2003 Justice Department memo justifies torture, presidential dictatorship

Published on WSWS, by Joe Kay, 4 April 2008.

On Tuesday, the Defense Department released a 2003 memo asserting the right of the US president to order the military to torture prisoners.

The memo is signed by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo and is dated March 14, 2003, one week before the launch of the Iraq war. It is the latest memo to be released that argues for virtually unrestrained executive powers as part of the president’s Commander-in-Chief authority.

The memo should serve as a sharp warning about the type of barbaric methods the US government is employing and will continue to employ to suppress all international and domestic opposition …


… These memoranda were drawn up for one essential purpose: to provide a rationale for overturning all legal and Constitutional restrictions on presidential and military power. While some of the early memos, including the one released this week, were later officially withdrawn by the OLC, the arguments contained in them have never been repudiated. Yoo, now a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said in an email to the Washington Post that his memos were recalled only for appearances sake.

While their defenders claim that all of these memos are instruments in the fight against terrorists, this has nothing to do with their real aim. Under conditions of growing inequality, economic crisis and militarism, the American ruling class is laying the foundations for mass repression.

The release of the recent memo has provoked little reaction from the Democrats, who endorse the so-called war on terror and have been complicit in all the criminal actions of the Bush administration. Neither of the remaining Democratic Party presidential hopefuls, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, has condemned or commented on the Yoo torture memo. (full text).

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