OLC Relied on SERE Psych Info For “No Long-Term Harm”

Here’s something jumping out at me on my first read through the OLC memos.

In two separate memos, both written at the request of John Rizzo (acting and then Senior Deputy Counsel for the CIA), OLC relied on representations gleaned from SERE psych determinations as a means of assessing and understanding the potential for long-term mental harm or physical risks involved in treatment.

Leaving aside the superficial Fear Factor promo potential of icky bugs in box (imagine using that technique on an arachnophobic or scorpion-stung detainee, which is why it’s been in the interrogation lexicon for quite a while) that media types are likely to latch onto for ratings push, look how the reliance on SERE psych findings colors the OLC judgment in the Bybee memo dated August 1, 2002:

…you have informed us that your proposed interrogation methods have been used and continue to be used in SERE training. It is out understanding that these techniques are not used one by one in isolation, but as a full coarse of conduct to resemble a real interrogation. Thus, the information derived from SERE training bears both upon the impact of the use of individual techniques and upon their use as a course of conduct. You have found that the use of these methods together or separately, including the use of the waterboard, has not resulted in any negative long-term mental health consequences. The continued use of these methods without mental health consequences to the trainees indicates that it is highly improbable that such consequences would result here….

Let’s go to the tape on hearings held discussing how this came to be, shall we?

Note that Haynes name comes up. No shocker there. (For information on the hearing, see Sen. Levin’s opening statement and a compilation of documents referred to therein. (PDF) As well as filed witness statements and the complete hearing transcript.)

During the testimony in the clip here, experts on SERE and survival school — who work directly for and with DOD — testify expressly that there is a vast difference between a survival school class (wherein, for example, safety words and signals are built into the training so the waterboarding or other technique doesn’t go too far) and an intel interrogation where no such safety protocols or oversight is in place.

And yet, that’s what Bybee, then of the OLC and now a sitting federal judge, relied on as his basis of an OLC opinion that allowed those techniques to be used by CIA and other agents as a "good faith" basis for their actions.

Moving on to the May 30, 2005 memo written by Bradbury:

Although there are obvious differences between training exercises and actual interrogations, the fact that the United States uses similar techniques on its own troops for training purposes strongly suggest that these techniques are not categorically beyond the pale.

Although someone between Bybee and Bradbury appears to have bought a clue on the difference between training exercises and interrogations, Bradbury misses the point entirely. And likely deliberately.

The reason these techniques are used with US trooops is that not all nations adhere to the rule of law and international anti-torture agreements.  And troops who do covert ops have to be prepared for the worst possible contingencies lawless states might bring to bear should the need arise during the course of an operation because what they do is very, very dangerous.

The fact that these OLC memoranda allowed the US to join the company of these lawless nations who don’t live up to anti-torture prohibitions? Doesn’t seem to have penetrated either Bybee or Bradbury’s consciousness.

More on these as I read.


 
72 Responses to "OLC Relied on SERE Psych Info For “No Long-Term Harm”"
Arbusto | Thursday April 16, 2009 02:11 pm 1

DoJ release: [snip]

“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,” Holder said.

[end]

So the “I was only following orders” shtick works in the USofA too!

Stick a fork in the Republic ’cause it’s done.


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday April 16, 2009 02:16 pm 2
In response to Arbusto @ 1

It doesn’t necessarily — read more closely there. There had to be a good faith reliance after the fact on the OLC memo. And, at least according to what I know, military personnel would not be exempt from UCMJ jurisdiction nor would CIA or other intel personnel who went outside the purview of OLC legal determinations. Nor would those who acted prior to OLC authorization be exempted, by my read.

Whether any action is ever taken by US authorities on any of those grounds is another question entirely, but there are open questions. And it also doesn’t exempt a political examination in depth on this in Congress either.

Again, no guarantee on that happening as well, but that’s where things stand on the facts as I understand them at the moment. Still reading though…


prostratedragon | Thursday April 16, 2009 02:42 pm 3

Good point about the bias in SERE data, Christy. They also would have little value in estimating the effect of techniques that involve long duration, such as prolonged standing or stress positions, because these things for sure break down a person’s conditioning, which is generally a critical part of the readiness of any type of person undergoing the training. The exposure would be limited objectively, by clock for instance, to a small fraction of what one of the detainees might have (actually, that we know some have) gone through.


