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Monday, December 20, 2004

Signed, George W. Bush 

Although it seems rather pointless for Yr. Mst. Hmbl. Mnrch. to re-flog an item that has already been quite adequately flogged by Atrios, we are making an exception to our usual policy today, because this is one story you do not want to miss:
A document released for the first time today by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests that President Bush issued an Executive Order authorizing the use of inhumane interrogation methods against detainees in Iraq. Also released by the ACLU today are a slew of other records including a December 2003 FBI e-mail that characterizes methods used by the Defense Department as "torture" and a June 2004 "Urgent Report" to the Director of the FBI that raises concerns that abuse of detainees is being covered up.

"These documents raise grave questions about where the blame for widespread detainee abuse ultimately rests," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "Top government officials can no longer hide from public scrutiny by pointing the finger at a few low-ranking soldiers."

The documents were obtained after the ACLU and other public interest organizations filed a lawsuit against the government for failing to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request.

The two-page e-mail that references an Executive Order states that the President directly authorized interrogation techniques including sleep deprivation, stress positions, the use of military dogs, and "sensory deprivation through the use of hoods, etc." The ACLU is urging the White House to confirm or deny the existence of such an order and immediately to release the order if it exists. The FBI e-mail, which was sent in May 2004 from "On Scene Commander--Baghdad" to a handful of senior FBI officials, notes that the FBI has prohibited its agents from employing the techniques that the President is said to have authorized.

Another e-mail, dated December 2003, describes an incident in which Defense Department interrogators at Guantánamo Bay impersonated FBI agents while using "torture techniques" against a detainee. The e-mail concludes "If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD interrogators will not be held accountable because these torture techniques were done [sic] the ‘FBI’ interrogators. The FBI will [sic] left holding the bag before the public."
We always wondered whether the boys at the top could really have been stupid enough, or arrogant enough, to put their John Hancocks on documents that would later come back and bite them in the ass. But when your legal advice is coming from shysters like this . . . .

MEMO TO WHITE HOUSE: Better get cracking on those immunity agreements!

UPDATE: We omitted to mention that, according to an FBI e-mail dated 1/21/04, the impersonation of FBI interrogators by DoD personnel "was approved by the Dep Sec Def." That would be Mr. Paul (Kookie! Kookie! Lend me your comb!) Wolfowitz.

All of the documents cited in the ACLU press release may be viewed here.

UPDATE II (via Zemblan patriot K.Z.): According to Reuters, everybody denies everything. (And talk about a buried lede: DoD impersonates FBI in the first graf; American President authorizes torture in the second.)

UPDATE III: A U.S. district judge ruled on Monday that the CIA must comply with the FOIA request filed by the ACLU by coughing up records of the agency's internal investigations into detainee abuse.

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