The Torture Memos

ACLU has them posted:

August 1, 2002 John Yoo memo

First May 10, 2005 Steven Bradbury memo

Second May 10, 2005 Steven Bradbury memo

May 30, 2005 Steven Bradbury memo

And while you’re over at ACLU, consider showing them some love for all their great work prying these out of the government. 

Consider this a working thread.

Update: Did I say they were worried about blows to the head? From the August 1, 2002 memo:

For walling, a flexible false wall will be constructed. The individual is placed with his heels touching the wall. The interrogator pulls the individual forward and then quickly and firmly pushes the individual into the wall. It is the individual’s shoulder blades that hit the wall. During this motion, the head and neck are supported with a rolled hood or towel that provides a c-collar effect to help prevent whiplash. To further reduce the probability of injury, the individual is allowed to rebound from the flexible wall. 

Oh, and did I mention that they were using Abu Zubaydah as a human guinea pig, to test out methods they wanted to get approved? I ask, you see, because Abu Zubaydah told the ICRC that they only put in the "flexible false wall" after they started this technique.

170 replies
      • MadDog says:

        Yup, and note that MrWhy’s NYT link seems a better one because the PDF document is not treated as an image (with no text copying available), but instead acts like a text document where text can be copied.

        • emptywheel says:

          Try it now. The ACLU has the names of the second and fourth memos reversed (that is, the March 10 one is dated March 30 and vice versa), but I think the links now go to the right place. Or go here–they’re all there now, just named wrong.

          • Minnesotachuck says:

            I got it at the ACLU site. Thanks for the link. I just refreshed and checked a few minutes ago and the URL at the 4th link is still identical to the 3rd. Must be something strange going on if you show it as changed.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Guess they saw The Mummy and Scorpion King 2 too many times.

      This is sadism, pure and simple. As experts in SERE have repeatedly said, the right torture will get a prisoner to say anything, with “good” intelligence distributed like wheat in straw.

      Even if the intelligence were deemed “good”, what would we be protecting besides our politicians if we accepted it as routine governmental policy? What would differentiate us from Libya, from Soviet Russia or Maoist China, from Big Brother’s permanent war or Kafka’s hell?

  1. Attaturk says:

    Just scanning the Zubadayah stuff, it’s not only sick…but at points “insect in a box with him” it’s banal.

    The old standby the “banality of evil”

  2. emptywheel says:

    Curious that that one doesn’t show up in the ICRC.

    But I guess that’s the big one that Obama was referring to when he said that ”most” of these techniques had not been made available.

    • LS says:

      Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick.

      Our country has been infected by something so vile…they need to be held accountable.

  3. LS says:

    This is so frikkin’ infuriating…even Nora on MSNBC looked like she wanted to throw up while reading the information from these memos…visibly shaken a few minutes ago…finally….Where the heck were these people when everyone was screaming that the US was torturing people?????!!!!

    I’m so f’ing p’d off!!!

    Arrest Cheney, Bush, Addington…the whole lot of them…throw their sorry butts in a box with insects….see what they will reveal….horror…horror…horror….

    I’m so ashamed to be an American.

    What has this country become??

    We need justice NOW.


    Sorry for the rant. Arghhhhh!!!!

    • cinnamonape says:

      There is a reason that “Fear Factor” and other shows use insects or snakes to challenge their VOLUNTARY contestants. The whole rationale is that this creates intense psychological stress and fear…mental pain and anguish. To contend that it doesn’t is pathetic. And remember that Fear Factor gives the contestants ABSOLUTE…I’ll say that again, ABSOLUTE, control over when to terminate the exposure.

      If one is placed in a confinement situation where one could not even reach to remove or brush the insects off ones body or face I would suspect that one would go mad.

      I notice that the redacted sections relate to the insect treatment…something that is not used in SERE and would be unlikely to have any technical research available. So I’m wondering if the redacted references might be to a program like “Fear Factor” (”Look, it doesn’t hurt THEM!”) or perhaps to other, earlier uses of this type of torture by our, other militaries?

  4. Blub says:

    I wonder whether Yoo and Bradbury think any of these people need to be tortured:…..4675.story

    Really.. enquiring minds want to know. To use the usual rethug excuse for justifying torture: “If you had information that that a bomb was going to go off in X city, and [McVeigh/Nicholls] was in custody and could tell you where it was…” I’m just sayin’.

  5. ghostof911 says:

    This is precisely the reason the Cheyney mob perpetrated the 9/11 attacks on America — to create the opportunity so they could indulge in all their sadistic fetishes.

  6. CalGeorge says:

    “This is a time for reflection, not retribution.”

    Not unexpected but very, very disappointing.

    People have done some truly, astoundingly horrible things and the answer is not reflection.

    • Leen says:

      What the hell does this mean? I am deeply disappointed in Obama. What does he mean when he says “no one is above the law”? A complete lie coming out of his mouth. A complete lie.

      “reflection not retribution” Where is the Justice?

      Can you imagine some Judge saying this to a rape victim, holocaust survivors? “this is a time for reflection not retribution” Completely absurd

  7. emptywheel says:

    You know, reading these, I sure get the feeling that all those Republicans who have been yelling, “our soldiers do this in training!” have seen these memos.

    • LS says:

      Well..there is the mystery as to how the neocons (whose policies were actually completely contrary to traditional Republican policies) so successfully kept the Republicans in Congress in such extraordinary lock-step for those years, even when the policies were clearly against their ideology (i.e., huge spending)…sort of like…if I tell you this or show you this…and you know about this…we’ll off you unless you cooperate….we know everything you say or do…we’re watching you….or something like that. Just speculating. They did it to the Dems too…consider Rockefeller and his letter thingy…


      • scribe says:

        Rove explained it the other week, when confronted by Former Rep. Feeney’s former chief of staff: “I have a file on you.”

        • ThingsComeUndone says:

          Dude’s a Republican if Rove is spying on Republicans well I’m betting he spied on more than one Democratic Congressman, Senator etc.
          But did he use a phone for his spying?

      • sojourner says:

        They are still doing it, in my opinion! I don’t know if they have succeeded by “buying” the real Republicans (and some Dems) with real dollars, or through threats (real or imagined), or what, but it has been a very real and effective coordination. Whatever machine runs it all could be a model for efficiency in some ways, but the havoc it has wrought has been awful…

        I hope I live long enough to understand all the mysteries behind it…

  8. dosido says:

    Unfortunately, the common thread in the torture memos and the Grand Plans to plunder the treasury or fire USAs or any of this stuff is a total lack of regard for human life. And certainly not a thought of the consequence.

    There are plans on paper – the theory – and then there is the actual reality of those plans in practice. If you can think it, it can be done and that is why just thinking up and expressing some plans is criminal enough.

    I’m waiting for the banal nabobs to tell us “only X number” had this done to them. or there are people “out there” trying to kill us. Minimize and justify and poo poo the whole rotten evil cesspool.

  9. scribe says:

    Mmmm – Insects placed in the confinement box. (method 9)

    Just like that “rats gnaw on your face” thing from 1984.

    You know, when Orwell wrote that, he was not writing an instruction manual.

    • Blub says:

      generally speaking, rethugs watch too many movies and read too much scifi and get it all confused with real life. Our foreign policy was largely dictated by the writers of Fox’s “24″ for much of the shrub regime.

      • MarkH says:

        I disagree, despite the similarities. No, I think the Bushies had goals they were willing to do anything to achieve and few if any of them were to benefit America. At least Jack Bauer was acting to benefit America in the t.v. stories.

    • ThingsComeUndone says:

      You know, when Orwell wrote that, he was not writing an instruction manual.

      Brilliant line!

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Why is it relevant in a memorandum of law which prisoner is being tortured?

    Refresh my memory. Which cam first, the oral advice given on July 24 and 26, 2002, and the written memo from August 2nd, or the actual torture?

      • emptywheel says:

        Sorry. That was snide.

        Ashcroft had previously indicated that the torture began with some kind of approval before August 1. It’s not clear whether he was referring to the oral approval in July or something else.

        That said, that’s one of the reasons I find the change in AZ’s “walling” significant: they added the wall for some reason, and it may well coincide with their oral instructions.

        • WilliamOckham says:

          They tortured Zubayda long before July 2002. We know they tortured him before Padilla was picked up in June. We need to start pressing for prosecutions for the folks who authorized and committed the “pre-OLC memo” torture.

