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Friday, November 18, 2005

The Case for Torture


This is an excerpt from a CBC news documentary on the torture that the United States continues to engage in. The weasel-ese this gentlemen spews speaks volumes of the moral currency of the US. How long before the rest of the United States sponsored terrorism comes to light. How long must the injustice be doubled…then redoubled a thousand times before people are moved to act? I’ve got nothing else on this one at the moment. How a purportedly ‘civilized’ nation can still unabashedly raise its head and trumpet its values?

** I've decided to edit out the rest of the post. Just the first paragraphs of the interview will be in this version. I have also edited out last sentence of my introduction because on second reflection, it was too venomous. It is just very frustrating to see the great potential of a nation used to cause so much pain and injustice. **

JOHN YOO INTERVIEW

Gillian Findlay: I WANT TO GO BACK TO THE MEMO YOU WROTE IN AUGUST 1ST, THE INFAMOUS AUGUST 1ST MEMO. CAN YOU GIVE ME THE CONTEXT FOR THAT? WHY AT THAT PARTICULAR TIME WAS THERE A DESIRE –
John Yoo: I can't talk about that.
Gillian Findlay: WHY NOT?
John Yoo: Because it's classified.
Gillian Findlay: YOU CAN'T JUST EXPLAIN, GIVE A BROAD CONTEXT AS TO –
John Yoo: About why it was asked?
Gillian Findlay: WHY, YES, EXACTLY.
John Yoo: No, I can't.
Gillian Findlay: CAN YOU TELL ME IF IT HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH Mr. AL QAHTANI, WHO WAS BEING DETAINED AT –
John Yoo: I can't, although if you look at the details of the memos, the memos that have to do with people held at Guantanamo Bay are a different question, right? Those were handled by a Defence Department working group in the spring of 2003, I believe. And this is much earlier, this is over a year earlier, almost a year earlier.
Gillian Findlay: SO CAN YOU THEN SAY IT WASN'T RELATED TO Mr. AL QUAHTANI? WE'RE TRYING TO UNDERSTAND IF THERE WAS A LINK THERE.
John Yoo: I can't.
Gillian Findlay: YOU CAN'T?
John Yoo: No.
Gillian Findlay: THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN TELL US?
John Yoo: It's all, it's classified. If the government decides to release it, then I could talk about it. But they just, they have not.
Gillian Findlay: WHEN YOU WERE ASKED TO LOOK AT THIS QUESTION, YOU ENDED UP WITH A DEFINITION OF TORTURE EQUIVALENT IN INTENSITY TO THE PAIN ACCOMPANYING SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURY SUCH AS ORGAN FAILURE, IMPAIRMENT OF BODILY FUNCTION OR EVEN DEATH. DO YOU NOT THINK WHEN YOU SAY THINGS LIKE THAT, YOU WRITE THINGS LIKE THAT IN THE CONTEXT THAT YOU WERE WRITING, THAT THAT OPENS THE DOOR TO THE KINDS OF ABUSE THAT WE HAVE SEEN?
John Yoo: You have to figure out what the law says and again, I think there is an important difference between law and policy. And so I think there is a legal question that has to be answered and I think it's a hard question. Don't get me wrong. What the word "torture" means when it's undefined by federal statutes is a hard question. It's never, that statute had never been interpreted by the executive branch, by courts, prosecutors, by anybody.So I think it's a hard legal question. That's a different question in my mind than about whether, what kinds of policies ought to be drafted and shaped within the law. And I think factors like, will there be likely abuses to occur or not are certainly things policy makers should think about when they decide what policies to adopt. But it should not, it seems to me, change the legal analysis or the legal conclusion about what Congress has and has not prohibited.
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I need to find a lighter topic for next post.

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