Text of the Torture Memos

Here is the DOJ press release on the four torture memos released today. They are:

  • A 18-page memo, dated August 1, 2002, from Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
  • A 46-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
  • A 20-page memo, dated May 10, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]
  • A 40-page memo, dated May 30, 2005, from Steven Bradbury, Acting Assistant Attorney General, OLC, to John A. Rizzo, General Counsel CIA. [PDF]

Here is the ACLU's press release.

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    Article 16 (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by residents77 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:51:39 PM EST
    Jeralyn and BTD:

    On page 39 of the 2005 memo it says, "We believe, however, that the question whether the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques violate the substantive standard of United States obligations under Article 16 is unlikely to be subject to judicial inquiry."  This seems to be because Article 16 is non-self-executing (see following page).  Could you explain that or point me to an explanation?

    Thank you.

    Article 16 apparently governs only actions (none / 0) (#53)
    by Green26 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 10:53:58 AM EST
    that occur in territories under US jurisdiction. I believe that many/most of these things occurred in areas outside of US jurisdiction.

    When the US Congress agreed to abide by Article 16, the Senate included qualifying language saying they were adopting only to the extent of the 5th amendment (cruel and unusual punishment) to the Constitution,or something like that. The 5th amendment does not have the same standards as Article 16. The 5th amendment does not apply to non-citizens outside of US jurisdiction.

    There appear to be many uncertainties, and it would give a defense attorneys a number of avenues to challenge the applicability of Article 16, is my (uneducated) belief.


    Bybee must be impeached (5.00 / 3) (#8)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:15:40 PM EST
    At the very least. Those opposed, be known and be damned.

    Judge Bybee's impeachment (5.00 / 1) (#44)
    by Peter G on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:03:13 PM EST
    ... is demanded by UCLA law prof Jonathan Zasloff on "Reality Based Community" today.

    that would be a very good start (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:08:18 PM EST
    Alternatively, I wonder what states Bybee is licensed in. He should be disbarred.

    D.C. Bar (5.00 / 2) (#47)
    by Peter G on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:28:56 PM EST
    not California.  Took 3 min to check.

    Law blog? (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Che's Lounge on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:47:33 PM EST
    Is the president above the law?

    Time to get your game on, law types. They pardoned the torturers. They said nothing about those who gave the orders.

    What these memos remind me of ... (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by dws3665 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:32:56 AM EST
    A depraved version of "letters of support" that get written in support of grant applications.

    I'm an academic researcher and part of a team that regularly (very regularly!) makes application to the federal gov't (NIH, CDC, etc) and private foundations for research funding. As part of the grant completion process, in order to convince reviewers that projects are feasible as proposed, it is often necessary to obtain letters of support from collaborating agencies or owners of proprietary technology needed for the proposed research.

    These folks are often quite busy (writing their own applications), and it is standard practice to, in essence, write the letter of support for the collaborator and send it to them to be placed on their letterhead. These letters describe the overall project, what's needed from the collaborator, and so forth. Usually, there are minor edits made to the letter by the collaborator, but nothing significant, and they get returned for inclusion in the application. The last part of all these letters is typically some type of statement of enthusiastic support -- "we really think your work is important and we are looking forward to being a part of it."

    That's how these memos read to me -- that they were essentially written for (or dictated to) the OLC staff by the interrogators. "You have told us you want to do this; you say it's really cool and no one will get hurt; golly, we think that's just great; good luck with your important job of keeping us all safe."

    In our grants, however, we're simply trying to convince someone (a peer reviewer) that we have all the pieces in place to complete the proposed research expeditiously. We are not seeking legal cover to break laws and flout international treaties.

    The abdication of authority, or responsibility, demonstrated in these memos makes me want to heave.

    I like the ACLU very much... (3.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Salo on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:43:15 PM EST
    ...but why Jameel Jaffer?   I mean sheesh. Anyway--will now read the memo PDFs and eat some dinner.

