Campaign 2010

Jun 23, 2004

Blunting Allegations?

Is that what you call this?

President Bush claimed the right to waive anti-torture laws and treaties covering prisoners of war after the invasion of Afghanistan, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized guards to strip detainees and threaten them with dogs, according to documents released Tuesday.


The documents were handed out at the White House in an effort to blunt allegations that the administration had authorized torture against al Qaeda prisoners from Afghanistan and Iraq. “I have never ordered torture,” Bush said a few hours before the release.


The Justice Department, meanwhile, disavowed a memo written in 2002 that appeared to justify the use of torture in the war on terror. The memo also argued that the president’s wartime powers superseded anti-torture laws and treaties.


That 50-page document, dated Aug. 1, 2002, will be replaced, senior Justice Department officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. A new memo will instead narrowly address the question of proper interrogation techniques for al Qaeda and Taliban detainees, the officials said, citing department policy for requesting anonymity on their comments.

Update: Do read Froomkin’s analysis.

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