OLC Memos: Who We Have Become

You tell me.  Which language is from Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn’s seminal work The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956 and which is from US Department of Justice OLC memoranda issued in the last few years.

Why is it that all the main work of breaking down human souls went on at night? Why, from their very earliest years, did the Organs select the night? Because at night, the prisoner, torn from sleep, even though he has not yet been tortured by sleepless-ness, lacks his normal daytime equanimity and common sense. He is more vulnerable…. 

In this procedure, the individual is bound securely to an inclined bench, which is approximately four feet by seven feet. The individual’s feet are generally elevated. A cloth is placed over the forehead and eyes. Water is then applied to the cloth in a controlled manner. As this is done, the cloth is lowered until it covers both the nose and mouth. Once the cloth is saturated and compeltely covers the nose and mouth, air flow is slightly restricted for 20 to 40 seconds due to the presence of cloth. This causes an increase in the carbon dioxide level in the individual’s blood. This increase in the carbon dioxide level stimulates an increased effort to breathe. This effort plus the cloth produces the perception of "suffocation and incipient panic, i.e. the perception of drowning….

Then there is the method of simply compelling a prisoner to stand there. This can be arranged so that the accused stands only while being interrogated-because that, too, exhausts and breaks a person down. It can be set up in another way-so that the prisoner sits down during interrogation but is forced to stand up between interrogations. (A watch is set over him, and the guards see to it that he doesn’t lean against the wall, and if he goes to sleep and falls over he is given a kick and straightened up.) Sometimes even one day of standing is enough to deprive a person of all his strength and to force him to testify to anything at all….

Sleep deprivation involves subjecting a detainee to an extended period of sleeplessness. Interrogators employee sleep deprivation in order to weaken a detainee’s resistance. Although up to 180 hours may be authorized…only three detainees [have been subjected to] more than 96 hours of deprivation. Generally, a detainee undergoing this technique is shackled in a standing position with his hands in front of his body, which prevents him from falling asleep but also allows him to move around within a two-to-three-foot diameter.

And I could keep going. 

Digby, Valtin and Glenn have much more, but I’ll let ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer have the last word:

Through these memos, Justice Department lawyers authorized interrogators to use the most barbaric interrogation methods, including methods that the U.S. once prosecuted as war crimes. The memos are based on legal reasoning that is spurious on its face, and in the end these aren’t legal memos at all – they are simply political documents that were meant to provide window dressing for war crimes.

Look who we have become square in the face. And weep.

(H/T to joberly.)

114 Responses to "OLC Memos: Who We Have Become"
perris | Friday April 17, 2009 05:45 am 1

I mentioned downstairs;

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

and one of the posters on a diary, I wish I could remember who says with simple eloquence [paraphrased];

“if we don’t prosecute these criminals nuerenburg becomes a trial of the victors”

I’ll try to find the direct quote and attribution, it is far better then what I just wrote

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday April 17, 2009 05:56 am 2
In response to perris @ 1

No, it’s not worse than keeping them a secret. We needed to know the reasoning behind a lot of what we knew had happened. And this gives the public an opportunity to force action.

It’s only nothing if we all let it go.

Millineryman | Friday April 17, 2009 06:01 am 3
In response to Christy Hardin Smith @ 2

I have to agree that it’s not worse then keeping them secret. We asked for transparency and we got it. Now it’s up to the people to act like they live in a democracy and force the issue.

foothillsmike | Friday April 17, 2009 06:04 am 4

When Obama was running for office he did say we would have to make him do some things.

It is snowing here and the forecast is for 2 feet. I thought it was spring. *g*

ThingsComeUndone | Friday April 17, 2009 06:09 am 5
In response to perris @ 1

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

I’ll play bad cop and force Obama’s hand the Crazy Partner thing is a role I think I can play:)

JimWhite | Friday April 17, 2009 06:10 am 6

Thanks, Christy. What some in government have led us to become is disgusting beyond words.

Glenn Greenwald’s second post this morning talks about how Obama’s actions need to be judged independently: Releasing the memos is a very good and brave act while refusing to prosecute is reprehensible. I agree with Glenn’s reasoning.

ThingsComeUndone | Friday April 17, 2009 06:12 am 7

It would be sad if Iran and North Korea are taking notes about Bush’s torture technique’s.

Rayne | Friday April 17, 2009 06:12 am 8
In response to perris @ 1

perris, WE have to force him to do it.

Not because Obama can’t or won’t, but because they will do the worst to him if he takes it on himself. (I cannot understand how so many smart people cannot see this, couldn’t read it in the protests on Wednesday.)

This cannot be about Obama. It has to be about US, and our active rejection of the dark thing we’ve become.

Nietzche said, “If you gaze for long into the abyss, the abyss gazes back into you.” It’s time to look away from the abyss and stop holding others accountable — like Obama — for the things we permitted on our watch. We personally may not have done it, we may have fought against as progressives, but we cannot spend our time looking to others to be responsible for the final disposition. WE must take this ugly task into our own hands and demand investigation, prosecution, punishment.

We can start here.

posaune | Friday April 17, 2009 06:12 am 9

And Bybee should be impeached.

tjbs | Friday April 17, 2009 06:13 am 10

I just got off the phone with Congressman Patrick Murphy’s office and demanded the institution of Nuremburg 2.0 now an investigating body to uncover the whole sorted mess with many life w/o parole for every one who’s involved Everyone- now not later not next week now. Show the honor and valor of Pat Tillman in this final battle.

bgrothus | Friday April 17, 2009 06:15 am 11

Christy, GM. I was wondering if you think that the door is still open to prosecute the (yes) Yoo Can Clan?

While it seems that the admin is saying no on prosecuting the torturers (maybe that is left for the international courts, like the Hague), they have not said that they will prosecute no one.

