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National Security Law

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University of Washington School of Law

Torture memos

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Fear, Legal Indeterminacy, And The American Lawyering Culture, Michael Hatfield Jan 2006

Fear, Legal Indeterminacy, And The American Lawyering Culture, Michael Hatfield

Articles

On August 1, 2002, then Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee signed for President Bush a memorandum of law concluding that some torture was not necessarily illegal if the President ordered it. This Essay examines how Bybee could arrive at a conclusion that is fundamentally at odds with both our national moral spirit and our law. In doing so, it cautions American lawyers to recognize the difference between what is "legal" and what is "arguably legal, " and to be aware of their own extra-legal biases when interpreting the law.