John Yoo – Presidential Powers Extend to Ordering Torture of Suspect's Child
December 30, 2005, posted at revcom.us
John Yoo publicly argued there is no law that could prevent the President from ordering the torture of a child of a suspect in custody – including by crushing that child’s testicles.
This came out in response to a question in a December 1st debate in Chicago with Notre Dame professor and international human rights scholar Doug Cassel.
What is particularly chilling and revealing about this is that John Yoo was a key architect post-9/11 Bush Administration legal policy. As a deputy assistant to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft, John Yoo authored a number of legal memos arguing for unlimited presidential powers to order torture of captive suspects, and to declare war anytime, any where, and on anyone the President deemed a threat.
It has now come out Yoo also had a hand in providing legal reasoning for the President to conduct unauthorized wiretaps of U.S. citizens. Georgetown Law Professor David Cole wrote, “Few lawyers have had more influence on President Bush’s legal policies in the ‘war on terror’ than John Yoo.”
This part of the exchange during the debate with Doug Cassel, reveals the logic of Yoo’s theories, adopted by the Administration as bedrock principles, in the real world.
Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty.
Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
The audio of this exchange is available online at revcom.us
Yoo argues presidential powers on Constitutional grounds, but where in the Constitution does it say the President can order the torture of children ? As David Cole puts it, “Yoo reasoned that because the Constitution makes the President the ‘Commander-in-Chief,’ no law can restrict the actions he may take in pursuit of war. On this reasoning, the President would be entitled by the Constitution to resort to genocide if he wished.”
What is the position of the Bush Administration on the torture of children, since one of its most influential legal architects is advocating the President’s right to order the crushing of a child’s testicles?
This fascist logic has nothing to do with “getting information” as Yoo has argued. The legal theory developed by Yoo and a few others and adopted by the Administration has resulted in thousands being abducted from their homes in Afghanistan, Iraq or other parts of the world, mostly at random. People have been raped, electrocuted, nearly drowned and tortured literally to death in U.S.-run torture centers in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantánamo Bay. And there is much still to come out. What about the secret centers in Europe or the many still-suppressed photos from Abu Ghraib? What can explain this sadistic, indiscriminate, barbaric brutality except a need to instill widespread fear among people all over the world?
It is ironic that just prior to arguing the President's legal right to torture children, John Yoo was defensive about the Bush administration policies, based on his legal memo’s, being equated to those during Nazi Germany.
Yoo said, “If you are trying to draw a moral equivalence between the Nazis and what the United States is trying to do in defending themselves against Al Qauueda and the 9/11 attacks, I fully reject that. Second, if you’re trying to equate the Bush Administration to Nazi officials who committed atrocities in the holocaust, I completely reject that too…I think to equate Nazi Germany to the Bush Administration is irresponsible.”
If open promotion of unmitigated executive power, including the right to order the torture of innocent children, isn’t sufficient basis for drawing such a “moral equivalence,” then I don’t know what is. What would be irresponsible is to sit by and allow the Bush regime to radically remake society in a fascist way, with repercussions for generations to come. We must act now because the future is in the balance. The world cannot wait. While Bush gives his State of the Union on January 31st, I’ll find myself along with many thousands across the country declaring “Bush Step Down And take your program with you.”