Feature

Lawyers okayed torture

The week's news at a glance.

Washington, D.C.

Bush administration lawyers concluded last year that torturing terrorists captured abroad might be justified to prevent future attacks, The Wall Street Journal reported this week. In any case, Pentagon lawyers wrote in a March 2003 memo, neither U.S. law nor international treaties prevented President Bush from approving any interrogation techniques he deemed necessary for national security. “In order to respect the president’s inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign,” the memo states, the prohibition against torture “must be construed as inapplicable.” The logic outraged human rights groups. “It is by leaps and bounds the worst thing I’ve seen since this whole Abu Ghraib scandal broke,” said Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch. White House officials said that, despite the legal advice, Bush ordered the military to treat all prisoners humanely—even al Qaida terrorists.

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