Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Rachel Maddow interviews Michael Isikoff on the torture lawyers

Rachel interviews Michael Isikoff at the end of this segment (February 16th) on the latest revelations about the Bush Justice Department. Isikoff makes a compelling, if somewhat obvious, argument:

1) IF the Yoo/Bybee memo was intended to gave Bush officials legal cover for waterboarding and other forms of torture, AND
2) Those same officials pressured Bybee, Yoo and or AG Gonzales to produce exactly that justification, THEN
3) The whole legal cover evaporates, taking with it the "good faith" defense.

"Good faith reliance" on a legal opinion still has some political credence as a barrier to prosecutions, as Barack Obama himself has declared. But, legally speaking, acting in "good faith" is not, and has never been, a defense to a federal torture charge.

Morally speaking, we can hope that a person instructed to waterboard a detainee would hesitate and refuse — even if a "legal opinion" said it was okay.

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