Tuesday, April 07, 2009

First, do harm

More news on the "America tortures" front! Mark Danner's source(s) at the Red Cross have slipped him another report, this one on the participation of medical professionals in torturing prisoners.
Facilitating such practices, which the Red Cross described as torture, was a violation of medical ethics even if the medical workers’ intentions had been to prevent death or permanent injury, the report said. But it found that the medical professionals’ role was primarily to support the interrogators, not to protect the prisoners, and that the professionals had “condoned and participated in ill treatment.”

At times, according to the detainees’ accounts, medical workers “gave instructions to interrogators to continue, to adjust or to stop particular methods.”
Expect a crashing silence from the AMA and the APA.

Danner's article has a lot more in it, so take a look. In particular, he predicts that the full text of the Senate Armed Services Committee report will soon be released.

Meanwhile, Jack Balkin relays a report from Scott Horton that the Senate Republicans are conditioning the confirmation of Dawn Johnsen (OLC) and Harold Koh (State Dep't legal counsel) on a pledge *not* to investigate Bush-era torture. This is so awful, I don't even want to believe it:
Senate Republicans are now privately threatening to derail the confirmation of key Obama administration nominees for top legal positions by linking the votes to suppressing critical torture memos from the Bush era. A reliable Justice Department source advises me that Senate Republicans are planning to “go nuclear” over the nominations of Dawn Johnsen as chief of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice and Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh as State Department legal counsel if the torture documents are made public. The source says these threats are the principal reason for the Obama administration’s abrupt pullback last week from a commitment to release some of the documents. A Republican Senate source confirms the strategy. It now appears that Republicans are seeking an Obama commitment to safeguard the Bush administration’s darkest secrets in exchange for letting these nominations go forward.
And not just the torture memos, but the OPR report on Yoo, Bybee, and Bradbury:
Republican senators have expressed strong reservations about their promised exposure, expressing alarm that a critique of the memos by Justice’s ethics office (Office of Professional Responsibility) will also be released. “There was no ‘direct’ threat,” said the source, “but the message was communicated clearly--if the OLC and OPR memoranda are released to the public, there will be war.” This is understood as a threat to filibuster the nominations of Johnsen and Koh. Not only are they among the most prominent academic critics of the torture memoranda, but are also viewed as the strongest advocates for release of the torture memos on Obama’s legal policy team.

A Republican Senate staffer further has confirmed to me that the Johnsen nomination was discussed at the last G.O.P. caucus meeting. Not a single Republican indicated an intention to vote for Dawn Johnsen, while Senator John Cornyn of Texas was described as “gunning for her,” specifically noting publication of the torture memos.
Say it with me: "The Party of Torture."

As Orin Kerr notes, "I don't know if this is true. But if it is, it makes me eager to see those memos."

... Via Sullivan, Glenn Greenwald makes a good point:
It sounds more like a responsibility-shifting excuse than anything else -- a way of blaming Republicans rather than Obama officials for the failure to disclose these memos -- but it doesn't matter in the slightest if the claims are true. There is absolutely no justification whatsoever to continue to conceal these memos, and the fact that the GOP will stomp its feet and obstruct nominees doesn't come close to constituting an excuse for ongoing concealment.

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