Millineryman | Friday April 17, 2009 06:16 am 12
In response to Rayne @ 8

Well said Rayne.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday April 17, 2009 06:22 am 13
In response to bgrothus @ 11

We have no jurisdiction over any international tribunal — those operate independently. So that door is open regardless.

BuckeyeHamburger | Friday April 17, 2009 06:24 am 14

1. Solzhenitsyn
2. OLC
3. Solzhenitsyn
4. OLC

How’d I do?

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday April 17, 2009 06:25 am 15
In response to BuckeyeHamburger @ 14

Good. I thought putting the links in might prove useful for everyone, too.

bgrothus | Friday April 17, 2009 06:28 am 16

Well, I have signed the petition, am making a donation and will continue to get behind the FDL wheel to push for prosecutions, of Yoo, Addington et al.

Bluetoe2 | Friday April 17, 2009 06:28 am 17

Obama is now an accomplice to torture. He’s the “Great Bamboozler”.

DWBartoo | Friday April 17, 2009 06:28 am 18
In response to Rayne @ 8

Neither Obama nor any politician can create a civil society within this nation.

Only “the people” can, may and must do that.

We are on the threshold of the national conversation that MUST arise from the (too) many aspects of abject failure in institutions and understanding that our nation now faces.

To avoid this opportunity of articulating where we wish to “go” as a nation and how we propose to get “there” would be a tragic error and would likely doom us to a brutal and demagogic future.

BuckeyeHamburger | Friday April 17, 2009 06:31 am 19

Hey, I guessed without peeking.

To add a substantive thought: The cause-and-effect reasoning in Washington, and this goes for the Administration including the President personally, is apparently that the mere publication of these memos completely prevents any conduct like this in the future, ever again. If, for example, Sarah Palin is elected President in 2012, and she appoints Glenn Beck as AG, we know to a certainty that they won’t torture, because of the fact that the OLC memos are public.

The “logic” is vacuous, of course, but they just don’t seem to see the problem.

bgrothus | Friday April 17, 2009 06:34 am 20

While I remain critical of some of what Obama is doing (you say Banksters, I say Gangsters, etc), it seems to me that it is darn hard to turn around a sinking ship.

I am still thrilled to see his youth and vigor, his love for his family and his general instincts to do and say the right things. I believe he is genuinely concerned for the future for his children, if nothing else. I have not given up hope.

We still need to work hard, organize, speak out and push for what we believe is right. We have met the enemy, and he is us.

WarOnWarOff | Friday April 17, 2009 06:35 am 21

Read The Gulag Achipelago years ago in a contemporary Russian literature class taught by Tatyana Tolstaya. I remember my classmates and myself being so absolutely certain that nothing like this could happen here. Prof. Tolstaya said of course it could, why not?

Bluetoe2 | Friday April 17, 2009 06:38 am 22

Obama is proving on a daily basis that he is willing to placate the Republican Party and the plutocracy in the name of “bipartisanship” and “looking forward.” His health care reform is shaping up to be nothing more than a wink and a nod to big pharma, the insurance companies and Republican Party. He will then go before the American public and will have the audacity to sell a pig in a poke to the American public. I’m done with Obama until he proves otherwise. His unwillingness to hold criminals accountable is the height of cynicism and cowardice.

looseheadprop | Friday April 17, 2009 06:38 am 23
In response to Rayne @ 8

What Rayne said.

I could not have said it any better

foothillsmike | Friday April 17, 2009 06:39 am 24

We still have clowns like Cheney running around saying that waterboarding etc. were not torture. Only a bunch of trials can put this to rest. All of these methods etc. totally ignore the psycological damage that is done. I guess you need a brain to understand psycological damage.

Bluetoe2 | Friday April 17, 2009 06:40 am 25

After sending several critical emails to the Obama web site I’ve noticed I no longer receive their emails. Curious.

demi | Friday April 17, 2009 06:41 am 26

Ugh. Right before I dropped off to sleep last night, I was thinking about confinement boxes full of bugs and spiders. Had to get up and bang around, have another cup of tea and force myself to think about flowers and butterflies and other sweet things.

Quebecois | Friday April 17, 2009 06:41 am 27
In response to Rayne @ 8


Kassandra | Friday April 17, 2009 06:41 am 28
In response to Rayne @ 8

What Rayne said……..

Leen | Friday April 17, 2009 06:41 am 29

Christy I have been weeping. This is so extremely disappointing. Those thousands of hours that many of us put in for Obama seem to be a waste. Oh I am aware of the positive movements , fair wages for women, stop the torture, withdrawal of troops (we hope), access to education, non-proliferation etc. But how can we move forward when our nations soul was sold to the devil during the Bush administration and Obama, Holder, Panetta refuse to bring in the exorcist?

Between Spain and the Obama administration not being willing to prosecute those who rewrote the laws and the Obama administration not be willing to prosecute those who did the torturing. Those who want justice are left in between and justice just fell through the cracks.

I feel sick to my stomach. Obama and Holder are liars. These people are above the law

ART45 | Friday April 17, 2009 06:42 am 30

The decision not to prosecute IS all about Obama.

He was elected to uphold the constitution and be a leader.

If he fails to order prosecution of Bybee, Bush, all of them — he fails to do what he elected to do.

billindc | Friday April 17, 2009 06:42 am 31

The White House has to prepare the political ground for investigations of torture and this is the way to do it. There is still a strong current of the electorate that thinks we tortured in the right way, for the right reasons and that it gained results. There is also a similar constituency that believes that any Obama administration investigation would be purely political. By releasing the memos and declining to prosecute CIA employees (who could have a valid defense that they were given explicit instructions that their actions were legal) the White House destroys the illusion that there was anything right or effective about the torture program and also directs scrutiny where it belongs….at the Executive branch politicians and bureaucrats who navigated around the law and shaped the program.

One thing to remember is that politically, Obama always plays a long game.

WarOnWarOff | Friday April 17, 2009 06:42 am 32
In response to demi @ 26

This morning I felt like Lady MacBeth in the shower. Could not get clean.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday April 17, 2009 06:43 am 33
In response to Bluetoe2 @ 25

They haven’t been sending many out of late. I haven’t been getting a lot of them either — now that he’s president, it’s not like he and his staff don’t have other stuff to concentrate on, eh?

Bluetoe2 | Friday April 17, 2009 06:44 am 34
In response to billindc @ 31


Crosstimbers | Friday April 17, 2009 06:44 am 35

I agree with all of the Jonathan Turley take on application of justice. However, I do think that our essential tradition of the peaceful change of government is something at stake which must be dealt with very carefully. If any large portion of the country simply saw it as a matter of political retribution, it might well be something that our system couldn’t absorb and continue. I don’t know what would have occured, for example, if the Jefferson Administration had held the Adams Administration accountable for injustices under the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday April 17, 2009 06:46 am 36
In response to Rayne @ 8

Exactly so, Rayne. And walking away or throwing our hands up in disgust accomplishes nothing, and changes no one’s mind on the other side of things.

Citizenship isn’t easy, never has been. It’s not so much the results — although they are great when you get ‘em, but the participation that matters. Not participating means you cede the argument to the other side. And I’ll be damned if I let Dick Cheney’s crew be the only ones speaking out. No f-ing way.

billindc | Friday April 17, 2009 06:50 am 37
In response to Crosstimbers @ 35

Crosstimbers…I agree with you but I think the analogy doesn’t work simply because the political institutions then were much weaker than they are now. We can certainly stand an accounting but it is important that that the electorate be shown as clearly as possible the civic duty and value of it. That requires disarming the political attacks the GOP will bring to bear in order to lessen import of the results.

billybugs | Friday April 17, 2009 06:50 am 38

As I read this I realize just how depraved the previous administration had become .A total disregard for our laws as well as international laws and treaties a total disregard for human rights.
It will take year to correct the wrongs committed by Bush et al.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday April 17, 2009 06:51 am 39

And, further, I have a conference call this afternoon that includes a Senator on the Judiciary Committee. I plan on raising a bit of these issues on the call. If there are particulars that folks think should be raised, please let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

BearCountry | Friday April 17, 2009 06:51 am 40

I’m amazed at how many people are eager to let obama off the hook for not doing what he said or implied that he would do as President. All of these comments about he wants to force it to the SCOTUS for a “definitive” answer are simply wishful thinking. If he wants to go to the SCOTUS, all he has to do is do as was indicated during the Presidential campaign. One of the right wingnut groups will take it to the courts. Just remember, you who think that obama wants to go to the courts, the current SCOTUS is not particularly sympathetic to a progressive view point.

ThingsComeUndone | Friday April 17, 2009 06:51 am 41

If we want to pave the way for a prosecution on war crimes we have to either stop Fox News and the Right wing Media from lying or we have to step up our counter attacks to these lies in the media.
Otherwise what do you want to bet the Tea Baggers will try and disrupt any war crimes trial we do.

Bluetoe2 | Friday April 17, 2009 06:51 am 42
In response to Rayne @ 8

Naive me. That’s what I thought elections were all about. The old bromide that “elections have consequences” would seem to be nothing more than pablum for the brain.

billybugs | Friday April 17, 2009 06:54 am 43
In response to foothillsmike @ 4

Sorry about the snow !
Gonna be 70 plus here today!

Sorry for the OT Christy

wigwam | Friday April 17, 2009 06:55 am 44

As I mentioned in an earlier thread, Obama has trampled this nation’s heritage by reducing Nuremberg to “victors’ justice.” We have always insisted that we would apply those same principles to ourselves if the time ever came. Well, it did, and we didn’t. Obama has put war criminals and torturers above the law.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday April 17, 2009 06:56 am 45
In response to Bluetoe2 @ 42

Oh, for heaven’s sakes. They do have consequences — if McCain had won, you think we’d be seeing any of the OLC memos we’ve already seen? Or any public discussion of them?

Elections have consequences, but it’s up to the rest of us to make them stick. It takes time to move anything through government. Impatience is for young children — perseverence is for adults, and we have to all suck it up, realize that we aren’t going to get everything we want immediately unless and until we create a political climate that forces these people to do the right thing.

They are politicians, not saints. The sooner everyone gets that through their heads and stops expecting miracles, the better we’ll all be. No offense, but honestly, anyone who has been reading here for the past few years ought to know better than to expect immediate and awesome action from government. That’s incredibly naive. These people are politicians — and they work in a political milieu. To get them to do anything, you have to force that atmosphere to make it unpalatable for them NOT to do the needed work. That’s our job.

We’d all be better served trying to come up with a way to make that happen — some action steps to make them turn this toward doing the right thing. If anyone has that sort of idea, I’m all ears.

Bluetoe2 | Friday April 17, 2009 06:57 am 46
In response to wigwam @ 44

Very well said but then don’t forget some will counter with “Obama always takes the long view.”

ThingsComeUndone | Friday April 17, 2009 06:57 am 47

Christy will the Senate move if Al Franken gets in?

JimWhite | Friday April 17, 2009 06:59 am 48


I’d love to see the Judiciary Committee put out feelers to find any CIA operatives who refused to carry out orders to torture. They would be able to shed some light on how the orders were handed down and what the discussions were with regard to the legality and morality of what they were doing. I suspect that there are quite a few operatives who took this position but are by necessity laying low for fear of retribution at several levels. Finding a way to get them to reach out to the committee for a safe environment in which to share their experience would be a major step toward establishing the elements of the crimes that were committed. Of course, the committee also could take steps to assure the privacy and safety of these individuals.

wigwam | Friday April 17, 2009 06:59 am 49

EPUd: Someone should start keeping a list of Obama’s flip-flops, where he espouses one thing is his lofty rhetoric but in actuality does exactly the opposite. His FISA flip was the first instance that I noted. But this has to be the eighth or ninth.

