ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Torture in the Justice Department

Updated on December 31, 2007

A Firsthand Experience Before Decision on Torture by Scott Shane in the NYT 11-7-07

A Firsthand Experience Before Decision on Torture

By SCOTT SHANE Published: November 7, 2007

WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 - The debate over torture here can get heated, as it did this month when a dispute over the legal status of waterboarding threatened to sink the nomination of Michael B. Mukasey as attorney general. Still, it usually remains a matter of strictly abstract legal analysis.

But three years ago, Daniel Levin, then the acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department, decided to bring reality to bear on his deliberations on the torture question. He went to a military base and asked to undergo waterboarding.

Mr. Levin, 51, a graduate of Harvard and the University of Chicago Law School, had served in several senior posts at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department since the administration of the first President Bush. But he had never served in the military, where American pilots, special operations troops and others for decades have undergone waterboarding to prepare them for possible treatment if captured by an enemy.

Waterboarding has been used in interrogations at least since the Spanish Inquisition and was used by the Central Intelligence Agency on three high-level terrorism suspects in 2002 and 2003, according to officials familiar with the agency's secret detention program. It involves strapping a suspect to a board with feet elevated, covering his face with a cloth and pouring water on it to produce a feeling of suffocation.

Mr. Levin, now a partner with White & Case, declined to comment on the experience, which was first reported Friday by ABC News. A former senior administration official confirmed on Tuesday that it took place.

After his waterboarding, Mr. Levin went on to sign a new legal opinion on the limits of interrogation, released on Dec. 30, 2004, that made news with its ringing opening sentence: "Torture is abhorrent both to American law and values and to international norms." That memorandum replaced a much-criticized opinion written in August 2002, which had defined torture as treatment producing pain equivalent to organ failure or death and had suggested that a president might be able to authorize torture under his constitutional war powers.

A footnote to the 2004 interrogation opinion signed by Mr. Levin, insisted on by the White House and the C.I.A., said that despite the shift in legal reasoning, interrogation techniques authorized under previous Justice Department opinions remained legal. Those techniques included waterboarding.

Mr. Levin became the acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel in June 2004, after the departure of Jack Goldsmith, who had withdrawn the 2002 memorandum on torture and provoked a separate crisis by finding flaws in the legal justification for the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program. After writing the opinion denouncing torture, Mr. Levin, who had supported Mr. Goldsmith's actions, was told by Alberto R. Gonzales, the incoming attorney general, that he would not be nominated to lead the Office of Legal Counsel.

Instead, Mr. Levin took a job as legal adviser at the National Security Council. He was replaced at the Justice Department by Steven G. Bradbury, who signed a series of new legal opinions in 2005 justifying harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, The New York Times reported last month.

In court papers filed Monday in New York, the Justice Department confirmed that the Office of Legal Counsel had issued three legal opinions on detention and interrogation to the C.I.A. in May 2005. The filing does not describe the contents of the opinions, which are being sought in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Waterboarding Instructions

New, CIA-Improved , Bush-Approved, Non-torture Waterboarding

Old-fashioned, Low-tech Not-Approved Waterboarding

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      Thanks for your comment!

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      10 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      The simple answer to your question, barranca, is "yes." Ralph, you're exactly right. The Democratic leadership are cowards. The list of impeachable offenses that Bush and Cheney have committed go far beyond their use and endorsement of waterboarding. The problem is that the Democratic leadership fears impeachment would backfire the way it did when Republicans impeached Clinton. They're wrong, but even if they were right it is more important that Congress do the right thing! They'll be no book titled "Profiles in Courage" written about this Congress.

    • Ralph Deeds profile imageAUTHOR

      Ralph Deeds 

      10 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I think so. But achieving appeachment is an other issue. Apparently the Dems want to schedlule a losing ball game with only a year of Bush to endure.

    • barranca profile image

      barranca 

      10 years ago

      Since Bush and Cronies approved this technique, are they not guilty of breaking the law and liable to be prosecuted for war crimes? Isn't this alone grounds for impeachment?

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)