A Low Point for Diplomacy: State Department Lawyer Won’t Condemn Waterboarding

Now the State Department’s top lawyer is sounding like Judge Mukasey and the rest of the torture crowd. Looks like he’s subject to the Bush Administration’s torture litmus test, too. Here’s the report from The Guardian:

The top legal adviser within the US state department, who counsels the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, on international law, has declined to rule out the use of the interrogation technique known as waterboarding even if it were applied by foreign intelligence services on US citizens.

And here’s the actual quote from John Bellinger on the subject of waterboarding:

“Well, I’m not willing to include it or exclude it. Our justice department has concluded that we just don’t want to get involved in abstract discussions.”

So, the Justice Department has decided it would rather not talk about waterboarding and the rest of the Administration falls into line, right down to the man whose job it is to interpret international law for the Secretary of State and the country. Note that these remarks were made while Bellinger was in the U.K. and they are making news there. There should be no doubt that the Bush Administration’s flawed policies on torture are costing us our reputation, even with one of our closest allies. This is certainly not a great day for American diplomacy.


Published on November 5, 2007


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