Mukasey Defends Torture Architects

U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey defended Bush administration attorneys who authored memoranda supporting the legality of coercive interrogating tactics -- the so-called "torture memos" -- in a commencement address to Boston College Law School graduates Friday. Emphasizing the legal complexity of the issues raised in the memos and criticizing the vilification of the authors in some quarters, Mukasey told the audience:

Today, many of the senior government lawyers who provided legal advice supporting the nation's most important counterterrorism policies have been subjected to relentless public criticism. In some corners, one even hears suggestions -- suggestions that are made in a manner that is almost breathtakingly casual -- that some of these lawyers should be subject to civil or criminal liability for the advice they gave. The rhetoric of these discussions is hostile and unforgiving.
The difficulty and novelty of the legal questions these lawyers confronted is scarcely mentioned; indeed, the vast majority of the criticism is unaccompanied by any serious legal analysis. In addition, it is rarely acknowledged that those public servants were often working in an atmosphere of almost unimaginable pressure, without the academic luxury of endless time for debate. Equally ignored is the fact that, by all accounts I have seen or heard, including but not limited to Jack Goldsmith's book [The Terror Presidency], those lawyers reached their conclusions in good faith based upon their best judgments of what the law required.
The author of one such memo for the Department of Defense in 2003, former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, faces a civil lawsuit and calls for his resignation from Berkeley Law School. Earlier this month, a federal judge directed the CIA to produce a 2002 Department of Justice memo that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claims authorized the agency to use specific torture techniques, including waterboarding. AP has more.

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