The Drudge Report is trying to spin
as if it deflects the blame for the Dubya Squad’s torture policy from Attorney
General nominee Alberto Gonzales. “Paper: Gonzales drafts ghost-written by
Cheney lawyer,” says Drudge. Nice try, but the news actually ties Gonzales
closer to the torture memos than before:
asked for a legal review — the first ever by the government — of how much
pain and suffering a
officer could inflict on a prisoner without violating a
law that imposes severe penalties,
including life imprisonment and execution, on convicted torturers. The
Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel took up the task, and at least
twice during the drafting, top administration officials were briefed on the
White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales
chaired the meetings on this issue, which included detailed descriptions of
interrogation techniques such as “waterboarding,” a tactic intended to make
detainees feel as if they are drowning. He raised no objections and, without
consulting military and State Department experts in the laws of torture and
war, approved an memo that gave
interrogators the legal blessings they sought.
…it goes on…
Gonzales approved in — after
limited consultation — an Office of Legal Counsel memo suggesting various
stratagems that officials could use to defend themselves against criminal
prosecution for torture.
Drafted at the request of the
which sought legal blessing for aggressive interrogation methods for
Abu Zubaida and other
al Qaeda detainees, the memo contended
that only physically punishing acts “of an extreme nature” would be
prosecutable. It also said that those committing torture with express
presidential authority or without the intent to commit harm were probably
immune from prosecution.
The memo was signed by Jay S. Bybee, then an
assistant attorney general and now a federal appellate judge, but written
with significant input from [John] Yoo, whom Gonzales had tried to hire at
the White House and later endorsed to head Justice’s legal counsel office.
During the drafting of the memo, Yoo briefed Gonzales several times on its
contents. He also briefed Ashcroft, Bellinger, Addington, Haynes and the
acting general counsel, John A. Rizzo,
several officials said.
At least one of the meetings during this period included a detailed
description of the interrogation methods the
wanted to use, such as open-handed slapping, the threat of live burial and
“waterboarding” — a procedure that involves strapping a detainee to a board,
raising the feet above the head, wrapping the face and nose in a wet towel,
and dripping water onto the head. Tested repeatedly on
personnel as part of interrogation resistance training, the technique proved
to produce an unbearable sensation of drowning.
State Department officials and military lawyers were intentionally excluded
from these deliberations, officials said. Gonzales and his staff had no
reservations about the legal draft or the proposed interrogation methods and
did not suggest major changes during the editing of Yoo’s memo, two officials
involved in the deliberations said.
The memo defined torture in extreme terms, said the president had inherent
powers to allow it and gave the
permission to do what it wished. , its conclusions were cited approvingly in a Defense Department
memo that spelled out the Pentagon’s policy for “exceptional interrogations”
of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.