News Release

Newly Disclosed Torture Memo


The Washington Post reports today in its lead story, about a 2003 Justice Department memo: “Sent to the Pentagon’s general counsel on March 14, 2003, by John C. Yoo, then a deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the memo provides an expansive argument for nearly unfettered presidential power in a time of war. It contends that numerous laws and treaties forbidding torture or cruel treatment should not apply to U.S. interrogations in foreign lands because of the president’s inherent wartime powers.”

Cassel, who debated Yoo in 2005, is director of Notre Dame Law School’s Center for Civil and Human Rights. He said today: “This newly disclosed memo confirms that John Yoo inflicted his legal theory, that the Commander in Chief can do anything in wartime, not only on the CIA, but on the Pentagon as well. Yet when the Justice Department revoked the Yoo memos, it expressly declined to address that theory. It is high time for the Justice Department to repudiate Yoo’s pernicious doctrine, once and for all.”
More Information

Here is an excerpt from the debate, held on Dec. 1, 2005:

Cassel: “If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?”
Yoo: “No treaty.”
Cassel: “Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.”
Yoo: “I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that.”

Audio is available online.

Further background on Yoo is also available online.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167