JONATHAN TURLEY

Torture is still Torture, and it is Still Illegal.

Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty,(rafflaw), Guest Blogger

 This entire week the torture enthusiasts have been back on all of the news channels exclaiming their happiness that their “enhanced interrogation techniques” worked.  Of course, they are talking about waterboarding and other methods of torture. Why are Michael Mukasey, John Yoo and other members of the George W. Bush administration once again declaring that torture is good policy and that it was successful in helping to get Osama Bin Laden?

“Osama bin Laden was killed by Americans, based on intelligence developed by Americans. That should bring great satisfaction to our citizens and elicit praise for our intelligence community. Seized along with bin Laden’s corpse was a trove of documents and electronic devices that should yield intelligence that could help us capture or kill other terrorists and further degrade the capabilities of those who remain at large.  But policies put in place by the very administration that presided over this splendid success promise fewer such successes in the future. Those policies make it unlikely that we’ll be able to get information from those whose identities are disclosed by the material seized from bin Laden. The administration also hounds our intelligence gatherers in ways that can only demoralize them.  Consider how the intelligence that led to bin Laden came to hand. It began with a disclosure from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), who broke like a dam under the pressure of harsh interrogation techniques that included waterboarding. He loosed a torrent of information—including eventually the nickname of a trusted courier of bin Laden.”  Wall Street Journal

The quote above was from an op-ed written by the former Attorney General of the United State, Michael Mukasey. It seems that Gen. Mukasey is now a big proponent of torture techniques and he even makes the unfounded claim that the name of the courier that eventually led the United States to Osama Bin Laden was obtained through the “harsh interrogation techniques”.  It is amazing to me that Mukasey who was a Federal judge before being named Attorney General, would be ignorant of the illegality of waterboarding.  Doesn’t Mukasey remember that the United States prosecuted Japanese soldiers after WWII for waterboarding American personnel and we also prosecuted American servicemen for waterboarding prisoners during the Vietnam War?

Gen. Mukasey even complains that President Obama did the country a disservice by eliminating the torture techniques from the government’s arsenal.  He further attacks the Obama administration for investigating the CIA operatives who were involved in the torture of detainees.  Gen. Mukasey just can’t get enough torture. An article in Firedoglake.com claims that Mukasey’s feigned concern for the CIA agents being investigated is a farce because the Wikileaks documents proved that the United States was using the alleged investigation into the CIA agent’s as a mechanism for convincing the Spanish authorities that their planned investigation into the torture carried out by American agents was unnecessary.

“In other words, what this cable shows is the genesis of the plan–on the day after the torture memos were released–to forestall international investigations of US torture by claiming that the US is itself conducting an investigation. It’s a claim that continues to this day.  It’s not a surprise that the Obama Administration has been pointing to its own investigations–credible or not–to persuade the international community not to hold our torturers accountable. But it is useful to see how the diplomats and the lawyers first hatched that plan.” Firedoglake.com

One of the authors of the infamous Torture Memos, John Yoo, also came out in favor of the torture techniques and he also tries to assert that torture played a role in obtaining the information needed to find and kill Osama Bin Laden.  “Also, buried in the stories may be yet another sign of the vindication of the Bush administration’s war on terror policies. Anonymous government sources say that the al Qaeda courier who led our intelligence people to bin Laden was a protege of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the architect of the 9/11 attacks who was captured in 2002, subjected to enhanced interrogation methods, and yielded a trove of intelligence on al Qaeda. Those same sources admit that interrogation of al Qaeda leaders, presumably by the CIA, yielded the identity of the courier. That identity was then combined into a mosaic of other information from other detainee interrogations, electronic intercepts, and sources in other countries, to eventually identify bin Laden’s hideout.” American Enterprise Institute

It seems painfully obvious to this reader that Prof. Yoo and Gen. Mukasey are trying to rewrite history, as well as rewrite our laws on interrogation.  There is no evidence torture had anything to do with the finding of and killing of Osama Bin Laden.  Even Senator Lindsey Graham admits to that as does Senator Barbara Feinstein.  Think Progress    “Not all Republicans are claiming that bin Laden’s killing vindicates torture. At a Capitol press conference Tuesday afternoon, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stood apart from his colleagues in the GOP. “This idea we caught bin Laden because of waterboarding I think is a misstatement,” he said. “This whole concept of how we caught bin Laden is a lot of work over time by different people and putting the puzzle together. I do not believe this is a time to celebrate waterboarding, I believe this is a time to celebrate hard work.” Talking Points Memo

The Bush Administration officials seem to be attempting to rewrite history by claiming their illegal torture techniques aided in the search for Bin Laden.  In former Attorney Gen. Mukasey and Prof. Yoo’s cases, they are both asserting that torture is effective and that is legal.  That’s right.  According to the Torture Twins, Mukasey and Yoo, they claim that waterboarding is legal.  Although I agree that President Obama has done the country a disservice by not prosecuting the officials who authorized and carried out the torture during the Bush administration, by no means does that inaction make waterboarding legal.  I guess if the Bush apologists keep saying it enough, they hope that Americans will believe them.  Mukasey and Yoo both sold out their souls for their jobs and their President.  I hope they can sleep at night.