What the "Torture Memos" Really Reveal


By Mike Griffith, Staff Writer

The article below does a good job of showing that the so-called "Bush torture memos" prove that we did not torture anyone.  Far from proving that we engaged in torture, what those memos really show is that we went out of our way to ensure that our interrogation methods did not descend into torture.  You’d never guess this to read the far left’s reactions to the memos.   

What is also missing from the far left’s rhetoric about the "torture memos" is the fact that the interrogation methods they authorized yielded valuable information that saved lives, that prevented pending attacks, that led to the capture of other terrorists, and that enabled us to severely disrupt Al Qaeda operations in many parts of the world.  

Do these facts matter to the far-left bloggers and politicians who are screaming about "torture"?  Would they have rather seen those pending attacks occur and to have seen hundreds or even thousands of people die as a result?  Would they have preferred that all the Al Qaeda operations that we shut down remained untouched?


The Case for the "Torture Memos"

By Rich Lowry (National Review Online)

The debate over the just-released Justice Department memorandums on interrogation techniques ended as soon as they were dubbed the “torture memos.” Forevermore, they will be remembered as the legal lowlights of a “dark and painful chapter in our history,” as Pres. Barack Obama put it.

Rightly considered, the memos should be a source of pride. They represent a nation of laws struggling to defend itself against a savage, lawless enemy while adhering to its legal commitments and norms. Most societies throughout human history wouldn’t have bothered.

The memos cite conduct that is indisputably torture from a court case involving Serbs abusing Muslims in Bosnia: “severe beatings to the genitals, head, and other parts of the body with metal pipes and various other items; removal of teeth with pliers; kicking in the face and ribs; breaking of bones and ribs and dislocation of fingers; cutting a figure into the victim’s forehead; hanging the victim and beating him; extreme limitations of food and water; and subjection to games of ‘Russian roulette.’ ”

In contrast, we carefully parsed each of our techniques to ensure it wouldn’t cause “severe physical or mental pain or suffering.” This touchingly legalistic exercise at times took on a comic aspect. We could put a caterpillar in a box with a detainee afraid of stinging insects, Abu Zubaydah, so long as we didn’t falsely tell him the caterpillar was a threat to sting. We could put detainees in diapers so long as “the diaper is checked regularly and changed as needed to prevent skin irritation.”

The practice of “walling” was characteristic. A report of the International Committee of the Red Cross made it seem a brutish exercise involving slamming the heads of recalcitrant detainees against walls. The memos make it clear that the detainees were thrown against fake, flexible walls, with their necks swathed in towels to prevent whiplash. The point was to push their shoulder blades against the wall to make a loud, startling noise.

Not exactly Torquemada. Several of the harshest methods — sleep deprivation, stress positions, and waterboarding — could easily constitute torture, depending on their application. The tone of the press coverage makes the very act of subjecting these methods to close legal analysis seem dirty, as if the Justice Department should have come down with a case of the vapors when asked for guidance.

But there is a line somewhere between the highly restricted methods approved in the Army Field Manual for interrogation of enemy soldiers and illegal torture. The only way to find and honor that line is by lots of lawyerly analysis of practices that — in the words of Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair — “read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing.”

Blair’s point is an important one — context matters. If any of these methods was used against domestic criminal suspects, it would shock the conscience. They were instead deployed against terrorists with information about their network and perhaps ongoing plots. U.S. officials have dueling obligations in such circumstances, both to abide by our laws and to protect the public. Balancing these obligations is necessarily a fraught, complicated task; it can only seem simple in retrospect, when the threat appears to have receded.

Reasonable people can disagree about whether the Bush administration succeeded in its balancing act. Waterboarding has always been the most controversial method, and it was used 183 times — in short bursts not exceeding 40 seconds — against top al-Qaeda captive Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in March 2003. Were intelligence benefits gained commensurate with the frequent resort to this method?

If we had a more mature political culture, this and other questions could be thoroughly examined by a special congressional committee. (As it happens, the CIA produced a memo on the benefits of the interrogation program that has never been released.) But such an inquiry would inevitably descend into a hyperpoliticized takedown of the CIA and the Bush Justice Department for “war crimes.” The frenzied reception of the “torture memos” is just a preview.

See also Andrew McCarthy’s editorial "The Real Interrogation Scandal"



We See The World From All Sides and Want YOU To Be Fully Informed
In fact, intentional disinformation is a disgraceful scourge in media today. So to assuage any possible errant incorrect information posted herein, we strongly encourage you to seek corroboration from other non-VT sources before forming an educated opinion.

About VT - Policies & Disclosures - Comment Policy
Due to the nature of uncensored content posted by VT's fully independent international writers, VT cannot guarantee absolute validity. All content is owned by the author exclusively. Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, other authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, or technicians. Some content may be satirical in nature. All images are the full responsibility of the article author and NOT VT.
Previous articleWill the real Memorial Day please stand up?
Next articleBlackwater Out of Iraq? No, Not Yet