Bush Official Admits That Administration Tortured Detainees

torture -abu ghraibWith congressional Democrats and the Obama campaign struggling to avoid the investigation and prosecution of torture, a Bush official just made it a bit more difficult. Susan J. Crawford has publicly admitted that they did engage in clear torture at Guantanamo Bay. With the hearings for Eric Holder on Thursday, the admission by Crawford could make the torture question hard to avoid. I will be discussing the Holder hearing on Countdown tonight.

Crawford is quoted in the Washington Post as saying “We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani. His treatment met the legal definition of torture.” She explained that “The techniques they used were all authorized, but the manner in which they applied them was overly aggressive and too persistent. . . . You think of torture, you think of some horrendous physical act done to an individual. This was not any one particular act; this was just a combination of things that had a medical impact on him, that hurt his health. It was abusive and uncalled for.”

This week I debate this issue with Charles Fried, the Harvard Professor and former solicitor general on Talk of the Nation and discussed the issue on MSNBC Countdown.

With Obama admitting that waterboarding is torture and now both Bush officials and former interrogators admitting that it was torture, the question is how the Democrats can continue in their plan to avoid any prosecution.

For the full story, click here.

31 thoughts on “Bush Official Admits That Administration Tortured Detainees

  1. I think Judge Crawford is credible.

    “Crawford, a retired judge who served as general counsel for the Army during the Reagan administration and as Pentagon inspector general when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense, is the first senior Bush administration official responsible for reviewing practices at Guantanamo to publicly state that a detainee was tortured.”

  2. I just listened to a most interesting Diane Rehm where the issue of torture by the bush administration was brought up. Stuart Taylor of newsweek repeted that sure, if there was any clear evidence that torture had been committed, it should be looked into. I found that most interesting given the above article, the fact that this claim cannot reasonably be said to come from the “left”, and he did know of the information in the article. Like Nancy Pelosi before him, in search of evidence, this just cannot be other than a deliberate attempt to shirk from facts in plain sight. Mr. diGenova reduced torture to “keeping us safe” political/policy decision, which therefore cannot be a crime. Only Mr. Fine stood for the rule of law.

    The propaganda wars are in full swing. The left is being villified when in fact there are many people of conscience, such as Republicans Ms. Crawford and Mr. Fine, who do believe torture and other violations of the law occurred. Mr. Taylor even claimed that liberal groups such as Moveon.org had the power to push people before Congress where they will commit perjury. I’m not certain how the left wing forces perjured testimony.

    If cheneybush are keeping our liberties safe then they have burned down the house to “save” them. If the govt. can torture, perform renditions and spy on our own populace without warrents, exactly what liberties is this govt. protecting?

    It is vital to push back against this propaganda, showing it for the lie it is.

  3. The shoes are really falling on this issue and I suspect this was timed to prompt the new Administration to do something. As in life, timing is everything in politics –even the politics of prosecuting state crimes. A few civil lawsuits by detainees coupled with further admissions by government officials could tip the balance away from the inertia of doing nothing. And we all know that an investigation, once set in motion, goes where it goes. If I were the Bushies I’d be interviewing defense attorneys.

  4. Mr. Obama is incredibly naïve and many of his comments are extremely parochial. Professor Turley is polite by referring to Obama’s
    comment about agents “looking over their shoulders…” as “curious.”

    I have written–and could write more–volumes about state and federal agents/LEOs who violated the very laws, rules, and regulations that they swore an oath to protect, defend, and enforce. Principle means everything to the rule of law.

  5. Without the rule of law, there is nothing but tyranny or anarchy. Restore the rule of law. Restore the rights of the individual over the rights of the corporate. Put Bush/Cheney on public trial. Put them in prison. Or the rest of the so-called “justice” system is just bullshit and oppression. Eventually, it will be treated as such by We the People if the Neocon criminals are let go. Count on it. And count on it sooner rather than later.

  6. There was a nice little story today on NPR about the presidential oath of office and its history. It is the only explicite directive towards the president in the constitution and the only setence which is contained within quotations. It is basically a promise to uphold the constitution. It is amazing that ass-weasel Bush didn’t get impeached.

  7. The following quoted excerpts come from the Washington Post article. Just a note of interest, Judge Crawford is a lifelong Republican.

    {Quote} “After the Supreme Court ruled in the 2006 Hamdan v. Rumsfeld case that the original military commission system for Guantanamo Bay violated the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions, Congress rewrote the rules and passed the Military Commissions Act, creating a new structure for trials by commissions. The act bans torture but permits “coercive” testimony.

