US homeland security nominee says he never sanctioned
abuse of terror detainees
WASHINGTON, Feb 2 (AFP)
US Homeland Security Secretary-designate Michael Chertoff
on Wednesday distanced himself from a controversial White House memo that critics
allege laid the foundation for later torture of terror suspects in Iraq, Afghanistan
"I was not involved in the process of how the memo was generated," Chertoff
told lawmakers at his nomination hearing before the Senate's Committee on Homeland
Security and Governmental Affairs.
Chertoff, a former US attorney for the state of New Jersey and a judge on the
US federal courts, made his remarks under intense questioning by Democratic Senator
Chertoff was directly consulted by the CIA and other US officials about the boundaries
of interrogation policies to be used by US officials at the Abu Ghraib prison
in Iraq, at the Guantanamo Bay Naval base in Cuba and in Afghanistan.
Though he admitted reviewing a draft of the August 2002 memorandum that interpreted
the definition of torture, Chertoff testified that he never advocated resorting
to torture to extract information from terror suspects, and said he had advised
US officials that interrogations be conducted "well within the law."
Chertoff was the head of the US Department of Justice's Criminal Division from
May 2001 until March 2003, during which time, Levin said, the office "took
actions that were troubling ... most notably its promulgation of legal theories
circumventing legal prohibitions against torture and inhuman treatment of detainees."
"Judge Chertoff's role in the development of those legal theories needs
to be clarified," Levin said in written remarks submitted at the hearing.
"Those theories helped create an environment in which the abusive behavior
at Abu Ghraib prison and elsewhere was either permitted or was perceived to be
The so-called "terror memos" have also dogged the nomination of White
House counsel Alberto Gonzales, who is nevertheless expected to be confirmed
later this week to be the next US Attorney General.
02/02/2005 17:12 GMT - AFP
AND THEY REALLY EXPECT US TO BELIEVE
HE HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT?