3,680. 8/1/2002

Deputy Chief in the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) John Yoo’s ‘torture memo‘ of August 1, 2002, “identified torture with acts that cause the amount of pain ‘associated with a sufficiently serious physical condition or injury such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of bodily functions.’ Any action that fell short of these extreme conditions could not, in OLC’s view, be torture. Even if the interrogators crossed this hard-to-reach line and committed torture, OLC opined, they could still avoid criminal liability by invoking a necessity defense (on the theory that torture may be necessary to prevent a catastrophic harm) or self-defense (on the theory that the interrogators were acting to save the country and themselves). Finally, OLC concluded, the torture law violated the President’s constitutional commander-in-chief powers, and thus did not bind executive branch officials, because it prevented the President ‘from gaining the intelligence he believes necessary to prevent attacks upon the United States.’ ”

 – Jack Goldsmith, The Terror Presidency, Page 144

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