Steven Bradbury’s Revenge

Since I noted in August 2011 that Mitt had named two torture architects to his legal advisory committee (Tim Flanigan and Steve Bradbury), I have had zero doubt that Mitt would embrace torture if he were President. So Charlie Savage’s story–reporting on a September 2011 memo confirming that fact–wasn’t surprising in the least to me. Here’s the key recommendation from the memo:

Governor Romney has consistently supported enhanced interrogation techniques. Governor Romney is also on record as stating that he does not believe it is wise for him, as a presidential candidate, to describe precisely which techniques he would use in interrogating detainees. The combination of these two positions, as well as the information presented above, leads to two principal options in this area for his campaign.

The first option is that Governor Romney could pledge that upon taking office, he will rescind and replace President Obama’ s Executive Order restricting government interrogators to the Army Field Manual. Consistent with the authority reserved for the President under the Military Commissions Act, he could commit his Administration to authorizing (classified) enhanced interrogation techniques against high-value detainees that are safe, legal, and effective in generating intelligence to save American lives. But because President Obama’s release of the OLC memos has reduced the number of available techniques that meet these criteria, Governor Romney should not commit in advance to a timetable for implementing this plan; it may well take time to identify potential techniques and analyze their effectiveness and legality.

[snip]

The Subcommittee recommends the first option. Governor Romney has recognized for years that the sounder policy outcome is the revival of the enhanced interrogation program. And a reluctance by the Governor to expressly endorse such an outcome during the campaign could become a self-fulfilling prophecy once he takes office by signaling to the bureaucracy that this is not a deeply-felt priority. [my emphasis]

Mitt is pro-torture. We knew that, and he hasn’t hidden that fact.

But there are a couple of details about this that are curious.

First, note the language here. The advisors worry that if Mitt doesn’t explicitly endorse getting back into the torture business during the election, he might not do so. They want to force his hand before he’s elected to make sure he’ll carry through.

That is not the language of advisors. It’s the language of puppet-masters (though I’m sure the equivalent memos from inside the Obama camp aren’t much different). That is, the legal advice here is designed not so much to provide the best advice (if it were, then the support used in the memo wouldn’t be such discredited propaganda). Rather, it is to force Mitt’s hand in the eventuality he becomes President.

The other interesting aspect of this are the people. Savage provides this list of the advisors, in addition to Steven Bradbury, in the loop on this memo (he notes that it’s unclear whether they have bought off on the advice).

The list also included Michael Chertoff, the former homeland security secretary; Cully Stimson, the Pentagon’s detainee policy chief; and many other Bush-era executive branch veterans: Bradford Berenson, Elliot S. Berke, Todd F. Braunstein, Gus P. Coldebella, Jimmy Gurule, Richard D. Klingler, Ramon Martinez, Brent J. McIntosh, John C. O’Quinn, John J. Sullivan, Michael Sullivan and Alex Wong. Three others — Lee A. Casey, Maureen E. Mahoney and David B. Rivkin Jr. — served in earlier Republican administrations.

First, note where Savage starts this list: Michael Chertoff, who as Criminal Division head in 2002 refused to give Bush’s torturers an advance declination on prosecution. That refusal ultimately led to the contorted form of the original Yoo memos authorizing torture. If Chertoff supports this policy (Savage’s caveat noted), then it’s a pretty clear indication that Chertoff was cautious in 2002 because people like Ali Soufan were running around saying mock burial was torture, and not because he had any qualms about torture himself. That’s not surprising in the least, but still worth noting.

Maureen Mahoney (who defended Jay Bybee in the OPR investigation) and David Rivkin (who defended Rumsfeld in civil suits for torture) have also backed their earlier legal representation with their own reputation (or lack thereof).

Finally, note who’s not on this list: Tim Flanigan, who with Alberto Gonzales, Dick Cheney, and David Addington, was one of the most central architects of torture and other illegal counterterrorism approaches.

It’s sort of odd that Mitt advisor Tim Flanigan, one of the original architects of torture, wasn’t the one leading this effort last year.

Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Reddit0Share on Facebook0Google+0Email to someone

10 Responses to Steven Bradbury’s Revenge

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @nycsouthpaw Welp, whither Melgen may be the key question. Ante seriously upped against him. Does he hang tough or roll?
12mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Re: ECF/PACER RT @carlmalamud Redacted version of the Monday privacy breach notification to the courts. https://t.co/X1wGjI3IHs
18mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @dmataconis I miss Munch and Cragen far more than Stabler.
34mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz Pennsylvania man uses chain saw to slay wife, then himself http://t.co/f0T4RtVeVk via @YahooNews
37mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @nycsouthpaw: If you don't steal $9 million from Medicare while importing foreign hotties, you probably don't need to keep a U.S. Senato…
39mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @hankdeanlight @yvonnewingett Welp, @DrEricMeyer is my Rep, and a pretty darn smart guy, so I believe him.
46mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @AllThingsHLS @EmergencyNet Sure, but when I use it that way, I am probably saying it in a, hopefully, pertinent sense.
47mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @AllThingsHLS @EmergencyNet My quick scan is that it's defensible by Menendez, but there is some real meat that a jury could easily bite on.
51mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz RT @conor64: Writing at newspaper that litigated NY Times Company vs. U.S., Charles Blow casts corporations invoking 1st Amendment as new, …
54mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz First they came for the churros......"Police Arrest 3 Women For Selling Churros in Union Square Subway Station" http://t.co/Lsr8uczpfz
58mreplyretweetfavorite
bmaz @AllThingsHLS @EmergencyNet Hey now, I stand by the veracity of that Menendez quip!
1hreplyretweetfavorite
JimWhiteGNV RT @lrozen: Historical negotiation: see Bloomberg's Jonathon Tirone, longest continuous for SoS since Camp David https://t.co/Q6hqr7HnoZ
1hreplyretweetfavorite
September 2012
S M T W T F S
« Aug   Oct »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30