Posted tagged ‘john yoo’

When Two Anit-Matters Combine

March 10, 2012

The New York Times published an opinion piece Friday written by two individuals known for their extreme views.  The piece produced the blinding confusion just like one might expect when physicists succeed in smashing two particles of anti-matter together.

“Hands Off the Heavens” was written by John R Bolton and John C Yoo.  In this piece, the authors attack President Obama for his decision to follow the European Union plans to prevent an arms race in space.  President Obama’s plans represent an executive decision and not the force of a treaty.  Bolton and Yoo decry Obama’s decision as giving up America’s sovereignty.

The Opinion piece does not say what President Obama should be doing instead.  One is left to speculate that the US should be conducting weapons tests like shooting down other satellites and leaving tons of space junk orbiting recklessly around earth.

I guess Bolton and Yoo did not receive the memo saying the US has a massive deficit problem and many, like Tea Party members, want to cut government spending massively.  Defense spending must be part of any reduction effort.

The more interesting news here is who these authors are.

John Bolton is a well dressed “cold war” bully in the Dick Cheney mold.  He believes there are no limits to America’s power and manifest destiny.  He supported the tough approach towards Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.  Hussein was told to come clean on his nuclear weapons program.  When inspectors could not verify that any existed, Bolton (and others) insisted that unless Hussein stopped his program, greater measures would follow.  The Iraq invasion followed and, of course, no nuclear weapons were found.

Bolton also rode his war horse towards North Korea.  The US should spare no effort to isolate Kim Jung Il and forget about negotiations he advised.  Bolton scolded the President and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton often for being too soft on North Korea.  Another memo that explained that North Korea was actually within the China orbit and unilateral military actions against North Korea was not an option seem to have missed Bolton’s desk.

John Yoo is peculiar buddy to be teamed with Bolton.  Yoo, you may remember, wrote the famous legal advice that said enhanced interrogation methods that did not simulate pain as in an “organ failure” were legally acceptable.  Water boarding straight from the Inquisitions and outlawed by the Geneva Treaty (which the US signed) was ok in Yoo’s book.

There has always been a question in my mind whether Yoo was writing what he thought his superiors wanted or whether he really believed in torture.  It could be both, but his writings since have stressed the implied extraordinary powers the Executive Branch possesses (or should possess).  Maybe Yoo wants to become king.

Both Bolton and Yoo display the same characteristic.  They assume the US is “correct” in its actions to achieve certain goals and that any means to achieve those ends are justifiable.  They also display a seeming lack of anticipation of any adverse reaction towards these US positions.  Simply stated, the US is right, its actions are just, and nothing bad will happen to us as a result.

Their positions are delusional.

Being Thankful

December 24, 2010

On Christmas Eve, there is time to reflect and assess how lucky (or unlucky) you might be.  This can be on a personal level or in a more abstract vein.  In particular, when I think in the abstract  about this blog, I see our Country “regaining the center”.  If we can stay there, this bodes very will for all ships.

Think about the not too distant past.  We had an Administration that picked people for their religious or political views and placed some of them in critical roles administering justice.  Imagine appointing John Yoo to write memos on the admissibility of torture. (Just the notion that someone would ask about torture is mind bending).

Think about an administration that made up story after story about why the US should invade a sovereign country that posed no imminent threat to the US.  Consider what happened when the tone at the top of this Administration taught that some people were less than human and places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo appeared.

Or, think about all the talk of god and reading the bible.   Now think about the Terry Schaivo disgrace and the wholesale rejection of science.  We cannot overlook that Administration’s views of regulations and regulators, and the incompetents who were placed in key posts.  Katrina, the burst housing bubble, and the financial sector implosion resonate from these decisions.

For sure in every Administration, fate or luck plays a role.  Some years everything seems to go well with the economy and world affairs.  And, in other years, misfortune reigns.  When an Administration enters any period with a strong tilt, either right or left, the ship of state is in for a rough ride.

The years 2000-2008 were dreadful in this respect.  We are only two years into the new Administration but somehow I think the ship of state has a better chance to sail the course.


What Did They Say?

November 13, 2010

Last Wednesday, a newly formed dynamic duo wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times.  This team was as strange as the subject.  I wonder whether the Wall Street Journal had first choice and decided this was simply ridiculous?

I am speaking of a column headed “Why Rush to Cut Nukes”.  The authors were John R Bolton and John Yoo.  They wrote to caution the Senate to reject or seriously amend the Start II treaty between the US and Russia.  Their breathless request sought to stop any changes to the US nuclear strike capability during these dangerous times.  I wonder whether people pay them to think of unreal things like that.

To put this in perspective, if the US decided to use one of its nuclear war heads everyday, after ten years of explosions, we would still possess enough to destroy any enemy.

And, tell me which country poses such a threat that we need to retain this overwhelming number of nukes?  Which country would any President drop the big bomb on should some extremists manage to explode a “dirty” bomb on US land?  Or, are these two dim light bulbs thinking that we would nuclear carpet bomb China to help our balance of payments?

Disarmament is always a tricky deal.  “I’ll cut one if you cut one.  OK, you go first”  Except in this situation the US possesses so many nuclear weapons that some reasonable number of US cuts, if not followed by the Russians, would make no difference in our overall capability.

Our friend Johnny Bolton is no stranger to “carrying a big stick”.  His life has been defined by the cold war and having a strong enemy for the US to face.  When the Soviet Union collapsed, Bolton’s life was in shambles.  His co-author for this piece is also no stranger but new to this type of subject.  John Yoo is better know as “torture is when the pain is like organ failure” and “waterboarding is not torture”.  Yoo wrote the infamous torture memos President Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld hid behind when they marched the US down this dismal path.  How this lawyer became a weapons expert is unknown.

In a free society, free expression is a core element.  Bolton and Yoo certainly have a right to their opinion.  Americans need only do the math to see their position is baseless.

Poor Judgement

February 20, 2010

The Justice Department has released its findings in the investigation of the “torture memos”. And the answer, please. The authors used “poor judgement”.

This is certainly a testimonial to clear thinking. All Americans should rest easier knowing that their Justice Department professionals can determine that the “torture memos” and those that created them used poor judgement.

What other words might have been used? Were these memos “insightful”? Were these memos “brilliantly conceived”? Were these memos “extensions of previous precedents”? The answer, of course, is no.   Not any of those possibilities could be used to describe the memos.

John Yoo was recruited to his position in the George W Bush Justice Department largely because he was bright, ambitious,very conservative, and, as a bonus, sympathetic to the view that the chief executive is the more equal of the three equal branches of Government. He was just the type of lawyer Dick Cheney was looking for. Yoo listened to what was wanted (justification to use enhanced interrogation techniques) and went to work on developing memorandum that provided legal cover to those who would subsequently violate US Law, the Geneva Convention, and common sense.

Yoo and his former boss, Jay Bybee failed the test of professional ethics and did their clients (President George W Bush as well as Dick the chicken hawk Cheney) a huge disservice by issuing the torture memos.

It is hard to explain the whitewashing that the Obama Administration Justice Department has given in its final conclusions (if you read the report, the facts would lead most people to a much harsher conclusion). One explanation is that one lawyer is just trying to protect another. More likely, however, is the desire not to open Pandora’s box. Had Bybee and Yoo been charged with “misconduct” and disbarment proceedings were to begin, the trail would quickly lead to former Vice President Cheney and ultimately to former President Bush. It seems our leaders do not have the stomach for opening this wrenching examination.

Instead Americans are left with facts that support a much stronger conclusion but findings that simply do not go far enough. No wonder Americans do not trust the Government or lawyers.