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Blind Justice and Verschärfte Vernehmung: Sullivan Sees “War Criminals in the White House”



Andrew Sullivan gets right to the point: “We have war criminals in the White House. What are we going to do about it?”

Sullivan and Marty Lederman at Balkinization have fittingly harsh judgments on what today’s New York Times article “Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations” tells us about the Bush Justice Department’s blind eye toward torture. (“A place of inspiration” is how former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales described DOJ.) Lederman, who worked many years at Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, writes:

Between this and Jane Mayer’s explosive [New Yorker] article in August about the CIA black sites, I am increasingly confident that when the history of the Bush Administration is written, this systematic violation of statutory and treaty-based law concerning fundamental war crimes and other horrific offenses will be seen as the blackest mark in our nation’s recent history—not only because of what was done, but because the programs were routinely sanctioned, on an ongoing basis, by numerous esteemed professionals—lawyers, doctors, psychologists and government officers—without whose approval such a systematized torture regime could not be sustained.”

[ Photo credit: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty ]

Photo credit: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty

Under Gestapo rules, Verschärfte Vernehmung (“sharpened interrogation”) could be applied “only against Communists, Marxists, members of the Bible-researcher sect, saboteurs, terrorists, members of the resistance movement, parachute agents, asocial persons, Polish or Soviet persons, who refuse to work, or idlers.”

Sullivan points out that the techniques of hypothermia or waterboarding, authorized by Bush and Rumsfeld (and rationalized by Gonzales), were initially forbidden to the Gestapo.

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