BushCo Authorized "Aggressive Interrogation;" But Do Dems Want To Stop It?

From The Hill:

Senior U.S. officials authorized the use of aggressive interrogation techniques resulting in the abuse of military detainees in U.S. custody, according to a report released by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. The authorization was not only the cause of aggressive interrogation techniques, but also conveyed the message that it was OK to mistreat and degrade detainees in U.S. custody, according to the report released by panel Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.)

This should surprise no one. The question now is do Dems want to end it?

[House Intelligence Committee Chair Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) recommended to Obama's transition team that some parts of the CIA's controversial alternative interrogation program should be allowed to continue . . .

Speaking for me only

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    As I was reading Glenn's article, this statement (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by DeborahNC on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 07:57:30 PM EST
    was particularly outstanding:

    We don't want to be known for torturing people. At the same time we don't want to limit our ability to get information that's vital and critical to our national security," he added. "That's where the new administration is going to have to decide what those parameters are, what those limitations are.

    As I interpreted it, he was saying that being known for torture was what bothered him, not the act of torturing. Typical hypocrisy for some pols.

    Since torture hasn't been proven to yield accurate information, why continue to force the policy? (I'm assuming Reyes and others don't care too much about human rights along with the obvious abuse component of torture.)

    Where do we get these people? The "keeping us safe" meme is straight out of the Republican playbook.

    I've been disappointed FTMP in our Dem. majority. This is just another example.

    I should clarify. That quote was Reyes speaking, (none / 0) (#10)
    by DeborahNC on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 08:00:53 PM EST
    not Glenn.

    In reality... (none / 0) (#12)
    by Salo on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 08:10:37 PM EST
    ...these agents can do what they like. What we are discussing is the likely consequences of their resorting to torture. It's simply a matter of the laws protecting the torturer from prosecution/loss of pension after the fact. To what extent should a civil servant get their ars* covered if they are torturing people?

    Too tired to click. Response at #14. (none / 0) (#17)
    by DeborahNC on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 09:02:08 PM EST
    Forget Reyes--these people are FAR more important (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by dell on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 08:48:56 PM EST
    I will get breathless about this when there is reason to get breathless.  So far, I'm liking what I'm hearing:


    Well That Looks Hopeful (none / 0) (#19)
    by squeaky on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 09:05:27 PM EST
    Great interview, and certainly in line with what I would expect of the new administration.

    Thanks for the link. Well worth a read, or listen.


    As The Streets sing (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by lilburro on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 08:59:19 PM EST
    "It was supposed to be so easy..."

    I also don't like the new "maybe the Army Field Manual isn't the best idea, after all" coming from Feinstein.  We shouldn't hold up our ending torture because of fawning acknowledgment of "inter-agency rivalries" and hurt feelings.

    Also, think about it.  There hasn't been a single official mention of Richard Clarke, for instance.  I think Rand Beers could be good.

    But instead of this, we see that the entire intelligence team around Obama is much more conservative and stinks far worse of Bush than any other cabinet department/transition group.  Intelligence is just a mess so far.  Jami Miscik is part of the transition team?  John Brennan?  The NYT suggests Steve Kappes for CIA head (I wrote some background info on Kappes here, at my own little blog project)?  

    And now Reyes is in a position where he can openly use his authority to press the President-Elect to sanction torture.

    Why isn't this more straightforward?  Why might this turn into a political mess, where Democrats argue about how much torture they like and Republicans paint them as cowards?  

    Well, in part because Obama has surrounded himself with members of the Bush gang and the transition team has been mum about the many rumors.  And he has said little since being elected about this issue.

    Obama should make it clear that he will veto any legislation regarding torture that does not state that everyone will follow the Army Field Manual.  Set the tone.

    Imo, this whole den of thieves has (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 02:04:54 AM EST
    colluded behind the scenes since the outset of the primaries. They took a good look at the field of Democratic candidates and helped select the most malleable contender.

    I find it rather implausible that all, or most, of these machinations were set in motion after November 4th.


    Reyes (none / 0) (#1)
    by squeaky on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 07:04:51 PM EST
    Sounds like a tool. Perhaps he should undergo some enhanced interrogation just to see if they can get him to say he is OBL's uncle.

