White House Directly Approved Torture in Newly Disclosed Memos

Previously classified memos from the White House confirm that torture was directly approved at the highest level of the government. The Administration has previously suggested that it rescinded the infamous torture memo signed by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and treated that memorandum as an aberrant mistake. However, it is now confirmed that the White House approved a known form of torture to be used on detainees.


Ironically, the new memos are more of an embarrassment for Democratic leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi who continue to insist that there was no evidence supporting even in investigation into President Bush’s commission of criminal acts.

The pair of secret memos to the CIA in 2003 and 2004 explicitly endorses the agency’s use of interrogation techniques such as waterboarding. Notably, the memos were demanded by the CIA, which clearly feared a criminal prosecution for committing an act previously found to be a war crime.

For the full story, click here.

26 thoughts on “White House Directly Approved Torture in Newly Disclosed Memos”

  1. Good job Jill. Our torture tactics have made it more dangerous for our soldiers if they are captured. Torture is illegal domestically and internationally so it doesn’t matter if we have had people tortured because we are an official rogue state because of our admitted use of torture. If it is illegal, it is illegal in all cases when it is used. Bush and Cheney and the rest of his motley crew are war criminals and as the Red Cross suggested, they may be subject to war crime tribunals.

  2. I have literally tried 5 times to get the info in the above link to this site, since yersterday, without success.

  3. Sally,

    You’re right. Our people are tortured by other countries. Our own policy of torture has increased the likelihood of that happening. I also agree with you that other countries engaging in torture does not mean it’s justified for our country to do so.

  4. And you people don’t think that other countries are torturing Americans? Do you think that they let captured Americans sit out in the sun while they drink pina coladas while working on their tans?

    Does it justify it? No it does not. But it happens to our own citizens as well in other countries.

  5. This working for a living is reducing my blogging time!! This latest disclosure is just additional evidence that the Bush Regime, backed by John McCain have committed war crimes and have violated domestic laws by claiming that waterboarding was a legal interrogation tactic. The fact that the US has prosecuted foreign soldiers and US soldiers for waterboarding prisoners is something that the regime and its backers just seems to forget. This memo may be additional evidence that Bush/Cheney/Rice and others could be subject to international war crime prosecutions. Pelosi made her incorrect decision based on imagined political issues and she will pay a political price for her poor judgement.

  6. All these new explanations sound pretty ‘ex post facto’ to moi.

    It’s hard to remember, sometimes – but wasn’t Harriet Myers, NOT Condoleeza (and not Jane Harmon, either), the one first to question legalities and express concern that interrogation tapes and memos be preserved? And she’s BFF’s with Dubya, so he had to know…
    Don’t ya think?

    *****

    “WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Bush administration told the CIA in 2002 that its interrogators working abroad would not violate U.S. prohibitions against torture unless they “have the specific intent to inflict severe pain or suffering,” according to a previously secret Justice Department memo released Thursday.
    Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft testifies before Congress July 17 about waterboarding.

    Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft testifies before Congress July 17 about waterboarding.

    The interrogator’s “good faith” and “honest belief” that the interrogation will not cause such suffering protects the interrogator, the memo adds.

    “Because specific intent is an element of the offense, the absence of specific intent negates the charge of torture,” Jay Bybee, then the assistant attorney general, wrote in the memo.

    The 18-page memo is heavily redacted, with 10 of its 18 pages completely blacked out and only a few paragraphs legible on the others.

    Another memo released Thursday advises that “the waterboard,” or simulated drowning, does “not violate the Torture Statute.”

    It also cites a number of warnings against torture, including statements by President Bush and a then-new Supreme Court ruling “which raises possible concerns about future U.S. judicial review of the [interrogation] Program.”
    Don’t Miss

    * Read the Justice Department documents (PDF)
    * Read the Justice Department documents (PDF)
    * Read the Justice Department documents (PDF)

    A third memo instructs interrogators to keep records of sessions in which “enhanced interrogation techniques” are used. The memo is signed by then-CIA director George Tenet and dated January 28, 2003.

    The memos were made public by the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained the three CIA-related documents under Freedom of Information Act requests…”

  7. rcambell:

    “Her goal was to make certain the Democcrats wouldn’t be seen as carrying out a vendetta against Bush or as retribution for the GOP witch hunt they called Clnton’s impeachment. When we see all the polls showing Obama ahead by 8-14 points with 20 days to go and the GOP flailing, NOT having an ongoing and very divisive impeachment trial to contend with makes Senator Obama’s load a little lighter.”
    ——————————————————————–

    Whose load was lighter in ’76: Jimmy Carter’s or Gerald Ford’s. If memory serves, Ford admitted that pardoning Nixon cost him that election. Americans liked to see justice done then & I’ll bet they still do.