          • NCDem says:

            I think this response represents much of our misunderstanding of the procedures being used in early 2002 and to the end of the Bush adminstration. We assuming that Yoo, Bybee, and Bradbury are acting first in drawing up these legal ratifications for the Bush administration.

            What we will learn is that Cheney via Addington dictated the outlines of the procedures for Yoo and others to follow. The internal emails will show some of this but only a strong prosecutor with the offer of leniency will pull all the final details from the investigation.

            Again, the legal offerings by Yoo and others is only a filling in the blanks for what Cheney and Addington had requested. I have never been for capital punishment. With Cheney and Addington after reading these legal offerrings, I now can make an acception.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          The art in any legal opinion lies in the factual assumptions. For example, that only “the shoulder blades” will impact the wall with force when the body is slammed against it. Or the facile assumption that repeated acts that cause fear and excruciating pain and which could lead to death – performed by those readily capable of causing it – will not cause permanent mental harm.

          Orwell and Kafka were chapter one for these guys. Goebbels perhaps was chapter two, with Stalin and Mao chapter three. But these guys wrote the rest of the book.

          Arguing that there should be no consequence for this conduct is wrong.

          • cbl2 says:

            Arguing that there should be no consequence for this conduct is wrong

            can one of the legal eagles tell me where in settled law one can find Holder’s no prosecutions for CIA Torturers ?

            I understand UCMJ is a whole ‘nother animal. but this non lawyer wants to know – just because they had DOJ Opinion to back them makes them free from prosecution. how is it different from “just following orders” ??

            note to eoh: you are not on the hook for an answer. just hoping there is an answer and not just Holder attempting to mollify Langley

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              I suspect that Holder is relying on prosecutorial discretion. I think Glenn Greenwald and Scott Horton have repeatedly made clear that there is an affirmative obligation on the US to prosecute credible claims of torture. I think these memos will be Exhibits 1-4 in the Spanish prosecution.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  NO. And to #84, too. That was a recommendation by Spain’s Attorney General, not a decision by the investigating magistrate to drop the case. His office made the same recommendation regarding the prosecution of Augusto Pinochet, which went forward despite that recommendation.

                  The more Mr. Obama makes noises that we should seek, “reflection, not retribution,” the more he increases the likelihood that Spain or someone else will prosecute. His statements satisfy one of the prerequisites for the exercise of universal jurisdiction: the home state refuses or is otherwise unable to prosecute.

                  • prostratedragon says:

                    This was my understanding from the article at RawStory. And I should think that today’s release strengthens Garzon’s position, not AG Conde-Pumpido’s.

                    Also, anyone, I wonder whether DoJ considers the “authoritativeness” of the legal advice to have been determined; so much has happened these last months that I’ve lost track on that. Same with the “good faith” of the officers.

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      I think this is the link you wanted to the Raw Story article. And this is the link to the Horton story itself.

                      As Horton and others have written, the intervention is unusual, but it does not necessarily lead to the investigating magistrate dropping the case. A similar recommendation was made in the case of Augusto Pinochet, yet that prosecution went forward. It is a retreat, but one that allows Spain to return to the offensive.

                      Spain is trying to show good faith and improve its relations with the US, presumably based on representations from Mrs. Clinton and perhaps Mr. Obama’s calls to the heads of state and government in Spain. But the Spanish AG’s comment implied a conditionality that Obama is undercutting. The Spanish AG said the US should handle these prosecutions. Obama is saying he has no intention of doing so.

                      The Spanish AG has left himself room to maneuver – the essence of politics. Mr. Obama, meanwhile, backed himself into a corner without ever looking for the door.

                    • prostratedragon says:

                      [Thanks —at least I didn’t send folks to the baseball scores.]

                      The Spanish AG has left himself room to maneuver – the essence of politics. Mr. Obama, meanwhile, backed himself into a corner without ever looking for the door.

                      Agree about the Spanish, and doubt anyway that the magistrate would do more than careful mothballing fttb. As to Prez, I have no clear bead yet on what he’s doing, but I tend to think he would not mind for now having some pressure build up from outside the country.

                      I should say my belief is that most of these higher-up torture guys, a comparatively young lot, are going to need quite a good hiding place to get away scotfree on this one.

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      This is the same Spanish magistrate who prosecuted Augusto Pinochet. In the end, the UK refused to extradite him, claiming his age and ill health, which seems to have been a frail leaf to justify sending him back home instead of to Spain to stand trial.

                      Times have changed in ten years, and Peru’s former president, Mr. Fujimori, was not so lucky.

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      You’re right though, in that the Raw Story article and the first part of Scott Horton’s piece in the Daily Beast imply that the case was dropped. But see this clarification from the end of Horton’s article (emph. added):

                      The criminal case against the Bush Six remains pending with the Audencia Nacional and before Judge Garzon, and the Spanish attorney general’s decision not to adopt the case makes it far more likely that Garzon himself will retain control of the case. In the Spanish criminal-justice system, the decision as to whether a criminal prosecution will go forward rests with the judge—not with the prosecutors or the attorney general.

                      In the meantime, the Bush Six remain subject to possible arrest or extradition at the discretion of Judge Garzon or another judge of the Spanish courts. It is highly unlikely that extradition would be sought at this point, according to reliable sources, but if any of the defendants were to travel abroad—particularly to any of the 25 countries in which the European arrest warrant is honored—they might face arrest. A similar process launched the case of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, which was initiated and conducted by Judge Garzon.

              • cbl2 says:


                GregB – check out comment#8 over at Oxdown – makes sense. also means we’ll be waiting a lot longer.

                Spencer up at the mothership

              • scribe says:

                You need to remember that Spain’s attorney general announced this morning that there will be no Spanish prosecution; the guys who worked on these memos weren’t the ones doing the actual torturing.

        • acquarius74 says:

          that’s one of the reasons I find the change in AZ’s “walling” significant: they added the wall for some reason,

          hmmmm. that ‘head wound’ of AZ’s the memo keeps referencing….how’d he get that?? Think maybe ‘walling’ without a buffer board? Didn’t AZ accuse them of slamming his head against a wall?

          Torture was going on before July 2002 when oral advice asked of OLC.

          Do you believe a caterpillar? (though some of them hurt like the devil when tourched). What insects would be readily available in GITMO? Biting flies, fleas, scorpions, praying mantis, bees, ants, ???

          I was in my early 20’s when the ex-POWs came home from Korea – broken. I’m for deporting Yoo, maybe dropping him off in the Kyber Pass, without shoes. [I have trouble killing a snake, but I can hardly bear to read this sick-minded stuff, and I’m very angry.]

          • emptywheel says:

            First, the 3/10/05 memo says they didn’t use the insect. So not caterpillar or anything else, if that’s to be believed.

            Second, torture WAS going on before the first memo. But that’s not waht caused AZ’s head injury–that goes back before we got to him.

            That said, what AZ described was the dry run for the “walling” technique. You’ll note they added the “false” wall after their first dry runs.

    • scribe says:

      The decision to commit actual torture, because it’s evident the CIA was going to experts (at SERE, primarily) to figure out how to do what they (and their superiors) wanted to do.

      Then, I suspect, they (or maybe Addington) met with someone from OLC (like Yoo) and got oral advise that (a), (b), (c) would be OK but (d) not, probably in one of those squash court oral opinions Yoo would give at lunch, then follow up with a memo that coordinated to his oral advice.

      • MadDog says:

        Then, I suspect, they (or maybe Addington) met with someone from OLC (like Yoo) and got oral advise that (a), (b), (c) would be OK but (d) not,…

        (My Bold)

        I don’t think the words “not” and “no” were in any of their vocabulary.

  11. emptywheel says:

    According to your reports, Zubaydah does not have any pre-existing mental conditions or problems that would make him likely to suffer prolonged mental harm from your proposed interrogation methods. Though reading his diaries and interviewing him, you have found no history of “mood disturbances or other psychiatric pathology[,]”"thought disorder[,]…enduring mood or mental health problems.”

    Yet here’s what Dan Coleman said:

    “This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality.”

    So either Rizzo lied to Yoo, Yoo quoted VERY selectively, or the interrogators lied to Rizzo.

    Which is it?

      • emptywheel says:

        Yes. Sorry. I forgot that possibility. Coleman says he was nuts based on his diary, though, which Rizzo apparently used to justify his claim that he was mentally stable.