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday April 16, 2009 02:47 pm 4
In response to prostratedragon @ 3

That the obvious bias questions got glossed over entirely is infuriating. Which makes me think it was a deliberate glossing. And I’m pretty certain the actual author of the Bybee memo referenced above was Yoo — that Bybee was just the signatory as a supervisor of Yoo’s work, but he would have had to evince approval with the signature there. Just FYI.


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday April 16, 2009 02:59 pm 5
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 2

And, to be clear, that’s not to say that I find a “Nuremberg Defense” to be a valid one — the “I was just relying on orders to commit this murder and/or other unlawful act, so don’t blame me” argument isn’t a really good one for me. Just so were clear. *g*


AZ Matt | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:21 pm 6

Evil is still evil no matter how it dressed up. John Yoo and friends used a lot of lipstick but it can’t cover up what a crock this was.


Christy Hardin Smith | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:26 pm 7
In response to AZ Matt @ 6

Not sure there is enough lipstick on the planet to make this pig attractive.


Phoenix Woman | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:27 pm 8

Wow. No wonder why the Senate Republicans threatened to stonewall all of Obama’s nominees to try and keep these memos from seeing the light of day.


Beerfart Liberal | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:31 pm 9

And yet, that’s what Bybee, then of the OLC and now a sitting federal judge, relied on as his basis of an OLC opinion that allowed those techniques to be used by CIA and other agents as a “good faith” basis for their actions.

a sitting federal judge.

as a lawyer it would take all i could muster at an appearance in front of the guy to not say……………………………

i can’t say it.


John Anderson | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:32 pm 10

Appalling and disgusting. I signed the FDL petition, and I’m e-mailing all my friends asking them to do so as well.

These heinous crimes demand a special prosecutor.


Raven | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:32 pm 11

A good “coarse”?


Balrog | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:33 pm 12

Now to make sure a majority of America reads these memos. They should be required reading, if there is such a thing.

Perhaps the Matthews/DeLay Hour could assist?


Blub | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:33 pm 13
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 5

As I interpret these memos, a Nuremberg defense shouldn’t work here at all. The memos appear to show culpability both among those in the WH and DOJ who gave the orders and the those carrying out the torture. If I’m reading them correctly, the bug torture and other measures were devised and formally recommended up the chain of command by CIA torturers and then approved and authorized by Yoo & Co. and probably even further up the chain of command. One can’t claim one was just taking orders when one proposed those orders to one’s superiors in the first place. Nuremberg could only possible work, if it should work at all, if the subordinate could say, “My CO ordered me to put the prisoner into a box with insects” not when the subordinate is proven by evidence to have said, “I suggested to my CO to put the prisoner into a box with insects, he agreed, and made my suggestion official by ordering me to do it.”


ThingsComeUndone | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:34 pm 14

Although there are obvious differences between training exercises and actual interrogations, the fact that the United States uses similar techniques on its own troops for training purposes strongly suggest that these techniques are not categorically beyond the pale.

Wrong we train our troops to withstand the torture we expect the to get from evil inhuman enemies who are beyond the pale.
Just because we train our troops to withstand evil does not in ANY sense mean that we condone it.
Unless of course Obama refuses to investigate in which case he should be prosecuted too.
But lets give the guy some time.


John Anderson | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:34 pm 15
In response to Balrog @ 12

I missed it, but I heard about it. Boss Tom Redux.

What the world needs now.


EdwardTeller | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:35 pm 16

OT:

We just had a HUGE progressive victory in Alaska, about 30 minutes ago. A joint session of the Alaska legislature voted 35 to 23 against Gov. Palin’s nominee for Attorney General. the colorfully repulsive Wayne Anthony Ross was rejected in a vote with no Democratic members defecting. Several legislators are already crediting Alaska progressive bloggers as key in organizing efforts among constituents that led to the crossover votes.

