Defending The Bush Torture Regime: The Willful Ignorance of Professor John Yoo
I have not supported calls to oust John Yoo from his tenured position at the UC Berkeley School of Law because of his despicable and key role in the Bush administration torture regime, but after reading his op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal this week I am changing my mind. This is because the man who wrote the infamous memo justifying the use of Nazi-like torture techniques is so willfully ignorant.
Yoo noted in the op-ed that last week’s Supreme Court decision in Boumediene v. Bush has been portrayed as a stinging rebuke of the administration’s antiterrorism policies:
“From the celebrations on most U.S. editorial pages, one might think that the court had stopped a dictator from trampling civil liberties. Boumediene did anything but. The 5-4 ruling is judicial imperialism of the highest order.”
Okay, let’s file that under the category of “strong opinion,” but what comes a little further down is absolutely mind blowing for a man who teaches at one of the nation’s leading law schools.
Yoo wrote that:
“In World War II, no civilian court reviewed the thousands of German prisoners houses in the U.S.
” . . . Judicial micromanagement will now intrude into the conduct of war. Federal courts will jury-rig a process whose every rule second-guesses our soldiers and intelligence agents in the field. A judge’s view on how much ‘proof’ is needed to find that a ‘suspect’ is a terrorist will become the standard applied on the battlefield. Soldiers will have to gather ‘evidence,’ which will have to be safeguarded until a court hearing, take statements from ‘witnesses,’ and probably provide some kind of Miranda-style warning upon capture. No doubt lawyers will swarm to provide representation for new prisoners.”
Of course no civilian court reviewed the cases of those Germans because they were prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions and tried by traditional military courts. They were extended habeas rights and, by the way, protected from harsh interrogation techniques, among other unpleasantries.
Yoo, of course, used legal mumbo jumbo to argue that detainees at Guantánamo Bay could be tortured because they were considered to be enemy combatants, a classification created by fevered administration minds, and not covered by the conventions and other international laws under a rump legal and detention system codified in the Military Commissions Act. This was the law that the Supremes struck down for the third time as being out of legal bounds because of its suspension of habeas corpus and the act’s other kangaroo court trappings.
As Cernig at Newshoggers, among other commentators note, had Guantánamo detainees had POW status, there in all likelihood already would have been dozens of trials — not the paltry mere handful because of the mess the Bush administration has made of its role in the Global War on Terror. Those found guilty would have been sentenced, some perhaps to death, and we wouldn’t have the sniveling John Yoo with his blindered knowledge of history and sycophancy to contend with.