Here is what he said to Will Bunch a year ago, when Will asked “whether an Obama administration would seek to prosecute officials of a former Bush administration on the revelations that they greenlighted torture, or for other potential crimes that took place in the White House”:

What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that’s already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. I can’t prejudge that because we don’t have access to all the material right now. I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated. You’re also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.

So this is an area where I would want to exercise judgment — I would want to find out directly from my Attorney General — having pursued, having looked at what’s out there right now — are there possibilities of genuine crimes as opposed to really bad policies. And I think it’s important– one of the things we’ve got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing betyween really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity. You know, I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I’ve said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. Now, if I found out that there were high officials who knowingly, consciously broke existing laws, engaged in coverups of those crimes with knowledge forefront, then I think a basic principle of our Constitution is nobody above the law — and I think that’s roughly how I would look at it.

Yesterday, he placed CIA torturers above the law.

joberly | Friday April 17, 2009 06:59 am 50
In response to BuckeyeHamburger @ 14

All four of your answers are correct, B-H. And thank you, Christy, for your gracious “hat-tip.”

The point of NKVD interrogations was to get a confession so as to get more names for more arrests. The false confessions would then be used in public show trials. The interrogation techniques of the Lubyanka Prison in Stalin’s USSR were shared with the secret police in Kim Il Sung’s North Korea and Mao Tse Tung’s China after 1945, and 1949, respectively. U.S. personnel tortured by North Korean and Chinese interrogators made their own false confessions, and thus the birth of “SERE” after the Korean War. Talk about the fruit of a poisoned tree !

–James Oberly
Minneapolis, MN

greenwarrior | Friday April 17, 2009 07:00 am 51

right! i’d always done environmental activism and then i made my first foray into political activism, working to get green people elected to mayor and city council so that environtal activism would be easier.

the green candidates won all 4 races. as we who worked on it were together watching the returns, it was very heady when it became clear we were winning all the races. i was very excited and said to a former city council member i’d become friends with that it was really fun and exciting. i haven’t forgotten her response – “yes, it’s fun when you win.”

and paraphrasing yves cousteau (probably really badly) “Even though we can’t clean up all the oceans, we must do what we can.”

personally, for me, there was a leap that had to be made, a very long time ago now, to put a lot of energy into something i wasn’t sure how it would work out. well, there’s been a lot of winning and a lot of losing since then, but i haven’t looked back.

Synoia | Friday April 17, 2009 07:00 am 52
In response to billindc @ 31

Obama plays the long game? And wants us, maybe to force he to act?

We need a long game too: Impeach Obama

We”l have no problem getting the Rs to go along.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday April 17, 2009 07:01 am 53
In response to ThingsComeUndone @ 47

No idea. Thus far, there hasn’t been any consensus one way or the other, which is why Leahy’s idea hasn’t gotten any traction either. That’s why I’m saying we need to come up with ways to force it — so wishy washy, spineless folks like Bayh and the Nelsons are forced to go along. Without us forcing their hand, we’re likely to get nowhere.

That’s the reality of where we are at the moment.

If we want action, we’re going to have to find a way to make them act. I just haven’t been able to come up with a way to make it so. Ideas? Would love some.

bgrothus | Friday April 17, 2009 07:02 am 54

The memos came out yesterday. Yes, here at FDL we have been following the back story for a very long time and have a lot of info that has not been broadcast widely.

MSM is at least now talking about this, and I imagine it will continue. The public has been made angry about other distractions by Faux and Co.

We are strong, and we need to push. It will be made to look like a partisan witch hunt, but I believe the public will understand better as it is discussed more.

It is not as though there is not already a giant pile of work, just looking ahead. It is hard to clean up the very large pile behind us too.

We all have to be a part of this clean up.

demi | Friday April 17, 2009 07:02 am 55

Just. Wow. Christy.
Were you reading the earlier thread at FDL? Or is this just a gentle and reoccuring reminder? Either way, well said. Thank you.

Millineryman | Friday April 17, 2009 07:03 am 56

I’ve said it before a citizen’s work is never done. Personal conversations is another avenue to pursue. I had a conversation this week with someone about the teabaggin crap, and they were misinformed about a few things, why because they watch Fox. Did I dismiss this person for watching Fox no because on ever other level they are a good person.

Working the phones with elected officials, letters to the editors, talking to people about this and to get it on their radar screens, it’s all part of the mix.

Our founding fathers gave the tools to build the government of our making, it’s up to us to do it.

Crosstimbers | Friday April 17, 2009 07:04 am 57
In response to Bluetoe2 @ 46

On the other hand, some will counter with the well reasoned and respectful argument of “bullshit.”

billybugs | Friday April 17, 2009 07:05 am 58

I agree we need to get involved to force the changes we want. We can’t expect change to happen overnight ,meaningful change takes time sometime lots of time. And change often comes in increments one little bit at a time.
Be patient it will come !

billindc | Friday April 17, 2009 07:05 am 59
In response to Bluetoe2 @ 46

Bluetoe2, the ‘long game’ remark is just an observation. It doesn’t excuse the White House if they don’t in the end do (or try their best to do) the right thing. By all means kick up a stink…I suspect that’s exactly what the guys in Axelrod’s office want to happen.

demi | Friday April 17, 2009 07:07 am 60
In response to greenwarrior @ 51

Hey GW!
This one’s for you and all other positive thinkers:
(the starfish story)

bgrothus | Friday April 17, 2009 07:08 am 61

I watched “The Lives of Others” last night. Surely there are a few good CIA people who were heroic.

