Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 25, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

YOO-BYBEE II....Yesterday the ACLU finally got hold of the infamous August 2002 "Yoo-Bybee II" memo, which outlines acceptable interrogation techniques for CIA prisoners held outside the U.S. I figure you probably want to know what's kosher and what's not, so here it is:

Sorry about that. It's all still a secret, I guess, even though Bybee concluded that not one single technique outlined in the memo constituted torture. Why? Because, among other thing, "The objective of these techniques is not to cause severe physical pain."

Read that again: "The objective of these techniques is not to cause severe physical pain." This is about as breathtaking as sophistry can get since, of course, causing severe pain was the whole point. Spencer Ackerman has more here, if you have the stomach for it.

Kevin Drum 2:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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Comments

No, no, no. The objective was to get information, severe pain was just a side effect!

Posted by: Martin on July 25, 2008 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

No, no, no. The objective was sadistic pleasure by the drafters of this memo, informatin was a side effect.

Posted by: RollaMO on July 25, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

The objective was to force the sharing of information through the use of severe pain. These people are beyond stupid; they are immoral and unethical. They embody evil.

Posted by: cmac on July 25, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

For a moment there I thought you had posted a truckload of Inkblot pictures, to atone for not doing Friday Catblooging last wee.

But then I realized that there was too much black!

Posted by: optical weenie on July 25, 2008 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but it's tough to make sense of a document when you dress it up in a burqa. How 'bout a little leg?

Posted by: junebug on July 25, 2008 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

weenie: ...to atone for not doing Friday Catblooging last wee...

Can't help you with the blooging, but I just allocated 1K. You want to borrow it?

Posted by: thersites on July 25, 2008 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Call Pelosi @1-202-225-0100 DEMAND IMPEACHMENT. May WE can bring some JUSTICE back to America starting at the top.

Posted by: Mike Meyer on July 25, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Thersites,
You really need to learn how to use the preview button. Blooging?

Posted by: optical weenie on July 25, 2008 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

mhr: Are YOU absolutely sure he's guilty of what YOU say or did he confess to stop the torture of himself and/or his childern? And if there is EVIDENCE OF GUILT where is the transcript of his TRIAL? And if there is no TRIAL then what happened to INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY?

Posted by: Mike Meyer on July 25, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, dear. I need to use the preview button when I coopy your text.

Posted by: thersites on July 25, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

What they are construing in the memo is the CAT definition of torture, which goes like this:

Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.

Using rhetorical acrobatics that would make the ancient Sophists blush, YOOBYBEE tries to sever the "intent" requirement from the "motive" issue. In other words, assuming that the interrogation team didn't go in and say, "We intend to cause you severe pain and suffering in order to obtain information from you," they were OK. Just so long as they didn't consider what the effect of the technique was, beyond obtaining information, they didn't have the requisite intent. Now, how absurd is that reasoning? Pretty damned absurd. Why waterboard if the point isn't to use severe pain or suffering to obtain the information you want? Why not just ask them nicely?

Or maybe YOOBYBEE thought that if they were seeking information and chose to use the approved techniques, not because they would yield information, but because it was fun...that would be OK too? With these guys you would actually have to consider that gruesome possibility.

Posted by: majun on July 25, 2008 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Look, the Republicans defined "torture" for you guys, and they don't torture.

It's defined as "things we don't do", therefore, we don't torture. This isn't difficult.

Posted by: flubber on July 25, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

This reminds me of one of my favorite strips from the newspaper comic strip, Shoe. Shoe is a reporter and he goes into his editor's office and hands him a lengthy article he has been working on. The editor gets out a scissors and then all you see is a blizzard of paper confetti flying through the air and and the scissors snipping madly away. Then, the editor hands Shoe back a tiny scrap of paper and says, "I like this word very much".

Sometimes life really does imitate art!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on July 25, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

great simple little graphic that says it all - redaction rules !!

Posted by: spice trader on July 25, 2008 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

This whole thing is f***ing ridiculous.

If these techniques are so important, why can't they torture one guy who can tell us where Osama bin Laden is?

I guess if we can't catch him, it's because Osama's inner-circle must be made up uniformly of guys who are like Napoleon, Alexander the Great, Einstein and James Bond all rolled into one, eh?

Posted by: Swan on July 25, 2008 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

You could probably get more information if you run those pages through a upc bar code scanner. I'll bet some neocon owns the government contract for black ink and shredders.

Posted by: slanted tom on July 25, 2008 at 9:03 PM | PERMALINK

It isn't illegal because the purpose is to be legal.

Posted by: Ross Best on July 26, 2008 at 1:14 AM | PERMALINK

Talk about creepy! That memo needs to be fully disclosed immediately. The number of idiots in elected office in this country staggers the mind. And apparently has led to torture of logic, torture of our laws, and, so help us, torture of human beings, some of whom were entirely innocent of any participation in terrorism...until they were terrorized by our own government! Tyranny needs to be checked immediately!

Posted by: parrot on July 26, 2008 at 5:14 AM | PERMALINK

flubber: the Republicans defined "torture" for you guys, and they don't torture.


remember...

when the right was all over clinton for asking about the definition of one word....

is...

Posted by: mr. irony on July 26, 2008 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Given that wording, the technique could easily even have involved severe pain (i.e., not being a distinction between severe and not severe, which is bad enough.) They can say, that wasn't "the objective" since the objective is to get information, confessions, maybe even retribution, etc.

Posted by: ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 26, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

Speaking of Clinton: the way the opposition lawyers defined [sex] "sexual intercourse" (requiring engagement of the female organs, per the biologist framing and not the socio-sexual elaboration), WJC actually did not engage in "sexual intercourse."

Posted by: ♪ ♪ ♪ on July 26, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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