Boxes and Burials in the CIA’s Torture Plans

In this post, I’m going to test a hypothesis that OLC may not have included “cramped confinement” in its torture plans until it removed “mock burial.” If I’m right, it means after having been told OLC would not approve mock burial, OLC and CIA instead just renamed what they were doing as “cramped confinement” so as to get it past those in DOJ who were opposed to allowing the US to use mock burial in its torture program.

This is a weedy post even by my standards. But the key points are:

  • Many of the discussions about which techniques OLC was approving appear to have taken place orally, not in written form
  • The one written document we know exists–a JPRA Physical Pressures document–was an attempt made during the key three days of the Bybee Memo process to pretend that JPRA sanctioned waterboarding (at least) as it either already had been used or would be used on Abu Zubaydah, rather than as the Navy used it in training
  • The section on small box confinement also seems to have been created in response to this process, meaning it is possible that JPRA adjusted both the name and the description of the technique to provide JPRA sanction for mock burial as it had been done on AZ

The OPR Report’s list of torture techniques is neither the original nor the final list of planned torture techniques

The OPR Report includes a list of torture techniques Mitchell and Jessen proposed to use with Abu Zubaydah that includes both cramped confinement and mock burial, which seems to suggest that the CIA tried to get both approved at once. But the OPR Report provides absolutely no explanation for the source or the date of its list (on PDF 41) of the torture techniques. It says simply:

The CIA psychologists eventually proposed the following twelve EITs to be used in the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah:

In addition to the use of the word “eventually” in this description, there’s further evidence this list is not the first incarnation of the torture techniques requested. That’s because this description of sleep deprivation…

Sleep deprivation: The subject is prevented from sleeping, not to exceed 11 days at a time;

Includes this footnote:

As initially proposed, sleep deprivation was to be induced by shackling the subject in a standing position, with his feet chained to a ring in the floor and his arms attached to a bar at head level, with very little room for movement.

Compare that with the description of sleep deprivation as it appears in the Bybee Two memo.

Sleep deprivation may be used. You have indicated that your purpose in using this technique is to reduce the individual’s ability to think on his feet and, through the discomfort associated with lack of sleep, to motivate him to cooperate. The effect of sleep deprivation will generally remit after one or two nights of uninterrupted sleep. You have informed us that your research has revealed that, in rare instances, some individuals who are already predisposed to psychological problems may experience abnormal reactions to sleep deprivation. Even in those cases, however, reactions abate after the individual is permitted to sleep. Moreover, personnel with medical training are available to and will intervene in the unlikely event of an abnormal reaction. You have orally informed us that you would not deprive Zubaydah of sleep for more than eleven days at a time and that you have previously kept him awake for 72 hours, from which no mental or physical harm resulted. [my emphasis]

The description in the OPR Report for this torture technique, at least, matches what appears in the Bybee Two memo.

Also note the admission (which I had never noticed before) that CIA had already subjected AZ to sleep deprivation but don’t worry, AZ was A-Okay as a result.

you have previously kept him awake for 72 hours

Though their admission to 72 hour sessions of sleep deprivation doesn’t accord with AZ’s memory of his first several weeks in the black site, which describe being kept awake for weeks at a time (perhaps 11 days?), using the shackling technique that OLC would go on to eliminate from their description of sleep deprivation:

I was transferred to a chair where I was kept, shackled by hands and feet for what I think was the next 2 to 3 weeks.


I could not sleep at all for the first two to three weeks. If I started to fall asleep one of the guards would come and spray water on my face.

From all this we can make several educated assumptions about the list included in the OPR Report. First, it includes the torture techniques as ultimately incorporated in the torture memos; this is not the list that CIA first brought to OLC. Moreover, we know that the description of sleep deprivation, at least, was watered down to hide the most appalling aspects of the technique that, even though they weren’t described, had already taken place.

Oh, and they were probably lying about the one detail they admitted to, how long they had subjected AZ to sleep deprivation.

But we already knew that.

That said, we know the OPR Report’s list isn’t the final list, either. The OPR Report list still shows, in unredacted form, diapering as a technique. We have no idea when or why that we eliminated from the list. And we know the redacted 12th technique is mock burial, which was eliminated some time after July 24, 2002, though we don’t know when, specifically, that happened. Note that the description of that 12th technique–mock burial–continues onto PDF page 43, so the description of it may include more detail on how it was eliminated from the list.

In other words, at best, this is an interim list. The list may simply reflect the final form that each torture technique request had before it was either incorporated into the Bybee Two memo or eliminated from the list.

There was never a written list including these techniques in this form

Moreover, the techniques memo shows that there was never a written list showing all these techniques described in this form. That’s because the Bybee Two memo makes it clear that a number of details in it were communicated to DOJ only orally. These include:

  • Although some of these techniques may be used with more than once, that repetition will not be substantial because the techniques generally lose their effectiveness after several repetitions
  • The false wall [used in walling] is in part constructed to create a loud sound when the individual hits it, which will further shock or surprise in [sic] the individual
  • Through observing Zubaydah in captivity, you have noted that he appears to be quite flexible despite his wound
  • You would not deprive Zubaydah of sleep for more than eleven days at a time and you have previously kept him awake for 72 hours, from which no mental or physical harm resulted
  • You would in fact place a harmless insect such as a caterpillar in the box with him [additional redacted information may be part of the oral information–see below on allergies]
  • Waterboarding triggers an automatic physiological sensation of drowning that the individual cannot control even though he may be aware that he is in fact not drowning and it is likely that this procedure would not last more than 20 minutes in any one application
  • No stress position will be used that could interfere with the healing of Zubaydah’s wound
  • Despite his wound, Zubaydah remains quite flexible, which would substantially reduce any pain associated with being placed in the box

Some of this oral information pertains directly to efforts DOJ made to document that the torture would not hurt AZ, specifically. For example, the email in which Yoo asked Koester whether “Boo boo” was allergic to insects seems to show how Yoo and Koester used oral conversations to address concerns about techniques used particularly on AZ.

On July 30,2002, Yoo asked [Koester] by email, “[D]o we know if Boo boo is allergic to certain insects?”[Koester] responded,”No idea, but I’ll check with [redacted]. Although there is no record of a reply by [redacted] the final version of the Classified Bybee Memo included the following statement: “Further, you have informed us that you are not aware that Zubaydah has any allergies to insects.”

[Note, that sentence about insect allergies is redacted in the unclassified memo.]

And several of the other details pertain to his wounds and his flexibility.

But for waterboarding and sleep deprivation, the oral information includes some of the few limits placed on the techniques as generic techniques. Nowhere, the Bybee Two memo suggests, had CIA committed by this point in writing to the limit of 11 days of straight sleep deprivation.

