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Friday, December 31, 2004

torture is abhorrent

once upon a time our potential new attorney general wrote a memo to the president on the subject of torture.

hearings to confirm mr. gonzales are scheduled to begin in several days.

in the meantime, daniel levin, in his capacity as acting assistant attorney general has put his name to another memo [mirrored here], which superceeds the august 2002 memo, and in which we find the following:

Torture is abhorrent both to american law and values and to international norms. This universal repudiation of torture is reflected in our criminal law, for example 18 U.S.C. ยงยง 2340-2340A; international agreements, exemplified by the United Nations Convention Against Torture (the “CAT”); customery international law, centuries of Anglo-American law; and the longstanding policy of the United States, repeatedly and recently affirmed by the President.


Two final points on the issue of specific intent: First, specific intent must be distinguished from motive. There is no exception under the statute permitting torture to be used for a “good reason.” Thus, a defendant’s motive (to protect national security, for example) is not relevant to the question whether he has acted with the requisite specific intent under the statute.

[emphasis is mine]. this is huge. normally you have to wait for the ponderous checks-and-balances effect to reverse administrative thinking at this sort of level – the courts have to step in. they’re starting to, to be sure, but to have an executive department flip-flop like this (to borrow a campaign phrase), particularly under the presumed tight control of the bush white house, seems to be to be a pretty extraordinary event.

i can only imagine this new document has been in the works for some time (the august 2002 memo having been “withdrawn” in june 2004), and having been through what appears to be a fairly extensive review process, including the criminal division of the doj. however long this has been in the works, it is a general repudiation of the “torture greenlight” provided by the ashcroft department of justice, and its release prior to the confirmation hearings for alberto gonzales as ashcroft’s replacement makes this something to note.

posted by roj at 2:16 pm  

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Artie Shaw


posted by roj at 5:05 pm  

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Jerry Orbach


posted by roj at 7:36 am  

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Donald Hollowell

civil rights

posted by roj at 7:35 am  

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Alexander Marshack

maverick anthropology

posted by roj at 10:45 am  

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Hank Garland


posted by roj at 10:42 am  

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Eddie Layton

yankee organ

posted by roj at 10:41 am  

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Susan Sontag

social critic?

posted by roj at 5:12 pm  

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Richard Beckman


posted by roj at 7:53 am  

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Jonathan Drummond-Webb

savior of hearts

posted by roj at 11:09 pm  
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