Lawyers Agreed: Interrogations Legal

The consensus may have since crumbled but, The New York Times reports, in 2005, lawyers debating interrogation techniques at the Justice Department “agreed on a basic point: the methods themselves were legal.” Among those who agreed the 13 techniques including waterboarding were legal were critics of the program like Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who had “argued repeatedly that the United States would regret using harsh methods.” In an effort to persuade the White House to ditch the program, despite his agreement that it was not illegal, Comey “explained to [Alberto Gonzales] what this would look like some day and what it would mean for the president and the government,” according to an email he wrote to his chief of staff in 2005. But he never questioned the legality of the program. Lawyers like Comey and Jack Goldsmith have been praised for criticizing waterboarding and other over-the-top interrogation techniques, but “None of the Justice Department lawyers who reviewed the interrogation question argued that the methods were clearly illegal.”