Now you might say the extent of oral information in the memo makes sense. After all, CIA only requested a written document on either July 24th or the 26, just days before the White House demanded the completion of the memo. You could argue that things were so frantic that they just worked orally after that decision got made. Whether that excuse makes sense or not, it still is a testament to the fact that OLC did not have a final list of torture techniques either before or after the decision to get a letter listing all of them.

Jim Haynes very urgently and specifically had JPRA provide CIA a document on Physical Pressures

The evidence there was no one written document encompassing all the details of the torture techniques that made it into the Bybee Two memo is all the odder given that we know CIA sent and OLC received at least one list of torture techniques. The SASC Report describes how, during the same frantic three days when CIA backed off its request for mock burial to be approved and asked for a written list of all the torture techniques, JPRA (the entity that administers SERE) was experiencing equally frantic days responding to requests for information from DOD’s General Counsel, Jim Haynes.

Here is how those two frantic chronologies intersect–though there is a great deal of uncertainty about the order of many of those events.

July 24, 2002

By telephone, Yoo orally approves attention grasp, walling, facial hold, cramped confinement, and wall standing and tells Rizzo DOJ is looking for more data

Some time thereafter, Yoo tells Rizzo that approval will take longer if mock burial was included

Several conversations between DOD General Counsel Jim Haynes and DOD Deputy General Counsel for Intelligence Richard Shiffrin

Psychological Effects of Resistance Training (letter from Jerald Ogrisseg) drafted

Date of AZ psychological profile cover sheet addressed to Yoo

Koester writes another OLC attorney asking about protocol for working on a classified laptop computer

July 25, 2002

Shiffrin requests information on exploitation from JPRA Chief of Staff Daniel Baumgartner

Baumgartner responds with a memo and several attachments “within hours”–memo dated July 25

Prior to receiving July 25 memo, Shiffrin (or Haynes) requests additional information, including list of techniques used at SERE

July 25 First memo delivered to Shiffrin by JPRA employee

Baumgartner and Haynes meet personally; Haynes requests more information (see this post for more background)

[Possibly] Operational Issues Pertaining to Use of Physical/Psychological Coercion drafted

5:04 PM CIA faxes AZ psychological profile

July 26, 2002

JPRA completes second memo, Exploitation and Physical Pressures, with three attachments

[Possibly] Physical Pressures Used in Resistance Training drafted

Baumgartner sends second memo to CIA attorney

Koester receives 3 memos from DOD: Ogrisseg letter, Physical Pressures memo, and memo on techniques used against US POWs

[Probably] Koester tells Yoo that CIA wants written approval rather than just oral approval

The story we are told is that on July 24, Yoo gives Rizzo oral approval of the least controversial techniques including (the OPR report says) cramped confinement. Also in that conversation, Yoo asks for more information, which seems to set off the document flurry to follow. At some point–perhaps in that same discussion–Yoo tells Rizzo that approving mock burial might take more time. And then sometime in that timeframe (the OPR suggests it is both July 24 and July 26), CIA asks DOJ for a written techniques memo–which would lead to the production of the Bybee Two memo over the next six to eight days.

While that’s the general outline of what happened, the timing is unclear. And the dates on the documents don’t help us clarify that mess: Ogrisseg’s memo (see PDF 215) is clearly dated July 24, but it is reportedly part of the July 26 memo to Haynes, not the July 25 one. The cover sheet of the AZ psychological profile reads July 24 (and lacks a fax timestamp), but the profile itself has a fax timestamp showing it was sent at the end of the day on the 25th. The Operational Issues memo appears to be dated July 25, though SASC describes it as undated in footnote 198. The excerpts of the Physical Pressures memo included in the SASC backup (starting at PDF 211) lack a date, though footnote 192 of SASC may suggest it did bear the date of July 26.

And it’s not clear whether we see the report OPR says Koester got on “information about interrogation techniques used against United States prisoners of war.” Moulton’s email in footnote 179 definitely records a request for “information about resistance techniques used against U.S. POWs.” The title, “Physical Pressures Used in Resistance Training and Against American Prisoners and Detainees” leaves it unclear whether this is that POW document or not.

But what seems to have happened is that at the moment when Yoo asked Rizzo for more information, when CIA asked DOJ for a written document rather than just oral approvals, and when Yoo encouraged Rizzo to drop mock burial, Haynes had a face to face meeting with JPRA and very urgently clarified exactly what he was looking for in a list of torture techniques.

The Physical Pressures document appears to be at least one response to Haynes’ urgent demand.

The Physical Pressures document isn’t the template for all the torture methods

The simplest explanation for Haynes’ urgent request that JPRA send over a list of torture techniques would be CIA’s decision to ask for written approval at the last minute. After all, getting a list of torture techniques from JPRA would allow Koester to just cut and paste torture technique descriptions from the JPRA document into the OLC memo.

But that’s not what happened.

To begin with, the Physical Pressures don’t match the torture techniques that made it in the Bybee Two memo. It includes a bunch of extra techniques–things like abdomen slap and water flicking that would later be used by the CIA. Both waterboarding and small box confinement appear only in the “Other Services” section. And sleep deprivation is referred to as an “Other Tactic.” More importantly, the JPRA list also lacks two of the techniques included in the Bybee Two memo, the use of insects, and wall standing (which was a favored torture technique in Northern Ireland).

And while some of the descriptions in this document are reasonably close to the descriptions that end up in the Bybee Two memo, others are not. Attention grasp, walling, and facial hold are close matches. The Bybee Two facial slap description lacks JPRA’s limits on application number. The specific stress positions described are slightly different. Sleep deprivation, in the Bybee Memo, includes more controls than what is described in the JPRA document.

The Physical Pressures document was created specifically to falsely claim the torture as used on AZ matched techniques practiced by JPRA

Then there’s waterboarding. As I reported last year, the waterboarding described in this JPRA document doesn’t match the waterboarding described in the Bybee Memo, in a number of really important ways. Notably, the waterboarding described in this document matches the waterboarding as the CIA Inspector General described it in the abusive way it was applied. But this JPRA document not only differs from what appeared in the Bybee Two memo and matches what was done in practice; this JPRA memo also differs from what was done in Navy SERE training, the only service that still used waterboarding at this point in time!

JPRA’s description of the waterboarding technique provided in that first attachment was inconsistent in key respects from the U.S. Navy SERE school’s description of waterboarding. According to the Navy SERE school’s operating instructions, for example, while administering the technique, the Navy limited the amount of water poured on a student’s face to two pints. However, the JPRA attachment said that “up to 1.5 gallons of water” may be poured onto a “subject’s face.” While the Navy’s operating instructions dictated that “[n]o effort will be made to direct the stream of water into the student’s nostrils or mouth,” the description provided by JPRA contained no such limitation for subjects of the technique. While the Navy limited the use of the cloth on a student’s face to twenty seconds, the JPRA’s description said only that the cloth should remain in place for a “short period of time.” And while the Navy restricted anyone from placing pressure on the chest or stomach during the administration of this technique, JPRA’s description included no such limitation for subjects of the technique.

