When the Justice Department publicly declared torture “abhorrent” in a legal opinion in December 2004, the Bush administration appeared to have abandoned its assertion of nearly unlimited presidential authority to order brutal interrogations.
But soon after Alberto R. Gonzales’s arrival as attorney general in February 2005, the Justice Department issued another opinion, this one in secret. It was a very different document, according to officials briefed on it, an expansive endorsement of the harshest interrogation techniques ever used by the Central Intelligence Agency.
Contrast that secret opinion with Gonzales’ testimony before Congress in January 2005, during his confirmation hearings, as reported by the Washington Post:
The message Mr. Gonzales left with senators was unmistakable: As attorney general, he will seek no change in practices that have led to the torture and killing of scores of detainees and to the blackening of U.S. moral authority around the world. Instead, the Bush administration will continue to issue public declarations such as those Mr. Gonzales repeated yesterday — “that torture and abuse will not be tolerated by this administration” — while in practice sanctioning procedures that the International Red Cross and many lawyers inside the government consider to be illegal and improper.
If torture and abuse would not be tolerated, why would Gonzales sanction it only a month later? Gonzales is an outright liar.
Following up: White House denies the memo conflicted with its anti-torture stance. Apparently, “a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head slapping, simulated drowning, and frigid temperatures” isn’t the “abhorrent” behavior the White House was talking about when it said it doesn’t torture. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino says: “It was different in that it was focusing on specifics, not reinterpreting that memo,” Perino said. “. . . It is a policy of the United States that we do not torture, and we do not.”
We only slap, drown and freeze them.