Woo-hoo!!!

My Oxdown diary on this.


Raven | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:35 pm 17
In response to ThingsComeUndone @ 14

take a deep breath


Beerfart Liberal | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:35 pm 18

The fact that these OLC memoranda allowed the US to join the company of these lawless nations who don’t live up to anti-torture prohibitions? Doesn’t seem to have penetrated either Bybee or Bradbury’s consciousness

I’m way off here… I’m just thinking about dealing with this guy as a judge. How could you get anything to penetrate his consciousness? Must be frustrating. It disgusts me that this guy is on the federal bench.


MadDog | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:38 pm 19
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 2

What bothers me about this “good faith” reliance on the OLC Torture Memos is as I posted over at Emptywheel’s place:

To wit:

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.

And to further these points;

1. Reliance on opinions that defy anyone’s rational reasoning cannot be a criminal defense, can it?

2. Opinions that are constructed ex post facto to provide “legal” cover for criminal acts seems to be itself a criminal act (i.e. obstruction of justice, coverup, etc.).

Or as I further wrote at EW’s place:

Shorter Bush/Cheney OLC: “Get Out of Jail Free cards upon request. No waiting! All major credit cards accepted!”

Criminals making their own “Get Out of Jail Free” cards. To Republicans, it’s not a bug, it’s a feature!


AZ Matt | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:39 pm 20
In response to EdwardTeller @ 16

WAR! What is it good for?! Absolutly Nothing!


ThingsComeUndone | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:40 pm 21
In response to Raven @ 17

But lets give the guy some time.

I thought I was being Calm by saying lets give Obama some time:)


Twain | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:41 pm 22
In response to EdwardTeller @ 16

tremendous news! read about this guy and he sounds awful – but, why not? – he’s a friend of Sarah’s.


MadDog | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:42 pm 23
In response to EdwardTeller @ 16

Muy excellente!

Congrats to the sane Alaskans and may they proliferate!


john in sacramento | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:42 pm 24
In response to Beerfart Liberal @ 9
And yet, that’s what Bybee, then of the OLC and now a sitting federal judge, relied on as his basis of an OLC opinion that allowed those techniques to be used by CIA and other agents as a “good faith” basis for their actions.

a sitting federal judge.

Yea 9th Circuit of all places


sptatt | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:45 pm 25

The more I read about this
The more I read about the Obama administration fighting to keep the Bush policies at Bagram and in so many other things.
My conclusion
My Grandfather when asked why he didn’t vote…”ain’t none of em fit to haul guts to the buzzards”
Robinson Jeffers poem

ORIGINAL SIN

The man-brained and man-handed ground-ape physically
The most repulsive of all hot-blooded animals
Up to that time of the world: they had dug a pitfall
And caught a mammoth, but how could their sticks and stones
Reach the life in that hide? They danced around the pit, shrieking
With ape excitement, flinging sharp flints in vain, and the stench of their bodies
Stained the white air of dawn; but presently one of them
Remembered the yellow dancer, wood-eating fire
That guards the cave-mouth: he ran and fetched him, and others
Gathered sticks at the wood’s edge; they made a blaze
And pushed it into the pit, and they fed it high, around the mired sides
Of their huge prey. They watched the long hairy trunk
Waver over the stifle-trumpeting pain,
And they were happy.

Meanwhile the intense color and nobility of sunrise
Rose and gold and amber, flowed up the sky. Wet rocks were
shining, a little wind
Stirred the leaves of the forest and the marsh flag-flowers;
the soft valley between the low hills
Became as beautiful as the sky; while in its midst, hour
after hour, the happy hunters
Roasted their living meat slowly to death.

These are the people.
This is the human dawn. As for me I would rather
Be a worm in a wild apple than a son of man.
But we are what we are, and we might remember
Not to hate any person, for all are vicious;
And not be astonished at any evil, all are deserved;
And not fear death; it is the only way to be cleansed.


