The Uncleansable Stain

Has there ever been a more disgraceful Attorney General than Alberto Gonzales? Has there ever been a more disgraceful Administration than the Bush Administration? No:

When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.

But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

Mr. Gonzales approved the legal memorandum on “combined effects” over the objections of James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general, who was leaving his job after bruising clashes with the White House. Disagreeing with what he viewed as the opinion’s overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of it.

The nation may never recover from the damage done by these scoundrels.


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    • Armando on October 4, 2007 at 05:13

    The Bush administration had entered uncharted legal territory beginning in 2002, holding prisoners outside the scrutiny of the International Red Cross and subjecting them to harrowing pressure tactics. They included slaps to the head; hours held naked in a frigid cell; days and nights without sleep while battered by thundering rock music; long periods manacled in stress positions; or the ultimate, waterboarding.

    Never in history had the United States authorized such tactics. While President Bush and C.I.A. officials would later insist that the harsh measures produced crucial intelligence, many veteran interrogators, psychologists and other experts say that less coercive methods are equally or more effective.

    • Armando on October 4, 2007 at 05:16

    Gonzales committed blatant perjury in 2005 if anyone is interested.

    • robodd on October 4, 2007 at 05:33

    a person, either:  “attorney” and “General.”  No love of rule of law, and toxic leadership skills.

    • Armando on October 4, 2007 at 05:34

    Under Mr. Ashcroft, Mr. Comey’s opposition might have killed the opinion. An imposing former prosecutor and self-described conservative who stands 6-foot-8, he was the rare administration official who was willing to confront Mr. Addington. At one testy 2004 White House meeting, when Mr. Comey stated that “no lawyer” would endorse Mr. Yoo’s justification for the N.S.A. program, Mr. Addington demurred, saying he was a lawyer and found it convincing. Mr. Comey shot back: “No good lawyer,” according to someone present.

    Fuck yeah! One man leaves with his honor intact.

  1. We should join the ICC and push to get these people charged. Under the ICC, it is a war crime to develop plans for the torture of people and the denial of their rights.

  2. and the beat goes on…

    White House Counsel Fred Fielding has declared those details off-limits under executive privilege.

    how the eff can mukasey’s opinions on warrantless wire tapping be under exec priv when he isnt part of the exec. branch? 

    its like magic….

  3. The nation may never recover from the damage done by these scoundrels.

    While I know this may be hyperbole on your part, but if it is true, then is this still the United States of America? I must admit I have my doubts.

    I barely recognize the place and I was born there and grew up there. What the country is now? I do not know.

    The name of the passport still says United States of America, but it isn’t the same country. America has changed and it wasn’t because of September 11th, 2001. That was just an excuse.

  4. At the end of this very long article, it’s still unclear what Bradbury authorized. Or how many such opinions he wrote and when. The opinions are classified and while the article is filled with anecdotal quotes from former officials praising former DOJ officials like Comey and former Associate White House Counsel Jack Goldsmith, and criticizing David Addington and Alberto Gonzales, it’s short on specifics.

    Also, it doesn’t seem like the article’s authors have seen actual copies of Bradbury’s opinions, instead relying on what people familiar with them have related.

    Hopefully, there will be a follow-up.

    She also notes that, apparently, Bradbury told the Senate Intelligence committee that the Prez has the right to order killings of terror suspects in the US.

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