    Sheesh? (none / 0) (#13)
    by dws3665 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:19:34 PM EST
    Is there some background to Jameel Jaffer that you are aware of and can share, or are you commenting on his name? Seriously, what's your point?

    The Bybee memo confirms a few things. (3.00 / 1) (#2)
    by Salo on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:45:30 PM EST
    SERE traning is actually a cover to train troops to torture, rather than a program to have them resist it.

    No, no it isn't (none / 0) (#51)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 01:49:55 AM EST
    SERE training has been in place for decades and isn't given solely to Interregators, so unless you think the military has regularly had pilots interrogate prisoners your more than a little wrong.

    please forgive my ignorance (2.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 06:57:13 PM EST
    but if as a part of training we subject our elite troops to waterboarding, can a reasonable case be made that we do not consider it torture?  it seems to me that the "stress tests" our elite troops through should be fair game for the enemy and us.

    I am not advocating waterboarding by any stretch, just trying to clear up in my limited brain space how it is torture to the enemy and training for us.

    and please, do not call me an idiot, I am not a lawyer nor am I a torture expert unless of course you ask my wife who has to listen to me on a regular basis, sometimes I think she would rather be waterboarded than to hear the word "jobs" one more time....

    do they really do it to troops (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Jen M on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:12:33 PM EST
    for twenty minutes?

    somehow I don't think so.

    Do they do stress positions etc etc until the soldiers break?

    Uh huh.


    i don't know (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:16:45 PM EST
    my assumption is that with our own, there is some "trust" factor that they are not going to kill you, despite the pain or suffering you believe that they are not going to cross that line.  

    But I am not asking for opinion or speculation here, do you know how long they do it?  

    I have no love or empathy for dubya and his staff but I think it is a legit q, and your response is highly speculative.


    SERE Level-C training (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by dws3665 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:25:49 PM EST
    The "resistance" phase lasts four days, the last day of which is debriefing. There are both individual and team/group components to the resistance phase.

    It does not approximate the techniques used on Zubaydah.


    If you read the Bybee (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:14:56 PM EST
    memo, the big difference is the troops getting the training know they will not be drowned.  Even so, they were terrified and their bodies reacted reflexively as if they were being drowned.  The Bybee memo is explicit that Zubayda will not be told what's going on or that he won't be killed by it.

    Waterboarding has universally been considered torture for centuries.


    No, it's still torture (5.00 / 4) (#10)
    by dws3665 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:16:36 PM EST
    This is a description of Level-C SERE training:

    "The department also teaches the SERE Level-C training course to soldiers who are in a high- risk-of-capture category, which includes Special Forces, Rangers and aviators. The course is designed to give students the skill to survive and evade capture or, if captured, to resist interrogation or exploitation and plan their escape. The course includes a classroom phase, a field phase and a resistance training laboratory which simulates the environment of a prisoner-of-war compound."

    The differences between training exercises with willing volunteer soldiers, marines, and aviators and wartime detainees should be pretty obvious. Furthermore, where do you think our "high-risk-of-capture" targets are likely to get captured? Candyland, or countries that we know use, you know, TORTURE methods? There is no reasonable case to be made that we don't consider them to be torture. It is BECAUSE we consider them to be torture that we expose our military personnel to conditions that approximate torture.


    i get that (2.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:20:22 PM EST
    it makes sense to some degree but I would make the argument that the detainee knows that we can't kill them under the geneva code so the waterboarding is simply to stress them.  

    Of course, I think we should look into every death we have had for those in our custody with an independent examiner to determine cause of death to make sure someone with ten gallons of water in their lungs wasn't classified as suicide by hanging.


    i can't tell if you're being ironic (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by dws3665 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:28:29 PM EST
    You are talking about the government who actively argued that the Geneva Conventions DID NOT APPLY to the Guantanamo prisoners.

    Just how familiar with the Geneva conventions do you think that the detainees at Guantanamo and the many other "black" sites were, exactly? Do you think they got their Red Cross visits explaining their rights?

