I’m going to have a lot more to say on this a little later (see below). John Yoo was the architect of the Bush administration’s torture memos. He was inside the office of legal counsel along with David Addington, Vice President Cheney’s legal council, were the ones who came up with the idea of unlimited presidential power during war time and torture.
While I’m bumbling and stumbling over how to describe John Yoo, Glenn had no trouble laying out Yoo’s crimes and the administrations misdeeds. I’m a little disappointed in this interview. Although Stewart tried, he was unable to corner Yoo. Here’s part 2 of the interview.
From Glenn Greenwald:
(1) The fact that John Yoo is a Professor of Law at Berkeley and is treated as a respectable, serious expert by our media institutions, reflects the complete destruction over the last eight years of whatever moral authority the United States possessed. Comporting with long-held stereotypes of two-bit tyrannies, we’re now a country that literally exempts our highest political officials from the rule of law, and have decided that there should be no consequences when they commit serious felonies.
(2) While Yoo’s specific Torture Memos were ultimately rescinded by subsequent DOJ officials — primarily Jack Goldsmith — the underlying theories of omnipotent executive power remain largely in place. The administration continues to embrace precisely these same theories to assert that it has the power to violate a whole array of laws — from our nation’s spying and surveillance statutes to countless Congressional oversight requirements — and to detain even U.S. citizens, detained on American soil, as “enemy combatants.” So for all of the dramatic outrage that this Yoo memo will generate for a day or so, the general framework on which it rests, despite being weakened by the Supreme Court in Hamdan, is the one under which we continue to live, without much protest or objection.
(3) This incident provides yet more proof of how rancid and corrupt is the premise that as long as political appointees at the DOJ approve of certain conduct, then that conduct must be shielded from criminal prosecution. That’s the premise that is being applied over and over to remove government lawbreaking from the reach of the law.
The DOJ is not the law. They are not above the law and they do not make the law. They are merely charged with enforcing it. The fact that they assert that blatantly illegal conduct is legal does not make it so. DOJ officials, like anyone else, can violate the law and have done so not infrequently. High DOJ officials — including Attorneys General — have been convicted of crimes in the past and have gone to prison.
(4) Since the Nuremberg Trials, “war criminals” include not only those who directly apply the criminal violence and other forms of brutality, but also government officials who authorized it and military officials who oversaw it. Ironically, the Bush administration itself argued in the 2006 case of Hamdan — when they sought to prosecute as a “war criminal” a Guantanamo detainee whom they allege was a driver for Osama bin Laden — that one is guilty of war crimes not merely by directly violating the laws of war, but also by participating in a conspiracy to do so.
Jon Stewart took a moment at the start of last night’s Daily Show to reflect on his frustrating interview with former Bush Department of Justice lawyer and ‘torture memo’ author John Yoo.
“I was gonna nail him baby, eeeee…. slipped right through my fingers,” confessed Stewart. “It was like interviewing sand. … You set that hook, you know what I mean? You think you got something going, you set the hook, and you’re expecting a little fight, you’re gonna pull back on the marlin, and you’re gonna reel it in, and basically though you look over and he’s just lying on your boat back like this, and then you don’t know what the f*ck to do. So uhh, he got me.”