Saturday, April 18, 2009

OLC torture memos revealed -- an overview

By Carol Gee

President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder should be given a great deal of credit for releasing the latest memos produced by the Bush Office of Legal Counsel, to the American Civil Liberties Union. Glenn Greenwald makes this point strongly in his first post following the release of the mostly unredacted material. It contains a number of excerpts from the memos with interesting points about each. He and many others were unsure at the start of the day what the President would do, given the huge fight going on within the administration. Greenwald is sharply critical of the administration's decision not to prosecute however, pointing to an inability to reconcile certain basic principles of the rule of law, treaty obligations, etc.

President Obama's written statement upon the release of the memos, is included in Firedoglake blogger emptywheel's post, which adds to the discussion and reflections on the lack of accountability for the wrong-doing. She makes a couple of useful points about the release: "The ICRC report may have made a difference in this fight. . . No mention of who wrote these memos. . ." And Wheeler closes with this: "If we're a nation of laws, then we cannot let those who have broken the laws to go unpunished. That's not retribution. That's what 'nation of laws' means."

More from emptywheel -- A further point made by this outstanding investigative writer, who labels the OLC memos "erroneous and inflammatory assumptions, and John Rizzo's lies," is that the OLC memos should not be taken as authoritative regarding the events surrounding the interrogation program. For example, the section on the supposed mental health of Abu Zubaydah is patently wrong. Also the ICRC report contradicts the section on the frequency and harshness of the use of sleep deprivation. Another post links to the ACLU website that has the original memos (in pdf) posted, and reminds us that the ACLU lawsuit was what freed up the memos from the DOJ in the first place.

Here is the latest on the torture memos from the investigative journalism organization ProPublica:

1) Newly Released Memo Inadvertently Reveals CIA Held and Abused Missing Prisoner.
2) Obama Promises to Defend Interrogators, But No Promise on the Bush Lawyers Who Signed Off.
3) Resource: The Missing Memos

References: Following are several authoritative and complete articles on the story of the release of these OLC memos:

(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)

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  • i am not holding my breath

    by giving the actual torturers a free pass - he is letting the the deciders (i.e. bush) slide.

    By Blogger Distributorcap, at 10:48 AM  

  • Dc, nor am I. But the President must be given great credit for ordering the release. Now it is up to ALL the rest of us to make justice happen. Like one of my blog friends reminded me, the President is not the prosecutor. Thanks for your comment.

    By Blogger Carol Gee, at 2:55 PM  

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