    My take on this issue (none / 0) (#2)
    by Salo on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 07:12:59 PM EST
    is somewhat extra legal.  If an agent or field operative wishes to risk their career by beating the crap out of suspect to get info, they should take the chance of a juried trial if they somehow get busted. If it turns out that there was some sort of magical ticking time bomb under Time Square, the jury will probably acquit them or the DA will drop charges. They could be suspended with pay until the case is resolved one way or another. In addition to that they will be instantly feted by the media, defended by the best lawyers and get a fantastic book deal, a TV or radio show...and the Bond girl no doubt.  

    If they just turned out to be thugs and sadists they go to prison.

    Thomas Jefferson made (none / 0) (#4)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 07:19:05 PM EST
    exactly the same argument, when it comes to the President breaking the law. Of course I understand that he didn't live up to his theoretical standards, in practice.

    I think a good way to frame this is that authorizing torture of detainees gives official sanction to all our enemies to torture any of our soldiers. Is that really a good bargain?
    European countries thought this out ages ago.


    They ought to take their chances (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Salo on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 07:24:36 PM EST
    If their torture proved to avert anything dangerous to the public, they will be acquitted and likely rewarded for their conduct.

    My uess is that the torture rules at the moment simply act as a cover for sadistic pathologies.


    and cowardice (none / 0) (#6)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 07:32:23 PM EST
    Bush is the biggeest coward ever.

    ok, here's a question (none / 0) (#7)
    by ThatOneVoter on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 07:37:28 PM EST
    you may have studied at Kings' college.
    Is there a case in recent US or British history where torture provided vital, life-saving information?

    I wouldn't know. (none / 0) (#11)
    by Salo on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 08:05:56 PM EST
    There might have been such a case.  But it has not become public.  I imagine that if the CIA  have foiled a domestic bomb plot with torture they would have publicized the fact to demonstrate the utility of torture.

    In the field in Iraq with the US military though? I've heard about suspected/known insurgents getting beaten in interrogations by Iraqi cops who then forward the info to local American commanders.  more rumour than anything else though.  In Falluja,now an Marine HQ, the Iraqi cops had a ferocious reputation for extracting information.


    Well, apparently (none / 0) (#3)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 07:15:53 PM EST
    Bush wasn't such a bad guy after all, his techniques were understandable, if the Dems want to do them too.  Maybe he should get a better place in history?


    Change We Can Believe In? (none / 0) (#8)
    by CDN Ctzn on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 07:46:15 PM EST

    I was responding to the second part of the post (none / 0) (#14)
    by DeborahNC on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 08:57:05 PM EST
    discussing "do Dems want to end it" and related links.

    To what extent should a civil servant get their ars* covered if they are torturing people?

    IMO, if the interrogator in question was ordered to do so and was told it was US policy, then they deserve more protection than the individuals, higher up on the chain, who originally authorized the harsh interrogation techniques.

    But, in the future, if it has been made clear that US policy is to adhere to the Geneva Conventions, etc., then all persons violating the law should be held accountable.

    The post above was in response to Salo #12. (none / 0) (#16)
    by DeborahNC on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 08:59:37 PM EST
    The interrogators (none / 0) (#18)
    by lilburro on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 09:02:11 PM EST
    did nothing without the direct approval of the DoO:

    "Kirakou made the interrogations sound almost like a game of 'Mother, May I?' He
    said, 'It was not up to the individual interrogator to decide 'I'm going to slap
    him' or 'I'm going to shake him.' Each one of these, though they're minor, had to have the approval of the Deputy Director for Operations, who during most of this period was James Pavitt. 'Before you could lay a hand on him, you had to send a cable saying, 'He's uncooperative. Request permission to do X.'...There was, however, no known instance of the supervisors denying a request to use more force." ["The Dark Side," Jane Mayer, p.167].

    The torture plans were extremely meticulous by all accounts.  Which is why the tape destroying thing was such a load of BS.  The guys in the tapes would not in all likelihood get prosecuted.  The people planning it on the other hand...

    It wasn't the interrogators themselves who destroyed the tapes.


    When the pictures from Abu Ghraib came out, (none / 0) (#20)
    by DeborahNC on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 09:17:39 PM EST
    it seemed highly unlikely that only "a few bad apples" were involved.

    Not only was it meticulously planned, as you said, it was a coordinated cover-up as well.

    The planners and the ones who went to great lengths to blame it on the "bad apples" are indeed the people who should be prosecuted.

