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13 December 2014


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Thank you for the Yoo information. I am not surprised that he is making this claim now. I recall the debate at the time and the follow-up reporting including this and other more recent pieces: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/20/us/politics/20justice.html

On de Gaulle's decision, I am very happy to defer to your conclusion. I am relying on my following of the news in the US in the 1960s and reading and discussions with French friends from the mid-1970s. Those folks would likely have had their own takes on this. They spanned the generation that fought in WWII in the Resistance through their children, those who had been university students in 1968.

Medicine Man

The very people holding the whip are the ones who decide who the enemy is. I don't see what could go wrong.

Allen Thomson

FWIW, I was looking at 18 USC 2340, which was enacted in 1994 to bring the US into compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture (which, in the US interpretation, was "not self-executing"), and it seems pretty explicit to me, though I Am Not A Lawyer:

18 U.S. Code § 2340 - Definitions

As used in this chapter—

(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;

(2) “severe mental pain or suffering” means the prolonged mental harm caused by or resulting from—

(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;

(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;

(C) the threat of imminent death; or

(D) the threat that another person will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind-altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality; and

(3) “United States” means the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the commonwealths, territories, and possessions of the United States.

18 U.S. Code § 2340A - Torture

(a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

(b) Jurisdiction.— There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if—

(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or

(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.

(c) Conspiracy.— A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy


 Saint Augustine of Hippo - “If we live good lives, the times are good. As we are, such are the times" - which I think means we ought all to seek to do good, and perhaps set an example. A letter or email to House Rep or Senator or MP, or possibly even better, seek them out in person and let them know your take on things.
In a world of isolated people seated before screens of one kind or another, it perhaps is worth taking the time to be active rather than what young people now call "slacktive" :)


Just reviewed a summary of key findings of the 2009 Senate Armed Services Committee report on torture at http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-12-12/media-focusing-wrong-senate-torture-report - noting (along with related McClatchy commentary) that the report found that Cheney and Rumsfeld pushed for torture when the FBI/CIA interrogations were not finding the link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 that they were desperately looking for. It was also noted that the SERE program techniques are focused on tactics used by Chinese Communists against American soldiers during the Korean War for the purpose of eliciting FALSE confessions for propaganda purposes.

This story only seems to get worse.


Back to the Clinton years.

Seen from the other side of the Pond the most likely result would just be for the USA to again subcontract torture to "friendly" regimes. After a short time out, of course.


robt willmann


This should be the video of John Yoo on the Fareed Zakaria GPS show on CNN today, in which he said the Justice Dept. did not approve of the examples Fareed gave, which included the euphemism "forced rectal feeding" (without documented medical necessity, according to the Senate report)--


After tap dancing away from the examples, Yoo then repeated the "talking point" that the report is questionable because none of the people involved were interviewed. That is really funny because most, or all, of the information and claimed facts in the Senate report were from the CIA's own records, cables, reports, statements, etc. Remember that they had this big fight over where the computer was going to be located on which the research was going to be done. It was hooked into the CIA's system. If the facts in the report are false, then the CIA documentation on which almost all of them are based is also false!

I think I also read somewhere that the Justice Department may have told some of the CIA people that they should not agree to be interviewed because they might create liability for themselves, but I cannot find the source article.

Predictably, Fox News had on today Jose Rodriguez, who allegedly "oversaw" the torture program. I only saw a little of the interview near the end, but I understood him to say that the Justice Department approved everything they did.


Unfortunately, op-eds or like statements from civil liberties groups are unlikely to persuade anyone with real power to take action, or persuade a significant portion of the voting public either, for that matter, as polls of attitudes toward torture show. For the most part, the politicians in general are remaining silent. The DOJ is controlled by the most powerful of the silent. Ergo, there will be no criminal charges or any other direct actions against the torture criminals here in the United States. I would hazard a guess that most of us are feeling something different from disappointment at this development -- for me, it is resignation. Our republic is lost.


"Did the CIA operate a domestic media-influencing program....." ?......which decade are you referring to?



In fairness to Obama, personally he is as much against torture as McCain, and he put a stop to some of the practices engaged in by the previous administration. His refusal to pursue this matter is more likely due to a reported desire on his part not to antagonize the CIA and what is described as a "close bond" with Brennan. (By me the President is behaving more as if Brennan has something on him, but maybe that does constitute a "close bond.") As DC notes, the public is largely indifferent to the issue.

Brennan, as we know, has lied about his involvement with the torture program and even today has not been fully forthcoming about any role he played in the CIA's spying on the Senate committee that so infuriated Senator Feinstein.Not really the man to clean the Augean stables.

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