A former Justice Department lawyer who wrote the memo that led to enhanced CIA interrogation techniques said Sunday the agency may have gone too far. John Woo, who at the time was Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the Office of Legal Council, co-wrote a memo in 2002 that became the legal basis for the CIA's interrogation program.
The Senate Intelligence Committee last week released a report detailing instances of torture committed under the program and concluded that the CIA misled the White House and the public. Critics have been calling for those who approved the program to be held accountable.
"Looking at it now, I think of course you can do these things cumulatively or too much that it would cross the line of the anti-torture statute," Yoo said on C-SPAN. On CNN, Yoo said if the instances outlined in the report are accurate, "they were not supposed to be done. And the people who did those are at risk legally because they were acting outside their orders."
The tortures described in the intelligence committee report included forced rectal feeding, threatening to rape captives' mothers, forcing people with broken limbs to stand for hours and sleep deprivation lasting as long as a week.
"Well, those are very troubling examples. They would not have been approved by the Justice Department -- they weren't approved by the Justice Department at the time," Yoo said. "But I have to question whether they’re true because I can’t take at face value the committee’s report because there were no Republicans involved."
Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday he's perfectly comfortable with the CIA's actions despite contentions that torture didn't yield any information that couldn't have been obtained by other means. Cheney admitted rectal feeding was not approved as an enhanced interrogation technique.
Republicans opposed release of the report, warning of possible repercussions. Many newspapers in the Middle East, however, have been silent on the subject and few Arab leaders have condemned the actions.