Please forgive the repost… I thought it a worthwhile one.
“Torture Memo” Author Used Health Care Statute to Form Legal Basis for Waterboarding
By Jason Leopold, OpEdNews, February 13, 2008
John Yoo, the author of the infamous August 1, 2002 “torture memo” that formed the legal basis for so-called “enhanced” interrogation techniques against against high-level terrorist detainees, used a statute governing health benefits when he provided the White House with a legal opinion defining torture, according to a former Justice Department official.
Yoo’s legal opinion stated that unless the amount of pain administered to a detainee results in injury “such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions” than the interrogation technique could not be defined as torture. Waterboarding, a brutal and painful technique in which a prisoner believes he is drowning, therefore was not considered to be torture.
Jack Goldsmith, the former head of the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, said that Yoo, a former OLC attorney who now teaches at the University of California at Berkeley, arrived at that definition by relying on statute written in 2000 related to health benefits.
“That statute defined an “emergency medical condition” that warranted certain health benefits as a condition “manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain)” such that the absence of immediate medical care might reasonably be thought to result in death, organ failure, or impairment of bodily function,” Goldsmith wrote in his book, “The Terror Presidency.” “The health benefits statute’s use of “severe pain” had no relationship whatsoever to the torture statute. And even if it did, the health benefit statute did not define “severe pain.” Rather it used the term “severe pain” as a sign of an emergency medical condition that, if not treated, might cause organ failure and the like…. OLC’s clumsily definitional arbitrage didn’t seem even in the ballpark.”