Justice Memo Backed Torture Interrogations

President's wartime powers override law, document argued
By Laurel Jorgensen,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2008 3:42 AM CDT
An Iraq War demonstrator re-enacts waterboarding torture in a park across from the White House on Wednesday, March 19, 2008, as protesters gathered on the fifth anniversary of the war.    (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
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(Newser) – Laws banning torture and assault should not apply to US military interrogators overseas, argues a 2003 Justice Department memo released yesterday. The Defense Department was told not to rely on the memo nine months after it was issued, but it established a legal foundation for controversial interrogations, the Washington Post reports. The document contends that presidential wartime powers override laws and treaties, and details justifications for using aggressive tactics against suspected terrorists.

Investigators who hurt a prisoner would be protected by a “national and international version of the right to self-defense” because the interrogator would be preventing further attacks against the US, according to the 81-page memo sent to the Pentagon. The director of the ACLU's national security project complained that the document puts "literally no limit to the kinds of interrogation methods that the president can authorize."