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.

98 thoughts on “Torture is still Torture, and it is Still Illegal.

  1. Right on Former Fed! Buchanan is getting crazier by the day and Mathews does have a tendency to spew his words together! Prof. Turley did a great job smacking Uncle Pat down!

  2. The best part of this video is when Prof T. says, “let me finish, for love of God!”

    No sane human should have to sit between those two interrupting loudmouths–one spittles words and the other hellfire n’ brimstone….

  3. Mike A.,
    Well said. It would make my day to see those nice moral torturers get their consequences!
    Elaine,
    Buchanan is certifiable.

  4. rafflaw,

    Buchanan is often “out there.” Remember…he thinks that the Poles were responsible for the German invasion of their country in 1939.

  5. Thanks for the link, Elaine. Those who, like Mr. Buchanan, take the “higher moral law” approach to the issue of torture, and even use Martin Luther King as an example, are not making a moral argument. A person who violates the law in defense of what he or she perceives to be a higher moral law, must be willing to accept the punishment that follows the violation. That is not what has occurred with the Bush/Cheney bunch. To the contrary, they demand exculpation by denying the applicability of existing positive law to their actions. In essence, they justify their actions through arguments made in bad faith. The moral person willingly submits to the legal consequences of his actions.

  6. Elaine,
    Great video! Buchanan is off the reservation!
    Adam or Bobby, thank you for the admission. I think your teacher needs to reconsider his/her assignments!

  7. Ok confession time: my name is not Bobby. Sorry to offend you all, but this was actually a course requirement, to post controversial comments on a liberal or conservative blog. The person with the most replies gets extra credit on a quiz. Too late now though.
    Oh and torture IS torture btw. No way to justify it, regardless of if it works.

  8. Bang, bang, shoot, shoot
    White gloved thumb, Lord thy will be done
    He was always a good boy his mother said
    He’ll do his duty when he’s grown, yeah
    Everybody’s got someone they call home

  9. Bobby: “Which is more important, upholding the law or protecting civilians?”

    I take it you never heard of the cold war or mutual assured destruction.

  10. Bobby,
    Your question is not a true one. You can protect civilians without breaking the law. Obama just did it with the mission to take out OBL. We have done if for decades until George W. Bush started his waterboarding spree. It is Illegal to torture. How many ways can I say this to get you to understand?

  11. Ok…but answer the question though Buddha. Which is more important, upholding the law or protecting civilians?

  12. “Have any of you ever done something illegal before? Ever sped while driving, or maybe smoked some pot? If you all care about the law so much and want it to be upheld in ALL circumstances, you can’t just pick out the parts you like and ignore the ones you break yourselves.”

    Fallacy of false equivalence.

  13. Everybody reading/commenting on this blog say once and for all that upholding the law is more important than protecting our citizens. But before you answer, consider this:
    Have any of you ever done something illegal before? Ever sped while driving, or maybe smoked some pot? If you all care about the law so much and want it to be upheld in ALL circumstances, you can’t just pick out the parts you like and ignore the ones you break yourselves.

  14. Bobby,

    “Are you honestly telling me that if your family was killed in a terrorist attack, you would still be concerned about the safety and rights of those who killed them? ”

    I don’t know if he is, but I am. I like having a rule of law but maybe that’s just me

  15. Buddha,

    Republican lies??? Haha, you really think our Democratic representatives are open books don’t you? You don’t think our President was aware of the torture that helped give us the intelligence that led us to OBL??? You don’t think there were any political points up in the air for him to grab?

  16. Bobby,

    I’d say: torture is the least effective way of gathering intelligence; if we have enough intelligence to know for sure that we’re not torturing non terrorists, we’ve probably got good enough intelligence that torture (if it was effective) would be unnecessary; and most importantly (and I’m typing this slowly to make sure you understand) Torture is illegal and evil.

  17. Are you honestly telling me that if your family was killed in a terrorist attack, you would still be concerned about the safety and rights of those who killed them? That’s insane. Legal or not, all measures should be taken regardless of how successful they are. There is more at stake here than just the will of one man. So we sacrifice lives to make a point to terrorists that we won’t break our laws to save our citizens?
    Yeah, they would just stop killing people, because they approve of our dedication the standards we’ve set.

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