Friday, February 22, 2008

Terror law revisited

Protecting America's protectors
Washington Times, Feb. 21, 2008, at A14.

I don't think anyone in his right mind can think waterboarding is not torture. However, that is not the issue. The issue is whether those charged with gathering intelligence, at any cost, will be thrown under the bus for political expediency ("Mukasey's skillful evasions on torture," Op-Ed, Monday).

One need not go any further than reading former Attorney General John Ashcroft's book "Never Again" or the books written by John Yoo or Jack Goldsmith (both principals in the Office of Legal Counsel) to know that shortly after September 11, Mr. Ashcroft was instructed that this cannot happen again -- not "try your best," but "never again."

Those in the field actually gathering intelligence want assurances that another administration, Obama, Clinton or even McCain, in another climate would not charge them criminally. Those assurances came from the Office of Legal Counsel.

So for Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to come out now and say waterboarding is torture, and therefore illegal, he would in effect be handing down indictments on men and women who did the dirty job of protecting us from further attack. He cannot do that.