[JURIST] In the first hearing [materials] on whether Bush administration interrogation techniques constituted torture, one witness before the Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Oversight and the Courts [official website] on Wednesday called memos on enhanced interrogation methods "an ethical train wreck" and another witness claimed that the methods were not effective. Georgetown law professor David Luban [academic profile] testified [testimony]:
Unfortunately, the interrogation memos fall far short of professional standards of candid advice and independent judgment. They involve a selective and in places deeply eccentric reading of the law. The memos cherry-pick sources of law that back their conclusions, and leave out sources of law that do not. They read as if they were reverse engineered to reach a pre-determined outcome: approval of waterboarding and the other CIA techniques.Ali Soufan, who interrogated terrorists, called the enhanced interrogation methods [testimony] "ineffective, slow and unreliable." Former Counselor of the Department of State and executive director of the 9/11 Commission Phillip Zekilow testified [testimony, PDF] that although he was unable to determine whether Justice Department lawyers acted unethically or improperly in writing the memos, he believed that "some of their legal opinions on this subject were unsound, even unreasonable." St. Mary's law professor Jeffrey Addicott [academic profile] testified [testimony] that none of the enhanced interrogation techniques meet the internationally accepted definition of torture. Addicott recently wrote on the topic for JURIST [JURIST op-ed]. Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official profile] stated [text] that federal judge Jay Bybee [official profile] had declined Leahy's request [JURIST report] to testify at the hearing.
The recent release of four CIA interrogation memos [JURIST report] has renewed calls for the criminal prosecution of the memos' authors. Last month, UN special rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak [official profile, DOC] said that the US must prosecute [JURIST report] DOJ lawyers who drafted the memos. US President Barack Obama has said that he would not rule out the possibility of prosecuting [transcript; JURIST report] lawyers responsible for authoring the memos. Obama had previously said that he would not pursue prosecutions of CIA interrogators [statement], a pledge which drew sharp international criticism [JURIST report].