Why The Obama Justice Dept is reopening Controversial CIA Abuse Case

A few days ago, I asked why the Obama Justice Dept. was reopening the CIA abuse case. I wondered what they had to gain from investigating the people who kept us safe for eight years when  an overwhelmingly majority of Americans disapprove of it. There were some good suggestions in the comments. Jackstraw hinted ominously:

Hillary Clinton came out the other day and explicitly endorsed the world court and bemoaned the fact that the US is not a player in it … yet.

Today, in an NRO piece, Andrew McCarthy elaborated:

I believe the explanation lies in the Obama administration’s fondness for transnationalism, a doctrine of post-sovereign globalism in which America is seen as owing its principal allegiance to the international legal order rather than to our own Constitution and national interests.

Recall that the president chose to install former Yale Law School dean Harold Koh as his State Department’s legal adviser. Koh is the country’s leading proponent of transnationalism. He is now a major player in the administration’s deliberations over international law and cooperation. Naturally, membership in the International Criminal Court, which the United States has resisted joining, is high on Koh’s agenda. The ICC claims worldwide jurisdiction, even over nations that do not ratify its enabling treaty, notwithstanding that sovereign consent to jurisdiction is a bedrock principle of international law.

As a result, there have always been serious concerns that the ICC could investigate and try to indict American political, military, and intelligence officials for actions taken in defense of our country. Here it’s crucial to bear in mind that the United States (or at least the pre-Obama United States) has not seen eye-to-eye with Europe on significant national-security matters. European nations, for example, have accepted the 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, while the United States has rejected it. Protocol I extends protections to terrorists and imposes an exacting legal regime on combat operations, relying on such concepts as “proportional” use of force and rigorous distinction between military and civilian targets. That is, Protocol I potentially converts traditional combat operations into war crimes. Similarly, though the U.S. accepted the torture provisions of the U.N. Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), our nation rejected the UNCAT’s placing of “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment” on a par with torture. By contrast, Europe generally accepts the UNCAT in toto.

As long as we haven’t ratified a couple of bad human-rights treaties, why should we care that Europe considers them binding? Because of the monstrosity known as “customary international law,” of which Koh is a major proponent. This theory holds that once new legal principles gain broad acceptance among nations and international organizations, they somehow transmogrify into binding law, even for nations that haven’t agreed to them. That is, the judgment of the “international community” (meaning, the judgment of left-wing academics and human-rights activists who hold sway at the U.N. and the European Union) supersedes the standards our citizens have adopted democratically. It is standard fare among transnational progressives to claim that Protocol I is now binding on the United States and that what they define as cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment is “tantamount to torture.”

This is exactly why so many of us so objected to the nomination of Harold Koh to his powerful position in the State Dept.

The depressing conclusion:

Foreign charges would result in the issuance of international arrest warrants. They won’t be executed in the United States — even this administration is probably not brazen enough to try that. But the warrants will go out to police agencies all over the world. If the indicted American officials want to travel outside the U.S., they will need to worry about the possibility of arrest, detention, and transfer to third countries for prosecution. Have a look at this 2007 interview of CCR president Michael Ratner. See how he brags that his European gambit is “making the world smaller” for Rumsfeld — creating a hostile legal climate in which a former U.S. defense secretary may have to avoid, for instance, attending conferences in NATO countries.

The Left will get its reckoning. Obama and Holder will be able to take credit with their supporters for making it happen. But because the administration’s allies in the antiwar bar and the international Left will do the dirty work of getting charges filed, the American media will help Obama avoid domestic political accountability. Meanwhile, Americans who sought to protect our nation from barbarians will be harassed and framed as war criminals. And protecting the United States will have become an actionable violation of international law.

Disgraceful and despicable.

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15 thoughts on “Why The Obama Justice Dept is reopening Controversial CIA Abuse Case

  1. So a fox news poll on their site constitutes proof that the the American people are opposed to investigating and bringing to justice torturers, eh? You folks really are as dumb as you sound!

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  2. For once Malky has a decent point (though delivered like an a**hole, as usual) – the Fox poll is not a scientific survey. Rasumussen has Americans opposed at 49%:

    Forty-nine percent (49%) of U.S. voters disagree with the Justice Department’s decision to investigate the treatment and possible torture of terrorists during the Bush administration, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

    Thirty-six percent (36%) agree with Attorney General Eric Holder’s naming of a veteran prosecutor to probe the CIA’s handling of terrorists under the previous administration. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided.

    Not an “overwhelming majority,” but the opposition is decidedly larger than those in favor.

