Senate Armed Services Torture Hearing

Joby Warrick maps out what we can expect from today’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, now showing on CSPAN3.

A Senate investigation has concluded that top Pentagon officials began assembling lists of harsh interrogation techniques in the summer of 2002 for use on detainees at Guantanamo Bay and that those officials later cited memos from field commanders to suggest that the proposals originated far down the chain of command, according to congressional sources briefed on the findings.

The sources said that memos and other evidence obtained during the inquiry show that officials in the office of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld started to research the use of waterboarding, stress positions, sensory deprivation and other practices in July 2002, months before memos from commanders at the detention facility in Cuba requested permission to use those measures on suspected terrorists.

The reported evidence — some of which is expected to be made public at a Senate hearing today — also shows that military lawyers raised strong concerns about the legality of the practices as early as November 2002, a month before Rumsfeld approved them. The findings contradict previous accounts by top Bush administration appointees, setting the stage for new clashes between the White House and Congress over the origins of interrogation methods that many lawmakers regard as torture and possibly illegal.

This is a well-constructed hearing–and I say that not just because my Senator, Carl Levin, put it together. It has three panels. The first features the people who turned SERE techniques into torture techniques:

Mr. Richard L. Shiffrin
Former Deputy General Counsel for Intelligence
Department of Defense

Lieutenant Colonel Daniel J. Baumgartner, Jr., USAF (Ret.)
Former Chief of Staff
Joint Personnel Recovery Agency

Dr. Jerald F. Ogrisseg
Former Chief, Psychology Services
336th Training Group
United States Air Force Survival School

The second panel will expose the debate among military lawyers about whether or not to use torture:

Mr. Alberto J. Mora
Former General Counsel
United States Navy

Rear Admiral Jane G. Dalton, USN (Ret.)
Former Legal Advisor to the Chairman
Joint Chiefs of Staff

Lieutenant Colonel Diane E. Beaver, USA (Ret.)
Former Staff Judge Advocate
Joint Task Force 170/JTF Guantanamo Bay

And the third features Jim "Chevron" Haynes, who is under some pressure for his changing testimony, potentially amounting to perjury:

Mr. William J. Haynes II
Former General Counsel
Department of Defense

Here are the documents that will be discussed during the hearing (courtesy of WO and Marty Lederman).

I’ll be doing a light liveblog all day. Right now, Carl Levin is up reading his statement.

10:35 Levin and Lindsey Graham both gave opening statements. Levin is in a typical Levin mood (ornery but principled). Graham (who is serving as acting Ranking Member, in lieu of John McSame) sounded reasonable for about 2/3 of his statement. He said, clearly, that Abu Ghraib was not done by a few bad apples. He also sounded like he’s ready to take it to Jim "Chevron" Haynes. But then he said, golly, can we stop investigating our mistakes now? It was 9/11 9/11 9/11. Graham also used this opportunity to attack the Boumediene decision, setting up his and Holy Joe’s legislative attack on it and the Constitution.

Note who didn’t provide written statements: Shiffrin and Haynes, those in most legal risk.

Finally, consider some of the political tensions here:

  • McCain appears to be hiding, letting his chief apologist Lindsey Graham to take his place. Frankly, I’m happy to have Graham–as a JAG officer, occasionally he commits reasonableness (as he did in his opening statement). Still, it is telling that the Republicans presidential candidate doesn’t want to talk about torture.
  • We’re missing Ted Kennedy and (I think) Robert Byrd, due to health reasons. That’s unfortunate. We’ll miss their voices in such an important hearing.
  • Given the absence of Kennedy and (I assume) Byrd, and Holy Joe’s presence as a "Democrat," the Republicans effectively have a majority today.
  • There are seven Republicans on the committee up for re-election (plus McCain). In declining order of electoral threat, they are: Dole, Wicker, Collins, Cornyn, Inhofe, Chambliss, and Graham. Let’s see whether the prospect of a tough re-election makes these people reasonable or leads them to sit out this hearing.

Levin: Shiffrin: you had discussions with Jim Haynes about interrogations. And did you talk about SERE?

Shiffrin; yes. My recollection is that at some point in the spring I had discussions about where expertise about interrogation might be. DOD had been out of the business of interrogation since Vietnam. I said finding historical professional journals. I assumed this stuff was still being investigated by professionals.

Levin: Was it after Haynes that you talked to Baumgartner?

Shiffrin: I spoke to someone, it could have been Baumgartner.

Levin: You don’t remember whether those requests were based on Haynes.

Shiffrin: No, based on that. As to whether he told me to contact JPA, I don’t know.

Levin: Frustration with lack of intelligence?

Shiffrin: Discussion about progress or lack of progress?

Levin: You sent physical methods and document from Ogrisseg. [checks whether his memo is the one submitted as evidence] The first attachment was Ogrisseg memo. Get’s title of the memo.

