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Archive for the ‘Yoo’ Category

Hey Americans, the Pundits Blame You for Bush and Cheney’s Torture Policies

By Rory O’Connor, MediaChannel.org. Posted May 13, 2009.

In their mad dash to ensure that no one in the Bush administration is held accountable for torture, the media are putting the blame on all Americans.

What is it about torture that is so seductive to our mainstream media?

First, our leading (and often “liberal”) commentators and analysts, writing in supposedly respectable publications such as Newsweek and The Atlantic, tried to appear as tough-minded believers in realpolitik by siding with such REALLY tough-minded believers as Dick Cheney when he led our country over to “the dark side.”

Then multiple Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Friedman — ever consistent and persistent in his excuse making for the powerful — hailed, in a recent column, Barack (“Split the baby“) Obama’s “torturous compromise” to expose, but not prosecute, those responsible for violating our Constitution and international law by torturing in our names. This despite the fact that, as Friedman accurately noted, “more than 100 detainees died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, with up to 27 of those declared homicides by the military. They were allegedly kicked to death, shot, suffocated or drowned. Look, our people killed detainees, and only a handful of those deaths have resulted in any punishment of U.S. officials.”

Then Jacob Weisberg, chairman and editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, agreed with Friedman’s contention that there should be no torture prosecutions because we had all “acquiesced” in the Bush-Cheney Torture Agenda; we were all “the President’s accomplices,” and thus “pursuing criminal charges would be too hard legally and politically and too easy morally.’ According to Weisberg’s twisted morality and logic, “Prosecuting Bush and his men won’t absolve the rest of us for what we let them do.”

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Sudhan @22:15 CET

Jason  Leopold | Consortiumnews.com, Feb 15, 2009

A key line in George W. Bush’s defense against war crimes charges has weakened with the disclosure that an internal Justice Department watchdog has concluded that the legal advice, which cleared the way for Bush’s policies on torture and other abuse of detainees, was tainted by political influence.

An investigation by H. Marshall Jarrett, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, reached “damning” conclusions about numerous cases of “misconduct” in the advice from John Yoo and other lawyers in the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush administration, according to legal sources familiar with the report’s contents.

OPR investigators determined that Yoo blurred the lines between an attorney charged with providing independent legal advice to the White House and a policy advocate who was working to advance the administration’s goals, said the sources who spoke on condition of anonymity because the contents of the report are still classified.

One part of the OPR report criticized Yoo’s use of an obscure 2000 health benefits statute to narrow the definition of torture in a way that permitted waterboarding and other acts that have historically been regarded as torture under U.S. law, the sources said.

The report also criticizes Yoo’s legal theories that the President of the United States had the right to suspend Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, the sources said. It is believed that Yoo’s legal theories led to a warrantless wiretap program after 9/11.

The OPR report was completed late last year but was kept under wraps by Attorney General Michael Mukasey while Bush finished out his days in office, the sources said.

Continued >>

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‘Sadism-gate’: Call Torture ‘the Bush system,’ Olbermann says

Raw Story- David Edwards and Ron Brynaert
Published: Friday January 30, 2009

John Yoo, a former member of the Justice Department who wrote the first rationalization that torture is legal, argued in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Thursday that the United States must continue to use enhanced interrogation methods, even torture, in order to stop future terror plots.

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann hit back at Yoo during his Countdown show’s ‘Still Bushed’ segment.

“Sadism-gate, that is the only explanation left, clinical sadism,” Olbermann declared.

“John Yoo, the Justice Department flunky who wrote the department’s first rationalization that torture was legal, was in the ‘Wall Street Journal of Torture‘ today insisting we must, we must, we must torture people,” Olbermann continued. “President Obama, Yoo hallucinates, may have opened the door to further terrorism attacks on U.S. soil.”

Olbermann quoted from Yoo’s op-ed: “Eliminating the Bush will mean we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Relying on the civilian justice system…robs us of the most effective intelligence tool to avert future attacks.”

“That study after study has proven that torture produces unreliable information, that the Bush administration humiliated itself and this nation with its boasting about stopping plots that were laughable to anybody with an IQ over 35,” Olbermann intoned, “that he and Mr. Bush did more harm to this nation internationally than any terrorist ever could seems to escape Mr. Yoo in what must literally be a lust to know that somewhere somebody was fearing death at the hands of his own government.”

Olbermann did find a silver lining in Yoo’s op-ed.

“But in his fevered delusions at least he has given us this,” Olbermann said. “He has given us a new name for torture and I think we should use it forever.”

“Water boarding, sleep deprivation, sexual degradation, threats, use of animals, as he called it,” Olbermann paused before adding dramatically, “the Bush system.”

A separate RAW STORY article on Yoo’s editorial can be read at this link.

This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast Jan. 29, 2009.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Torture Lover John Yoo Excoriates Obama For Banning Torture»

Think Progress- By Ali Frick at 12:04 pm

John Yoo, infamous author of the Bush administration legal memos authorizing the use of torture on suspected terrorists, slams President Obama for banning torture in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, gravely warning that Obama “may have opened the door to further terrorist acts on U.S. soil.”

Throughout the article, Yoo insists that torture is America’s most effective weapon against terrorists and warns that without it, the U.S. will be incapable of intelligence-gathering:

Eliminating the Bush system will mean that we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Every prisoner will have the right to a lawyer (which they will surely demand), the right to remain silent, and the right to a speedy trial. […]

Relying on the civilian justice system not only robs us of the most effective intelligence tool to avert future attacks, it provides an opportunity for our enemies to obtain intelligence on us.

