Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jay Bybee's T-Shirt: "Torture? Fine by me."

Last week, the Obama administration released a series of memos from the Department of Justice's, Office of Legal Counsel to the CIA during the Bush administration. These much anticipated memos reveal the thought processes behind Bush administration officials in authorizing the CIA to use "enhanced interrogation techniques" (i.e. torture) on high value al Qaeda detainees. Given the fact that my final round of law school exams are coming up, I haven't had time to read through the memos in their entirety, but I will give you a general idea about what is in each one:

1. August 1, 2002, Jay Bybee to John Rizzo- This memo gave the go ahead to the CIA to use enhanced interrogation techniques to elicit information from al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah. Approved techniques include waterboarding and putting Zubaydah in a box and then putting a caterpillar in there with him (apparently Zubaydah is afraid of bugs). Note to anyone that tortures me in the future: putting me in a box with a spider will be a much more effective technique than waterboarding.

2. May 30, 2005, Stephen Bradbury to John Rizzo- This posits the theory that the Conventions Against Torture only prohibits the CIA from torturing someone on American soil, and even if the CAT did extend beyond that geographic scope that the CIA interrogation program would not violate its provisions. In summary, this one offers legal justification for torture at CIA "black sites" operated in foreign countries. The Obama administration ordered these black sites to be shuttered a couple of weeks ago.

3. May 10, 2005, Stephen Bradbury to John Rizzo- Advising the CIA that the set of advanced interrogation techniques it intended to use would not violate Title 18 sections 2340-2340(A).

4. May 10, 2005, Stephen Bradbury to John Rizzo- This one is longer, but seems to reach the same conclusion as #3.

From my brief skimming of these memos they appear to be very interesting. Gives you a glimpse in to what the CIA interrogation program actually did. I think the fact that they had to ask so many questions about whether what they were doing was legal or not may have been a good indicator that it wasn't.

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