Did Bush Directly Authorize Torture? FBI Email Says Yes

The article below was posted on the Los Angeles based 501c3 group, The Public Record website today. An FBI email claims that “W” signed an executive order approving torture. This explosive bit of information should further heat up the debate over torture.
excerpt from FBI field agent's email requesting guidance on torture.

excerpt from FBI field agent's email requesting guidance on torture.

See the actual email by clicking on the link below.

I want to know if the administration will direct the Attorney General to try those who authorized torture. With increasingly clear evidence that orders came from the top, I sincerely hope that we as a nation are able to remove this hideous stain on our character, and that our service men and women, journalists abroad, and other citizens who are detained by foreign governments in the future are not subjected to torture simply because we engaged in such despicable behavior with our prisoners.

Written by Jason Leopold,  Tuesday, 28 April 2009 08:25 

Senior FBI agents stationed in Iraq in 2004 claimed in an e-mail that President George W. Bush signed an executive order approving the use of military dogs, sleep deprivation and other harsh tactics to intimidate Iraqi detainees.
The FBI e-mail (click on link to see it)– dated May 22, 2004 — followed disclosures about abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison and sought guidance on whether FBI agents in Iraq were obligated to report the U.S. military’s harsh interrogation of inmates when that treatment violated FBI standards but fit within the guidelines of a presidential executive order.
According to the e-mail, Bush’s executive order authorized interrogators to use military dogs, “stress positions,” sleep “management,” loud music and “sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc.” to extract information from detainees in Iraq, which was considered a violation of the Geneva Conventions. Bush has never before been directly linked to authorizing specific interrogation techniques at Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib. Bush has admitted, however, that he personally signed off on the waterboarding of three “high-value” prisoners.

The May 2004 FBI e-mail stated that the FBI interrogation team in Iraq understood that despite revisions in the executive order that occurred after the furor over the Abu Ghraib abuses, the presidential sanctioning of harsh interrogation tactics had not been rescinded.
“I have been told that all interrogation techniques previously authorized by the executive order are still on the table but that certain techniques can only be used if very high-level authority is granted,” the author of the FBI e-mail said.
“We have also instructed our personnel not to participate in interrogations by military personnel which might include techniques authorized by executive order but [are] beyond the bounds of FBI practices.”
Questions about the alleged executive order signed by Bush first surfaced in December 2004. But the White House emphatically denied that any such presidential executive order existed, calling the unnamed FBI official who wrote the e-mail “mistaken.”
At the time, President Bush and his representatives repeatedly denied that his administration condoned “torture,” although senior administration officials have acknowledged subjecting “high-value” terror suspects to aggressive interrogation techniques, including the “waterboarding” — or simulated drowning — of three al-Qaeda detainees.
One month after the e-mail was sent to FBI counterterrorism officials in Washington, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales held a news conference in an attempt to contain the fallout from the Abu Ghraib scandal.
Gonzales told reporters that the abuses, which included sexual humiliation of Iraqi men, were isolated to some rogue U.S. soldiers who acted on their own and not as result of orders being handed down from high-level officials inside the Bush administration.
“The president has not directed the use of specific interrogation techniques,” Gonzales said on June 22, 2004. “There has been no presidential determination necessity or self-defense that would allow conduct that constitutes torture.
“There has been no presidential determination that circumstances warrant the use of torture to protect the mass security of the United States.”
Gonzales also said the White House defined torture as a “a specific intent to inflict severe physical or mental harm or suffering. That’s the definition that Congress has given us and that’s the definition that we use.”
Read the rest of the article here at The Public Record.

  5 comments for “Did Bush Directly Authorize Torture? FBI Email Says Yes

  1. Ltpar
    May 1, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    I only have one question for the defenders of terrorist rights. You are quite vocal in castigating the Bush Administration for interrogation techniques used on terrorist subjects. If documentation is revealed showing information from those interrogations resulted in stopping terrorist attacks and saving American lives, are you going to give credit where credit is due?

  2. Misha Houser
    May 1, 2009 at 6:30 pm

    LtPar,
    If such documentation exists, sure…however, everything that is being cited as information that prevented terrorist attacks has been largely discredited as never having been in the works.

    It’s convenient for you to use the righty label, “defender of terrorist rights” even though you’re completely missing the point. When we torture prisoners, we are endangering OUR soldiers. We put them in harm’s way because our enemies will feel no compunction about doing the same and worse to our sons and daughters.

    When it’s proven that NO useful information was obtained by torture…when it’s proven that good information was obtained by following international laws, will YOU give credit where credit is due?

    Perhaps you’re not aware that we tried and EXECUTED Japanese soldiers for Waterboarding our soldiers during World War II. Neither Washington or Lincoln, FDR or Eisenhower allowed torture. It has NEVER been an accepted practice in our country.