[You think we can borrow Levin for the McClellan hearing on Friday?]

Levin: Ogrisseg, in your prepared testimony, you said wrt July 2002 communication with Baumgartner, was your recollection that Baumgartner called you directly. He indicated that he was getting asked from above. [Reviews Ogrisseg’s opposition to using SERE offensively, verifies that his memo is the one submitted as evidence, asks whether SERE should be used to interrogate.]

Ogrisseg: Those techniques are derived from what has happened to our personnel from the enemy. We put students through it so we can increase their resistance and their confidence that they will be able to survive.

Levin: Is there a way those being trained can get the treatment to stop?

Ogrisseg: Yes.

Levin: Are SERE instructors trained interrogators.

Ogrisseg: No.

Levin: Baumgartner, do you remember saying you got the order from above?

Baumgartner: Yes sir.

Levin: Who was above?

Baumgartner: Office of General Counsel [that is, Haynes].

Levin: You did not believe that these techniques would be used against detainees?

Ogrisseg: Yes.

Graham: Haynes concerned that we’re not getting good intelligence using rapport based techniques.

Shiffrin: I remember attending at least 2-3 meetings were topic was frustration with whether we were getting information.

Graham: Was the sense that something else needed to be tried?

Shiffrin: My request was about what worked and what didn’t worked. This info in Spokane, and it was going to take some time to get it. I told Haynes it’s 3000 miles away, it’ll take more than a day to get here. I got some stuff from 1950s.

Graham: Baumgartner. Do the techniques work? Do they get good intelligence?

Baumgartner: In what frame of reference? I’m not an intelligence officer. They work to demonstrate to a student how to resist getting intelligence.

Graham: No opinion whether they yield good information?

Ogrisseg: These are effective for getting our people to survive from captivity.

Graham: You can get anyone to say anything over time?

Ogrisseg: That’s the problem. You could get them to say anything.

Holy Joe: Blah blah blah. Congressional oversight. Bestill! I might burn myself, it’s been so long since I had any oversight.

Holy Joe: Hindsight 20-20. People on this committee know intelligence is important.

[I guess Joe is the designated apologist for torture. Nice. Anyone rethinking their support of Holy Joe against Lamont?]

Holy Joe: We’re a nation of law. Looking back, some people, I assume, well-motivated, that were wrong. And some people who said some things, that in hindsight, were jarring. Even Rummy’s statement, which is hard to read with certain clarity, it has an edge, about how long detainees could be forced to stand. That’s not what this is about. There are heros that emerge. Levin’s statement shows that. Mr. Mora is, in hindsight, a hero. I want to go to my questions [thanks, Joe]

Holy Joe: Shiffrin, why in the world would we have gone to the people training the SERE group, my only question to myself was, why weren’t we prepared ourselves?

[Today’s drinking game: drink a coffee when Holy Joe says "hindsight."]

Shiffrin: Initial motivation was to find the font of learning. There was a discussion about reverse engineering SERE. I don’t know where it came from. I think Haynes came back to me and said, "no this 50s stuff isn’t what we’re looking for." [Note Shiffrin said he was looking for stuff that wasn’t criminal interrogation.]

Holy Joe: Did you ever call, or did anyone call, the interrogation experts at the DIA? CID?

Shiffrin: Not to my knowledge. I do recall Army CID fairly early on.

Holy Joe: Prosecutors in civilian setting? Of course criminal detainees have more protection–at least prior to SCOTUS decision last week.

Shiffrin: Not to my knowledge.

Holy Joe: Ogrisseg Did anyone ask you about your judgment as a mental health professional about effectiveness of techniques? Not to train our people, but to elicit information. In your memo, you did not have to offer your professional judgment?

Ogrisseg: That would have been outside the bounds of my competence.

Collins: Shiffrin. Why not seek assistance from FBI?

Shiffrin: I have no personal knowledge whether they went to FBI. My personal observation in limited dealings with Secretary. Secretary very jealous of other agencies, specifically wrt inherent capabilities. I brought up CIA’s ability to get things done in Afghanistan. Secretary was quite upset. CIA had been there fore 25 years. That was never a satisfactory answer to him. It would have been unthinkable to say, the people that are really good at this are CIA, DIA, others who have been conducting interrogations.

Collins: Secretary’s intent to build up duplicative ability. What about Army Field Manual. Was there a discussion about why that was inadequate?

Shiffrin. Not Aware.

Collins: Baumgartner?

Baumgartner: no, I’m not.

Collins: Are you aware of a time when techniques based on SERE training were successfully employed.

Baumgartner: Not just SERE techniques, used by FBI, by priests, by mom and day, good cop, bad cop, a lot of them are nothing more than interview techniques. We’ve taken what we’ve found because we know they work against us.

Collins: SERE never meant to be interrogation techniques. The irony here is that the SERE training is intended to help our troops resist inappropriate interrogation methods. By very nature of SERE training, we’re trying to help our troops resist techniques that are not sanctioned.

