I admit it. I could not read Yoo’s gloating, self-congratulatory op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today. I can only take but so much straight-up, undiluted evil directly in my face before feeling like I have a bad case of food poisoning.
Jon Perr is braver than I:
As the Scooter Libby affair showed, no one circles the wagons like the Republican Party and its conservative allies. Now that Bush torture architects John Yoo and Jay Bybee barely escaped disbarment in the final version of the report from the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, the right-wing counterattack and near orgasmic celebration is well underway. Leading the clarion call is none other than John Yoo himself, who in his Wall Street Journal op-ed today proclaimed his legacy of unlimited war powers – and a virtually unlimited regime of detainee torture – “my gift to the Obama presidency.”
Following the cheerleading from the usual Republican mouthpieces including the National Review, Commentary and the Wall Street Journal, Yoo took a victory lap Wednesday, stepping over the broken bodies of American prisoners and shattered national honor. Rewriting both the history of the OPR report and its conclusions, Yoo crowed:
Barack Obama may not realize it, but I may have just helped save his presidency. How? By winning a drawn-out fight to protect his powers as commander in chief to wage war and keep Americans safe… Without a vigorous commander-in-chief power at his disposal, Mr. Obama will struggle to win any of these victories. But that is where OPR, playing a junior varsity CIA, wanted to lead us. Ending the Justice Department’s ethics witch hunt not only brought an unjust persecution to an end, but it protects the president’s constitutional ability to fight the enemies that threaten our nation today.
Jon also links to Glenn Greenwald’s Monday post — which I had not seen before — on the way the right has been misrepresenting David Margolis’ report on the Office of Professional Responsibility’s recommendation (emphasis is Glenn’s):
… At National Review, Bill Burck and Dana Perino so thoroughly mislead their readers about the DOJ report — rejecting the findings of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) of ethical misconduct against John Yoo and Jay Bybee — that it’s hard to know where to begin. …
Perhaps the most deceitful claim is this one:
So, in one corner we have a legal all-star team of Mukasey, Filip, Estrada, Mahoney, Goldsmith [all right-wing Bush lawyers], and Margolis. In the other corner, we have OPR operating far outside its comfort zone and area of expertise. This shouldn’t have been close — and it wasn’t, on the merits.
Compare that to what Margolis actually said (p. 67):
For all of the above reasons, I am not prepared to conclude that the circumstantial evidence much of which is contradicted by the witness testimony regarding Yoo’s efforts establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that Yoo intentionally or recklessly provided misleading advice to his client. It is a close question. I would be remiss in not observing, however, that these memoranda represent an unfortunate chapter in the history of the Office of Legal Counsel. While I have declined to adopt OPR’s finding of misconduct, I fear that John Yoo’s loyalty to his own ideology and convictions clouded his view of his obligation to his client and led him to adopt opinions that reflected his own extreme, albeit sincerely held, views of executive power while speaking for an institutional client.
Just think about that for a minute. Margolis said that whether Yoo “intentionally or recklessly provided misleading advice to his client” when authorizing torture — about the most serious accusation one can make against a lawyer, as it means he deliberately made false statements about the law — “is a close question.” That’s the precise opposite of what Burck and Perino told National Review readers about Margolis’ conclusion (“This shouldn’t have been close — and it wasn’t, on the merits”).
Yoo’s mea magnifico is titled “My Gift to the Obama Presidency,” and is here if anyone has the stomach to read it.