5.03.2009

Sen. Patrick Leahy: Lifting the Bush-era veil of secrecy

Form Patrick Leahy:

THE OBAMA administration's decision to release more Bush-era memoranda, which sought to rationalize torture, shows that President Obama is following through on his promise to ban torture and to provide transparency to our government. The Bush-Cheney administration not only broke the law, it shattered the public trust and undermined America's reputation around the world.

[snip]

The techniques are wrong and their supposed legal rationale is just as bad. The idea that the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel would be used to contort our laws on subjects as serious as torture is appalling. The rationalization of these memos showed a willingness to ignore legal requirements as long as there is no clear mechanism of enforcement. These memoranda seem calculated to provide legal cover - a legal free pass - for these unlawful policies. The Justice Department was apparently being used to immunize government officials to conduct torture by defining it down and building in legal loopholes.

[snip]

Unfortunately, former top Bush administration officials continue to use fear tactics to resist the Obama administration's effort to restore America's standing in the word. To see a former attorney general refer to our treaties, statutes, and the Constitution as matters of "political fashion" is to return to the discredited days when White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales called the Geneva Convention "quaint." Arguing that revealing the withdrawn memoranda gives terrorists a leg up is a red herring that has been too often used by the past administration.

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