Akaka: Shiffrin, circumstances surrounding original request. How familiar were you with JPRA?

Shiffrin: I only knew of JPRA through another program. I knew what SERE was, but no more than you could get from reading a paragraph.

Akaka: Baumgartner, My understading that assigned to SERE until 2003 and that as your last assignment, you brought oversight of internal processes. Prior to July request, had JPRA ever been contacted by DOD regarding this type of information. Was this unusual.

Baumgartner: Back in December, that was the first contact. The next contact early July, asked us for information on exploitation interrogation. We used it for training.

Akaka: Were the techniques briefed?

Baumgartner: Some were, but as to specific techniques, I don’t know.

Akaka: How effective is resistance training given our own members. Haven’t enemy combatants been given similar training?

Ogrisseg: WRT our training. We studied it. Our students are confident.

Akaka: Baumgartner, You were not privvy to everything. JPRA have ability to go to Commanders and Deputy Commanders. Why would decisions be made without COS input.

Baumgartner: You’re not the gatekeeper for everything. Each Director has ability to go to Commander without going through COS.

Bill Nelson: Waterboard expressed extreme compliance techniques. Why don’t you give further observations?

Ogrisseg: When I observed the Navy training, I watched their debriefing, following training, with these students that experienced it, the jist of the comments was that "If they had brought me near that thing again, I would have done anything they wanted to be done."

Nelson: Chairman said limited to 20 seconds. Those Seals would know they would not be killed. It’s to prepare them for it. Your observations of that are that at the end of the day, whatever the captor wants the captee to do, the captee is going to do.

Ogrisseg: Certainly they would comply with what was wanted. With waterboard, it doesn’t take very long to instill very real fear of drowning, even if they know what the rules of engagement are.

Nelson: Lack of sleep. You haven’t seen people deprived of sleep on whether or not the information would be good or not?

Ogrisseg: In training the skillsets that we want them to apply will hopefully degrade the quality of information they’ll get.

Nelson: Under Field Manual. Detainee must get four hours of sleep each day. Al-Qahtani in late 2002 at Gitmo, deprived of sleep 18-20 hours a day for 48 of 54 days. Opinion of mental capacity?

[What does Bill Nelson not get about Ogrisseg’s own expertise?]

Ogrisseg: I have no familiarity with subject.

Levin: Portions of my statement that I left out–paragraphs relating to Qahtani.

Ben Nelson: No one asked your opinion on torture.

Shiffrin: Above my pay grade. I never remember being aware of specific techniques.

Shiffrin: I don’t recall having any concern that these techniques would be used. But then some of them were relatively benign.

Ben Nelson: waterboarding is not in that category.

Shiffrin: Never heard of waterboarding until I retired. Did not participate in discussion of specific harsh techniques.

Pryor: Baumgartner. Did the JPRA ever advocate using the SERE techniques in offensive manner against techniques.

Baumgartner: No, we provided the information. We have folks who have studied interview techniques.

Pryor: Would you, today, recommend these techniques?

Baumgartner: I’m not qualified to answer that. This has to be discussed by legal counsel and Admin officials far above my pay grade. Must be decided beforehand.

Pryor: When did you learn about SERE used for interrogation?

Baumgartner: It wasn’t for training. So it was for something else. I had an idea they would look as a matter of policy what the US would use. Was not part of decision making process at all.

Reed: Did anyone ask you for list of physical methods.

Baumgartner: We had a requet from DOD and another agency.

Reed: What other agency?

Baumgartner: That’s classified.

Reed: Basic premise of SERE is that our enemies will not follow Geneva. If that’s the premise, What logic of using those techniques for our detainees?

Baumgartner: Not qualified to answer that.

Reed: Premise is that our adversaries won’t follow rules of war. You were training against real possibility that our adversaries would not follow Geneva. Thrust to prepare for worst case. These techniques probably per se violative of GC. Any question why they needed it? You just quietly, without raising the question?

Baumgartner: When tasked by OSD, if they needed the information, I had no idea what they were going to do it. When I’m tasked to provide info they can legitimately have, I provide it.

Reed: Did anyone discuss this around the water cooler?

Baumgartner: We discussed it. It was of professional interest.

Reed: Did you think it would be a challenge how to integrate without violating GC?

Baumgartner: it’s best if you do this beforehand.

Reed: Shiffrin, premise, would not follow GC.

Shiffrin: It’s not something I thought about at the time. Training pretty wide-ranging. A lot of the discussion I was privvy to, offer an inducement. Cable TV, extra pillow.

Reed: Those did not seem to appear in Category 1, 2, 3.

Sessions: Shiffrin, your position, who you reported to?

Shiffrin: DGC Intelligence for DOD in December 1997. Was at OLC. Had that position until I was demoted or transferred at end of 2002. Became acting GC at DIA.

