WHY THE TORTURE MEMOS MATTER 
By 
Bennet Kelley 
A companion to “Why the Torture Memos Matter” on Huffington Post(original...
Table of Contents 
Intro: What Does Torture Say About Us 
Part 1: 
Torture and US History 
Part 2: 
The Torture Memos
Actionsoften speak louder than words.
Whether they are good . . .
or bad
What does tortureor attrocities say about us as a nation?
Mai Lai Massacre
Abu Ghraib
As John McCain eloquently said: the issue of waterboarding “has nothing to do with al Qaeda, [but] it has everything to do...
TORTURE AND US HISTORY 
PART 1
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certa...
The No Torture Club 
TR on waterboarding:– nothing can justify . . . the use of torture of any kind on the part of the Ame...
After World War II, Japanese officers who ordered the use of waterboarding were convicted of war crimes and hung.
The Waterboarding Club 
Khmer Rouge 
Pinochet
Did we fight the Cold War . . .
and win . . .
so we could be morelike the Soviets? 
“Aggressive” interrogation techniques “ are borrowed from techniques used by Soviets...
Generals Against Torture 
Colin Powell 
Napoleon Bonaparte 
Generals –from Napoleon to Colin Powell ---have argued that to...
1992 Edition 
The US Army Agrees
≠ 
+ 
Waterboarded 183 Times 
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed 
(KSM) 
As a result –the US stopped a 9/11 style attack on LA 
ButLor...
+ 
Oh really, Dick?? 
CAPTURED IN 2003 
PLOT 
“THWARTED” 
IN FEB 2002 
The LA plot was broken up in 2002. One year before ...
AND WHAT DOES THE PENTAGON HAVE TO SAY ON THIS SUBJECT?
Three years after the capture of KSM, the head of Army intelligence says: 
No good intelligence is going to come from abus...
THE TORTURE MEMOS 
PART 2
John Yoo was Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel. The Office of Legal Counsel provides opinio...
OLC legal opinions are supposed to be “thoroughly researched and soundly reasoned [which includes providing] candid, indep...
Two Principal Memos 
Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under Convention Against Torture 
--Jay Bybee (and John Yoo) (...
Torture Timeline 
Jan 02 
Yoo Memo on Geneva Convention 
--Accepted by White House Counsel Gonzales 
Feb 02 
Bush signs me...
Memos Gave Cover For Abuses That Followed 
Aug 02 
Bybee Torture Memo 
Oct-Dec 02 
Aggressive Techniques implemented at Gi...
What is Torture? 
Memo redefines torture to only where: 
•Victim experiences intense pain or suffering that is equivalent ...
•Improperly excludes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Would permit many of Saddam Hussein’s abuses. 
•“In my profess...
Defenses 
•Torturer could claim self-defense in light of 9/11 or claim simply carrying out President’s orders 
•President ...
•“Simply following orders” is not a defense per the Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal 
•“The federal prohibition on torture, . ...
Application of Geneva Convention 
•Not subject to Geneva Conventions 
•Eliminates application to al Qaeda by asserting tha...
•The premises underlying Yoo’s Jan. 9 memo were wrong as a matter of international law and other arguments made were “with...
Yoo and Bybee are guilty not only of bad lawyeringand possibly ethical violations but the fact that they went to such extr...
Did Yoo/Bybee violate ethical prohibitions on assisting unlawful acts or in failing to provide a balanced opinion? 
Did Yo...
ISSUE WORTH EXPLORING SINCEIT SENDS A MESSAGE THAT NOBODY SHOULD BE ABOVE THE LAW
AND AFFIRM THAT WE STAND FOR THIS
AND NOTTHIS
Bennet Kelley is an award winning political columnist for the Santa Monica Daily Press and Huffington Post. He has been ac...
