Sunday, December 19, 2004

Torture Memos 

Some of you may recall my indignity surrounding all the torture memos that come out last spring and. Those were the memos that came out of the OLC, the DOD and the WH counsel's office. I was pretty hard in particular on Jack Goldsmith, who was assumed to have been the author of the OLC one, along with John Yoo. Yoo then defended the memos in, I think, the LA Times, and, in light of that, I think he still does deserve the scorn I heaped on him. However, it seems that Goldsmith may not have been the international law maverick and immoral desk jockey I painted him as. Newsweek has a new article posted, on Al Gonzalez and his upcoming confirmation hearing. I've bolded the relevant part:
Last June, Gonzales indicated he no longer held some of the extreme views of the president's "unlimited" powers first laid out in this memo. Amid the furor over the Abu Ghraib Prison photos that depicted Iraqis being abused and humiliated by U.S. soldiers, Gonzales insisted to reporters that the "torture" memo of Aug. 1 and other documents then making headlines were little more than "irrelevant" legal theorizing. It is not surprising why Gonzales was distancing himself: the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility recently launched an investigation into the origins of the Aug. 1 memo. The probe will look into whether the lawyers were irresponsible in pushing beyond the normal boundaries of advocacy. In a tense meeting last June, Jack Goldsmith, then head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, told Gonzales he was withdrawing the Aug. 1 memo. Goldsmith then resigned-at least partly due to his discomfort about the memo. It was only then that Gonzales decided to distance himself from it. (Goldsmith declined to comment.)
So, while I wish Goldsmith would have then written an op-ed about this so he could not only get on the record but also so he could have used his position to out some more pressure on the executive branch to stop these practices, I do owe him an apology (not that he reads this (duh), but people who know him do read this).
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