Sessions: Aware that these techniques, based on request from Commander at Gitmo.

[Sessions trying to help out Haynes and Rummy]

Shiffrin: I had no knowledge of that.

Sessions: I know there will be other panels afterwards. On behalf of the military, this is what I understood happened. Three incidences of waterboarding, none at Gitmo, none by FBI. Military working to deal with small with group of indivs. One, 20th hijacker. They went through lawyers and reviewed some of these techniques. I would point out to my colleagues, this was all before Hamdan.

Shiffrin: I don’t remember date of Hamdan.

Sessions: operating under leg supported by Leahy, Biden, Kennedy, and it defined torture, but it didn’t just prohibit isolation or stress techniques, said you could subject someone to severe suffering.

Sessions: I would just say to the Chairman, whether these opinions were correct, whether SCOTUS changed the law. We’ve got a situation is that the people on the ground felt they were dealing with high value targets and DOD approved techniques they felt did not violate statute that prohibited extreme pain. Didn’t say you couldn’t stress them or things like that. For goodness sakes, it is not the kind of rogue activity that has been suggested. Our military felt they were threatened after 9/11. Wanted intell that could stop another group. Consulted legal system up to DOJ. Hopefully we can create policy we can all agree upon. Shouldn’t disrespect men and women in Uniform. 

158 replies
  1. WilliamOckham says:

    Reading Diane Beaver’s testimony is depressing. I can’t excuse what she did, but she was hung out to dry by her superiors. I have a hard time understanding how she can write this:

    My commander was responsible for detention and interrogation operations for the most dangerous group of terrorists the world has ever seen.

    Can she really still believe that?

  2. canucklehead says:

    This is a big deal. Big Kudos to Levin! And if the parameters get defined properly, and the news disseminators cover it, and the public gets over their numbness to torture talk…

    And it’s a real opportunity for McSame to distance himself from Torturefeld – just keep defining those lines of command up to Cambone.

    I’ll be very interested to see when Afghanistan makes it into these discussions. It’s been the silent part of the equation, with the worst techniques being enacted there pre-Gitmo. Probably before Haynes initial inquiries, and maybe the pre-cursor to reverse engineering SERE.

    • selise says:

      re: afghanistan

      i sure would love to see congress – some day – follow up on the reports from physicians for human rights from the winter of 2001-2002.

  3. Diane says:

    Anyone notice if the R’s are in attendance? Typically they don’t show up for controversial hearings (see no evil, hear no evil).

  4. emptywheel says:

    Well, I guess that answers that: Lindsey Graham sitting in for John McSame.

    And John Warner is present, already making excuses about torturing because of terrorism.

  5. emptywheel says:

    Interesting to see who did–and who did not–submit written testimony. Shiffrin, Baumgartner, and Haynes submitted no written testimony. In addition to Beaver (who, as WO correctly describes, was wrong but also hung out to dry), these are the people who are in some legal risk.

    • Peterr says:

      I’ll give Haynes a hand with his testimony, since he apparently couldn’t get his opening statement done in time . . .

      I do not recall.

      I cannot answer that in open session.

      That is covered by executive privilege.

      (and my personal favorite . . .)

      On the advice of counsel, I choose to avail myself of my rights under the fifth amendment, and I refuse to answer the question.

      And June 17 is a fine day for a hearing like this. It’s the 36th anniversary of the Watergate break-in! Nice touch, Carl.

  6. skdadl says:

    Well. Lindsay Graham is starting out well, I’d say. You’ll know better than I how he’s going to spin this, but I’d say he must have seen enough bad info that he knows he has to treat this investigation seriously.

  7. emptywheel says:

    And we’ll be missing Kennedy and, presumably, Byrd (is he back yet?), which means with JoeLie, they’ve got a majority on the committee today.

  8. emptywheel says:

    Here is the membership list:

    Carl Levin (Michigan)

    Edward M. Kennedy (Massachusetts)
    Robert C. Byrd (West Virginia)
    Joseph I. Lieberman (Connecticut)
    Jack Reed (Rhode Island)
    Daniel K. Akaka (Hawaii)
    Bill Nelson (Florida)
    E. Benjamin Nelson (Nebraska)
    Evan Bayh (Indiana)
    Hillary Rodham Clinton (New York)
    Mark L. Pryor (Arkansas)
    Jim Webb (Virginia)
    Claire McCaskill (Missouri)


    John McCain (Arizona)
    Ranking Member

    John W. Warner (Virginia)
    James M. Inhofe (Oklahoma)
    Jeff Sessions (Alabama)
    Susan M. Collins (Maine)
    Saxby Chambliss (Georgia)
    Lindsey O. Graham (South Carolina)
    Elizabeth Dole (North Carolina)
    John Cornyn (Texas)
    John Thune (South Dakota)
    Mel Martinez (Florida)
    Roger F. Wicker (Mississippi)

    Note how many on the R side have close elections this year: Collins, Dole, and Wicker, with Conrnyn, Chambliss, and Graham also up for re-election.

