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.