Friday, June 20, 2008

A Tale of Two Torture Lawyers

Two stories in the American Bar Association Journal today highlight lawyers whose refusal, in the first instance, and participation, in the second, have earned them everlasting infamy (and a demotion in the case of the resistor) in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Daniel Levin once worked for Alberto Gonzales's Department of Justice ~ until he wrote a memo disagreeing with Bushco's torture policies, whereupon he was asked to step down. "Too independent," it was said, after he had himself subjected to waterboarding while researching the Bushco predetermined party line that waterboarding isn't torture.
"[A] former high-level Justice Department lawyer says he was asked to leave after he wrote a memo opposing harsh interrogation techniques he considered torture but was promised a job as a U.S. Attorney by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
"Daniel Levin confirmed in testimony yesterday that he was asked in 2005 to leave his DOJ job as the acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel after he opposed harsh interrogation techniques in a 2004. Although he didn't draw a direct parallel between the memo and the request to step down, others did, reports ABC News, relying on unnamed sources.
"Meanwhile, sources say Levin was told by Gonzales that he would appoint him to a U.S. Attorney position, once the dust settled, to sweeten the downward departure to a position the ex-AG found for him at the National Security Council. Although Gonzales reportedly made a preliminary move or two to get Levin a job as a U.S. Attorney, that never happened and Levin later left to return to private practice.
"'Levin, a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School, was seen by some in the administration as too independent, sources said. For example, while analyzing specific interrogation techniques, he went to a military base outside Washington and personally underwent waterboarding, which he concluded qualified as torture, unless done in a narrow way with close supervision,' the ABC News article recounts'."
Researching North Korean Torture Methods at the Pentagon
Today, a former lawyer for the Pentagon's testimony is expected to shed more light on when torture was first conducted versus when the Pentagon finds it now convenient to claim that it was authorized.
"The lawyer, Richard Schiffrin, said the information he obtained included studies of North Koreans’ attempted mind-control experiments on American prisoners during the Korean War. 'It was real Manchurian Candidate stuff,' he told the Times.
"The revelation comes amid disclosures that Pentagon lawyers played a more active and earlier role than previously disclosed in developing aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo, the story says.
"The Washington Post reports that new evidence appears to contradict previous statements by former Defense Department general counsel William Haynes II about the timing of research into enhanced techniques. Haynes previously said research was done at the request of Guantanamo jailers in October 2002. But memos and e-mail show Haynes was soliciting interrogation ideas as early as July that year, the story says.
"Military lawyers raised strong concerns about the legality of enhanced techniques in November 2002, a month before they were approved, according to the Post.
"Then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved enhanced interrogation techniques in December 2002, but he rescinded his order allowing the harshest methods a month later, the Times says. The military never authorized interrogations as harsh as those carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency, which used waterboarding until the end of 2003.
The techniques approved for use at Guantanamo included stress positions and sleep deprivation.
"Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., contends in a statement that research into aggressive techniques by senior officials helped pave the way for Abu Ghraib abuses."

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home