Former State Department Lawyer Says Bush Panicked After 9/11, Used Torture

Some former members of the Bush administration are admitting that the Bush administration overreacted to 9/11 by engaging in torture:

A former State Department lawyer responsible for Guantanamo-related cases said Friday that the Bush administration overreacted after 9/11 and set up a system in which torture occurred.

Vijay Padmanabhan is at least the second former Bush administration official to publicly label “enhanced interrogation techniques” as torture. He said the administration was wrong in its entire approach when it sent detainees to the remote Navy base and declared it out of reach of any court.

“I think Guantanamo was one of the worst overreactions of the Bush administration,” Padmanabhan told The Associated Press. He said other overreactions included extraordinary renditions, waterboarding that occurred at secret CIA prisons and “other enhanced interrogation techniques that would constitute torture.”

“The idea that you’re going to be able to hold someone and detain someone where there is not an applicable legal regime governing their detention, rules, treatment, standards, etc. is, I think, foolish,” he said.

He is not the only member of the Bush administration to raise such criticism:

The first Bush administration official to publicly describe these acts as torture, Susan. J. Crawford, is the military official in charge of trying Guantanamo Bay detainees. She said in January that the United States tortured a Saudi detainee in 2002, preventing her from bringing him to trial.

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7 Comments

  1. 1
    Eclectic Radical says:

    It is vastly amusing how these admissions of wrongdoing always happen after the individuals are safely out of the administration and in the private sector, where they are safe from professional retaliation. No one ever does the right thing while still enjoying access.

  2. 2
    bruno says:

    That the entire Bush Administration overreacted isn’t really a surprise.  According to research that is what people with conservative brains do. They overreact and lash out and stop thinking logically when they feel threatened.

    I think that the Bush Admin is the perfect example for that research.  I can’t find it right now, but it came out sometime last year.  That along with the fact that research has also shown conservatives dig in their heels even further when presented with contradicting evidence.

    I’m sure, as Eclectic Radical pointed out, there will be plenty more former administration officials coming out, now that they no longer have any power.

    As the AG in Spain turns up the temperature on the Bush cabal, they won’t be able to keep pretending that we can just move along as if nothing happened.  At some point they’ll have to address the issue:  Either the Obama administration goes against international law and protects the former Bush officials, or they opt for finally taking the step so many have wanted to take, and investigate the wrong doing.  Be it a ‘truth commission’, or a criminal investigation, or any other so called panel they come up with.

    Interesting times ahead.   Only a matter of time for more of them to start spilling their guts – as if that clears their own misdeeds.

  3. 3
    Eclectic Radical says:

    Oh, let’s not pretend that any of the former Bushies really care about the criminal case in Spain or that the case has any real import beyond its symbolism tot he European left. It may or may not matter to liberal Americans (I am rather honestly a little irritated by the arrogance of it, considering the total lack of ability to actually make anything stick even if everyone charged is convicted) and it may or may not matter more to Europeans, but it certainly doesn’t matter to Republicans or their voting base. Those who notice and care will simply make the appropriate ‘patriotic’ noises defending Bush and attacking Spain.

    International law mostly does not exist, particularly as far as the US is concerned. International law is based on voluntary treaties rather than enforceable legal code, and even if it weren’t there is no body with the power necessary to enforce international law on a genuinely international scale.

    International law is like Wall Street regulation.

    If the Obama administration takes notice of the Spanish case at all, it will likely be to assert American sovereignty and to deny the Spanish court’s jurisdiction.

    I’m not denying the potential symbolic meaning, but there is absolutely no tangible meaning or consequence to this case for the Bush officials accused.

  4. 4
    Christopher says:

    While ignoring the number one and number two players, this action by Spain is a positive step toward bringing criminal proceedings against high ranking officials in the Bush administration for the use of illegal use of torture against detainees in Guantánamo Bay.
    Baltasar Garzón, the counter-terrorism judge whose prosecution of General Augusto Pinochet led to his arrest in Britain in 1998, has referred the case to the chief prosecutor before deciding to proceed.
    The case is bound to threaten Spain’s relations with the new administration in Washington, but Gonzalo Boyé, one of the four lawyers who wrote the lawsuit, said the prosecutor would have little choice under Spanish law but to approve the prosecution.
    The officials named in the case include the most senior legal minds in the Bush administration. They are: Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and attorney general; David Addington, vice-president Dick Cheney’s chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon’s general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who were both senior justice department legal advisers.
    Obama administration officials have confirmed that they believe torture was committed by American interrogators. The president has not ruled out a criminal inquiry, but inexplicably signaled he is reluctant to do so for political reasons.
    “Obviously we’re going to be looking at past practices, and I don’t believe that anybody is above the law,” Obama said in January. “But my orientation’s going to be to move forward.”
    President Obama is forgetting an important lesson in his focus on the future: those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

  5. 5
    Eclectic Radical says:

    As Ron and I have both commented, President Obama is gravely handicapped by partisan politics when it comes to the issue of prosecution of Republican officials. The simple fact is that, with the polarization of the parties as it is, GOP voters and pundits will proclaim the prosecutions are politically motivated and proof of liberal fascism and that issue will dominate the first term, possibly the entire Obama presidency. President Obama has specific policy initiatives he feels need to be passed, so clearly he is making them the priority and not the ugly mud-fight with the GOP over prosecutions.

    The political fact is that it is impossible to prosecute political officials in this country without bipartisan consensus that they are crooks. That consensus does not exist about the Bush administration.

    The Spanish trial is a joke. I doubt any of the officials are planning to travel to Spain anytime soon, and I doubt the US would extradite them on a ‘politically motivated’ (as Republicans and some conservative Democrats would claim) European charge. It is a symbolic statement that the administration was a bunch of crooks, but nothing more. To take it seriously is a serious mistake.

  6. 6
    Christopher Skyi says:

    “According to research that is what people with conservative brains do.”

    bruno — what research is this?  Could you provide references?  Thanks.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    Hopefully Bruno returns with a link. There have been a number of studies comparing liberal and conservative brains. While not the same as the one Bruno refers to,  here’s a newspaper article summarizing an older one.

    He might be referring to an article in the February 2, 2008 issue of New Scientist. The full article is only available on line to subscribers. Huffington Post had a brief summary.

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