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  3. Idiots like Malky never understand or for that matter take responsibility for their actions. The last time an investigation like this took place it was called the Church Committee. It ripped the CIA apart and left an organization which by it’s nature was aggressive and operating in the shadows to protect American interests, neutered. Clinton further watered down the CIA by putting idiotic restrictions on the agency dictating who they could deal with. The result was a very weak intelligence agency, unable to uncover things like jihadists flying airplanes into buildings.

    The only people who give a wet fart about what rough words or techniques were used against these same jihadists are those on the far left who think it is more important to beat conservatives and Republicans than Islamic terrorists. Don’t forget, career non-partisan prosecutors at the Justice Department already investigated these charges and found no grounds to prosecute. No new evidence has been brought forward and yet the same Eric Holder who threw out charges against the Black Panthers now wants to retry people who have already been cleared.

    This is a partisan witch hunt done for political reasons and it will backfire on Obama but not before it does real damage to our covert intelligence capabilities.

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  4. Malky,

    I love how you sit in comparative freedom and blithely apply the term “torturers” to people who sacrficed time away from their loved ones interrogating the true villians of our time. You know, the ones who would happily board a jetliner, hijack it, and fly it into a skyscraper full of people they had never met, and who never did them harm, with the express intent to kill as many of them as possible. The villians who cheerfully strap bombs to themselves and wander into crowds and detonate themselves; the villians who gleefully cut off westerner’s heads, then stand around chanting about how [their moon]God is great.

    Techniques used in these interrogations did not include things like thumbscrews, the rack, car batteries and jumpercables attached to testicles, bullets to kneecaps, or high doses of truth serums. Instead, these animals were treated with far more diginity then they themselves have ever demonstrated for people they did not know. This is the direct result of too large a population in this nation believing that the only blood shed for our liberties needs to be our own, a mindset which puts us at a disadvantage, because these people believe that the onlytime we should be entitled to throw a punch is after someone has already knocked us on our collective ass.

    Being hamstrung as we are by the very real fear that actually doing their jobs without these artifical restrictions placed upon them, lawyers were frequenly consulted to give guidedance and standards for what was and was not acceptable. Now Eric Holder, a ddishonest and fiercly partisan tool, who I am ashamed to share a profession with, ignores real intimidation committed against actual citizens, but freely instigates ‘investigations’ against our own people who followed the legal advice they sought and were given.

    But the real icing on the cake comes when fools like you, who are facing the same threat as the rest of the West, persist in the naive belief that this is not a larger battle to preserve a civilization in the face of a concerted effort to destroy it and replace it with nothing of any redeeming social value. You may be willing to sacrifice another 3000 Americans to an attack by people sworn to murder them if for no other reason than them being Americans. You’ll forgive me if I don’t share your willingness to let that happen. And if the waterboarding, or blowing smoke in the face of a few Koranimals is upsetting to you, then you should pray that they are never successful in their more ambitious goals, like wiping an American city off the map, because if that happens, I can guarantee that whatever happens next will undeniably underscore the triviality of such complaints.

    Now, please, utter some silent thanks to those who work to keep your ungrateful soul safe from such horrors being commonplace and take your time finishing a very, very large mug of STFU.

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  5. Black/white considering you are a lawyer you are a moronic fool, along with the rest of the NiceDeb goon squad (Geoff and Jackstraw). There were other nationalities amongst the 3000 who died at the World Trade Centre, including Australians like myself. I count that action and others after it as crimes against humanity. The use of torture, as has been well documented, has not stopped terrorist attacks. As far as I’m concerned all parties who bypass international law re torture should face duly constituted courts. Waterboarding is a form of torture – I know that you would argue that it isn’t, but I suspect that you would be outraged if it were used by your enemies against your troops (as it was – in Vietnam). Finally, I’m really not very grateful for the way that your previous administration made the world unsafe for the rest of us. Oh, and STFU yourself.

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  6. Finally, I’m really not very grateful for the way that your previous administration made the world unsafe for the rest of us.

    By all means, Malky, buy them a pint. Have a dialogue with them. I’m sure you’ll find their demands VERY reasonable, provided of course, they don’t separate your blathering head from your shoulders first. But should that happen, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you apparently use it for little else. Your meme is exhausted, and now that Obama, Sheriff Joe, and Holder are sending clear signals to the Koranimals that we are ripe for the taking, we all will see firsthand what it looks like to have the world “made unsafe” by an administration. Considering how pushy and violent the recent additions to your shores have already been, one would think you could find a clue without it being nailed to your forehead, but you must have the “enlightened suicide” gene.

