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Former General Colin Powell appeared on MSNBC‘s Rachel Madow show Wednesday night. It was a good conversation and I was particularly fascinated with the interrogation segment on “torture.” To quote from the show’s transcript:
MADDOW: I guess have to ask that – a broader question about whether or not you have regrets not about what the Bush administration did broadly in the years that you were secretary of state but the decisions that you participated in about interrogation, about torture, about the other things.
POWELL: There was no meeting on torture. It is constantly said that the meetings – I had an issue with this – we had meetings on what torture to administer. What I recall, the meetings I was in, I was not in all the meetings and I was not an author of many of the memos that have been written and some have come out and some have not come out. The only meetings I recall were where we talked about what is it we can do with respect to trying to get information from individuals who were in our custody. And I will just have to wait until the full written record is available and has been examined.
MADDOW: I don’t mean to press you on this to the point of discomfort but there is an extent to which there is a legal discussion around this where everybody feels a little constrained by the legal terms whether or not they are a legal professional. There is also the policy implications that you’ve been so eloquent about in terms of what the implications are of these policies towards the U.S. abroad in a continuing way and you’ve been very optimistic in thinking that America still has a reservoir of good will around the world that we can call on regardless of these difficulties that we’ve had around these issues.
If specific interrogation techniques were being approved by people at the political level in the Cabinet. It doesn’t – almost the legal niceties of it almost become less important.
POWELL: I don’t know where these things were being approved at a political level.
MADDOW: Was there a principles meeting to discuss interrogation techniques?
POWELL: It does not mean it was approved, anything was approved at a meeting.
POWELL: It depends on did the meeting end up in a conclusion or was it just a briefing that then went to others to make a final decision on and to document. And so it is a legal issue and I think we have to be very careful and I have to be very careful because I don’t want to be seen as implicating anybody or accusing anybody because I don’t have the complete record on this. And that complete record I think in due course will come out.
The saga of the CIA and the torture tapes — Firedoglake’s “emptywheel,” one of my favorite investigative writers on national security, has also been focusing on this area. The ACLU has been trying to get the CIA to release tapes made at the times the interrogations took place. But the CIA Refused to Turn Over Torture Tape Library (3/20/09). The Judge in the case, Alvin Hellerstein, subsequently “ordered the CIA to start putting together an index of what they’ve got and why they refused to turn it over;” (The torture tape library – episode 51 – 3/28/09). The CIA admitted that it destroyed 92 torture tapes. Emptywheel wondered in a post, “who watched the tapes?” Jeff Stein, at SpyTalk, said that the CIA is unlikely to reveal much more about the missing interrogation tapes.
We can remain grateful for these women who are still asking questions, digging into things kept secret, and making others uncomfortable. It is a service to the nation.
See also Behind the Links, for further info on scandal and the Republicans.
Carol Gee – Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for all my websites.
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