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Monday, February 14, 2005

On the lynching front…

Since lynching academics seems to be all the rage in the 'sphere right now, we've found a deserving object: Berkeley law professor John C. Yoo. Why? Yoo didn’t make any little speeches to demonstrators. No, Yoo made himself responsible for electroshock, sleep deprivation, electrodes to the genitals – the standard American advice to rightwing death squads in the seventies and eighties. Yes, Yoo worked in the White House on normalizing torture. What was that phrase about little Eichmanns that is being bandied about? Here are some choice bits from the New Yorker story:

“The Bush Administration’s redefinition of the standards of interrogation took place almost entirely out of public view. One of the first officials to offer hints of the shift in approach was Cofer Black, who was then in charge of counter-terrorism at the C.I.A. On September 26, 2002, he addressed the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, and stated that the arrest and detention of terrorists was “a very highly classified area.” He added, “All you need to know is that there was a ‘before 9/11’ and there was an ‘after 9/11.’ After 9/11, the gloves came off.”

Laying the foundation for this shift was a now famous set of internal legal memos—some were leaked, others were made public by groups such as the N.Y.U. Center for Law and National Security. Most of these documents were generated by a small, hawkish group of politically appointed lawyers in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and in the office of Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel. Chief among the authors was John C. Yoo, the deputy assistant attorney general at the time. (A Yale Law School graduate and a former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas, Yoo now teaches law at Berkeley.) Taken together, the memos advised the President that he had almost unfettered latitude in his prosecution of the war on terror. For many years, Yoo was a member of the Federalist Society, a fellowship of conservative intellectuals who view international law with skepticism, and September 11th offered an opportunity for him and others in the Administration to put their political ideas into practice. ...

Soon after September 11th, Yoo and other Administration lawyers began advising President Bush that he did not have to comply with the Geneva Conventions in handling detainees in the war on terror...

"The State Department, determined to uphold the Geneva Conventions, fought against Bush’s lawyers and lost. In a forty-page memo to Yoo, dated January 11, 2002 (which has not been publicly released), William Taft IV, the State Department legal adviser, argued that Yoo’s analysis was “seriously flawed.” Taft told Yoo that his contention that the President could disregard the Geneva Conventions was “untenable,” “incorrect,” and “confused.” Taft disputed Yoo’s argument that Afghanistan, as a “failed state,” was not covered by the Conventions. “The official United States position before, during, and after the emergence of the Taliban was that Afghanistan constituted a state,” he wrote. Taft also warned Yoo that if the U.S. took the war on terrorism outside the Geneva Conventions, not only could U.S. soldiers be denied the protections of the Conventions—and therefore be prosecuted for crimes, including murder—but President Bush could be accused of a “grave breach” by other countries, and be prosecuted for war crimes. Taft sent a copy of his memo to Gonzales, hoping that his dissent would reach the President. Within days, Yoo sent Taft a lengthy rebuttal.”

So, here’s a question: why is a man of such an odious moral character teaching at the University of California in Berkeley? Why isn’t this man properly shunned and ostracized? Where is CT, so eager to string up academics for immoral comments they make at rallies that are meaningless, when it comes to Yoo, whose freedom of speech had much more effect -- ask the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, or the people the U.S. outsourced to our torturing anti-democratic allies. Are the good folks at Berkeley going to hire some generals from Argentina next? Political science 101: getting rid of your opponents?

Here’s another tasty quote from the ever disgusting Comrade Yoo:

“Yoo also argued that the Constitution granted the President plenary powers to override the U.N. Convention Against Torture when he is acting in the nation’s defense—a position that has drawn dissent from many scholars. As Yoo saw it, Congress doesn’t have the power to “tie the President’s hands in regard to torture as an interrogation technique.” He continued, “It’s the core of the Commander-in-Chief function. They can’t prevent the President from ordering torture.” If the President were to abuse his powers as Commander-in-Chief, Yoo said, the constitutional remedy was impeachment. He went on to suggest that President Bush’s victory in the 2004 election, along with the relatively mild challenge to Gonzales mounted by the Democrats in Congress, was “proof that the debate is over.” He said, “The issue is dying out. The public has had its referendum.”

Thus spake the dregs.

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