The country is now in possession of the full text of the previously classified torture memo authored by one John Yoo, who believes that presidents named George Bush were endowed with unlimited powers by James Madison and the other fans of an untrammeled executive that authored the Constitution. Glenn Greenwald has two excellent posts
(here and here) on the “opinion” and its author, essentially arguing that it was, and was intended to be, a green light for criminal behavior. He also argues persuasively that, while they will never be called to account, Yoo and his ilk are as guilty of war crimes as any of the folks who actually conducted the torture. Ironically, he cites Injustices Scalia and Thomas in support of that contention, neither of which probably had Americans in mind when they opined that conspiracy to commit war crimes is, itself, a war crime.
If anyone needed proof that the person who is the president of the United States has a profound impact on what the country is, and how its people think, they need look no further than the presidency of George Bush. In the past seven years we have grown so inured to outrage and criminal behavior by our government that officially sanctioned torture hardly raises an eyebrow. Remember that the next time you hear Ralph Nader say that there was no difference between Gore and Bush.
Not only do we live easily with torture, we reward its proponents. Yoo’s outrageously sloppy and irresponsible legal “scholarship” got him a teaching job at Berkeley and of course other plum rewards:
The Wall St. Journal Editorial Page wanted someone to defend George Bush’s serial assertions of “Executive Privilege” to block investigations into his wrongdoing, and it turned, of course, to ex-Bush-DOJ-lawyer John Yoo, who is not only the most authoritarian but also the most partisan and intellectually dishonest lawyer in the country. Yoo is not only willing — but intensely eager — to defend literally anything George W. Bush does or would want to do, including — literally — torturing people and crushing the testicles of children if the Leader decreed that doing so was necessary to fight Terrorists. Yoo, of course, is a principal author of most of the radical executive power theories which have eroded our constitutional framework over the last six years.
Lest you think the testicle statement is hyperbole, here’s Yoo for himself:
You might wonder, is there any limit to Presidential power in Yoo’s universe. Well, it all depends on which president you are talking about, I guess:
But this isn’t the first Op-Ed Yoo has written on the topic of Executive Privilege for theWall St. Journal. Back in 1998, when Bill Clinton was asserting the same privilege to resist Congressional demands that his closest aides testify about the President’s deliberations in responding to the various Lewinsky investigations, Yoo became one of the leading spokespeople denouncing the assertion of this privilege.
As a matter of fact, Yoo suggested that Clinton should be impeached if he defied a Congressional subpoena, something Clinton never actually did. Partisan hack that he is, Yoo is now silent about Bush’s assertions that he is free to ignore Congressional subpoenas.
People like Yoo have been embedded throughout our government. We essentially have two bodies of law, enforced by a politicized judiciary. If the Democrats manage to wrest the presidency from these people, a new set of rules will apply, articulated by the same people who have given Bush a blank check for eight years. It will be the work of a generation, if it can every be done, to restore some semblance of the rule of law.