Two defenses I'm seeing from scholarly defenders of Dubya's torture policy memos:
- The memos were just legal opinions; they didn't authorize anyone to do any particular thing.
- It's not really torture, just well, err, umm, stressful treatment.
If you buy the first argument, you might want to see how the gang at Fafblog applies it to everyday life. If you buy the second argument, you might want to review Digby's point-by-point comparison of specific techniques, most of which Rumsfeld is known to have authorized, with conditions faced by American POWs inside the notorious "Hanoi Hilton". The first is easier reading than the second.
Also, Michael Froomkin dissects yet another tortured argument from Dubya's White House, and lets us know that commanding officers in Iraq were notified of abuse by the alleged "bad apples" by November at the latest.
Speaking of which, a few days ago, I remarked on how generally right-leaning law professor Eugene Volokh was blogging about the civil rights implications of speech codes, but not about White House legal memos which rationalized the use of torture. Volokh has since produced a comment on his own silence. It's not that he thinks torture is a good idea. At least not necessarily. But then again, it's not that he thinks torture is necessarily a bad idea either, come to think of it. But talking about it is a time sink and it's outside his areas of core competence and he's just kinda squeamish about it (his word). Further commentary on his squeamishness here.