Notes: The torture memos have revealed some heroes. Among them was a group of anonymous military lawyers who felt so strongly against torture that they took their case the New York Bar and asked members to bring the matter to public attention. It's noteworthy that all of the military lawyers who I've read about opposed torture and wanted the Geneva Conventions to apply to Afghanistan (everyone agrees that Geneva applies to Iraq despite Abu Ghraib).
Their reasoning was that to do otherwise would violate international treaties, undermine the moral values of the military and, importantly, would subject captured American soldiers to torture. The military guys got it right, perhaps understanding war better than the Pentagon civilians, the Justice Department (John Ashcroft and John Yoo), the Office of Legal Counsel (Jay Bybee, since appointed federal judge) and White House Counsel Alberto R. Gonzales.
As for the heroes who opposed torture, the following is either quotes or my summaries from a Washington Post article by R. Jeffrey Smith on June. 24, 2004:
"William H. Taft IV [State Department's legal adviser to the Justice Department's deputy assistant attorney general John Yoo] said that Justices' legal advice to President Bush about how to handle detainees in the war on terrorism was 'seriously flawed' and its reasoning was incorrect as well as incomplete.' Justice's arguments were 'contrary to the official position of the United States, the United Nations and all other states that have considered the issue..." (This letter was omitted from the documents re released last week by the Bush administration.)
Smith writes that other dissents to the memos allowing torture "... include three classified memos written in the spring of 2003 by senior military lawyers in the Air Force, Marine Corps and Army, and a classified memo written by the Navy's top civilian lawyer, Alberto J. Mora." The memos were said to be written by "Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack L. Rives, Marine Brig. Gen. Kevin M. Sandkuhler and Army Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Romig."
Colin Powell and Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the Joint Chiefs chairman, also believed the Geneva Conventions should apply to Afghanistan. Powell and Myers got a meeting with George W. Bush in which they protested his decision not to apply Geneva. He reconsidered, but then was influenced by Alberto R. Gonzales who believed that Geneva should not apply and thought Powell was wrong. Bush ended up agreeing with Gonazles and the Justice Department that he had the right to suspend Geneva, but would not do so at that time. 06.27.04