Thursday, October 4, 2007

Torturing Logic to Condone Torture

Gonzales is gone, but his specter still haunts the nation. His tortured logic and amoral interpretation of the law will take at least a decade to root out.

In 2004, the Justice Department, under the leadership of Attorney General John Ashcroft made public the declaration that torture was “abhorrent” in a legal opinion rendered in December of that year.

Ashcroft would depart Justice right after the inauguration, and Alberto “Torture Boy” Gonzales would be ensconced in the Justice Department, and like Dean Wormer’s “Double Secret Probation” he quickly and quietly issued another opinion, and it was a very different document indeed. It was an expansive endorsement of the harshest, most vigorous interrogation techniques ever employed by the CIA.

Officials who were briefed on the new protocols said that for the first time, explicit authorization to inundate suspects with a medley of painful physical tactics, such as stress positions and head slaps; as well as temperature extremes, waterboarding, and psychological trauma were allowed.

An especially harsh version of the dope-slap became official American policy.

(Keep Reading)

Torture Boy gleefully endorsed the barbarism of what came to be known as the Gonzales-Yoo Torture Doctine over the objections of Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey. Mr. Comey, who had been loyal to AG John Ashcroft and the Constitution was leaving his job after battling the White House over what he considered out-of-bounds legal reasoning. Befpre he left, speaking about the Gonzales opinion, Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of it.

But it didn’t stop there.

Later that year, as Congress moved toward outlawing “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, the Justice Department issued another secret opinion, one most lawmakers did not know existed, current and former officials said. The Justice Department document declared that none of the C.I.A. interrogation methods violated that standard.

The classified opinions, never previously disclosed, are a hidden legacy of President Bush’s second term and Mr. Gonzales’s tenure at the Justice Department, where he moved quickly to align it with the White House after a 2004 rebellion by staff lawyers that had thrown policies on surveillance and detention into turmoil.

Over the last two years, congress and the Supreme Court have time after time imposed limits on interrogations, and the administration responded by dropping the most extreme techniques – but the 2005 Gonzales opinions remained in effect – in fact, they are still in effect to this day.

A White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, said Wednesday that he would not comment on any legal opinion related to interrogations. Mr. Fratto added, “We have gone to great lengths, including statutory efforts and the recent executive order, to make it clear that the intelligence community and our practices fall within U.S. law” and international agreements.

More than two dozen current and former officials involved in counterterrorism were interviewed over the past three months about the opinions and the deliberations on interrogation policy. Most officials would speak only on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the documents and the C.I.A. detention operations they govern.

Over two dozen current and former counterterrorism officials were interviewed over the past three months about the torture doctrine and the official documents. Officils would only speak on condition of anonymity, but overall what emerged was a portrait of Gonzales in yellow. A craven, ineffectual coward, unable to differentiate between his role as the President’s counsel and his role as Attorney General. A spineless, simpering sycophant, unable to resist pressure from Vice President Dick Cheney or his henchman David Addington.

It isn’t as though we need more evidence of the perfidy and mendacity of the most corrupt, inept and criminal presidency in the history of the nation, but there it is. It was utterly foolish for Nancy Pelosi to proclaim a year ago that “impeachment was off the table.” It is cowardly of my congressman to imploringly tell me that “history will impeach this administration.” Well that’s all well and good, but these fuckers are thugs and criminals – war criminals – and they deserve to be held accountable now, not in the pages of history. They need to answer to us, now, not to be a footnote in our grandchildrens history texts fifty years from now.