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Did OLC Memos Prevent CIA Field from Objecting to Torture?


A couple weeks back, I engaged in some rank speculation: maybe the use of torture did not come about as a result of a request from CIA officers in the field; maybe it was crammed down on them from above. I wondered if the OLC memos were manufactured to remove the ability of those CIA field people to refuse to torture based on the notion that they did not have to obey an illegal order.

And I wondered if it was for that reason that President Obama was opposed to prosecuting CIA field people.

Well, a recent New York Times Op-Ed from an FBI interrogator suggests that maybe I was on to something:

The debate after the release of these memos has centered on whether C.I.A. officials should be prosecuted for their role in harsh interrogation techniques. That would be a mistake. Almost all the agency officials I worked with on these issues were good people who felt as I did about the use of enhanced techniques: it is un-American, ineffective and harmful to our national security.

Fortunately for me, after I objected to the enhanced techniques, the message came through from Pat D’Amuro, an F.B.I. assistant director, that “we don’t do that,” and I was pulled out of the interrogations by the F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller (this was documented in the report released last year by the Justice Department’s inspector general).

My C.I.A. colleagues who balked at the techniques, on the other hand, were instructed to continue. (It’s worth noting that when reading between the lines of the newly released memos, it seems clear that it was contractors, not C.I.A. officers, who requested the use of these techniques.)

[emphasis added]

All of which makes what was done from above that much worse. Those memos removed the legal ability of CIA field people to object to torture. Sickening.

Thirty-first in a series on torture and the law.

[Editor’s note: The photo by takomabibelot features a banner created and designed by Firedoglake reader BonnieT of Austin, Texas, where she operates]

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In rugby, the looseheadprop is the player in the front row of the scrum, who has the ability to collapse the scrum, pretty much at will and without the referee knowing who did it.
While this can give the LHP's team a great tactical advantage, it also exposes scrum players from both teams to the dangers of catastrophic spinal cord injury.
Consequently, playing this position makes you understand your responsibility to put doing the right thing ahead of winning, and to think beyond your own wants and desires. It also makes you very law and order oriented.