WASHINGTON An interrogator under contract with the Central Intelligence
Agency, charged with beating an Afghan prisoner who died the next day, is
basing his defense in part on statements by President George W. Bush and
other officials that called for tough action to prevent terrorist attacks
and protect American lives.
Documents unsealed in the past week in federal court in Raleigh, North
Carolina, show that the interrogator, David Passaro, 38, might cite top
officials' written legal justifications for harsh interrogation techniques
and a Congressional resolution passed after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on
New York and the Pentagon calling on the president "to use all necessary
and appropriate force" to thwart further terrorism.
Passaro's lawyers contend in court filings that in passing the legislation
under which their client is charged, Congress "cannot have contemplated"
the use of the law to "provide grounds for criminal prosecution of a
battlefield interrogation of a suspected terrorist linked to constant
Thomas McNamara, Passaro's lead defense lawyer, has officially notified the
government that he will pursue a "public authority defense." Such a defense
involves a claim that the defendant believed, even if incorrectly, that he
was acting with the authority and approval of the government