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Memo Outlines Justification for Harsh Interrogation

The Pentagon Tuesday disclosed a 2003 memo, since rescinded, that outlined the justifications for using harsh interrogation techniques against terror suspects and said President Bush's wartime authority trumps any ban on torture.

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    And finally tonight, how the Bush administration justified harsh interrogation techniques after 9/11. Judy Woodruff has that story.


    The Justice Department yesterday released a much-discussed 2003 legal opinion on the military's use of excessive interrogation tactics against al-Qaida and Taliban detainees.

    The memo was authored by John Yoo, then a deputy in the department's Office of Legal Counsel. Among his assertions, Yoo wrote, quote, "We conclude that the Fifth and Eighth Amendments, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, do not extend to alien enemy combatants held abroad."

    The Fifth Amendment guarantees the right of due process of law. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.

    Yoo goes on to say that, if a government official were prosecuted for allegedly using torture, quote, "We believe that he could argue that the executive branch's constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions."