Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Torture Memo Guy

NYT: A psychiatrist might say you are in denial.
Yoo: I deny that I am in denial.
(New York Times interview with John C. Yoo)
Neither Jon Stewart nor I are constitutional lawyers, but we can't be fooled by John Yoo's doubletalk:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show: Exclusive - John Yoo Extended Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Yoo became even more frustratingly evasive in part 2 of the interview. Yoo claims that somehow we had not defined what Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions meant, yet the Bush administration could weasel with the definition of "at war" to meet their needs: we are at war when we want to give the president more power, but we are not at war when we want to torture prisoners.

And I think Yoo was trying to say -- it's hard to know exactly what he was trying to say -- that we had no idea what constituted torture. However, we had manuals on the topic: JTF GTMO "SERE" Interrogation Standard Operating Procedure. And 40 years ago we court-martialed a US soldier who waterboarded Vietnamese prisoners.

In part 3 of the interview, Yoo continues to defend the idea that the president should have unchecked power when there is war. Whenever the president decides we are not at war, then he can stop being king. Stewart is amazed that a conservative would defend this. Also, the Supreme Court has, on the ruling of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, differed.

At this point, I hardly care about the dubious legal basis for Yoo's infamous torture memos. When Yoo says "remember the time we were in..." I'm not persuaded. I don't understand anybody who says we should abandon laws, treaties, and principles because we're scared. I do, however, understand the lack of morality in torture and the danger of an executive branch with unlimited power.

Mr. Torture Memo is still teaching law in California.

No comments: