Friday, June 27, 2008

Torture? What’s That?

From CNN:

Two former White House insiders who have been described as key architects of the Bush administration’s interrogation policy proved to be uncooperative witnesses as they testified before Congress for the first time.

Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff David Addington refused to say what constitutes torture, telling the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties that it had its own lawyer to consult.

“I’m not here to render legal advice to your committee,” Addington said.

John Yoo, the author of controversial legal guidance that critics say cleared the way for the United States to torture prisoners, also refused to answer many questions from lawmakers, citing guidance from the Justice Department.

Addington was testifying under subpoena, while Yoo appeared voluntarily.

A former State Department official told the same committee last week that Addington and Yoo had been part of a group of six officials who “colluded” to develop a legal rationale for subjecting detainees to harsh treatment.

The Bush administration has admitted using “alternative interrogation methods” but has repeatedly denied torturing detainees.

I love it how all these administration people acted so tough back when they thought they could get away with it; denying prisoners the right to habeas corpus, keeping them in solitary and incommunicado, yet as soon as they’re called to account for it, they lawyer up like a perp on Law & Order. I wonder how well they’d stand up to torture, unless you consider testifying before a Congressional committee to be an “alternative interrogation method.”

Update: Dana Milbank has an article in the Washington Post that essentially says that both Mr. Addington and Mr. Yoo behaved like petulant and sullen assholes in front of the committee. Big surprise.