Perhaps Leahy and others can make it clear they are looking for some inside info, will protect those who have something.

It is a lot of work to get a trial for this. It is political ditch digging in rock.

Perhaps you are helping Leahy with the push back here and in the rest of the blogosphere. At least they need to know we have their backs.

These people will be challenged at the polls by Faux and Co. at every turn. It takes a lot of political courage. We need to work hard if they dig the ditches.

It is not good if we lose ground in this process.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday April 17, 2009 07:08 am 62
In response to bgrothus @ 54

I spent a little time yesterday talking to some folks who aren’t regular readers and who don’t follow politics well at all. None of them had heard much about any of this until the memo release yesterday afternoon.

The thing that little microcosms of political activity don’t always realize is just how little we really are in terms of numbers. We have to find a way to reach out beyond the keyboards to talk to folks who are not regulars in our well-informed, politically aware and active circles. It’s when it becomes a topic of conversation among folks who read People magazine, or around work watercoolers, or wherever else — THEN the issue catches fire.

But how to do that? That’s the questions I’ve been asking myself for a while — initiating a discussion about torture is not exactly the easiest thing in the world to do, ya know? Let alone intricate debate on the rule of law and accountability. But it needs to be done.

Sachem | Friday April 17, 2009 07:10 am 63

In the dark depths of 2002, when Bybee and Yoo were busy destroying the fabric of a few short centuries of city on a hill civilization, the progressive left rallied to “Organize, not agonize”, and this is true once again. So direct traffic to the FDL Special Prosecutor Petition, and let’s ring some phones and fill the inboxes.

Who were the two Democratic Senators that voted with the Republicans to vote Bybee out of the Judiciary Committee? Obviously the memos hadn’t been released at the time, but it shouldn’t be difficult to shame them on board with the call for further investigation.

Let’s be clear and calm. This is a RICO prosecution. These authors were acting on specific instructions from David Addington. Cheney’s filthy paws are all over this, and this wasn’t a “policy decision”. It’s an International War Crime.

perris | Friday April 17, 2009 07:10 am 64
In response to ThingsComeUndone @ 41

right on target

I keep saying the biggest damage we’ve had is the loss of the fairness doctrine.

twolf1 | Friday April 17, 2009 07:11 am 65

Jane has a new post up over at FDL…

billindc | Friday April 17, 2009 07:11 am 66
In response to wigwam @ 49

wigwam…I have heard that prosecuting the CIA employees would have been very difficult anyway. I am sure there are far more qualified folks here to confirm that. If so, that means that very little was given away while the White House can appear extremely fair to the middle chunk of the electorate. Thus political sausage is made.

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday April 17, 2009 07:13 am 67
In response to billindc @ 66

Someone told me a long time ago that activism is about absolutes and politics is about compromising. And somewhere between the two, if you are really lucky, you get justice once in a while.

I’d like to just help force a bit of justice into the mix.

ThingsComeUndone | Friday April 17, 2009 07:13 am 68

We have been talking about organizing protests against the bank bailout on lots of threads and Diaries. Torture Protests could would have even more support.
National Poll questions asking would you think less of Obama if he didn’t prosecute torture and war crimes might be more effective. Politicians all say they don’t listen to polls but they seem to listen to them more than they do protests.
A media campaign get our people on news and radio shows to talk about torture nonstop if we can arrange it would be even better.
Lets not blame Obama lets start naming GOP names that are holding this up. FDLers in their districts could put up fliers with their pictures and a list of crimes they won’t investigate.

greenwarrior | Friday April 17, 2009 07:13 am 69
In response to demi @ 60

thanks demi. i’ve seen that story before and it’s nice to see it again.

yesterday, i wasn’t in such a positive frame of mind. i was sad and angry and depressed. but if i let myself stay there too long i wouldn’t have the energy or will or creativity to be part of the solution. egregious’ article hit a chord with me yesterday.

nice to “see” you.

perris | Friday April 17, 2009 07:16 am 70

I watched “The Lives of Others” last night. Surely there are a few good CIA people who were heroic.

I am convinced these are the few people cheney took in for his “team b”

look up his team b on the googles

bgrothus | Friday April 17, 2009 07:16 am 71

We do have some forces in the media, Rachel, Keith, Jon and some others in the print media. Maybe we need an ad campaign, not unlike the back and forth contrast you outline in the post, but graphic/visual that can get attention.

Somehow, the people need to understand that what has been done in our name is what was done by torturers in the USSR, GDR and other places we have vilified all this time.

It is very hard to break through as the groundwork for the WOT was so deeply dug during the W years. I can’t believe there are still people who think W did a good job.

But there are. Even though that is a diminished percentage, it will still be an uphill battle to change the minds of a public who have been trained in fear.

I think we have to show them that we were mislead.

ghostof911 | Friday April 17, 2009 07:19 am 72
In response to billindc @ 31

What billindc said.

james | Friday April 17, 2009 07:19 am 73
In response to billindc @ 37

I don’t agree that the institutions were weaker then, in fact, I think they were stronger. There was no entrenched fifth column of moneied interests yet and everyone knew that governments could be easily toppled….look at what had recently occurred in France.

Marbury v Madison hadn’t been decided yet so the thought that an independent judiciary would interfere with the actions of a president wasn’t being considered yet either.

What is keeping things from happening as swiftly as many people would like to see them happen is the desire to keep the wingnuts partially contained. I, for one, am not eager to listen to the rhetoric of the Clinton years again. I’m not willing to continue hearing Americans who should know better compare this president to a bomb thrower who is intent on turning this country into a socialist heaven. We should only ne so lucky if he was a left or as radical as any of the right-wing talking heads portray him.

