Archive for April 4th, 2012

April 4, 2012

Daily Scoop Xtra: The torture memo Bush tried to destroy

A document advising the Bush administration against torture has resurfaced, despite his best efforts to hide it.

In February of 2006, Philip Zelikow, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, authored a memo opposing the Bush administration’s torture practices (though he employed the infamous obfuscation of “enhanced interrogation techniques”). The White House tried to collect and destroy all copies of the memo, but one survived in the State Department’s bowels and was declassified yesterday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive.

The memo argues that the Convention Against Torture, and the Constitution’s prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, do indeed apply to the CIA’s use of “waterboard[ing], walling, dousing, stress positions, and cramped confinement.” Zelikow further wrote in the memo that “we are unaware of any precedent in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, or any subsequent conflict for authorized, systematic interrogation practices similar to those in question here, even when the prisoners were presumed to be unlawful combatants.” According to the memo, the techniques are legally prohibited, even if there is a compelling state interest to justify them, since they should be considered cruel and unusual punishment and “shock the conscience.”

The importance of the memo lies in its revelation that there was real, serious debate inside the Bush administration about how to interrogate captured terrorist suspects.

Read more…

April 4, 2012

The Daily Scoop: 5 Years After Crisis, No Normal Recovery

So many write attempting to compare the Great Recession’s recovery to other more “normal” recoveries from “normal” downturns. Those are like comparing the proverbial apples and oranges. The most accurate economic crisis to compare this one to is the Great Depression and its recovery. As a result, other comparisons are simply inaccurate in their conclusions. This article provides an in-depth assessment of the current economic situation and how we may need to rethink how recoveries from severe crises are judged.

  With the U.S. economy yielding firmer data, some researchers are beginning to argue that recoveries from financial crises might not be as different from the aftermath of conventional recessions as our analysis suggests.

Their case is unconvincing. It is mystifying that they can make this claim almost five years after the subprime mortgage crisis erupted in the summer of 2007 and against a backdrop of an 8.3 percent unemployment rate (compared with 4.4 percent at the outset of the financial crisis). Our research makes the point that the aftermaths of severe financial crises are characterized by long, deep recessions in which crucial indicators such as unemployment and housing prices take far longer to hit bottom than they would after a normal recession.

read more »