Thursday, May 07, 2009

Mike Williams Obama Watch - May 7, 2009

It’s looking like the end game is approaching in Obama’s torture fiasco.

John Hinderaker at Power Line:

The "torture" controversy is winding down, with the Obama administration letting it be known that the lawyers who wrote memos interpreting Congress's broad prohibition of "torture" won't be criminally prosecuted. (Nor will the Congressional Democrats who knew all about the interrogation techniques and endorsed them.) Of course not: the idea that they could convince a court that writing a legal analysis with which Eric Holder disagrees could be a criminal act, or convince a jury to convict, was ludicrous from the beginning.

Instead, the administration says it may refer the matter to various state bar associations to see whether their ethics arms might want to impose some penalty on the offending lawyers. That's a little more like it: it is at least barely possible that some state bar's ethics committee might be staffed with liberals who would make a politicized decision to impose some sort of discipline. The real purpose, of course, is to discourage lawyers and others from serving in any future Republican administration.

So just to recap: Belatedly realizing that he may have alienated the CIA (who requested legal authorization to use the techniques in the first place), Obama rushed off to Langley to inform the spooks that justice department lawyers – not they -- would be held accountable.

He also considered and rejected the idea of a “truth commission”. He then lateraled off to his justice department, who has punted to the states. Talk about a profile in courage.

As you’ll recall, Obama declassified four memos on CIA interrogation (according to the NRO, “to signal the end of ‘a dark and painful chapter in our history,’ as President Obama put it — See, we’re not like those lawless Bushies.” )

Turning aside objections from four former CIA directors that national security had been recklessly endangered, Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, elaborated:

… the Obama administration was guided by higher concerns. He [Emanuel] proceeded patiently, to explain. By revealing the memos, with their detailed information on those interrogation techniques (now banned), we had elevated our moral status in the eyes of the world. More important, we had improved our standing in the eyes of potential terrorists.

This would undermine al Qaeda, Mr. Emanuel explained, because those interrogations of ours helped to enlist terrorists to their cause. All of which was why the publication of the memos -- news of which would presumably touch the hearts of militants around the world -- would make America safer.

Obama also redacted portions of the memos showing that valuable – even lifesaving – intelligence was gleaned from the interrogations. And when his own DNI admitted this in a memo, Obama had it deleted from the version he released to the MSM.

Let’s pause a moment to reprise a recent WSJ Online article by Rivkin and Casey. Some excerpts:

The four memos on CIA interrogation released by the White House last week reveal a cautious and conservative Justice Department advising a CIA that cared deeply about staying within the law. Far from "green lighting" torture -- or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees -- the memos detail the actual techniques used and the many measures taken to ensure that interrogations did not cause severe pain or degradation.

Interrogations were to be "continuously monitored" and "the interrogation team will stop the use of particular techniques or the interrogation altogether if the detainee's medical or psychological conditions indicates that the detainee might suffer significant physical or mental harm."


All of these interrogation methods have been adapted from the U.S. military's own Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (or SERE) training program, and have been used for years on thousands of American service members with the full knowledge of Congress. This has created a large body of information about the effect of these techniques, on which the CIA was able to draw in assessing the likely impact on the detainees….

Andy McCarthy, commenting on the torture issue in the Pierre Case:

By a whopping 10–3 margin, the Third Circuit [Court] judges agreed that to…prove torture, it would be necessary for a prosecutor to show “the additional deliberate and conscious purpose of accomplishing” severe pain and suffering. Without an evil motive to torture the victim, there is no torture even if great pain and suffering result.

After 9/11 many of us thought that another catastrophic attack was inevitable. Our knowledge of al Qaeda was limited. The purpose of “enhanced interrogation” was to extract intelligence to prevent another attack– not to inflict “severe pain and suffering” on the terrorists (who as far as we know are all still hale and hearty).

In closing, would it surprise you that in 2002, AG Holder had this to say about interrogating unlawful combatants:

"One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located; under the Geneva Convention that you are really limited in the amount of information that you can elicit from people.

"It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war. If, for instance, Mohamed Atta had survived the attack on the World Trade Center, would we now be calling him a prisoner of war? I think not. Should Zacarias Moussaoui be called a prisoner of war? Again, I think not."

And would it surprise you to learn that in 2009, in Demjanjuk v. Holder, our AG now “urges the federal courts to consider the same torture analysis over which Holder is targeting the Bush lawyers with such fanfare”?



Anonymous said...

Very interesting that Holder, when he was between DOJ positions, clearly stated that he doesn't believe al Qaeda terrorists are covered by the provisions of the Geneva Conventions. Gee, isn't that a coincidence? That's the very same conclusion I arrived at and I'm (thank God) not a lawyer.
Tarheel Hawkeye

JWM said...


I know we both agree the terrorists ought not to be covered by the Geneva Conventions and that the G Cs were meant to cover fighters in uniform, not terrorists in civilian clothes who set out to deliberately kill civilians engages in peaceful pursuits.