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March 11, 2010

It wasn't torture

By Spear's

The issue of whether the techniques reach the American criminal test for torture has never been before a court.

The U.S. Department of Justice has now vindicated the two laywers who gave advice during the Bush administration about the legality of the CIA´s enhanced interrogation techniques. The memos written by John Yoo, now working at the University of California at Berkeley, and by Jay Bybee, now an appeals judge in San Francisco, were heavily criticized by Barack Obama and there was an attempt to impeach both men.

Although it was conceded by Obama that no CIA officers would be pursued for having taken the legal advice approved by the then Attorney-General, the DoJ did investigate the pair of lawyers, but a review has concluded that they weer neither reckless nor guilty of knowingly giving incorrect advice. 

In fact the memos are hedged with all sorts of caveats and stresses that the issue of whether the techniques reach the American criminal test for torture has never been before a court. While the various procedures, including sensory deprivation, muscle distress and waterboarding are undoubtedly torture under the European Court of Human Rights´ definition, the question before the DoJ in 2002 was rather more complex. 

Both lawyers gave their advice in good faith, and the DoJ´s most senior professional, who is not a political appointee, David Margolis, has concluded that Yoo and Bybee have been vindicated. That may not be the end f the matter as some vindictive senators may hold more hearings, but the issue should now be dead.

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