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Tough Guys Hayden and Mukasey Defend Torture, Decry Release of the OLC Memos: Why They're Wrong

Former Bush officials are trying to avoid accountability for their inhumane crimes. There is much you can do to make sure they don't get away with it.

Editor's Note: Since the release last week of Bush-era government memos authorizing torture against suspected terrorists, momentum has been building to hold the architects of these inhumane, illegal policies accountable. In a piece published on AlterNet, David Swanson notes that there are many things you can do to help spur legal action against officials and lawyers who greenlit torture and to make sure the Obama administration doesn't sweep the issue under the rug. Writes Swanson:

There are a great many ways you can advance the cause of accountability, and they can all be found at

Remember that a serious attempt at accountability is a tremendous deterrent to future crimes and abuses even if it fails. And remember that they will not tell us we are succeeding until we already have. This is the moment for action. This is the time to pressure your representatives, to work the media, to be the media, to organize your groups and friends and neighbors. This is the moment to punch a hole through the wall that has separated those of us who are subject to laws from those who have not been.



No timid wimp is former CIA Director Michael Hayden. And he's not reluctant to tell you so. You can find out what a tough guy he really is by reading his opinion piece, written with former Attorney General Michael "Not sure waterboarding is torture" Mukasey in the April 17 Wall Street Journal, defending the use of torture and objecting to the release of the nightmarish memos. We're talking here about "walling", (repeatedly smashing a detainee against a wall), stress positions (hanging a person from the ceiling with feet barely touching the floor -- including a one legged man), sleep deprivation for as long as 11 days, cramped confinement (put in a casket-sized box or smaller -- insects optional), and that medieval favorite, waterboarding.

In fact, it was the torture described in these memos, the existence of secret prisons, Guantanamo Bay, and Abu Ghraib that endangered the security of the United States. What better tools could there be to inflame and recruit new terrorists and instill hatred for our country throughout the Muslim world and beyond? Still Mukasey and Hayden clearly believe that these techniques should have been used and should be used in the future. They are in favor of torture.

Hayden and Mukasey accuse the no-torture policy of inviting "the kind of institutional timidity and fear of recrimination that weakened intelligence gathering in the past, and that we came sorely to regret on September 11, 2001." That's a version of history I actually hadn't heard espoused by anyone ever before -- that had the intelligence community not been weakened by timidity and fear, 9/11 might not have happened. All this time I thought it had more to do with the fact that the White House did nothing to follow up on the August 6, 2001 daily briefing entitled "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S." that included the warning that "FBI information... indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings..."

The Michaels Hayden and Mukasey assert that "public disclosure of the OLC opinions, and thus the techniques themselves, assures that terrorists are now aware of the absolute limit of what the U.S. government could do to extract information from them." Certainly the men who served as CIA Director and Attorney General must be aware that the secret of these techniques has been known by anyone who could read a newspaper beginning as long ago as December 26, 2002. That's when Dana Priest and Barton Gellman of the Washington Post reported on "stress and duress" interrogation tactics. Yes, everyone already knew about this dirty secret, and many have long been genuinely repulsed and offended by the attitude of one official who was quoted years ago as saying, "If you don't violate someone's human rights some of the time, you probably aren't doing your job."