I cannot imagine that Obama is actually going to let these people off the hook, especially not when there is the history of what happened to Clinton when he let Bush Sr. walk away untouched from Iran-Contra.

While I’m not optimistic that justice will be done to any but the second tier players (and Ari Fleischer and McClellan belong in this group) I’m also not certain that Obama will be able to reform Social Security to the liking of the GOP without throwing a bone to the left.

Maybe that bone will be some Bushie criminals going to jail.
But Bush and Cheney are teflon.

demi | Friday April 17, 2009 07:20 am 74
In response to greenwarrior @ 69

Nice to C U 2.
And, if I may go ot, since a new thread is up, Happy Thanksgiving. What? I’m finally cooking the frozen turkey I’ve had in my freezer since last November. Am going to cut it all up and freeze meal-size portions. And, since turkey tends to dry out when it’s frozen, I’m making an onion & celery broth to add to each container. It should make a lot of lunches and dinners.

perris | Friday April 17, 2009 07:22 am 75
In response to bgrothus @ 71

But there are. Even though that is a diminished percentage, it will still be an uphill battle to change the minds of a public who have been trained in fear.

I have to admit, there are too many people I admire who the media has desensitized to the concept of torture

just a few years ago they each would have been appalled, now they think I am batty for being up in arms

one thing the previous administration has done better then I could have imagined, they’ve changed the country

wigwam | Friday April 17, 2009 07:23 am 76
In response to billindc @ 66

If so, that means that very little was given away while the White House can appear extremely fair to the middle chunk of the electorate. Thus political sausage is made.

It’ll be popular with the middle chunk of the commentariate; But the middle chunk of the electorate is anti-torture and a strongly believe that laws should be enforced. They are very proud of what we did at Nuremberg, and this is not going to impress them.

cbl2 | Friday April 17, 2009 07:25 am 77

But how to do that? That’s the questions I’ve been asking myself for a while — initiating a discussion about torture is not exactly the easiest thing in the world to do, ya know?

I’m starting here:

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

the signatories come from all major religions in this country (incl US Conference of Catholic Bishops) and they have been on it for awhile

today they ask us to sign a petition urging Congress to proceed on Conyers HR 104

still in Foreign Affairs Committeee

from NRCAT :

On January 22, President Obama issued an Executive Order halting torture. Now the task is to make sure U.S.-sponsored torture never happens again. To accomplish this goal, our nation needs to put safeguards in place to prevent its recurrence. We will better understand what safeguards are needed if we have a comprehensive understanding of what happened.

like many here, I am flailing a little, but have no doubt Spirtual/Religious Leaders can bring a whole lot more push on this issue and will be more difficult for WH / Congress to ignore

bgrothus | Friday April 17, 2009 07:25 am 78
In response to perris @ 75

Well, for sure Faux and Co. will not be pushing this torture wagon up the hill for us.

alank | Friday April 17, 2009 07:32 am 79

What the U.S., Britain, France, and Russia prosecuted as war crimes after the 2nd World War, to which said parties refused to consider, let alone sign, any peace treaty but only going as far as signing an armistice, to this day, they were guilty many times over with there policy of indiscriminate carpet bombing of civilian targets, and the wholesale displacement of ethnic groups after formal hostilities ceased. The barbarism Allied side was quite widespread. To have singled out Germany and Japan for punishment was only a case of victor’s justice — not equal justice. It was hypocritical to the nth degree. Just thought I’d mench.

james | Friday April 17, 2009 07:32 am 80
In response to perris @ 70

perris, I believe Team B was a group started by Bush Sr when he was DCI. It was a group of people who would be loyal to him and his players, significantly Donald Gregg, Robert Gates, Porter Goss, and others within the agency.

There has always been a split within CIA with various factions having diverse loyalties to separate agencies or perceived ideologies within the government.

MrWhy | Friday April 17, 2009 07:34 am 81
In response to perris @ 1

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

Wasn’t that LBJ to MLK ?

Rayne | Friday April 17, 2009 07:35 am 82
In response to Bluetoe2 @ 46

You know, there are others who take a VERY long view — the people we are up against, the people who could very easily bring down the best shot we have at undoing decades of damage. They’ve been building this mess since they nursed at Nixon’s breast in the 1970’s.

You’re quite good at badmouthing Obama, who’s had less than 100 days to undo these decades of damage, and with half-hearted support from people like you, and most certainly while backstabbed by left-behinds.

I’ll point to an example of the kind of problem those others with the long view are posing to this president. This morning an article appears in the Wall Street Journal about Steve Rattner, the Obama administration’s “car czar” heading the auto task force. The article says he’s involved in an inquiry by the SEC into pay-for-play activities involving his firm, Quadrangle Group.


The investigation goes back to 2004. It also involves Carlyle Group — you do understand what this means, yes?

So why the hell is this a news story NOW?

And why is it in the Wall Street Journal — think about the ownership for a moment — and on the same day WSJ features an op-ed by Michael Mukasey and Michael Hayden bemoaning the release of the torture documents?

And why does the SEC’s investigation into this issue suddenly deserve this much print when they failed for over a decade to police Wall Street, aiding and abetting abuses that make this pay-for-play stuff look like kindergarten?

Give the whining about Obama a damned break and use your head. We all of us are deep into decades-long realpolitik, and it’s about to get very, very ugly, since Wednesday’s little festivities didn’t clue you in.

Or are you a left-behind, too?

billindc | Friday April 17, 2009 07:37 am 83

Christy, I agree completely…as Napoleon (I think) said; amateurs talk about strategy, professionals talk about logistics.

demi | Friday April 17, 2009 07:38 am 84
In response to cbl2 @ 77

Thanks cbl2. I signed and sent the emails.
Action is the antidote for despair.
Right on!