Think about what this means: Jim Haynes had an urgent face to face with those at JPRA amenable to adapting their program to being adapted as torture. And in response to requests he made at that meeting, rather than giving him a list of torture techniques as practiced by SERE schools (at least in the case of waterboarding), they gave him a document that put the JPRA seal of approval on torture as it was being used with Abu Zubaydah. The urgency behind Haynes’ demands from JPRA, it seems, was about being able to claim that the outright torture being inflicted on AZ was not torture because it was used in SERE. Only, it wasn’t waterboarding as practiced by even the only SERE school still using waterboarding.

That’s what the urgency seems to have been about: being able to claim that waterboarding (as Haynes knew it had already been practiced) was okay because it matched what was done in SERE training. Only it didn’t.

Before we get to cramped confinement, consider what this proves about the document as a whole:

  • The JPRA document could not be an existing document describing SERE techniques as they were practiced
  • At least in the case of waterboarding, it could not consist of descriptions of techniques simply cut and pasted from existing JPRA documents
  • It either means it was designed to describe torture that had already happened, or it is evidence the torturers planned to exceed the limits place in the Bybee Two memo

Whether or not this document really did bear a creation date of July 26, 2002, it’s clear that it was created on that date especially for Haynes and ultimately for Yoo in response to the frenzy going on over at DOJ.

What does this mean for mock burial and/or cramped confinement?

As a threshold matter, as with waterboarding, the description of cramped confinement in the Bybee Two memo does not match the description that appears in the JPRA document. Here’s what Bybee Two describes:

Cramped confinement involves the placement of the individual in a confined space, the dimensions of which restrict the individual’s movement. The confined space is usually dark. The duration of confinement varies based upon the size of the container. For the larger confined space, the individual can stand up or sit down; the smaller space is large enough for the subject to sit down. Confinement in the larger space can last up to eighteen hours; for the smaller space, confinement lasts for no more than two hours.

Here’s what the JPRA document describes:

CRAMPED CONFINEMENT (“the little box”): This is administered by placing a subject into a small box in a kneeling position with legs crossed at the ankle and having him learn [sic–SASC] forward to allow the door to be closed without exerting pressure on the back. Time and temperatures is [sic–MW] closely monitored (typical conditions for application: to instill fear and despair, to punish selective behavior, to instill humiliation or cause insult).

The description in the JPRA document only envisions small box–coffin–confinement. It does not envision the detainee being able to sit, but instead describes a painful fetal position. And the JPRA document reveals the necessity of worrying about the temperature inside the box.

As with the waterboard description, the JPRA cramped confinement describes the torture as it was used with AZ:

I was then placed in the small box. They placed a cloth or cover over the box to cut out all light and restrict my air supply. As it was not high enough to even sit upright, I had to crouch down. It was very difficult because of my wounds. The stress on my legs held in this position meant my wounds both in the leg and stomach became very painful. I think this occurred about 3 months after my last operation. It was always cold in the room, but when the cover was placed over the box it made it hot and sweaty inside. The wound on my leg began to open and started to bleed. I don’t know how long I remained in the small box, I think I may have slept or maybe fainted.

AZ makes clear–he could not sit in the coffin-shaped box, but instead had to crouch in a fetal position. And the only way for temperature to be a problem–as it was for AZ–is if the box is covered in such a way as to prevent all airflow.

As it would be in mock burial.

And while I’m going to have to do some more research on whether this technique, like the waterboard, differs from the way it was used in whatever SERE school still practiced it (note that, like waterboarding, small box confinement was not an approved JPRA technique), there is one piece of evidence that this description, like the waterboarding description, was written specifically in response to Jim Haynes’ urgent request on July 25, 2002.

Note that there are a number of obvious typos in this document–the use of “mount” instead of “mouth” in the description of Silencing Facial Hold, the use of “medial” instead of “medical” in the description of Waterboarding, and the agreement problem I noted in the passage above with my “[sic].” Since this document is labeled as excerpts of the larger document, though, we can’t be sure whether those are errors the SASC staff created in making the excerpts or whether they exist in the original document. But the second “[sic]” in the passage above–marking the use of “learning” instead of “leaning”–was marked by the SASC staff.

I’m guessing that whatever service still used small box confinement in 2002 didn’t include typos in their description of it. This is the US military, after all, which doesn’t allow such errors unless a document is hurriedly thrown together in response to a personal request from DOD’s General Counsel.  So this error at least suggests that JPRA created this description in direct response to Haynes’ request rather than taking an existing description. Which means they had the opportunity to change the description not only to accommodate what was actually being done to AZ, but to take an otherwise innocuous technique–cramped confinement–and rewrite it to effectively describe mock burial (or to name mock burial cramped confinement). (Though the fact that this was not an approved JPRA technique suggests that cramped confinement was not considered innocuous in any case.)

Mind you, this is not proof that this is what happened–that faced with the impossibility of approving mock burial, John Yoo and John Rizzo and Jim Haynes–all members, with David Addington–of the “War Council” that regularly met on this stuff–decided to simply get a document that claimed mock burial was not only an acceptable SERE technique used in one service, but it was called cramped confinement, not mock burial. All this proves is that (at least given the information we currently have available) it could have happened.

But that would sure explain why some of the documents created in this frenzy period have mysteriously disappeared.

86 replies
  1. behindthefall says:

    This reeks of Nazi procedure. Document everything with a straight face. Get the paperwork right. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, just as long as you fulfill your Pflicht to record it properly.

    What was that thread the other day that spoke of an a-ethical system that did not consider the result of an act to matter, so long as you were fulfilling your duty, your Pflicht by performing it?

    This is horrid, horrid stuff. I hear that there are Black Boxes for people who do this kind of thing. You can see the world, but you will never again participate in it.

  2. behindthefall says:

    a list of torture techniques Mitchell and Jessen proposed

    Real tough guys, our Messrs. M & J. Move over, Mengele; got some people who want to share wall space with you.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Mitchell and Jessen are an interesting pair, behindthefall. Even though they cold-bloodedly devised and executed exquisite torture programs, they will, undoubtedly, claim to have been following instructions and intended no harm.

      They well deserve the comparison to Mengele, as that is, probably, if the political class has its way, the extent of censure and consequence they will likely face.

      Unless they end up like a certain former AG, trudging from failed interview (assuming Alberto gets even that far)to failed interview.