    I expect Obama will win this time around, but Congress’s craven refusal to impeach Bush & Co. has certainly contributed to the low esteem that it is held in by most of the citizenry. Moreover, we’ll never know how the Democratic candidate for President would be faring now if Congress had moved to impeach.

  8. Mespo:

    “True enough but unlike Washington I would grant these felons either choice. Call me liberal!”

    Actually, to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart, “Mespo, when it comes to punishment, you’re a true Democrat.”

  9. Rcampbell,

    It worries me that “Because it would make things harder for our team to win” is seen as a reason to ignore blatant criminal activity. It’s the same reasoning that leads to “torture is o.k. if it’s us (the good guys) that do it.”

  10. Bob,Esq:

    “Washington was so outraged, he wouldn’t even grant Andre’s request to be shot like an officer instead of being hanged like a felon.”

    ****************

    True enough but unlike Washington I would grant these felons either choice. Call me liberal!

    As for Pelosi, her face might have to be pictured in Websters right beside the noun “enabler.”

  11. rcambell –

    Perhaps you’re right, but I’m pretty sure that, at least for a period of time, they were only working Monday-Wed. and then taking long weekends.

    Still, the decision not to pursue investigations/impeachment simply because it may look bad politically hardly seems reasonable. Sort of like the the town Sheriff refusing to file police reports because he doesn’t want his crime statistics to rise …

  12. Mojo

    I don’t entirely disagree with your post, but Irecall Speaker Pelosi INCREASING the work week for Congress to five days right after she became Speaker. The GOP-led Congress had the part time job hours you mentioned. Things may have changed since then, but that’s what I recall.

    Also, as much as I’ve disagreed with and railed against her decision to take impeachment off the table, it’s possible this was, at the least, a good political move. Her goal was to make certain the Democcrats wouldn’t be seen as carrying out a vendetta against Bush or as retribution for the GOP witch hunt they called Clnton’s impeachment. When we see all the polls showing Obama ahead by 8-14 points with 20 days to go and the GOP flailing, NOT having an ongoing and very divisive impeachment trial to contend with makes Senator Obama’s load a little lighter.

  13. Jill:

    “Call me paranoid, but that stuff scares me.”

    Jill,

    Try looking at it all through the eyes of George Washington when he caught Maj. John Andre plotting with Benedict Arnold.

    Washington was so outraged, he wouldn’t even grant Andre’s request to be shot like an officer instead of being hanged like a felon.

  14. It’s been clear for a long time that the WH, especiall OVP, approved everything. In many cases interrogators didn’t take a dump without calling for permission first. So, to say the least, it is extremely frustrating that neither Congress nor DOJ will do anything to hold top level officials accountable for their actions. For my part I’d be happy to see a truth and reconcilliation process if it 1. got these people out of power, 2. brought to light just how extreme everything has gotten in this country, and finally, 3. gave some kind of justice to victims.

    What worries me is how open cheneybush people are about what they did and to some extent what they’re doing. They literally know they can act with impunity. This is so dangerous. In an adminstration with only a few month left, they certainly aren’t acting like a group with plans to leave office. They made and received two of their most extreme power grabs, in FISA and the bail out, giving them unprecedented ability to legally control the people and the financial system. Gellman’s book details cheney’s move to fully centralize the financial system in the OVP as the Florida recount was happening. On 9/11 he was drawing up plans to place “enemy combatants” in Gitmo, away from judicial oversight. In other words, everything we see happening now was planed for well in advance–I guess it’s the govt.’s “pre-need” funeral package for the Constitution!

    Call me paranoid, but that stuff scares me. These memos should matter to the Congress and the DOJ. They need to take action.

  15. AJ –

    Unfortunately Pelosi and company have proven to be relatively useless. They rode the wave of voter-dissatisfaction in 2006, and then promptly cut their work-week down to three or four days and faded into the background. This administration is a disgrace, but the Democratic congress have turned out to be their enablers.

  16. Why can’t they still be impeached? How many more things do they need to get away with, There is so much evidence on so many of their trails to bring charges, is it all about sex and that’s it???

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