Talk:Torture Memos

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There seems to be material in Jay Bybee that should be merged here. -- Kendrick7talk 20:32, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Is this the memo here?

Or is that a different memo?

Is this memo in the public domain?

If it is public, can a summary be included in this article? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:58, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

I'd like to do a detailed summary when I can bring myself to slog through the actual memo. But if someone wants to beat me to that particular task, hey, go for it! Samantha1961 (talk) 02:35, 13 March 2009 (UTC)

Yes, that link is the Bybee memo, and under US Copyright Law, it is "a work prepared by an officer or employee of the U.S. government as part of that person's official duties," and thus in the public domain or "noncopyright." There is a better link that I put into the references section of the main article that gives you a .PDF as opposed to the scanned copy. Vargob (talk) 15:26, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

Please consider the new format to eliminate the redundancy and break up the response section. Also, comments on the addition to the OLC investigation. Vargob (talk) 16:30, 24 March 2009 (UTC)

Federalist Society[edit]

IMNSHO, this is NOT a "legal organization" - it's a political organization for (ultra-)conservative lawyers. Grndrush (talk) 07:30, 17 April 2009 (UTC)

How would you choose to phrase it then? A conservative and libertarian think tank? Vargob (talk) 22:59, 21 April 2009 (UTC)
Compromise: I don't think we need to describe this influential organization of conservatives and libertarians at all here; we link to the article about it. Made it so. --Elvey(tc) 15:09, 4 August 2015 (UTC)

Which Bybee memo?[edit]

The findlaw copy of the Bybee memo is different than the ACLU copy (see their press release). Which is the correct memo?  —Chris Capoccia TC 07:39, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

They are both correct documents, but the one referred to as the Bybee Memo, I believe is the ACLU one that was just recently released. Remember (talk) 13:30, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
Should one article cover both, or should this become a disambiguation page, or how should the two be treated? Jonathunder (talk) 13:36, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
If the ACLU copy is the real Bybee memo, then the article needs to be changed. Currently, it's using the memo from findlaw.  —Chris Capoccia TC 13:46, 20 April 2009 (UTC)
It appears "Bybee memo" refers to more than one actual memo, which we need to clarify. Jonathunder (talk) 17:02, 20 April 2009 (UTC)

The Bybee memo was the first one to be leaked (several years ago) in a series of memos that were authored at the OLC and have just been released by the DoJ from the ACLU FOIA. It is that one (findlaw) that was first referred to as the "Bybee memo" for several years now. See the citations. I would be inclined to see how much more comes to light from the DoJ before deciding how to handle this page. For now, I think that the people interested in finding more information on the Bybee Memo and his role at the OLC will be well served by this page.Vargob (talk) 23:10, 21 April 2009 (UTC)

additions and revisions[edit]

As soon as I get around to it and finish reading materials related to this article, I will summarize the Bybee memos and remove irrelevant materials. The memo drafted by Yoo discussed in this article is here. As you can see it does not mention torture at all. Generally speaking, when people refer to the torture memo(s), they only refer to the two documents, both of which were dated August 1, 2002. They are the memo to Gonzales (AG) and the memo to Rizzo (CIA). References to and summaries of other memos will be removed. The summary of the Bybee memos will include a detailed section for the legal reasoning defining torture. Is that ok? Zoticogrillo (talk) 16:27, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

Through further research, I've realized I was wrong. There is another Yoo memo. I'll get to the bottom of this soon. Zoticogrillo (talk) 21:42, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

I've begun my proposed draft of this article. I have finished summarizing one of the memos, and have two more to go (including the main one, which is 50 pages). Please see User:Zoticogrillo/torture_memos and provide your comments. Zoticogrillo (talk) 12:06, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

HELLO! Please comment on my proposed revisions of this article @ User:Zoticogrillo/torture_memos, 'because I don't want to hear it AFTER I've already replaced the extant article in near entirety. Zoticogrillo (talk) 22:49, 15 March 2010 (UTC)


I've removed the BLP tag as this isn't a BLP. The other two tags require justification or they will probably simply be removed. Thanks, Verbal chat 22:11, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

  • This is a BLP issue, as it discusses a living person. Nothing in BLP restricts it to article that are titled with people's names. THF (talk) 11:44, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
  • The NPOV violation is clear as the article mentions none of the sources that defend Bybee. Moreover, it fails to give an accurate account of the OPR investigation (which cleared Bybee), and includes original research/synthesis about the investigation without mentioning the extensive criticism of the investigation as political and dangerous to the OLC. THF (talk) 11:44, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
  • The sources are quite unbalanced: multiple op-eds (and a blog post!) from the left, zero from the center-right. THF (talk) 11:44, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
  • Footnotes 10-16 don't even mention Bybee or the Bybee memo, and are plainly WP:COATRACK. THF (talk) 13:39, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
  • Why is there such extensive discussion and criticism of a Yoo memo that isn't the August 1, 2002 memo described in the lead? THF (talk) 14:01, 8 February 2010 (UTC) corrected 15:12, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
If there is a specific BLP issue, please bring that here. The refimproveBLP tag is inappropriate as this is not a BLP. I have replaced it with a refimprove tag, however I do not think that is appropriate as the article is well referenced - so it will probably be removed. Please add sources to address the improper balance, as you see it. Also, as there are two synth tags I'll remove the one at the top as it's overtagging. Please revert if you feel strongly about this, but I'd rather there was only one tag of the same kind on the page, and it's better to have the problem sections tagged as it is more specific. It's even better, and would help those seeking to improve the article, if you tagged the problem statements directly with an {{or}} tag. Thanks, Verbal chat 14:27, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
This is a BLP, as explained above. Please stop playing Argument Clinic and read the policy and restore the correct tag. If I tagged over a dozen problem statements with an {{or}} or {{syn}} tag, you'd accuse me of overtagging. THF (talk) 14:29, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
If there is a BLP issue, then the BLP tag may be appropriate. However the refimproveBLP tag is plainly inappropriate. Personally I feel the NPOV tag will suffice, as the article is well referenced (even if parity is lacking - that would be an NPOV problem). I've left a comment about the meta BLP issue on your talk page, and I've asked for input from waterboarding editors. Please try to be less confrontational. If you remove both the large tags, replaced by multiple {{or}} or {{syn}} then those should be addressed individually. Having the two large tags is overtagging. Verbal chat 14:41, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

I feel like I'm being set up here: if I use large tags, you accuse me of overtagging; if I comply with your request to add multiple {{syn}} tags, Hipocrite accuses me of overtagging and refusal to cooperate with other editors. 14:58, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

You've been around long enough to know that putting 7 synthesis tags in one paragraph is not acceptable practice. You could detail your concerns on the talk page. Hipocrite (talk) 15:01, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
I did detail my concerns on the talk page. See above. I was responding to a request from a user in an attempt to cooperate. You're not being fair to me.THF (talk) 15:02, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
I'm being perfectly fair to you. You knew that "If I tagged over a dozen problem statements with an [original research?] or [improper synthesis?] tag, you'd accuse me of overtagging" - though, of course, you weren't talking with me then. You were asked to place syn tags around specific synethesis - but what you did was bombard that one instance of synthesis (waterboarding = torture, memo supports waterboarding, memo supports torture) with 7 tags, all about the same synthesis. You could have written about what your concern was on talk, but instead you made a WP:POINT by tagging the same sentence with two synth tags right next to eachoter with 5 other tags all in one paragraph. It appears to an uninvolved third party who agrees with you (that's me - shocker, you're right, it's prohibited synthesis) that you're violating WP:POINT, and playing gotchya games on talk pages to "win" some internet competition. Hipocrite (talk) 15:08, 8 February 2010 (UTC)
Hipocrite, you are correct that I violated WP:POINT with that edit. I apologize. I was frustrated that I specifically identified the synthesis on the talk page, and User:Verbal repeatedly claimed that that wasn't sufficient. THF (talk) 15:11, 8 February 2010 (UTC)

Retitle Bybee Memo to Torture Memo, and Redirect from Bybee Memo[edit]

I was redirected here to the Bybee Memo page from "Torture Memo." I think that a mistake. We should retitle this page Torture Memos (with or without quotes, so-called "Torture Memos" would do as well to satisfy editors from the right side of the political spectrum) and redirect from "Bybee memo" to that. These were NOT Bybee memos. They were OLC memos that the mainstream media now universally calls "Torture Memos." All Judge Bybee really contributed was his signature. Jack Goldmsith's book and the OLC Professional Responsiblity reports make it clear that Bybee had no expertise in this area and relied exclusively on John Yoo, who wrote the memos with the assistance of a young attorney one year out of law school. The OLC memos do not name her, and though she was "outed" in the news media I think Wiki should honor the OLC effort to preserve her privacy. My point is there should be no person's name on the Memo. Not hers, not Mr. Yoos, not Mr. Bybee's. Removing the name avoids the much discussed BLP problem. I am in the process of updating and cleaning up this page; meantime I post this proposed retitling for discussion first, before taking it up with more senior editors who would know how to accomplish the appropriate redirect.ElijahBosley (talk) 17:39, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

I venture to add, that moving and retitling this is in accord with Wiki policy as expressed on Help:Moving a page: "pages may be moved to a new title if the previous name is inaccurate, incomplete, misleading or for a host of different housekeeping reasons such as that it is not the common name of the topic." ElijahBosley (talk) 19:49, 1 March 2010 (UTC)
I disagree that the renaming would be consistent with policy, as it would poison the well and violate NPOV. I have a problem with the section headings, too, for that reason. THF (talk) 21:59, 1 March 2010 (UTC)
Thanks for your perspective THF. Perhaps I might address that concern by liberal--oh, sorry excuse me, um-- frequent use of the term "enhanced interrogation?" Others of course might object that is a disreptuable euphemism like 'final solution to the Jewish question' which also violates NPOV but we are stuck with the necessity of a recognizable title, not misleading, findable in a few keystrokes by the majority. There is of course another webpage addressed to that enhanced interrogation, and this page should confine itself to the memos. I think all the section headings need work and would be grateful for any suggestions for headings. Also, as mentioned earlier the professional responsibility paragraph in the Yoo article virtually duplicates similar language here. It belongs here rather than there. We are fortunate in that the memos have taken on a life and persona of their own, so we can sensitively separate to some degree Professor Yoo's biography from his work product. A shorter reference in the Yoo article is in preparation.ElijahBosley (talk) 23:23, 1 March 2010 (UTC)
Please avoid offensive comparisons to Nazi Germany. My relatives didn't die in the gas chambers so you could have a facile rhetorical device for insulting lawyers answering a tough legal question without any precedent directly on point under tremendous time pressure with thousands of lives at stake. THF (talk) 23:39, 1 March 2010 (UTC)
I had just looked up the Greek etymology of euphemism, which is from euphēmismos, euphēmos: "auspicious, sounding good." I will avoid further inauspicious reference to Nazis: they show up uninvited in a lot of these conversations and really haven't much to contribute. And of course my condolences on your relatives. Our family lost some fighting the authoritarian Germans, in both wars. ElijahBosley (talk) 00:54, 2 March 2010 (UTC)
PS--THF on a more constructive note, I've noticed you are willing and certainly quite able to defend the various Bush admin. lawyers, and in a previous discussion you almost instantly pulled together several good cites to support your view (I have been meaning to go reread the Wall Street Journal editorial which I thought especially strong and worth a second look). The present "Bybee Memo" page has many flaws but one of its worst is in my view it lacks balance. My current plan is to do a quick chronology of the birth, life, and death of the memos (you can see its in progress). Following that, a proper humility and respect for the work of our predecessor contributers would suggest revising existing text into a pros and cons discussion. But almost all the text now is cons. Would you be willing to contribute a section of pro's? "Thousands of lives at stake" is a good start: I recall both the Goldsmith and Tenet books emphasized the constant urgent threat warnings in daily classified briefings, like living under an artillery barrage while the rest of us, oblivious, enjoyed our placid peaceful post 9/11 lives.ElijahBosley (talk) 01:19, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

revisions stalled[edit]

