Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Undermining credibility

Evan Perez and Siobhan Gorman write in the Murdoch Street Journal about debates over the release or withholding of certain memos:
Among the details in the still-classified memos is approval for a technique in which a prisoner's head could be struck against a wall as long as the head was being held and the force of the blow was controlled by the interrogator, according to people familiar with the memos. Another approved tactic was waterboarding, or simulated drowning.

A decision to keep secret key parts of the three 2005 memos outlining legal guidance on CIA interrogations would anger some Obama supporters who have pushed him to unveil now-abandoned Bush-era tactics. It would also go against the views of Attorney General Eric Holder and White House Counsel Greg Craig, people familiar with the matter said.

Top CIA officials have spoken out strongly against a full release, saying it would undermine the agency's credibility with foreign intelligence services and hurt the agency's work force, people involved in the discussions said. However, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair favors releasing the information, current and former senior administration officials said.

Releasing the memos could cause serious bad feelings between the CIA and the White House. My own opinion is that if the CIA was doing this shit, and it seems evident that they did, they really deserve no protection. Neither, of course, do members of the Bush administration who authorized it. Letting them skate through with no accountability is really not acceptable.

Marcy Wheeler's discussion of this is headlined as follows: "It’s Not the Water-Boarding, It’s the Blows to the Head."


She notes confirmation of the technique in the ICRC report that was leaked and concludes:
What the intelligence officials want to hide is that--even after they did this damage to Abu Zubadaydah (though before the ICRC called it torture in 2007)--Steven Bradbury wrote an OLC memo declaring this treatment legal.
That's the sort of thing that would get Steven Bradbury noticed by, say, Spanish courts.

--the BB

1 comment:

Grandmère Mimi said...

To be precise, waterboarding is not simulated drowning, but real drowning, from which the prisoner is brought back, in most cases, but not in all, as some of them could not be brought back and died. What is filling the lungs with water, if not drowning?

The blows on the head are appalling, and if it happened, it's all despicable, and it should be brought into the light, bad feelings or no bad feelings. Change won't come unless it is.