Ex-Bush Official Yoo: 'The Government Didn't Torture Anybody'

Friday, 08 Aug 2014 03:56 PM

By Bill Hoffmann

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One of the architects of the so-called "torture memos'' — used by the George W. Bush administration in the enhanced interrogation of terror suspects – believes President Barack Obama was wrong to say the government "tortured folks.''

"I can't believe the president of the United States would say something like this,'' John Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice, said Friday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.

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"First, the government didn't torture anybody. The reason why we went through the entire exercise of getting legal opinions and being very careful when interrogation methods were and were not used was to make sure that we didn't step over the line into torture, but that we use lawful, although aggressive, interrogation methods.''

"The second thing that's wrong about the president's statement is that we didn't interrogate 'some folks'. These are not the way folks are, that the United States just randomly ran into them in the street. These were the very top al-Qaida leaders — the number three, four and five people in the al-Qaida organization who provided a wealth of information.''

Yoo, now a professor of law at Berkeley Law, said the suspects interrogated were "the very worst, toughest members'' of al-Qaida.

"[They were] people who are leading the plans of attack on the United States and were impervious to any normal interrogation methods,'' Yoo said.

"This was a necessity that was forced on the United States by the way that al-Qaida fights, which is to deny all the rules of civilized warfare, attack civilians by surprise, disguise themselves as civilians so the only way to stop them is to learn their plans and inner thinking.''

Yoo added that the techniques used helped in locating and killing 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.

"The way Osama bin Laden was found was because one of the top al-Qaeda leaders, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, revealed the name of a courier to the government during an interrogation,'' he said.

"If you look at where all the information comes from about al-Qaida, its history and its plans, they come from those interrogation sessions. There are many plots that apparently were stopped.''

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