John Yoo Thinks Pres. Obama Should Kiss His….

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.

         

Author: KATHY KATTENBURG

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38 Comments

  1. There is an ocean of difference between finding that your opinions do not [quite] rise to the level of professional misconduct and extrapolating from that, that your opinions are legally correct. Yoo may not be guilty of misconduct, be he is an ass.

  2. I think Yoo should kiss my……

    Foot.

  3. Fun fact about weakening the rule of law: it weakens protections that were meant to protect you as well.

    Sooner or later, people have to make a choice – do they risk the effects of siding with entropy and evil in order to do away with a corrosive element in their midst, or do they attempt to galvanize and strengthen their society, siding with negentropy and hoping that even the most flagrant elites can be submitted to order?

    Basically, Yoo is telling people in Western society that crime pays and that having lots of good-ol' boys in your country club is more important than having a soul.

    Where are the conservative columnists who are so quick to blame the degeneracy of today's younger people on rappers and HBO? Why, they are writing columns about how Christianity is compatible with torture.

    The same people telling “the West” to shape up and become more noble are willingly participating in the complete elimination of meaning, dignity and honor in our culture. People like Yoo are unworthy of taking a bullet for the kind of people who fought to get the Third Reich government on trial.

    The US public is scarred, chaotic and vitriolic after 9/11, and they cannot recuperate. Instead, they sacrifice more and more values and principles on the altar of vindication, like some abused teenager who thinks his trauma absolves him of culpability when he takes out his aggression on the community.

    Pathetic. I spit on all those who think this mockery of Western values can strengthen society, and apologize for this parody of justice. Yoo got off the hook because he has enough friends in the system – *That* is elitism, you fascist idiots. Osama bin Laden turns out to be the most influential person in America, from 2001 and onwards. He screwed you all up good, and like many victims of abuse, you took his evil inside you and are now spreading it. He is losing in the martial sense, but that isn't the only battlefield.

  4. Spectacular victory for Woo and Bybee over the political hacks we have running the “Justice Department” these days. Yoo richly deserves his 'victory lap', considering that we have for years heard this honorable man slandered and smeared by his far left detractors. Yet in the final analysis, he was guilty of no crime, and committed no lapse worthy of sanction. His real “crime” was to empower the Executive Branch to fight terrorism, a work benefitting whoever holds the Office of the President, regardless the party. A non-partisan triumph which no doubt saved American lives and made the country stronger.

    Those who don't like Yoo and Bybee had your chance to produce something of merit and failed utterly despite a detailed, exhaustive investigation by the very people desperately in seach of political trophy.

    There's irony involved when we are sternly admonished to call terrorists “alleged” or “accused” because they have not yet been tried, but such sensitivity does not extend to Americans seeking to protect the country. Yoo and Bybee have been found after a meticulous investigation to have done no wrong and committed no crime. They are honorable citizens of our country and deserve to be treated as such, regardless of whether people agree with their legal opinions.

    There is a push underway to eventually provide Yoo and Bybee with formal recognition for their fine services to the country, and I hope it succeeds. Many Americans are grateful for their service.

  5. There is a push underway to eventually provide Yoo and Bybee with formal recognition for their fine services to the country, and I hope it succeeds.

    Cool! They can call it the Al Qaeda Award for Outstanding Service to the Cause of Terrorist Recruitment and the Advancement of War Crimes.

  6. This made me laugh. :-)

  7. Don't exchange opinions with people you can't be expected to respect. DaMav doesn't think or speak in good faith on the subject, so let him masturbate in peace.

  8. DaMav,

    We disagree from time to time, and this would be one of those times. A couple of days ago I agreed that Yoo/Bybee were not guilty of misconduct, but that does not make their legal opinions correct.

    Being a racist isn't a crime, but that doesn't make being a racist correct.

    I'm not accusing Yoo/Bybee of being racist, just making an analogy. The idea that Yoo/Bybee's opinions are correct because they are not in prison is a nonsequeter. Lawyers don't go to prison for incorrect opinions, they are just incorrect legal opinions. The fact that they are not being disbarred doesn't make them heroes and it sure as heck doesn't make them right.

  9. Yoo may not be guilty of misconduct, be he is an ass.

    It fits so many politicians and pundits on both sides of the aisle so well.

