House Democrats demanded Thursday that the Justice Department turn over two secret memos that reportedly authorize painful interrogation tactics against terror suspects — despite the Bush administration's insistence that it has not violated U.S. anti-torture laws.
Spokespeople for the White House and the Justice Department said a memo written in February 2005 on this subject did not change an administration policy issued in 2004 that publicly renounced torture as "abhorrent."
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers and Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., promised a congressional inquiry into the two Justice Department legal opinions that reportedly "explicitly authorized the use of painful and psychological tactics on terrorism suspects."
"Both the alleged content of these opinions and the fact that they have been kept secret from Congress are extremely troubling, especially in light of the department's 2004 withdrawal of an earlier opinion similarly approving such methods," Conyers, D-Mich., and fellow House Judiciary member Nadler wrote in a letter Thursday to Acting Attorney General Peter D. Keisler.
It's wonderful to see that Democrats have their priorities straight. No matter what the threat to the lives and safety of Americans, the real thing they keep first and foremost in their minds is not being unduly mean to terror suspects.
"The secret authorization of brutal interrogations is an outrageous betrayal of our core values, and a grave danger to our security," Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said in a statement. "We must do whatever it takes to track down and capture or kill terrorists, but torture is not a part of the answer — it is a fundamental part of the problem with this administration's approach."
Here's the fundamental question for Obama, Nadler and Conyers: how many Americans are you willing to let die to keep to your anti-torture principles? If "torture is not part of the answer," excluded from "whatever it takes" to defend America from terror attacks, then you must state explicitly that America must never torture any terror suspect, no matter how many American lives are lost by foregoing the information that suspect has. Tell us that you truly believe that the human rights of the terror suspect to be exempted from torture outweigh the rights of American civilians to be exempted from being murdered.