        But I think the most likely that he was mentally unstable, and they they decided to throw his head against a wall repeatedly, which didn’t help things.

      • drational says:

        And this latter possibility could be the basis for demonstrating injury and standing….
        Here are good faith OLC memos, probably backed up with appendices of sworn statements of SERE-trained medical personnel attesting to Zubaydah’s normalcy. As such, a case could be made for permanent anatomical or psychiatric brain injury during US custody, due to torture.

        • MadDog says:

          Here are good faith OLC memos…

          This whole “good faith” crappola being spouted by AG Holder and even President Obama is total bullshit!

          The interrogators doing the torture knew it was torture! Any reasoning and rational individual would know this!

          The entire rational behind these “good faith OLC memos” was, and is, an attempt by shystering “bad faith” legal practioners to “attempt” to provide legal cover for torture by defining it as not torture.

          That Obama and Holder are attempting to sell this bag of shit only means that it is the political swill that has been pre-chewed as acceptable to The Villagers, and of course, those are the only folks that count.

        • emptywheel says:

          Note the redacted half paragraph in the second discussion of AZ’s mental health. I bet that’s the bit that shows they knew that FBI, at least, already considered him crazy, working off the same evidence (his diary) as they were working off of.

    • MadDog says:

      So either Rizzo lied to Yoo, Yoo quoted VERY selectively, or the interrogators lied to Rizzo.

      How about the interrogators lied to Rizzo, Rizzo lied to Yoo and Yoo lied back to them all.

  12. scribe says:

    At page 9 of the August 1, 2002 Yoo memo, they cross reference to the Bybee memo of August 1, 2002 re what constitutes torture in violation of sections 2340 and 2340A.

    IIRC, that memo has not yet been released. Am I right in that?

  13. ThingsComeUndone says:

    These memos get released the day after the Tea Bag Protest? Coincidence I think not both sides seem to be upping the ante.
    I’m glad the Torture memos help us nail Bush on war crimes and getting the truth out there prevents the GOP from imagining that it never happened.
    I’m hoping for more confrontations of this kind.

  14. behindthefall says:

    I suppose I have to go read these, um, things, but I’ll be looking for some sense of whether the let’s call them perpetrators were actively and “conscientiously” trying to get information or whether they were just taking notes on what happens when you mistreat human beings.

  15. Beerfart Liberal says:

    how much coverage from FOX compared to the teabaggin’? half? Qaurter? tenth? 1/100th?

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Obama speaks of “reflection nor retribution”. That sounds politically street-smart but wholly off the mark.

    It is passing strange for a would be constitutional law scholar to miss the middle ground – criminal prosecution. Then again, Mr. Obama uses words as carefully as Mr. Clinton. Retribution is not emotional revenge or unjust punishment. It’s the opposite. It is the receipt of ‘just’ deserts. It is as much reward for meritorious conduct as punishment for criminal wrongdoing.

    Mr. Obama is really saying there ought to be no consequence for crime. “They” did it to protect us, however criminal or misguided their conduct. Since when, Mr. President, has “they did their best” or “they tried hard” been enough to avoid a pink slip much less a criminal prosecution. It’s the reasoning Mr. Cheney used to excuse the serial felonies of Scooter Libby, himself and George Bush.

  17. WarOnWarOff says:

    Dilawar (the Afgan taxi driver) was killed by repeated kicks to the legs, as told in the excellent documentary “Taxi To the Dark Side.” One shift would come in and kick him, then the next, then the next, then the next. After a while, they did it just to hear him scream. Then they did it to make him stop screaming. In the end, his legs were pulpified.

    • behindthefall says:

      Dilawar (the Afgan taxi driver) was killed by repeated kicks to the legs, as told in the excellent documentary “Taxi To the Dark Side.” One shift would come in and kick him, then the next, then the next, then the next. After a while, they did it just to hear him scream. Then they did it to make him stop screaming. In the end, his legs were pulpified.

      This is what I was afraid of.

  18. Lish says:

    Obama is mastering Bill Clinton’s game of triangulation. He lets the pot boil long enough to get a good read of the tea leaves. Then he makes an eloquent speech that reveals enough insight to reassure a solid 60% that he’s on top of the issue and his heart’s in the right place. The masses go back to their toil and/or job search with a modest tax break and their faith renewed.

    What Obama knows is that the healthy majority he relies on are too busy and distracted to pay much attention to the details. They’re satisfied to hear that he’s ending the Iraq war, banning torture at Guantanamo, and going to do something about Afghanistan. They’re ready to move on and don’t really want to put much thought into how and when he’s going to accomplish what he promises.

    The 40% that Obama has written off are comprised of two main groups. 25% are teabaggers who will go down with the Republican Party no matter what. The 15% that’s left, those like us who pay close attention to the troubling discrepancies between Candidate Obama and President Obama, are slowly being hung out to dry. He knows it was only a matter of time before we’d see through his rhetoric and become disillusioned with his opportunistic invocations of the rule of law.

    For Obama’s purposes, we are inconvenient as allies, and more useful as a marginalized left-wing minority dismissed as impractical idealists. We can be superficially portrayed as an elitist counterbalance to the ignorant right-wing peasants. If Obama can band-aid the economy and keep his own nose clean, he may well succeed in becoming Clinton II.

    • i4u2bi says:

      Obama needed us once and he will need us again..U Damn Bettcha!! Chances are we won’t be there again.

  19. yellowsnapdragon says:

    From page 11 of Yoo:

    The waterboard, which inflicts no pain or acual harm whatsoever, does not, in our view inflict “severe pain or suffering.” Even if one were to parse the statute more finely to attempt to treat ”suffering” as a distinct concept, the waterboard could not be said to inflict severe suffering.

    Oh boy. That says it all.

    • LS says:

      Unbelievable…the “waterboard” does not inflict pain…

      No…it’s the frikkin’ people operating the frikkin’ waterboard…


      Surely, this can’t stand.

      Guns don’t shoot people…people shoot guns….so the waterboard, which has no mind of its own can’t harm anyone; therefore, waterboarding is nothing.

      Shoot me now…

      The only thing is to go after the waterboard “puppeteers”….oh..but they aren’t going to be held accountable…

      How about the authors of the actions of the script of the puppeteers who moved the frikkin’ waterboard and poured the water on the victims?????

      Is this what this stupid scenario is coming down to?

    • GregB says:

      Ah yes, the parsing, the lawyerly parsing…Seem to recall that caused lots of outrage some years ago when Bill Clinton parsed a blowjob.

      This country is certifiable.


  20. PJ70 says:

    Those memos are sick. I guess it’s standard procedures for Marines though. I remember when I was in high school and I got caught talking to a girl in study hall by a teacher who was an ex Marine. He must have been trained in that stuff because he had a similar punishment. He had me stand out in the hallway with my feet a couple feet from the wall. I then had to lean over and support myself against the wall with my nose for the duration of the class (45 min.) and every day after for a week. I lasted about 30 minutes for the first day. The asbestos popcorn on the wall made my nose numb. Little did I know it was torture. I probably should have just let him paddle me. Oh well. God Bless America.

  21. Alison says:

    I can’t even look.

    I saw the pages and I can’t believe people put this stuff in writing, never mind carried it out. The typeface itself made me sick.

    • cbl2 says:

      you have company. I am actually scrolling through the thread with my glasses off trying to find non descriptive but relevant material

    • MarkH says:

      Is it the kind of stuff that even Ted Olson (a Republican former solicitor general) would think needs to be prosecuted?

  22. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The preamble to the advice in the August 2, 2002, memo is all political justification. It is irrelevant to a measured reading of the law; it is an attempt to justify conduct outside the law.

  23. selise says:

    p. 8 of olc_05102005_bradbury46pg.pdf

    Medical and psychological professionals from the CIA’s Office of Medical Services (”OMS”) carefully evaluate detainees before any enhanced technique is authorized in order to ensure that the detainee “is not likely to suffer any severe physical or mental pain or suffering as a result of interrogation.” Techniques at 4; see OMS Guidelines on Medical and Psychological Support to Detainee Rendition, Interrogation and Detention at 9 (Dec. 2004) (”OMS Guidelines“)

    anyone know what these OMS Guidelines are? i want to read them.

  24. scribe says:

    Page 15: “We find that the use of the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death.”

