For more than a year, President Bush has refused to honour legitimate requests from the Democratic majority in Congress for legal documents that he used to justify ordering the abuse, humiliation and torture of prisoners. This week, the Justice Department finally agreed to show some papers to members of the House and Senate. Sounds like good news? Not so much. For starters, it is not yet clear whether the White House will turn over the complete and unredacted opinions of the government lawyers that claimed the president could ignore the law and the Geneva Conventions. Even if the documents are not censored, the Bush administration has agreed to give them only to the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

Finally, Bush continues to use a bogus claim of secrecy to keep the documents on torture from those who most need and deserve to see them — the public. As appalling as this stonewalling is, it is not the only disturbing news from the war on terror. On Sunday, Mark Mazzetti reported in The Times that the Justice Department still claims that intelligence agents can legally use interrogation methods prohibited under American and international law. The next president and Congress will have to work very hard to uncover all the ways Bush has twisted or evaded the law, and then set things right. — The New York Times