yoo-tube Wall Street Journal…

Posted on Thursday 29 January 2009

Obama Made a Rash Decision on Gitmo
The president will soon realize that governing involves hard choices.


During his first week as commander in chief, President Barack Obama ordered the closure of Guantanamo Bay and terminated the CIA’s special authority to interrogate terrorists.

While these actions will certainly please his base – gone are the cries of an "imperial presidency" – they will also seriously handicap our intelligence agencies from preventing future terrorist attacks. In issuing these executive orders, Mr. Obama is returning America to the failed law enforcement approach to fighting terrorism that prevailed before Sept. 11, 2001. He’s also drying up the most valuable sources of intelligence on al Qaeda, which, according to CIA Director Michael Hayden, has come largely out of the tough interrogation of high-level operatives during the early years of the war.

The question Mr. Obama should have asked right after the inaugural parade was: What will happen after we capture the next Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or Abu Zubaydah? Instead, he took action without a meeting of his full national security staff, and without a legal review of all the policy options available to meet the threats facing our country…
So I saw the Rush Limbaugh op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, today but then there’s this other one, by John Yoo.  It’s pretty remarkable. Recall that John Yoo is an Attorney, specializing in American Constitutional Law who is a professor at Berkley’s Law School. Under the Bush Administration, he worked in the Office of Legal Counsel and rendered a number of opinions that were used by the Bush Administration to justify Torture and Unwarranted Domestic Surveillance. In that capacity, he was functioning as an interpreter of the Constitution and the powers of the President. It was not a political job, and his personal politics and ideological opinions were not the point.

Now, he’s writing an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal criticizing President Obama’s decision to close the Guantanomo  [Gitmo] Prison. He points out that Obama might soon extend basic rights to these prisoners, cutting off the possibility of getting the information from them we could get under his [Bush’s] system.
It’s also likely Mr. Obama will declare terrorists to be prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions. The Bush administration classified terrorists – well supported by legal and historical precedent – like pirates, illegal combatants who do not fight on behalf of a nation and refuse to obey the laws of war.

The CIA must now conduct interrogations according to the rules of the Army Field Manual, which prohibits coercive techniques, threats and promises, and the good-cop bad-cop routines used in police stations throughout America. Mr. Obama has also ordered that al Qaeda leaders are to be protected from "outrages on personal dignity" and "humiliating and degrading treatment" in accord with the Geneva Conventions. His new order amounts to requiring – on penalty of prosecution – that CIA interrogators be polite. Coercive measures are unwisely banned with no exceptions, regardless of the danger confronting the country.

Eliminating the Bush system will mean that we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Every prisoner will have the right to a lawyer (which they will surely demand), the right to remain silent, and the right to a speedy trial.
When Yoo appeared before Congress [with David Addington], he assured us his opinions were informed by the Law, the Constitution. But anyone reading this op-ed would have to question his objectivity. He obviously had strong opinions about policy, the specific policy he rendered legal opinions [secret legal opinions] about when he was at the DoJ. Either he’s a lawyer who interprets the Law or he’s a policy wonk who wants to dictate national security policy [that is in the opinion of most, un-Constitutional]. It would be absurd for him to argue that he could be both.

To me, this article is a frank admission that his legal opinions were flawed, jury-rigged to support his right-wing political and unhuman human rights views. He’s as much as admitting that his legal opinions were not legal opinions at all. They were, instead, policy papers written to justify War Crimes and ignoring the Bill of Rights and the Geneva Conventions. In his trial, this article would be Exhibit 2, right after Exhibit 1 [his memos]. I think he might have slept through a class or two at Yale Law School – the classes where they told the new students what a lawyers actually do. He may have also skipped out on the ethics courses. Amazing Hubris!

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