25 January, 2009

Torture Advocates Will Be Disappointed

These people are unreal:
Yesterday, President Obama signed an executive order banning the use of torture in all military and CIA interrogations of suspected terrorists. The order specifically revoked the legal memos written by the Bush administration to justify the use of torture on detainees.

Today, the Wall Street Journal editorializes that Obama “wants to have it both ways on torture,” saying he will ban it but simultaneously carve out legal loopholes for coercive techniques to be used in an emergency:

The unfine print of Mr. Obama’s order is that he’s allowed room for what might be called a Jack Bauer exception. It creates a committee to study whether the Field Manual techniques are too limiting “when employed by departments or agencies outside the military.” The Attorney General, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Director of National Intelligence-designate Dennis Blair will report back and offer “additional or different guidance for other departments or agencies.” […]

The “special task force” may well grant the CIA more legal freedom to squeeze information out of terrorists when it could keep the country safe.

Despite the Wall Street Journal’s foreboding intonations, Obama made it clear yesterday that the era of coercive interrogations had come to an end. Speaking to the State Department he said firmly, “I can say without exception or equivocation that the United States will not torture.”

That's it. Zip, nada, zilch, none. No matter how much the fearmongers on the right wish it were otherwise, Obama's not going to carve out loopholes, or play semantics to pretend the torture the U.S. is engaging in isn't really torture. And, just in case there was any doubt as to that point, Sen. Diane Feinstein is all ready with some legislation to sew up any loopholes remaining:

As I noted here yesterday, human rights advocates think that the executive order outlawing torture that President Obama signed yesterday preserves some wiggle room, because it also appoints a task force to determine whether the techniques outlined in the Army Field Manual are appropriate to the task of keeping the nation safe.

Well, it turns out that others have reached this conclusion, too. The ranking Democratic Senator on the intel committee is now working on ways to stitch up this apparent loophole:

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and chairwoman of the committee, said that despite the executive orders she still planned to press for legislation mandating a single standard for military and C.I.A. interrogators. Such a law would be harder to reverse than Mr. Obama’s executive order, which he could alter or cancel at any time by issuing a new order.

“I think that ultimately the government is well served by codifying it, by having it in law,” Mrs. Feinstein said.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Obama administration reacts to such legislation, should it gain steam.

It'll be far more interesting to see how the rabid right reacts. I wonder if they'll finally have a complete psychotic break?

Oh, right. They already did. They just haven't been committed yet.

And in case you were wondering how the professionals feel about Obama's new direction, David Danzig has our answer:

Interrogators are lauding President Obama for signing an executive order that will shut down secret CIA prisons and place the use of coercive interrogation techniques completely off limits.

"[The order] closes an unconscionable period in our history, in which those who knew least, professed to know most about interrogations," said Joe Navarro, a former special agent and supervisor with the FBI.

"Some die-hards on the right -- who have never interrogated anyone -- are already arguing that forcing interrogations to be conducted within army field manual guidelines is a step backward and will result in 'coddling' dangerous terrorists," retired Colonel Stuart Herrington, who served for more than 30 years as a military intelligence officer, said soon after the order was signed. "This is a common, but uninformed view. Experienced, well-trained, professional interrogators know that interrogation is an art. It is a battle of wits, not muscle. It is a challenge that can be accomplished within the military guidelines without resorting to brutality."

Read that article for an inside look on how torture provides useless, bullshit intel, and how a smart, humane approach to interrogation led to the capture of Sadaam Hussein and allowed us to locate and kill al-Zarqawi.

I know the fucktards on the right think 24's more realistic than the situations actual investigators have faced in the really real world, but you know what? They can go fuck themselves with a serving fork.

Obama won. They lost. Torture's over.

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