    The naivete of your comments really astounds me.


    besides (2.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:08:36 PM EST
    if you don't think that terrorists use the geneva convention standards in their training by telling converts what the us can and cannot do in an effort to get them to protect info, and I believe they do, one of us is an idiot au grande

    on this we agree (5.00 / 2) (#32)
    by dws3665 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:19:31 PM EST
    And remind me again, Senor Grande, how many actual terrorists there were in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib?

    why would you obfuscate here (none / 0) (#35)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:23:11 PM EST
    i have no idea how many terrorists there are, in fact i have argued on this very site for years that they are freedom fighters not terrorists.  Terrorists attack innocents, freedom fighters attack soldiers.

    So skippy to answer your question, i have no friggin clue.  But I do love oreos


    not obfuscating (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by dws3665 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:28:10 PM EST
    Your claim is that terrorists get trained in Geneva protections and so they really "knew" that they wouldn't be killed in the course of their "enhanced interrogations." Despite, you know, the fact that some of them were killed.

    Mine is that the people being tortured in Gitmo and Abu Ghraib were not terrorists (many were not even "freedom fighters"), not informed about their protections under rules regarding humane treatment of prisoners (that we were not obeying anyway), and tortured under the official sanction of the government.


    i think they rec'd training (none / 0) (#39)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:35:03 PM EST
    to what degree I do not know.  I would say that Al qaeda reps (not the grunts on the front line) rec'd some training as to allowable force under gc to help them through interrogation.  But I would also concede that you are right inasmuch that the grunts don't know doodie from shineola if boarded may have no clue about gc, but also have no clue about plans either.

    I have also argued on this very site that many in gitmo were sold out due to old scores or turf battles in the drug trade, and that gitmo was a joke./  

    But the argument still stands with me, if we torture our own is it torture.  I may be naive, after all i only have a hs degree and never achieved rank higher than a corporal in 3 years, but being that I asked the question shows that I am willing to listen to learned answers.  Not superlative hyperbole from those with permanent shrinkage...


    I think the mistake you make is in (5.00 / 5) (#41)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:01:48 PM EST
    predicating your feelings about this on the assumption that we only took into detention those we knew to be terrorists; we already know this was not the case.  We also know that they weren't given access to anything that resembled a legitimate legal system.  By any standard, and especially because we hold ourselves out as the world's greatest democracy, this was wrong.

    I think we do need to examine why exposing our troops to the experience of coercive interrogation techniques is a good idea; I do not accept, as the memos suggested, that there is no long-term damage from it - I don't know that we follow these soldiers long enough to know the real answer to that question.  I have to wonder if Jay Bybee would have written the opinions he did if he had experienced the techniques.  If a couple of hulking soldiers had busted into his office, blindfolded him, hooded him, put ear-plugs on him, shackled him, put him on a plane, hustled him into a holding cell, stripped him, diapered him, shaved him, and shackled him.  And then started on a program of intimidation designed to break his will - using the techniques Bybee himself so coldly and dispassionately described, in such a way that he would never know from minute to minute or hour to hour what was coming at him next.

    Torture isn't just about physical harm - it is about psychological intimidation, and there is simply no way to know who will and who won't be permanently and irreparably damaged by that.

    We can spend a lot of time arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but I would much prefer this country, through its people and by its leaders, decide once and for all what kind of country and people we are, and not just make pretty speeches about democracy and the rule of law, but live it - even if it's hard and even if it's painful.  It has to be worth it, or we just aren't worth nearly as much to ourselves, or to the rest of the world, as we have convinced ourselve we are.


