SHAFR John Yoo and Torture
U.S. Congress, the Bush Administration, John Yoo & concerned citizens
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In an August 2002 memorandum that he co-authored and in a recently released March 2003 memorandum that he authored, Yoo stated that federal statutes against torture, assault, maiming, and interstate stalking cannot restrict the President in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief. He licensed the use of atrocious and clearly illegal practices such as "waterboarding" by narrowing the legal standards for "torture," defining it as a practice requiring the victim to experience intense pain or suffering equivalent to pain associated with death, organ failure or permanent damage resulting in loss of significant bodily functions. Yoo's arguments have provided the legal foundation and justification for the commission of war crimes, including torture and cruel and inhumane treatment of prisoners, as one component of a constitutionally indefensible expansion of executive power. Yoo's arguments contravene the letter and spirit of the U. N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, both of which were ratified by the U.S. Senate, and are the "law of the land" under Article VI of the Constitution. Yoo furthermore stated in his memoranda that arguments for self-defense or necessity could be used in defense of torture, despite the Convention's unequivocal statement that "[n]o exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war may be invoked as a justification of torture."
We, the undersigned, strongly affirm the need for U.S. policy to respect human rights both internationally and within the United States. We call upon the executive and legislative branches to forbid torture and cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees under all circumstances, wherever they are held and whatever their nationality.