I’m pooped so will have to return to this article. It explains how, after DOJ under Jack Goldsmith threw out John Yoo’s torture policies, Steven Bradbury came in and replaced them with still worse opinions.

When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” ina legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared tohave abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authorityto order brutal interrogations.

But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’sarrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Departmentissued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very differentdocument, according to officials briefed on it, an expansiveendorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.

The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time providedexplicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination ofpainful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping,simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.

Mr. Gonzales approved the legal memorandum on “combined effects” over the objections of James B. Comey,the deputy attorney general, who was leaving his job after bruisingclashes with the White House. Disagreeing with what he viewed as theopinion’s overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues atthe department that they would all be “ashamed” when the worldeventually learned of it.

Later that year, as Congress moved toward outlawing “cruel, inhumanand degrading” treatment, the Justice Department issued another secretopinion, one most lawmakers did not know existed, current and formerofficials said. The Justice Department document declared that none ofthe C.I.A. interrogation methods violated that standard.

I will return to this, probably Friday (I’ve got my timeline buzz going). But for now, I wanted to point out that the story reads like several different stories (which may party arise from having three authors). First is a story about Steven Bradbury, which sure reads like someone wants to discredit Bradbury for good; perhaps Bush is preparing to re-appoint him to be head of OLC? Another of the stories appears to be about Comey’s allies, fighting against these policies after his departure. And the last appears to be a legal chronology of what was on and off legal in our world of torture.

There are some interesting competing leak wars going on right now. I wonder why?

emptywheel

emptywheel

Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.

66 Comments