John Yoo Still Defending His Torture Memo

The Washington Post reports that former Bush Justice Department attorney and "torture memo" author John Yoo is waging a high-profile counterattack against his critics:

Last month, a federal judge in California refused to dismiss a lawsuit that accuses Yoo of violating a detainee's constitutional rights. This month, the Justice Department's inspector general described Yoo's legal analysis of the Bush surveillance program as "insufficient" and sometimes inaccurate. Also expected in coming weeks is a department ethics report that sources have said could renounce Yoo's approval of harsh CIA interrogation practices and recommend that he and Jay S. Bybee, a former colleague, be referred to their state bar associations for discipline.

While former colleagues have avoided attention in the face of such scrutiny, Yoo has been traveling across the country to give speeches and counter critics who dispute his bold view of the president's authority....

They were ideas born early in his legal career, before stints as a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Those positions, which even friends call extreme, endeared him to a Bush White House seeking to adopt a centralized approach to power.

Read the rest here.

"Extreme" is putting it gently. As the legal scholar David Cole has noted, "Yoo had a hand in virtually every major legal decision involving the US response to the attacks of September 11, and at every point, so far as we know, his advice was virtually always the same—the president can do whatever the president wants."

Last August, I criticized Yoo's troubling 2008 Charleston Law Review article "Andrew Jackson and Presidential Power," where Yoo praised Old Hickory for his vigorous use of untrammeled executive authority and basically recast the controversial seventh president as a none-too-subtle precursor to George W. Bush. Senior Editor Jacob Sullum criticizes Yoo's disastrous theories of presidential power here and here.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • hmm||

    Screw yoo.

  • ||

    yawn

  • Mad Max||

    What I like about Yoo
    He keeps us safe at night
    Never lets a suspect go
    Any mistreatment is all right

    Throwing prisoners against the walls
    Electroshock treatment to the balls
    It's all cool!
    That's what I like about Yoo.

  • Untermensch||

    I didn't know John Yoo's middle name was Rached. Who knew...

  • ||

    I, for one, am looking forward to the lawsuits and disbarments of the current White House attorneys advising President Obama that, when it comes the economy, the President can do whatever the President wants.

  • ||

    What a mega douche, he should be detained indefinitely without charge and without being allowed to speak to anybody.

  • Mad Max||

    What I like about Yoo
    My needs he understands
    He finds a legal rationale
    To let me carry out my plans

    Whispering in the President's ear
    Telling him the things that he wants to hear
    (Article II)
    That's what I like about Yoo.

  • hmm||

    I, for one, am looking forward to the lawsuits and disbarments of the current White House attorneys advising President Obama that, when it comes the economy, the President can do whatever the President wants.



    I'm firmly against political witch hunts. I am 100% for witch hunting and trying the attorneys involved.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Oh, the thinks that Yoo can do
    Yoo can think purple is blue
    He can think one is two!
    Oh, the thinks that Yoo can do,
    Can you do thinks like Yoo?

  • ||

    What good libertarians should be pondering is the danger to our liberties that can result from asserting civil rights for terrorists who:

    1. Operate outside the bounds of legal warfare by targeting civilians, refusing to wear uniforms, and exploiting the rights given to citizens of other countries to escape punishment.

    2. Intimidate, murder and maim people of all countries who stand up for individual rights and put forth freedom of thought.

    3. Take advantage of open societies to operate, attack and murder, encouraging many people to choose security over liberty.

    Also, good libertarians should question the chilling effect that criminalizing brainstorming sessions and legal opinions will have on future brainstorming sessions and legal opinions.

    I would love to be a libertarian. Really, I try so hard. But y'all are so dense when it comes to defending everything you claim to hold dear from evil men.

  • Mad Max||

    Peter,

    I am not a libertarian (good or otherwise), just a harmless fellow-traveller, but you raise a point which I had not previously considered. It had not previously occurred to me that terrorists were evil men. And you point out that terrorists do bad things - an excellent point, and I wish I had given that fact the attention it deserves.