  9. jayt says:

    Lindasy, you magnificent hypocritical bastard!!

    I knew he’d bring it back to John McCain, American fucking hero.

  10. Diane says:

    Graham & Lieberliar will give McBush an assist in this hearing. Bring the blame to Rummy’s doorstep.

  11. skdadl says:

    He just threw Haynes under the bus, though, although with all those other people — Rumsfeld, Feith, Yoo, and who’m I missing? Was Bybee in there? Would he have said that?

  12. Mary says:

    Graham did join with the Dems on Judiciary to keep Haynes from going through on his federal court nomination. Apparently once upon a time, a lot of the military lawyers thought they had a sympathetic ear with Graham and they were not happy over how they were treated and I think he did give them the nod of giving Haynes a little pushback.

    OTOH, bc of those contacts (and some non-lawyers also went to Graham as whistleblowers) Graham has known better than most the extent of the depravity and has not only let the storyline of ”a few bad apples” gone unchallenged until now, but has also used his info and knowledge to draft the most pernicious aspects of both the DTA and MCA. He knew what had to be covered up and where and how exculpation for war crimes needed to exist and he drafted with that much less than honorable goal in mind.

    There’s hardly anyone from the Dem list actually worth having show up for the hearing, is there? Bayh? ”Under sniper fire” Clinton? The Nelson boys? Ugh. Hopefully Reed will make it.

  13. eCAHNomics says:

    What’s the deal with Shiffrin? No tie? Showing contempt for hearing? Or did the airlines lose his bag & he couldn’t borrow one?

    • jayt says:

      Showing contempt for hearing?

      oh yeah. Did you catch the shot of him sitting there looking disgusted and bored, head resting on chin, while Levin was speaking?

      • Quebecois says:

        Thanks, I always get the impression that an aide prepared the material, and that he’s trying to make sense of it. It’s becoming clearer in my mind what he’s doing.

  14. eCAHNomics says:

    Missed that. I’ve got some party arrangements to make, so fading in & out. Do you know what’s behind his attitude?

  15. Mary says:

    37 – Haynes has already left Pentagon and I guess you could call landing a slot as counsel for Chevron being “expendable” but I look at it more as “getting the payoff.”

    Lockheed, Harvard, Chevron, Boalt, Boeing – the corporate and academic institutions have wide open arms for anyone who was willing to help out on the torture/abuse without proof front.

    Is anyone going to ask the first panel what techniques they would have authorized for getting the truth out of – – – people like them? I’m thinking that Congress should have first had them all kidnapped at gunpoint with screaming family members in the background, while they are beaten, stripped, abused, left not knowing what happened to their family, stuck in a 6 X 4 all dark isolation cell for 6 mos or so (or maybe buried alive as per their suggestions) subjected to sleep deprivation throughout that time, and left shackled in stress positions, with ice water poured on them and kept in a state of near constant hypothermia —- then we could have had “credible” testimony. Right?

    • cbl2 says:

      just meant he was politically expendable to Cheney/Addington – who will continue to throw bodies in the way until it is down to the two of them –

      and as always, soooo appreciate your comments.

  16. WilliamOckham says:

    Courtesy of Prof. Lederman, Levin, et. al. have released new documents. Reading them now (if work doesn’t interfere).

  17. jayt says:

    JoeLie(s) – “Hindsight is always 20-20″

    That’s a profound moral statement there, Joe.

    (except wrt to Rumsfeld’s memo, which is just pretty darned hard to figure out…)

  18. perris says:

    it is great that we will be documenting these crims but what will this all lead to?

    there are crimes which have been committed, the adminstration will pardon rumsfeld, cheney, and anyone involved, they will claim national security and war powers

    congress can do nothing at all about congressional power until they say “enough, you are out of there” and they are not going to be doing that

  19. WilliamOckham says:

    Here’s something I didn’t know. CIA Acting GC Rizzo was on the GITMO trip in Sep 2002.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Actually, Sands had already reported Rizzo being on the trip. However, I don’t think we knew that Chertoff was on the trip. That calls his testimony to the IG in to question, doesn’t it.

        • selise says:

          missed that. from sands’ “green light” in vanity fair:

          On September 25, as the process of elaborating new interrogation techniques reached a critical point, a delegation of the administration’s most senior lawyers arrived at Guantánamo. The group included the president’s lawyer, Alberto Gonzales, who had by then received the Yoo-Bybee Memo; Vice President Cheney’s lawyer, David Addington, who had contributed to the writing of that memo; the C.I.A.’s John Rizzo, who had asked for a Justice Department sign-off on individual techniques, including waterboarding, and received the second (and still secret) Yoo-Bybee Memo; and Jim Haynes, Rumsfeld’s counsel.

