Ashcroft: Some forms of waterboarding might be legal
Is it any surprised that a man who spends free time making sculptures out of barbed wire still does not believe his approval of torturing prisoners was wrong?
"I think history will be very kind to the President," said former Attorney General John Ashcroft, speaking recently at the University of Texas at Austin. "I don't have a mark on my conscience."
Speaking with former Nixon White House counsel John Dean on Thursday night, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann tried to make sense of Ashcroft's justification for signing off on waterboarding.
"There are things that you can call waterboarding that I am thoroughly convinced are not torture," said Ashcroft in a video shot by an attendee at the UT lecture. "There are things that you can call waterboarding that might be torture. And the point that ought to be understood is that throwing a term around recklessly for its emotional content doesn't really get you anywhere."
"Are there multiple forms of waterboarding that I don't know about? One that's legal and one that's illegal?" asked an incredulous Olbermann.
"Maybe this is a defense that John Yoo came up with, the memo hasn't been released yet, that says how much water you pour may make it waterboarding or not waterboarding," said Dean. "But, this is pretty silly, actually."
Olbermann wondered aloud whether Ashcroft had joined the Bush legacy tour and if this appearance was an attempt to soften the blow from allegedly pending memo dumps by the Obama Justice Department.
The first series of Bush-era memos to be released by the Obama administration pertained to legal justifications of torture that were rescinded in the final days of Bush's second term.
"These memos provide the very definition of tyranny," Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley told Olbermann on March 5. "These memos include everything that a petty despot would want."
"General Ashcroft was read into these activities and did approve these activities...from the beginning, I believe, from the very beginning," Ashcroft's predecessor, Alberto Gonzales, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in July, 2007.
"... Must be great to go through life without a conscience or without embarrassment," concluded Olbermann.
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Mar. 26, 2009.
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