Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Thursday, February 25, 2010

  Yoo climbs down from his cross

Showing the same poor judgment that informed virtually every sentence of his perverse OLC output, John Yoo decided to go into print with this deliciously self-pitying tribute to his own martyrdom at the hands of an unappreciative world. It turns out that Yoo has not been doing the rounds for the last several years trying to defend his shoddy legal work under the Bush administration in order to retrieve his own shattered reputation. No, his motives, he assures us, have been pure and selfless. Yoo was intent instead on saving the Obama presidency by “winning a drawn-out fight to protect his powers as commander in chief to wage war and keep Americans safe”.

Yep, what with all those OLC memos of his that have been withdrawn, renounced and subjected to ridicule, Yoo single-handedly saved a president who nonetheless turned on him and hounded him - by viciously “letting loose” an investigation that began under Bush, and, oh yeah, allowing his Attorney General to investigate everybody else except Yoo’s complicity in torture. Don’t you just hate when that happens?

Actually, Yoo is far too modest in his claims. His legacy to America is much greater and can’t be circumscribed by the term of a single presidency. No, as I commented last month, his gift to constitutional democracy ultimately is the Justice Department’s refusal to punish Yoo and his OLC cohorts for having indemnified government officials who engaged in egregious lawlessness and human rights abuses. Yoo has worked to guarantee that every president in the future may violate clearly established law with impunity for himself and his assistants, by the simple device of hiring unscrupulous lawyers to produce the necessary advice, however preposterous, sufficient to shield the wrongdoers from future prosecution. Call it an all-out assault on the rule of law. It’s quite a legacy, and worth coming down from one’s cross to receive our thanks and plaudits.

And that’s quite a cross Yoo has going there for him. He’s determined to settle scores with any who dare to investigate him, especially the ethics officials at OPR who produced a scathing report last year on Yoo’s torture memos. One paragraph in Yoo’s WSJ op-ed is unusually…instructive.

Rank bias and sheer incompetence infused OPR's investigation.

Self-awareness was never John Yoo’s strong point.

OPR attorneys, for example, omitted a number of precedents that squarely supported the approach in the memoranda and undermined OPR's preferred outcome.

This from the man whose memos famously omitted to discuss any number of precedents that undermined the Bush administration’s preferred outcomes.

They declared that no Americans have a right of self-defense against a criminal prosecution, not even when they or their government agents attempt to stop terrorist attacks on the United States.

Umm, no, OPR did not do that.

OPR claimed that Congress enjoyed full authority over wartime strategy and tactics, despite decades of Justice Department opinions and practice defending the president's commander-in-chief power.

No they didn’t.

They accused us of violating ethical standards without ever defining them.

No, they didn’t.

They concocted bizarre conspiracy theories about which they never asked us, and for which they had no evidence,

No they had plenty of evidence, though admittedly they might have had a good deal more if Yoo had not deleted and expunged all record of so much of his email correspondence.

even though we both patiently—and with no legal obligation to do so—sat through days of questioning.

Whoops, back up on his cross.

Anyway, this op-ed is worth drawing attention to if only because of the accompanying illustration. Notice how Uncle Sam is hampered in his self defense by the scales of justice. So I guess it’s alright to throw those out now.

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