"Can Rumsfeld GO Now Please?"Lawyers Decided Bans on Torture Didn't Bind Bush
By NEIL A. LEWIS and ERIC SCHMITT
new york times
WASHINGTON, June 7 — A team of administration lawyers concluded in a March 2003 legal memorandum that President Bush was not bound by either an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal antitorture law because he had the authority as commander in chief to approve any technique needed to protect the nation's security.
The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, also said that any executive branch officials, including those in the military, could be immune from domestic and international prohibitions against torture for a variety of reasons.
One reason, the lawyers said, would be if military personnel believed that they were acting on orders from superiors "except where the conduct goes so far as to be patently unlawful."
"In order to respect the president's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign," the lawyers wrote in the 56-page confidential memorandum, the prohibition against torture "must be construed as inapplicable to interrogation undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority."
Senior Pentagon officials on Monday sought to minimize the significance of the March memo, one of several obtained by The New York Times, as an interim legal analysis that had no effect on revised interrogation procedures that Mr. Rumsfeld approved in April 2003 for the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.