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Obama and The Spanish Back Pedal On Torture

It's been a bad day for the Bush Torture Meme Machine. First came news that there would be no Spanish Inquisition II:

MADRID - Spain's attorney general has rejected opening an investigation into whether six Bush administration officials sanctioned torture against terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, saying Thursday a U.S. courtroom would be the proper forum.

Then President Obama announced that he would not support prosecution of CIA interrogators that were sanctioned by Bush legal advisors:

The Obama administration pledged Thursday not to prosecute CIA employees who carried out aggressive interrogation practices approved by top legal officials in the Bush administration.

The promise came as President Barack Obama resolved a contentious debate within the administration by authorizing the release of large parts of four Bush Administration legal memos detailing war-on-terror interrogation techniques that some have decried as torture.

Andrew Sullivan is seriously upset (seriously) that his list of usual suspects hasn't opined on the matter as of 7PM EST:

16 Apr 2009 07:27 pm For The Record No mention of the torture memos appears right now on the Drudge Report (which provides news of a prank at Dominos pizza), Instapundit (which mentions the new DVD for the Lord of The Rings trilogy), Pajamas Media, or Michelle Malkin. They are reacting to the evidence of war crimes committed by the president of the United States the way they did at the time the crimes were committed.

Funny that. No war crimes were committed. And the President's heated campaign rhetoric about torture seems to be just that...rhetoric. So the day after the Tea Parties the Left wakes up with not just a hangover but also news that President Obama sides with President Bush on extreme interrogation methods. And the Spanish refuse to indict the Bush Six.

Say ain't so, BO.

Update: Gnashing of teeth at the HuffPo. Here's a good one:

I've been proud of my country for 90 days.

I'm back to being ashamed.

Read the whole thing.



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Comments (19)

There's a new LoTR DVD out?... (Below threshold)
John Wehman:

There's a new LoTR DVD out??!! Seriously, did not know that! Thanks Andy! (and Hugh!)

And then there's this gem: ... (Below threshold)
Andrew Sullivan needs to s... (Below threshold)
marc:

Andrew Sullivan needs to stay in that strange "Trig Palin" conspiracy world he lives in and stay out of normal company.

War is a strange thing at l... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

War is a strange thing at least the way the United States wages it. Reading about the torture memos the key principle is that torture requires the interrogator to intend causing severe pain. Obama says the United States doesn't torture, yet under his orders the CIA fires hellfire missiles into buildings known or likely to be occupied by women and children. Victims in such missile strikes don't all die instantly from the blast. Some suffer severe pain by being trapped under rubble or disabled and unable to escape a burning building.

Bush was at least consistent in believing that if protecting the United States justifies firing hellfire missiles into homes it also justifies subjecting the very masterminds of terror to techniques now described as torture. Bush was at least an honest man.

Poor lefties, it just gets ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

Poor lefties, it just gets worse and worse. Why Obama is getting to look like Bush more and more each day. Won't prosecute; left a loop hole for torture; kept evasdropping, wants to expand it;
more bailouts planned; keeps hiring ex-Clinton administration people.....when will it end?

Bush's third term!... (Below threshold)
davidt:

Bush's third term!

Then President Obama ann... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Then President Obama announced that he would not support prosecution of CIA interrogators

While "I was only following orders" shouldn't get you off the hook, it's more important that those who authorized and ordered the techniques be prosecuted, rather than the CIA personnel. Obama made no similar announcement about those.

So far all I see is the AG ... (Below threshold)
epador:

So far all I see is the AG saying they won't prosecute any Operators for using methods outlined in the memos. Of course now that all those methods are public, they are basically unusable against sophisticated enemies. I see nothing to celebrate at this time.

Bush was at least consis... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Bush was at least consistent in believing that if protecting the United States justifies firing hellfire missiles into homes it also justifies subjecting the very masterminds of terror to techniques now described as torture. Bush was at least an honest man.

Ha! Consistent? Honest?

You obviously haven't read any of the released OLC memos. Here's one for you to start on.

Of course now that all t... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Of course now that all those methods are public, they are basically unusable against sophisticated enemies.

Do you think we invented new ways to torture? You should be very concerned if you do!

No, those methods were already public, in US State Dept. reports condemning them.

You obviously have... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
You obviously haven't read any of the released OLC memos. Here's one for you to start on.

So are you saying Obama has specifically classified nudity, water dousing, ANY sleep deprivation and ANY food deprivation as torture? I say ANY because the memo doesn't specify a length of deprivation, only the act. If Obama hasn't classified these actions as torture then they continue to be used and you have succeeded in showing Obama is a hypocrite.

Obama's position is that protecting the United States justifies firing hellfire missiles into homes with women and children present, but the very masterminds of terror can't be slapped in the face, locked in little boxes for two hours, or made to go naked. I'm not surprised you're defending such lunacy, however.

Mac, those findings referen... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Mac, those findings referenced in the memo were from the Bush administration and previous administrations. They were considered torture then, and now. The memo is clear about that.

