OPINION: Legal protection for torturers

Torture’s paper trail

Last week, the New York Times published a front-page article describing two legal memoranda issued secretly by the Bush Administration in 2005 that purported to provide guidance regarding the legality of CIA interrogation methods. What the memos said, specifically, was that certain CIA practices did not violate the law.

I emphasize the “purported” purpose of the memos because I think their true purpose was quite different. Rather than giving objective guidance that would assist CIA officials in conforming their conduct to legal standards, the memos were actually meant to provide legal cover for conduct that violated fundamental legal norms.

The real purpose of the memos was, in short, to immunize US officials from prosecution for abusive conduct. They were meant to facilitate abuses, not to prevent them. [complete article]

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