Those editors from this discussion page I have contacted on their talk pages about updating and revisions--wanted to let you know the reason the revisions are stalled, leaving a very bumpy article, is a notice posted on one particularly thorny patch by an editor saying essentially "do not remove this notice until you've talked to me." His talk page indicates he is away from Wikipedia. Mindful of the strict prohibition of altering another editor's work without permission I am left with twiddling my thumbs for a while. Please be patient, and meanwhile any suggestions for improvements would be welcome.ElijahBosley (talk) 23:23, 1 March 2010 (UTC)

New Revisions Soon To Take Effect!![edit]

As was proposed back in September of last year, major revisions to this article will be effected in the very near future. There is no lock on article editing, and article probation only means that behavior contrary to wiki policies is strictly punished. Furthermore, there have been no objections to the September proposal, meaning that consensus is to be assumed. Here is what the article will soon look like: User:Zoticogrillo/torture_memos Zoticogrillo (talk) 23:10, 7 May 2010 (UTC)

Cut and paste move[edit]

The article was moved to Torture memos per cut and paste. That's not how we do this, because the editing history is lost in the process. I have restored the original situation so that an admin can take care of it and doesn't have to do an actual cut and paste move repair (which I think is cumbersome).

There was only a redirect of at Torture memos, and that was the only edit to that page. Therefore (almost) everybody could simply have moved the article there. Now it's no longer possible and we need an admin. Hans Adler 23:41, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Substantive editing of this article has been inactive for some time. Since the new content is entirely new, and has been approved after nine months of proposals, the editing history is irrelevant. Do you really want to compare the two articles? What a headache that would be! Since they are entirely different, I don't see the point. Why not just leave it until an admin is able to fix it? Zoticogrillo (talk) 00:23, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
Two articles are not entirely different if several sections are identical except for their headings. You can't just copy big chunks of text without attribution, and it's important that other editors can see what you have changed. By the way, where were these far-reaching changes discussed? I can't see the discussion on this page. Hans Adler 08:08, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
The move was effectively completed by an administrator. Discussion was invited three times above, and it occurred on the discussion pages of the sandbox/draft versions of the articles and on talk pages of editors. Zoticogrillo (talk) 17:50, 13 May 2010 (UTC)
I hope you understand now that if you had used the standard move function before pasting in the revised text the admin action would not have been necessary. Thanks for the clarification where the text came from. Your insistence on the cut and paste move made some alarm bells go off for me. It looked like an attempt to make it very hard to compare versions. Hans Adler 18:15, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the explanation. Hans Adler 18:15, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

No problem, I realized my mistake afterwards and researched how to repair it, but an administrator fixed it for us. Another learning experience! Zoticogrillo (talk) 22:25, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Substantive Changes[edit]

I think this a vast improvement over the predecessor misnamed "Bybee Memo" article (full disclosure: I helped on an early draft, but Zotocogrillo deserves the credit for his diligent, patient and hard work on this article). It is especially important that Wikipedia define what the Torture Memos are, as this article now does. One shortcoming: I would like to see more on the genesis of the policy, in the CIA's problem of how to deal with newly captured prisoners, and their requests for permission delivered to the National Security Council. I will parse George Tenet's autobiography for the explanation he offers; also I believe Tenet says something about the effectiveness of the techniques that ought to be included.ElijahBosley (talk) 16:59, 15 May 2010 (UTC)


This article says Bybee resigned from the DOJ for a federal judgeship in Fall 2003, but the Bybee article says he was sworn in as a 9th Circuit Judge in March 2003. Also, perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't see anything in this article about what date the memos went public, which I think would be a useful piece of information. Naseem19 (talk) 15:18, 9 August 2010 (UTC)

When and how were the memos first released (or leaked) to the public?[edit]