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  7. Twerpish nonsense as usual. Nowhere do I state some kind of support for fundamentalism of any kind – Islamic or Christian, but you assume that I want to have a dialogue with them. That’d be like have a dialogue with you – wasted effort. Torturing folks isn’t going to stop loonies from either blowing us up or shooting us. Only good intelligence properly gathered can help to do that. As for blather – I notice there’s much more of yours on the net than mine, old sock. Incidentally, did that law degree you studied for give you any idea how to critically think, or did you buy it on the net?

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  8. Mal,
    To open an “investigation” against interrogators now, who sought and abided by guidelines provided by government lawyers, is bad policy as well as bad form, and under the circumstances can only be politically motivated. Our agents have to be able to be protected by the acts of seeking and relying on the advice they were given, otherwise there is no incentive for them to do the job they do.

    “Torture” may or may not be effective. You might be surprised what works and what doesn’t. However, in this case, interrogation DID work. I would prefer intelligence gathered by other means, but seeing as how HUMINT had been stripped to the bone in previous administrations, and the NYT and other traitors have been doing their level best to destroy the efficacy of SIGINT, we are left with precious few options.

    I know you and so many like you want to blame GWB and “torture” for somehow making you “less safe”, but the inconvenient fact for you is that Islam has been at war with us since the late 70s. The only reason they were held at bay for so long is that throughout the 80s and the early 90s, they could be assured of a swift and sure retaliation from the West. Then starting with Billy Jeff, the intern diddler, not so much.

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  9. Incidentally, did that law degree you studied for give you any idea how to critically think, or did you buy it on the net?

    Which law degree are you referring to?
    The J.D., which I earned cum laude, or the LL.M., in which I was in the top one-third of my class?

    I understand your confusion, but not all lawyers are liberal asshats. Some of us have actually read the Constitution, and carefully studied the history, and the personailities involved, and the tangential documetation, as well as the jurisprudence.

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  10. I’d like to repost what Some Guy said in my Sunday Funny post because it’s germane.

    It seems to me that there are at least two debates worth having. (Partly because I think they’re both debates we’ll win, admittedly). One is on whether enhanced interrogations work (and I think most agree the answer is Yes), and the other is what, exactly, constitutes torture.

    The standard definitions of torture typically include permanent and/or severe injury and risk of death. The EITs I’ve heard of don’t rise to that level. We’re not pulling out fingernails, tossing people off buildings, or burning people alive, or chopping off hands or fingers. (There’s also a debate on whether the lines of what’s acceptable are different for terrorists/war criminals are different than your standard thugs, but I think that’s baked into the cake already.)

    You see, Malky, most Americans think that the enhanced interrogation techniques fall short of torture, and they saved lives. That’s not a debate you will win, no matter how much you want to demonize Bush and Cheney, and say that they oversaw an outlaw “torture” regime.

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  11. re: “…and the other is what, exactly, constitutes torture.”

    i’ve been waterboarded. so have thousands of SF and Spec Ops. it may be duress – but it aint torture. still, if u think there is going to be a legal “debate” about what constitutes torture, think again. i personally think listening to Barney Frank or Nancy Peloci or any gangsta rap is torture. however, the Left pronounces what we are to think in general, and the media parrots it as truth. they did the same for the definition of who is a “natural born citizen” and apparently all u have to be is born in the US, regardless of your parent’s citizenship or lack of.

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  12. >>The use of torture, as has been well documented, has not stopped terrorist attacks.

    This is why it’s useless to argue with liberals. They continue to argue that EITs are torture when they have been judged by independent lawyers in the Justice Department to be acceptable within certain guidelines and they ignore intelligence reports that prove that they were in fact very useful and did stop terror activities. They don’t really care about facts as long as they can still rail against the evil Bush administration that was actually extremely effective at breaking down al Qaeda and their associated partners. In other words, they are dishonest.

    For the record, Malky, I don’t give a damn what is done to these animals. The day when they start acting like humans instead of 16th century savages and start honoring the Geneva Conventions then I might give a damn. Until then, not so much.

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  13. Waterboarding is used on our own troops for training purposes precisely because it constitutes the upper limit of techniques which can be used without torturing the trainees. Now, just because it isn’t torture doesn’t mean that it’s permissible, but the Left’s attempts to frame waterboarding as “torture” have just muddied the debate.

    The fact is, in almost all cases the interrogators went just as far as they had to to extract the information they needed. It is only when they felt there was a strong possibility that the prisoner had high value information and wasn’t responding to milder techniques that they escalated to waterboarding.

    The use of torture, as has been well documented, has not stopped terrorist attacks.

    We wouldn’t know. We never tortured anybody.

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