A dissenter's response

>> Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just a quick note to pass along to those interested in the CIA torture discussion: this week in Foreign Policy, former State Department officer and executive director of the 9/11 commission Philip Zelikow raises some interesting points. Mr. Zelikow's views are particularly relevant because, in his own words:

...in 2005, I circulated an opposing view of the legal reasoning. My bureaucratic position, as counselor to the secretary of state, didn't entitle me to offer a legal opinion. But I felt obliged to put an alternative view in front of my colleagues at other agencies, warning them that other lawyers (and judges) might find the OLC views unsustainable. My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views. They did more than that: The White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo. I expect that one or two are still at least in the State Department's archives.


And his views are especially interesting in light of his conclusion that the reasoning offered by the Bush DOJ's Office Of Legal Counsel (OLC) can only lead to one absurd, distressing result:

Once you get to a substantive compliance analysis for "cruel, inhuman, and degrading" you get the position that the substantive standard is the same as it is in analogous U.S. constitutional law. So the OLC must argue, in effect, that the methods and the conditions of confinement in the CIA program could constitutionally be inflicted on American citizens in a county jail.

In other words, Americans in any town of this country could constitutionally be hung from the ceiling naked, sleep deprived, water-boarded, and all the rest -- if the alleged national security justification was compelling.


The whole piece is worth a read.

2 comments:

Tom Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 2:02:00 PM EDT  

Well, that's it! I'm being selfish. The reason I'm against the CIA or others being allowed to use torture is I don't want it used against me.

I'm good with that.

vince Thursday, April 23, 2009 at 2:29:00 PM EDT  

I'd read this post, as well as heard him talking about this. And I absolutely agree with his conclusion.

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