Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Nothing To See Here, Move Along, Move Along...

More than likely, you didn't see this story get played on the news today (omg, Barack Obama can't bowl, lolz!), but it's important because it cuts to the heart of the monarchical, unconstitutional mentality that has guided the Bush administration's governing philosophy.

The story is the declassification of an infamous 2003 memorandum, written by John Yoo, at that time working in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. Yoo-- more than anyone other than Alberto Gonzales and David Addington-- was the legal architect of Bush's post-9/11 reign. From torture to indefinite detentions to warrantless wiretapping, Yoo helped craft the legal documents to make true Richard Nixon's infamous 1977 assertion that "when the president does it that means that it is not illegal."

(This is the same John Yoo who railed against the "imperial presidency" of Bill Clinton)

The Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum posts the highlights (lowlights?) of this memo, which he notes basically "says that criminal law doesn't prohibit torture because it doesn't apply to the military. Treaties don't prohibit torture because they only apply to uniformed enemy soldiers. Ditto for the War Crimes Act. And federal statutes prohibiting torture don't prohibit torture because they don't apply to conduct on military bases." One section-
Any effort by Congress to regulate the interrogation of enemy combatants would violate the Constitution's sole vesting of the Commander-in-Chief authority in the President.... Congress can no more interfere with the President's conduct of the interrogation of enemy combatants than it can dictate strategic or tactical decisions on the battlefield.

So Congress has no authority in matters of war whatsoever, despite what Article I, Section 8 says. And boy, don't get them started on those 'court' thingies!!! But we knew this already.

Any presidential decision to order interrogations methods that are inconsistent with [the Convention Against Torture] would amount to a suspension or termination of those treaty provisions.

So the President has the power to invalidate treaties with his mere thoughts. Fantastic!

If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network. In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch's constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.

In short, there is no limit to the President's power... he can arrest, torture, or kill whomever he desires, as long as he provide a national security justification for that activity. But don't ask to him to prove that justification, that's top secret! Shhhh!

To give you an idea of how inhuman-- beyond the constitutional issues-- these people are, consider Yoo's answer in a 2005 interview whether even "crushing the testicles of the person’s child" would be permissible under these guidelines. Is there any treaty which could stop him? "No treaty," Yoo replied nonchalantly.

And what is this monster doing today? Hiding in shame? Being dragged before Congress to answer for any of this? Nope. He's currently a Berkeley Law Professor, infecting the young lawyers of tomorrow with his thoughts on our pesky constitution. But hey, we locked up that rotten apple Lyndie England, so this is all taken care of. Case closed.

I wonder how these conservatives' feelings on presidential power will change when Barack Obama is sitting in the Oval Office.


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