The lawyer authorized these practices in interrogations at CIA black sites after 9/11
“I know what the first paragraph of my obituary will say: John Rizzo, chief legal counsel, legally approved the torture programs.” So six years ago, in an interview with Hill, John Rizzo anticipated his ‘obituary’. But also the headlines in the American newspapers that today announced his death at the age of 73, in the house in Washington, apparently from a heart attack. In fact, the lawyer, who worked for the CIA for 34 years, has never evaded his responsibilities for authorizing secret Central Intelligence prisons around the world after 9/11 and various forms of torture of suspected Islamic terrorists, from the infamous waterboarding to sleep and food deprivation.
“I am the legal architect of the proposed list of techniques and played a key role in obtaining legal approval for their use,” admitted the lawyer once, who also authorized drone strikes against terrorists abroad. , strikes who also killed and wounded countless civilians. As for overseas ‘black sites’, he justified them by the fact that the Pentagon had refused to host them on its military bases. Rizzo assumed from the outset that the morality and legality of what were euphemistically referred to as “enhanced interrogation techniques” would be called into question.
“But times were such that what I thought might just as well have been immoral if we unilaterally rejected the possibility of embarking on a program that could potentially save thousands of American lives,” he explained to Hill. In the event of a new attack after that of the Twin Towers, he argued in 2014 with Der Spiegel, “in the investigation it would have emerged that the CIA had considered these techniques but that it was too averse to the risk of implementing them and that I was the person who had stopped them : I could not have lived with the possibility that this would happen one day ».
Rizzo made sure that the Justice Department stipulated that no American law or foreign treaty would be violated by those terrible techniques and that no person in the service of the CIA could be prosecuted. Only the pain associated with organic deficiencies would have constituted illegal torture. But the fierce controversy that arose after the discovery of those inhuman interrogations cost him his promotion: for seven years he was deputy chief legal officer and then acting chief legal officer of the ministry of justice but when the then President George Bush tried to appoint him ‘general counsel’ the parliamentary opposition forced him to withdraw his appointment. This did not prevent him, when he retired in 2009, from receiving the medal for his “illustrious career” at the CIA. According to the New York Times, Rizzo was “more introspective” than many of his colleagues towards those terribly sadistic techniques and admitted that their long-term effects “have never been explored in their true depth.” But he never regretted it and will go down in history as the “legal father of waterboarding”.