Posted tagged ‘jonathan yoo’

Constitutional Bias?

August 13, 2010

In Thursday’s Wall Street Journal Jonathan Yoo weighed in on California’s Prop 8. His take is “let the voter’s decide”. Yoo who is now a Professor and formerly was a Bush era Justice Department official, seems to have a selective view of the Constitution.

He first made the news as the author of the infamous “torture” memos. Remember, interrogation that is short of the pain of organ failure is ok (if the President says so). This sort of legal opinion provided the cover for the ugly side of the Bush White House and brought Americans the specter of Abu Ghraib, secret renditions, and Guantanamo torture. (The other side of the Bush White House was simple incompetence.)

What Yoo and others fail to recognize in California’s Prop 8 is that voters can not take away rights already protected in the Constitution without first changing the Constitution. If all that was needed was a simple State vote, then what do you think of returning to a ban on interracial marriage? Or, reduced rights unless you belong to a certain religious group? Or, for that matter, why not confiscate property of those who do not belong to a certain political party?

Our Constitution and our political history have constantly reinforced the rights of all by denying the majority the right to suppress the minorities. This, more than anything, has made America a great country and one that so many from foreign lands want to visit or adopt.

Jonathan Yoo would do well to return to basic Constitution Law class, and relearn the basics of America.

Three Blind Mice

September 19, 2009

Former CIA leaders, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, and George Tenet have sent a letter to President Obama asking him to reverse Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to investigate interrogation abuses allegedly committed by CIA personnel. (Joining these three were also former Directors John Deutch, James Woolsey, William Webster, and James Schlesinger.) These seven have expressed concern that the investigation will discourage CIA operatives from doing their job in the future. So I guess torture is ok if you are simply trying to do your job.

From an organizational morale perspective, these former CIA Directors have a legitimate point. Their subordinates are intentional put in the difficult position of gathering intelligence where the rules of the road are not always clear or at a minimum, vary greatly from what US law allows. In these post 9/11 suspected abuses, the CIA had, to its credit, consistently sought clarification from the Administration on what they could legally do. Thanks to patriotic chicken hawks like Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft, and Jonathan Yoo, the CIA got the nod to stray way over the line. So there is a certain logic to the genesis of this letter.

Pursuing CIA operatives who may have tortured is pursuing the symptoms and not the disease. The investigation and prosecution should focus upon Goss, Tenet, and Hayden, and those who requested, formulated, or promoted enhanced interrogation. Waterboarding and violations of the Geneva Convention can not be justified as legal by any Executive Branch directive, and Goss, Tenet, and Hayden should have been expected to know this.

So for Goss, Tenet, and Hayden to sign this letter and claim the basis as hurting morale, we are seeing disingenuous words at their best, These three blind mice are really concerned about any investigation and the possibility of being included in the sweep themselves.

Did They Just Happen?

April 22, 2009

The sharks are gathering and so they should.  The release of the “torture” memos and President Obama’s promise not prosecute those CIA agents who may have used the described techniques have quickly focused most everyone’s attention on the lawyers who composed them and on the top officials who might have ordered or highly influenced the creation of these memos.  Standing there in the shadows is none other than former Vice President Dick Cheney and a cast of neoconservatives.

The torture memos just did not happen.  They were a by-product of a weak minded executive “think” that proclaimed “the ends justify the means”.  This cabal of chicken hawks believed in the supremacy of the executive branch and set about to manufacture whatever authoritative writings and documents that would support this position.  With minds such as Richard Pearle, Paul Wolfowitz, and Douglas Feith, Dick Cheney had the crew who could write the words that supported what Cheney believed.  Donald Rumsfeld was an eager implementer and put in place the enhanced interrogation methods with vigor.  When the Justice Department would not issue briefs that supported Cheney’s views, he agitated until new counsels were put in place.  Finally Jonathan Yoo wrote the opinions that justified Cheney’s intent.

In addition to the torture memos, we will soon have confirmation on NSA wire taping without court approval and the official use of secret rendition to hustle away detainees to countries where unlimited interrogation techniques ruled the day.  We will see that all these events will follow a path to the Vice President’s door.  Cheney will first try to scare us with the words of how many terror incidents he prevented and imply that if we do not do as he did, we will suffer.  When that approach does not work, Cheney will say he was acting on advice of his counselors.  And lastly, Cheney will stand behind the fact that all this was approved by the President.

This investigation will tear at the American fabric.  The Cheney supporters will cry that he was trying to do his duty and protect all Americans.  They will caste the investigation as partisan and vindictive.  The case against Cheney, however, is really about the rule of law and the balance of powers, both of which are more important than anything Cheney’s actions produced or may have prevented.