DWBartoo | Friday April 17, 2009 07:43 am 85
In response to james @ 73

Actually, while the money ‘thing’ was not, as you say, “entrenched”, it certainly came into play almost immediately, as both J. Adams and T. Jefferson are known to have said publicly and lamented between themselves.

billindc | Friday April 17, 2009 07:46 am 86
In response to wigwam @ 76

It’ll be popular with the middle chunk of the commentariat; But the middle chunk of the electorate is anti-torture and a strongly believe that laws should be enforced. They are very proud of what we did at Nuremberg, and this is not going to impress them.

wigwam, I don’t know of any polls that have really measured this…if you have some please send them on. I think it is undoubted by anyone that the public is very quick to adopt a ‘plague on both their houses’ attitude to issues that haven’t had some time to sink in. This is a very adroit way (intentionally or not) of bringing this issue to a simmer. Remember, we are still in the first hundred days of this administration. By the standards of the last 50 year, these guys are moving very quickly.

perris | Friday April 17, 2009 07:47 am 87
In response to james @ 80

team b was started by cheney and rumsfeld under the nixon administration to undermine his treaty of detante

they manufactured data the cia said was rediculous, something about a submarine that could travel without detection

(yes, the hunt for red october was based on this fantasy)

the submarine never existed, the cia told everyone cheney and rumsfeld were lying

then cheney lived to do the same thing again with iraq using the exact same players in the original team b

Christy Hardin Smith | Friday April 17, 2009 07:48 am 88

Muppet blogging is up for those who are interested…

OldCoastie | Friday April 17, 2009 07:48 am 89

Probably wouldn’t hurt to push this up the “most emailed” list.

I’m seriously afraid too many people don’t realize just how important this is.

iamsam67 | Friday April 17, 2009 07:48 am 90

Oh President Bush. Can’t believe he approved the use of insects as a torture method!!!

billindc | Friday April 17, 2009 07:48 am 91
In response to billindc @ 86

Wigwam…sorry my reply got eaten…my point was that this is still the first 100 days of this administration and that this is a very adroit way of educating the electorate on the issue without activating the ‘plague on both their houses’ effect of rushing to a confrontation.

perris | Friday April 17, 2009 07:49 am 92
In response to perris @ 87

this article was written and posted long before we went into Iraq, it is STUNNING we allowed those very same players to do it to us again

perris | Friday April 17, 2009 07:51 am 93
In response to james @ 80

a snippet from my link, team b began by cheney and rumsfeld under nixon;

“Last Friday, in Moscow, we witnessed the beginning of the end of that era which began in 1945. With this step, we have enhanced the security of both nations. We have begun to reduce the level of fear, by reducing the causes of fear—for our two peoples, and for all peoples in the world.”
But Nixon left amid scandal and Ford came in, and Ford’s Secretary of Defense (Donald Rumsfeld) and Chief of Staff (Dick Cheney) believed it was intolerable that Americans might no longer be bound by fear. Without fear, how could Americans be manipulated? And how could billions of dollars taken as taxes from average working people be transferred to the companies that Rumsfeld and Cheney – and their cronies – would soon work for and/or run?

Rumsfeld and Cheney began a concerted effort – first secretly and then openly – to undermine Nixon’s treaty for peace and to rebuild the state of fear.

They did it by claiming that the Soviets had a new secret weapon of mass destruction that the president didn’t know about, that the CIA didn’t know about, that nobody knew about but them. It was a nuclear submarine technology that was undetectable by current American technology. And, they said, because of this and related-undetectable-technology weapons, the US must redirect billions of dollars away from domestic programs and instead give the money to defense contractors for whom these two men would one day work or have businesses relationships with.

The CIA strongly disagreed, calling Rumsfeld’s position a “complete fiction” and pointing out that the Soviet Union was disintegrating from within, could barely afford to feed their own people, and would collapse within a decade or two if simply left alone.

joelmael | Friday April 17, 2009 07:52 am 94

Dear Christy,

I think this is the only piece of yours I chose not to read. I just can’t do it. I would feel sick and not be able to get it out of my mind. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for facing this horror for me. It must be done. It must not be allowed to fade away.

And thanks to Egregious and others who take this on.

I am sure it is very difficult for you. Thank you.

billindc | Friday April 17, 2009 07:54 am 95

A significant driver of the Revolution was taxation and the strong desire of New England importers (well, smugglers) to avoid new duties. The struggle was more than about money but money was near the center of it.

selise | Friday April 17, 2009 07:59 am 96
In response to Rayne @ 82

you know, people don’t all think the same as you do. i really wish you would make your points without the personal shit (i.e. accusing a fellow commenter of being a “left-behind”). please? am am asking too much?

DWBartoo | Friday April 17, 2009 07:59 am 97
In response to billindc @ 95

Indeedy so, bill.

I am enjoying (and appreciating) your comments and perspective, by the way.

Very much.


Bobster33 | Friday April 17, 2009 08:03 am 98

3 Things
#1. Federal employees take an oath to preserve protect and defend the Constitution. The Preamble lists five goals for government. The first goal is to establish Justice. How does ignoring war crimes establish Justice?
#2. I think that Michelle Obama may be the key. President Obama has a lot on his plate with the economy. By writing to Michelle, we may be able to put this on the agenda from a different side.
#3. These memos open the door for a well written civil case. If the policy of the administration was to torture prisoners, x number of prisoners were murdered in custody (indicating the policy is being applied), show the records for the treatment of prisoner y. The state secrets argument becomes very difficult to justify.

Rayne | Friday April 17, 2009 08:05 am 99
In response to selise @ 96

The chronic attacks without any real though put into them are really beginning to sound and smell like right-wing trolling.

Really, do you think a right-wing troll would say anything different than the subject in question did?

