Wednesday, June 09, 2004
Ashcroft: are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?
From today’s New York Times, Bush Didn’t Order Any Breach of Torture Laws, Ashcroft Says:
Attorney General John Ashcroft, whose subordinates have written confidential legal memorandums saying the administration is not bound by prohibitions against torture, told a Senate committee on Tuesday that President Bush had “made no order that would require or direct the violation” of either international treaties or domestic laws prohibiting torture.
Mr. Ashcroft refused to provide several of the memorandums, saying they amounted to confidential legal advice given to the president and did not have to be shared with Congress.
Asked by Congressional Democrats about the March 2003 memo in which the President is advised that U.S. and international law prohibiting torture does not apply to him, and in which a key footnote reads that “this view is consistent with that of the Department of Justice,” Ashcroft grew angry.
“That memo is none of your business. You are tiny men. The President is a great man,” Ashcroft replied.
Ashcroft insisted that there was no connection between recent legal memorandums authorizing torture, and actual evidence of the torture of U.S. detainees in Guant·namo and Abu Ghraib.
“Let me completely reject the notion that anything this president has done or the Justice Department has done has directly resulted in the kinds of atrocities which were cited,” he said.
“It’s a complete coincidence,” Ashcroft insisted. “A handful of bad apples brought a lot of Hefty bags with them to Baghdad, that’s all. We had no idea what was going on. And it certainly doesn’t have anything to do with anyone advising the President to authorize torture. It’s just weird.”
“First of all,” Mr. Ashcroft said, “this administration opposes torture,” adding that the “kind of atrocities displayed in the photographs are being prosecuted by this administration.”
Speaking directly to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.- Mass.), Ashcroft concluded: “You have to understand that the things in those pictures never happened. Plus, when they did happen, we stopped them. And finally, they’re all your fault.”
[Passages in italics are direct quotes from the Times and Knight Ridder.]