  10. I understood your comments from a couple days ago and understand them now. I've heard Yoo speak several times on TV, read a number of his articles, and admire the man greatly for what he has sacrificed over the years. He is bright and well spoken and has good values imo. Yet he can't even publish the time and places of his law lectures for fear of disruption by radicals who believe he needs to be 'punished' for disagreeing with them — I doubt that you would favor that.

    Yes, we disagree on Yoo. (I'm less familiar with Bybee). You (and Kathy and others) have every right to your opinions on his views and actions and I applaud you both for freely expressing them. And I will continue 'yumping' on the other side of the teeter-totter pointing out that opinions vary. Many Americans on both sides. Never a dull moment in politics. Honest disagreement is part of the system, and may that always be the case. Thank you for your input, as always.

  11. We've reached the Event Horizon of mental laziness (the “But what about the other side”-defense) in all but 10 comments.

    I hate exchanging opinions with fellow human beings. They never fail to disappoint me.

  12. I think Yoo is a war criminal. I believe he has knowingly and deliberately undermined the Constitution, thus damaging this country. I would dearly love to see him rot in jail for the rest of his natural life.

  13. I want him put on trial. You know, like all other people plausibly suspected of crimes.

    But Yoo is apparently above people like us, and can't be subject to that.

    That's American values today. DaMav is just in a slightly more advanced state of apathy than most of society.

  14. Now there ya go. Even though a full investigation has demonstrated no crime, not even sufficient evidence for an ethics rebuke, you want him to be put in jail for life.

    You advocate putting people in jail for life, even if we can't indict them for anything and they are cleared by a full investigation. And then you claim Yoo is 'undermining the Constitution'. I couldn't ask for a more obvious self-indictment.

  15. I forgot that you don't deserve to be responded to on this subject – comment removed.

  16. “your opinions do not [quite] rise to the level of professional misconduct and extrapolating from that, that your opinions are legally correct.”

    While Yoo conflates at the beginning of the piece between being exonerated from the ethics charge and the validity of his opinions, you are taking it much farther without providing the evidence.

    Most of his “in-your-face” language is specific to the ethics investigation….and when one political party pursues such against another political party…..I choose to see that as political. So, one round of posturing begets another round of posturing……all pretty standard political gamesmanship.

    If Yoo is gloating now, the Obama administration brought it on. Just like here at TMV, if you make a partisan statement that doesn't come true, be ready to pay the price.

  17. Lawyers don't go to prison for incorrect opinions'

    Even if they are the Supemes, as you have pointed out.

  18. I forgot that you don't deserve to be responded to on this subject”

    Oooh, poor Damav, he missed out at an uber-remark from the overseas prince of reason and light. Bad boy, too much mental m________, Axel. Feel free to attack me in lieu of DaMav (oops, I probably am not worthy).

  19. Axel, just out of curiosity, where are you from? I'm guessing Germany, from your name, but I could be wrong.

  20. Sweden, a land where religion knows its place and everyone is better off for it.

  21. Even though a full investigation has demonstrated no crime, …

    DaMav, you keep saying this, and it simply isn't true. This isn't a matter of opinion — it's a matter of law. You are conflating two separate things — an ethics investigation is not the same as a criminal investigation. The standards for determining whether someone has violated the ethics of their profession and the standards for determining whether someone has committed a crime are two entirely different things. In point of fact — fact, DaMav, not opinion — John Yoo and Jay Bybee have neither been charged with committing criminal acts, nor have they been exonerated of having committed criminal acts. All that has happened here is that the Department of Justice has decided that the actions Yoo and Bybee took do not meet the criteria necessary for disbarment — professional misconduct. Those criteria are not laws. They are simply standards chosen and decided upon by the members of this profession, which happens to be lawyers. It really has nothing to do with the question or the issue of whether LAWS were violated.

    As the hoary old chestnut goes, you are entitled to your own opinions, but you are NOT entitled to your own facts.

  22. Ah, Sweden. I have to agree that from the little I know about Sweden, it's an admirable society. And a beautiful country, as well.

  23. Careful, CO, we find ourselves much in agreement again. That he conflated his exoneration, with which I agree, with his “correctness” on the substance, even if only at the beginning of the piece is sufficiently arrogant for me. I need take it no farther than that. And, yes, it is “all pretty standard political gamesmanship.” That's the real damnation of it (on both sides)…simple disciplinary investigation gets dropped for good reason and turns into a national game of political gotcha. Government by tabloid diversion.