    But, since the stacked research (Yoo states he explicitly relied only on the factual information the CIA provided him) came from CIA and SERE, where everyone knew “this is training, and if you suck it up, it will end and you’ll pass” (or in other words “cooperate and graduate”), showed the mental stress would dissipate pretty quickly, Yoo said “OK”. Not to forget that (a) Tenet’s CIA was all about pleasing the Preznit by giving him what he wanted and (b) they explicitly overlooked things like … their own studies of communist brainwashing and torture and experience in countries like Chile and other places waterboarding their prisoners….

  25. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The August 2nd, memo authorizes listed techniques and assumes they will be used in combinations of increasing stress, and that they will “culminate” in waterboarding. Presumably, the most stressful and death-implying of them all. The techniques are described clinically, with no sense of their actual delivery. “Just a dunk in the pool.”

    This sort of writing is artful, after the fact justification. It is as divorced from reality as need be in order to make the intended conclusion seem reasonable. We’ve seen it before, but the details here are striking. They make it easy to dismiss Yoo’s contention, for example, that he was just giving legal advice.

  26. NMMagyar says:

    pg 6

    “Although some individuals may experience hallucinations, according to the literature you surveyed, those who experience such psychotic symptoms have almost always had such episodes prior to the sleep deprivation.”

    Isn’t SERE training for Elite SP OP personnel? Why would people that have had psychotic episodes (breaks) be SEALS?

  27. yellowsnapdragon says:

    From page 15 of Yoo:

    Although the waterboard constitutes a threat of imminent death, prolonged mental harm must nonetheless result to violate the statutory prohibition on infliction of severe mental pain or suffering.

    but because suffering ends immediately when the wet rag is removed, it’s not prolonged suffering.

    In the absence of prolonged mental harm, no severe mental pain or suffering would have been inflicted, and the use of these procedures would not constitute torture within the meaning of the statute

  28. LS says:

    My first 2 cents at looking at document #4. BS.

    This document has obviously been extensively changed. The date is not parallel with the text, so I doubt the date at the top of the document is accurate for starters..

    You can look at the document and see where things have been cut and pasted (apparently literally and sloppily) throughout the document.

    Anyone who has worked in an office knows how to do this….cover-up 101.


    • LS says:

      You can even see the remainder of the ink…sloppily…where they put tape over with new text here and there….what a bunch of bozos….Why would they do that???? Probably much, much more incriminating before they taped over the words….


  29. financialtools1 says:

    The Torture and the H.S. report are results of this Phony War, here is my opinion about the whole thing:

    First the facts behind the Dept. of Homeland Security findings:

    a) Secretary Napolitano has send a prudent and realistic warning to the USA about one of the worst effects of this absurd Iraq War : a small minority of returning veterans, 3 to 5 % , will develop extreme violent reactions and instability prone to bullying,violence,hate , emotional and sometimes irrational reactions and mental disorders, and as many studies and medical reports indicate , a small minority of returning veterans , some of whom had already problems before they went, became upon returning extremely violent, they found some of them SPENDING MANY HOURS EVERY DAY TALKING -AND ACTING – ONLY ABOUT HOW TO KILL SOMEONE WITH ONE BULLET BETWEEN THEIR EYES, HOW TO BREAK SOMEONES NECK, HOW TO TAKE SOMEONE DOWN WITH A SINGLE BLOW, and on and on, this minority is sick and fixed on violent reactions, that’s a cruel and sad fact that the Medical Community will have to deal with re-training and therapy, and some of you have seen it in Veterans Hospitals : bullying and provoking people around them ,specially weaker and smaller ones,and looking for fights and violent situations all the time , this is a fact resulting from wars.

    b) What Secretary Napolitano , President Obama and their whole Team can do is to point out the roots of all this : all the neocons that created the lies that got us into this mess: all the liars that went on TV, Radio and Newspapers during 2002 and 2003 repeating the same lies: if we don’t attack and invade Iraq , biological and nuclear bombs will rain over America , and variations of the same nonsense…and when many of us pointed out that Saddam Hussein was unable even to fly his own military planes because he could not even get fuel, and that the US Military had Iraq totally surrounded, in a total lock down, we were called un-patriotic , un-american and much worst, and it’s sad that it took 4 years for the majority of the country to realize that the whole thing had been a lie and a criminal fraud .

    c) This Administration should demand accountability, from people that were all the time in front of the cameras , from FoxTV to PBS and ABC, from C-Span and NBC to CBS,radio and newspapers like Safire at the New York Times , etc., like Chuck Schumer and Rahm Emanuel and Wolfowitz and Perle and Feith, like Feinstein ,Boxer, Lieberman , Cheney ,Powell , Eliot Abrams and Ira Fleischer , all the paid Military “experts and advisers”, all the Hedge -Funds and Investment Bankers that profited from the Military and Security Contractors as main stockholders and Board Directors , from neocon leaders like Rupert Murdoch , Larry Silverstein ( WTC ) and Maurice Greenberg and Frenkel from AIG, all the people that pushed for this absurd war with lies , fear mongering and paranoia , get them to pay for this mess and to pay for the mentally-sick returning veterans, let them take responsibility for their incompetent ,fraudulent and criminal acts.

    And in my opinion, this Administration should make clear – and most people know – that the root of all the hate is the Palestine-Israel issue, where extreme orthodox Israelis are stealing the land from Palestinian farmers to build their own homes and all done with USA Taxpayers money, their earth movers and weapons are also paid by USA Taxpayers money, their radios, their cluster bombs, their white phosphorus bombs, their shells, their walls and Humvees , all it’s paid with the biggest USA Stimulus Package in American History to people that never worked or paid taxes in the USA : these extreme orthodox Israeli land grabbers, and we must work to create the 2 State solution and impose Peace between these 2 with the Rule of Law and the Law of the Gun if necessary , or they will destroy the USA and the whole world Peace ,sooner or later.

    And the African-American Community must also stand up and make all these points and many more, very clear, because if we don’t, these extreme fanatics, and with military precision, will bring all of us down…. these Facts and making America Energy Independent with Solar,Wind and Wave, Geothermal Energy , with fuel-cells and advanced batteries and all made in the USA are the key, the training , manufacturing and the installation is the way , the only part missing is our will to stand up and tell the Truth, to demand to talk about the Truth, and here, we must ask President Obama and Vice-President Biden to take back, for the American People, networks like C-Span,PBS and NPR which have become the platform of these extreme neocon warmongers to push their lies and fears, to push their agendas and manipulate the USA, and since most of them are members of the Intelligence of a foreign State, apply the Article I, Section 9 of the USA Constitution : ” No Person Holding any Office…shall accept any Office … from a Foreign State..” These neocons must resign their positions in the Intelligence of the Mossad and the Army of Israel at once , that’s the Law and the USA Constitution, now we need to find the real patriots that will stand-up to the Crime and the High Treason or we will lose this great country to these thieves working to install their other State laws above our USA Constitution.

  30. Styve says:

    In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.

    This cannot protect Cheney, Yoo, Addington,, right, because they manipulated the DOJ and/or were part of the office providing the faux “legal advice”?

    But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.

    This sounds like an easily defeated point because of the vagueness of the language. Is the world really supposed to accept this granting of blanket immunity, based on Obama’s paternalistic theory?

  31. Mauimom says:

    while you’re over at ACLU, consider showing them some love for all their great work prying

    Done. Thanks, Marcy, for the reminder.

  32. TheraP says:

    Let’s just imagine the memo where they answer the question whether sexual penetration constitutes torture – via the same type of analysis. And they would write: You have described this as …. (and they’d lay out penetration as simply a described activity). Then they’d present a bunch of information about how so many people for thousands of years have done this voluntarily (just like the military does for SERE training.. it’s voluntary). Then they would describe how many studies there are of this voluntary activity and how few people have been “harmed” by it, physically or psychologically.

    And before you know it….. POOF! NO such thing as rape!

    This is the problem here. They take an activity, based upon one type of situation (let’s say consensual sex – even rough consensual sex) and they “prove” that it’s ok to do that to an imprisoned individual under the worst possible conditions of treatment – and that would be ok too, since other people even “wanted” it and showed no harm from it.

    There is all the difference in the world between treating someone in a way that you would not even treat an animal – where you’d be charged with a crime if you did it to an animal – but no….. it’s ok because you break up everything into these neat little boxes and you say… box A looks ok and box B is something choose to do….and so on.

