The Justice Department delivered a classified opinion on Aug. 1, 2002, stating that the U.S. law against torture "prohibits only the worst forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" and therefore permits many others. [Read the opinion] Distributed under the signature of Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee, the opinion also narrowed the definition of "torture" to mean only suffering "equivalent in intensity" to the pain of "organ failure ..... or even death."
When news accounts unearthed that opinion nearly two years later, the White House repudiated its contents. Some officials described it as hypothetical, without disclosing that the opinion was written in response to specific questions from the CIA.
Hmm who might they have been (and might one of them have been under oath at the time ?)
Let's go to the Washington Post to find a someone to whom The Washington Post granted ex poste anonymity.
Text: Ashcroft Comments on Anti-Terror Policy
Tuesday, June 8, 2004; 2:15 PM
U.S. SENATOR ORRIN G. HATCH (R-UT) CHAIRMAN
U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL
OK that's clear. Any lie from Ashcroft is a crime.
Kennedy is trying to ask him about the Bybee memo
ASHCROFT: Senator Kennedy, I'm not going to try and issue hypothetical...
KENNEDY: I'm not asking hypothetical. This is a memoranda that, again, was referred to today in the Post. "August 2002, Justice Department advised the White House that torturing Al Qaida terrorists in captivity abroad may be justified and that international laws against torture may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations." Do you agree with that?
[long back and forth mostly about Ashcroft refusing to hand over memoranda and time runs out]
HATCH: Senator, your time is up.
But if you'd care to answer.
ASHCROFT: Well, I do care to answer because the senator raises very serious issues. And I think they deserve an answer.
I'm not doing anything other than to say that there is a long- established policy reason grounded in national security that indicates that the development and the debate of hypotheses and practice of what can and can't be done by a president in time of war is not good government.
My snips make my reading questionable (check the transcript) but, it seems to me, hat Ashcroft is definitely saying the memoranda were hypothetical and, thus, is lying and a felon.
Gellman and Becker have done a great job, but shouldn't they have named he people who lied in public ?