  24. Government by tabloid diversion.”

    Give him a break, like many others with questionable legal entanglements (H&B) he is trying to sell books.

  25. Sociopaths in high US government positions seem to be a dime a dozen anymore. Hard to believe anyone would choose Yoo for a role model though. Good grief…

  26. Full investigation? I don't think so. How can you have a full investigation when a big chunk of the emails/evidence mysteriously went missing? They only investigated him for whether he broke legal ethics by deliberately giving his clients (the US) bad advice. Obama didn't want to touch with a ten foot pole prosecuting him for war crimes, like the Nazi lawyers were successfully prosecuted for, when they provided legal cover for Nazi war crimes. Torture is a crime. He knew that, and did his level best to slap together a convoluted justification for law breaking. I believe the emails WOULD have shown he KNEW he was doing wrong. I want him thoroughly investigated, put on trial, and successfully prosecuted for his real crimes. I think Yoo is a disgrace to this country.

  27. Got it. You want a Kangaroo Court to affirm your personal opinion of Yoo, then throw him in jail for life. Obama is covering for Yoo because Obama is part of the Big Nazi Conspiracy. I hear Karl Rove is still in charge of the Justice Department and Eric Holder is actually a robot manufactured in the Underground Labs at Bilderberg by Faux News. And 'everyone' knows that Rove gets his orders from Himmler, right?

    Thanks for today's report from the Mother Ship. :-) Now can we just Move On?

  28. Got it. You want a Kangaroo Court to affirm your personal opinion of Yoo, then throw him in jail for life. Obama is covering for Yoo because Obama is part of the Big Nazi Conspiracy. I hear Karl Rove is still in charge of the Justice Department and Eric Holder is actually a robot manufactured in the Underground Labs at Bilderberg by Faux News. And 'everyone' knows that Rove gets his orders from Himmler, right?

    Thanks for today's report from the Mother Ship. :-) Now can we just Move On?

  29. It is a fact that after a multi-year in depth investigation of Yoo, much of it conducted by a highly partisan Justice Department seeking to nail him on a politically trumped up set of accusations, not only is he not convicted of anything, they couldn't even find anything to indict him. Are you seriously proposing that they just overlooked criminal charges? I understand that the far left is disappointed, but denying reality does not really help your case.

    The rich irony of those claiming to support the Constitution while simultaneously pushing a 'guilty until proven innocent' standard is priceless. If he is guilty of 'crimes', where are the formal charges, where is the indictment? Does presumption of innocence only applies to those trying to blow up airplanes?

    A full, yea exhaustive investigation, has demonstrated no crime. I stand by my statement.

  30. Thanks for today's report from the Mother Ship”

    Good one, but not as good as your “waving chicken entrails” winner. LOL

  31. It is a fact that after a multi-year in depth investigation of Yoo, much of it conducted by a highly partisan Justice Department seeking to nail him on a politically trumped up set of accusations, not only is he not convicted of anything, they couldn't even find anything to indict him. Are you seriously proposing that they just overlooked criminal charges?

    What I am saying is that they did not do a criminal investigation. I don't know how else to say it, DaMav. You seem to be unable to understand the difference between an investigation that looks for evidence of criminal violations of law, and an investigation that looks for violations of a particular profession's code of professional ethics. If you don't or can't or won't understand the difference, there's nothing more I can say. Believe what you wish. You will, anyway.

  32. Amen, Zzzzz. I could not have said it better.

  33. “As the hoary old chestnut goes, you are entitled to your own opinions, but you are NOT entitled to your own facts.”

    Talk about a statement right out of the headlines…..
    Well done, Harry Reid…..um…..I mean….Kathy.
    LOL

  34. ..they did not do a criminal investigation..

    I cannot help but wonder what crime you would contemplate charging Yoo/Bybee with other than aiding in the furtherance of criminal actions. Which is precisely what this entire investigation was about. These are lawyers. They did not personally waterboard anyone. They provided legal advice to the government. It is contrary to professional standards to knowingly assist a client to break the law. The investigation was basically focused on exactly that issue. If they were found not to have violated this standard, exactly what 'crime' would you charge them with?

    Even if, for the sake of argument, we assume waterboarding is a crime, the contribution that Yoo/Bybee would make to that crime is providing legal advice that aided and abetted in furthering it, i.e. unprofessional conduct. So you would charge them with unprofessional conduct. Which is exactly what was being investigated here, and which charge they have now been cleared of after an exhaustive five year investigation.

