A Vast Torture Operation

North Carolina Outlaws Torture:

Anti-torture activists won in the General Assembly today when a House judiciary committee approved the legislation they’ve been working to enact for nearly two years.

House Bill 2417 would create two new criminal statutes in North Carolina specifically outlawing “torture” and “enforced disappearance” for the purpose of torture. Both would be added to the list of crimes for which a state investigative grand jury could be empaneled. That process can be initiated through a petition to the state Supreme Court by a local district attorney or the state attorney general.

State Rep. Paul Luebke, D-Durham, a primary sponsor of the bill, called the committee action, which came by a 4-3 vote, a “significant victory” and “an important statement in opposing torture in North Carolina.”

The vote was along party lines, with Democrats voting yes and Republicans voting no.

Luebke cautioned that the committee’s action is just the first in a six-step legislative process. The bill now moves to the House Appropriations Committee, which will consider its cost to enforce, if any. If approved there, the bill would go to the House floor. The same process would be repeated in the Senate. Gov. Mike Easley’s signature would also be required to enact the bill into law.

“A vast torture operation” — Juan Cole writes:

Recent reports, taken together, provide a chilling glimpse of a vast torture operation, deliberately planned out by serial torturers in Bush’s White House and possibly by the president himself. The program was designed to repeal the Geneva Conventions, which the US and Israel have long found inconvenient, even though they were legislated to prevent futher abuses such as those of the Nazis. AP interviews with former detainees show that they were systematically tortured and sometimes permanently injured.

The Senate hearings continue…East Bay Express reports:

William Haynes II is a senior lawyer in Chevron’s general counsel office. But up until a few months ago, he was the Pentagon lawyer who helped authorize and craft a policy of torturing people detained by the American military. Yesterday, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee called him in to testify about when and how he approved the use of dogs, nudity, and other techniques during interrogations. And wouldn’t you know it, one of the sharpest legal minds in the country suddenly can’t remember a thing! According to the WaPo’s Dana Milbank, Haynes gave the following answers to questions from the public’s elected representatives:

“I don’t recall seeing this memorandum before and I’m not even sure this is one I’ve seen before. . . . I don’t recall seeing this memorandum and I don’t recall specific objections of this nature. . . . Well, I don’t recall seeing this document, either. . . . I don’t recall specific concerns. . . . I don’t recall these and I don’t recall seeing these memoranda. . . . I can’t even read this document, but I don’t remember seeing it. . . . I don’t recall that specifically. . . . I don’t remember doing that. . . . I don’t recall seeing these things.”

“It was an impressive performance, to be sure,” Milbank marveled. “But let’s see him try to do that with a hood over his head, standing on a crate with wires attached to his arms.”

More coverage on the hearings:


And here:

In a series of hearings, Congressional leaders are trying to get to the bottom of a few simple questions: Who initiated the use of torture techniques in the “war on terror”? What was the process by which it was done? On whose authority was it done? The use of torture techniques became a matter of public knowledge four years ago. In response to the initial disclosures, the Bush Administration first decided to spin the fable of a handful of “rotten apples” inside of a company of military police from Appalachia and scapegoated a handful of examples in carefully managed and staged show trials. When further disclosures out of Bagram and Guantánamo made this untenable, they spun a new myth, this time suggesting that the administration had responded to a plea from below for wider latitude.

In fact at this point the evidence is clear and convincing, and it points to a top-down process. Figures near the top of the administration decided that they wanted brutal techniques and they hammered them through, usually over strong opposition from the ranks of professionals.

Yesterday’s hearings in the Senate Armed Services Committee helped make that point, and brought a new focus on a figure who has been lurking in the shadows of the controversy for some time: William J. Haynes II, Rumsfeld’s lawyer and now a lawyer for Chevron. Two things emerge from the hearing. First, that Haynes was effectively a stationmaster when it came to introducing torture techniques in the “war on terror,” circumventing opposition from career military and pushing through a policy of brutality and cruelty, by stealth when necessary. And second, that Haynes lacks the courage of his convictions, a willingness to stand up and testify honesty about what he did.


June 23, 2008 - Posted by | Torture News | , , , , , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: