Politics and Media Headlines 4/20/09
CIA fears torture prosecutions (The Times, U.K.)
THE CIA fears some of its operatives could face prosecution for torturing high-level terrorist suspects, despite President Barack Obama’s promise of legal immunity. The confidential US Department of Justice guidelines on interrogating high-level detainees, which were made public last week, provide only a small window into the secret prisons or “black sites” run by the CIA… A former senior CIA official at the time of the 9/11 attacks told The Sunday Times that there was more to uncover about the ghost prisons.
Hayden: The Torture Memos Show The ‘Outer Limits’ That ‘Any American’ Would Go To In Interrogations(Think Progress)
[O]n Fox News Sunday, former CIA director Michael Hayden blasted President Obama’s decision to release the Bush-era torture memos. Hayden claimed that he and other former CIA directors opposed making the documents public because it would compromise future interrogations of detainees by letting them know the “outer limits” of what the United States does.
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Over It (by Dahlia Lithwick, Slate)
Laced like cynical poison through the four newly released Justice Department torture memos is the logic of quick healing: Eleven days of sleep deprivation is not illegal tortureso long as the prisoner gets to sleep it off later. Writes then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee: "The effect of such sleep deprivation will generally remit after one or two nights of uninterrupted sleep." In that same memo we learn that water-boarding is also not illegal torture because the simulated drowning lasts only 20 to 40 seconds… In sum, argue the memos, it isn't torture if you can get over it. That's precisely the logic that animates President Obama's announcement Thursday accompanying the release of the memos: Move on, everybody. The pain is behind us.
Accountability for Torture is Less Important than Building Political Consensus (by Matthew Yglesias)
We need to find ways to politically delegitimize torture, to help build bridges to people who may disagree with us about tax rates or abortion or even the wisdom of bombing North Korea about the point that torture is wrong, shouldn’t have been done in the past, and shouldn’t be done in the future. And, importantly, about the point that torture actually shouldn’t be done—that you shouldn’t be looking for loopholes in anti-torture rules and seeing legal prohibitions on torture as a big hassle.
Yglesias gives the example of the formerly Soviet occupied European countries that didn’t have investigations of atrocities committed by communist leaders in their countries. The example we should be looking at, though, is Bill Clinton’s stopping the Iran/Contra investigations. I believe that the refusal to fully investigate those illegalities led directly to the even worse illegalities of the Bush administration. If we let these people go again, who knows what atrocities they’ll come up with the next time they grab power?—Caro
UN Rapporteur On Torture: Obama’s Pledge Not To Pursue Torture Prosecutions At CIA Is Not Legal (Think Progress)
[I]n an interview with the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor Manfred Nowak, explained that Obama’s grant of immunity is likely a violation of international law. As a party to the UN Convention Against Torture, the U.S. is obligated to investigate and prosecute U.S. citizens that are believed to have engaged in torture.
Spanish judge keeps Guantanamo probe alive (Reuters)
A Spanish judge considering possible criminal action against six former Bush administration officials for torture at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay defied pressure to drop the case Friday. But Judge Baltasar Garzon, internationally known for trying to extradite former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, accepted that he might not personally take charge of any eventual criminal investigation into officials including former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
O’Reilly: My Threat To Boycott Spain Deserves ‘Full Credit’ For Spanish Torture Investigation Being Dropped (Think Progress)
Last month, torture advocate Bill O’Reilly launched a “boycott” of Spain after Spanish prosecutors were considering a probe of Bush administration officials who gave legal cover for torture. “There will be a boycott and there will be ill will towards Spain. This is going to become a huge story and it’s not going to be good for Spain,” he claimed.
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