  20. klynn says:


    This hearing was important to Kennedy. Despite all he has going on, I bet he sent his questions to Levin. I bet he’s watching this and probably having his questions text in too.

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Shiffrin doing the Sgt. Schultz, “I remember nussink” shuffle. His voice and body language are not remotely credible; they send off strong signals of oily bureaucratic maneuvering. Wonder how accurate that is?

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Grisseg claiming interrogation techniques outside his “competence”. Probably true, but he only obliquely refers to his ethical obligations as a psychologist. Not identical to MD’s, but essentially so regarding abuse of human subjects.

  23. eCAHNomics says:

    Full disclosure. My late husband (now dead over 20 years) was a POW interrogator in WWII, owing to German’s being his native language. As he would express it, “we used all the known techniques.” I never questioned what he meant by that, just assumed he meant a version of “good cop, bad cop.” I wish I could get his opinion on this subject. I don’t think they did torture, as it didn’t seem to be necessary, and they were processing too many people.

    He did say that the most effective measure was to pretend you knew something (reasonable hypotheses could be established from other information that was around) and ask POWs to just confirm. Frightened people in captivity want to cooperate to get treated better, but need an excuse to spill the beans.

    Of course, those circumstances were quite different. The interrogatees were ordinary German soldiers, not hardened terrorists (assuming some of the detainees today are, which is not a given), but still there’s something to be learned from that experience.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Most of Bush’s detainees are demonstrably not “hardened” terrorists either. It seems that a lack of cultural, language and interrogation techniques made it very hard for Bush’s system to determine the difference. One I imagine was a preference for a high body count of detainees may have weighed against making that distinction. “Low” numbers would have suggested a lack of effectiveness in waging the GWOT, and raised questions about the existence and purpose of Bush’s web of secret prisons. Not to mention, a complete lack of any process for what to do with prisoners other than to hold them indefinitely.

    • Petrocelli says:

      The Allies sent many German POWs to prisons in Canada. My friend’s dad was a guard, who shared his home cooked meals and cigarettes with some of them and allowed them to do some gardening. They gave him a lot of info. without once having to be tortured.

      Disclaimer: They called Saskatchewan the Land of Milk ‘n’ Honey, which calls their sanity into question …

      • Minnesotachuck says:

        There was a POW camp for Germans in my home town in southern Minnesota (population about 10K). They were put to work in the fields that fed the local canning factory.

        McCaskill was awesome!

        • Petrocelli says:

          The Guards up here didn’t bother carrying weapons until their superiors came by. We won’t get into how many HomeBrews were crafted by the German POWs …

          • Minnesotachuck says:

            I was too young during the war to have a personal, contemporary memory of the POW camp, but do recall it being pointed out to me a year or two after VE and VJ days.

            A former co-worker who was about 5+ years older than I and who grew up in another small MN town that had a camp, and on whose farm some of the POWs worked, recalled an incident in which one of the guards laid down his weapon and forgot where he put it, whereupon a POW found it and handed it to him.

  24. WilliamOckham says:

    Wow. There are minutes from a Counter Resistance Strategy Meeting on October 2, 2002. It’s just as appalling as Sands made it sound.

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Shiffrin again pleads, “I know nussink.” Hard to believe, given that he was formerly deputy general counsel for “intelligence” at the DoD, given the White House’s intense interest in using the harshest techniques “possible” – including the vetting of specific techniques for use on individual prisoners – and given the worldwide notoriety of Bush’s torture regime.

  26. eCAHNomics says:

    Yep. Sweep everybody up, torture them into false confessions (that’s what torture is really for), and claim victory on GWOT.

    • perris says:

      Yep. Sweep everybody up, torture them into false confessions (that’s what torture is really for), and claim victory on GWOT.

      it’s also to perpetuate unrest, to insure you will always have an insurgency, it is to fuel that insurgency

      these are the real reasons to have policies of torture

        • perris says:

          from here

          The investigation also found that despite the uncertainty about whom they were holding, U.S. soldiers beat and abused many prisoners.

          they are torturing everyone and anyone;

          Prisoner mistreatment became a regular feature in cellblocks and interrogation rooms at Bagram and Kandahar air bases, the two main way stations in Afghanistan en route to Guantanamo.

          While he was held at Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Base, Akhtiar said, “When I had a dispute with the interrogator, when I asked, ‘What is my crime?’ the soldiers who took me back to my cell would throw me down the stairs.”

          The McClatchy reporting also documented how U.S. detention policies fueled support for extremist Islamist groups. For some detainees who went home far more militant than when they arrived, Guantanamo became a school for jihad, or Islamic holy war

          bingo, even if you do get information that’s actionable, (you don’t, you get less information not more), but even if you do, you have created more terrorists and more terrorist acts

          for every person you torture or don’t charge each of their family becomes your enemy, all of their friends

          you turn your friends into enemies, moderates into extremists and extremists into heroes

          and they knew that

          and that was the very purpose

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        “[T]orture them into false confessions (that’s what torture is really for)….”

