Zelikow argued that the Geneva conventions applied to al-Qaida — a position neither the Justice Department nor the White House shared at the time. That made waterboarding and the like a violation of the War Crimes statute and a “felony,” Zelikow tells Danger Room. Asked explicitly if he believed the use of those interrogation techniques were a war crime, Zelikow replied, “Yes.”
Zelikow first revealed the existence of his secret memo, dated Feb. 15, 2006, in an April 2009 blog post, shortly after the Obama administration disclosed many of its predecessor’s legal opinions blessing torture. He brieflydescribed it (.pdf) in a contentious Senate hearing shortly thereafter, revealing then that “I later heard the memo was not considered appropriate for further discussion and that copies of my memo should be collected and destroyed.”
At least one copy survived in the files of the department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. The State Department has now disclosed it to Danger Room, mostly without redactions — three years after this reporter filed an official request for it. You can read the memo for yourself, below.