DOJ: “Ashamed” by More Torture Opinions
The New York Times reveals more dark goings on at the Justice Department. After publicly taking torture off the table, the DOJ came up with legal justifications to allow the CIA to use the harshest techniques. Read the whole story. How soon will the presidential candidates weigh in on this outrage?
Secret U.S. Endorsement of Severe Interrogations
By SCOTT SHANE, DAVID JOHNSTON and JAMES RISEN
WASHINGTON, Oct. 3 — When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.
But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The new opinion, the officials said, for the first time provided explicit authorization to barrage terror suspects with a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures.
Mr. Gonzales approved the legal memorandum on “combined effects” over the objections of James B. Comey, the deputy attorney general, who was leavinghis job after bruising clashes with the White House. Disagreeing with what he viewed as the opinion’s overreaching legal reasoning, Mr. Comey told colleagues at the department that they would all be “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of it.
Later that year, as Congress moved toward outlawing “cruel, inhuman and degrading” treatment, the Justice Department issued another secret opinion, one
most lawmakers did not know existed, current and former officials said. The Justice Department document declared that none of the C.I.A. interrogation methods violated that standard.
HRF Board Member Admiral John Hutson is quoted later in the piece explaining how these legal opinions authorizing torture undermine not only our values, but our security:
John D. Hutson, who served as the Navy’s top lawyer from 1997 to 2000, said he believed that the existence of legal opinions justifying abusive treatment is ernicious, potentially blurring the rules for Americans handling prisoners.
“I know from the military that if you tell someone they can do a little of this for the country’s good, some people will do a lot of it for the country’s better,” Mr. Hutson said. Like other military lawyers, he also fears that official American acceptance of such treatment could endanger Americans in the future.
“The problem is, once you’ve got a legal opinion that says such a technique is O.K., what happens when one of our people is captured and they do it to him? How do we protest then?” he asked.