Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Memos: Torture & Tortured Logic

The big takeaway from four secret memos released this week that were used by the Bush administration to justify the CIA's torture regime is that everyone's hands are dirty -- and that while the Obama administration's aren't squeaky clean, another small step has been taken to restore America's moral standing in the world.

The CIA, seeking to cover its legal backside, misled Justice's Office of Legal Counsel while the OLC attorneys providing that cover resorted to . . . uh, tortured logic:

But two examples:

* It wasn't torture to deprive people of sleep for a week and a half because they could always sleep later.

* It wasn't torture because medical personnel were present, including some nice Mormon fellas.

In releasing the memos, the White House said that it will not seek the prosecution of the CIA agents who tortured terrorism suspects. And the good old USofA will "move forward with confidence."

Their bad, because as Keith Olbermann noted:

"This country has never moved forward with confidence without first cleansing itself of its mistaken past. In point of fact, every effort to merely draw a line in the sand and declare the past dead has served only to keep the past alive and often to strengthen it."

The administration did not speak to whether the OLC perps -- Jay Bybee, Steven Bradberry and John Yoo -- should be lawyering up, and although they won't have to cancel their vacations to Spain, I suspect that they also have little to worry about at home. That is doubly unfortunate, because these guys deserve to have the hammer fall on them. Or maybe just be waterboarded.

Incidentally, the silence from right-of-center commentators (save for a very few) about the evil inherent in the memos, let alone the reverse engineering at their root, has been deafening. Although former AG Michael Mukasey did trot out the usual drivel about their release leading to "institutional timidity," while one lefty to my semi-surprise was most indignant.

Oh, and one other thing: The release further eviscerates the Bush administration's claim that the memos had to remain secret so it could continue to receive the most candid legal advice available. And that just because the U.S. condemns other countries for certain abuses doesn't mean that it should be similarly bound.

And another thing: There still are additional memos that remain secret. Release them, Mr. President. Release them.

PHOTOS (Top to bottom): Bybee, Bradbury, Yoo.

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