Wednesday, April 02, 2008
The Infamous John C. Yoo Back in the Spotlight
Thought we had read and heard enough about John Yoo. But, no. Two recent reports highlighted his nefarious role in Bush-Cheney administration.
What would be a fitting epitaph for such a man?
"He blindly served his president and never encountered a law that he couldn't bend to justify torture of prisoners and abuse of our Constitution".
And John C. Yoo is law professor at Berkeley!
Dan Eggen and Josh White in The Washington Post April 2, 2008
Laws Didn't Apply to Interrogators
- The Justice Department sent a legal memorandum to the Pentagon in 2003 asserting that federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators who questioned al-Qaeda captives because the president's ultimate authority as commander in chief overrode such statutes.
- Interrogators who harmed a prisoner would be protected by a "national and international version of the right to self-defense," Yoo wrote. He also articulated a definition of illegal conduct in interrogations -- that it must "shock the conscience" -- that the Bush administration advocated for years.
- "Whether conduct is conscience-shocking turns in part on whether it is without any justification," Yoo wrote, explaining, for example, that it would have to be inspired by malice or sadism before it could be prosecuted.
- The declassified memo was sent by the Defense and Justice departments late yesterday to Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Sens. Carl M. Levin (Mich.) and Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), who had seen the document in classified form and pushed for its release.
- The document is similar, although much broader, than a notorious memo primarily written by Yoo in August 2002 that narrowly defined what constitutes illegal torture. That document was also later withdrawn.
April 1, 2008
- The Justice Department late Tuesday released a declassified 2003 memorandum long sought by congressional Democrats and other administration critics that outlines the government's legal justification for harsh interrogation techniques used by the military against captured enemy combatants outside the United States.(Here are part one and part two of the memo.)
- The memo, written by John Yoo, then a key architect of legal policy in the wake of 9/11, dismisses several legal impediments to the use of extreme techniques.
- Yoo was long a proponent of an aggressive approach in the war against terrorism and a believer in executive branch authority. But the memo was withdrawn as formal government policy less than a year after it was written.
- In the March 14, 2003 memo, Yoo says the Constitution was not in play with regard to the interrogations because the Fifth Amendment (which provides for due process of law) and the Eighth Amendment (which prevents the government from employing cruel and usual punishment) does "not extend to alien enemy combatants held abroad."
Pro Choice? Yes