Obama Promises to Defend Interrogators, But No Promise on the Bush Lawyers Who Signed Off

by on April 17, 2009 · 4 comments

in Civil Rights, Media, War and Peace

by Chisun Lee / ProPublica / April 16, 2009

This afternoon (4/16/09) the Obama administration released lightly redacted versions of four previously classified legal opinions from the Bush Justice Department approving CIA interrogation techniques now widely catalogued and condemned by many to have constituted torture. To continue withholding them in the face of a multi-year ACLU lawsuit to win their release, said President Barack Obama in a statement [1], “would only serve to deny facts that have been in the public domain for some time.” Shortly after taking office, Obama ordered the abusive interrogation techniques abandoned.

Early press reports [2] are focusing on the administration’s promise not to prosecute any CIA employee who reasonably relied on the memos to carry out interrogations. The government has also said it will defend [3] employees in U.S. or foreign courts and before Congress.

But the administration was silent on its allegiance – or lack thereof – to the former administration lawyers, from the Office of Legal Counsel, who authored or signed off on the memos. It’s the lawyers who may face prosecution before a Spanish court [4] and who’ve long been the subject of calls from U.S. civil liberties advocates for further investigation.

In two parting memos, outgoing Bush OLC supervisor Steven Bradbury repudiated [5] a slew of counterterrorism-related legal opinions while defending the professional conduct of their authors.

We asked about the administration’s stance on the conduct of those who wrote today’s released memos. Justice Department spokesperson Tracy Schmaler said that, because an internal Office of Professional Responsibility investigation is ongoing, “We can’t comment.”

Today’s memos help flesh out the remarkable legal story behind the previous administration’s so-called war on terror – a story you can follow by exploring our chart of more than 50 related memos [6], listed by date, author and topic. Our continuing coverage of the battle to win release [7] of some 30 still-secret memos can be found here [8].

The four newly public memos about interrogation are:

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar mr fresh April 17, 2009 at 7:28 am

DO read the memos, which the UnionTrib (front page, 4/17) WOULDN’T even say were about torture–they used the term “harsh interrogations”. I’d be willing to bet that if any of these techniques were used on any member of their editorial board staff, they’d be singing a different tune.

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avatar Old Hermit Dave April 17, 2009 at 9:40 am

This is by far the biggest scam ever pulled on the American people. It is all part of the CHENEYBUSH–MAKE A ENEMY KIT—sad so many still fall for it. The whole orange jumpsuit gang is just part of the show. Get real folks. This would be like picking up a serial killer and torturing him until he told the police the name and address of every serial killer in the world. The CIA already knew everything they needed to know about every guy they ever put in any prison camp. The super powers really do not need to fear terror dudes. There is no terror super power run by the former CIA operative Osama Bin Laden. It is just a traveling dog and pony show of the CHENEY-BUSH TRAVELING MAGIC CIRCUS.

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avatar bodysurferbob April 17, 2009 at 1:07 pm

normally, i don’t concern myself too much with the goings-on of you landlubbers, but this torture thing really reminds me why i try to stay off-shore as much as i can. our government, your government authorized torture. what are we gonna do about that?

And then mr fresh says that the union tribune would not even call it ‘torture’ – amazing – he’s right. i checked out the hard copy of today’s fish wrap, and the ass press reported everything as it was a mouthpiece (hey – wed. was tea bagging day) for the old bush cronies.

i mean the u-t mentions ‘waterboarding’ and says basically – ‘some people call that torture, but former officials with the bush administration deny that it was blah blah etc etc’

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avatar anonarchist April 17, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Okay, you socialists, why is it taking your president so long to close gitmo?

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