war criminal unrepentant

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Gonzales says US should be open to torturing again

Published: May 4, 2009 

In an interview posted Monday, former Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that because use of torture "may be necessary" in the future, the Obama administration erred in disclosing the Bush administration's "enhanced interrogation" techniques.

Gonzales was taking part in an interview by MSNBC's Dan Abrams along with former Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft. The session was conducted at American Jewish University Apr. 27. The full transcript is available here.

Abrams repeatedly asked Gonzales if the techniques the Bush administration approved amounted to torture, and whether President Barack Obama was correct in releasing them. Gonzales said he disagreed with Obama's decision.

"It does provide, in my judgment, important information to the enemy," Gonzales quipped. Then he provided a more notable remark.

"And then secondly, to say that we have now discontinued these techniques," he continued, "they may be necessary in the future. And by disclosing it, means you take them off the table and they can never be used again."

Asked if the techniques the CIA used on detainees -- which included partial drowning, keeping detainees up for days and hurling them against plywood walls -- were torture, Gonzales demurred.

"I think that the U.S. government provided advice to CIA interrogators based upon the best legal reasoning by the lawyers in the Department of Justice," the former AG replied. "Was it torture, when that advice was given? No. Were the interrogations harsh? Yes. Did they save lives? Absolutely."

Still, Gonzales hedged when asked if he thought the techniques were still considered legal.

"Dan, when I served in the administration, the position of the administration was that under certain conditions and circumstances, this technique would be lawful," he said.

But, he added later, "now, my understanding of the legal positions of the department has now been changed. So we can spend all evening debating the merits of a legal opinion of the Department of Justice, which by the way, opinions get changed--I don't want to say all the time--but it's not unusual to have opinions change and be modified as conditions change, as administrations change, as the Supreme Court renders a decision, opinions change."

Gonzales also appeared to lightly snub Vice President Dick Cheney. Questioned about Cheney's remarks last month that Obama is "making some choices that in my mind will in fact raise the risk to the American people of another attack," Gonzales seemed to disagree.

"You know," he said, "I'm a lot more interested in the assessments by the intelligence professionals, quite frankly."

This video is from MSNBC's News Live, broadcast May 4, 2009.

Download video via RawReplay.com

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This page contains a single entry published on May 4, 2009 9:17 AM.

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