Why the Torture Memos Matter
Why the Torture Memos Matter
Why the Torture Memos Matter
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Why the Torture Memos Matter

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Why the Torture Memos Matter

  1. 1. WHY THE TORTURE MEMOS MATTER By Bennet Kelley A companion to “Why the Torture Memos Matter” on Huffington Post(originally published in Santa Monica Daily Press).
  2. 2. Table of Contents Intro: What Does Torture Say About Us Part 1: Torture and US History Part 2: The Torture Memos
  3. 3. Actionsoften speak louder than words.
  4. 4. Whether they are good . . .
  5. 5. or bad
  6. 6. What does tortureor attrocities say about us as a nation?
  7. 7. Mai Lai Massacre
  8. 8. Abu Ghraib
  9. 9. As John McCain eloquently said: the issue of waterboarding “has nothing to do with al Qaeda, [but] it has everything to do with America.” He added . . .
  10. 10. TORTURE AND US HISTORY PART 1
  11. 11. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. We are unique as a nation in that we were founded upon common beliefs and not common heritage
  12. 12. The No Torture Club TR on waterboarding:– nothing can justify . . . the use of torture of any kind on the part of the American Army. And from inception , this nation has rejected the use of torture.
  13. 13. After World War II, Japanese officers who ordered the use of waterboarding were convicted of war crimes and hung.
  14. 14. The Waterboarding Club Khmer Rouge Pinochet
  15. 15. Did we fight the Cold War . . .
  16. 16. and win . . .
  17. 17. so we could be morelike the Soviets? “Aggressive” interrogation techniques “ are borrowed from techniques used by Soviets. These techniques, however, which were designed to yield propaganda (e.g, forced confessions) and not valuable intelligence. SeeHistory Commons
  18. 18. Generals Against Torture Colin Powell Napoleon Bonaparte Generals –from Napoleon to Colin Powell ---have argued that torture rarely yields any information of value and is counter- productive to the cause. Linkand Link
  19. 19. 1992 Edition The US Army Agrees
  20. 20. ≠ + Waterboarded 183 Times Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (KSM) As a result –the US stopped a 9/11 style attack on LA ButLord Vader Dick Cheney says
  21. 21. + Oh really, Dick?? CAPTURED IN 2003 PLOT “THWARTED” IN FEB 2002 The LA plot was broken up in 2002. One year before the capture and waterboarding of KSM . According to federal counter- terrorism officials, “at best, the alleged plot was something that had been discussed but never put into action. By the time anybody knew about it, the threat --if there had been one --had passed”. Media Matters and LA Times =
  22. 22. AND WHAT DOES THE PENTAGON HAVE TO SAY ON THIS SUBJECT?
  23. 23. Three years after the capture of KSM, the head of Army intelligence says: No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years . . . tell us that.
  24. 24. THE TORTURE MEMOS PART 2
  25. 25. John Yoo was Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel. The Office of Legal Counsel provides opinions on the Constitutional authority of various branches of government. Prior to joining theJustice Department,Yoo had clerked for D.C. Circuit Judge Lawrence Silberman and Justice Clarence Thomas –two hard core right wing ideologues. Yoo was very much from the same mold.
  26. 26. OLC legal opinions are supposed to be “thoroughly researched and soundly reasoned [which includes providing] candid, independent and principled advice.”
