Is it Legal to Bury Someone Alive?

Dandelion Salad

by Linda Gustitus and Rev. Richard Killmer

Dear Friends:

In testimony before a House Judiciary subcommittee yesterday, John Yoo, a former top Justice Department official and author of key memos authorizing torture, refused to say that it would be illegal for the President to order a suspect buried alive. This view – of an unbounded executive branch that is allowed to do anything in the name of national security – is not simply a crackpot idea held by one former legal advisor, but is the basis for many of the abuses that have been perpetrated on detainees since 9/11.

In answer to a question by Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Yoo refused to say whether there were any interrogation tactics that would always be illegal to use. The following exchange then occurred:

Representative John Conyers: “Could the President order a suspect buried alive?”

John Yoo: “Uh, Mr. Chairman, I don’t think that I’ve ever given the advice that the President could bury someone alive.”

Conyers: “I didn’t ask you if you ever gave him advice. I asked you, do you think the President could order a suspect buried alive.”

Yoo: “Mr. Chairman, my view right now is that I don’t think a President would – no American President would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that.”

Conyers: “I think we understand the games that are being played.”

Yoo’s testimony makes our recently released Declaration of Principles [pdf] against torture all the more compelling. Please join us today in endorsing the Declaration and encouraging your friends, family, and members of your congregations to do so as well. To see a copy of the Declaration, click here; to endorse, click here.

Thank you for your effort.

Linda Gustitus, President
Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director

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