authorized those early interrogations remains shrouded in secrecy.
Zubaydah was picked up on March 28, 2002. The Justice Department issued its first memo on torture four months later on Aug. 1.
Two observations. That first memo from the OLC would have been from Jay Bybee. According to the memo released by the CIA, members of Congress were not briefed that EITs were even under consideration until September of 2002 (Note to John Boehner – House Republican Leader – more errors have been found in that memo that mentions Nancy Pelosi – who was ranking minority member of the House Intel Committee in 2002). Harsh interrogation techniques that would be come harsher had begun before the Bybee memo. The memo that supposedly made torture legal. Alberto Gonzales was not the Attorney General in 2002, he was Bush’s personal White House counsel.
The source says nearly every day, Mitchell would sit at his computer and write a top-secret cable to the CIA’s counterterrorism center. Each day, Mitchell would request permission to use enhanced interrogation techniques on Zubaydah. The source says the CIA would then forward the request to the White House, where White House counsel Alberto Gonzales would sign off on the technique. That would provide the administration’s legal blessing for Mitchell to increase the pressure on Zubaydah in the next interrogation.
This puts Bush in the loop before even the bizarre legal rationales started from Yoo, Bradbury and Bybee. Spencer Ackerman notes, James Mitchell Asked, ‘Please Can I Torture Abu Zubaydah?’; Did Alberto Gonzales Say Yes?
Now, note that Gonzales at the time wasn’t the attorney general. He wasn’t the chief legal official for the government. He was the president’s lawyer, powerless to bless the actions of a federal agency like the CIA. (Shapiro quotes a number of ex-officials who establish that point.) A separate CIA-White House channel in the spring of 2002 would, at the least, contextualize the CIA’s efforts at getting the approval of the Justice Department for the harsh interrogation regimen — though it’s unclear what legal butt-covering Gonzales would have been able to provide in the first place. Gonzales didn’t respond to NPR, according to Shapiro.
So what legal arena are the CIA, Bush, Mitchell and Gonzales in at this juncture. What has come to be known as if-the-president-does-it-its-legal. Or better known in the history of Soviet Russia as the Premier has ordered it, make it so. It also appears, according to the new documents obtained by the ACLU that former SERE psychologist and CIA private contractor named James Mitchell and certain elements within the CIA were wanted to torture over the objections of FBI agent Ali Soufan( who had succeed in obtaining a host of information without torture) and some anti-torture elements within the CIA. The Bush-Cheney-Gonzales cabal guilty of war crimes even with the OLC memos; without them they do not have even that legally thin cover.
Apparently there is going to be dueling speeches on national security between Dick Cheney and President Obama. First Read says that have had some hints at points Cheney will touch on,
Previewing Cheney’s speech: Meanwhile, Politico’s Mike Allen gets a heads-up of what Cheney will say. The gist: “When President Obama makes wise decisions, he deserves our support. And when he mischaracterizes the national security decisions we made in the Bush years, he deserves an answer. The point is not to look backward. But a truthful telling of history is necessary to inform our choices going forward.” Allen also notes that Cheney will defend the effectiveness of Gitmo and enhanced interrogation techniques. Finally, Cheney will “say the American people deserve to see the whole picture as they assess the policies of the past — not just half the story.”
Taking advice from Dick Cheney on national security or any other issue for that matter is like asking a baseball bat welding mugger to beat you again because the first time was so much fun. As FR also points out, Obama’s policies re Gitmo, wiretaps without warrants and some other issues show that he is keeping 90% of Bush’s policies. That’s apparently not enough for the perennially Chicken-Little Righties, if Obama doesn’t revert back to the other ten percent we’re all gonna be butchered in our sleep.Not that it means anything to Dick Cheney and others on the Right who devote substantial efforts to rewriting history, but more innocent men, women and children died in Bush’s war on terror then were killed by terrorists during the last three presidencies combined.
An unreleased Pentagon report concludes that about one in seven of the 534 prisoners already transferred abroad from the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has returned to terrorism or militant activity, according to administration officials.
The conclusion could strengthen the arguments of critics who have warned against the transfer or release of any more detainees as part of President Obama’s plan to shut down the prison by January.
The Right finds this shocking or they’re feigning shock because that is about all the power they left other then whining and smoking tea at bong parties, or is it throwing bongs at tea smokers. Anyway, Malkin at the suitably named Hot Air sums up the rightie blog creation, Jihadi recidivism: Not just a Bush thang
The Left has long ridiculed national security concerns about jihadi recidivism by former Gitmo detainees on the loose. Before Bush left office, the Pentagon reported that 61 former Gitmo residents had returned to the terror battlefield. “Security experts” scoffed. When I talked about the problem in January, the sneering hate mail poured in.
Now, the New York Times grudgingly discloses the existence of a Pentagon report showing that 1 in 7 jihadi Gitmo detainees has returned to terror. The analysis is reportedly being held back by DoD bureaucrats out of fear that it would undermine The One. As Allahpundit notes, the Times story “bent over backwards to emphasize that the delay’s all DOD’s fault.”
They can all keep playing finger-pointing games in Washington. The bottom line is that jihadi recidivism is real, deadly, and no longer just a Bush thang.
“Thang” is yet another attempt by Malkin to sound hip.
The “sneering hate mail” – from documented Democrats that no doubt forwarded notarized photo copies of their voter registration with each e-mail. Part of the Malkin formula (and Republican blogs in general) is to insert some bit of poor little Conservative victim into most of her posts.
Recidivism? If Malkin had read to the bottom of the article she would have notd that while those released from Gitmo have a recidivism rate of 14%, our home grown murderers, rapists and thieves have a recidivism rate of 68 %. Furthermore, America has terror attacks somewhat frequently by Conservatives like Paul Ross Evans and Eric Rudolph.
hilzoy on the New York City terror plot, We’re Doomed!
This raises the difficult question: what should we do with these would-be terrorists while they await trial? And if they are convicted, what then? I assume that if it’s too dangerous to move people at Guantanamo to the United States, it must be much too dangerous to allow these jihadists to run loose in our prisons. After all, they might provide financing for other jihadists from their supermax cells, or radicalize other prisoners, or use special Terrorist Mind Control Techniques to create a whole army of brainwashed convicts under their complete control.
I’d suggest killing them, cutting them into pieces, and shipping their parts to parts unknown immediately (trials? who can afford trials under these circumstances?), if I weren’t afraid that some hitherto unknown al Qaeda trick might allow their reanimated body parts to slither around in search of one another and, eventually, reconstitute themselves as the Islamofascist Undead.
There are threats in life. Terrorists, whether jihadists or right-wing nuts, but as far as threats go both should be put in perspective. About half a million Americans will die from cancer this year. Around forty thousand people will die in car crashes – want to save some lives, spend a trillion dollars on making cars safer. If 2009 is an average year 20,000 Americans will die from the flu or complications caused by the flu. In one year flu will kill three times more people then died on 9-11. In not one of the examples I’ve cited will panic, paranoia, chest thumping or using the word “thang” be helpful.