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Make That Three Torture Memos

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November 7, 2007

The frustrating thing about doublespeak is not its untruth – lies can be called out and disproven. No, the frustration with doublespeak is that there is no position to pin down at all. The Bush administration continues to say “we don’t torture” out of one side of their mouths while saying “it’s necessary” out of the other. It’s just damn near impossible to wrestle with that level of untruthiness without losing a little piece of your mind every time.

Last month, The New York Times reported that was the case in 2004 when the Bush administration publicly declared torture “abhorrent” and then a few months later, after the installation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, issued two secret memos which authorized “an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used” by the CIA.

That’s funny… because the ACLU has had an ongoing Freedom of Information Act request for documents related to torture. In fact, over the years it has yielded over 100,000 documents, warranted a search engine, and led to a book. And in all those pages and pages, the Office of Legal Counsel for the Department of Justice, we’re sure, just happened to leave out those two crucial memos.

Make that three.

The DOJ’s OLC filed a brief on Monday revealing the existence of a third memo which had not been reported previously. OLC also revealed exactly when the memos were written – two on May 10, 2005, and the third on May 30.

OLC improperly kept these documents from the ACLU, but they’ve also withheld them from key senators. They remain secret even in the midst of the ongoing confirmation proceedings for Michael Mukasey. Mukasey has been the subject of intense criticism over his views on the very issue discussed in those secret torture memos. A hearing on the ACLU’s request for the release of the memos is scheduled for November 13. But by then, it will be too late for the senate to ask any more questions; Mukasey is expected to be confirmed as early as tomorrow.