    But will they be? I should know not to even ask, because most of the Bush criminals are still in office!


    What bothers me in addition (none / 0) (#23)
    by lilburro on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 10:30:03 PM EST
    is that right now we're only at "storylines" levels of understanding about how the decision to torture unfolded ("It was the Bush administration!"  "It was the CIA!").  It's true the CIA is not some vigilante band of intelligence officers - but it is also true that many in the CIA embraced, with varying levels of eagerness, the opportunity to wiretap more extensively, the opportunity to hit suspects harder, the opportunity to torture.  

    For Ex. John McLaughlin, another AP CIA head prospect, says of Cheney's dark side pronouncement:

    Well, I don't know what that means. There is no one in the CIA who looks like Darth Vader. I guess we are the dark side in the sense that we are the clandestine service of the United States. We are the agency charged with carrying out covert action. If you don't want someone to do those things, go to the State Department.

    This is an intelligence service, and therefore he may have had us in mind. But I think more broadly, ... he was saying this is a very unconventional enemy. This is an enemy who doesn't fight by the rules. This is an enemy that we've never faced before, certainly not on our own territory.

    This is the big difference here from Pearl Harbor. We were attacked within a major American city on the mainland -- not that Pearl Harbor was not an attack on America, but it was a different type of attack by a conventional enemy. I think that is what he had in mind. ...

    All we've got on these guys is their self-promotion on PBS programs.  McLaughlin was the deputy director of the CIA, No.2 to Tenet.  He knows damn well what the dark side is.  His colleagues, particularly Cofer Black, asked for more powers from the Bush administration.  And they got them.  Heck, they even asked for the authority to be laid on Tenet's shoulders, not Bush's, to authorize some of the heinous things they did [again, Jane Mayer - "The Dark Side" - is my source].

    The CIA celebrity parade goes on TV and says pat things about torture and the enemy.  I would like to see them thoroughly investigated for wrongdoing.


    I would love to see thorough investigations too. (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by DeborahNC on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 01:35:28 AM EST
    But, I really don't think it'll happen. If there are investigations, they'll probably be superficial, staged faux investigations. Cynical? Yes, I am.

    With all of the crimes (IMO) perpetrated during the Bush years, it would take years to get to the bottom of this junk.


    The Nuremberg Trials took 4 years... (none / 0) (#25)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 01:53:54 AM EST
    We've got plenty of time to pursue this at a domestic and/or international level.

    I see what you mean though, how the enormity of the criminality, in this case, makes it seem like its less likely to be prosecuted. It's kind of become a somewhat persuasive meme. Still, I can't think of any other case where that could, would, or should be a deterrent to investigation and prosecution.


    I don't think that many Democrats are willing to (none / 0) (#28)
    by DeborahNC on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 01:15:22 PM EST
    pursue the investigations required and if necessary, the prosecutions. Remember Nancy "there will be no impeachment"

    Personally, I'm willing to wait for all of steps to be completed. Don't think our legislators are though.


    will depend on public awakening and outcry. This is where the Obama nation could put their money where their mouth is, a la Vietnam era protests.

    The culpable individuals and authorities were never prosecuted for the misconduct of that war. However, the misconduct, itself, was well established and widely condemned by numerous hearings and investigations, all of which were widely reported by the press.

    It lanced the wound, while assuring that a critical mass of people would never again blindly put trust in the alleged "mission" in matters of war.


    Do democrats want to end it? (none / 0) (#21)
    by lentinel on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 09:43:17 PM EST
    From all appearances, no.

    Do the American people want to end it? (none / 0) (#22)
    by ruffian on Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 09:58:36 PM EST
    Politicians support it because they are afraid that if they don't do it, and we do have another attack, they will be blamed. People have to speak up loudly and clearly that they do not think this prevents attacks. I have not heard that as yet.

    That is one of the reasons I did not want the election to be so heavily weighted about the economy. There should have been more focus on these issues so clear message could be sent and mandate claimed.

    It looks like many people though that (5.00 / 3) (#27)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Fri Dec 12, 2008 at 02:18:22 AM EST
    pulling the lever for Obama was all the 'activism' they'd need to do for the next several years.

    In other word, there was a prevailing belief that the public could just sit back, exhale, and Obama would do all the heavy lifting. I don't see that happening.

    Time to head back to the barricades.