Home > Music, Torture > Lyrics by Bybee

Lyrics by Bybee

A week ago, on the eve of the release of the Justice Department torture memos, I wrote a post about Mark Danner’s second article in the New York Review of Books on the International Committee of the Red Cross report about CIA “high value detainees.” Since the Justice Department memos were released last Thursday, I haven’t written anything. I don’t lack things to say. It’s just that they’ve all been said, and said better, by so many others, including my usual list of bloggers on the subject, Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic Monthly, hilzoy of Obsidian Wings, Glenn Greenwald of salon.com, and Scott Horton of Harper’s.

But now let me bring to your attention the work of Jonathan Mann, who has been busy writing a song a day since January 1. You can find his songs at his website or on youtube. I first learned about him in early March when I saw a link to his paean to Paul Krugman. At the top of this post is song #109, the April 19 song, with lyrics by Jay Bybee. If you haven’t read the torture memos yet, the song captures their spirit well. After watching the video, read more of Jay Bybee’s work. Here for instance is his memo of August 1, 2002 as Assistant Attorney General. Really, what more can one say?

And if more must be said, start with emptywheel’s comments last Saturday:

According to the May 30, 2005 Bradbury memo, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002.

On page 37 of the OLC memo, in a passage discussing the differences between SERE techniques and the torture used with detainees, the memo explains:

The CIA used the waterboard “at least 83 times during August 2002” in the interrogation of Zubaydah. IG Report at 90, and 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM, see id. at 91.

Note, the information comes from the CIA IG report which, in the case of Abu Zubaydah, is based on having viewed the torture tapes as well as other materials. So this is presumably a number that was once backed up by video evidence.

The same OLC memo passage explains how the CIA might manage to waterboard these men so many times in one month each (though even with these chilling numbers, the CIA’s math doesn’t add up).

…where authorized, it may be used for two “sessions” per day of up to two hours. During a session, water may be applied up to six times for ten seconds or longer (but never more than 40 seconds). In a 24-hour period, a detainee may be subjected to up to twelve minutes of water appliaction. See id. at 42. Additionally, the waterboard may be used on as many as five days during a 30-day approval period.

So: two two-hour sessions a day, with six applications of the waterboard each = 12 applications in a day. Though to get up to the permitted 12 minutes of waterboarding in a day (with each use of the waterboard limited to 40 seconds), you’d need 18 applications in a day. Assuming you use the larger 18 applications in one 24-hour period, and do 18 applications on five days within a month, you’ve waterboarded 90 times–still just half of what they did to KSM.

The CIA wants you to believe waterboarding is effective. Yet somehow, it took them 183 applications of the waterboard in a one month period to get what they claimed was cooperation out of KSM.

That doesn’t sound very effective to me.

Categories: Music, Torture
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