Your argument that that it's ambiguous what constitutes torture because the State Dept. reports don't specify a time length for food deprivation is ludicrous. Clearly no one ever thought it was necessary to spell out that a 10-minute food deprivation is not torture. Even the OLC memo doesn't make that distinction.

What you describe as "Obama's position" and "lunacy" has been the position of the United States for decades, including during the Bush administration. What the memos reveal is that even though they were aware of and acknowledged it in plain English, they chose to ignore it.

Here's another excerpt you may enjoy. By the way, the Bradbury writing this memo is the same one who repudiated it on Jan 19, the day before Obama took office, referring to his sudden epiphany about "the doubtful nature of these propositions".

Nudity, water dousing, slee... (Below threshold)
davidt:

Nudity, water dousing, sleep deprivation and food deprivation are torture? Will spring break be outlawed?

"Funny that. No war crimes ... (Below threshold)
Jake:

"Funny that. No war crimes were committed."

Because prosecutors didn't pick up the case? So when local prosecutor doesn't have a solid case, and drops it against a defendant, that automatically means the defendant is not guilty? WRONG.

Not having a case and not being guilty are NOT one in the same.

Very good try Jake but very... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Very good try Jake but very lame at the same time. I guarantee you if the AG had a case he would bring it against GW but what all you lefties forget is the complicity and signing off by your lefty representatives and senators fully aware of what is happening, so if the AG starts the ball rolling, it may keep going all the way to the White House. ww

Brian considers not being a... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

Brian considers not being able to watch O. Winfre torture.

"Nudity, water dousing, sle... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"Nudity, water dousing, sleep deprivation, and food deprivation is torture?- davidt"

The if-you-aren't-maimed-then-it-can't-be-torture meme oozes inexorably on...

And the Romans were cream puffs, making people watch the late, late, late show with no Hi-C or popcorn.

Mac, those findin... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Mac, those findings referenced in the memo were from the Bush administration and previous administrations. They were considered torture then, and now. The memo is clear about that.

So are you claiming the state department no longer admonishes other countries to not do the things in the memo? If you are not making that claim then the memo applies to the Obama administration as the practice continues. If you are making that claim then it seems the U.S. has steped back form human rights issues under Obama. Which is it?

Your argument that that it's ambiguous what constitutes torture because the State Dept. reports don't specify a time length for food deprivation is ludicrous. Clearly no one ever thought it was necessary to spell out that a 10-minute food deprivation is not torture. Even the OLC memo doesn't make that distinction.

And that's my point. Because no time limit is given and because our civilian prisoners get three meals a day, anything less than three meals a day is food deprivation. If the memo had been citing starvation as torture then it would have used the word starvation.

What you describe as "Obama's position" and "lunacy" has been the position of the United States for decades, including during the Bush administration.

I'm fairly certain that you have claimed Bush used torture and the memo you linked claims prisoners were slapped in the face, locked in little boxes for two hours, made to go naked, waterboarded, and a long list of actions Obama says are torture.

Unless you are going to drop the claim that Bush used torture then the fact remains that Bush was at least consistent in believing that if protecting the United States justifies firing hellfire missiles into homes it also justifies subjecting the very masterminds of terror to techniques now described as torture.

Unless you are going to now claim that Obama uses torture then the fact remains that Obama's position is that protecting the United States justifies firing hellfire missiles into homes with women and children present, but the very masterminds of terror can't be slapped in the face, locked in little boxes for two hours, made to go naked, or be made to miss a meal. Sorry Brain, but that's lunacy.

WildWillie said: "Very good... (Below threshold)
Jake:

WildWillie said: "Very good try Jake but very lame at the same time. I guarantee you if the AG had a case he would bring it against GW"

So then you'd agree that since the Spanish are continuing on, as announced today that there is, in fact, a case to be had?

WW said: "but what all you lefties forget is..."

That's right, I disagree with you so I must be the opposite of all you agree with, right? I'm a radical lefty commie who wants to see Stalin brought back to life to run the American government, right?

Sorry, wrong. I'm centerist, to be sure, but when given a choice, I opt for less government. I believe in lower taxes in most cases. I voted for Bush the second time around (the first time I would have, if not for conflicting life circumstances).

I'm sick to death of this foolish reaction people like you have who immediately assume that I'm some crazy lefty because I don't share your exact views.

WW said: "the complicity and signing off by your lefty representatives and senators fully aware of what is happening, so if the AG starts the ball rolling, it may keep going all the way to the White House."

Having trouble seeing your point through your extreme stereotyping, but if you're saying that Congress, Dems and Reps alike were complicit in allowing torture to continue, I absolutely agree. I'd LOVE to see a real investigation of ALL parts of government and fully support it. Democrats and Republicans alike.

Not sure how much you've read about the situation, but part of the problem with really laying much blame at the feet of Congress is that so much of the actual details and documents were shielded from most everyone outside of a very small circle. Hell, the head lawyer at the NSA couldn't even see the documents that allowed his organization to conduct much of their monitoring!

WW, I appreciated the conversation, but please back off with your (way off base) stereotyping.




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