The White House last night released formerly-secret memos that reveal the Bush administration had concluded two years ago that the President had the power to ignore domestic and international laws regarding the torture of detainees.
On February 7, 2002, Bush signed a secret order that ruled that the Geneva Convention did not apply.
He wrote “I accept the legal conclusion of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice that I have the authority to suspend Geneva (conventions) as between the United States and Afghanistan. I reserve the right to exercise this authority in this or future conflicts.”
An August 2002 memo from the Justice Department argued that the torture or even the deliberate killing of prisoners could be justified in the name of national security. The memo was written by Assistant attorney general Jay Bybee, who is now a federal judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Last night administration officials backed away from the content of the memo and said it would be re-written.
The White House also released Pentagon memos that detailed harsh interrogation methods including the use of dogs that some say constituted torture. The memos had been approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The White House says the memos have been since rescinded but it has refused to say what interrogation methods are now approved for use.