Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Saturday Backstory on the Torture Memo

The Justice Department has at last declassified and turned over to the ACLU the infamous John Yoo torture memos. WaPo has more on the news.

Georgetown Law School professor Marty Lederman has the memos (Part 1 here; Part 2 here) and the fascinating back story:
On Friday, March 13, 2003, Jay Bybee resigned from his Office as the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, to become a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The very next day -- a Saturday, mind you -- John Yoo, merely a Deputy AAG in the Office, issued his notorious memo to the Pentagon, on behalf of OLC, which effectively gave the Pentagon the green light to disregard statutory limits on torture, cruelty and maltreatment in the treatment of detainees. This is the version of the 2002 Torture memo, which was addressed only to the CIA and the torture statute, as applied to the numerous statutes restricting the conduct of the armed forces. None of those statues, you see, limits the conduct of war if the President says so. It is, in effect, the blueprint that led to Abu Ghraib and the other abuses within the armed forces in 2003 and early 2004.
CBS's "60 Minutes" already has documented the kind of atrocities the Yoo memo led to. Glenn Greenwald adds a small snippet from Yoo claiming it's legal for the president to order the crushing of a child's testicles. Then he asks --
If writing memoranda authorizing torture -- actions which then directly lead to the systematic commission of torture -- doesn't make one a war criminal in the U.S., what does?
04-02 pm
Scott Horton has more.
04-03 am
Marty Liederman has a correction and an apology.

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