        Yep. I think that’s right. It would have been clear to anyone who wanted to know that torture doesn’t produce reliable intelligence. It intimidates and breaks down the personalities of torture and torturer, but doesn’t tell you where the ticking bomb is or when it’s supposed to go off. Except in movies and White House fantasies.

        And I agree with perris. Torture attempts to say to the enemy that the torturer is “badder” than the enemy. It won’t make them back down in fear; it simply ratchet ups the violence on both sides, ensuring the enemy will be there. Not a consequence a competent leadership ordinarily desires.

        • perris says:

          Not a consequence a competent leadership ordinarily desires.

          unless of course that is the very purpose

          and it was because they knew as a fact they would be fueling the insurgents, they knew it with no doubt

          as I say, it is their very purpose

          • Timewatcher says:

            exactly…currenlty they are all askings throw away questions…very lazy…is that the intended purpose of this hearing? will they close down in 2 hrs?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      “[T]orture them into false confessions (that’s what torture is really for)….”

      Yep. I think that’s right. It would have been clear to anyone who wanted to know that torture doesn’t produce reliable intelligence. It intimidates and breaks down the personalities of torture and torturer, but doesn’t tell you where the ticking bomb is or when it’s supposed to go off. Except in movies and White House fantasies.

      • perris says:

        infact it prevents you from getting valuable information, it not only destroys the source it prevents outher sources from comming forward

        • eCAHNomics says:

          That too. But remember if we didn’t torture al-Libi into confessing that there was a link between AQ & Saddam Hussein, it would have been much more difficult to invade Iraq. W et al are not really interested in accurate info. They are only interested in cherry picking stuff that supports what they want to do. That’s what the Iraq Strudy Group (is that the right name?) was all about.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yes, and makes it impossible legitimately to use the information publicly or to prosecute wrongdoers in a legitimate court.

          Separately Shiffrin just claimed that didn’t know about waterboarding or participate in any discussions about “specific harsh techniques”. Just what “DoD intelligence” organization was he deputy general counsel for?

        • MarieRoget says:

          You’ve hit it there. Torture effectively ends the possibility of gleaning decent intel from both the detainees who are tortured (if in fact they have any to be gleaned) & destroys possible connections to outside intel sources. The stupidest way to try to get viable intel, plus ticking time bomb is a crock o’ crap scenario, good for torture justification only.

          “Above my pay grade” pass-the-buck testimony gets old fast, doesn’t it…

          • eCAHNomics says:

            The testifiers are a pretty sorry lot. (Wanted to call them dispicable, but that might be a little harsh, but maybe not.)

  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Marty Lederman asks one of the key questions about the development of Bush’s torture policy:

    Well, then, if some of the proposed techniques are acknowledged to be “per se” federal crimes, how was it that Beaver could then recommend their use and (in a cover memo) conclude that they “do not violate applicable federal law”? Here’s the only clue in her memo: She writes that because of the “per se” prohibitions of the UCMJ, “[i]t would be advisable to have permission or immunity in advance from the convening authority, for military members utilizing these methods.” No explanation here of the legal theory pursuant to which such ex ante “permission or immunity” to violate the law could be conferred. But Beaver clearly had been made aware of DOJ’s conclusion that the President, as Commander in Chief, could simply authorize the overriding of mere statutes such as the UCMJ.…

    The answer could well implicate Bush and/or Cheney directly in authorizing torture, with full knowledge that the techniques for which permission/”immunity” was being sought were patently illegal. If he/they did authorize them, which seems certain, then what was the legal authority to disregard existing law? Article II inferred powers? Which OLC memo gives Bush the necessary CYA.

    • klynn says:

      Funny aspect of this type of thinking. When all goes wrong we hear “not-my-job-above-my-pay-grade!”

      When heroism or great judgement is being hailed and same person is asked, “How did you know what to do?”

      The response tends to go something like:

      “I just did what I thought was right at the moment. I didn’t stop to think, I just did what anyone would do in my situation — the right choice.

      So, when there is responsibility for good actions, suddenly one does not care about pay grade and suddenly, one can think and act on their own…and be a hero…

      Funny about that kind of insipid behavior.

      Jeebuz people testifying, own up and grow up. Stop being weak pass the buck whimps.

  28. JamesJoyce says:

    The subordinate defense… I know nothing. just followed orders, have no brain to form an opinion and I’m not qualified to render an opinion!

    Why are you there???

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    John Yoo has a WSJ OpEd today that excoriates Boumediene and reiterates his arguments that the President can do whatever’s necessary. Anyone have access to it.

    Glennzilla does a quick take down and reversal of Yoo’s claims. Yoo and his patrons are in Alamo mode, defending themselves to the last courtier.

