DOJ lawyers sought to limit interrogation tactics but agreed on legality: NYT

[JURIST] Several senior officials working in the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] in the Bush administration sought to limit uses of so-called enhanced interrogation tactics [JURIST news archive] but broadly agreed on the legality of the tactics, according to internal DOJ emails [texts] made public by the New York Times on Saturday. The memos were written by the then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey [official profile; JURIST news archive]. In emails written to then-chief of staff Chuck Rosenberg [law firm profile], Comey talked about having voiced strong concerns about the effects of combined usage of enhanced interrogation techniques,

saying the analysis was flawed and that I had great reservations. . . The AG explained that he was under great pressure from the Vice President to complete both memos, and that the President had even raised it last week, apparently at the VP's request and the AG had promised they would be ready early this week.
Comey emailed that he was also afraid that
the people who were applying pressure now [to authorize the techniques] would not be there when the proverbial [omitted] hit the fan. Rather they would simply say they had only asked for an opinion. It would be Alberto Gonzalez in the bullseye. I told him that my job was to protect the Department and the AG and that I could not agree to this because it was wrong. I told him it could be made right in a week, which was a blink of an eye, and that nobody would understand at a hearing three years from now why we didn't take that week.
The email messages are now part of an ongoing investigation by the DOJ's Office of Professional Responsibility [official website] of the department lawyers who approved the interrogation tactics. In May, a coalition of progressive organizations filed complaints seeking to disbar [materials, JURIST report] 12 of those former officials. UN Special Rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak has insisted [JURIST report] that under international law, the US must prosecute the DOJ lawyers who drafted the memos.

 

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