(Cross-posted at my blog)
In 2006, the Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that Bush's military commissions violated the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. As a result of that decision, the Bush administration asked Congress to pass legislation on military commissions. They passed the Military Commissions Act, which was struck down later.
From 2006-2008, Congress was giving the Bush administration nearly everything they wanted. They got their very own courts to try detainees and their very own spying program complete with immunity, even while the administration was suspected of holding detainees in secret CIA black sites.
Enter Dick Cheney.
The New York Times says that the vice president wanted to keep the 'black sites' secret because if those crazy citizens of the country he's governing ever found out, they might make shit up about torture:
Vice President Cheney led those who argued that publicly acknowledging the detainees would reveal secrets and expose the program to exaggerated allegations of torture.
The Bush administration had a serious debate over this. Just let that sink in. They wondered if they should ever admit to disappearing actual people from the world, or not, just in case they get accused of torture.
They decided to send the detainees held at the CIA black sites to Guantanamo Bay, which is run by a Joint Task Force consisting of Army reserves, and detainees are questioned by the FBI and CIA.
Then, once the detainees were shipped to Guantanamo, Cheney and some unnamed "top Justice Department officials" had a plan. Now they never have to admit to the black sites or torture and if they do, well, they can just say that torture happened while the detainees were at the black sites.
So, since the torturing had mostly stopped by then, or was at least considered illegal, they did this:
Still, Mr. Cheney and top Justice Department officials fought to revive the program. Steven G. Bradbury, the head of the department’s Office of Legal Counsel and author of the recently declassified 2005 memorandums authorizing harsh C.I.A interrogations, began drafting another memorandum in late 2006 to restore legal approval for harsh interrogation. Mr. Bradbury noted that Congress, despite the public controversy, had left it to the White House to set the limits.
Early drafts of the memorandum, circulated through the White House, the C.I.A. and the State Department, stunned some officials. Just months after the Supreme Court had declared that the Geneva Convention applied to Al Qaeda, the new Bradbury memorandum gave its blessing to almost every technique, except waterboarding, that the C.I.A. had used since 2002.
So, I'm trying to understand this. We tortured because we needed to and it produced great results and stopped planned attacks, according to Cheney. The New York Times says we stopped waterboarding in 2003.
March 2003. That's when we invaded Iraq, right? We caught terrorists after we invaded Iraq didn't we?
I just don't get it. Was there a need to restart this program after Bush's military commissions act was gone and after Geneva Conventions protections were restored? Was Cheney just trying to undermine these laws only because they hindered the Executive branch?
It seems that way.
Bush's eventual executive order preserved the secret jails and authorized more coercive methods.
Even while our Congress was pretending that they were putting safeguards in place that the Bush administration wouldn't get around.
The CIA didn't seem to think the torture program was terribly important:
Acutely aware that the agency would be blamed if the policies lost political support, nervous C.I.A. officials began to curb its practices much earlier than most Americans know: no one was waterboarded after March 2003, and coercive interrogation methods were shelved altogether in 2005.
This torture program is necessary for America's survival unless it loses political support. Then it should be dropped.
Clearly these are steadfast patriots, reminiscent of the founders of our country.