      One powerful (and dominant) professional psychological society cannot, without exposing its own complicity and hypocrisy, condemn the behavior of M&J … and certain universities are such staunch supporters of “academic freedom” that M&J might well find a home teaching their “views” to the young. It might not be as lucrative as private contracts with intelligence agencies, but it will certainly cause less controversy in their complex, sophisticated, and psychologically healthy lives and careers.

      This nation “looks forward” (and all that term has come to imply) only if injustice and institutionalized hypocrisy are its primary goals. If the nation “chooses” that path, then it will, doubtless, succeed. And, such success as that, amounts to abject and total failure. And the price of that failure will be borne, not by those who devise or implement, but by those who tolerate or allow.


      • BayStateLibrul says:

        Yoo and others are like the protagonist, Elster, in Don DeLillo’s Omega…

        “Elster reveals himself to be thoroughly detached from the thousands of lives his policies have destroyed. Instead of pondering the morality of his work, he offers aphorisms like “‘Consciousness accumulates. It begins to reflect upon itself.” Boston Phoenix

  3. Leen says:

    Torture “Enhanced interrogation techniques”
    prisoners of war “enemy combatants”

    mock burial ” cramped confinement”

    justice accountability ” vengeance, retribution, witch hunts”

      • Leen says:

        Lies about WMD’s in Iraq..Lies described as “fabrications, misrepresentations, cherry picked” instead of just flat out LIES

        torture laws rewritten “poor judgment”

        The peasants learn so much from our leaders. They set such incredible examples for all of us and it does trickle down

  4. klynn says:

    Fantastic work EW. Absolutely fantastic work.

    You caught the parallels, the inconsistencies and the error of the parallel statements (JPRA vs AZ).

    In the timeline, I find this element of interest:

    Koester writes another OLC attorney asking about protocol for working on a classified laptop computer

    (my bold)

    Would this possibly explain where all the missing emails may be located?

    (Your discovery of the parallel wording is chilling.)

    • maryo2 says:

      I can’t find the original wording in the OPR Report, and I can’t find the paragraph Scott Horton refers to here in the OPR Report:

      OLC initially provided us with a relatively small number of emails, files, and draft documents. After it became apparent, during the course of our review, that relevant documents were missing, we requested and were given direct access to the email and computer records of [Jennifer Koester Hardy—redacted in original], Yoo, Philbin, Bybee, and Goldsmith.

      My question is – on what date did “we requested” in relation to Koester’s asking about the protocol for classified laptops on July 24, 2002?

      And, where did the wording “classified laptop” come into use? Did she mean that the very existence of the laptop itself is classified? Or did she mean the information on it is classified?

      Clearly, the laptop itself was never turned over for examination to see what could be recovered; only “records” were turned over. I wonder what the records indicate about the physical demise of that machine.

      • klynn says:

        I think her question came from a DOJ policy we were discussing in another thread:

        DOJ Policy

        When necessary, DOJ employees store, process, and transmit classified information using portable computers. Employees may also process sensitive but unclassified information, send and receive e mail, and obtain research data from the Internet on portable computers. Currently, employees who process both classified and unclassified information must utilize two separate portable computers in order to accomplish their assignments. Carrying two portable computers is necessary because the current DOJ policy does not explicitly authorize the use of two hard drives, one for classified information and one for unclassified information, in a single portable computer.

  5. Jim White says:

    Although some of these techniques may be used with more than once, that repetition will not be substantial because the techniques generally lose their effectiveness after several repetitions.

    And yet, the very next month they waterboarded Abu Zubaydah 83 times and then seven months later they waterboarded KSM 183 times. That sounds like more than “several” to me.

    • emptywheel says:

      No. Almost certainly this is proof that they had ALREADY done that.

      Otherwise why the urgency to document waterboarding as it was done to AZ?

      • Jim White says:

        Okay, that makes sense. I had just gone back and looked at your original “183” post, and in that one you had AZ’s waterboarding in August.

        • emptywheel says:

          Fair enough. I need to make time to go back and clear this up. We don’t yet have solid proof that they torture before the memo was signed, though I do think the JPRA document provides a lot of evidence to support that argument, as do a bunch of other sources. And we know they used the small box-coffin on AZ at the same time as they used waterboarding.

          These guys are just sick, btw. Just sick.

          • Jim White says:

            Does that fit in with the torture tape destruction, then? To destroy time stamps that place the torture before the memos were signed?

    • MarkH says:

      a couple == 2
      a few == 2 or 3
      a handful == 3 to 5
      a bunch == 6 to 12
      several == maybe 2 to 4

      or thereabouts. People have fairly specific things in mind when they use these terms. However, I saw something a few days ago where a psychologist (I suppose) was saying that we really understand at base 1, 2 and more, but that it’s much much harder for the mind to pin down 3, 4, 5 and so on.

      • PJEvans says:

        What I’ve run into is that up to five we have a good handle on – we can see five, just looking at a hand or a foot. It’s after that that we begin grouping and subdividing.

    • Leen says:

      “cramped confinement” Christ all mighty these guys really seemed to learn from the mistakes of the Third Reich.

      Or did those thugs rewrite laws too?

      • scribe says:

        Actually that legal doctrine Yoo espouses, the one about how the commander-in-chief power allows the president to do anything regardless of written law if he sees the need to, is for all intents and purposes identical to the Nazi doctrine of the Fuerherprinzip. That’s the one which said that an order from the Fuehrer supravened all written laws.

        Also note that one of the side results of such a principle was an increasing reliance upon making oral, rather than written, decisions.

        So, while that internet rule that says the first one to accuse the other of being Nazi/fascist loses the argument does have general validity, it should also be noted that in the case of Yoo, Addington, the Republicans, et als., they were acting like Nazis. In detail.

        • DWBartoo says:

          So, now, would Obama, and the Democrats who wish us to “look forward”, be like the deniers, those who say the holocaust did not happen? Or, since we do NOT know what “policy differences” which must not “be criminalized” are still at “play”, are the Democrats (“some” of those Democrats MUST have suspected “something” was “up”, back, “then”, unless we are to postulate that they didn’t, which raises one or two “other” concerns) also acting like Nazis?

          How do we consider the effort to evade questions of truth?

          Is it “politics, as usual” or is it something else, entirely?

          What is fascist for the R’s … is no less fascist for the D’s.

          Or not?


          • tjbs says:

            Torture is a tar baby, all cute and huggie, but EVERYONE who touches it in the least becomes blackened and unwashable.

            • Leen says:

              To these guys (Mukasey included) In their cooked books waterboarding is not torture just swimming practice.

            • DWBartoo says:

              Aha, they all become sticky and unstuckable?

              Feathers, anyone?

