Saturday, November 3, 2007

Stymied By Alberto: ABC Says Former DoJ Official Tried Waterboarding

ABC News is running a story about Daniel Levin, who was acting assistant attorney general in 2004 when he was "charged with reworking the administration's legal position on torture". Levin became so concerned about waterboarding that he decided to experience it himself, according to ABC's sources.

The article, "Bush Administration Blocked Waterboarding Critic", says Levin told White House officials he found the experience terrifying, thought it clearly simulated drowning, and concluded that waterboarding could be illegal torture unless used in a highly limited way and with close supervision.

ABC's sources also say Levin believed the Bush Administration had failed to offer clear guidelines for the use of waterboarding. It also details how Levin was "blocked":
The administration at the time was reeling from an August 2002 memo by Jay Bybee, then the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, which laid out possible justifications for torture. In June 2004, Levin's predecessor at the office, Jack Goldsmith, officially withdrew the Bybee memo, finding it deeply flawed.

When Levin took over from Goldsmith, he went to work on a memo that would effectively replace the Bybee memo as the administration's legal position on torture. It was during this time that he underwent waterboarding.

In December 2004, Levin released the new memo. He said, "Torture is abhorrent" but he went on to say in a footnote that the memo was not declaring the administration's previous opinions illegal. The White House, with Alberto Gonzales as the White House counsel, insisted that this footnote be included in the memo.

But Levin never finished a second memo imposing tighter controls on the specific interrogation techniques. Sources said he was forced out of the Justice Department when Gonzales became attorney general.
Well, isn't that a big surprise? Now they tell us!

What's the hurry?? There's more at the link.