Beerfart Liberal | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:45 pm 26

Bybee told his clerk’s at a reunion:

“He said our work has been well-researched, carefully written, and that he was very proud of the work that we’ve done and the opinions his chambers has issued,” said Tuan Samahon ,
who was Bybee’s first judicial clerk and is now a UNLV professor. According to Samahon, the judge then added: “I wish I could say that of the prior job I had.”


ThingsComeUndone | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:45 pm 27
In response to Beerfart Liberal @ 18

I’m way off here… I’m just thinking about dealing with this guy as a judge. How could you get anything to penetrate his consciousness?

Public Humiliation for starters keep mentioning his name until it gets on the news.
Make him avoid public gatherings. Close off his world until he only socializes with the 20%ers.
Laugh at his Legal Reasoning and ask what Crackerjack Box did he get his Diploma from.
Hopefully a Trial will get all his *cough* out into the public mind I want a National Debate on this.


prostratedragon | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:46 pm 28

A commenter over at Marcy’s working thread pointed out another SERE bias —those folks are selected for a certain level of psychological stability, where some prisoners, at least Abu Zubaydah, were unbalanced even before bugs were put on them.


yellowsnapdragon | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:46 pm 29

I wonder which bug Cheney would least like to spend two hours in dark box with.


john in sacramento | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:46 pm 30
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 5

Field Manual 27-10

CHAPTER 8
REMEDIES FOR VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW; WAR CRIMES

510. Government Officials

The fact that a person who committed an act which constitutes a war crime acted as the head of a State or as a responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility for his act.

http://www.globalsecurity.org/…..Ch8.htm#s4


timtimes | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:47 pm 31

Do these memos in ANY way resemble a blue dress with a semen stain? If so, we’re home free and prosecution can begin immediately.

Enjoy.


Beerfart Liberal | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:47 pm 32
In response to ThingsComeUndone @ 27

he was accepted at Duke Law but went to UNLV to be with a girlfriend. she dumped him in the first semester.


Beerfart Liberal | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:48 pm 33

Blub | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:50 pm 34
In response to yellowsnapdragon @ 29

scorpion. They’d actually probably mate, being of the same species an’ all.


greenwarrior | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:51 pm 35
In response to Blub @ 13

the memos say “you asked me to approve it” but does that mean they were actually asked? do the “asking” memos also exist?


yellowsnapdragon | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:52 pm 36
In response to Blub @ 34

I’m thinking he would probably eat anything they let in his box.


greenwarrior | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:53 pm 37
In response to EdwardTeller @ 16

Congratulations! And Hallelujah!


Blub | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:54 pm 38
In response to greenwarrior @ 35

I thought the memo said that the ask was an oral representation. I don’t see any reason why Yoo & Co. would lie about that part. It doesn’t mitigate their culpability, it just precludes an “I was just following orders” defense on the part of the enterprising and helpful subordinates. It just spreads culpability up and down the chain of command more effectively. They should all be punished. From the person who administered the blows, all the way up to the commander in chief.


john in sacramento | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:54 pm 39
In response to Beerfart Liberal @ 33

I was going to do a blog on that last week but was having a hard time getting a hook in trying to link his time in Chile when Pinochet came into power and his torture memos


ThingsComeUndone | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:54 pm 40
In response to Beerfart Liberal @ 32

Smart Girl!


ThingsComeUndone | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:55 pm 41
In response to yellowsnapdragon @ 29

The ones in his head


ThingsComeUndone | Thursday April 16, 2009 03:57 pm 42

I am curious to read any dissenting opinions to these memos from the WH, Pentagon, CIA anyone who was aware of and or involved in the torture memos.
Was there disent was it over ridden if so by whom?


robspierre | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:00 pm 43

I am struck by that fact that the criminal element in the former administration, DoD, and CIA chose to model its interogations on techniques that SERE exists to defeat. Either SERE doesn’t work and is thus not a good source for expertise on torture or it does work and torture is thus likely to fail against a hardened and prepared opponent. Either way, the rationalizations for torture, whether as a necessity or merely an expedient, seem to evaporate. The policy is revealed to be, not just as self-defeating, but KNOWn to be self-defeating from the start.

