Torture Memos – Should the Bush Administration be Absolved of Responsibility?
Is waterboarding torture? How about “walling” (throwing someone into a wall), or putting insects inside a “confinement box” with someone afraid of insects?
If so, and if charges are ever brought against anyone involved in committing torture, the Obama administration has announced they will be defended by government attorneys.
Four Bush-era memos defending torture where released yesterday, the full text of these memos is available here (pdf).
Following is a statement from the Deparment of Justice:
In connection with ongoing litigation, the Department of Justice today released four previously undisclosed Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) opinions – one that OLC issued to the Central Intelligence Agency in August 2002 and three that OLC issued to the CIA in May 2005.
“The President has halted the use of the interrogation techniques described in these opinions, and this administration has made clear from day one that it will not condone torture,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “We are disclosing these memos consistent with our commitment to the rule of law.”
Holder also stressed that intelligence community officials who acted reasonably and relied in good faith on authoritative legal advice from the Justice Department that their conduct was lawful, and conformed their conduct to that advice, would not face federal prosecutions for that conduct.
The Attorney General has informed the Central Intelligence Agency that the government would provide legal representation to any employee, at no cost to the employee, in any state or federal judicial or administrative proceeding brought against the employee based on such conduct and would take measures to respond to any proceeding initiated against the employee in any international or foreign tribunal, including appointing counsel to act on the employee’s behalf and asserting any available immunities and other defenses in the proceeding itself.
To the extent permissible under federal law, the government will also indemnify any employee for any monetary judgment or penalty ultimately imposed against him for such conduct and will provide representation in congressional investigations.
“It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department,” Holder said.
After reviewing these opinions, OLC has decided to withdraw them: They no longer represent the views of the Office of Legal Counsel.