“Torture Memo” Author Says He Authorized Waterboarding, But Not “Extended Solitary Confinement”

by | July 16, 2010

Solitary confinement cage at Abu Ghraib

According to Congressional testimony released yesterday, the former official in Bush’s Justice Department who co-authored the most famous of the “torture memos,” said he had sanctioned certain harsh “interrogation techniques” used by the CIA on terrorism suspects, but not others. As the Los Angeles Times reported, “Jay S. Bybee, former head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, said in testimony released Thursday by the House Judiciary Committee that the CIA went further in its tough tactics than he had outlined as permissible in a widely criticized legal memoranda.” Bybee had appeared before the committee on May 26th.

Bybee says the memos he co-wrote with lawyer John C. Yoo “authorized waterboarding only if there were no ‘substantial repetitions'”–in other word, as long as they didn’t do it too much. CIA contractors ended up waterboarding suspects as many as 183 times. “Extended solitary confinement or isolation” was also named as one of the unauthorized practices, according to the LA Times account:

Among the other techniques reportedly used on CIA detainees that were not approved by the Justice Department, Bybee testified, were diapering a detainee, forcing a detainee to defecate on himself, forcing a detainee to wear blackout goggles, extended solitary confinement or isolation, hanging a detainee from ceiling hooks, daily beatings, spraying cold water on a detainee, and subjecting a detainee to high-volume music or noise.

“So if these things occurred, dousing with cold water, subjecting to loud music to keep people from falling asleep, if that occurred, that means they were done without specific [Justice Department] authorization?” Bybee was asked by the committee.

“That’s right,” Bybee replied.

Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers said the revelation that “many brutal techniques reportedly used in CIA interrogations were not authorized by the Justice Department” could be “highly relevant to the pending criminal investigation of detainee abuse.”

Some 100,000 U.S. prisoners are being held in solitary confinement on American soil on any given day, and at least 25,000 are in “extended solitary confinement” in supermax prisons and units. If the use of such practices is grounds for “criminal investigations,” why aren’t we seeing the federal Bureau of Prisons and state correctional systems investigated, as well?

Jay Bybee, by the way, is still involved in the justice system, back on home turf: He is now a federal judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

James Ridgeway and Jean Casella

James Ridgeway (1936-2021) was the founder and co-director of Solitary Watch. An investigative journalist for over 60 years, he served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice and Mother Jones, reporting domestically on subjects ranging from electoral politics to corporate malfeasance to the rise of the racist far-right, and abroad from Central America, Northern Ireland, Eastern Europe, Haiti, and the former Yugoslavia. Earlier, he wrote for The New Republic and Ramparts, and his work appeared in dozens of other publications. He was the co-director of two films and author of 20 books, including a forthcoming posthumous edition of his groundbreaking 1991 work on the far right, Blood in the Face. Jean Casella is the director of Solitary Watch. She has also published work in The Guardian, The Nation, and Mother Jones, and is co-editor of the book Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement. She has received a Soros Justice Media Fellowship and an Alicia Patterson Fellowship. She tweets @solitarywatch.

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  • Alan

    Amongst other western states the Ninth Court of Appeals oversees California, the largest prison system in the country. Its successful corrections union is a model for other states correction workers to follow.

    In this post it says;

    “Among the other techniques reportedly used on CIA detainees that were not approved by the Justice Department, Bybee testified, were diapering a detainee, forcing a detainee to defecate on himself, forcing a detainee to wear blackout goggles, extended solitary confinement or isolation, hanging a detainee from ceiling hooks, daily beatings, spraying cold water on a detainee, and subjecting a detainee to high-volume music or noise.”

    From your post titled:

    Louisiana Jail Locks Up Suicidal Prisoners in 3′ x 3′ Cages

    “Several witnesses report suicidal prisoners forced to wear orange short shorts (“Daisy Duke” style). Prisoners also report being forced to wear Daisy Duke shorts with “Hot Stuff” written on the rear end.

    Guards frequently ignore repeated requests to use the bathroom, forcing some desperate people to urinate in discarded containers.

    People have been reportedly held in these cages for days, weeks, and months.”

    I have previously read on this site, in connection to one of the Angola 3 that contrary to what one would expect if the inmate was released he would like to be left alone. It seems after years of inmates shouting, banging and howling while the constant high volume of the unit’s television blared until midnight he just wants peace and quiet.

    So the diapering, extended isolation, and high-volume noise are not approved by the Justice Department?

    It seems LA, but I am sure other states as well, have not paid much attention to the Justice Department’s guidelines. I can vouch that CA has not followed these guidelines.

