What Bush's Veto Means: His Endgame and His Legacy

What Bush's Veto Means: His Endgame and His Legacy

What Bush's Veto Means: His Endgame and His Legacy

Slate's blog on legal issues.
March 11 2008 5:06 PM

What Bush's Veto Means: His Endgame and His Legacy

This past Saturday President Bush vetoed an intelligence authorization bill that would have required the CIA to abide by the Army Field Manual. The Army Field Manual outlaws waterboarding and a variety of other coercive techniques that the administration euphemistically calls "enhanced interrogation techniques." The White House announced previously that it had waterboarded people before and might do so again in the future. Bush's veto is, in effect, an attempt to retain the option to violate the Geneva Conventions, the Federal Anti-Torture statute, and the McCain Amendment. He would only retain this option, however, because his lawyers have made unreasonable interpretations of U.S. law to conclude that the most egregious of these techniques including waterboarding are lawful, instead of what they actually are: violations of federal law and breaches of Geneva.

Jack M. Balkin is Knight professor of constitutional law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School.