Thursday, April 16, 2009

No, It's Not Enough

Spencer Ackerman is asking the right questions:

Most of this story -- the torture techniques (except for the insects); the OLC blessings and reblessings -- has been thoroughly reported already. What the memos leave unclear is how much the CIA jumped into the torture game and how much the Bush administration pushed it. The memos are written to be responsive to the CIA lawyer -- the malefactor going to the priest to give his work absolution. They're written to guide the interrogators. But they leave unclear -- as does most of the narrative so far -- who's compelling Rizzo in the CIA counsel's office to keep pushing for more. The senior leadership of the agency? The heads of its directorate of operations, which overseas the interrogators? The Counterterrorist Center leaders? Without this information, we don't have a clear sense of moral culpability for the torture. And then we'll need to know what kind of pressure they were under from the Bush administration. Who was pressured? Who was eager to comply? Who resisted? Who pressed his or her colleagues into acquiescence or insubordination? All of these questions are related but seperate to the question of legal culpability.

Of course, we now know that senior administration officials were balls-deep in the authorization of specific techniques. But Ackerman is right, that we don't know to what extent the CIA pushed to use these techniques, and to what extent they were pressured to use them. And we won't know, until this system is laid bare before us so that we may judge the moral accountability of all of those involved.

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