    Crawford said she believes that coerced testimony should not be allowed. “You don’t allow it in a regular court,” said Crawford, who served as a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces from 1991 to 2006” {End Quote}

  8. I went to look up info seamus provided. It certainly applies here:

    ” Every incoming president back to George Washington has spoken the 37 words in the oath of office:

    “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

    But where does the oath come from?

    “It’s actually written into the Constitution.'”

    For a document that lays out general principles and avoids getting into too much detail — which is why Pinkert says we’ve been able to argue about it ever since — the oath is the one section that’s really specific…

    “It’s the only sentence in quotes in the entire Constitution,” Pinkert tells NPR’s Steve Inskeep.
    This ensures that the Constitution is supreme and that the president executes laws accordingly…

    That the president is treated as a citizen under the Constitution rather than as the supreme authority of the land says something special about the nature of the U.S. government and the foresight of the founding fathers…”

  9. We should all express the same concerns at the Obama/Valerie Jarrett site that we express within this blawg.

    Torture and War Crimes (440 yes votes to hold Bush et al. accountable)

    You need a Change.gov account to vote or submit an idea.


    Other topics on the same change.gov site regarding the Bush Administration’s war crimes


  10. Depending on how much you obsess about the phrasing, it takes less than a minute to make your voice heard on torture at change.gov. The Obama administration needs to know the war crimes of the Bush administration matter to us all, or he will feel free just to move forward and ignore this

  11. The vote is 2630 Points for the topic: ‘Hold Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld Accountable for War Crimes Committed!”


  12. Wow. I saw this stunning admission in a news article while at work. I agree with Mespo that this was timed to shake the torture issue right in front of Obama’s nose and to make sure Congress also gets the message. This is the beginning of a salvo of news items detailing the crimes and excesses of the Bush/Cheney cabal. I think the rats are fleeing the ship and they want to make sure they don’t go down with it, so we will probably see some more admnistration admissions during the next several days.

  13. rafflaw:

    Have you seen the decision today in HERRING v. UNITED STATES (No. 07-513), 492 F. 3d 1212? It’s a 4th Amendment case wherein Roberts further erodes the exclusionary rule by immunizing it from errors committed by court clerks which are “reasonably relied upon” by police officers executing an arrest warrant. Ginsberg’s dissent is must reading. The facts stink here as the defendant had made allegations of misconduct against the arresting officer who went to great pains to find some warrant, any warrant, to arrest Herring on. You can read the opinion here:


    We need to get Bob,Esq on this one.

  14. Mespo –

    I may have misread a few threads ago, but I think Bob,Esq is now bobfrog.

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Anyway, a good thread topic here and I agree with many of the points made by all. Just caught JT on Keith-O. Please let our Dept. of Justice begin the healing process …

  15. Mojo:

    “I may have misread a few threads ago, but I think Bob,Esq is now bobfrog.”

    As usual you are correct. I forgot about the change in moniker. If we don’t get that name right, we won’t be able to conjure up that genie. I am rubbing the lamp now. bobfrog are you there?

    Missed JT on Olbermann. Will catch the replay at 10:00 pm

  16. Obama: On second thought, it’s not that important to capture Bin Laden

    posted at 6:18 pm on January 14, 2009

    Remember at the debate when he vowed, “We will kill Bin Laden, we will crush al-Qaeda”? He’s stressed the importance of taking out Osama on other occasions, but never quite as forcefully as that. Why, enter the quote in Google and you’ll find it immortalized in the very first hit .

    Anyway, change of plans:

    COURIC: How important do you think it is, Mr. President-elect, to apprehend Osama bin Laden?

    OBAMA: I think that we have to so weaken his infrastructure that, whether he is technically alive or not, he is so pinned down that he cannot function. My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him. But if we have so tightened the noose that he’s in a cave somewhere and can’t even communicate with his operatives then we will meet our goal of protecting America.

    This is the counterterror equivalent of The One promising that he’ll save three million jobs: He “succeeds” merely by maintaining the status quo. If pinning down Osama so that he can’t function is the goal, the goal was met literally years ago.

