When we talk today of the “torture memos,” most of us think about the later memoranda, like the infamous “Bybee Memo” of August 1, Another Tortured Memo from Jay Bybee. Nine years after he left his post as Director of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in the George W. Bush. The Bybee Memo Memorandum for Alberto R. Gonzales We conclude that for an act to constitute torture as defined in Section , it must inflict pain that is .

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Introduction The Bybee Memo is one of a series of memos prepared for the Bush Administration that laid the legal groundwork for the torture of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and at Guantanamo. It seems odd that the administration would bother with legal niceties, but such is the nature of repressive regimes.

Even the Nazi regime did all it could to convince itself that all its actions were “legal”, and as a consequence, the mountains of paperwork they created were of great use to prosecutors at Nuremberg.

For the complete analysis, please see www. After the horrific images from Abu Ghraib became public last year, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld insisted that the world should “judge us by our actions,” and “watch how a democracy deals with the wrongdoing and with scandal and the pain of acknowledging and correcting our own mistakes.

And the picture it will see should the Senate approve the nomination of Mr. Gonzales is the promotion of memoo closely associated with the torture and cruelty the President says he rejects. Gonzales asked the Office of Legal Counsel to prepare legal opinions on interrogation standards under the Convention against Torture as implemented by federal statute and binding international law obligations.

The memo addressed to Gonzales the “Bybee memo” todture as the direct legal underpinning for harsh interrogation tactics employed on individuals detained by the United States in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and at Guantanamo Bay.

The Bybee memo reads largely like a roadmap to circumventing laws against torture.

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Byee it appears that no one involved in these deliberations, including Gonzales, had any misgivings about this legal opinion for nearly two years until it was publicly bjbee. The Bybee memo includes the following conclusions:. In response to the widespread criticism of the Bybee memo, the Department of Justice issued a new memo on Tkrture 30,stating that it superseded the Bybee memo in its entirety, in which the analysis directly addressing the definition of torture was ameliorated.


The memo did not, however, address the OLC’s earlier conclusions that necessity or self-defense might justify torture. At the hearing, Senator Leahy asked Mr.

Gonzales whether he agreed with the Bybee memo’s conclusion that for an act to violate the torture statute, “it must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.

Gonzales refused to disclose any documents related to that memo. Senator Durbin asked Mr.

The Torture Documents – The Rendition Project

Gonzales whether it was legally permissible for US personnel to engage in “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” stripping the prohibition on torture of much meaning as applied to non-citizens detained outside of the United States.

Based on this reservation, Gonzales explained that the United States was “as a legal matter…in compliance” with the prohibition because torutre interrogated by the US outside the United States enjoy no substantive rights under the Fifth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Despite the prodding of Senators from both sides of the aisle, Mr. Gonzales would not opine whether the now infamous conduct at Abu Ghraib was criminal, explaining he did not want to prejudge and jeopardize any prosecutions.

Torture Memos

At the hearing Mr. Gonzales refused to alter his stance that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to the conflict with Al Qaeda, repeatedly arguing that to apply the Conventions would mean that the protections of POW status must follow.

That view is incorrect. Under the Geneva Conventions, an individual must receive a hearing to determine his or her status, after which the individual may be detained and, depending on his or her status, interrogated. Gonzales repeatedly gave the impression that he believed that those not deemed prisoners of war are beyond the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

That view is also incorrect. As the International Committee of the Red Cross has pointed out, Article 4 of the Fourth Geneva Convention provides protected status to those “who find themselves…in the hands of a party to the conflict,” unless they do not meet nationality criteria or are covered by the other Geneva Conventions.


Such detainees “have a label in the law of war conventions” — “civilian,” or “protected person” under the Fourth Convention — even if they are suspected security threats or “unlawful combatants.

Gonzales refused to concede that his advice to deny the protections of the Geneva Conventions to Al Qaeda and the Taliban had any influence on detainee treatment in Iraq. Yet, as Senator Biden pointed out, the Pentagon-appointed Schlesinger Committee found that very determination was used by the commander of occupation forces in Iraq, Lt.

Sanchez, to tortuure interrogation techniques beyond established military practice and that the confusion over the varying interrogation policies led to some of the abuses in Iraq.

Memmo Bybee memo requested by Gonzales stated: Gonzales on a number of occasions his view on this extreme legal position, which would fly in the face of settled separation of powers jurisprudence.

The Torture Memos InMr. The Bybee memo includes the following conclusions: Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.

Instead, a defendant is guilty of torture only if he acts with the express purpose of inflicting severe pain or suffering on a person within his custody or physical control. The Geneva Conventions At the hearing Mr. Presidential Power The Bybee memo requested by Gonzales stated: Gonzales stated that the President could invoke his authority as Commander-in-Chief to conclude that a law was unconstitutional and refuse to comply with it. When pressed in greater detail as to whether or not the President had the authority to order interrogations that violate criminal laws prohibiting torture, Mr.

Gonzales continually responded that such questions were hypothetical because the President does not condone torture. Gonzales refused to provide a copy of, or reveal the legal conclusions of a March 13, memo on the President’s authority to transfer captive terrorists to the control and custody of foreign nations.

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