Torture Memos

The Torture Memos, sometimes called the Bybee Memo or 8/1/02 Interrogation Opinion, was a term originally applying to a set of three legal memoranda drafted by John Yoo as Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the United States and signed by Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee, head of the Office of Legal Counsel of the United States Department of Justice. They advised the Central Intelligence Agency, the United States Department of Defense, and the president on the use of enhanced interrogation techniques: mental and physical torment and coercion such as prolonged sleep deprivation, binding in stress positions, and waterboarding, and stated that such acts widely regarded as torture might be legally permissible under an expansive interpretation of presidential authority during the "War on Terror".

Following accounts of the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq, one of the memos was leaked to the press in June 2004. Jack Goldsmith, then head of the Office of Legal Counsel, had already withdrawn the memos by Bybee and Yoo, and advised agencies not to rely on them. He resigned that month without completing replacement of the legal opinions. In December 2004, another head of OLC had reaffirmed the original legal opinions.

In 2008 another related memo by Yoo was revealed during a Senate investigation; it was written and issued by Yoo, as acting head of OLC, to the Department of Defense on March 14, 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq beginning March 19. It concluded "that federal laws against torture, assault and maiming would not apply to the overseas interrogation of terror suspects". The legal opinion had been requested by William J. Haynes, General Counsel of the U.S. Department of Defense. It was used by DOD to "justify harsh interrogation practices on terror suspects at Guantánamo Bay" and the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse.

In May 2005 the CIA requested new legal opinions about the interrogation techniques it was using. The OLC issued three memos that month, signed by Steven G. Bradbury, ruling on the legality of the authorized techniques if agents followed certain constraints.

In addition to these memos issued by the OLC to executive agencies, internal memos were written related to the use of torture in interrogation of detainees; for instance, in 2002 and 2003, Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense, signed several memos authorizing "Special Interrogation Plans" for specific detainees held at Guantanamo Bay in an attempt to gain more information from them.

All of these memoranda have been the focus of considerable controversy over executive power, government practices, and the treatment of detainees during the Bush administration. They were repudiated by President Barack Obama on January 22, 2009, shortly after he took office.

Read more about Torture MemosThe Torture Memos, OLC Head Jack Goldsmith's Withdrawal of The Torture Memos, Revised Opinion, December 2004, Additional Related Memos, Revised Opinions, 2009, President Obama Repudiates The Torture Memos, Responses To The Torture Memos, See Also

Other articles related to "torture, torture memos, memos, memo":

Ali Soufan - Post FBI Career - Senate Testimony
... testified in front the Senate Judicial Committee for their hearing on torture ... followed Obama's declassification of what is known as the "torture memos," and Soufan's testimony was essentially the same as an op-ed he authored for The New York Times on April 22 ... statement contradicts the one made in the "torture memos" which were intent on making a legal case in favor of and justification for the use of "harsh interrogation" ...
The Interrogation of Abu Zubaydah - The Torture Memos - Opposition Within The Bush Administration
... The memos were opposed by members of the White House and Congress ... Upon reading the August 1, 2002, memo which justified the torture, Zelikow authored his own memo contesting the Justice Department's conclusions, since he believed they were legally incorrect ... to collect all of the copies of Zelikow's memo and destroy them ...

Famous quotes containing the word torture:

    It is cruelty to children to keep five-year-olds sitting still, gazing into vacancy even for one hour at a time. We have little idea of the torture we thus inflict.
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