Friday, May 14, 2004

Disturbing NY Times Story

Apparently the Justice Department and the CIA have adopted a series of rules to help the CIA toe the line between "high pressure" interrogation and torture. High level detainees are taken to unknown international locations and subjected to interrogation. I have a couple concerns:

1. The article said "[I]t is not clear whether the White House approved the specific rules for the interrogations." The next sentence is "The White House... declined to comment on the matter."

I think it is pretty clear that the White House approved the rules, at least implicitly, since they failed to condemn them when asked for comment.

2. These interrogation facilities are sited in other countries, and the article says that President Bush told the CIA that "he did not want to know where they were."

I believe there may be a Constitutional problem with the President delegating total responsibility for foreign relations to a subordinate department. Granted, he can negotiate treaties with 2/3 consent of the Senate. Granted, there is ample precedent justifying the use of so-called "executive agreements" with foreign powers (treaties in a tutu). I'm not sure about delegating the authority to create something like an executive agreement; I am concerned about any sort of accountability whatever. Certainly, career CIA officials are not politically accountable. With the degree of secrecy they operate under, criminal and civil accountability may also be impossible.

Of course, ahem, I am just a law student, so, grain of salt.

3. This is a more basic moral point. Do we, fighting a culture war of sorts, really want to operate under a set of rules that toes the line with torture? Where are the warning flags when the former intelligence official says, "[t]here was a debate after 9/11 about how to make people disappear"? Do we want our government to be able to make people disappear in the name of national security?


Blogger ryan bradley said...

I have mixed feelings about this...

I was listening to NPR the other day and they were talking about this. apparenlty the CIA has had a document of standards for appropriate forms of torture for quite a while, it's just recently been in the news. From what I understand, they often use these methods of torture on their own operatives before sending them cross seas into the field, just so they know what sort of torture they can expect. interesting that.

In any case. In my perfect world the gov would not be able to ever make a person disappear, for whatever reason. They would have to make record of everyone they have in custody or execute and there would be an overseeing body that monitors what action is taken regarding any and all high and low profile criminals. I also feel that a person involved in terrorism should have the same rights as other prisoners, so I obviously disagree fairly strongly with our administrations policies..

11:37 AM  

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