This has struck me since the first revelations about American torture. The experts say it won’t work. The law forbids it. The national interest is threatened by it. Our own soldiers and diplomats are endangered by it. Yet certain persons seem all the more determined to do it.

As a teenager I read C. S. Lewis’ novel “That Hideous Strength”, where he posits the fusion of corporation and totalitarian state in a future much like our present. Lewis’ National Institute for Coordinated Experiments (NICE) always has a good rationalization for taking that next morally repugnant step, starting with animal vivisection and ending in torture, murder, and martial law. But all the arguments, necessities, and expedients turn out to be shams and self delusions. The men behind the NICE turn out, in the end, to be torturing, killing, and destroying for no reason at all. They do so BECAUSE the conduct is morally repugnant, not because they actually expect to gain anything from it. They do it because it fascinates them, appeals to weaknesses in their character. In the end, their conduct empties them of everything substantive and valuable. That emptiness is, for Lewis, satanic by definition.

From Cheyney’s gloating references to some dark side within to the latest, squirming, excuses, and fear-mongering from torturers and their apologists, I think that much the same thing is going on in America now. There are persons in power in this country that LIKE the idea of torture and are loathe to abandon the possibility of engaging in it again and again, no matter what reason, patriotism, and morality may say to the contrary.

This is why the canard about “criminalizing policy disputes” is at once so vapid and appalling. “Policy” is, in this instance, no more than a mask for empty, meaningless evil. Investigation, trial, and punishment are thus not arbitrary policy choices. They are a moral choice, the choice between exorcising a demon in the body politic or letting it eat us from within.


john in sacramento | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:00 pm 44
In response to john in sacramento @ 39

And the fact that Baltasar Garzón is the presiding judge in the Bush 6 case in Spain is also the judge who brought charges against Pinochet


Blub | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:01 pm 45
In response to ThingsComeUndone @ 42

given the nature of shrubco, the dissenters would’ve known that they’d fired or worse if they issued any such dissent. Perhaps they would’ve been at risk of torture themselves. Weren’t there rumors that they tortured that army chaplain at Gitmo when they arrested him for being too nice to the prisoners?


earlofhuntingdon | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:03 pm 46

Pretty nasty stuff. SERE training, of course, is controlled. Those doing the terrorizing are not enemy soldiers, the government has invested great sums in the personnel being trained. It doesn’t want them dead, it wants to weed out those unsuitable to very dangerous work and to prepare those who pass muster for what might be in store for them if captured.

Being tortured by the enemy is rather different. Ask Daniel Pearl. A victim of torture assumes the worst of his captors. Their purpose is to suggest a painful, excruciating death is imminent, and can only be put off by spilling the beans. Words spill out, as do sweat and feces.

The memos make several things clear. Among them is that this government ignored the Geneva Convention’s prohibition on simulated executions. Because that’s what many of these techniques amount to.


tjbs | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:08 pm 47

Only traitors torture now TREASON TRIALS NOW

Nuremburg 2.0 ,Come on we ,all together, can investigate, litigate and incarcerate the war criminals among us.

Pat Tillman displayed the most honor and valor of any American of this generation and was thanked with a triple tap to the forehead. Now that you’ve read this your choice is to stand behind either Mr. BUsh or Mr. Tillman , chose now.


Teddy Partridge | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:08 pm 48

Jay Bybee: Still on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Still.

Just sayin’


DWBartoo | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:11 pm 49
In response to greenwarrior @ 35

The “you” is, of course, John A Rizzo, the Senior Deputy General Counsel, at that time, for the Central Intelligence Agency.

One wonders “who” it was, ultimately, who initiated the the “Questions” that Rizzo was to ask.

Are we to assume that the CIA, all on their little lonesome, decidereated that such questions regarding “enhanced interrogation” … “techniques” such as are described within the memos, needed asking, or might we safely imagine that somebody else put the notions to the CIA?

That the Spanish AG made clear that those who “signed off” on the “practices” that took place did not, themselves, engage in such “practices” and therefore, by his estimation, are in no way accountable, is very interesting.