    This makes me so mad! I’m sick of debating it.

    But see how you can construct a case (like they did) and suddenly there’s no such thing as rape? See how easy that was?

  33. MadDog says:

    If anyone would like to know specifically why John O. Brennan, currently Deputy National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama, and formerly interim director of the National Counterterrorism Center immediately after its creation in 2004 through 2005 (as well as formerly Deputy Executive Director, CIA) was so strident in his opposition to the release of these Secret OLC Torture memos, you only need to read this:

    Pages 4 and 5:


    Under the CIA’s guidelines, several conditions must be satisfied before the CIA considers employing enhanced techniques in the interrogation of any detainee. The CIA must, based on available intelligence, conclude that the detainee is an important and dangerous member of an al Qaeda-affiliated group. The CIA must then determine, at the Headquarters level and on a case-by-case basis with input from the on-scene interrogation team, that enhanced interrogation methods are needed in a particular interrogation. Finally, the enhanced techniques which have been designed and implemented to minimize the potential for serious or unnecessary harm to the detainees, may be used only if there are no medical or psychological contraindications.

    [Redacted paragraph] the CIA uses enhanced interrogation techniques only if the CIA’s Counterterrorist Center (”CTC”) determines an individual to be a “High Value Detainee,”

    (My Bold)

    To simplify what I’m saying, John Brennan, currently Deputy National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama, is directly and criminally implicated in authorizing torture!

    Funny that he wouldn’t want these OLC Torture Memos to be released publicly, doncha think?

    • MadDog says:

      And perhaps President Obama got AG Holder to agree not to prosecute John Brennan, currently Deputy National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama:

      …Holder also stressed that intelligence community officials who acted reasonably and relied in good faith on authoritative legal advice from the Justice Department that their conduct was lawful, and conformed their conduct to that advice, would not face federal prosecutions for that conduct…

      ‘Cause that’s sure what it reads like to me.

    • Aeon says:

      The National Counterterrorism Center (which Brennan led) is part of the ODNI. It is not the CIA Counterterrorist Center.

      • MadDog says:

        Doh! You are absolutely correct! The NCTC, which Brennan led, is not the CIA’s CTC.

        I apologize to John Brennan and withdraw my spurious accusation.

        Double doh, sheesh!

        • MadDog says:

          Let me withdraw my withdrawal of my not-so-spurious accusation vis a vis John Brennan, and amend my complaint to focus instead on his position as:

          …CIA deputy executive director in March 2001 and served in that post until 2003…

          And this:

          …Director Tenet also announced today the appointment of John O. Brennan to serve as Deputy Executive Director. Mr. Brennan is currently Chief of Staff to the DCI and has had an outstanding 21 year career in the Agency’s Directorates of Intelligence and Operations including significant postings overseas…

          When the torture interrogations were taking place and:

          …The CIA must then determine, at the Headquarters level and on a case-by-case basis with input from the on-scene interrogation team, that enhanced interrogation methods are needed in a particular interrogation…

          (My Bold)

          Mr. Brennan’s involvement is at a high level of probability and would be to quote his former boss George Tenet: “A slam dunk!”

  34. radiofreewill says:

    Obama has made it clear that he personally finds everything in these Torture Memos abhorent.

    However, the process of rectifying Bush’s severely disturbing deviation from respecting Universal Human Rights is larger than just the involvement of the Executive.

    On the Policy front, Obama has done everything he can to address and correct the work products of Bush’s Yoo-veneered Sadism. For Obama to go further and condemn Bush, and his Policy Henchpeople, would be overly prejudicial to the Process at large, imvho.

    For instance, everyone knew Manson was Guilty of Orchestrating Heinous Crimes, too, but Nixon was Wrong to declare it, on the front page of the Washington Post, before the Jury rendered its verdict.

    In the bigger picture, Obama must remain *clear-sighted*, beyond reproach and Politically Neutral in order that Justice may prevail – Justice for All, as a Process enshrined in Our Laws.

    And, for that to happen, Congress must now step-up and Investigate, so that We can All better understand how these ‘Green-Light the Monsters’ Memos came about, and were put to use as Instruments of Bush’s Policy of Inhuman Sadistic Brutality.

    • Petrocelli says:

      Yep, we have to call Whitehouse and find out what he’s doing about this. I’m going to e-mail him tomorrow.

  35. wavpeac says:

    There is a fundamental reason why the 12 steps works in changing addictive behavior. Because it ameliorates guilt,shame and the cycle of avoidance.

    Obama is wrong. This is not a time for just reflection. This is time for the verb “amends”. This country must admit the exact nature of our wrongs. We must make things better than they were. We must amend the wrong.

    There is no recovery without this process. Reflection alone will only leave us stuck in an addictive cycle of avoidance…we will be destined to repeat the behavior. Part of recovery is accepting the true consequences of our behaviors and being willing to make amends and then be willing to avoid the same mistakes.

    There is no way out of this reality…but that path.

    • greenwarrior says:

      and….none of the people involved should ever be able to do this again – they should be in jail – as a deterrent to them doing anything like this again and as a deterrent to anyone else doing it in the future. and the ones who are responsible for murder should be tried and sentenced accordingly. we still have capital punishment here in texas. it’d be nice to see it put to good use, for a change.

    • MarkH says:

      You can prepare for the snake dance by holding a stick in your mouth and dancing. But, when the time comes you gotta just do it or go home.

      How much does the Rule of Law mean to us?

  36. pseudonymousinnc says:

    Remember the revolt at the APA over its higher-ups’ refusal to prohibit members from participating in the Gitmo Torture Experiment?


    I still hope my pilot, “Let’s Kidnap And Waterboard Right-Wing Criminal Scum”, gets greenlighted. John Yoo is on the list for that one.

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      “Let us seek out some desolate shade, and there
      Weep our sad bosoms empty.”

      Macbeth, IV.iii

  37. Cujo359 says:

    To further reduce the probability of injury, the individual is allowed to rebound from the flexible wall.

    Thus proving that these people had no more understanding of medicine than they did of the law.

  38. antibanana says:

    This may sound terribly off topic – but I would like to know whether any CIA employees or contractors involved in these activities had any previous experience with torture tactics. Chile comes to mind for starters.

    I’ve also been curious as to why it is that Rodriguez destroyed those torture tapes. If I recall correctly, Rodriguez has his own connections to questionable characters involved with Iran-Contra.

    Maybe I’ve just been reading too many conspiracy theories lately.

    Still, no one has answered WHY the Bush administration was so keen on instituting these procedures. I don’t accept the explanation that it was done purely for the purpose of sadism.

    Someone wanted the victims permanently damaged, and wanted to create false leads for others to pursue.

    • MadDog says:

      …Chile comes to mind for starters…

      As does San Salvador, Guatamala and even the Contras of Nicaraqua. Repugs have decades of experience doing “business” with their “south of the border” BFFs.

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, there’s David Addington and Dick CHeney.

      Apparently, when Dick was SecDef and Addington his GC, they got all the manuals for torture from School of Americas–it was becoming embarassing that the school was teaching torture.

      But they kept the only known copies of those torture manuals.

      That close enough to Latin America for you?

  39. Styve says:

    Steve Benen, of Washington Monthly, noted the significance of the language Obama and Holder used earlier…

    As for the statement, at first blush, the decision not to investigate those who did the torturing — those who followed the OLC’s legal advice — is only a small part of the bigger picture. The president doesn’t want to go after individual, low-person-on-the-totem-pole officials who, in all likelihood, committed war crimes by torturing detainees. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement, “It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department.”

    How about, then, pursuing criminal charges against those who did the sanctioning?

    • Eureka Springs says:

      How about following the law, constitution, treaties… and precedent like nuremberg, and prosecuting criminality, wherever it happened?

      Just following orders? Give me a break… not the criminals.

    • emptywheel says:

      They have ALWAYS (even when Kit Bond was trying to get guarantees out of Holder pre-approval) stopped short of saying they wouldn’t prosecute the architects of the torture.

  40. THATanonymous says:

    Sheeeesh! Where’s a good logician when you need one?

    If it wasn’t torture, why would they expect it to work?

    TA (the law is not the law)

  41. Styve says:

    From Hullabaloo~

    …it goes without saying that indemnifying the CIA personnel who committed the torture because they were acting under what they believed to be a legal basis violates the Nuremberg principles.