Considering the Bush administration repeatedly insisted its use of coercive techniques was “limited,” it would be a far stretch even for loyal Bushies to suggest that torture is not the one and only method to obtaining information. And as ThinkProgress has made clear again and again, numerous intelligence experts and real interrogators agree that, far from being “the most effective intelligence tool,” torture simply doesn’t work.

Yoo continues his screed by making up facts about Obama’s ban:

The CIA must now conduct interrogations according to the rules of the Army Field Manual, which prohibits coercive techniques, threats and promises, and the good-cop bad-cop routines used in police stations throughout America. … His new order amounts to requiring — on penalty of prosecution — that CIA interrogators be polite.

Yoo has no idea what he’s talking about. Nothing requires anyone to “be polite” — although the rapport building method has often proved to be interrogators’ most effective technique. And the notion that good-cop/bad-cop would be banned is simply false, Media Matters pointed out earlier this week:

In fact, the Army Field Manual explicitly permits good cop-bad cop interrogations under the name of “Mutt and Jeff” interrogations, which involve two interrogators “display[ing] opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source.” The Field Manual says the “goal of this technique is to make the source identify with one of the interrogators and thereby establish[ing] rapport and cooperation.”

It’s no secret that Yoo is an ardent torture enthusiast: He famously said that only those techniques that inflict pain equivalent to “death, organ failure or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body functions” constitute torture, and last year refused to agree that the president could not order a detainee buried alive. With Obama signaling a clean break from the Bush administration’s terrorism policies, it’s no wonder Yoo is desperate to restore his crumbling torture regime.

Update- Yoo also makes it perfectly clear that Bush himself directly and explicitly ordered torture, including the waterboarding of at least three detainees:

What is needed are the tools to gain vital intelligence, which is why, under President George W. Bush, the CIA could hold and interrogate high-value al Qaeda leaders. On the advice of his intelligence advisers, the president could have authorized coercive interrogation methods like those used by Israel and Great Britain in their antiterrorism campaigns. (He could even authorize waterboarding, which he did three times in the years after 9/11.)

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Gonzales: I don’t think anyone is going to prosecute me.»

Think Progress- By Faiz Shakir at 1:32 pm

In his confirmation hearings, Attorney General nominee Eric Holder declared “waterboarding is torture,” worrying conservatives that he might pursue criminal prosecutions of officials involved in detainee interrogations. In an interview with NPR today, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he doesn’t believe he’ll be prosecuted:

On the question of prosecuting officers who employed any of the “extreme tactics” that the Bush administration has acknowledged, without admitting to any “torture” of detainees: “I don’t think that there’s going to be a prosecution, quite frankly.” Gonzales said. “Because again, these activities…. They were authorized, they were supported by legal opinions at the Department of Justice.”

When Holder is confirmed – with a vote expected Wednesday – he “will have to make a decision as to whether or not move forward with an investigation or a prosecution,” Gonzales said. “But under those circumstances, I find it hard to believe…

“Nonetheless, the very discussion about it is extremely discouraging,” the former attorney general said.

Gonzales recently wondered, “What is it that I did so fundamentally wrong?” As ThinkProgress noted, he politicized the Justice Department, approved torture, lied about warrantless wiretapping, and distorted pre-war intelligence.

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Are We Civilized Enough to Hold Our Leaders Accountable for War Crimes? The World Is Watching

By John W. Dean, FindLaw.com. Posted January 24, 2009.

Other countries are likely to take action against officials who condoned torture, even if the United States fails to do so.

Remarkably, the confirmation of President Obama’s Attorney General nominee, Eric Holder, is being held up by Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, who apparently is unhappy that Holder might actually investigate and prosecute Bush Administration officials who engaged in torture. Aside from this repugnant new Republican embrace of torture (which might be a winning issue for the lunatic fringe of the party and a nice way to further marginalize the GOP), any effort to protect Bush officials from legal responsibility for war crimes, in the long run, will not work.

It is difficult to believe that Eric Holder would agree not to enforce the law, like his recent Republican predecessors. Indeed, if he were to do so, President Obama should withdraw his nomination. But as MSNBC “Countdown” anchor Keith Olbermann stated earlier this week, even if the Obama Administration for whatever reason does not investigate and prosecute these crimes, this still does not mean that the Bush Administration officials who were involved in torture are going to get a pass.

With few exceptions, the discussion about what the Obama Administration will do regarding the torture of detainees during the Bush years has been framed as a domestic matter, and the fate of those involved in torturing has been largely viewed as a question of whether the Department of Justice will take action. In fact, not only is the world watching what the Obama Administration does regarding Bush’s torturers, but other countries are very likely to take action if the United States fails to do so.

Bush’s Torturers Have Serious Jeopardy

Philippe Sands, a Queen’s Counsel at Matrix Chambers and Professor of International law at University College London, has assembled a powerful indictment of the key Bush Administration people involved in torture in his book Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values. He explains the legal exposure of people like former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, Dick Cheney’s counsel and later chief of staff David Addington, former Office of Legal Counsel attorney John Yoo, the former Department of Defense general counsel Jim Haynes, and others for their involvement in the torture of detainees at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and CIA secret prisons.

After reading Sands’s book and, more recently, listening to his comments on Terry Gross’s NPR show “Fresh Air,” on January 7, 2009 I realized how closely the rest of the world is following the actions of these former officials, and was reminded that these actions appear to constitute not merely violations of American law, but also, and very literally, crimes against humanity — for which the world is ready to hold them responsible.

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