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Like a studio releasing once censored scenes from a classic horror movie, on April 1 the Pentagon declassified a key memo used to justify the abuse of prisoners by the U.S. military in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. Completed six days before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the full text of the 81-page document is rife with shockingly broad edicts about prisoner treatment, like this barely constitutional chestnut: "In wartime, it is for the President alone to decide what methods to use to prevail against the enemy."

The Justice Department withdrew the memo, written by deputy legal counsel...

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