              Oh wait, that is not pole-lite … erm … ah … um …

              Sorry, I’m not being very nice with those images, my only excuse it that all these “goings on” have forced my pleasant considerations out of shape.

              I wonder, is anyone else infected … um …affected in similar fashion?

              I do believe I’m becoming suspicious … and doubtful … hell I don’t trust any of ’em, of course I haven’t done for a loooooooooong time …

              That is simply my cynical, curmudgeonly grumpy, old silly self talking, pay it no mind … ’cause trust is a wunnerful thing. But, then, so is justice, and it looks like we’ve little need of that, as far as the behavior of those whose business it is to be concerned about such a thing, is signaling. I guess they all must be very busy doing something else?


        • Leen says:

          It really does seem that they learned to cover their own asses from crimes committed in the past. Looking at those who were held accountable for some of the horrendous crimes committed by that group of criminals.

          You wonder if they actually had discussions about how do we make sure we can never be called out at a “Nuremberg trial”

          Cover your own ass by “preemptively” rewriting the laws and then making sure that there is no way to be held accountable. Oral decisions seems to be just another example.

          These guys have study war and the laws used during wars.

          • DWBartoo says:

            “They” can only succeed at covering their asses if the Administration, NOW IN POWER, obliges.

            Which needfully includes the participation of the other two branches of government (Cheney will not allow his “branch” to be used for any save himself).

            If “it” is a done deal, then it is so solely because ALL of the branches of government wish it to be.

            They are, ALL,(each and every) required, by the Constitution and by human Conscience, to respond.

            If the Congress AND the Courts do not respond, then it is because they, or more precisely, the people who compose them, CHOOSE not to.

            It really, is that simple.

            “We” are down to clear, and unambiguous, right and wrong.


            • tjbs says:

              You know everybody in the room when wateringboarding was being administered knew what was being done was torture, I think a Gang Rape mentality took over.

              I bet the Torture/ Snuff videos show a hose from a faucet with a lot of yucking it up going on, yea that’s about a gallon and a half.

              • MarkH says:

                You know everybody in the room when wateringboarding was being administered knew what was being done was torture, I think a Gang Rape mentality took over.

                There is a sort of half yucking it up half professionalism thing which we see in movies and among soldiers and I think it’s sometimes the only way people can deal with great stress. But, abu Ghraib was over the line and torturing is too. You just can’t see the line when you’ve been drilled to follow orders and then you’re told what to do.

                • Leen says:

                  And the only folks in prison for Abu Gharib were those who followed orders/guidelines.

                  Code of Silence keeps these lower level flunkies in line

        • Leen says:

          By John C. Yoo∗ & James C. Ho+

          “In short, the United
          States government has concluded that the attacks of September 11
          have placed the United States in a state of armed conflict,1 to which
          the laws of war apply. It has also determined that members of the al
          Qaeda terrorist network and the Taliban militia are illegal
          combatants under the laws of war, and so cannot claim the legal
          protections and benefits that accrue to legal belligerents, such as
          prisoner of war status under the Third Geneva Convention of 1949.2”

          Yoo and Ho
          “President Bush has found the attacks to constitute an attack that
          has placed the United States in a state of armed conflict. In his
          November 13, 2001 order establishing military commission to try terrorists, the President found that:
          International terrorists, including members of al Qaida, have
          carried out attacks on United States diplomatic and military
          personnel and facilities abroad and on citizens and property
          within the United States on a scale that has created a state of
          armed conflict that requires the use of the United States Armed


          PAGE 8
          “It does not follow from that proposition that, if there is a conflict that
          amounts to warfare and non-state actors are involved, none of the
          rules of armed conflict apply. To the contrary, as Oppenheim
          recognized, a different conclusion follows – namely, that non-state
          actors who engage in warfare are engaged in a form of warfare that is
          illegitimate.23 In other words, al Qaeda terrorists do not escape the
          laws of war because they are non-state actors. Instead, they are
          unlawful belligerents.
          terrorists, the President found that:
          International terrorists, including members of al Qaida, have
          carried out attacks on United States diplomatic and military
          personnel and facilities abroad and on citizens and property
          within the United States on a scale that has created a state of
          armed conflict that requires the use of the United States Armed
          page 8
          “Although the laws of war may apply to the conflict with al
          Qaeda, that does not automatically mean that al Qaeda members are
          entitled to the privileges and benefits of the laws of war. This part
          will discuss why the members of al Qaeda and the Taliban militia are
          not legally entitled to the status of prisoners of war under GPW, and
          are instead illegal combatants.”


          • bobschacht says:

            I guess there’s no need for a Congressional Declaration of War if you can argue that the attacks on 9/11 “have placed the United States in a state of armed conflict, to which the laws of war apply.” Presto! another section of the Constitution shredded.

            Bob in AZ

  6. scribe says:

    EW, relative to waterboarding, the cicularization of making the JPRA description of waterboarding match what already had been done to captive(s), and the late July 2002 urgency in gettting it approved, you say

    That’s what the urgency seems to have been about: being to claim that waterboarding (as Haynes knew it had already been practiced) was okay because it matched what was done in SERE training. Only it didn’t


    The problem I see with your reasoning is encapsulated thusly:

    Why would there be urgency in what is, really, a problem of definitions and making the approved definitions meet what had already been done, if this was all so secret? If only the torture victims, the torturers, and the people supervising the torturers knew what was going on, what’s the hurry?

    Thus, a couple possibilities present themselves:
    1. someone higher up – above the level of Haynes, Rizzo and Yoo – was pressuring for torture and they were desperately cobbling together a rationale to effect the boss(es)’ wishes.
    2. someone outside the loop knew what was going on and was in a position to do something about it, and this was an attempt to legalize he torture in advance of a threatened leak/publication.
    3. they’d killed someone – tortured them to death – and needed to craft a legal rationale to cover that.
    4. one or more foreign governments or (intel) services wanted to see the support for the legality of what was being done on their soil or to their national(s).

    Because hurrying and urgency for the sake of hurrying and urgency – which is what your post implies was the state of affairs – does not seem to me to be sufficient.

    • emptywheel says:

      All good points, though I’m not convinced.

      The sleep deprivation point is, by itself, proof that John Yoo was knowingly soft pedaling what he knew he was approving (and why the fuck didn’t OPR consider that newsworthy? Unless it’s in a redaction). But one of the big things they used to get over the hurdle of “torture” for waterboarding (and, I suspect, sleep deprivation) was that SERE had done it.You see that documented in the OPR report, and you see it used, now, as justification for why it was okay. (And Bradbury would use it to great effect in 2005). So that’s what Haynes was after: something with the initials “JPRA” on the top of the page that had waterboarding in such form as they were/had used it. And from there, Yoo was willing to do the work of softening the waterboarding as described in the JPRA document–which exactly matched what we prosecuted the Japanese for, as Yoo noted in his defense–to something that sounded much prettier.

