Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow that President Obama's suggestion that waterboarding yielded valuable information was "disturbing." The President told reporters that he thought "waterboarding was torture" during a Wednesday news conference but also implied that reliable intelligence was gained from the interrogation technique.
"It is obviously disturbing to hear torture referred to by the president as a technique. It is like saying bank robbery is a technique for withdrawing money from the bank. It is not a technique. It is a crime," said Turley. "The idea or the notion that torture works is expressly rejected in treaties we have signed, in cases we have prosecuted. It does not matter what is yielded in torture."
Turley was surprised to learn that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder were working to make the state secrets law less broad. "We knew there were people in the administration, I talked to some of them, who understand the abuses of the states secret program," Turley acknowledged. But he repeated earlier concerns that the administration had abused the state secrets privilege by using it to try to have entire court cases dismissed. "What I didn't understand was the president saying we had to pull the trigger on these cases because they came up a week after we came into office. There's not a court in this land that would not give the administration more time to hammer it's position on state secrets and there's not an attorney -- including myself who litigates in this field -- that would not give the administration plenty of time if they said they were examining it," said Turley.
"The performance so far by the Obama administration is extremely disappointing and dangerous. In some cases, they went beyond where President Bush was in these filings."
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Apr. 28, 2009.