Obama refuses to rule out “enhanced interrogation”
Monday, May 4, 2009
Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has told an interviewer that he believes the use of torture “may be necessary” in the future, while president Obama has refused to rule out so called “enhanced interrogation” techniques.
The comments came as Gonzales joined another former Attorney General – John Ashcroft – on a panel at American Jewish University, chaired by MSNBC’s Dan Abrams.
Gonzales described the recent decision by the Obama administration to disclose Bush era memos regarding torture of detainees, as providing “important information to the enemy”.
“And then secondly, to say that we have now discontinued these techniques,” he continued, “they may be necessary in the future. And by disclosing it, means you take them off the table and they can never be used again.”
When asked if he still believed techniques such as waterboarding were legal, Gonzales intimated that he did:
“Dan, when I served in the administration, the position of the administration was that under certain conditions and circumstances, this technique would be lawful,” he said.
He also added, “now, my understanding of the legal positions of the department has now been changed. So we can spend all evening debating the merits of a legal opinion of the Department of Justice, which by the way, opinions get changed—I don’t want to say all the time—but it’s not unusual to have opinions change and be modified as conditions change, as administrations change, as the Supreme Court renders a decision, opinions change.”
Full transcript can be read here.
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Meanwhile the president did not rule out future use of torture when questioned on the matter.
Mark Knoller of CBS News put the following question to Obama last week.:
If part of the United States were under imminent threat, could you envision yourself ever authorizing the use of those enhanced interrogation techniques?
Obama replied with the following comments (emphasis added):
So when I made the decision to release these memos and when I made the decision to bar these practices, this was based on consultation with my entire national security team, and based on my understanding that ultimately I will be judged as commander-in-chief on how safe I’m keeping the American people.
That’s the responsibility I wake up with and it’s the responsibility I go to sleep with. And so I will do whatever is required to keep the American people safe. But I am absolutely convinced that the best way I can do that is to make sure that we are not taking short cuts that undermine who we are.
And there have been no circumstances during the course of this first 100 days in which I have seen information that would make me second guess the decision that I have made. OK?
Of course, these comments did not make the nightly news nor any major press reports.
This article was posted: Monday, May 4, 2009 at 9:56 am