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April 20, 2009

The Memos


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Although physical documents are certainly not new or unique to the internets, the government’s torture memos seem to have achieved a break-through, earning considerable recognition in their original form. (The ACLU has them, as does the NYT, WAPO, and many others.) To see the original documents, in their particular layout and format, ominously marked by redactions, is to personally puncture the paranoid shell around the Bush Administration.

As the presence of these records lead to calls for further disclosures and even prosecutions, I hope these memos will retain their physical uniqueness. Above, for example, is the notorious footnote on the May 10, 2005 Bybee Bradbury memo, for example. It’s that section, as exposed by Marcy Wheeler this past weekend, that reveals that the CIA far exceeded even its own already legally-questionable standards-of-practice for applying waterboarding, and other techniques.

(update: 9:11 am PST: The memo referenced above was written by Steven Bradury, not Bybee, and was intended to reauthorize waterboarding and to try and address CIA problems — including the gross overuse use of water while waterboarding, applying the technique excessively, and not having doctors present — in the application of original guidelines approved in the August 2002 Bybee Memo. As Marcie Wheeler concludes in the post, The CIA IG Report and the Bradbury Memos, this past Friday:

…”(T)he Bradbury memos basically prove that waterboarding, as practiced by the CIA (as distinct from how they were describing it), was out of control in several ways (and therefore probably illegal even according to Yoo’s descriptions).

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