Wednesday, July 27, 2005

NYT: "Justice Nominee is Questioned on Department Torture Policy" (Eric Lichtblau) (also Robert Parry on Democracy Now! this morning)

Much of the hearing focused on Mr. Flanigan's role in developing the Bush administration's policies on the treatment of prisoners, and in particular an opinion by Jay S. Bybee at the Office of Legal Counsel of the Justice Department in August 2002 that gave a narrow definition of torture. Only pain like that accompanying "death, organ failure or the permanent impairment of a significant body function" constituted torture, Mr. Bybee wrote.
The administration disavowed the memorandum last year after its disclosure led to charges that it helped open the door to abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and elsewhere.
Mr. Flanigan went into more public detail on Tuesday about the development of the policies than had previous administration officials. He said the review was initiated in the summer of 2002 when the Central Intelligence Agency sought input on how torture statutes should be read to apply to the interrogation of top Qaeda leaders and whether certain techniques "beyond the normal Q. and A. approach" were allowed.
He said he took part in two White House briefings on the issue, along with Alberto R. Gonzales, who was then his boss as White House counsel and is now attorney general.
Mr. Flanigan said he was reluctant to state whether he considered several interrogation techniques, including mock executions and the simulated drowning of a prisoner, to be inappropriate or to constitute torture.

The above is from Eric Lichtblau's "Justice Nominee Is Questioned on Department Torture Policy" in this morning's New York Times.

Let's drop back to The Third Estate Sunday Review editorial one more time to note (again):

From Watching the Watchers' "Child Abuse at Abu Ghraib" by A! of Watching the Watchers, we learn that:
Data is emerging, no matter how the administration attempts to hide it, that the new photos and video of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison include the torture of children.
Norway's Prime Minister's office says it plans to address the situation with the U.S. "in a very severe and direct way."
Could this mean losing yet another ally in the Iraq occupation? Amnesty International in Norway has said that Norway can no longer continue their occupation of Iraq, or their support of US policy in this matter.
And some countries, as Tom Tomorrow notes, actually listen to their activists.
While there isn't even an inkling of this in the US Mainstream media, all over the world people are beginning to read about the US abusing children at Abu Ghraib.

Martha e-mails to note Josh White's "Abu Ghraib Dog Tactics Came From Guantanamo:
Testimony Further Links Procedures at 2 Facilities
" (the Washington Post):

The preliminary hearing at Fort Meade, Md., for two Army dog handlers accused of mistreating detainees provided more evidence that severe tactics approved for suspected terrorists at Guantanamo migrated to Iraq and spiraled into the notorious abuse at Abu Ghraib in the late summer and early fall of 2003. The testimony came days after an internal military investigation showed the similarity between techniques used on the suspected "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and tactics seen in photographs at the prison that shocked the world.
Several Republican senators are pushing legislation -- opposed by the White House -- that would regulate the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo and other military prisons. One of them, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), released recently declassified internal memos written in 2003 by the military's top lawyers in which they warned the Pentagon about developing severe tactics, arguing that they would heighten danger for U.S. troops caught by the enemy, among other problems.
"We have taken the legal and moral 'high-road' in the conduct of our military operations regardless of how others may operate," Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack L. Rives wrote in a Feb. 5, 2003, memo. "We need to consider the overall impact of approving extreme interrogation techniques as giving official approval and legal sanction to the application of interrogation techniques that U.S. forces have consistently been trained are unlawful."
At Fort Meade yesterday, soldiers testified that the top military intelligence officer at the prison, Col. Thomas M. Pappas, approved the use of dogs for interrogations. Maj. Matthew Miller, a prosecutor, also revealed that Pappas, faced with a request from interrogators to use dogs on three stubborn detainees captured at the same time as then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, "admitted he failed to ask" Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, then the top general in Iraq, for approval as he was supposed to have done.

Also refer to Jane Mayer's "The Experiment" in the July 11th & 18th issue (it's a double issue, not two single issues) of The New Yorker. (Mayer's article is summarized here.)

Rod e-mails to note that the planned line up for Democracy Now! is:

As Cuban-born, anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles is denied bail, we'll speak with Venezuela's lawyer on why Posada should be extradited. And, the latest on the Rove/CIA scandal with investigative reporter Bob Parry.

We'll note that in the next post as well (at Rod's request and because the community enjoys the reporting of Robert Parry).

Here's an excerpt from Parry's latest entitled "Rove's Backers Use 'CounterSpy Defense:'"

Another stunning part of the Rove defense has been how quickly right-wing commentators have flip-flopped from their traditional hard-line stance decrying the unauthorized disclosure of national security secrets.
For instance, six months ago, Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of the Washington Times, suggested prosecuting New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh on espionage charges (carrying a possible death penalty) for disclosing secret U.S. military reconnaissance operations inside Iran.
In a Jan. 19, 2005, column entitled "
Espionage by any other name," Blankley argued that Hersh had given sensitive secrets to the enemy by describing U.S. preparations for war with Iran. Blankley cited the precedent of the government using the Espionage Act to convict Navy analyst Samuel Morison for selling photos of a Soviet ship to a Jane’s military publication in the mid-1980s.
Yet Hersh's article had an obvious importance to a national public debate about whether the Iraq War should be extended to Iran. Hersh’s New Yorker article was alerting the American people to how advanced the war planning already was.
No similar argument could be made about an overriding need for the public to know the identity of Valerie Plame. Yet, the Washington Times – along with other conservative news outlets – decried the Hersh leak while defending the Rove-Novak leak.
There is also irony in the Washington Times making pronouncements about espionage when it has been kept afloat since 1982 with secret financing from Rev. Sun Myung Moon, who was unmasked in a 1978 congressional investigation as a covert agent of the South Korean government trying to penetrate U.S. media and politics.
[For more on Moon's espionage role – and his ties to the Bush family – see Robert Parry's
Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq.]

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