Memorandum for James B. Comey Deputy Attorney General

This document is the first page of a memorandum concerning government responsibilities relating to torture under the U.N. Convention Against Torture (CAT) and 18 U.S.C. §§ 2340-2340A.

Doc_type: 
Legal Memo
Doc_date: 
Thursday, December 30, 2004
Doc_rel_date: 
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Doc_text: 

MEMORANDUM FOR JAMES B. COMEY
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL
Re: Legal Standards Applicable Under 18 U.S.C. §, 2340-23404
Torture is abhorrent bath to American law and values and to international norms. This
universal repudiation of torture is reflected in our criminal law, for example, 18 U.S.C, §§ 2340-
2340A; international agreements, exemplified by the United Nations Convention Against Torture
(the "CAT")'; customary international law% centuries of Anglo-American law 3; and the
longstanding policy of the United States, repeatedly and recently reaffirmed by the President.'
This Office interpreted the federal criminal prohibition against torture—cadi fied at 18-
U.S,C. §§ 2340-2340A—in Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. §§ 2340-
2340A (Aug. 1, 2002) ("August 2002 Memorandum"). The August 2002 Memorandum also
addressed a number of issues . beyond interpretation of those statutory provisions, including the
President's Commander-in-Chief power, and various defenses that might be asserted to avoid
potential liability under sections 2340-2340A.- See id. at 31-46.
Questions have since been raised, both by this Office and by others, about the
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhtiroan or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Dec. 10,
1984, S. Treaty Doc. No. 100-20, 1465 U.N.T.S. 85. See also. e.g., international Covenant on Civil and Political •
Rights, Dec. 16, 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 171.
It has been suggested that the prohibition against -torture has achieved the status 'offus cogen (Le., a
peremptory norm) under international law. See, e.g., Siderman de Blake v. Republic of Argentina, 965 F.2d 699, 714
(9th Cir. 1992); Regina v. Bow Street Metro. Stipendiary Magistrate Ex Parte Pinochet Ugarte (No. 3). [20001 1 AC
147, 198; see also Restatement (Third) of Foreign Relations Law of the United States § 702 reporters' note 5.

3 See generally John H. Langbein, Torture and the Law of Proof: Europe and England in the Ancien Reginie
. (1977).
4 See, e.g., Statement on United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, 40 Weekly Comp:
Pres. Doc. 1167 (July 5, 2004) ("Freedom from torture is an inalienable human right .. ...."); Statement on United
Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, 39 Wceldy Comp. Pres. Doc. 824 (June 30, 2003)
("Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere,"); see also Letter of Transmittal front President
Ronald Reagan to the Senate (May 20, 1988), in Message from the President of the United States Transmitting the
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, S. Treaty Doc. No.
100-20, at iii (1988) ("Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States
opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.").

Doc_nid: 
11703
Doc_type_num: 
62