The Torture Memos

Abstract
(earlier version published on Tom Dispatch, May 21, 2009) The torture memos released by the White House elicited shock, indignation, and surprise. The shock and indignation are understandable -- particularly the testimony in the Senate Armed Services Committee report on Cheney-Rumsfeld desperation to find links between Iraq and al-Qaeda, links that were later concocted as justification for the invasion, facts irrelevant. Former Army psychiatrist Maj. Charles Burney testified that "a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq. The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish this link ... there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results"; that is, torture. The McClatchy press reported that a former senior intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue added that "The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime ... [Cheney and Rumsfeld] demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration. ... 'There was constant pressure on the intelligence agencies and the interrogators to do whatever it took to get that information out of the detainees, especially the few high-value ones we had, and when people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's people to push harder'.".
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