    Article 7. The official position of defendants, whether as Heads of State or responsible officials in Government Departments, shall not be considered as freeing them from responsibility or mitigating punishment.

    Article 8. The fact that the Defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determines that justice so requires.

    • Valtin says:

      Excellent point, and I made the same one earlier today, too, calling my article, pointedly, Obama & Holder Trash Nuremberg Principles:

      A dark, dark day for America.

      “They were only following orders.” This is the opinion of Eric Holder, as offered in his statement today, describing the decision to release four Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel memos….

      And so the United States government, 64 years after the end of World War II, adopts the infamous slogan of “Befehl ist Befehl” (literally “orders are orders”), otherwise known as the Nuremberg Defense….

      “Mitigation of punishment” sounds a hell of a lot different than what Holder is proposing, which is an all-out defense of those who claim who were “only following orders” (quotes for irony, not Holder’s). Perhaps Holder should consider this statement, from the Nuremberg IMT’s [International Military Tribunal] Trial of the Major War Criminals:

      Crimes against international law are committed by men, not by abstract entities, and only by punishing individuals who commit such crimes can the provisions of international law be enforced.

      Or both Holder and Obama can consider what the U.S., as a High Contracting Party, or signatory, to the Geneva Conventions says about the duty to prosecute war crimes, such as torture (emphasis added):

      Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches, and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such High Contracting Party has made out a prima facie case.

      Geneva III POWs, art. 129, Geneva IV Civilians, art. 146; see also 18 USC 2441(c)(1).

      Evidence of the crimes committed by CIA officers, agents and/or contractors in perpetuating torture are documented in a number of sources, but none as authoritative as the recent report by the International Committee of the Red Cross on CIA abuse and torture of “high-value detainees” in its custody. The failure to seek prosecutions of war criminals, and now by formal pronouncement, puts high officials of the U.S. government in violation of the Geneva Conventions….

      Additionally, and no less outrageously, when Eric Holder or Barack Obama tell you the U.S. government does not condone torture, they do not tell you the truth. The government maintains a classic form of torture within the current Army Field Manual, combining partial sensory deprivation, isolation, sleep deprivation, harsh use of fear and dread, all while instilling a sense of hopelessness in prisoners, which is the same sort of psychological torture perfected by the Stalinists of various countries, and advocated in the CIA’s own counter-intelligence interrogation manual from the early 1960s, known as the KUBARK Manual.

  42. prostratedragon says:

    So the incessant chanting with each new arrest or planeload of “senior al-Qaeda official” and “high value detainee” and such terms had a purpose, however juvenile, beyond lulling as much of the general public as possible to sleep. They wanted to have some track record for assertions later in court, should it come to that, that this is what they really thought these suburban taxi drivers and concierges were.

    Then I guess part of what’s being called sources and methods or whatever and held back would be intake documentation that would demonstrate conclusively to the contrary.

  43. MadDog says:

    Apparently I wasn’t the only one who stumbled over this (page 7):

    …For example, after medical and psychological examinations found no contraindications, [redacted]s interrogation team sought and obtained approval to use the following techniques: attention grasp, walling, facial hold, facial slap, wall standing, stress positions, and sleep deprivation. See August 25 [redacted] Letter at 2. The interrogation team “carefully analyzed Gul’s responsiveness to different areas of inquiry” during this time and notes that his resistance increased as questioning moved to his “knowledge of operational terrorist activities.”

    (My Bold)

    ProPublica caught it too!

    Newly Released OLC Memo Inadvertently Reveals Missing Detainee Held (and Abused) in CIA Prison

    Among the OLC memos released today, one appears to inadvertently reveal that a top al-Qaeda suspect captured in northern Iraq in January, 2004, was held by the CIA in a secret prison.

    After Hassan Ghul was arrested in early 2004, President Bush told reporters: “Just last week we made further progress in making America more secure when a fellow named Hassan Ghul was captured in Iraq. Hassan Ghul reported directly to Khalid Sheik Mohammad, who was the mastermind of the September 11 attacks. He was captured in Iraq, where he was helping al Qaeda to put pressure on our troops.”


    …The 9/11 Commission report said Ghul was in “U.S. custody.” But the government itself never discussed Ghul’s whereabouts. And the CIA has never acknowledged holding Ghul.

    Three years after his capture, human rights groups were surprised when Ghul was not included among 14 high-value detainees who were transferred out of the CIA’s black sites program and sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in 2007.

    Since then, he has been considered a missing, or ghost detainee…


    …So it appears we now have evidence Ghul was in a CIA prison. Where he is today is still a mystery.

    We’ve called the CIA, and they declined to comment.

      • MadDog says:

        And Gul/Ghul is now being currently held where?

        If we were to believe CIA Director Panetta, certainly not in his “closed” black prison sites”:

        CIA no longer operates detention facilities or black sites and has proposed a plan to decommission the remaining sites.

        And my reading of CIA Director Panetta’s statement here:

        …CIA retains the authority to detain individuals on a short-term transitory basis. None have occurred since I have become Director

        (My Bold)

        Means that no “new” detainees have been detained since assuming the CIA Directorship, but that it doesn’t mean that the CIA isn’t still detaining folks or having them detained by 3rd parties.

  44. skdadl says:

    I just went back to scan the descriptions of “walling” that I remembered from Danner’s first summary of the ICRC report. They still don’t sound the same as the technique outlined in the first memo above, although it’s true that in only one case that Danner cites (that of KSM) is banging the head against the wall (repeatedly) explicitly mentioned that I can see.

    As someone above says, though, I don’t know how anyone could imagine that he had precise control over such a brutal technique. Yet the memo is written with such prim assurance that measurable control is possible. Madness.

  45. Mary says:

    83 – that shows up very specifically in the evolution of the discussion, evein in the memos, of waterboarding. The “sure it was different from SERE, it was for real” reaction cited tells you most of what you need there.

    Aside and apart from how appalling the memos are, they have a few less emotional issues that emerge after you look at them.

    I’ve mentioned before in connection with other memos released that, despite the assertions that people were “relying” on them in “good faith” that they just simply were not reliance opinions. In large part bc they had no facts (and Bradbury alludes to this too in later day sainthood before he left office and referencing general policy issues v. specific fact settings) and as a result, they just did not meet the standards for reliance.

    The above linked memos, by contrast, are the actual “reliance” memos and that brings you to some of the other areas of difficulty.

    Mad Dog gets to the first one – because they are more fact recitation dense, the individuals highlighted in the authorization chain and also in the chain of certifying to OLC what they say was going on come to the fore on liability. Brennan, Tenet, and in particular Rizzo, OMS and really revolting physician/psychologists. There you have a lot of issues, including the fact there appear to be some glaring and intentional misrepresenations which may go to invalidating chunks of the opinions EVEN IF you bought into any of it (for example, the mental status information on Zubaydah). You also have the complete lack of due diligence in general by Bybee/Yoo and Bradbury. Their whole fact recitations are premised on “you tell us this” and “you tell us that” and “you tell us that all this is fine and hunky dory” and then gets to the conclusions based on assumptions of veracity of all the underlying info.

    Despite a lot of effort to pad out the stats and facts, there’s no fact recitation of contacts with DOJ/FBI persons present during some of the interview or non-CIA input on issues like sleep deprivation etc.

    But even if you then put the misrepresentations and lack of due diligence aside you get to one of the major problems.

    There’s a lot the opinions don’t discuss and don’t authorize.

    What was done with Jamadi – what was done with Qhatani (although non-CIA), what was done with the detainee who froze to death in 2002 – none of those kinds of hypothermia to the point of death or turning blue and beatings to death are authorized by the memos.

    Then there are other things that aren’t discussed – like the issue of disappearing someone for years. That’s not something that happens to SERE members and issues of disappearing someone and taking to to a foreign country and isolating them for years etc. (especially when you also have issues like their anxiety for what is happening to their families – etc) Nothing in the memos authorize that, nothing discusses it in a torture context, nothing discusses it in a cumulative context (despite the fact that the disappearances had been going on for years in isolation by the time Bradbury issued his report).

    Nothing about dumping someone the way el-Masri was dumped and leaving him to have to try to figure out if he really is crazy as he tries to sell his story – nothing about the divorces and family problems (el-Masri returned to find his wife had divorced him) Nothing, also, about the effect of having family members disappeared on those who remain. It doesn’t have any long term, lasting menta effect for a young child to grow up with a disappeared parent who, when returned, has been a torture victim?

