Ashcroft involved with torture memos: Bush administration lawyers

[JURIST] Controversial US interrogation policies outlined in two 2002 and 2003 memoranda [PDF texts; JURIST report] were reviewed by top Department of Justice (DOJ) officials, including former Attorney General John Ashcroft [official profile], according to two former Bush administration officials testifying before the House Judiciary Committee [official website] Thursday. The documents advised the Department of Defense (DOD) that the military could use a wide range of interrogation methods to question foreign detainees outside the US without fear of criminal liability or constitutional limitations. Vice Presidential chief of staff David Addington and former DOJ lawyer John Yoo [profiles] denied that the memos were written without Ashcroft's knowledge or input. Addington did not prepare formal testimony [background documents, PDF], but told the panel that he would not be responsible for US interrogation policy if a court later found it to be illegal. Yoo, who wrote the 2002 memorandum, told the Committee [PDF text]:

In facing the questions that were posed to us, we appropriately kept in mind that the homeland of the United States had been attacked by a dangerous, unconventional enemy. But we did not make policy, and we called the legal questions as we saw them.
Also Thursday, lawyer Christopher Schroeder [academic profile] testified before the committee that some of the advice in the memoranda was based on inaccurate interpretations of the law [PDF text]. The New York Times has more.

In May, Yoo agreed to testify voluntarily, but the committee subpoenaed Addington [JURIST report] after he repeatedly refused to appear. In April, Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) threatened to seek subpoenas [materials; JURIST report] to compel Addington and other current and former administration officials, including Ashcroft, to testify about the memos.

 

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