(crossposted at The Blue Herald)
John Yoo has a new book to shill, and thus is making the circuit again, demonstrating the same keen legal analysis that blithely excuses torture and the elimination of the Great Writ of habeas corpus. Let's be frank – Yoo's law degree and professorship not withstanding, his knowledge of the United States Constitution and the Federalist papers is inferior to that of a smart high school student. (Does that seem harsh? See the end of this post.)
The reason Yoo is still a player at all is because of his culpability in drafting the torture guidelines for the Bush administration. As with Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez (or President Bush, for that matter), Yoo's views are treated seriously only because of his position of power (or past position), not due to merit, insight, or basic knowledge. Yoo has been an useful idiot, all too willing (along with David Addington, Gonzales, William Haynes and others) to try to cobble together a legal justification for the Bush administration's desire for absolute, unchecked power in virtually every field. It is not as if Yoo or his compatriots had a starting point of "let's see what the law says here." Theirs are the actions of defense attorneys trying to protect their clients from prosecution for wrongdoing past, present and future. Reason, consideration of consequences, and examination of precedent do not often intrude, because even a casual flirtation with such dangerously sensible approaches would demolish their fanciful effort like the house of cards it is.
Yoo was on NPR this morning, offering some new nuggets as he commented on the new detainee laws (The Military Commissions Act of 2006). At least Yoo acknowledged that innocent people could be imprisoned. But one of his most laughable excuses for destroying due process is that that due process is — "too expensive."
Here’s the audio clip, as well as an excerpt from his book.
As was the case with Robert Bork, we would all be far worse off if the world were run by John Yoo. Of course, what can anyone expect from a man who so dispassionately asserts that the President of the United States has the legal right to have a child's testicles crushed?
Here’s a Yoo round-up, featuring analysis of some disingenuous and illogical gems from the man himself, for those who would defend his legal acumen, let alone his moral reasoning:
A Washington Post portrait.
Glenn Greenwald’s Yoo posts, plus a post on Federalist #69.
TalkLeft’s Yoo posts, including a piece on the WaPo portrait here.
Firedoglake’s Yoo posts, most specifically a piece on the WaPo portrait here.
Josh Marshall’s Yoo posts, including a piece on the WaPo portrait here.
Marty Lederman’s writings dealing with Yoo,
Law professor Michael Froomkin (at Discourse.net) on Yoo, in particular this post.
Anonymous Liberal’s Yoo posts.
Oh, and why not throw in the Lawyers, Guns and Money Yoo posts as well.
Finally, I have an older, tangential post on Alberto Mora which links one of Jane Meyer’s superb, in-depth New Yorker articles on torture and the battle over it inside the Bush administration.
Update: NPR now has reader comments posted on the Yoo page linked above. They played a few this morning (audio here). My favorite comes from a federal judge:
'Can This Be America?'
Listening to John Yoo talk about this new legislation was chilling. I'm a federal judge, and have taught constitutional law for 16 years. The very idea of holding anyone without trial, without the right to see the evidence that was used to justify naming them an "enemy combatant," and depriving them of the ability to challenge why they are even there is so repugnant to a constitutional democracy that I am shocked that this man actually claims to be defending American values. These are the tactics of the old Soviet Union, not of a country that stands for freedom and the rule of law.
I also quibble with his contention that U.S. citizens still have the right to habeas review. I've read the law. The president can form his own tribunal, which can determine who is an "enemy combatant" (not just an alien enemy combatant), and the decision of that tribunal would not be subject to habeas review. Moreover, persons targeted by this tribunal would not even have access to the military tribunal trial created under this law.
How easy it would be for a president to use such a law to make his political enemies simply disappear. Can this be America?
-- Leif Clark, San Antonio, Texas