Yet another Bush administration pronouncement about waterboarding

Up until this month, the Bush administration refused to talk about waterboarding. The talking points were always the same. ‘We cannot talk about specific techniques‘ and ‘Whatever techniques we did use were within the law.’ The Senate was told they were being unfair to Michael Mukasey for asking about the technique because he had not been briefed on its use.

Now the Bushies cannot stop talking about waterboarding.  

The latest comments come from Steven Bradbury, the acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel.

“The set of interrogation methods authorized for current use is narrower than before, and it does not today include waterboarding.”

“There has been no determination by the Justice Department that the use of waterboarding, under any circumstances, would be lawful under current law.”


The wording is a little vague, but implies that waterboarding is not legal under current laws. The wording is almost identical to that used by CIA Director Michael Hayden in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee last week.

“In my own view, the view of my lawyers and the Department of Justice, it is not certain that that technique would be considered to be lawful under current statute.”


After the groundhog saw its shadow, the Bush administration suddenly loosened it lips. The unitary executive opened the flood gates when he authorized CIA Director Michael Hayden to speak publicly about its use. Since that time, the administration has been willing to admit it was used on three detainees. They have also been very careful to say that it was ‘legal’ when it was used.

Michael Mukasey has now been fully briefed on waterboarding. He was quite clear that the Office of Legal Counsel, now headed by Steven Bradbury, had issued an opinion that it was legal in 2002-2003 when waterboarding of detainees was used and made available for the private amusement of the Bush administration. Because of that ruling, Mukasey was comfortable in lecturing Rep. Conyers and the rest of the House Judiciary Committee that there was no basis for an investigation. Mukasey ruled out an investigation by the Department of Justice. According to Gonzales’ replacement, it is a clear case of Catch-22-me-if-you-can: “That would mean that the same department that authorized the program would now consider prosecuting somebody who followed that advice.”

Mukasey was mum about who in the Office of Legal Counsel issued the original opinion that waterboarding was legal to use and the specific contents of that opinion. However, Steven Bradbury was responsible for authorizing its use in 2005 before the Congress made it illegal with the McCain Detainee Treatment Act of 2005.

Bradbury in 2005 signed two secret legal memos that authorized the CIA to use head slaps, freezing temperatures and waterboarding when questioning terror detainees.


Of course, when the unitary executive signed that bill, he scribbled in crayon under his signature that “it would be enforced in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief.”  And now that the annoying legislative branch has again infringed upon the rights of the “unitary executive branch” by specifically forbidding the use of waterboarding, Bush promises to get out his special veto pen.  

So why are the Bushies now talking openly about waterboarding? I can see only one obvious reason. They want to execute the three detainees that were waterboarded.

It would be most inconvenient for the Bush administration to execute these three detainees they waterboarded confessions out of if waterboarding was not legal at the time. To make sure the American people, the nattering nabobs of the House and Senate Judiciary Committee, and civil rights groups are not tempted to challenge the use of tortured confessions in our courts, Bush sent out Mukasey and Bradbury to reinforce the legality of waterboarding when it was used.  It is just another bit of insurance that Bush will get his executions.

Step one. Make sure the videotapes of these waterboarded confessions have been destroyed by the CIA. Now there is no record of what the detainees confessed to while being waterboarded.

Step two. Claim it was legal to use waterboarding when those confessions were obtained. Repeat often to deflect public opinion.

Step three. Make sure the trials are conducted outside the United States using military tribunals and military legal representatives.

Step four. Include the waterboarded confessions as part of the evidence against the detainees. Since the context of the confessions no longer exists, there is no basis for pesky legal challenges.

Step five. Conduct the trials swiftly to limit international outrage.

Step six. Send out a vile, subhumanoid monster by the name of Scalia to defend the use of torture as constitutional, preferably while wearing his Supreme Court costume.

“To begin with the constitution… is referring to punishment for crime. And, for example, incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime.”

Translation: Death Penalty Good, Life Imprisonment Bad.

“I suppose it’s the same thing about so-called torture. Is it really so easy to determine that smacking someone in the face to determine where he has hidden the bomb that is about to blow up Los Angeles is prohibited in the constitution?”

“It would be absurd to say you couldn’t do that. And once you acknowledge that, we’re into a different game.

“How close does the threat have to be? And how severe can the infliction of pain be?”

Translation: Torture ok. Constitution should be amended to include Jack Bauer provision.

Step seven. Set up the execution chamber, stick in the intravenous lines, put on the blindfolds, pour the beer and pretzels for the unitary executive branch, flip the switch, and let the fun begin.


    • DWG on February 14, 2008 at 22:03

    John McCain a year ago.

    Care to bet if he stands up to Bush and his mighty veto pen?  

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