A very nice “wall” to bounce off of, rather like the point of what, when Reagan sashayed around protected by that wonderful little invention called,”Plausible Deniability”.

Back in the Halcyon Daze.


Eureka Springs | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:11 pm 50
In response to Teddy Partridge @ 48

At least GITMO is closed. Oh wait!


joberly | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:11 pm 51

Hello, Christy:
First-time poster, long-time reader. Re the practice of inserting an insect upon a detainee in close quarters, I went back to look at Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s *The Gulag Archipelago* and his chapter called “The Interrogation.” Solzehnitsyn took testimony from more than 200 former Gulag inmates and compiled a list of 31 torture techniques used by the NKVD secret police against detainees in order to induce a confession. Those 31 techniques include all ten, or variants of all ten that Bybee & Yoo approved in their August 1, 2002 memo, including the use of insects on a detainee kept in a stress position in “the Box.”


Eureka Springs | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:19 pm 52

FYI, Looseheadprop is upstairs.


Kirk James Murphy, M.D. | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:22 pm 53

Christy, thanks for your post and your focus on this evil.

WRT to:

thus, the information derived from SERE training bears both upon the impact of the use of individual techniques and upon their use as a course of conduct. You have found that the use of these methods together or separately, including the use of the waterboard, has not resulted in any negative long-term mental health consequences. The continued use of these methods without mental health consequences to the trainees indicates that it is highly improbable that such consequences would result here

If willful ignorance, material misreprentation, and practicing psychiatry and or psychology without a license are impeachable offenses, Bybee’s toast (or would be in a representative democracy, rather than a Village oligarchy).

How does attorney Bybee presume to prospectively determine medical outcomes? Compared to him, Frist’s long-distance diagnoses look like the pinnacle of professional competence, rather than the sick farce we all know them to be.

Real clinicians who work with trauma know that perceived helplessness is one of the most (if not the single most) powerful determinant of whether we develop acute stress disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other sever sequelae of exposure to potentially shattering events.

The SERE program (from the end of the draft until stop-loss) inflicted distress on folks who’d volunteered to be in the military. Unless I’m mistaken, the service people subject to SERE were mostly (or wholly) self-selected in the sense that they’d chosen to pursue the areas (aviation, special forces, etc) for which SERE training was required.

Of course, none of the prisoners in America’s gulag volunteered to be there, and all were helpless to do anything about their captivity, much less their torture. This total lack of control – this total helplessness – confers the greatest possible risk that victims of abuse (and far worse) develop clinical trauma.

This won’t be the first or last time a Village attorney sacrifices all of our safety by presuming to decide questions of medicine or science about which they are fundamentally ignorant. After all, that’s what Cass Sunsteins’ risk management cult is all about: substituting compliant suits who please their paymasters for people who actually comprehend (and actually desire to prevent) injury and death. With regualtory “risk management”, at least the rest of us can fight off these evil people: their decisions are public.

As the Imperial Presidency (and the military that increasingly abjures their oath to defend the Constitution in favor of the cult of the President) operate in secret, the only health professionals in the picture when this was hatched appear to have been the SERE psychologists who peddled the whole thing.

Just as the attorneys, judges, military officers, and Federal officials who permitted this are complicit in a conspiracy to commit human rights crimes proscribed by Federal law and ratified international treaties, so too are the SERE psychologists who eagerly helped devise the Bushies’ torture system.

I’m looking forward to their indictment by the civilized nations of Old Europe. In the meantime, they may wish to cancel any plans to leave US soil. Of course, I very much they will not. The torture psychologists – like the torture docs – will make great examples in the Hague.


greenwarrior | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:24 pm 54
In response to joberly @ 51

welcome! we’re towards the end of this thread it looks like, but please comment again.


tjbs | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:26 pm 55
In response to robspierre @ 43

I’ve read there were live feeds from the torture chamber to the kings chamber via a Mr. Mc Connell who just happened to have an unfortunate plane accident recently. Why do you think they destroyed the tapes with the principles voices on them guiding the action?


