S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The devil's in the details of what the devil's advocates claim

Devils advocates wonder -- Why on earth was it necessary to reveal the disturbing details of this top secret program? Won't it jeopardize the pursuit of terrorists? After all was all this not justified in order to prevent another terrorist attack on the homeland? We captured the planner of September 11, Khalid Sheik Mohammed himself. Why not waterboard him 183 times? Did he not deserve it?

The actual truth is that thousands died when the towers fell. And our nation was traumatized as a result. It was necessary to make the OLC memos public because of what happened in those dark and secret places in our names. The revelation will make us more safe, not less, because it removes one of al Qaeda's most powerful recruiting tools for new terrorists. Mohammed and the others of our enemies do not deserve vengence; they deserve the righteous hand of justice.

Devil's advocates ask -- Why have a fit about giving our enemies such a hard time? What is so wrong about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques? What about the first time we know that these enhanced techniques were used? The detainee's name is Abu Zubaydah. Wasn't he one of the most important of the terrorists, one of the worst of the worst?

It is true that we should be able to trust our own intelligence gathering system. What we should look to trust is that the system is not above the law, but of the law of this land and of international law to which we are party. Torture is against the law. It does not produce reliable information. It must not be used to punish.

The devils advocates are curious -- Why was there even any question among those responsible? Wasn't it ordered by the highest officials in our government, who surely knew more than we did at the time? Why could we not trust that the U.S. Justice Department to offer legal guidance to the intelligence gathering community?

Surely it is true that, since our beginnings, we have prided ourselves on being a nation of laws and not of men. But in this case, until there is justice for those responsible for torture, we remain a nation of men (and women). Those who are speaking out now would not do so if they expected no consequences. Achieving justice is the only way we will reestablish faith in our justice system, as well as our intelligence system.

Read for understanding -- Yesterday there was an amazing occasion at the TPM Cafe blog where I often post. It was a post written by one of my blog friends, a psychologist who uses the name TheraP. Her title is "Deliberate Acts of Cruelty," by "TheraP" at TPM Cafe (4/18/09). At last count there were 218 comments, 37 reader recommendations. It is a profoundly important discussion. I urge you to read it so that you can more fully understand the answers we must give to all those devil's advocates out there who remain somewhat blind to the whole truth. Today she tells "The Peoples' Lawyer it is time to stand up."

ACLU speaks out -- My ACLU periodic Email laid it out very clearly. It was this organization, you remember that enabled the release of the memos because of its FOIA lawsuit. I quote:

Dear ACLU Supporter,

Disturbing secret memos released yesterday detail the sadistic interrogation methods the Bush administration authorized the CIA to use on detainees. These memos provide shocking confirmation of high-level involvement in the Bush torture program.

It's appalling to see how far our nation strayed from our commitment to human rights. To restore our values we must demand accountability from those responsible.

The last thing America can do now is adopt a “let bygones be bygones” approach to these despicable and indefensible activities.

In America, no one is above the law -- and when crimes have been committed, our legal system demands accountability.

It took five long years for the ACLU to force these memos out into the open. And, no matter how long it takes, we’re going to keep pushing until those responsible for these heinous acts are held accountable.


The Secret State continues to crumble," was written by emptywheel (3/6/09). It is my conclusion to this post, included to maintain hope. To quote:

In yet another sign that the counter-terrorist state built on executive secrets continues to crumble, the DC Circuit Court just ruled that judges--and not the government--will get to determine whether classified information would be helpful to detainee habeas corpus petitions. (h/t scribe) And if that information is helpful, then the detainee lawyers will get that information.


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betmo said...

i cannot tell you how angry i was when karl rove, et al said publicly that the techniques were 'ruined' that they couldn't use them again. in fact, i am taking deep breaths right now...

well, tough shit karl. we shouldn't have been using them in the first place. torture is wrong, wrong, wrong. period.

Carol Gee said...

Betmo, my sentiments, exactly. When I step back from this, I remember that the memo release took place a week ago tomorrow. Look at all that has happened since. What courage it took for the President to meet the ACLU trial judge's deadline, and release the memos relatively intact. Think about all the folks who are now feeling the need to "lawyer up." Jay Bybee has already done so.
Thanks, my friend, for your passion in this matter!