Sunday, February 15, 2009

Our shame: seeing the light of day

Two stories may help us - and our new President - finally come to grips with Our Shame: W's torture.

First up, from Newsweek:
A Torture Report Could Spell Big Trouble For Bush Lawyers
By Michael Isikoff | NEWSWEEK
Published Feb 14, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Feb 23, 2009
An internal Justice Department report on the conduct of senior lawyers who approved waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics is causing anxiety among former Bush administration officials. H. Marshall Jarrett, chief of the department's ethics watchdog unit, the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), confirmed last year he was investigating whether the legal advice in crucial interrogation memos "was consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys."
It sharply criticized the legal work of two former top officials—Jay Bybee and John Yoo—as well as that of Steven Bradbury, who was chief of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) at the time the report was submitted, the sources said.
But then–Attorney General Michael Mukasey and his deputy, Mark Filip, strongly objected to the draft, according to the sources.
But the OPR probe began after Jack Goldsmith, a Bush appointee who took over OLC in 2003, protested the legal arguments made in the memos. Goldsmith resigned the following year after withdrawing the memos, and later wrote that he was "astonished" by the "deeply flawed" and "sloppily reasoned" legal analysis in the memos by Yoo and Bybee, including their assertion (challenged by many scholars) that the president could unilaterally disregard a law passed by Congress banning torture.

[emphasis added]
Recall, during his confirmation hearings Mukasey effectively held that the President is above the law. It is therefore no surprise to learn that he strongly objected to a draft report that found assertions of expansive Executive power unwarranted.

By now it should surprise no one that Yoo's arguments for this expansive Executive power might be based on "deeply flawed" and "sloppily argued" legal analysis.

Next up, from Harper's:
Former Gitmo Guard Tells All
By Scott Horton
February 15, 2009
Army Private Brandon Neely served as a prison guard at Guantánamo in the first years the facility was in operation. With the Bush Administration, and thus the threat of retaliation against him, now gone, Neely decided to step forward and tell his story. “The stuff I did and the stuff I saw was just wrong,” he told the Associated Press. Neely describes the arrival of detainees in full sensory-deprivation garb, he details their sexual abuse by medical personnel, torture by other medical personnel, brutal beatings out of frustration, fear, and retribution, the first hunger strike and its causes, torturous shackling, positional torture, interference with religious practices and beliefs, verbal abuse, restriction of recreation, the behavior of mentally ill detainees, an isolation regime that was put in place for child-detainees, and his conversations with prisoners David Hicks and Rhuhel Ahmed. It makes for fascinating reading.

Neely’s comprehensive account runs to roughly 15,000 words. It was compiled by law students at the University of California at Davis and can be accessed here.
Does anyone but Cheney believe Gitmo is a shining star in the firmament of America's committment to the rule of law & human rights?

The Harper's article notes that during negotiations "relating to legislation creating criminal law accountability for contractors",
The Bush White House vehemently objected to provisions of the law dealing with rape by instrumentality.
When House members asked the reason for these objections?
When House negotiators pressed to know why, they were met first with silence and then an embarrassed acknowledgement that a key part of the Bush program included invasion of the bodies of prisoners in a way that might be deemed rape by instrumentality under existing federal and state criminal statutes.
In our names!

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