Saturday, November 10, 2007

Waterboarding through the ages

Marty Lederman has gathered a series of links on the history of waterboarding.

"Who could have imagined this history lesson would ever again be necessary? Or that photographs of the Vice President and Attorney General of the United States will one day appear in such histories?


Evan Wallach

Malcolm Nance


And, thanks to the Harvard Anti-Torture Coalition, here are further accounts of waterboarding during Brazil's military dictatorship, and upon a slave in antebellum Georgia."

Apparently a DOJ lawyer, Daniel Levin, was so concerned about the administration's approach to waterboarding torture in 2004 that he asked to be subjected to it himself. After the experience, not surprisingly he concluded it was torture. Then Alberto Gonzales was made attorney general and didn't like this view, leaned on him to write a memo saying it wasn't torture, then fired him. Lederman says:

"it's hard to resist the simple conclusion that Gonzales and others were engaged, not only in an effort to completely distort the proper functioning of OLC (see generally Jack Goldsmith's book), but also in a conspiracy to violate the Torture Act. When responsible, thoughtful lawyers -- loyal conservative, Republican lawyers, mind you --- told them that what they had approved was unlawful, they insisted that the lawyers change their advice, and then got rid of the lawyers and hired another willing to provide alternative advice that no one could have sincerely believed (and then rewarded the lawyer who was willing to sign his name to that advice).

I'm trying to avoid hyperbole, honest. But how is this not a huge scandal?"

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