Bush-Era Torture Architect Joins Trump Administration

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When the CIA under the Bush administration aimed to implement legalized torture they turned to Steven G. Bradbury, the lead attorney at the Department Justice at the time (2005).  Bradbury, in a series of now infamous documents known as the “torture memos” authorized the CIA to utilize “enhanced interrogation techniques” which included: dietary manipulation, waterboarding, water dousing, abdominal and facial slapping, cramped confinement, nudity, stress positions, wall standing, walling, facial holds, and attention grasps.  Research has shown that these techniques do not work.  As The Guardian noted, citing the Senate’s four-year investigative report, when torture yields information, which is fairly rare, the information is nearly always “fabricated” and results in “faulty intelligence.”

Last week, a Senate panel narrowly approved Steven G. Bradbury to be the Department of Transportation’s chief legal advisor.  Bradbury faced strong opposition from democrats, with the loudest voice on the left coming from Illinois Senator, veteran, and Purple Heart recipient, Tammy Duckworth.

When speaking with HuffPost, Duckworth did not mince words, stating that, with this appointment, “President Trump and his administration have sunk to such new lows.”  Duckworth who lost both legs when her helicopter was shot down over Iraq, elaborated on the damage done by the implementation of our “enhanced interrogation techniques” stating, “Our reaction, and pardon my language, was those fuckers just made it more dangerous for the rest of us to do our jobs.”  Duckworth believes the associated practices unleashed by Bradbury’s memos entirely sacrificed any moral high ground the U.S. military had in the region, via HuffPost:

“Our humane treatment of our enemy, of our captured enemy, impacts how they treat our people if they were to capture our people. That’s a fundamental tenet of military training, and that torture memo and the acts that it condoned put our men and women who wore the uniform of our country and those who were most likely to be captured behind enemy lines―which in the kinetic type of warfare that we have now is just about everybody who wears the uniform―it puts them in danger and in greater chance of them being tortured.”

While this particular appointment at the Department of Transportation (DOT) is nothing like the positions he held in the Bush Administration, this could be a way of sneaking Bradbury in with plans to shuffle him around until he circles back to the DOJ.  This was a low-profile appointment, so despite Duckworth’s effort, it never really hit the mainstream, and never received the aggressive push back a DOJ appointment would have.

Duckworth expressed concern over this to HuffPost stating,

“One of the things that people really have not touched on is that once he’s been confirmed and he’s in the DOT, it is relatively easy to move him over to Justice. This may be a backdoor way to get him into Justice later on if they ever wanted to do it.”

Trump has expressed outright support for torture in the past saying that he’d like to implement something “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding,” and has discussed reopening  CIA “black site” prisons before pulling back due to bipartisan opposition.

Trump may still be looking for ways to reinstate the torture program, and if he is, he certainly hired the right guy—he’ll just need to promote him.


Jesse Mechanic is the editor in chief of The Overgrown.

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