  17. Waterboarding Used to Be a Crime

    Washington Post

    By Evan Wallach
    Sunday, November 4, 2007

    “After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war. At the trial of his captors, then-Lt. Chase J. Nielsen, one of the 1942 Army Air Forces officers who flew in the Doolittle Raid and was captured by the Japanese, testified: “I was given several types of torture. . . . I was given what they call the water cure.” He was asked what he felt when the Japanese soldiers poured the water. “Well, I felt more or less like I was drowning,” he replied, “just gasping between life and death.”

    Nielsen’s experience was not unique. Nor was the prosecution of his captors. After Japan surrendered, the United States organized and participated in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, generally called the Tokyo War Crimes Trials. Leading members of Japan’s military and government elite were charged, among their many other crimes, with torturing Allied military personnel and civilians. The principal proof upon which their torture convictions were based was conduct that we would now call waterboarding.”


  18. Buddha Is Laughing:

    “Without the rule of law, there is nothing but tyranny….”

    J. Locke: “AS usurpation is the exercise of power, which another hath a right to; so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which no body can have a right to. And this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private separate advantage. When the governor, however intitled, makes not the law, but his will, the rule; and his commands and actions are not directed to the preservation of the properties of his people, but the satisfaction of his own ambition, revenge, covetousness, or any other irregular passion.”

    “Where-ever law ends, tyranny begins, if the law be transgressed to another’s harm; and whosoever in authority exceeds the power given him by the law, and makes use of the force he has under his command, to compass that upon the subject, which the law allows not, ceases in that to be a magistrate; and, acting without authority, may be opposed, as any other man, who by force invades the right of another.”

  19. Mespo:

    “Have you seen the decision today in HERRING v. UNITED STATES (No. 07-513), 492 F. 3d 1212? It’s a 4th Amendment case wherein Roberts further erodes the exclusionary rule by immunizing it from errors committed by court clerks which are “reasonably relied upon” by police officers executing an arrest warrant.”

    Ginsberg: … “Others have described “a more majestic conception” of the Fourth Amendment and its adjunct, the exclusionary rule. Evans, 514 U. S., at 18 (Stevens, J., dissenting). Protective of the fundamental “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,” THE AMENDMENT “IS A CONSTRAINT ON THE POWER OF THE SOVEREIGN, NOT MERELY SOME OF ITS AGENTS.” (EMPHASIS ADDED) …. I share that vision of the Amendment.”

    Rights confer power; not vice versa!

    Alexander Hamilton: “I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For WHY DECLARE THAT THINGS SHALL NOT BE DONE WHICH THERE IS NO POWER TO DO? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; BUT IT IS EVIDENT THAT IT WOULD FURNISH, TO MEN DISPOSED TO USURP, A PLAUSIBLE PRETENSE FOR CLAIMING THAT POWER. THEY MIGHT URGE WITH A SEMBLANCE OF REASON, THAT THE CONSTITUTION OUGHT NOT TO BE CHARGED WITH THE ABSURDITY OF PROVIDING AGAINST THE ABUSE OF AN AUTHORITY WHICH WAS NOT GIVEN, AND THAT THE PROVISION AGAINST RESTRAINING THE LIBERTY OF THE PRESS AFFORDED A CLEAR IMPLICATION, THAT A POWER TO PRESCRIBE PROPER REGULATIONS CONCERNING IT WAS INTENDED TO BE VESTED IN THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT. (Emphasis added) This may serve as a specimen of the numerous handles which would be given to the doctrine of constructive powers, by the indulgence of an injudicious zeal for bills of rights.” (Federalist 84)

  20. Mespo,
    That was an amazing sleight of hand that Roberts used in the Herring case. Bobfrog, You said it much better than I could have. This is one more example of what happens when you cooperate with these Republicans. They pushed through fascists like Roberts and his friends and they have an agenda that will give us problems for years. I can only hope that we have some retirements during Obama’s tenure so we can get some progressive Supremes. I am nominating Jonathan Turley for the first spot that opens up.

  21. USA update:

    “Water-boarding is torture, Holder says.

    “I agree with you Mr. Chairman, water-boarding is torture,” Holder just told committee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

    And, Holder said, “the president does not have the power” to authorize torture.”

  22. Damn you regular contributors. I had a prescient comment ready on this and you’ve gone and said all that needs to be said, what’s a guy to do?

  23. What? No pre-confirmation paranoia about what he really means by
    ‘not wanting to criminalize policy differences that may exist between the two administrations?’?

    Re Ken Starr – I’d kinda like to hear what he thinks of bringing back the Independent Counsel Act…

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