New book says President Bush broke laws on torture

Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:55pm EDT
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By Mark Egan

NEW YORK (Reuters Life) - Torture sanctioned by President George W. Bush to fight terrorists was illegal and wrong and America has yet to confront the topic to avoid future abuses, the U.S. Solicitor General for President Ronald Reagan argues in a new book.

"Because it is Wrong: Torture, Privacy and Presidential Power in the Age of Terror" by Harvard Law scholar Charles Fried, a Republican, and his son Gregory Fried -- a Suffolk University philosophy professor who votes Democrat -- asks if it is permissible to torture in order to safeguard Americans.

Despite the differing politics of the father-son authors, they agreed it was never morally right to torture and therefore never permissible to do so.

"I think that (the Bush administration) broke the law and what they did was disgusting and terrible and degrading," Charles Fried told Reuters in an interview.

Gregory Fried added, "What is so terrible about torture is it is a fundamental assault on human dignity."

The book paints Vice President Dick Cheney as the principle villain, albeit one whose motive -- trying to protect Americans from terrorism -- was right.

On the issue of privacy and surveillance, they agreed that a president can break the law in an emergency but must be upfront that he is doing so to give Congress the chance to change the law to support or refute his action.

"We do not think there is an absolute right to privacy," said the son.   Continued...