Reagan Prosecuted Waterboarding

If the Bush Lawyers had as their intention a good faith legal analysis of waterboarding and other EITs, then they would have found this:
George W. Bush’s Justice Department said subjecting a person to the near-drowning of waterboarding was not a crime and didn’t even cause pain, but Ronald Reagan’s Justice Department thought otherwise, prosecuting a Texas sheriff and three deputies for using the practice to get confessions.

Federal prosecutors secured a 10-year sentence against the sheriff and four years in prison for the deputies. But that 1983 case – which would seem to be directly on point for a legal analysis on waterboarding two decades later – was never mentioned in the four Bush administration opinions released last week.

"To take one example, there was a court-martial addressing the practice of waterboarding from 1903, a state court case from the Twenties, a series of prosecutions at the [post-World War II] Tokyo Tribunal (in many of which the death penalty was sought) and another court-martial in 1968," Horton said. "These precedents could have been revealed in just a few minutes of computerized research using the right search engines. It's hard to imagine that Yoo and Bybee didn't know them.


The failure to cite the earlier waterboarding case and a half-dozen other precedents that dealt with torture is reportedly one of the critical findings of a Justice Department watchdog report that legal sources say faults former Bush administration lawyers -- Jay Bybee, John Yoo and Steven Bradbury -- for violating "professional standards."
Notice that Reagan's prosecution is just the last in a long line of historical legal precedents.  The fact that their legal examination of this issue didn't reveal these precedents goes a long way towards proving that the reviews were conducted in bad faith - that the White House told the DOJ lawyers what they wanted, and the DOJ produced.  This system is uncomfortably close to "if the President does it, then it is not illegal."

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