No comfort in obeying bad law
can think of nothing that can more devastatingly undercut America's standing in
the world or, more important, our view or ourselves....
Gregg, national security adviser to President George H.W Bush, on legal
decisions that torture, can be justified
Seattle P-I, June
Looking angry and clearly frustrated,
President Bush leaned across the lecturn at a news conference Thursday in
response to a question of whether torture is ever justified. "Look, I'm going to say it one more time," the
president snapped, "The instructions went out to our people to adhere to the
law. That ought to comfort you."
Bush's remarks were hardly comforting.
What comfort is there in assurances that Bush would adhere to the law after
Justice Department lawyers wrote the president memos saying the law allowed him
to authorize the use of torture?
Donald Gregg, a former CIA
officer and national security adviser to the first President Bush, wrote in The
New York Times Thursday, "These memos cleared the way for the horrors that have
been revealed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo and make a mockery of
administration assertions that a few misguided enlisted personnel perpetrated
the vile abuse of prisoners."
The president's verbal parsing about
"the law" is more disingenuous and far more dangerous than his predecessor’s
machinations over "sexual relationship" and "what is is," because it implies
that for Bush the law is what he says it is.
One vigorous dissenter to the memos was State
Department legal adviser William H. Taft IV, who warned that a decision to employ
torture "deprives our troops there of any claim to the protection of the
[Geneva] Conventions in the event they are captured."
there's any comfort to be found here, it's in the fact that such voices of
reasoned dissent exist within the administration.