    no i don't (none / 0) (#42)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:11:15 PM EST
    and in fact perhaps my writing is off tonight.  I think they arrested a bunch of freedom fighters and people who pissed someone off enough that they dimed them out as terrorists.  I think we might have actually a few alqaeda but we mostly had people who were given guns who really had no idea who the enemy was or what it was about.  I thought i was clear about that but again no matter the background of those detained the question still stands, is it our belief that the psychology of knowing you most likely believe you are not going to die is the difference between torture and non torture?  Because they withstood the same level of physical pain and somewhat of a similary psychological pain./

    of our soldiers that were subjected to (none / 0) (#43)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:30:48 PM EST
    the same techniques.  Special forces conduct a similary breakdown of troops to simulate war time conditions which means we are torturing our own people. Nudity and embarassment are par for the course and sleep depravity is almost core to the program.  When you are being waterboarded you are not sure you are going to live no matter who is doing it to you because your senses are experiencing things you will only experience hopefully once in your life.  We are not seeing vast numbers of veterans coming forward with debilitating effects of this training so i would like more data to show the long term effects on the traineess.....

    I don't think it's a stupid question (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:06:12 PM EST
    Because I had a similar question with regards to the "grabbing someone's face" and also the "attention grasp".  This is torture?  If you or I did it, why would it probably be misdemeanor assault, but since it was apparently done to people in Gitmo it's torture?

    I'm guessing it would be because (none / 0) (#9)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:16:16 PM EST
    if you did it, you would probably not be doing so to someone who had already been shaved bald, stripped naked, diapered, and shackled, preliminary to the implementation of a series of techniques under conditions contrived for maximum psychological effect.

    Just a guess.


    Grabbing the face (none / 0) (#14)
    by gyrfalcon on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:19:53 PM EST
    and the "attention grab" and even smacking someone up against a deliberately flimsy wall I don't think by themselves would fit anyone's definition of torture.  Some of the other things would be.  But if you read the Bybee memo, it's made clear that all of these things are to be used on Zubayda and with the express purpose of violating his sense of self and breaking his will.

    As far as I'm concerned, that adds up to torture, and it's the kind of treatment the U.S. prohibited until the Bush administration.


    I understand that... (2.00 / 1) (#20)
    by lousy1 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:35:48 PM EST
    You don't like Bush.

    You claimed that it was the first administration to condone coercive interrogation. Please feel free to elucidate us about the POW techniques were approved for use by either the US or its allies since LBJ's Vietnam.


    Here is what I know (5.00 / 5) (#21)
    by Steve M on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:39:38 PM EST
    When our soldiers waterboarded POWs in Vietnam, we court-martialed them.  Today's Republicans defend the same techniques to the death.

    did we waterboard in training back then? (none / 0) (#25)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:52:29 PM EST
    good precedent though clearly states we thought it was criminal by the ucmj.  That is a big leap from court martial to "frat prank" as noted by some radio big mouths,.

    where did that soldier learn that??? (none / 0) (#40)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:40:16 PM EST
    lol (none / 0) (#23)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:48:42 PM EST
    tell me what it means though!  I read it like 16 times and I am totally not getting it

    or maybe i should read it tomorrow (none / 0) (#24)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 07:50:14 PM EST

    sorry (none / 0) (#28)
    by Jen M on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:05:43 PM EST
    I just meant that with our elite soldiers they aren't going to carry the torture out non stop until they cause real psychological damage. They need those guys to be in working condition.

    much better (none / 0) (#31)
    by Jlvngstn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:09:59 PM EST
    thanks  :)

    thread cleaned of (none / 0) (#48)
    by Jeralyn on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:50:26 PM EST
    personal insults and sniping between two commenters.

    sorry about that (none / 0) (#49)
    by dws3665 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:01:30 AM EST
    got carried away. thanks for cleaning up my mess.

    the ACLU (none / 0) (#52)
    by Bemused on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 06:17:36 AM EST
     clearly does not share this site's views as to the impropriety of prosecuting lawyers for providing controversial legal opinions to clients with very questionable legal interpretations and arguable distortion of salient facts. This site took a very strong case against prosecuting such actions in the Kuehne matter, and i assume still holds that view.

      The ACLU also seems to have more faith in the general and specific deterrent effect of criminally prosecuting and punishing people than does this site.