warprompts

Thank you, Helen Thomas

Reporter Helen Thomas confronts Bush spokeswoman on torture:

Q The President has said publicly several times, in two consecutive news conferences a few months ago, and you have said over and over again, we do not torture. Now he has admitted that he did sign off on torture, he did know about it. So how do you reconcile this credibility gap?

MS. PERINO: Helen, you’re taking liberties with the what the President said. The United States has not, is not torturing any detainees in the global war on terror. And General Hayden, amongst others, have spoken on Capitol Hill fully in this regard, and it is — I’ll leave it where it is. The President is accurate in saying what he said.

Q That’s not my question. My question is, why did he state publicly, we do not torture —

MS. PERINO: Because we do not.

Q — when he really did know that we do?

MS. PERINO: No, that’s what I mean, Helen. We’ve talked about the legal authorities —

Q Are you saying that we did not?

MS. PERINO: I am saying we did not, yes.

Q How can you when you have photographs and everything else? I mean, how can you say that when he admits that he knew about it?

MS. PERINO: Helen, I think that you’re — again, I think you’re conflating some issues and you’re misconstruing what the President said.

Q I’m asking for the credibility of this country, not just this administration.

MS. PERINO: And what I’m telling you is we have — torture has not occurred. And you can go back through all the public record. Just make sure — I would just respectfully ask you not to misconstrue what the President said.

Q You’re denying, in this room, that we torture and we have tortured?

MS. PERINO: Yes, I am denying that.

Elaine, did you have one?

Q I have one on Zimbabwe, actually.

Q Where is everybody?

According to Raw Story, the “Where is everybody?” was said by Thomas who turned in her seat, looked at her colleagues, shook her head in disgust, and asked sadly: “Where is everybody? For God’s sakes!”

What purpose did the Yoo memos really serve? Scott Horton looks into this in his LA Times editorial — Which came first: memos or torture?

It increasingly appears that the Bush interrogation program was already being used before Yoo was asked to write an opinion. He may therefore have provided after-the-fact legal cover. That would help explain why Yoo strained to take so many implausible positions in the memos.

It also appears that government lawyers had told Bush administration officials that some of the techniques already in use were illegal, even criminal. In fact, a senior Pentagon lawyer described to me exchanges he had with Yoo in which he stressed that those using the techniques could face prosecution. Yoo notes in his Pentagon memo that he communicated with the Criminal Division of the Justice Department and got assurances that prosecutions would not be brought. The question becomes, was Yoo giving his best effort at legal analysis, or was he attempting to protect the authors of the program from criminal investigation and prosecution?

In any case, Yoo kept the program running.

Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) questioned FBI Director Robert Mueller on torture at a House Judiciary hearing on 04/23/08. Florida should be proud. Here’s one snippet of the exchange:

RW: My question Mr. Director, I congratulate you for pulling the FBI agents back, but why did you not take more substantial steps to stop the interrogation techniques that your own FBI agents were telling you were illegal? Why did you not initiate criminal investigations when your agents told you the CIA and the Department of Defense were engaging in illegal interrogation techniques, and rather than simply pulling your agents out, shouldn’t you have directed them to prevent any illegal interrogations from taking place?

RM: I can go so far sir as to tell you that a protocol in the FBI is not to use coercion in any of our interrogations or our questioning and we have abided by our protocol.

RW: I appreciate that. What is the protocol say when the FBI knows that the CIA is engaging or the Department of Defense is engaging in an illegal technique? What does the protocol say in that circumstance?

RM: We would bring it up to appropriate authorities and determine whether the techniques were legal or illegal.

RW: Did you bring it up to appropriate authorities?

RM: All I can tell you is that we followed our own protocols.

RW: So you can’t tell us whether you brought it; when your own FBI agents came to you and said the CIA is doing something illegal which caused you to say don’t you get involved; you can’t tell us whether you then went to whatever authority?

RM: I’ll tell you we followed our own protocols.

RW: And what was the result?

RM: We followed our own protocols. We followed our protocols. We did not use coercion. We did not participate in any instance where coercion was used to my knowledge.

RW: Did the CIA use techniques that were illegal?

RM: I can’t comment on what has been done by another agency and under what authorities the other agency may have taken actions.

RW: Why can’t you comment on the actions of another agency?

RM: I leave that up to the other agency to answer questions with regard to the actions taken by that agency and the legal authorities that may apply to them.

RW: Are you the chief legal law enforcement agency in the United States?

RM: I am the Director of the FBI.

RW: And you do not have authority with respect to any other governmental agency in the United States? Is that what you’re saying?

RM: My authority is given to me to investigate. Yes we do.

RW: Did somebody take away that authority with respect to the CIA?

RM: Nobody has taken away the authority. I can tell you what our protocol was, and how we followed that protocol.

RW: Did anybody take away the authority with respect to the Department of Defense?

RM: I’m not certain what you mean.

RW: Your authority to investigate an illegal torture technique

The New Republic interviews Philippe Sands, author of the forthcoming The Torture Team:

TNR: The administration’s narrative has been that a harsh set of interrogation techniques, including waterboarding and stress positions, was introduced in response to demands from interrogators in the field who concluded that what they had didn’t work. How did you reach the conclusion that, in fact, the pressure for the new techniques came from high up in the administration and worked its way down?

PS: I have no doubt about the early, close, and active involvement of the upper echelons of the administration in the decision to request, approve and then use harsh techniques of interrogation on “Detainee 063,” Mohammed Al Qahtani. The story that emerged from the interviews was clear and it was consistent (plus, I had the opportunity to put my findings to Jim Haynes, who was the final piece of the jigsaw). The administration’s ‘bottom-up’ narrative–as spun by Mr. Haynes and others–is false, inaccurate, and misleading, and I believe it was knowingly intended to be so. The administration has scapegoated individuals who were on the ground at Guantánamo in order to protect itself.

The ACLU and Human Rights First have filed a motion in federal court to overturn the dismissal of a lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld. The March 2005 lawsuit was filed on behalf of nine Iraqi and Afghan detainees who were tortured in US custody and eventually released without being charged with a crime. Read about the case against Rumsfeld here.

Make it Matter. Sign the Human Rights First petition to tell the presidential candidates to end torture.

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April 29, 2008 Posted by | Torture News, Yoo Torture Memo | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment