Another day, another leak from the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the Bush-Cheney torture program. The picture that is emerging from the leaks – and, of course, we need the full report to assess them adequately – is that the torture program was not at all narrowly targeted, that the torture techniques used were above and beyond even those authorized by the president, and that the CIA’s deceptions about what it was doing were legion. So legion, in fact, that even the legal shield created by Bush to protect war criminals may no longer be valid. The August 2002 rulings allowing torture may now be moot because they were based on false representations by the CIA:
The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel found that the methods wouldn’t breach the law because those applying them didn’t have the specific intent of inflicting severe pain or suffering. The Senate report, however, concluded that the Justice Department’s legal analyses were based on flawed information provided by the CIA, which prevented a proper evaluation of the program’s legality.
“The CIA repeatedly provided inaccurate information to the Department of Justice, impeding a proper legal analysis of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program,” the report found. Several human rights experts said the conclusion called into question the program’s legal foundations.
These war crimes were always illegal. But the out-of-control sadism from out-of-control CIA agents may well turn out to be so egregious – waterboarding a prisoner 183 times after telling the Justice Department it would only ever be used a handful of times, for example – that even the rigged legal protections for thugs like Rodriguez may falter.
And you wondered why the CIA and Cheney have been waging such a scorched earth campaign to legitimize torture and throw dust in everyone’s eyes? They’re afraid. And they have every reason to be, if this country remains under the rule of law.