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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review May 17, 2009 / 23 Iyar 5769

Torturing lawyers

By Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | It is supremely surreal to find oneself sipping sparkling water in a sunny hotel courtyard, dispassionately discussing the legalities of torture.

Yet, there we were, an attorney and I, poring over memos about waterboarding as if they were weekend real estate ads. Three bedrooms, two baths, no more than 40 seconds without breathing, fenced yard, a flexible false wall for "walling."

The moment was both ironic and grotesque — a clown's nose on civilization.

Our purpose was to examine the memos in the context of the growing drumbeat for "justice" aimed at U.S. Appeals Court Judge Jay Bybee and law professor John Yoo, both attorneys who interpreted the law to allow waterboarding, among other interrogation techniques. In the weeks since Barack Obama released the so-called torture memos, both men have been demonized and tried in the public square for expressing a now-unpopular legal opinion. Depending on the outcome of an investigation pending in the Justice Department, the men could face sanctions or, in the case of Bybee, impeachment.

When did we start punishing lawyers for producing opinions with which we disagree? And where does that road lead?

It is easy now to declare that waterboarding is torture. I personally would agree, but then, I have a low tolerance for the sensation of drowning and the perception of imminent death. And, unlike the prisoners whose treatment has been questioned, I've had no preparation for such trials.

Fortunately, the CIA did not consult me when it needed information from al-Qaeda leader Abu Zubaida six months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Instead, the agency asked government attorneys to interpret whether 10 interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, would violate the 1994 statute prohibiting torture.

Keep in mind: Terrorist chatter at the time was comparable to pre-Sept. 11 levels. And the CIA had determined that Abu Zubaida had crucial information about another attack.

Bybee and Yoo didn't have much to go on since no court had ever interpreted the statute, but the law is fairly specific. It defines torture as inflicting pain that is "difficult to endure" and that is "equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death."

Contrary to what I and others have written, the memos did not conclude that techniques could be torture only if they cause "death, organ failure, or serious impairment of bodily functions." That would have left open the possibility for a range of clearly unacceptable abuses. Consider this a correction.

Whether one agrees with the Bybee-Yoo interpretation is a difference of opinion but nothing more. Any fair assessment has to include consideration of context and distinctions that matter, including the definition of waterboarding, which varies according to country and century.

I have no interest in defending one against the other, but there are significant differences between what the Japanese did during World War II, for example, and what was authorized by the U.S. government.

The Japanese forced water into the prisoner's nose and mouth. In our own version, the prisoner's mouth and nose are covered with a cloth that is saturated with water for no more than 20 to 40 seconds in a controlled manner. No water enters the lungs. Moreover, the same technique is used to train our own military personnel, who do not suffer severe physical pain or prolonged mental harm.

Thus, the attorneys deduced that waterboarding, though extremely unpleasant, wasn't torture. It was never up to the attorneys to express an opinion about whether waterboarding was good policy. Their only role was to interpret the law in good faith.

Even if Bybee and Yoo were wrong, their error doesn't rise to the level of an ethical offense, much less a war crime. Under the Justice Department's own standards, an ethical issue would arise only if their opinion was so obviously wrong that no reasonable lawyer could possibly reach the same conclusion. By that standard, the only obvious wrong is the continued persecution of Jay Bybee and John Yoo. The effect sanctions might have on future lawyering, meanwhile, could be chilling.

In testimony Wednesday before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, law professor Michael Paulsen (University of St. Thomas) predicted that "presidents and administrations of both parties will not obtain candid, vigorous legal advice reflecting the full range of views, on sensitive matters of war, foreign affairs and national security."

America's enemies could hope for no more.

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