white house releases more torture memos

Posted in Uncategorized by Ryan Locke on April 18, 2009

I won’t write about it in-depth because I get too riled up, but the White House released more memos regarding our interrogation policy under President Bush.  You can download them from the following links: memo 1, memo 2, memo 3, memo 4.  A really great roundup of the media response can be found over at How Appealing, here.

The release of the memos is somewhat surprising, considering how hard the CIA fought to block their release.  But their release may have come at some cost:

In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution. The men and women of our intelligence community serve courageously on the front lines of a dangerous world. Their accomplishments are unsung and their names unknown, but because of their sacrifices, every single American is safer. We must protect their identities as vigilantly as they protect our security, and we must provide them with the confidence that they can do their jobs.

This is a time for reflection, not retribution. I respect the strong views and emotions that these issues evoke. We have been through a dark and painful chapter in our history. But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America’s ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future.

A good response to this is here at Opinio Juris.  Essentially, OJ argues that CIA interrogators who unreasonably rely on OLC advice should be prosecuted (and that, in this case, the bar is even lower because the OLC advice was so ambivalent on the legality of the various interrogation methods–“although we cannot predict with confidence whether a court would agree with this conclusion…the question is unlikely to be subject to judicial inquiry.”)  Additionally, OJ argues that the waterboarding used by CIA interrogators was much harsher than the regime approved by the DOJ, so those interrogators would be unable to use the good faith reliance defense.

But don’t our treaty obligations mean we have to prosecute them?  Sonja Starr answers that question here.  The short answer: yes, but so what if we don’t.

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