    With this new information at my fingertips, I see clearly now that Article II of the Constitution of the United States does, indeed (as Yoo claims) confer on the President of the United States a broad antiterrorist authority, an authority which cannon be constrained by mere Congressional statutes. The terrorist lobby in Congress is so powerful that they would block any useful antiterrorist statutes - that's why the PATRIOT Act and the military tribunals law are so wimpy and inadequate. Only a broad Presidential power independent of Congress is sufficient to throw off the shackles of proterrorist legislation like the PATRIOT Act.

    You also showed that anyone who was critical of Yoo is automatically a fan of every tactic which is being used, or which could be used, to attack him. After all, the 'evil man' theory means that anything we do against evil men is legal, so therefore anyone who suggests Yoo is an evildoer has necessarily endorsed any conceivable means of punishment/accountability against him, without regard to his legal rights or proper constitutional principles.

    Only by denying that Yoo did anything evil can we logically reject such things as the criminalization of brainstorming, etc.

  • Mad Max||

    *cannot* be restrained by mere Congressional statute

  • ||

    Yoo is following the only path left to him at this point. He was too widely exposed to try to avoid scrutiny like his colleagues.

    And frankly there's no reason to worry about him, or most of the higher ups from the Bush administration. They will carry the stink from that clusterfuck of a presidency around with them for the rest of their lives, and no one in a position of power will want anything to do with them.

  • kathryn jones||

    NY Times Reporter Charlie Savage on the OLC memos (authored by yoo and his staff) that were never meant to see the light of day, but were designed to give the president legal authority to do whatever it is was the president wished...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvm-QzFI9dw

    kathryn jones
    MSL

  • Les||

    Peter,

    Good libertarians don't have blind faith that someone is a terrorist simply because the government says he is. That type of faith is downright leftist in its devotion.

  • Untermensch||

    Peter,

    There is a strange irony that you seem to have missed in your statement. You are arguing that in order to protect truth, justice, and the American way (or something like that) that we must set aside those very things that we are trying to protect. Since no one here is advocating that we let bad guys go (if the government can demonstrate that they are bad guys), I don't see how saying that we should have a procedure to verify if they are bad guys (at least not one based on "trust us, we're the government") would lead to what you seem to think it would. There have been enough instances lately where sympathetic courts have reamed the government a new one for slipshod work and lack of any evidence at all, plus enough cases of people who were demonstrably innocent, that it should give you pause. Or does it not matter because those innocents were a bunch of towel heads and not Americans?

    Regarding criminalizing brainstorming: Yoo's bits went well beyond brainstorming sessions. No one here (or anywhere else I know of) has argued that Yoo is criminal for talking over possibilities, even bad ones. They are arguing that his legal advice led to criminal action and was, when put into action, itself criminal. Had Yoo merely said "you know, I think this might be a legal justification for torture" that would not be criminal in any sense. It was the putting of it into action that is the problem. Just as if I said that my neighbor deserves an asswhupping it's not criminal, but if I go over and beat him up myself or have someone do it on the basis of my sentiments, it is.

  • Les||

    If a lawyer tells his client that you can legally rob a bank on the third Tuesday of the month, can't he be disbarred for that?

  • ||

    What good libertarians should be pondering is the danger to our liberties that can result from asserting civil rights for terrorists criminals who:

    1. Operate outside the bounds of legal warfare the law by targeting civilians, refusing to wear uniforms, and exploiting the rights given to citizens of other countries to escape punishment.

    2. Intimidate, murder and maim people of all countries who stand up for individual rights and put forth freedom of thought.

    3. Take advantage of open societies to operate, attack and murder, encouraging many people to choose security over liberty.

    Also, good libertarians should question the chilling effect that criminalizing brainstorming sessions and legal opinions will have on future brainstorming sessions and legal opinions.

    I would love to be a libertarian. Really, I try so hard. But y'all are so dense when it comes to defending everything you claim to hold dear from evil men.


    Yep, that works just as well as Peter's initial post.

  • Calvinball||

    asserting civil rights for terrorists criminals who



    But, Seamus, he said "terrorist".

    It's not fair thinking after he says "terrorist", you gotta PANIC when he says "terrorist".

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement