15 April 2009

Obama's torture loophole

For those who (mistakenly) believe that The One has ended or intents to end the Bush policy of using torture on enemy combatants:

Obama ready to ban harsh interrogations
Jan 16, 2009


However, Obama's changes [to the Bush policy] may not be absolute. His advisers are considering adding a classified loophole to the rules that could allow the CIA to use some interrogation methods not specifically authorized by the Pentagon, the officials said. They said the intent is not to use that as an opening for possible use of waterboarding, an interrogation technique that simulates drowning.


For Obama, who repeatedly insisted during the 2008 presidential campaign and the transition period that "America doesn't torture," a classified loophole would allow him to follow through on his promise to end harsh interrogations while retaining a full range of presidential options in conducting the war against terrorism.

The proposed loophole, which could come in the form of a classified annex to the manual, is designed to satisfy intelligence experts who fear that an outright ban of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques would limit the government in obtaining threat information that could save American lives. It would also preserve Obama's flexibility to authorize any interrogation tactics he might deem necessary for national security.

However, such a move would frustrate Senate Democrats and human rights, retired military and religious groups that have pressed for a government-wide prohibition on methods they describe as torture. . .


Of course, The Loophole has to be classified.

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  1. "could allow the CIA to use some interrogation methods not specifically authorized by the Pentagon"

    Duh. The CIA is not under the jurisdiction of the Pentagon. It is like the FBI writting rules for the ATF. An ATF agent could simply reply he does not work for the FBI.

    Also, Obama still has the case by case 'Presidential Letter' privileged where he can authorize someone to violate any law, even one he signed, on a case by case basis. Such permissions are not public. The president has the power to authorize the assassination of a non-citizen. Because of the letter, the assassin could not be tried by US courts and the President could not be tried as Head of State.

  2. But, JW! The One would NEVER do those things...we only need to worry about torture and assassination when Republicans are in the White House; then, it's evil.

  3. And now I read this: http://harpers.org/archive/2009/04/hbc-90004776

    Obama is aware of the strong political opposition to a total ban on torture -- and he may cave in to it... Does he expect the Spanish judiciary to do his job for him -- the job of saving America's moral integrity?

  4. Joseph,

    You're going to have to help me understand how a politically motivated show trial staged by a socialist court in a foreign country against a conservative American politician saves our moral integrity...it's a PR stunt. Nothing more.

    BTW, just in case anyone is wondering...Bush/Cheney were flat wrong on their torture policy. The Church explicitly forbids torture of any kind. Period.

    So, my critique of Obama should not be taken as support for Bush's torture policy. The difference btw BO and GB is that GB never rung the hills with self-righteous campaign rhetoric like "America doesn't torture!" GB just went ahead and did it...to his and our moral disservice. Obama is going to tell his leftie worshipers that he will stop torture and then do it under the guise of a "classified loophole." The only reason for not releasing all of the Bush torture memos is that BO wants to use their legal reason to bolster his own torture policy.

  5. GB did use the phrase "America doesn't torture" -- as a LYING assurance, Obama as a TRUE assurance -- I hope. His release of the legal memos is accompanied by a promise that the perpetrators will not be prosecuted, as they acted in good faith. I wonder to what extent does he expect people to accept or understand or tolerate the reasonings of the memors -- to the effect that other nations torture irresponsibly while the US does so in humane and carefully monitored doses and for a worthy goal.

  6. Joseph,

    GB did what all politicians do: he played word games, refusing to call water-boarding torture.

    The point is that BO campaigned on eliminating torture as a US interrogation technique. Now that he's in, he's waffling and trying to hide torture in classified annexes.

    He took the moral high road on this issue and is now quickly backtracking b/c he wants the power to do what he wants to do--something the Left screamed bloody murder about for 8 yrs with GB. Where's the screaming now?

    Ironically, the BO admin is now using the GB admin's legal argument from Gitmo in an appellate court case to keep enemy combatants from Afghanistan locked up. Oh, the hypocrisy! And, where's the lefty screaming? (crickets chirping...)

    BO is nothing but a politician.