Campaign 2010

Jun 08, 2004

How to Cover a Giant Lie

The Washington Post doesn’t seem to know exactly how to cover Ashcroft’s explanation of the memo /non-memo reported on earlier in today’s Post.  You see there is no memo.  And he can’t comment on it:

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft told Congress today that he would not release to members a 2002 policy memo on the degree of pain and suffering legally permitted during enemy interrogations, but he said he knows of no presidential order that would allow torture for al Qaeda captives.

Angry Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee called on Ashcroft to provide the document, saying leaked portions that have appeared in news reports suggest the Bush administration is reinterpreting U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions prohibiting torture.

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the memo on interrogation techniques permissible for the CIA to use “appears to be an effort to redefine torture and narrow prohibitions against it.” The draft document was prepared by the Justice Department’s office of legal policy for White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales.


“There is no presidential order immunizing torture,” Ashcroft told the panel. Nor, he said, is there any other presidential order that contradicts President Bush’s statement that al Qaeda captives should be treated in a manner consistent with the Geneva Conventions, even if the conventions do not apply to such prisoners.

Ashcroft said he would not discuss the contents of the memo and said he would not turn it over to the committee.

There is no such memo, and no he can’t turn it over.

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