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Ashcroft Refuses to Provide Torture Memos

Attorney General John Ashcroft refuses senators' demands for copies of legal memos, prepared by Bush administration lawyers in 2002 and 2003, that reportedly state the president has the right to order torture in his role as commander in chief.

One memo was prepared by the Justice Department in August 2002 in response to a request from the CIA for guidance on how far it could go in conducting interrogations. A second memo, dated March 2003, was prepared for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld by a team of lawyers from many parts of the Bush administration, including the office of the vice president. Ashcroft is refusing senators access to both memos, which were revealed in media reports this week.

In refusing to discuss the contents of the memos before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, Ashcroft said his department's advice to the president must remain confidential. Ashcroft also refused to say whether President Bush has authorized force or other techniques in interrogation.

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