      • scribe says:

        Well, we need to keep an open mind on the question of “Why the urgency?” I sense there is a lot more there, there.

      • cinnamonape says:

        “But one of the big things they used to get over the hurdle of “torture” for waterboarding (and, I suspect, sleep deprivation) was that SERE had done it.You see that documented in the OPR report, and you see it used, now, as justification for why it was okay. (And Bradbury would use it to great effect in 2005).”

        But don’t I recall that the justification for SERE doing this was to “inoculate” Special Forces against TORTURE by undertaking it in controlled and limited circumstances where the participant could terminate it. In other words, like an inoculation, the exposure would be limited with the participant having a degree of control.

        Thus the SERE program essentially admits that without the limitations and control by participant…that the activity would, in fact, be TORTURE. Mitchell and Jessen – and Yoo- thus eliminated these provisional limits…and made the activity “Torture”- as much as any non-state agency would undertake.

  7. tjbs says:

    There was a guard on NPR years ago talking about sleep management on the order of 16 hours awake, 4 hours sleep ( 16 on /4 off he called it).
    After ten days you would be totally disoriented. Jeff is right this is medical experimentation not interrogation.

    O/T Have you found passages where wall standing transitioned into wall boarding?

  8. Jim White says:

    I agree that cutting off air circulation by covering the box would seem to be taking “confinement” to “burial”. These guys were determined to justify what they had done and planned to do, if that involved cheap semantic tricks, well then so be it.

  9. MadDog says:

    …you have previously kept him awake for 72 hours…

    Just like the statement above that confirms pre-OLC (and perhaps even pre-White House) formal approval for torture, the following statement rang my alarm bell:

    …Through observing Zubaydah in captivity, you have noted that he appears to be quite flexible despite his wound…

    Flexible? Just how did the CIA determine AZ’s “flexibility” with regard to “close confinement” for communication to the OLC? I’d suggest that “practice made perfect”.

    Via the weediness that you provided here EW has drawn me inevitably to my undeniable conclusion that much of what later became the Bybee Two Memo was merely documenting the torture techniques that Mitchell and Jessen had already used.

    And regarding the point about “oral approval”, that too seems to me to have been after the fact.

    All of the torture techniques eventually described in the the Bybee Two Memo were ex post facto airbrushed into the “EITs” parlance of government lawyers seeking to decriminalize torture that had already taken place.

  10. harpie says:

    I’m still having a difficult time comprehending the fact that Yoo admitted that mock burial is torture, but still said that, given enough time, he could [would?] get it approved.

    • emptywheel says:

      Remember there’s a big redaction right after that, and OPR had a big problem with it as well.

      But also remember that when Yoo said that (he was interviewed in 2005) it wasn’t clear how much of this would become clear.

      I’m very mindful of the fact that CIA was given the opportunity to take all these documents away, just as OPR got them, some time in 2007, just when SASC was prepping to interview Mitchell and Jessen and the people from JPRA.

    • MarkH says:

      When the leaders have no limits the underling employee supporters will recognize that and push events in that direction. The general theme of Hitler’s Nazi regime was he had set a tone and everyone was to work toward that, even without specific orders. Having “no limits” was very much the same thing and Yoo played right into it.

      • harpie says:

        Yes. These “followers” were chosen for this trait.

        Gen. Taguba said exactly that in his report:

        In his report about Abu Ghraib, General Taguba states: “[…] the horrific abuses suffered by the detainees at Abu Ghraib (BCCF) were wanton acts of select soldiers in an unsupervised and dangerous setting. There was a complex interplay of many psychological factors and command insufficiencies […] during the period August 2003 to February 2004.”

        The Taguba Report, 3/3/04

        • Leen says:

          And the flunkies do prison time for the crimes committed at Abu Gharib

          The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

          Mounting Evidence Suggests Israeli Operatives Working in Occupied Iraqby Jon Elmer The US general who ran Iraq’s prisons before the Abu Ghraib scandal broke tells of “unusual” involvement of at least one Israeli agent in Iraqi prisons; but evidence of an Israeli presence in Iraq is less and less unusual.July 8, 2004 – Further evidence of the presence of Israeli operatives in Iraq arose this weekend when the general formerly in charge of the US-run Iraqi prison system, herself considered partly responsible for torture at Abu Ghraib and other prisons under her command, told the BBC that she met an Israeli interrogator working in a US-run “intelligence center” in Baghdad. Brigadier General Janet Karpinski told BBC Radio in an interview on Saturday that she met with a man who claimed to be Israeli and that he “did some of the interrogation” at the facility.

          Karpinski is the highest-ranking official to confirm an Israeli presence in Iraq. As the head of the 800th Military Police Brigade, Karpinski was responsible for all of Iraq’s 17 US-run prison facilities. She was suspended in May for her role in the systemic torture carried out by personnel under her command in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere in Iraq

          Same article
          “In relation to the presence of Israeli interrogators and contractors working within US prisons in Iraq, the torture report by General Antonio Taguba refers to “third country nationals” involved in the mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq. A company at the center of the scandal, CACI International, has extensive links to the IDF and Israeli military intelligence”

          Was it Stephen Cambone who traveled from Gitmo to Abu Gharib to tell the folks there to “soften up” prisoners?

          • harpie says:

            Thanks, Leen.

            Two related Seymour Hersh articles:

            12/15/03Moving Targets; Will the counter-insurgency plan in Iraq repeat the mistakes of Viet Nam? About a new Special Forces task force aimed at neutralizing the Baathist insurgency in Iraq. The Bush Administration has authorized a major escalation of the Special Forces covert war in Iraq. Task Force 121, assembled from Army Delta Force members, Navy SEALS, and C.I.A. paramilitary operatives… by Seymour M. Hersh

            One step the Pentagon took was to seek active and secret help in the war against the Iraqi insurgency from Israel, America’s closest ally in the Middle East. According to American and Israeli military and intelligence officials, Israeli commandos and intelligence units have been working closely with their American counterparts at the Special Forces training base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Israel to help them prepare for operations in Iraq. Israeli commandos are expected to serve as ad-hoc advisers—again, in secret—when full-field operations begin. (Neither the Pentagon nor Israeli diplomats would comment. “No one wants to talk about this,” an Israeli official told me. “It’s incendiary. Both governments have decided at the highest level that it is in their interests to keep a low profile on U.S.-Israeli coöperation” on Iraq.) The critical issue, American and Israeli officials agree, is intelligence.