When and how were the memos first released (or leaked) to the public? Can't find the answer anywhere in the article... (talk) 04:15, 25 May 2011 (UTC)

I came across a reference elsewhere that one was leaked in 2004 (now have to find the reference); the 2003 memo came to light in a Senate investigation on the issue in 2008 led by Senator McCain.Parkwells (talk) 14:45, 19 January 2013 (UTC)

Addition to Lead[edit]

Made an addition to Lead for a 2003 memo by Yoo, which justified torture in "overseas loations". This is important because the issue of whether Guantanamo Bay was within US jurisdiction (and the reach of the federal courts) was explicitly settled by later US Supreme Court decisions ruling that constitutional authority and the rule of law (including the right of habeas corpus) extended to operations at the detention camp - requiring detainees be given access to attorneys, allowing detainees access to federal courts to challenge detention, etc. This should probably be dealt with at greater length in the article, but maybe you guys already discussed this.Parkwells (talk) 14:45, 19 January 2013 (UTC)

Review for repetition[edit]

Editors were thorough but in some cases, I think there is unnecessary duplication of content, and too many opinions quoted on what people thought. Particularly two paragraphs about the Jose Padilla lawsuit repeat information and should be combined, or the second one edited for repetition. Wanted to announce it here first, and may take it on.Parkwells (talk) 14:45, 19 January 2013 (UTC)

added shortcut[edit]

For the Torture manuals, see U.S. Army and CIA interrogation manuals

Igottheconch (talk) 20:14, 25 January 2013 (UTC)

Related memos[edit]

Both the NY Times and ACLU are among RS to have published material on other internal administration memos related to torture, e.g., 12/2/2002 signed by Rumsfeld at DOD on specific interrogation plan and 17 techniques authorized for use with Mohammed al-Qahtani. These should be included and referenced/discussed here, as they apply to treatment of detainees at Guantanamo, as well as contributing to the Abu Ghraib scandal (as was the 2008 finding of chairs of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees with their joint investigation of use of enhanced interrogation techniques.) I haven't come across any other article in which these are the main topic. Perhaps it is time to shorten the lengthy discussion of the first three Torture Memos, or construct the article somewhat differently to cover the wide range of administration documentation of its policies.Parkwells (talk) 16:27, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

POV name change[edit]

Without a single sentence on this talk page an editor moved the page to change the title. Every major publication in the world calls these memos--and it is more than one memo--the "Torture Memos." Nobody knows what a 8/01 opinion is. That name has never been used to refer to these memos. I will wait to hear what other editors have to say and if there is suport request arbitration on the unexplained, and unsupported, page move.ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 00:46, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