Teddy Partridge | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:29 pm 56

How quickly can Bybee be impeached? Who organizes the process? Senate Judiciary?

We need this monster impeached immediately.

Prosecution, and war crimes prosecution, may or may not follow. But this monster should not serve another day on the federal bench.

Senator Leahy? Senator Whitehouse?? Senator Feinstein???


john in sacramento | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:35 pm 57

Here’s a view into Bybee’s mindset about the memos at Beerfart’s link at 33

“You can either stew about it and drown in bitterness, or move on and do the best you can. That’s what Jay is trying to do,” said one longtime friend. “Some people get over it and have a good life. Some people don’t”


MadDog | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:37 pm 58
In response to robspierre @ 43

This is why the canard about “criminalizing policy disputes” is at once so vapid and appalling.

Yes, because it is exactly the opposite of what Repugs claim. It is, instead, “politicizing criminality”.

That it is the opposite of what Repugs claim comes as no surprise. To Repugs, down is up, out is in, and wrong has always been right!


MadDog | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:41 pm 59
In response to joberly @ 51

Welcome elurker-out-of-the-closet and thanks for that important reference to Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s “The Gulag Archipelago”!

The footsteps of evil follow a well-trodden path.


john in sacramento | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:42 pm 60
In response to john in sacramento @ 57

Of course if I could ask him a question, I’d ask him how he “get over it and have a good life” knowing that his signing off on the memos led to torture and death


PPDCUS | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:42 pm 61

A note to the POTUS:

SPECIAL PROSECUTOR TO INVESTIGATE TORTURE CRIMES NOW

Mr. President,

I signed this petition today asking Attorney General Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate the government officials who authorized and ordered the use of torture.

The Department of Justice memos released regarding the use of torture by Americans make it clear that we need a Special Prosecutor to investigate what happened.

Glenn Greeenwald says of these memos:

“They are unbelievably ugly and grotesque and conclusively demonstrate the sadistic criminality that consumed our government. “

“The more one reads of this, the harder it is to credit Obama’s statement today that “this is a time for reflection, not retribution.” At least when it comes to the orders of our highest government leaders and the DOJ lawyers who authorized them, these are pure war crimes, justified in the most disgustingly clinical language and with clear intent of wrongdoing. ….”

“Obama did the right thing by releasing these memos, providing all the information and impetus the citizenry should need to demand investigations and prosecutions. But it is up to citizens to demand that the rule of law be applied.”

Source documents with background and analysis at http://www.salon.com/opinion/g…..index.html

Sign the peition here: http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/Prosecutor

All of these alleged crimes were committed in the name of the People of the United States.

On our behalf, I ask you — not what would a professor of constitutional law do, but rather what will this president, who swore his oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, do?

It’s that oath, our country’s soul, and the rule of law that are at stake here, sir. This isn’t about a false choice between reflection and retribution; it’s about justice.

I assure you that we will not stop advocating for this investigation — peacefully and lawfully — until justice is done.


greenwarrior | Thursday April 16, 2009 04:45 pm 62
In response to PPDCUS @ 61

It’s a beauty!


JClausen | Thursday April 16, 2009 05:16 pm 63
In response to joberly @ 51

Thanks for posting that astute observation. I am a History Professor with specialties in Modern Russia and WWII Europe. I have been haunted by visions such as yours. Keep posting. I hesitate to post sometime because I feel my thoughts lend little to the discussion, but I was wrong.


consumetheconsumer | Thursday April 16, 2009 05:26 pm 64

The other thing he missed re SERE is that American participants were there by choice – it’s necessary if you want to do the job you’ve volunteered for. The ‘enemy combatants’ aren’t (and were / are being held indefinitely, without charge and transferred around the globe). The memos are pathetically thin. They all sat around the table and thought up justifications. Pathetic.


acquarius74 | Thursday April 16, 2009 09:15 pm 65
In response to joberly @ 51

Welcome to the Lake, joberly, and thank you for your research in Solzehnitsyn’s ‘Gulag Archipelago’. Not being much of a social ‘joiner’, I,too, lurked for nearly a year before posting a comment. Best thing I ever did!

