Remembering The Dark Side

A reader writes:

With people like Jeff Emmanuel around, now seems like a good moment to revisit a brief passage from Jane Mayer's "The Dark Side." Mayer depicts what happened when a Bush-Cheney lawyer named Jack Goldsmith read through the tens of thousands of pages in a 2004 report by the CIA's Inspector General:

"As Goldsmith absorbed the details, the report transformed the antiseptic list of authorized interrogation techniques, which he had previously seen, into a Technicolor horror show. Goldsmith declined to be interviewed about the classified report for legal reasons, but according to those who dealt with him, the report caused him to question the whole program. The CIA interrogations seemed very different when described by participants than they had when approved on a simple menu of options."

I'm struggling to read through the OLC memos. There's so much that's so troubling. In the Bybee memo, there's no excusing the lack of independent fact-checking. When judging whether detainees would be safe when subjected to torture that was reverse-engineered from the Air Force's SERE torture-resistance training, Bybee seems to be citing the second-hand testimony of the very same SERE trainers who were already on the ground to abet the torture. Even so, the reported outliers of the SERE training should have prompted Bybee to dig a bit for more information. Bybee's memo describes a SERE guy who "trained 10,000 students. Of those students, only two dropped out of the training following the use of these techniques. Although on rare occasions some students temporarily postponed the remainder of their training and received psychological counseling, those students were able to finish the program without any indication of subsequent mental health effects."

So Americans who experienced torture DURING THEIR SCHEDULED TRAINING sometimes needed to stop their scheduled training and get psych counseling. But this was rare. So Bybee's conscience permitted him to generalize that a terror detainee -- who could not simply postpone the remainder of his torture and receive psych counseling -- was going to be just fine?!

Absolutely astonishing.

Not if you realize that this exercise was not done in good faith. Once you realize it's an attempt by lawyers to provide specious legal backing for already approved torture, it makes much more sense. Which is why, in my view, Yoo and Bybee and Bradbury need to be disbarred from practising law.