draft executive orders are just blue sky thinking

Mattis, Pompeo stunned by CIA ‘black sites’ report
Austin Wright, Politico, Jan 25 2017

Two of the officials who will be in charge of carrying out Pres Trump’s terrorism detainee policies, Sec Def ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis and DCI ‘Mike’ Pompeo, were blindsided by reports of a draft executive order that would require the CIA to reconsider using interrogation techniques that some consider torture, according to sources with knowledge of their thinking. Congress critturs of both sexes denounced the draft order on Wednesday, even as Sean Spicer said:

It is not a White House document. I have no idea where it came from, but it is not a White House document.

It’s unclear who wrote the draft order or whether Trump will sign it, though Congress critturs of both sexes were taking that prospect seriously on Wednesday. Some of them said the document raised the specter of Trump following through on campaign vows to bring back waterboarding and other Bush 43-era torture practices, which many of them consider a shameful chapter of Pindostani history. The document, obtained and published by the NYT and the WaPo, calls for the DNI to review whether to bring back the CIA’s infamous black-site prisons. Those were secret overseas facilities where the CIA carried out brutal interrogations of terrorism suspects from 2001 to 2006, as documented in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2014 investigation into the issue. The draft order says terrorism suspects in Pindosi custody will not be subject to “torture” or “degrading treatment,” but it characterizes a 2016 law barring torture as “a significant statutory barrier,” and it would revoke an executive order signed by Obama stating that suspects must be treated in compliance with international law. The executive order would also mandate that Gitmo continue to be used to detain terrorism suspects captured abroad. And it would require Mad Dog Mattis to make recommendations about whether additional interrogation techniques need to be added to the Army Field Manual. Trump himself did little to quell the unease about the document on Wednesday, telling ABC News he believes waterboarding “works,” though he added he would defer to Mattis and Pompeo on the issue. Mattis & Pompeo have signaled they oppose reinstating Bush 43-era interrogation practices. The CIA declined to comment on the draft executive order on Wednesday, and a Pentagon spox pointed to Spicer’s remarks. Despite the questions about who wrote the document, more than a half-dozen Congress critturs issued statements denouncing it. They are likely trying to get out front of any attempt by Trump to return the country to now-outlawed interrogation techniques. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said:

I called Mattis and Pompeo on Wednesday to reiterate that any attempt by this administration to restart torture is absolutely unacceptable. I intend to hold nominees, including Director Pompeo and Secretary Mattis, to their sworn testimony to follow the law banning the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, and I will seek the same assurance from Dan Coats, Pres Trump’s nominee for DNI.

Walnuts McCain said in a statement:

We are not bringing back torture in the United Snakes of Pindostan. The president can sign whatever executive orders he likes, but the law is the law.

The Arizona Republican worked last year with Dianne Feinstein to get an amendment added to the annual defense authorization bill banning torture and limiting interrogation techniques to those in the Army Field Manual. The amendment was adopted in the Senate, 78-21. Meanwhile, John Thune, the #3 Senate Republican, said at the GOP’s policy retreat in Philadelphia:

I believe the issue is settled law. I don’t anticipate that will change. With respect to torture, that’s banned. The Army Field Manual makes that very clear, and the law now is tied to the Army Field Manual.

Not every Congress crittur believes in a total ban on torture. Rep Adam Kinzinger, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan in the Air Force, said in an interview Wednesday:

I believe it should be in the hip pocket in extreme emergencies. To rule it out entirely is short-sighted because you never know what situation may arise where there’s hundreds of thousands of lives at risk. You can never rule anything out entirely in my mind. Now that doesn’t mean we revert to it knee-jerk or anything like that, but defending the country and defending people is my #1 priority.

Daniel Jones, who was the lead investigator for the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture, said he believes the McCain-Feinstein amendment clearly prohibits both torture and the return of secret CIA interrogation facilities. Jones, who now runs a research and investigatory firm, said in an interview:

Even if Trump doesn’t sign the draft executive order, the fact that it is being floated is a bad sign. It sends a terrible message to the world and undermines our authority when it comes to treating detainees humanely. This is not who we are as a nation.