Justice Dept Releases John Yoo Torture Memo
The Justice Department today released John Yoo's 2003 torture memo to Congress. This is the infamous memo that the Bush Administration relied on in justifying it's "harsh interrorgation techniques" on prisoners overseas. This was the memo that was in force when the Abu Ghraib detainees were subjected to cruel treatment and torture.
Shorter version: Yoo wrote the Constitution is not in play.
In the March 14, 2003 memo, Yoo says the Constitution was not in play with regard to the interrogations because the Fifth Amendment (which provides for due process of law) and the Eighth Amendment (which prevents the government from employing cruel and usual punishment) does "not extend to alien enemy combatants held abroad.":
The memo goes on to explain that federal criminal statutes regarding assault and other crimes against the body don't apply to authorized military interrogations overseas and that statutes that do apply to the conduct of U.S. officials abroad pertaining to war crimes and torture establish a limited obligation on the part of interrogators to refrain from bodily harm.
The memo also says the Geneva Conventions don't apply al-Qaida and the Taliban. [More...]
Yoo prepared the memo for William Haynes,"then the Pentagon's general counsel and another key player in the administration's legal strategy." Haynes left the job in February after it was disclosed he told a military prosecutor there could be no acquittals in the military commission trials. Bush nominated him for a federal appeals court judgeship. He wasn't confirmed.
Yoo is now a law professor at University of California at Berkeley.
Sen. Patrick Leahy said of today's release:
Today’s declassification of one such memo is a small step forward, but in no way fulfills those requests. The administration continues to shield several memos even from members of Congress.
The memo they have declassified today reflects the expansive view of executive power that has been the hallmark of this administration. It is no wonder that this memo, like the now-infamous “Bybee memo”, could not withstand scrutiny and had to be withdrawn. Like the “Bybee memo”, this memo seeks to find ways to avoid legal restrictions and accountability on torture and threatens our country’s status as a beacon of human rights around the world.
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