Feb 6 2012 - On February 7, 2002 -- ten years ago to the day, tomorrow -- President George W. Bush signed a brief memorandum titled "Humane Treatment of Taliban and al Qaeda Detainees." The caption was a cruel irony, an Orwellian bit of business, because what the memo authorized and directed was the formal abandonment of America's commitment to key provisions of the Geneva Convention. This was the day, a milestone on the road to Abu Ghraib: that marked our descent into torture -- the day, many would still say, that we lost part of our soul.
Drafted by men like John Yoo, and pushed along by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, the February 7 memo was sent to all of the key players of the Bush Administration involved in the early days of the War on Terror. All the architects and functionaries who would play a role in one of the darker moments in American legal history were in on it. Vice President Dick Cheney. Attorney General John Aschroft. Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld. CIA Director George Tenet. David Addington. They all got the note. And then they acted upon it.
When we talk today of the "torture memos," most of us think about the later memoranda, like the infamous "Bybee Memo" of August 1, 2002, which authorized the use of torture against terror law detainees. But those later pronouncements of policy, in one way or another, were all based upon the perversion of law and logic contained in the February 7 memo. Once America crossed the line 10 years ago, the memoranda that followed, to a large extent, were merely evidence of the grinding gears of bureaucracy trying to justify itself. read more>>>