It is surprising to see the page moved to a neologism without discussion. Jonathunder (talk) 04:38, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
I have sent an e-mail to the Arbitration Committee asking them to enforce their probation notice posted on this page. The text of my request can be found on the copy I posted on the talk page of the editor who moved the page without advance notice or explanation. ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 14:19, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
The editor in question voluntarily "undid" the move.ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 15:14, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
It's not a neologism, it was a redirect page back here and is in the lede of the article. The Torture Memos, sometimes called the Bybee Memo or 8/1/02 Interrogation Opinion. Both Bybee Memo and 8/1/02 Interrogation Opinion were redirect pages to this one. Given the equivalent nature, I moved it to the least POV, and the one that didn't have living person in the title. Regardless, I moved it back so you can discuss. I believe "Torture Memo" is highly POV for a main title as it's disputed. Torture should be mentioned in the article as it's a view held by many people but it's not the only view. The move automatically linked Torture Memos to 8/1/02 Interrogation Opinion so a search for Torture Memos would return the same page sans the presumptive title. --DHeyward (talk) 14:50, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
Thank you for the information. The phrase "8/1/02 Interrogation opinion" is an historical artifact. Originally--way back when this page first started, there was only one memo which was secret, known only by news reports of its date. The text and author were still unknown. Only later when a redacted version was published it became called the "Bybee memo," named after the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) attorney who signed it. Later it became clear that Bybee hadn't written it, that John Yoo had, so it morphed into the "Yoo Memo." Still later it became known that there were a series of memos on the subject of what is or is not torture, some by Bybee/Yoo, others by authored by a series of OLC lawyers, and lawyers outside OLC including Defense Department and State Department lawyers. Philip Zelikow, for instance, then Counsellor to former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, wrote a memo contradicting the conclusions of the earlier memos saying essentially "yes it is torture and we shouldn't do it." The White House ordered all copies of Zelikow's memo collected and destroyed (one survived nonetheless). This page now discusses ALL the memos--amending memos, and revocations, and Zelikow's memo, etc. There has been universal agreement on calling them the Torture Memos becuase the subject of them is what is, or is not, torture. Whether or not from an ideological perspective waterboarding is torture one can agree that the subject, the topic, under discusion is torture. ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 15:14, 13 March 2013 (UTC)
Agree with keeping title of this article as "Torture Memos" - this is how they are widely known and were referred to in the media, and it is the topic of the memos. So many related ones were finally revealed, including the March 2003 memo preceding the Iraq invasion, and internal DOD memos for "Special Interrogation Plans" for specific detainees signed by Rumsfeld, that it is important to have one place readers can easily find and refer to. I believe that both the ACLU and NY Times have websites where all the info on the various Torture Memos (and copies) are collected in a similar way.Parkwells (talk) 16:44, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Add other memos?[edit]

This is an opportunity to propose adding all the memos related to torture, e.g., Rumsfeld's various ones for "Special Interrogation Plans" (SIP) for specific prisoners, etc. to this article, or at least as a linked list. (There is no existing article on Special Interrogation Plans.) I have already added to the article the March 14, 2003 by Yoo to DOD, and am inclined to think these others should be as well, since they authorized enhanced interrogation techniques for certain detainees at Guantanamo. It's a central place to have them, or to have a link to a list for all of them. They were significant for many reasons: for instance, evidence gained from Mohammed al-Qahtani under torture authorized by SIPs, in which he named 30 detainees as bodyguards of bin Laden, was used by their CSRTs as evidence to classify the 30 as enemy combatants and keep them in detention; al-Qahtani later recanted all this testimony. Also Defense in 2009 dropped its charges against him for a military commission, deciding that, since his evidence had been obtained under torture, it was inadmissible in court.Parkwells (talk) 17:43, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

Its a good idea--I just wish I knew of a way to organize it coherently. Maybe entrees in See Also? Or a separate paragraph called "Related memos?" Well you've done an excellent job with previous additions to the article so I will leave that in your capable hands.ElijahBosley (talk ☞) 18:26, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

"Enhanced interrogation"[edit]

It is a cruel joke that there are people who actually claim to defend the concept of "enhanced interrogation" techniques. The deliberate use of physical or psychological pain on someone who is detained, for any reason, is, by definition, torture, and there is no debate; it doesn't matter what your "point of view" is. Every single person who defends such behavior is wrong, and that is a fact, as established by every source in existence that references the topic except those biased towards the Bush administration. Here's a tip: It doesn't matter what your justification for torture is, it is still torture. So even if it is justifiable, it is not enhanced interrogation techniques, it is torture, plain and simple. (talk) 09:36, 12 October 2014 (UTC)

Lacking clear links to the text and images of the memos.[edit]

a google search for "lead him to believe that any insect is present which has a" shows that the text of some of these memos is online. We could upload that text to wikisource and link to it. Likewise, all the memos, not just the one memo currently shown as an image within the article would be appropriate images to accompany the article. Clearly the works are covered by {{PD-USGov}}, and that includes a transcribed copy of the text therein, as derivative works. We already link to the memos in the references section, at least. --Elvey(tc) 14:57, 4 August 2015 (UTC)

Furthermore, The official position taken by the Wikimedia Foundation is that "faithful reproductions of two-dimensional public domain works of art are public domain."
--Elvey(tc) 01:23, 5 August 2015 (UTC)