    You might postulate that they could be charged with 'conspiracy to commit an illegal act' but how likely is that to succeed when they have just been basically cleared of doing exactly that. Just because a lawyer represents an arsonist and provides legal advice does not make the lawyer guilty of arson. Obviously. The lawyer would only be guilty if shown to assist the arsonist in breaking the law, and for Yoo/Bybee, those allegations have now been formally rejected and refuted by the investigation.

    You are left with a desire for angry revenge with no facts to back up your case other than your personal desire to punish those with whom you disagree. That is an understandable human emotion, but it has no bearing on legal reality.

  35. With all due respect, DaMav, a “desire for angry revenge” is a motivation more appropriately assigned to you, and to others who support torture and celebrate the honor of those who performed it and those who gave legal cover to perform it. I say that because torture does not produce useful information. It never has and it never will, and it certainly did not in the case of the CIA torture program. So there IS no other reason why anyone would support it apart from a desire, based in a need for angry revenge, to cause extreme suffering and pain, mental or physical or both.

    What I want is justice. I want individuals who have violated the laws of war and all existing protocols of human rights to be held legally accountable for their actions.

    The OPR report's finding was that John Yoo and Jay Bybee had committed professional misconduct by knowingly providing their clients (the White House, Dick Cheney, David Addington, etc.) with bad legal advice — “bad” meaning incorrect, not in accordance with the law. David Margolis reduced that finding to one that said Yoo and Bybee were guilty of using bad judgment, but not guilty of professional misconduct — not because there was no evidence of actions that could constitute professional misconduct, but because there was no evidence, or not enough evidence, of intent to provide bad legal advice. The evidence that Jay Bybee knew he was providing bad legal advice was not there because Bybee just signed off on anything that was put in front of him; it was not even clear how much of it he actually read or understood. The evidence that Yoo knew he was providing bad legal advice was not there because he is a madman who truly believes that the president can bury someone alive or crush a child's testicles in front of his parents if he feels he has a good reason to do so.

    Now, does this mean no law is broken and no crime committed when an attorney advises his client that it's legally defensible to crush a child's testicles to torture his parents, or to bury someone alive? No, it does not mean that. It only means that, within the narrow parameters of the OPR's mandate, that attorney is not guilty of professional misconduct for doing so IF he actually believed that it was legally defensible to do so.

    Tidbits can correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding of basic criminal law is that ignorance of the law is no excuse, nor is a sincere belief that the law as written allows you to do what you did a legally defensible argument in criminal court. But it IS if the issue is professional misconduct.

    Furthermore, the fact that Yoo and Bybee were lawyers and did not actually commit the acts they were sanctioning would not be a legal defense against a charge of having committed, or aided the commission of, war crimes. Nuremberg established that principle 60 years ago.

    And all of the above is not even taking into account the fact, pointed out by Zzzzz, that crucial (to a criminal investigation) documentary evidence in the form of emails and witness testimony, was not available to the OPR.

    The heinousness of the acts Yoo and Bybee authorized is not denied in the OPR report, or by Margolis. It's not at issue. It's not the point. Both the OPR report and Margolis make it crystal clear that the interrogation techniques authorized by Yoo and Bybee were indefensible, shameful, indicative of extremely poor judgment, and very damaging to the United States both strategically and morally. But there was not enough evidence to conclude that either Yoo or Bybee had knowingly, consciously, intentionally, provided legal advice to the White House that they KNEW was wrong.

    That is the point. How many ways can I say it? You have every right to believe that Yoo and Bybee are heroes, as despicable as I believe that point of view to be — that's a matter of opinion. But it's a matter of FACT that criminal charges against these two, and others, have not been obviated by the OPR report. And although I can't prevent you from insisting that they have been, I can tell you that you are wrong. Flat-out, unarguably wrong.

  36. The evidence that Yoo knew he was providing bad legal advice was not there because he is a madman

    Well it's good to see you are maintaining your sense of objectivity in this, lol

    Let me know when you actually have charges, let alone a conviction. Surely you aren't pretending that Eric Holder is holding off on prosecution because he's part of the right wing. He just doesn't buy into the fantasy world, despite his very liberal views. He knows that if he can't even get a finding on misconduct, he's not going to get a conviction on criminal charges.

    'Well I'm angry so somebody's gonna pay' is not the basis of criminal law in this country.

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