Monday, May 4, 2009

Dick’s Kicks

According to this article in the New York Times, the Bush administration was divided over using “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the CIA stopped using them by 2005. But Vice President Dick Cheney wanted to keep using them.

C.I.A. officials had sold the interrogation program to the White House. Now, the director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, knew that the inspector general’s report could be a noose for White House officials to hang the C.I.A. Mr. Tenet ordered a temporary halt to the harshest interrogation methods.

The report landed on the desks of some White House officials who were already having their doubts about the wisdom of the C.I.A.’s harsh methods. John B. Bellinger III, who, as the National Security Council’s top lawyer, played a role in discussions when the program was approved in 2002, by the next year had begun to research past ill-fated British and Israeli use of torture and grew doubtful about the wisdom of the techniques.

Mr. Bellinger shared his doubts with his boss, Ms. Rice, then the national security adviser, who began to reconsider her strong support for the program.

[…]

Still, Mr. Cheney and top C.I.A. officials fought to revive the program. Steven G. Bradbury, the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and author of the recently declassified 2005 memorandums authorizing harsh C.I.A interrogations, began drafting another memorandum in late 2006 to restore legal approval for harsh interrogation. Mr. Bradbury noted that Congress, despite the public controversy, had left it to the White House to set the limits.

Early drafts of the memorandum, circulated through the White House, the C.I.A. and the State Department, shocked some officials. Just months after the Supreme Court had declared that the Geneva Convention applied to Al Qaeda, the new Bradbury memorandum gave its blessing to almost every technique, except waterboarding, that the C.I.A. had used since 2002.

[…]

When Mr. Bush finally reauthorized C.I.A. interrogations with an executive order in July 2007, it reflected the yearlong lobbying of Mr. Bellinger and Ms. Rice: forced nudity was banned, and guidelines for sleep deprivation were tighter.

But Mr. Cheney and his allies secured other victories. The executive order preserved the secret jails and authorized a laundry list of coercive methods. Ms. Rice, several officials say, declined to endorse the order but chose not to block it.

At some point you have to wonder whether or not Dick Cheney was doing what he did to keep the country safe, or whether he was just enjoying the idea of torturing people.