  27. 27. Two Principal Memos Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under Convention Against Torture --Jay Bybee (and John Yoo) (8/2/02) Application of Treaties and Laws to al Qaeda and Taliban Detainees ---John Yoo (1/9/02)
  28. 28. Torture Timeline Jan 02 Yoo Memo on Geneva Convention --Accepted by White House Counsel Gonzales Feb 02 Bush signs memorandum that Geneva convention does not apply to al Qaida or Taliban May 02 CIA Director Tenet given green light to waterboard
  29. 29. Memos Gave Cover For Abuses That Followed Aug 02 Bybee Torture Memo Oct-Dec 02 Aggressive Techniques implemented at Gitmo and Iraq June 04 Assistant AG Goldstein orders Yoo memos withdrawn
  30. 30. What is Torture? Memo redefines torture to only where: •Victim experiences intense pain or suffering that is equivalent to severe physical injury that likely will result in death, organ failure or permanent loss of significant body functions –AND •where the “torturer” intended to cause such severe harm (as distinct from intentionally engaging in the act causing such harm)
  31. 31. •Improperly excludes cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. Would permit many of Saddam Hussein’s abuses. •“In my professional opinion as a law professor and a law dean, the Bybee memorandum is perhaps the most clearly legally erroneous opinion I have ever read.” Harold Koh, Dean of Yale Law School who worked in Reagan Justice Department Response
  32. 32. Defenses •Torturer could claim self-defense in light of 9/11 or claim simply carrying out President’s orders •President has constitutional authority to engage in torture and any effort to apply U.S. criminal prohibitions on torture that interferes “with the President’s direction of . . . the detention and interrogation of enemy combatants thus would be unconstitutional.”
  33. 33. •“Simply following orders” is not a defense per the Nuremberg War Crime Tribunal •“The federal prohibition on torture, . . . is constitutional, and does apply as a general matter to the subject of detention and interrogation of detainees conducted pursuant to the President's Commander in Chief authority. . . . The President, like all officers of the Government, is not above the law.” Asst. Attorney General Stephen Bradbury (2005) •Yoo’s opinions reflected “an unusual lack of care and sobriety in their legal analysis.” Yoo’s “extreme conclusion has no foundation in prior OLC opinions, or in judicial decisions, or in any other source of law.” Jack Goldsmith, Deputy Attorney General (2007) Response
  34. 34. Application of Geneva Convention •Not subject to Geneva Conventions •Eliminates application to al Qaeda by asserting that treaties only applies to nation states •Redefines Afghanistan as “failed state” to exclude Taliban detainees from scope •Not governed by War Crimes Act since contrary to President’s plenary authority as Commander in Chief
  35. 35. •The premises underlying Yoo’s Jan. 9 memo were wrong as a matter of international law and other arguments made were “without support,” “contrary to the official position of the United States,” and “legally flawed and procedurally impossible at this stage.” William H. Taft IV, State Dept. Legal Advisor (Jan. 2003) •Applies double standard since Yoo contends that al Qaeda and Taliban subject to rules of war, but U.S. is not Response
  36. 36. Yoo and Bybee are guilty not only of bad lawyeringand possibly ethical violations but the fact that they went to such extremes in memos that would serve as the launching pad for what ultimately became Abu Ghraib, might suggest that they were consciously enabling and therefore conspiring with their superiors to commit war crimes. Summary
  37. 37. Did Yoo/Bybee violate ethical prohibitions on assisting unlawful acts or in failing to provide a balanced opinion? Did Yoo/Bybee violate the law? Should Bybee, who is now a judge on the 9thCircuit be impeached? Should Yoo be fired as a faculty member at Cal-Berkeley?
  38. 38. ISSUE WORTH EXPLORING SINCEIT SENDS A MESSAGE THAT NOBODY SHOULD BE ABOVE THE LAW
  39. 39. AND AFFIRM THAT WE STAND FOR THIS
  40. 40. AND NOTTHIS
  41. 41. Bennet Kelley is an award winning political columnist for the Santa Monica Daily Press and Huffington Post. He has been active in politics for over 30 years and was Co-Founder of the Democratic National Committee's Saxophone Club, its young professional outreach and fundraising arm, from 1992 to 1998. Bennet has provided political analysis and insight to television, radio and print media ranging from KABC to the Washington Times. He recently has teamed up with conservative political consultant Jim Ellis to form Filibanter(filibanter.com) which provides audiences with a light-hearted, yet insightful, look at contemporary politics Bennet also is a contributing author to Big Bush Lies: 20 Essays and a List of the 50 Most Telling Lies of George W. Bush(RiverWood Books 2004) and was publisher of BushLies.net. www.BennetKelley.com bennet@bennetkelley.com
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