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Torture and the President

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Matthew Yglesias distills some of the discussion on the torture memo.

Obviously, this is troubling for two reasons. First, the administration is apparently doing its darndest to figure out how to legally torture people. Just handing suspects over to authoritarian regimes like we’ve been doing apparently isn’t good enough; we have to do it ourselves. Of course, I suppose that we have good reason to doubt that the info that the Pakistani and Jordanian regimes supply us with is suspect since they are, you know, authoritarian regimes that torture people.

I think Tacitus may be right, though, that the second problem is more troubling than the first. The legal reasoning behind the torture memo, as I understand it, is that American torturers are not accountable to international treaties or even US law because the President has the ability to set aside these restrictions in certain circumstances. In other words, the President can decide, in confidence, to refuse to obey the laws of the United States. If I’m misreading, let me know.

Jon Stewart’s treatment of the issue last night was nothing short of outstanding. I very much loved Joe Biden’s response to Ashcroft’s evasiveness; he seemed genuinely pissed, as he should be.

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