            5/24/04The Grey Zone-How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib; Seymour Hersh

            The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focused on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq

            […] Cambone then made another crucial decision, the former intelligence official told me: not only would he bring the SAP’s rules into the prisons; he would bring some of the Army military-intelligence officers working inside the Iraqi prisons under the SAP’s auspices. “So here are fundamentally good soldiers—military-intelligence guys—being told that no rules apply,” the former official, who has extensive knowledge of the special-access programs, added. “And, as far as they’re concerned, this is a covert operation, and it’s to be kept within Defense Department channels.” […]

  11. klynn says:


    Do you think the July 25, 2002 adoption of a new United Nations anti-torture pact had anything to do with the rush?

      • klynn says:

        My regrets.

        I brought it up in the Momentous post here complete with a link and mentioned it at comment 2 in the same thread.

        • scribe says:

          Well, the only anti-torture thing I could find in the July 2002 time-frame was the supplement to the Anti-Torture Convention providing for inspections by international bodies of places where people are detained, to ensure that there is no torture is going on there. That supplement went into effect in January 2003 after going through the General Assembly on or about July 25, 2002.

          This was the convention which, IIRC, put cracker-state Senators into such a conniption about furrin’ law and, worse, furriners coming to the hellhole jails of Alabama, Texas and Looziana to inspect and report that, indeed, going to jail there was torture. You remember that whole “inernational law” thing that the Rethugs waved about as a reason for downing Democratic judges and as a litmus test for Rethug judges.

          But, I cannot see the imminent passage of this convention as forcing urgency upon the OLC to speed up their sophistry production line, both because the Rethugs (as an article of faith) consider UN pronouncements and the UN generally as the equivalent of urinal cakes, because the convention didn’t go into effect for some months more, and because the admission the convention would have some applicability would have run contrary to the whole of the OLC work in that time frame.

          And, oh, yeah – the convention would have required senate ratification. Unlikely, at best.

          I could be wrong, but I don’t think that’s it.

          • JohnLopresti says:

            I think the document is at the UNHCR site, which appears redesigned and easy to access. Maybe I can find a link, too.

          • bmaz says:

            First off, they were not worried for squat about outside considerations like the UN and Geneva as they were about US law; secondly, I agree with you.

          • klynn says:

            And that specific protocal had been worked on for ten years prior to the vote and the US made quite the last minute case to delay the vote.

            After ten years, why have cause for delay?

            But as you note, it’s unlikely that it is a cause for a rush on torture policy.


            I also cannot get out of my head that Omar Ahmed Khadr, at the age of 15, was captured on July 27,2002.

          • Gitcheegumee says:

            U. N . Urinal cakes-priceless!

            However, reading your post reminded me of some of the testimony provided at the recent Chilcot hearings in the UK -the Iraq War Inquiry.

            It was testified that Great Britain was dragging its heels about joining the US in the Iraq invasion, without having the legal grounds to do so.The UN and Geneva Conventions WERE a sticking point with them -at least in the very beginning.

            It is amazing to read THIS article, and note the similarities in “urgent” tone and timing between what Jack Straw is saying and doing regarding the law ,and the maelstrom going on with Yoo and company to craft what appears to be NON torture torture documents.————————–

            Jack Straw brushed aside warnings from Sir Michael Wood, the senior Foreign Office lawyer, that the invasion of Iraq had no “legal basis in international law”, the Chilcot inquiry has heard.

            Sir Michael rejected the Government’s argument that United Nations Security Council resolution 1441 – passed in November 2002 – requiring Saddam Hussein to disarm was a sufficient basis for military action.
            In a newly declassified letter to the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith released by the inquiry, Mr Straw complained at the attitude taken by government lawyers.

            Sir Michael also disclosed how in October 2002 – the month before 1441 was passed – he received a request from Mr Straw’s office asking for an ”urgent note” on the consequences of acting ”without international legal authority”.

            ”This was a rather curious request and I am still not entirely sure what the purpose was,” he said.

            Link to follow

            Perhaps Yoo and company were providing the torture docs as templates to help mollify the Brits,and for future use.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think there were a number of things. But I also think BushCo just used panic as a means to prevent anyone from ever thinking. And there was the need to start torturing AZ because you had to prep your new product rollout in September.

  12. WilliamOckham says:

    I’m way behind everyone here (busy at work, home, etc.), but I want to add a few things.

    There are two threads bound up in this analysis. First, the OLC memos were retrospective justifications but no one will ever admit that. Everyone involved (the CIA, the OLC, the policymakers) all desperately need to hide that fact. Second, the “it’s not torture because we do it to our own boys” line is both an important PR position AND psychological defense mechanism for the policymakers. All the important players were chickenhawks. They made very sure to keep Powell and especially Armitage and Wilkerson way out of the loop. Rumsfeld and Cheney were big believers in the whole “learned helplessness” theory of torture from way back. What was being done to AZ was as much from the Human Explotation Manual of the 1960’s as it was from JPRA and SERE. In fact, I ought to go back and check those to see if David Addington was copying and pasting from them and feeding them via his buddy Haynes to the JPRA guys.

  13. bobschacht says:

    Many of the discussions about which techniques OLC was approving appear to have taken place orally, not in written form.

    This is the Woolly Mammoth in the middle of the room.
    Your considerable skills in document analysis will now be tested in oral culture. You have opened the lid on Pandora’s Box.

    Bob in AZ

  14. bobschacht says:

    Are we back in pixie dust territory?
    Or is this something that started in pixie dust territory, and then somebody said, “OMG, we need paper cover for this”? After all, the law is a written thing, and its what the Supremes pay attention to.

    Bob in AZ

  15. JohnLopresti says:

    One of the obstacles to remediation of the lax processes which served as substrate for Bushco*s culturing the torcha isloate is the new Republican modality of parliamentarizing congress via the Republican senate strategy of increasing invocation of the filibuster to double or triple the frequency of its use compared to prior congresses. Even absent the unfairness of retroactive sanctions imposed in an emotional forum, Republican radicals are trying to set sail toward preventing institutional approaches to prevent a future replication of the Bushco loosecannon on the international scene, as well as domestically. The link, above, is to a simple, brief article about statistics of the sort parliamentarians develop.

    As for the post*s **weediness**, I find it vivid and credibly verisimilar. One of the several wierd sensations following the recent publication of the OPR series of documents, for me, was rereading the intelligence evocation section of kubark written in mid60s, and comparing it to some of the descriptions in the current document set regarding specific boutique tortures. Kubark was entered in the public domain about ten years ago; its text clearly sounds like a psychology library abstract, as if the bookshelves among which sat contained thousands of papers and tomes chronicling similar strategies and taboos; the sensory deprivation materials certainly appeared in the literature fifty years ago

  16. klynn says:

    There was this story breaking on the 26th.

    I do not remember reading this. It’s interesting nonetheless.

