WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US Attorney General refused to give lawmakers copies of a Justice Department memo that allegedly advised the White House that torture during ‘war on terror’ interrogations could be justified.
The Washington Post said an August 2002 memo sent by the Justice Department in response to a Central Intelligence Agency request for legal guidance said international laws against torture “may be unconstitutional if applied to interrogations” conducted in the war on terrorism.
But Attorney General John Ashcroft refused to provide the memo to lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“We believe that to provide this kind of information would impair the ability of advice-giving in the executive branch to be candid, forthright, thorough and accurate at all times,” Ashcroft said.
Ashcroft told lawmakers that while “this administration rejects torture,” he said he could not provide specific details of communications between his office and the White House.
“Congress has the right to ask whatever questions it wants,” Ashcroft continued.
But, he said, “there are certain things that in the interest of the executive branch operating effectively that I think it’s inappropriate for the Attorney General to say.”
Democrats expressed outrage at Ashcroft’s refusal to provide the document.