From Pine View Farm

Evil in Our Name 0

Phillipe Sands writes of the torture memos in the Guardian:

This is the stuff of dark nightmares, the rubber-stamping of policy rather than legal advice in the sense usually understood. It indicates how far the Bush administration fell, the kind of reasoning that infected a raft of policies and to which the British government often turned a blind eye. It has caused untold damage to US national security, and to its reputation.

When the memo was written, the administration had already fixed a policy of abuse, and the torture had already started. Lawyers were needed to provide the “golden shield” against prosecution. The memo did not benefit from the usual consultations; the many lawyers who would have objected were simply cut out of the process. A small group of lawyer-ideologues became participants in international crime, acts for which any state may, under the 1984 torture convention, exercise criminal jurisdiction. The evidence suggests complicity with the consequences that flowed from these flawed opinions – which went on to underpin CIA and military interrogations in Guantánamo, Iraq and beyond in the rendition programme.


Obama is right not to target the interrogators in the sense that real responsibility lies much higher up. The senior lawyers and their patrons should derive little comfort from his intervention: they remain at risk of criminal investigation – or worse, in a legal black hole of their own making.


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