Torture Memos

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photoLast week, the watchdog group Human Rights Watch released a powerful new report called "The Road to Abu Ghraib," arguing that the abuses of detainees at the Iraqi prison were rooted in explicit White House policy.

Justice and Defense Department memos saying the White House is not bound by torture prohibitions are being leaked to the press almost daily. "Hurting prisoners isn't torture if the pain is only fleeting," says an August 2002 Justice Department memo. "It's not torture if the soldier in question believed he was following "superior orders," says a March 2003 Defense Department draft memo.

Has the Bush presidency put itself above the law? Or does the threat of terror justify extreme measures, when sanctioned by the White House? Click the "Listen" link to hear both arguments.


Michael Hirsh, a senior editor at Newsweek and the author of an article in this week's issue of the magazine entitled "A Tortured Debate"

Reed Brody, Special Counsel with Human Rights Watch, author of the report "The Road to Abu Ghraib"

Walter Dellinger, head of the appellate practice at O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Duke University law professor, acting Solicitor General for the 1996-97 Term of the Supreme Court, assistant attorney general and head of the Office of Legal Counsel, 1993-1996

David Rivkin, partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP, Justice Department official under Reagan and George H.W. Bush

This program aired on June 14, 2004.


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