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Author of Torture Memos Admits Some Techniques Were Not Approved By DOJ

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Justice Department rules for preserving records state that "the unlawful removal or destruction of federal records" can result in "criminal or civil penalties, fines and/or imprisonment."

Conyers and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, as well as the good-government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, have asked the Justice Department and the National Archives to investigate the document destruction.

Conyers said Thursday that Bybee's revelations during the May 26 interview are "highly relevant to the pending criminal investigation into detainee abuse."

Bybee's "testimony reveals that many brutal techniques reportedly used in CIA interrogations were not authorized by the Justice Department the author of these legal memos has now admitted this on the record," Conyers said."I have provided the Committee's interview to the Justice Department and directed my staff to cooperate with any further requests for information."

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Last August, Attorney General Eric Holder expanded the mandate of John Durham, a US Attorney from Connecticut who has spent more than two years investigating the destruction of 92 interrogation videotapes, to include about a dozen cases of torture that had been previously closed by Justice Department attorneys for unknown reasons.

Durham was authorized to conduct a preliminary review of those cases to determine if there is evidence that warrants a full-scale criminal inquiry.

Rep. Nadler, who questioned Bybee, said the "disclosures heighten the need for a special counsel to investigate the development and implementation of interrogation policies following the 9/11 attacks and, once again, I call upon the Department of Justice to ensure justice and accountability for these potentially grave abuses of executive power."

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The Obama administration has refused to allow the Justice Department to launch a full-fledged investigation into the Bush administration's torture policies and has also pressured Congress not to hold public hearings delving into the matter.

President Obama said last year that "those who [carried] out their duties relying in good faith upon the legal advice from the Department of Justice" should not be subject to prosecution.

Holder added, "with regard to those members of the intelligence community who acted in good faith and in reliance with Justice Department opinions that were shared with them, it is not our intention to prosecute those individuals."

However, Bybee's testimony, in which he acknowledges that abusive techniques were used that OLC did not approve, changes the picture since it suggests that interrogators were not relying upon the legal memos when they abused some detainees.

Doubts Linger

Still, Brent Mickum, an attorney who represents several high-profile Guantanamo prisoners, said he does not believe Bybee's revelations will result in an investigation or a congressional hearing.

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"Everything I know about our government, everything I know about the CIA, Department of Defense and the DOJ tells me they cannot be trusted," Mickum said. "They simply do not tell the truth. When they are caught in a lie they change their story. We do not have a judicial system that will allow us to take a hard look at what been done and we have a Congress that has been asleep at the wheel."

Mickum added that Bybee's revelations were not surprising to anyone who had followed the torture scandal.

"Judge Bybee has made clear in his testimony that there were techniques employed that were not approved. I have known that for years," Mickum said. "What was done to my client [Abu Zubaydah] was vastly worse than what was approved in the [Bybee] memo. But I can't talk to you about that because the government hamstrings us by abusing the classification system and prevents me from telling you exactly what was done to [Zubaydah].

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Jason Leopold is Deputy Managing Editor of Truthout.org and the founding editor of the online investigative news magazine The Public Record, http://www.pubrecord.org. He is the author of the National Bestseller, "News Junkie," a memoir. Visit (more...)

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