While these actions will certainly please his base -- gone are the cries of an "imperial presidency" -- they will also seriously handicap our intelligence agencies from preventing future terrorist attacks. In issuing these executive orders, Mr. Obama is returning America to the failed law enforcement approach to fighting terrorism that prevailed before Sept. 11, 2001.
You mean the policy that captured, tried and successfully imprisoned Terry Nichols, Ramzi Yousef, the "Blind Sheikh" and executed Timothy McVeigh under Clinton or the "Ok, Now you've covered you ass" policy of Bush?
He's also drying up the most valuable sources of intelligence on al Qaeda, which, according to CIA Director Michael Hayden, has come largely out of the tough interrogation of high-level operatives during the early years of the war.
Michael Hayden would be the former head of the NSA who illegally spied on Everyone? Yeah, we should take his advice.
Not only does Yoo have a rather distorted view of the past, he can see the future too.
The question Mr. Obama should have asked right after the inaugural parade was: What will happen after we capture the next Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or Abu Zubaydah? Instead, he took action without a meeting of his full national security staff, and without a legal review of all the policy options available to meet the threats facing our country.
What such a review would have made clear is that the civilian law-enforcement system cannot prevent terrorist attacks.
It can't? You mean that it wasn't civilian law enforcement that prevented the Millenium Attacks on the L.A.X., the bombing of Lincoln and Holland tunnels and Project Bojinka (A plot to blow up 12 planes over the Pacific simultaneously, led by WTC bomber Ramzi Yousef)?
It's not like regular cops, the border patrol and the FBI foiled all these plans using fully legal and humane methods.... except that they did!
What is needed are the tools to gain vital intelligence, which is why, under President George W. Bush, the CIA could hold and interrogate high-value al Qaeda leaders. On the advice of his intelligence advisers, the president could have authorized coercive interrogation methods like those used by Israel and Great Britain in their antiterrorism campaigns. (He could even authorize waterboarding, which he did three times in the years after 9/11.)
So Bush and Rice spent 9 months blowing off Richard Clarke who urged we need to take urgent action on al Qeada, and they blew off George Tenet and the August 6th PDB which said that al Qeada was likely to "Hijack Planes and attack New York and Washington" - and their only recourse after 9-11 - is to use Torture - and Yoo Verifies that Bush did exactly that at least three times!. Interesting that he wouldn't say any of that when he was under oath before congress.
Coincidence? I think not.
Then Yoo really starts talking some straight up nonsense.
The CIA must now conduct interrogations according to the rules of the Army Field Manual, which prohibits coercive techniques, threats and promises, and the good-cop bad-cop routines used in police stations throughout America.
No, it doesn't Mr. Boalt Hall Professor. From Media Matters via Thinkprogres.
In fact, the Army Field Manual explicitly permits good cop-bad cop interrogations under the name of “Mutt and Jeff” interrogations, which involve two interrogators “display[ing] opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source.” The Field Manual says the “goal of this technique is to make the source identify with one of the interrogators and thereby establish[ing] rapport and cooperation.”
Wanna go 0 for 6 Professor Yoo? I thought you did.
Mr. Obama has also ordered that al Qaeda leaders are to be protected from "outrages on personal dignity" and "humiliating and degrading treatment" in accord with the Geneva Conventions.
No, actually that Order came from the Supreme Court in Hamdan V Rumsfeld. It's also in the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 and the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Obama is simply following and implementing the law - unlike yourself.
His new order amounts to requiring -- on penalty of prosecution -- that CIA interrogators be polite. Coercive measures are unwisely banned with no exceptions, regardless of the danger confronting the country.
Y'know what - according to the people who actually perform interrogations, including former Special Forces Operative Matthew Alexander, the man who'se techniques led to the neutralization of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi head of Al Qeada In Iraq - Being Polite Works! - while getting all Jack Bauer with it actually puts us and our troops at far greater risk.
I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse.
I refused to participate in such practices, and a month later, I extended that prohibition to the team of interrogators I was assigned to lead. I taught the members of my unit a new methodology -- one based on building rapport with suspects, showing cultural understanding and using good old-fashioned brainpower to tease out information. I personally conducted more than 300 interrogations, and I supervised more than 1,000. The methods my team used are not classified (they're listed in the unclassified Field Manual), but the way we used them was, I like to think, unique. We got to know our enemies, we learned to negotiate with them, and we adapted criminal investigative techniques to our work (something that the Field Manual permits, under the concept of "ruses and trickery"). It worked. Our efforts started a chain of successes that ultimately led to Zarqawi.
More from Alexander on Countdown.
Eliminating the Bush system will mean that we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Every prisoner will have the right to a lawyer (which they will surely demand), the right to remain silent, and the right to a speedy trial.
All of which are parts of - um - Our Constitution, y'now that thing you swore and oath to protect and defend as a member of the U.S. Government?
Here's the thing, Yoo notes that the Israelis and the British have used these techniques (against the PLO and IRA) respectively - but he leaves out the fact that both of them found that they generally created a ton of Blowback. Just as Alexander points out - it energizes the forces against you when you use inhumane techniques, Israel is having the problem right now after hitting Gaza with White-Phosphorus and destroying the UN headquarters.
He forgets that in WWII many Italian and even some German soldiers were more than eager to surrender because they knew they would be treated well by American Troops, and this was even true during the first Gulf War when many Iraqi soldiers gave up immediately upon encountering our forces with fighting. Contrast those facts to the rise of the insurgency following Abu Ghraib - and you have the answer to his hypothetical question of "risk vs reward" on the banning of torture in other coercive interrogation techniques. Following the law saves lives - Our Lives and Their Lives Too!
Yoo would seem to believe that techniques such as water-boarding are NOT torture simply because he wrote a memo saying so which re-defined "Torture" as treatment leading to imminent organ failure or death.
Here's the thing, if you stuff a pillow or a rag over someone's nose and mouth - how long will it take for their lungs to fail from lack of oxygen? And if you add water to that - how much quicker will they fail as the person DROWNS? The reason people respond so quickly to waterboarding is because - It's Attempted Murder. They're Killing YOU!
Oh sure, it doesn't leave any bruises - which allows for deniability, something that the Khmer Rouge certainly loved - but it's still attempted murder. The only thing that prevents from being full-on murder is whether they stop soon enough. And it's not that hard to cross that line.
According to Human Rights Watch - this type of "Murder" is not a hypothetical question from their 2006 Report
Since August 2002, nearly 100 detainees have died while in the hands of U.S. officials in the global “war on terror.” According to the U.S. military’s own classifications, 34 of these cases are suspected or confirmed homicides; Human Rights First has identified another 11 in which the facts suggest death as a result of physical abuse or harsh conditions of detention. In close to half the deaths Human Rights First surveyed, the cause of death remains officially undetermined or unannounced. Overall, eight people in U.S. custody were tortured to death.
Ya hear that Billo? Get it Johnny? Tortured TO DEATH. NOT "Near Organ Failure" - Not "Simulated" or "Feels Like" - Dead!!
Estimates from the ACLU's review of various autopsy reports are far higher, more than 44 detainees tortured to death. If true, that's 44 War Crimes all punishable by Execution under U.S. Law.
Those deaths - all of them in addition to thousands of needlessly injured, wounded and dead U.S. soldiers - lay directly at the feet on John Yoo, Alberto Gonzales and George W. Bush.
Eat it up Johnny.
P.S. Jack Bauer is a Fracking Tool - not a "Hero".
Update from Comments:
FYI - John Yoo's Homepage at UC Berkeley