    Nothing about threats of rape and harm to family. Nothing about simulated sodomy. Nothing about anal penetrations. Nothing about kidnap by stealth. Nothing about conspiracy to send to places where more intense pressure will be applied (Syria, Morocco, etc.) or about threats to send to such places. Nothing about — a whole long list of things. And very little indeed about how anything they say applies to anyone who is a “mistake” There’s a sideways reference in the cumulative effects memo to what about people who are not “high value” detainees (which would include people who are innocent of being combatants)

    There’s a lot more worth attention and discussion, but one thing the release of the memos does is basically take away the “authorized by good faith reliance on OLC opinions” response for many actions, even if you leave the revolting memos untouched. And you put Rizzo in particular right in the track back for specific factual representations to OLC that may very well be incorrect and have been used specifically to elicit an opinion for reliance that is based on false information.

  46. Mary says:

    Bradbury also recognizes even in his own memos that the information provided from Rizzo and used to generate the 2002 memo is contradicted by the IG report

  47. Mary says:

    I have to wonder, reading through the analysis, how proudly DOJ would stand and assert that those are the standards that should be applicable to North Korea in its handling of the two US journalists it is holding as spies?

  48. antibanana says:

    EW at 124–

    That’s the first time I have ever heard this. Do you have any references regarding the retained torture manuals?


    • emptywheel says:

      Philippe Sands wrote about it in Torture Team. I can’t find a more specific reference than that right off–but it was replicated in Mayer’s book (I think) and appears online in a few places).

      • Valtin says:

        Here’s the link, EW. The reference re Cheney and Rumsfeld has to do with the Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual below.

        The two CIA manuals, “Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual-1983″ and “KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation-July 1963,” were originally obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Baltimore Sun in 1997. The KUBARK manual includes a detailed section on “The Coercive Counterintelligence Interrogation of Resistant Sources,” with concrete assessments on employing “Threats and Fear,” “Pain,” and “Debility.” The language of the 1983 “Exploitation” manual drew heavily on the language of the earlier manual, as well as on Army Intelligence field manuals from the mid 1960s generated by “Project X”-a military effort to create training guides drawn from counterinsurgency experience in Vietnam. Recommendations on prisoner interrogation included the threat of violence and deprivation and noted that no threat should be made unless the questioner “has approval to carry out the threat.” The interrogator “is able to manipulate the subject’s environment,” the 1983 manual states, “to create unpleasant or intolerable situations, to disrupt patterns of time, space, and sensory perception.”

        Re the Cheney connection, there’s this, from National Security Archive:

        Washington D.C. May 12, 2004: CIA interrogation manuals written in the 1960s and 1980s described “coercive techniques” such as those used to mistreat detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, according to the declassified documents posted today by the National Security Archive. The Archive also posted a secret 1992 report written for then Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney [PDF file] warning that U.S. Army intelligence manuals that incorporated the earlier work of the CIA for training Latin American military officers in interrogation and counterintelligence techniques contained “offensive and objectionable material” that “undermines U.S. credibility, and could result in significant embarrassment.”

        I wrote about this myself back in May 2006.

  49. MadDog says:

    I think the ACLU is gonna have Judge Hellerstein even more on their side – From Page 8:

    …Careful records are kept of each interrogation, which ensures accountability and allows for ongoing evaluation of the efficacy of each technique and its potential for any unintended or inappropriate results…

    The CIA destroyed those 92 videotapes, but I bet they still have those “records”.

    Go ACLU!

    • TarheelDem says:

      Having records and having them organized for easy access for oversight are two different things. Don’t we already know that the records are an absolute mess because the Bush administration thought these folks would never stand trial and never be released? Isn’t that one of the difficulties that DOJ is having when they receive a Gitmo case? Or is that just Holder-spin?

      • MadDog says:

        Based on the missing White House emails and destroyed CIA torture videotapes, I’m guessing all agencies of the former Bush/Cheney Administration will suddenly forget to remember what they did with all their files.

        And that wasn’t a bug of the Bush/Cheney Administration, that was a feature!

  50. Mary says:

    134 – that’s part of the point on Rizzo painting the fact picture with inapposite facts. It puts him in a very differnt spot but it also, even as bad as they are otherwise, negates a good faith reliance argument if you are relying on an opinion based on your made up facts vs one that had the actual facts. This is one of the reasons why they have fought so hard. Not so much that they are worried about how shocked and repelled people will be, but more so that the holes in their good faith reliance argument get so much bigger. They are now huge big holes EVEN IF you bought into everything the memos say, which a normal person would not. Notice how all the mental states exams and the memos fail to mention all the Hanni’s when they talk about Zubaydah?

    135 – near Noor al-Deen?

  51. MadDog says:

    I thought I’d pass these little tidbits on as well:

    From a letter President Obama wrote today to CIA employees:

    …In releasing these memos, the men and women of the CIA have assurances from both myself, and from Attorney General Holder, that we will protect all who acted reasonably and relied upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that their actions were lawful. The Attorney General has assured me that these individuals will not be prosecuted and that the Government will stand by them…

    And at the same link, here’s what CIA Director Panetta wrote his own letter to CIA employees:

    …Although this Administration has now put into place new policies that CIA is implementing, the fact remains that CIA’s detention and interrogation effort was authorized and approved by our government. For that reason, as I have continued to make clear, I will strongly oppose any effort to investigate or punish those who followed the guidance of the Department of Justice.

    The President and the Attorney General have also made clear that there will be no investigation or prosecution of CIA personnel who operated within the legal system. In addition, the Department will provide legal representation to CIA personnel subject to investigations relating to these operations…

    (My Bold)

  52. MadDog says:

    And a passing thought for comment by any and all residents here:

    Does anyone have any idea why the former Bush/Cheney Administration did not file something in Federal Court blocking the release of these OLC Torture Memos on the basis of an Executive Privilege assertion, specifically in the manner (if I recall it right) that Truman did/attempted/wished to do after his term was over?

    Given all the Executive Privilege assertions by the Bush/Cheney Administration, I find it quite surprising that they didn’t go to the mat on this one too.

    Anyone else’s thoughts?

    • emptywheel says:

      Because these count as agency documents, and therefore the claim to EP is weak?

      Or because GregCraig got them to buy off on Obama running EP back when he brokered the Rove deal?

      I think it’s the former–the EP claim here is very weak, since if they claim this is ONLY deliberative (as they have with other key memos) then they can’t claim this is the basis by which people executed the torture (that is, either they claim EP, or they protect the torturers).

      • MadDog says:

        Because these count as agency documents, and therefore the claim to EP is weak?

        That never stopped the Bush/Cheney Administration before.

        Think Cheney testimony before Pat Fitzgerald and his FBI folks on the Plame Betrayal. Then AG Mumbles Mukasey decided that those FBI records deserved EP invocation.

        I do find some viability in your surmise here:

        I think it’s the former–the EP claim here is very weak, since if they claim this is ONLY deliberative (as they have with other key memos) then they can’t claim this is the basis by which people executed the torture (that is, either they claim EP, or they protect the torturers).

        Still, all I’m saying, is that I’m surprised no attempt was made, and not that it would have been sucessful. *g*

        Perhaps there is still some secret unpublicized pardons that Junya wrote for himself and Deadeye, and that Greg Craig found copies in his, but formerly Fred Fielding’s, desk drawer.. *g*

  53. pdaly says:

    The walling technique makes me think a concussion or brain contusion could occur. The brain “floats” inside the skull, so sudden acceleration and deceleration could cause the brain to slam up against the hard inner surface of the skull.

    The brain doesn’t feel pain, so I guess the technique would be painless–and invisible to the naked eye. But what about the temporary confusion or the permanent brain damage?

    • prostratedragon says:

      Actually what’s described in the August 2002 memo could easily cause the whipping effect you describe, if done smartly —imagine simultaneously snapping the triceps out and the wrists around. I wonder whether that’s one of those techniques meant to damage but not leave marks.

    • Valtin says:

      143 – Correct. It’s called a closed head injury. It’s something akin to what auto accident victims suffer, also boxers. In babies, it’s called shaken baby syndrome. But the evil genius of it, again, no marks!