We’ve actually had better quality trolls.

Rayne | Friday April 17, 2009 08:08 am 100
In response to perris @ 87

And that, perris, is an EXCELLENT example of the work of those with a very long view.

They continue and they do so after perfecting techniques over the last 30-plus years — techniques used for a first-time when both Obama and I were grade-school children.

DWBartoo | Friday April 17, 2009 08:14 am 101
In response to Rayne @ 99

Might you agree that ‘trollishness’, like ‘beauty’, is in the eyes (or “I’s”) of the beholder, Rayne?

I ask this in all foolishness, as the ‘issue’ of categorizing others, especially ‘negatively’ is, quite often, too serious to do otherwise.


greenwarrior | Friday April 17, 2009 08:29 am 102

actually i appreciate rayne’s remarks and selise’s. there’s a place here for both points of view.

i’ve certainly done my own share of expressing my frustration with obama. i voted for him and worked for him to get elected.

but, somehow, now we’ve entered a new era: it’s time for pushback on what he’s doing and saying and not doing and not saying. it’s a time for action in my opinion. i’m not sure what the best action is but the fact is that we need to do whatever we do with the president we’ve got.

i’m also getting tired of and suspicious of people who are naysaying obama AND any proposed solutions.

selise | Friday April 17, 2009 08:48 am 103
In response to greenwarrior @ 102

i appreciate rayne’s remarks too – it’s the personal stuff i objected to. that is all.

DWBartoo | Friday April 17, 2009 09:05 am 104
In response to greenwarrior @ 102

I quite agree.

However, I confess to having days when my own sensibilities are, shall we say, “challenged”, and, on those days, it is more than possible for me to be less than agreeable, in fact there are times when “dis” seems like the only prefix appropriate to my agreeableness (such as it isn’t) and, since I consider myself to be not unlike most other featherless bipeds of the primate ‘persuasion’, I must assume these “moments’ occur for others as well.

There is much disappointment in the land, for as Raven remarked earlier, on another thread, (paraphrasing here) “People are upset that there has not been instant ‘change’ since Obama has assumed the presidency and their capacity for both patience AND perspective appears to be somewhat less than sanguine.”

Clearly we are in a ’situation’ which is tenuous and will require long, diligent effort (and patience, manifold patience) from all of us, considering what is at stake, that being, simply, the future and what its nature will be.

Our best tools, when conversing among ourselves would seem, to me, to be tolerance, understanding and huge dollops of courage.

In other words, the more of “us” that there are, the more likely that “we” shall be heard and heeded, thus, everyone who ‘understands’ is, most definitely, needed.

And I agree with selise, personal “stuff” is ‘counterproductive’ to the endeavor in which we are all (for the most part) engaged.

demi | Friday April 17, 2009 09:15 am 105

I think we all know the disappointments day to day in the news. Some of us fight off the depression with activity. Some days I’m thicker skinned than other days.
I don’t particularly like the comments that get personal either. But, there are also different ways of making comments personal.
Back to cooking and cleaning for me, for now anyway.

Leen | Friday April 17, 2009 09:21 am 106

LHP has one up at the mothership. Hoping that she is right that Obama/Holder might support a top down approach to the torture issue. Taking the people who can claim “we were just following orders” off the prosecution table is another sign that Obama and Holder do not mean “no one is above the law”

demi | Friday April 17, 2009 09:24 am 107
In response to DWBartoo @ 104

I swear, I didn’t read your comment before I made mine.
But, I’d like to buy you a beverage of your choice.

DWBartoo | Friday April 17, 2009 09:46 am 108
In response to demi @ 107

Thank you, demi.

Let’s try some of that ginger beer Petrocelli was extolling the other day, shall we?

Even with the occasional grumpiness that I sometimes arrive with, after a while, at this place, I find my mood improving quite markedly.

Here’s to you, demi. And to the Lake!


demi | Friday April 17, 2009 10:40 am 109
In response to DWBartoo @ 108

It ain’t Groucho, but…
“What a world…what a world.”
Let’s fly to Florida, grab Southern Dragon and then beam up to Petro’s place for a meditation session and then break out the ginger.

DWBartoo | Friday April 17, 2009 11:35 am 110
In response to demi @ 109

Sounds swell, demi.

I’m certain SD would be willing.

(Should we tell Petro before hand or just show up?)


goldpearl | Friday April 17, 2009 12:24 pm 111
In response to Rayne @ 8

“WE have to force him to do it.

Not because Obama can’t or won’t, but because they will do the worst to him if he takes it on himself. (I cannot understand how so many smart people cannot see this, couldn’t read it in the protests on Wednesday.)

This cannot be about Obama. It has to be about US, and our active rejection of the dark thing we’ve become.”
yes –

thank you

RevBev | Friday April 17, 2009 12:36 pm 112
In response to demi @ 109

Me too, me too. Let’s find the beer.

I was also looking at Joelmael above. I really have reached my limit for this stuff. We have known for years to Admin was liars and psychopaths. The details are more than I can absorb right now and how we as a country have allowed all this stuff to happen…let alone that much of this deceit, cruelty, and evil is just fine with alot of folks.

Obama sure has his hands full with the economy, this record of crimes, and the litany of problems that he really wants to address….let alone that he is being ridiculed and attacked all the time. I pray for his success and safety; thank the Lord he has such a strong, good family, it seems. Now for the ginger beer, please.

demi | Friday April 17, 2009 12:59 pm 113
In response to DWBartoo @ 110

Petrocelli is prorbably such a gracious host, he wouldn’t mind either way! Surprises are always fun , tho.
Bev — I’ll pick you up on the way East to Florida!

RevBev | Friday April 17, 2009 03:33 pm 114

Sounds great to me….

Sorry but the comments are closed on this post