    In the war on terror, the US is careful to show how fairly it’s treating the hundreds of orange-suited Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters locked behind the razor-wire of the US base at Guantanamo, Cuba. But what the US isn’t trumpeting is a quiet practice of shipping key Al Qaeda suspects to the Middle East for interrogation

  17. Gitcheegumee says:

    I don’t know if this has bearing, but the timing certainly fits:

    PR Push for Iraq War Preceded Intelligence Findings

    “White Paper” Drafted before NIE even Requested

    National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 254

    Washington D.C., – The U.S. intelligence community buckled sooner in 2002 than previously reported to Bush administration pressure for data justifying an invasion of Iraq, according to a documents posting on the Web today by National Security Archive senior fellow John Prados.

    The documents suggest that the public relations push for war came before the intelligence analysis, which then conformed to public positions taken by Pentagon and White House officials. For example, a July 2002 draft of the “White Paper” ultimately issued by the CIA in October 2002 actually pre-dated the National Intelligence Estimate that the paper purportedly summarized, but which Congress did not insist on until September 2002.

    A similar comparison between a declassified draft and the final version of the British government’s “White Paper” on Iraq weapons of mass destruction adds to evidence that the two nations colluded in the effort to build public support for the invasion of Iraq.

    Published August 22,2008

    NOTE: Could there have been a connection between this White Paper ,justifying the war and Iraq, and the sense of immediacy regarding the methods of torture having been employed -or that would be employed?

    I will post link.

  18. Gitcheegumee says:

    U.S. Intelligence and Iraq WMDAug 22, 2008 … National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. … For example, a July 2002 draft of the “White Paper” ultimately ….. Bush administration public statements regarding Iraqi weapons of mass … Scott McClellan, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception. … – Cached – Similar

  19. Gitcheegumee says:

    For the sake of completeness, the Downing Street memo was dated July 23,2002-precisely one week after the Yoo July 16,2002 meeting .

    July 16,2002 is also the same day the GW Bush revealed the National Homeland Security plan to the nation for the first time.

  20. timbo says:

    What strikes me about all this nitpickery about what was and was not legal was the lack of any consideration of what was and was not moral. What comes through here is the sense that there were a bunch of people who could careless about how a fellow human being was treated…as long as they could get the information they were looking for from that individual.

    God help God if He were to fall into their hands.

  21. Palli says:

    There was no morality. And there was no science either. Partisan attorneys with no relevant knowledge or experience with the psychological or physical consequences anything they were discussing would have on the human body. It was a parlor game to them. The audacity of their ignorance was matched by the arrogance of their power.

    May they fall into the hands of any and all Gods.

    • DWBartoo says:

      Thank you for the link, fatster.

      Just think, almost everybody else in the world knows far more about what was done in the name of the American people, including what you link us to, than do the American people.

      Clearly, the political class, that is, both parties, the pundits, and the media, in general, intend to keep it that way.

      “They” do not hate us for our freedoms, but “they” have every right to question our humanity, our conscience and our profound ignorance (even if it an enforced “ignorance”).


      • fatster says:

        I doubt they hate us for our freedoms, so much as they seem to hate us for the harm we do to them.

        It is so difficult to read these reports and emails and so forth, to know that someone inside the CIA used taxpayers’ monies to hire M&J who set about researching and designing extremely painful and macabre ways to hurt people, despite abundant documentation that more traditional interrogation techniques were successful in obtaining reliable and critical information and torture was not. Thus, it seems something beyond gaining information was the goal. One recoils at even trying to think about it.

        My mind keeps trying to make connections, to comprehend when things became (irretrievably?) upside down. 935 lies were told about Iraq, instilling fear in the American people was so vigorously pursued that it became bizarre (duct-tape-and-plastic-sheeting, color coded terror alerts, including their cynical use to help get Repugs elected), and so on.

        Pardon the reference to Pavlov’s dog, but too many Americans now have an automatic fear-response. People are walking around in this country wearing guns openly now, the numbers of extremist groups are exploding, and one sheriff in LA is organizing and training citizens for what he’s calling “Operation Exodus.

        So much has been turned on its head, that it’s no wonder so many seem to be losing theirs. Or, to drag in another member of the Animal Kingdom, just think of all that can be done with a nation of Chicken Littles.

        I just can’t shake the notion that tremendous social conditioning is occurring in this country. That so little has been done by elected and appointed officials to aggressively investigate and right grievous wrongs and disturbing social trends gives me chills.

          • fatster says:

            Thank you, man. You can’t know how much.

            Now, if skdadl will just hand me a hankie . . .

        • harpie says:

          faster: “I just can’t shake the notion that tremendous social conditioning is occurring in this country. That so little has been done by elected and appointed officials to aggressively investigate and right grievous wrongs and disturbing social trends gives me chills.”

          It does sometimes feel like the goal is “learned helplessness” in the entire population.

        • bobschacht says:

          …tremendous social conditioning is occurring in this country…

          You got that part right. For example, getting everyone to talk about torture as if it is, well, normal to talk about torture. Jack Bauer and “24” contributed largely to this process, but so has Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. In fact, it is almost difficult to find public figures who talk with passion against torture as something that is beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior by anyone. We need a Barbara Jordan or a Martin Luther King, Jr., to remind us about the evil that torture is. Instead, we get talk of torture dismissed as a “policy difference.” Instead, Cheney can talk freely about torture, and it is accepted as normal political discourse. The public has lost it’s sense of outrage.

          Bob in AZ

            • bobschacht says:

              What would really turn it around is for a guy named Barack Obama to turn his rhetorical magic on this issue. He has the power to do it: The rhetorical genius of Barbara Jordan and MLK Jr., and the moral high ground (that Jordan and King shared).

              Sadly, however, this seems like a futile hope, as his track record in the past year provides scant hope that he will feel inclined to do this, even though I’ll bet he’d gain at least 5 percentage points in his approval ratings if he did so.

              Bob in AZ

  22. PaulinSF says:

    They chain a person up in an extremely painful position between sitting and standing, then they describe it in their official rationalization as: “reduce the individual’s ability to think on his feet.”

    This is beyond sick.

  23. MarkH says:

    Sleep deprivation: The subject is prevented from sleeping, not to exceed 11 days at a time;

    It’s a serious subject, but the wording of this caught my eye. It’s as though they’re saying he’s not allowed to sleep more than 11 days at a time.

    • tjbs says:

      We have evolved to break the violence cycle, rather lock them up, after a full and fair trial, then life without parole in Iraq somewhere where the depleted uranium glows at night.

  24. temptingfate says:

    Thanks for an interesting, though upsetting document. Has the redacted document been converted to text or is it only available as a composite of images? I guess it might be useful look around for an open source OCR project that deals with images since text based redacted PDFs created some red faces in the past.

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