Lawyer Knows Best

“Because the lawyer said it was legal” was the reason former President George W. Bush gave as the reason he approved waterboarding on prisoners. That comment has stirred the pot and has ruffled some people’s feathers, and with good reason.

“It is beyond shocking that a former US president can publicly claim responsibility for torture and the next day the US government can say it will not pursue charges for destroying evidence of that torture. It sends the ugly message that there are no legal consequences in the United States for committing the most heinous of international crimes.” – Joanne Mariner, Terrorism and Counterterrorism Program director at Human Rights Watch

President Bush didn’t want to “debate the issue” when Matt Lauer asked him if the waterboarding technique was performed on a US citizen by a foreign country. After all, if it means the foreign country can “gain valuable information to protect the country,”–and by the lawyer’s very defintion that it’s legal–then that foreign country is within its own rights to use waterboarding. Or maybe President Bush meant that it’s only convenient when the US does it but inconvenient when others want to apply the same standards.

Should it be a surprise that the Obama administration doesn’t want to pursue any charges? After all, those in the current administration want to protect themselves should they find themselves in the same spot as their predecessors.

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