Senate Panel Probes Legality of Torture Memos
Analysis by William Fisher
13 May 09 | IPS
“An ethical train wreck” was the phrase used by one witness to describe the legal reasoning behind the Justice Department’s recently released memos justifying the use of waterboarding and other forms of “enhanced interrogation techniques”.
The phrase came during the testimony of David Luban, a law professor at Georgetown University, before a panel on administrative oversight and the courts subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, chaired the hearing. Whitehouse said the administration of former President George W. Bush inundated the U.S. public in a “near avalanche of falsehood” on the subject of detainee treatment.
“We were told that waterboarding was determined to be legal, but were not told how badly the law was ignored, bastardised and manipulated by the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, nor were we told how furiously government and military lawyers rejected the defective OLC opinions,” Whitehouse said.
The panel also heard from Bush-era State Department counselor Philip Zelikow, who testified that he unsuccessfully dissented from the Justice Department view that harsh interrogation practices were either legal or moral. >>>