Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Yoo Who?

As major newspapers around the country are reporting today, the ACLU has forced the Pentagon to release a torture-enabling memo written for the Bush administration by John Yoo, a lowly Republican former Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

Here's Glenn Greenwald on the significance of the Yoo memo:

John Yoo's Memorandum, as intended, directly led to -- caused -- a whole series of war crimes at both Guantanamo and in Iraq. The reason such a relatively low-level DOJ official was able to issue such influential and extraordinary opinions was because he was working directly with, and at the behest of, the two most important legal officials in the administration: George Bush's White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, and Dick Cheney's counsel (and current Chief of Staff) David Addington. Together, they deliberately created and authorized a regime of torture and other brutal interrogation methods that are, by all measures, very serious war crimes.
Greenwald points out that the administration's actions with regard to this memo constitute the kind of conspiracy to commit war crimes that it has sought to apply to its own War on Terror enemies. And in an update to his original post, Greenwald quotes Harper's Scott Horton on just what sort of a lawyer the American president and vice-president were looking for and found in John Yoo:
These memoranda have been crafted not as an after-the-fact defense to criminal charges, but rather as a roadmap to committing crimes and getting away with it. They are the sort of handiwork we associate with the consigliere, or mob lawyer. But these consiglieri are government attorneys who have sworn an oath, which they are violating, to uphold the law.
Citing Marty Lederman, Kevin Drum asks a very good question about the memo:
[N]ow that we know what was in the memo, what justification was there for classifying it in the first place? It wouldn't have been moot in 2003, and there was nothing in it that compromised national security either then or now. The only thing it compromised was the president's desire not to have to defend his own policies — policies that led directly to the abuses at Abu Ghraib, among others.

So what sort of a defense is the loyal opposition offering to these important and thoughtful inquiries from the left? On my regular beat over at The Corner, I could find not so much as a mention of Mr. Yoo's name today. If I thought they were capable of it, I might have begun to suspect that they were ashamed.

But then the reliably detestable Cliff May finally stepped up with The Corner's only apparent statement on this base chapter in US presidential history:

They're Going to Wish They Were in Guantanamo [Cliff May]

Reuters reports:

Turkish police have detained 45 people in Istanbul for suspected links to Islamic militant group al Qaeda, state news agency Anatolian reported on Tuesday.


So there you have it: according to conservatism's flagship blog, the United States is better than Turkey (to be tortured in). Doesn't that just get the hair up on the back of your neck? USA! USA. U...s...a...