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Because It’s Wrong

November 8, 2010

Father-Son Authors Disagree on Politics
but Agree: Bush Administration Broke the Law

Harvard Law School’s Charles Fried is a Republican, and served as U.S. Solicitor General for President Ronald Reagan. His son, philosophy professor Gregory Fried, votes Democratic. In the book they’ve just published, however, they agree: the Bush administration’s torture policies were illegal.
            In Because it is Wrong: Torture, Privacy and Presidential Power in the Age of Terror they explore the justifications that the administration advanced for “enhanced interrogation,” and conclude, as Gregory said in a recent interview, that “The idea that the president as commander-in-chief is above the law, if that has not been refuted clearly as a matter of law, we have a loaded gun on the table waiting for some future president to take up and use against absolutely fundamental principles of our Republic.” His father called the Bush policies “disgusting, terrible and degrading.” The interview was conducted by Mark Egan for Reuters (September 13, 2010).

            The one area where the pair could not reach consensus was if the torture undertaken during the Bush administration years was wrong, what should be done about it?
            Gregory believes senior administration officials should be prosecuted, but he does not name them in the book. Charles thinks such prosecutions could imperil America’s democracy.
            Instead, the pair suggest some compromises could heal America’s conscience and bring legal resolution. Gregory suggested one option was for President Barack Obama, before leaving office, to acknowledge the illegality of torture and pardon those who might otherwise be prosecuted.
            “The idea that the president as commander-in-chief is above the law, if that has not been refuted clearly as a matter of law, we have a loaded gun on the table waiting for some future president to take up and use against absolutely fundamental principles of our Republic,” said the son. His father said another possible solution, albeit one he believes will not happen, would be a congressional “truth commission” on torture which would come up with a resolution.

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