TPMMuckraker | Talking Points Memo | Today’s Must Read
More than five years after its composition, we finally see a copy of John Yoo’s March 14, 2003 memo to William Haynes, then the Defense Department’s general counsel. It was, as The New York Times and Washington Post report, a green light for military interrogators to use just about any technique the Pentagon deemed useful. Criminal statutes prohibiting torture stopped at the water’s edge, because, Yoo wrote, “such criminal statutes, if they were misconstrued to apply to the interrogation of enemy combatants, would conflict with the Constitution’s grant of Commander in Chief power solely to the President.”
As Thomas J. Romig, who was then the Army’s judge advocate general, tells the Post, “it appears to argue there are no rules in a time of war.” As Marty Lederman, a former lawyer at OLC writes, “it is, in effect, the blueprint that led to Abu Ghraib and the other abuses within the armed forces in 2003 and early 2004.”
I could do another rant about this–I’m still struggling to understand why Abu Ghraib didn’t bring the Bush regime down, honestly–but one of the TPM reader comments really captures it concisely:
This is genuinely chilling. What shocks the conscience is that a legal scholar from one of our most prestigious institutions of law and higher learning could in his own mind on behalf of a government seeking to find a way around legal obstacles offer the same banal rationale for perpetrating unspeakable acts of torture and cruel treatment as all other totalitarian regimes: The ends justify the means. Why? Because someone cloaked with authority says it does.