The Goldsmith Position

Peter Feaver responds to Philip Zelikow:

Had the torture debate been fully engaged when the Bush team was making the decisions it made in 2001-02, I think it is plausible that the political process would have produced a consensus that would have been far more sympathetic to the Bush position than the present day consensus appears to be...

The Bush team erred by not grounding the policy more firmly in the bedrock of the political process that the Framers identified for contentious issues -- namely, in involving Congress and the public -- and, instead, by relying on the penumbra of the Commander-in-chief clause. We non-lawyers have learned one thing from the abortion debate: The penumbra is a lousy place to park contentious issues.