February 6, Link Copied Our journey toward Abu Ghraib began in earnest with a single document -- written and signed without the knowledge of the American people Reuters On February 7, -- ten years ago to the day, tomorrow -- President George W. This was the day, a milestone on the road to Abu Ghraib : that marked our descent into torture -- the day, many would still say, that we lost part of our soul. Drafted by men like John Yoo , and pushed along by White House counsel Alberto Gonzales , the February 7 memo was sent to all of the key players of the Bush Administration involved in the early days of the War on Terror. All the architects and functionaries who would play a role in one of the darker moments in American legal history were in on it. Vice President Dick Cheney.
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Administration officials responded by releasing hundreds of pages of previously classified documents related to the development of a policy on detainees. Additional documents were released in December and January by the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a civil lawsuit seeking to discover the extent of abuse of prisoners by the military.
Those papers are posted at aclu. Yoo, a University of California law professor who was serving in the department, provided arguments to keep United States officials from being charged with war crimes for the way prisoners were detained and interrogated. The memorandums, principally one written on Jan. That would keep American officials from being exposed to the federal War Crimes Act, a law that carries the death penalty.
Powell said the advantages of applying the Geneva Conventions far outweighed their rejection. He said that declaring the conventions inapplicable would "reverse over a century of U. Gonzales warned that the broad rejection of the Geneva Conventions posed several problems.
The attachment noted that C. Document released by White House. Bybee, with the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department, provided a rationale for using torture to extract information from Qaeda operatives. It provided complex definitions of torture that seemed devised to allow interrogators to evade being charged with that offense.
The Torture Memos, 10 Years Later
In the infamous torture memos of , Yoo and Bybee, authorised "enhanced interrogation" techniques EITs , acts previously recognised by the US as torture — and the same torture methods used on US soldiers to obtain false confessions during the Korean war. In pages of memos, the two justice department legal counsels redefined torture in a manner that required medical monitoring of all EITs, but failed to provide any meaningful provisions to detect medical evidence of torture as defined by them. Moreover, their "good faith" defence against criminal liability for torture rested on two presumptions, that interrogators would not exceed the severe physical and severe and prolonged mental pain thresholds for torture as defined by Yoo and Bybee, and, even if they did, that it would not constitute torture unless these physical and psychological harms were the precise objectives of the interrogators. For more than 20 years, I have been documenting medical evidence of torture and testifying as a medical expert in courts of law.
Main article: Torture Memos After he left the Department of Justice, it was revealed that Yoo had written legal opinions, including co-writing the Torture Memo of August 1, , that narrowly defined torture and American habeas corpus obligations. They authorized what were called enhanced interrogation techniques and were issued to the CIA. Most actions that fall under the international definition did not fall within this new definition advocated by the U. Several top military lawyers, including Alberto J.
A memo on torture to John Yoo
Since the initial revelation of these documents, other communications related to the use of torture to coerce or intimidate detainees during the Bush administration have been divulged. In , Alberto Gonzales testified before Congress that the CIA sought the opinion after having captured Abu Zubaydah in , who was then believed to be a significant al-Qaeda figure who could provide important information to U. Questions by CIA officers over which tactics could be used on the detainee had spurred writing the torture memo,  which is reflected in the language of the memo; "You have asked for this advice in the course of conducting interrogations of Abu Zubaydah. Convention Against Torture and 18 U. It is relied upon heavily by the subsequent "torture memos".
Is John Yoo a Monster?
Many good Americans would like to see him fired, shamed, even imprisoned. But in his classroom at Berkeley School of Law, John Yoo is a charming and patient teacher, popular with students and cordial to all. His face is more like a shield than a face, expressionless and almost perfectly round, but his voice is relaxed and warm. What else? But in the s the U. It lasted an hour, less than a hundred people were killed. Would that meet your standard for a war?