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Torture in Public View

Does it make any difference that journalists already revealed many of the torture details? Does that justify the release of the torture memos? It's a puzzling issue that factors into our on-air debate today.

The White House believes it does make a difference. On ABC's "This Week," Rahm Emanuel, President Obama's chief of staff, defended the administration's decision to release the so-called torture memos along these lines. He said the information was already in circulation, and cited by name The New York Review of Books. Emanuel was referring to, among other things, Mark Danner's new article.

In fact, if you were looking for chapter and verse on the torture question prior to Obama's moves last week, you could go straight to The New Yorker's Jane Mayer, who has published some of the facts now retroactively confirmed and supplemented by the government memos. Her book, "The Dark Side," is a scathing indictment of the whole "war on terror" legal apparatus.

By the way, one of the legal architects of the early "war on terror"  interrogation techniques is John Yoo, who has appeared on On Point. He told Tom Ashbrook, “The original vision of the US Constitution is very flexible in wartime.” And he defended his gloves-off legal views: “The way we approach war has to change because the nature of war is new.”

This program aired on April 20, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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