Wednesday, November 26, 2008

torture investigations

Former Justice Department high-level lawyer Jack Goldsmith suggests we not have any more torture investigations beyond the ones underway.

One reason Goldsmith gives for recommending such forbearance is it would make lawyers too cautious in giving advice: "Second-guessing lawyers' wartime decisions under threat of criminal and ethical sanctions may sound like a good idea to those who believe those lawyers went too far in the fearful days after Sept. 11, 2001. But the greater danger now is that lawyers will become excessively cautious in giving advice and will substitute predictions of political palatability for careful legal judgment."


There are few things as clear to any non-Bush lawyer than the fact that torture was illegal under American law, under the military's rules, and under our treaty obligations. The Justice Department lawyers like John Yoo were in fact substituting "predictions of political palatability for careful legal judgment." They KNEW that Dick Cheney and probably George W. Bush WANTED them to find legal justification for indulging in the "dark side" stuff Cheney so fervently advocated. They knew because they'd been told so.

Deciding to forgo torture investigations will just as clearly send the signal that lawyers can make even the most tortured (pardon the pun but it's the right word) legal argument to twist their way into a legal finding that they believe will satisfy their bosses. Just like John Yoo and David Addington did.

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