The Yoo Torture Memo

The Yoo Torture Memo


All 70+ pages of it.

Here’s the gist…

In the March 14, 2003 memo, Yoo says the Constitution was not in play with regard to the interrogations because the Fifth Amendment (which provides for due process of law) and the Eighth Amendment (which prevents the government from employing cruel and usual punishment) does “not extend to alien enemy combatants held abroad.”:

The memo goes on to explain that federal criminal statutes regarding assault and other crimes against the body don’t apply to authorized military interrogations overseas and that statutes that do apply to the conduct of U.S. officials abroad pertaining to war crimes and torture establish a limited obligation on the part of interrogators to refrain from bodily harm.

It also defines the United States’ obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other international treaties prohibiting torture to be confined to ensuring that interrogators do not apply “cruel and unusual punishment” as defined by American constitutional law, regardless of differing international standards.

And it restates the oft-repeated view held by administration officals that the Geneva Conventions, which governs the treatment of prisoners of war, does not apply to members of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

This policy was abandoned about a year later.

Here are the pdfs. Remember, you can enlarge the print by clicking over and going to SlideShare.

Part One:

Part Two:

  • tomsulcer

    Yoo’s torture memo is not one of America’s most impressive accomplishments. Still, it’s important because it highlights a fundamental flaw with our current Constitution which fails to recognize that peacetime and wartime are two substantially different states which require different rules and behavior. In peacetime, there should be a full flourishing of individual rights, freedom to travel, to buy and sell, own property, speak freely. In wartime, however, a nation is fighting for its very survival, and can do a wide range of things to protect itself, including limit speech, seize property for a war making effort, forbid foreign travel, and so forth. During World War II, when the US was faced with perhaps its most serious international challenge, there were all kinds of restrictions placed on citizens, on speech, and so forth. The US was highly socialist during WW2. Of necessity, group rights must rule during times of war provided they function to return the nation to a state of peace (this serves as their source of legitimacy.) I explain this better in my pamphlet on Amazon called Common Sense II: How to Prevent the Three Types of Terrorism by Thomas Wright Sulcer (me).

    Today, I think the political process has broken down to the point where the only possible hope for America is a Second Constitutional convention which I’m summoning for July 2009.