    We as a nation are better than this.

  3. Ltpar
    May 2, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    Misha, I am guilty as charged, being from the right, as opposed to the left. While you make some good points, I sense you are naive as to the realities of terrorism.

    Radical insurgents in both Iraq and Afghanistan are already torturing and killing military personnel and civilian contractors without mercy. As terrorists, they follow no Geneva Convention, or any other rules of engagement toward treatment of prisoners. These are also the same people who continue to this day, to kill innocent men, women and children in Iraq and Afghanistan, without hesitation.

    To be successful in the “Art of Terrorism,” radical insurgents must create terror in the hearts of the people. This was clearly demonstrated by the psyche of America, the day after 9-11. While loss of life was substantial, the creation of fear was one hundred fold. Those charged with protecting Americans have done no less than an excellent job, since that fateful day. A number of attack plots have been identified and eliminated before they occurred. Were extreme interrogation measures used? I do not know. I do wonder however, if those potential victims really care about how the information was obtained. However, with our best efforts, terrorism experts knows it is not a question of if, but when we will be struck again. When that attack comes, there will be a nationwide hue and cry as to why the attacks were not prevented. One of the answers will be directing those who have handcuffed the men and women responsible for dealing with terrorism, to take a long look in the mirror for their answer.

    Misha, from your comments it is clear that you are a conscientious, caring person, interested in a better humanity. In a perfect world, it would work. However, we do not live in a perfect world. Have no doubt, that regardless of how nice you are, how much you talk, or what concessions you make to terrorists, they will still have intense hatred for you in their heart. This hatred is the driving factor motivating them to inflict death, damage and fear on Americans, regardless of your political or religious preferences. Sadly enough, this is the world in which we live.

  4. Misha Houser
    May 3, 2009 at 9:30 am

    LtPar,
    Torturing doesn’t work. We copied the methods used by China that weren’t used to obtain useful information. Rather, they were used to obtain conffessions, much like the techniques used to declare women as witches in the Spanish Inquisition.

    Torture doesn’t work. Why should we lower ourselves and justify the tactics of those who are our enemies if it produces nothing other than propagandist fodder to bolster the faulty strategies of a failed administration? Why should we lose the moral high ground?

    From your comments it’s clear that you are patriotic and deeply concerned about the safety of our country. I ask you to consider whether debasing ourselves by using torture is a smart tactic when all it seems to do is fuel the terrorist and insurgent groups’ ability to recruit more followers.

    One of my favorite historical quotes comes from ancient Egypt: “Peace is more profitable than War.” from the pharoah Queen Hatshepsut. She justified trade missions and relationships with Egypt’s enemies by explaining that Egypt’s interests were protected when she diminished their justified anger through trade and humanitarian efforts. She had one of the most peaceful reigns in that legendary culture.

    If we give the other side no justification, and if we work towards creating meaningful relationships with the governments and people of those nations where the terrorists reside, we will be more successful in the long run.

    I don’t want to see our nation continue to be painted as the invading or imperialistic overlord and give those who are against us more fuel to paint themselves as freedom fighters.

  5. Ltpar
    May 3, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Misha, another well written commentary and I might add that you do present a strong case. We are in agreement on many points, especially maintaining higher standards of ethical and moral practice. I have devoted my entire life to defending the Constitution of the United States as part of the military, law enforcement and currently as a Police Trainer in Iraq and Afghanistan. In all that time, I never found it appropriate to violate anyone’s rights, for any reason. However, I never had to deal directly with the types of individuals who are involved in terrorism. It is easy to arm chair quarterback what should or shouldn’t be done from the safety of our homes in America. However, it sometimes becomes a different matter in the deserts of Iraq, the mountains of Afghanistan, or the dark streets of any metropolitain city in America. Given the choice of obtaining critical information which may save lives, or walking the fine line between accepted interrogation practices and those which may be questionable, difficult choices are made. As far as fueling the fire, it is not our interrogation of terrorists that is causing it. Keep in mind, America is seen as the great Satan by millons of radical Islamists around the world and no degree of negotiation, material assistance or outright concessions will ever change that. Add to this our friendship and alliance with Israel and the hatred compounds one hundred fold. Americans also need to understand, even outside radical Islamic circles, many around the world are envious of our freedom, lifestyle and an ability to live a quality life. For these reasons alone, they do not like America. As with your Egyptian comparison, the United States does more than any country on the planet in promoting humanitarian relief on a number of fronts. At the same time, we also get involved in promoting freedom, which sometimes gets us in trouble and costs American lives. I agree with your desire not to see the United States viewed as the imperialistic overlord. I suspect that in the future, we will have to pick and choose our battles more carefully. Best wishes for the future we both want for our country.

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