      Btw, I want to put in a plug for the fact that there’s plenty of evidence re torture pre so-called justification memos, no matter what’s written in them. Torture of Lindh, involvement of SERE re interrogations in December 2001, etc. The torture was far more planned out than thought. The “experiments” were not something new; they are part of what is always going on at SERE, a permanent research project, you could say, involving a number of academics and prestigious universities, like Yale (where I have a personal signed letter from one of these researchers about the research done there).

      This research project is connected, I would say, to the MKULTRA and sensory deprivation research experiments that dominated psychological “science” in the 1950s-1970s, and included many of the top people in the psychology field. Look at the recent controversies over former APA president Martin Seligman’s “learned helplessness” research, and his teaching of it at SERE schools (see Jane Mayer’s book).

      The 8/1/02 memo references “outside psychologists” involved in the vetting of the interrogation process. I’d like to know who they were.

      • pdaly says:


        You know, I had always assumed I knew what MKULTRA was about, but I realized after googling I was way off base. Had no idea the CIA was lacing drinks and watching the effects on unsuspecting victims.

        I watched the Manchurian Candidate (original not the remake) and thought the psychological assumptions of brainwashing a person to react to predetermined cues absurd. No idea that the military was researching exactly that scenario.

  54. pdaly says:

    Could someone explain to me the difference between Yoo’s August 1, 2002 memo to then WH Counsel Gonzales (aka the Bybee memo), and ByBee’s August 1, 2002 Memorandum for CIA’s Acting General Counsel John Rizzo (referred here as the Yoo memo)? I know Yoo and Bybee cowrote the torture memo, but I’m not sure how to refer to each.

    On first glance, the memorandum to Rizzo looks to list the torture methods in detail, but both memos, sent the same day in 2002 are dealing with making torture not torture.

    Lastly, here’s John Dean in 2005 wrt the Aug 1, 2002 “Yoo to Gonzales” memo:

    Experts Have Made Clear that the Bybee Memo Evidences War Crimes

    Following Gonzales’s appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a panel of experts testified. The panel included former Admiral John Hutson, the head of the Navy’s Judge Advocates General Corps, and Harold Koh, a former Assistant Secretary for Human Rights, who worked in the Office of Legal Counsel during the Reagan Administration. Koh, an expert in international human rights, is now the Dean of Yale Law School.

    Both of these witnesses decimated Bybee’s legal interpretations. For example, Dean Koh minced no words when he stated, “in my professional opinion as a law professor and a law dean, the Bybee memorandum is perhaps the most clearly legally erroneous opinion I have ever read.” And he proceeded to spell out no less than “five obvious failures” within the memo.

    According to Dean Koh, the memo’s blatant flaws include its ignoring the existing “zero tolerance policy” on torture, and its defining torture so loosely that it would tolerate “the things that Saddam Hussein’s forces did” such as “beating, pulling out a fingernail, burning with hot irons, suspension from ceiling fans” to name a few. Also, Koh noted, the memo so “grossly overreads the president’s constitutional power” that, under its logic, the president could “order genocide or other kinds of acts” and neither Congress nor the courts could stop him.

    Additionally, the memo’s advice that “executive officials can escape prosecution if they are carrying out the president’s orders as commander in chief” is, Koh noted, the same I-was-following-orders “defense which was rejected in Nuremberg and is at the very basis of our international criminal law.” Finally, Koh noted, Bybee’s memo tolerates “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” which is contrary to the existing law.

    Other international law, and law of war, experts tell me that Bybee’s memo (not to mention a few others) is damning evidence suggesting a common plan on the part of the Administration to violate the laws of war. Strikingly, such a “common plan,” or conspiracy, is itself a war crime.

    (my bold)

    Have Harold Koh or John Dean spoken out today? or is Koh keeping quiet until confirmed by the Senate?

  55. MadDog says:

    I haven’t stumbled across this yet in the OLC Torture memos, but I’ll take the NYT’s word that it’s in one of them:

    …But a footnote to a 2005 memo made it clear that the rules were not always followed. Waterboarding was used “with far greater frequency than initially indicated” and with “large volumes of water” rather than the small quantities in the rules, one memo says, citing a 2004 report by the C.I.A.’s inspector general…

    • emptywheel says:

      I think that refers to is the question of units. Hayden has said only three people were water-boarded. But acc to the memos, one “session” may include up to 12 “incidences” of water-boarding.

      But remember, Dan Levin said this to Congress. They said it had hapened just a few times. He said it had happened hundreds.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      And the idea that waterboarding would be done in such a way as to prohibit water from being inhaled is laughable. The point of waterboarding is not merely to prevent breathing. The terror is knowing that you’ll inhale water because you can’t stop yourself from inhaling, and you do inhale water and start to drown. Which makes the “assumption” in these memos knowingly absurd.

  56. timbo says:

    Sicking. How can our so called leaders even appear in civilized countries? I hope Spain goes forward and so do other nations that still believe in the Geneva Convention.

  57. worldwidehappiness says:

    Obama said:

    “This is a time for reflection, not retribution.”

    It takes a special kind of person to order these things and to do these kinds of things.

    From Deliverance:

    Mountain Man: I bet you can squeal like a pig. Weeeeeeee!
    Bobby: Weee!
    Mountain Man: Weee!
    Bobby: Weee!

    Mountain Man: What do you want to do now?
    Toothless Man: [grinning] He’s got a real pretty mouth on him, don’t he?
    Mountain Man: Ain’t that the truth.
    Toothless Man: [to Ed] You gonna do some prayin’ for me, boy. And you better pray real good.

  58. 4jkb4ia says:

    I will now apologize to Mary because it does seem chillingly apt that I will never get to this before Yom HaShoah.

  59. Leen says:

    Bush’s Tortured Logic…

    “Finding weak legal arguments to justify immoral activity is the work of fools and knaves.

    I applaud the ACLU for securing these documents. It is a good first step.

    Unfortunately, Barack “Mr. Constitutional Scholar” Obama left the door for future abuses? Why? No one who worked for the CIA will be punished for carrying out these actions.

    Ironically the U.S. Department of Justice this week was allowing a former Nazi death camp guard to be deported back to Poland to face possible charges for abuses he committed while carrying out the orders of superiors. Hell, while we are giving everyone a pass for illegal, immoral activity carried out for what the leaders considered to be a good purpose, let’s let Demanjuk go. At least we would be consistent.

    Rule of law my ass.”

  60. Mary says:

    147 – the earlier memo is a rambling exercise in what the word “torture” means to the United States Department of Justice. It would be extremely difficult for anyone to claim “reliance” on this memo (good faith or otherwise) because it simply does not operate off of any particular fact setting.

    The August memo linked above is “reliance” memo, giving specific facts about specific detainees and authorizing specific actions to be taken. I’m not sure how you want to refer to them (they are all torture memos imo) but you newly released Aug 2002 memo is a menu of specifically authorized torture for specific persons.

    • pdaly says:

      Thanks, that distinction is helpful.
      I had assumed that the WH would have asked for clarification first before ordering CIA to come up with a list of torture techniques that are not torture. And I thought the WH would have received a similar answer that CIA received. Maybe they received a carbon copy of OLC’s memo to Rizzo, too?

      OLC’s two memos (Yoo/Bybee memo to the WH Counsel and Yoo/Bybee memo to the CIA Counsel) on the same day Aug 01, 2002 must have been a “banner day” for OLC. Lots of fun, prim answers to questions from the Executive Branch.

  61. Mary says:

    152 – yes, that’s in one of Bradbury’s 2005 memos. I think it’s the one that kind of tracks the original August memo on authorizing specific acts committed against specific detainees. It’s in a discussion of waterboarding and how it is going to be performed.

    Bradbury drops a footnote about the Inspector General’s report and we learn that Rizzo has lied to the OLC about how the waterboarding is being done (it is not being done like a SERE waterboarding but instead in a much more extreme way) per the Inspector General’s report. Bradbury even refers to someone saying something to the effect of ‘hell yes it was different, it was for real’ So he goes on to say, look – I’m Obama, I don’t look back. OMS folks say they have stepped in and rearranged how the waterboarding is being done and it’s not currently being done to anyone anyway and so let’s ignore prior lies and just say that SERE waterboarding is AOK and let’s also pretend we can rely on everything else Rizzo said for all the rest of our analysis being true, even though we have the IG report in front of us and he clearly was not telling the truth.

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