The Other Torture Memo: State Department Releases 2006 Dissent

Philip Zelikow was an aide to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2006 when he wrote a memo dissenting from the Bush Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel opinion that approved various forms of “enhanced interrogation techniques” that most considered forms of torture. Six years later, the State Department has finally made it public.

George Washington University’s National Security Archive and Wired’s Spencer Ackerman both obtained a copy of the memo through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests they filed three years ago. As the National Security Archive explains, the memo “concludes that because they violate the Constitutional ban on ‘cruel and unusual punishment,’ the CIA techniques of ‘waterboarding, walling, dousing, stress positions, and cramped confinement’ were ‘the techniques least likely to be sustained’ by the courts.”Zelikow wrote that they were “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 where the prisoners were presumed to be unlawful combatants.”

The memo did, however, say that techniques like slaps could be sustained as well as nudity, sleep deprivation and liquid diet “depending on the circumstances and details of how these techniques are used.”

Read the full memo below:

Zelikow Feb 15 2006