Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Breaking News!: Administration Finally Releases Already Public Documents!

Marty Lederman

As I noted earlier this week, White House Counsel Fielding turned over four documents related to torture to Senator Leahy, one of which -- the all-important March 2003 John Yoo memo -- the Administration has deemed classified and thus not subject for public purview.

You'll be shocked to learn, I'm sure, that the other three documents -- the December 30, 2004 OLC "replacement" memo on torture; Pat Philbin's testimony on lawful interrogation techniques within DOD; and Daniel Levin's February 2005 letter to Jim Haynes -- were were already in the public domain. Indeed, longtime readers will recognize them as the subjects of many blogposts here, including especially this one (discussing and linking to the Levin letter and Philbin testimony) and this one (parsing the portion of the Levin opinion that "legalized" waterboarding).

Once he realized that the White House's idea of generosity and cooperation is to disclose already public documents, and to inappropriately classify the only non-disclosed, important document, Senator Leahy was, to say the least, not pleased.

Now, it's up to Senator Leahy and the rest of the Judiciary Committee to read the Yoo memo carefully, determine whether anything in it is appropriately classified -- as opposed to, say, a discussion of the interrogation techniques already disclosed in the April 2003 DOD Working Group Report -- and calll out the Administration for improperly classifying legal advice merely to prevent embarrassment, rather than to protect genuine state secrets.


Here is a document that needs to be asked for and turned over:

International Committee of the Red Cross report on the detention and interrogation techniques in the CIA Black Sites

And that needs to be released to the public unredacted. The reason is that report tells us the truth of what happened so that we can see that the Administration and the Congressional leadership that have seen the report put in place and oversaw torture and cruel inhuman or degrading treatment of person. The Administration and Congress put in place per se war crimes in the rendition of people to third countries.

We can handle that truth and it is important for this to get out so we can move the political will to move to the next step - cleansing the state of its criminality by prosecuting the high-level persons who put this in place.


Please join us in protest.

This is the end of the line. When a nominee for Attorney General does not concede that waterboarding is illegal explicitly in order to protect waterboarders from criminal liability, there is nothing left but shame and mourning.
We call upon others to join us in our symbolic protest at by posting a silent, drowning black.

I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.
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