  30. skdadl says:

    Shiffrin is so strange. Whenever he answers, he makes his job and the conversations he was involved in sound like a chatty grad seminar, and he even models that physical behaviour — the way he’s dressed, the relaxed (pushing sloppy) posture. It’s all superficially relaxed but actually pretty mannered, not to mention insulting to a committee pursuing this kind of investigation. I haven’t seen him yawn yet, but that’s about all that’s missing.

  31. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Hard to believe that Jeff Sessions was on Texas’ highest court. Well, maybe not. “Texas justice” makes “small town justice” seem downright civil.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        My apologies for confusing Sessions with the senators from Texas. I spent a year in Dallas one week.

        As for the observation about small town justice in Texas, I had in mind the series of “convictions” on drug charges in Tulia, TX, of virtually its entire black population by a county sheriff, who was subsequently shown to have wholly fabricated his evidence. Bob Herbert did a series on it in 2003. It took years to overturn the obviously faulty convictions.…..A9659C8B63

  32. drational says:

    This is exactly the kind of hearing the Administration Loves.
    Useless, non-responsive witnesses, with the Republican Senators blowing hearsay and fancy interpretations into the record.
    Levin may be on top of things, but this first chapter is not going anywhere fast.

  33. MarieRoget says:

    I’ve procrastinated long enough & have to drive over to the office. Just read yr. live blog up top, ew. Very comprehensive! Thanks for this post & a great thread. I’ll be back to read you all later.

    Happy to be leaving while Sessions’ mouth runneth over.

  34. klynn says:

    When will someone ask to the “not-my-pay-grade to decide or know” answer, “Whose pay grade is it to know the answer to my question?”

  35. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sessions: strangled by law; not rogue activity; our “military” felt our country was threatened and desperately wanted intelligence. Ie, the necessity defense; can’t remember what it is in the original German.

    Sessions says we’re “disrespecting” our military, which he substitutes for the driving force behind the torture program: the White House.

    McCaskill takes down Sessions admirably. A former prosecutor, she wants us to stop and think why someone would want “immunity in advance”, suggesting that that might involve, you know, blatantly illegal conduct. Brilliant. Any lawyer reading that phrase in advance would say, “What planet are we on?” But sad that being so obvious is novel for this Congress.

  36. skdadl says:

    McCaskill is great. Wow. Shiffrin is now scratching himself — chest, ear. Didn’t his mother tell him that you never raise your hands above your waist in public?

    • Quebecois says:

      Shiffrin is now scratching himself

      Yeah, saw that, lots of nipple action. As if this guy is getting off on not recalling…

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Gee. My mother never taught me that. Thanks for cluing me in. (*mental review of past behavior*)

  37. earlofhuntingdon says:

    McCaskill is taking down, in effect, Yoo’s memos and (impliedly) his WSJ OpEd today, along with his White House patrons. Again, any lawyer would conclude that discussing and seeking “immunity in advance” screams CRIME.

  38. TLinGA says:

    Good line of questions coming from Sen. McCaskill. Here’s hoping she stays on topic and doesn’t float off into self-aggrandizement.

  39. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Shiffrin wilting under McCaskill’s questioning, which is crushing his claim that he participated in no discussions of the use of harsh interrogation techniques. McCaskill naming names: “Did this come from Cheney, Addington?” These people are still in government. We, the Senate, want to hold someone accountable. Who, Mr. Shiffrin, made these decisions and authorized this illegal conduct? Shiffrin is not holding up well.

    Finally. Finally. The prospect of a competent President is bringing a little righteous fury out of the woodwork. About bloody time.

  40. skdadl says:

    What McCaskill did, effectively, was to set up a question very like the question the SJC started to form about the DoJ purge last year during Sampson’s appearance: who was involved? who did what in the process? Someone must be able to answer some questions: tell us who that would be.

    Perpetual answer: I dunno.

  41. greenbird4751 says:

    for every person you torture or don’t charge each of their family becomes your enemy, all of their friends

    you turn your friends into enemies, moderates into extremists and extremists into heroes.

    how, for this and for every incident america has caused or enabled-directly or indirectly-in order to obtain nothing more than dominance, how does america make amends? what concievable reparations are there?

  42. rkilowatt says:

    EOH @128
    Alfred Jodl, order issued to the German Army (23rd July, 1941)

    In view of the vast size of the occupied areas in the East the forces available for establishing security in these areas
    will be sufficient only if all resistance is punished not by legal prosecution of the guilty but by the spreading of such terror
    by the occupying power as is appropriate to eradicate every inclination to resist among the population.
    The competent commanders must find the means of keeping order not by demanding more
    security forces but by applying suitable Draconian methods.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      A tragedy we don’t yet appreciate is that a description of Nazi methods in the occupied East has many similarities with the torture and other policies the current American administration employs in its GWOT. Especially its resort to terror, intimidation and domestic spying as a way to cow its own people as well as those it calls the enemy.

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