You’ll find we share just about everything here from our personal adversities and sorrows, to joy and laughter. The strongest tie among us, seems to me, is the deep-felt concern for our country’s well-being, and right now we need every strong mind and heart that can be found.

So come back often and share with us what you’ve found in your Journey, that one unspoken idea just might be the one that works.


MarkH | Thursday April 16, 2009 09:37 pm 66

I suspect one thing Obama & Holder are considering is that front-line people doing the interrogations or a little further up the line were taking orders as they were trained and that if they had refused they could have been treated very badly by Bushies. The Bushies were probably putting these people in unbearable positions to force them out, so they could replace them with Liberty-Regent graduates who would continue to destroy the government from inside. Politically it’s better these people stayed in government, especially if they will now stand up for the Rule of Law and the Rights of Man and testify against The Evil Ones.

Second, I would love to know whether the particular methods used against these Islamic people were the same kinds of things which would have been done to Europeans or Asians or S. Americans or if they were particularly chosen or designed to offend, enrage, infuriate, scare, or upset the Islamic mind. If it’s the latter, then I’d want to know where these techniques and ideas came from; was there an American war college or university which did the research to help the government know how best to torture.

The reach of this could well extend beyond the Executive branch of the federal government. The purposes might extend beyond mere interrogation into political purposes or even personal sadistic crap.

Until the commanders have been punished and the full extent of this is known I wouldn’t consider punishing front-line people. It would be like the punishment of Lynndie England for perverse things done at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq before we knew who had ordered it and before those who ordered it were punished.


Rayne | Friday April 17, 2009 04:19 am 67
In response to Beerfart Liberal @ 33

Wow. Thanks for sharing that. Very telling; how did they pressure Bybee into doing their bidding? Yoo seems like he relished his work, but Bybee seems like he genuinely struggled with it.

Is Bybee the one they get to roll up on the next two layers of the onion?


perris | Friday April 17, 2009 05:23 am 68

I started late with the last memo, on first glance page 2 says this, typing so this is not accurat;

“as construed, the fifth amendmant does not apply to aliens outside the us..”

which parpaohrased means this;

“torture is only torture when committed on an American”

I can’t cut and paste but that’s the general idea


perris | Friday April 17, 2009 05:31 am 69

I’ve had a thought;

releasing these memos and then doing nothing is as ko says, worse then keeping them secret

I wonder if obama is asking us to force his hand, I surely hope so

I keep forgetting the quote, I believe it was fdr, something to the effect;

“I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.”

I hope obama is that good


Valtin | Friday April 17, 2009 09:12 am 70

Christy,

Your observations are very astute. I hadn’t read this until writing my own article, linked below, which will answer I think many of the questions you bring up. You were right to go to the SASC hearings, but you may not have noticed the most relevant witness (in this case).

The Torture Memos Are Not Just Sick, They’re Full of Lies: A Closer Look at the Bybee Memo

It was Ogrisseg and Baumgarten all along!

(Of course, James Mitchell, too, who was likely one of the quoted SERE “experts”)


Christy Hardin Smith | Friday April 17, 2009 03:57 pm 71
In response to Valtin @ 70

I haven’t had the heart to go back through them again today to do detail grabs on this — it’s just too depressing. So I spent most of my day pulling weeds out of my flower beds instead.

It’s going to take a lot of line by line comparisons with all the released information, I think, but I sense some connect the dots potential on a lot of this — some of which Marcy’s already started on — but I think you may be right on Ogrisseg and Baumgarten. I do wonder if we’ll ever get to the bottom of the “outside experts,” too.


Valtin | Friday April 17, 2009 11:05 pm 72

Outside experts… speculation could start with Martin Seligman, former APA president, the “creator” of “learned helplessness” whom both Mayer and Eban linked to SERE. He’s denied more than tangential involvement. But I bet whomever it was had links to the U.S. psychological establishment.

Unless they are being very cynical, and the “outside experts” are people like James Mitchell, who technically had left SERE and the military and were working privately at the time they were contracted by the CIA.


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