Torture Memos

Ken AshfordWar on Terrorism/TortureLeave a Comment

More on the torture memos. On this blog, I have been focussing on the Draft Walker Group Memo, but of course, there are others. has a good analysis of the Bybee Memo. It also has a good analysis of the Draft Walker Group Memo. Although, really, all you need to know is that both memos consider torture to be legal and justified in the guise of (a) the nation’s self-defense/national security interests, and/or (b) the President’s (supposedly) sweeping powers as Commander-in-Chief.

The Bybee memo, available here in PDF format, is interesting in its appendix, starting at page 47. The appendix lists several U.S. cases in which U.S. courts have concluded that the defendant tortured the plaintiff. Reading the descriptions of those cases (and the torture involved), it is hard to see a distinction between those examples, and what we have been hearing about from Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. Yet, the DOJ memos certainly ignore the obvious similarities.

It’s sad when Jay Leno makes more sense than our best government lawyers:

According to the New York Times, last year White House lawyers concluded that President Bush could legally order interrogators to torture and even kill people in the interest of national security – so if that’s legal, what the hell are we charging Saddam Hussein with?

Good question.