Justice Department Continued to Endorse Possible Torture in Secret Memo

A new report shows that the Bush Administration may have continued its endorsement of tactics viewed as torture in secret despite public claims to the contrary. Among the many reversals of this Administration, the public repudiation of the infamous “torture memo” signed by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was one of the most embarrassing. The memo not only endorsed the use of acts defined as torture under international law but suggested that federal officials could violate federal law under orders from President Bush. After a domestic and international outcry, the White House insisted that it was a mistake and Gonzales said that he never really read the memo. (This was part of his signature empty-suit defense used in countless scandals). Now, the New York Times is reporting that secretly the Justice Department distributed a memo after Gonzales arrived as Attorney General that endorses the very same “rough tactics” encompassed by the torture memo. The only difference is that they were careful to hide this copy while saying in public that they had changed their position. Notably, the secret memo was promulgated over the objections James B. Comedy, the deputy attorney general, who told colleagues that they would all be “ashamed” when the world eventually learned of it.
What is distressing is how nothing appears enough to get the Democrats to make civil liberties and constitutional rights a true priority. They are willing to go to the mat over health care but not habeas corpus. Instead, the so called prohibition on torture passed by Sen. McCain and others was so watered down that it became a de facto endorsement of torture like water boarding. “Harsh interrogations” are clearly endorsed in the secret memo. The new disclosure once again shows a deep dishonesty running through this administration. If the President believes in torture and wants “tough tactics” to be his legacy, he should defend this position publicly. Instead, the Administration has again used secrecy to adopt a position in private that is starkly opposed to the one taken before Congress and the public. For the full story, click here