  • Joshlyn

    did you know inmates tested bio cemical agents for world war one and two or that they tesed a lot of drugs for us made a lot things for us and even tested cosmedics for s we owe them a lot thats right nexst time you use jonson and jonsen baby oil think of the inmate who tested that for you he got secont degree beruns on his arms and legs so you can use that or you canser pashionts thing who do you think tested radyashion to kill cancer thats right thank the inmate who ended up with what was a small tumer who tryed the radyashion tharipy to kill it and ended with his hole dick becomeing canceres for that life saveing treatment you got yes the hubel heros who asck just to be treeted as humans they may not had a choise in some but moest did and yes you may not know it but you ladys like to look good thank the inmates who tested that make up or thats keeping your kids skin soft inamtes did a lot more for us then we have ever done for them in my hart thats a hero things we do in every day life thing that may or may not save your or a loved ones life may have ben thanks to a inmate so yes we need to treet them with dignety still they saved lives to everyday so honner those inmates cos of them your in need of lerning from then what the word hero and humilty and love means let thare be light in the darknes of justice

  • Joshlyn

    yes indeed lets bop the BOP up side the dam head they do not use all i can say is hay DOC your tharipy for my rage is not working I wonder why could it be cos oh ya it make me mader lol i mean come on who in thare right mind dosent know bout ESP and solitary in that fild lol i mean what made them think that if you make it more extreem and longer that it was going to do better when it was less befor and it still did the same dam thing then i mean charry hill nyone lol i love them all to get a boot up thare asses not a day gos by i do not want to bichslap the bop and say hay this dident work then it not working now it never will work it sick it is roung stop it now why i have given my life to ending solitary i mean how meny times dose it take till you get the point i mean thare a discrase to the meaning of the word correshions and penittenory but moest of all i must say i as well blame those who are everyday hard working good free members of this nashion for half of this why we have so meny inmates go back is we still hold it agest them after we will not hire them how they going to make a liveing but doing that shit then i say they did thare time now they should be like us on the out side not judged for what they allready payed for hire a inmate suport them and your not geting to need more pirsons or as much hay ever thingk of not puting randum fools in cells try to cell with someone that person is ok with try talking out the vilashions in stead of doing like my old school is still doing oakhill cos solitary dose not work it hurts more then drugs dringken and geting fucked thou i never ben the last i tell you in the long run sher you dident get raped by a man you got raped by your goverment they try and keep us out we the peepal need to know what is done and need to stop we say to the kids in school be a biger person walk away do not let them get to you ackt your age well hay usa bop doc DOJ try it out your self be a biger person help not hurt GOING TO PRISON is THE PUNISHMENt not ment to be treeted cruil in prison thats where your ment to get help being a way from loved ones not being home not geting to say i going go to the bar with the boys or go on a trip with your kids or being abal to say i thingk i going to go out with my wife that los of those things is the punisment when you put a kid in the corner you dont hold what they did on them forever and you try to help that kid so yes you want more taxes in the long rum then plese build more supermaxes go nuts with torcher and incarserashion but if you want the to go doun in time hay got start a ripal fro,m midel not outside the put your munny to help those peepal cos doun the rode your taxes will not be as bad as if you put it off and then try it later short time more tax or allways more i dont know why the family who had thare kid killed or the rapest and the vitum can get to gethar and become frends and the rest of us cant if they can dam well we should e abal to to i want look at the flag and see the USA not the USP i want be proud of my nashion for being biger then others for sticking to the justice it has not for hideing behind big tribunals speshal courts and saying it dose not torcher when it dose to its owen every day we fight tarerisum we say then why we acting like tarerist to are owen revern right siad not god bless god f well right now he right where no beeter themn what we fight if we do what they do if sadom had to anser sao to do they i love this nashion none the less not for the goverment but for what it was foned to be iwish the older dead can see what thare blood they spilled mean now if i was them i be sick you want to help your nashion help a inmate they saved us at the quake of sanfransixco inmates made food and passed it out to the serviers of it inmates now fight fire in CA yes your dam kid who you tell to hate and scorn inmates may have ben saved by a inmate thats right we owe inmates a lot more then moest know i do thingk those fighting are to be honnered but i allso see those that get no memoral that have no metals that even after geting raped by the nashion work to better the usa not all heros are at war or cared for they come in all colers but you want a humbal hero look to the men behied bars some yo uwill find thare every day heros are inmates to if that not a nuff thingk of it this way small touns get a prison you need inmates to have a need for a pirson need no gard if thares no inmates with out and if not for those inmates being thae then your toun may not have ever ben born or be abal to stand for long so in a way yes they are everyday heros inmates are not all bad they do so much for us and ack so lital only to be treated as humans we can lern from them so yes let thare be light for those in the darknes of justice not to mentshion after all we did to some them i not suprised they hate us now time to but the just in justice thats right DOJ GET YOUR HEAD OUT YOUR ASS STOP WIPING YOUR ASS WITH ARE CONSTITOOSHION STOP THOWING YOUR SHIT ON ARE FLAG and START DOING YOUR JOB SERVING THOSE OF YOUR NASHION gods got nuf love to let s live still you say one nashion under god well lets make this nashion worth of gods blessing lets be the nashion the usa was ment to be

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