Phila. Inquirer still printing war criminal John Yoo’s opinions

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

I wonder if the Philadelphia Inquirer will start printing opinion pieces by Charles Taylor or Robert Mugabe soon.  Probably not, because their crimes were committed in Africa, at a safe distance from the editors’ board room, where the editors can comfortably judge these war criminals’ actions.  They aren’t intellectuals who justified torture of prisoners in America, like John Yoo.

In any case, they’re printing Yoo’s op-ed pieces now.  They are giving credibility to him and destroying their own credibility.  And, surprise, today John Yoo is saying that there’s no real reason to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a federal court in New York City.

According to Jane Mayer, in her book The Dark Side, Yoo wrote many legal memos that justified some of the worst aspects of Bush’s presidency.  The memo “The President’s Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations Against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them,” in Mayer’s words,

…declared that it was the President’s prerogative to take whatever military action he deemed necessary, including preemptive action… He concluded, for instance, that Congress had no right to interfere with the President’s response to terrorism

And in his infamous torture memo, he produced such legal gems as the argument that if a President orders someone tortured, torture stops being against the law!

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.

And now, in a more informal and less destructive format in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Yoo is arguing against giving some other despicable people something as close to a fair trial as they will get:

Ownership of the disastrous decision to try al-Qaeda leaders in New York City federal court is the one clear thing to emerge so far from the Obama administration.

The call was not made “on the whims or the desires of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed,” the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told the Senate last week. Mohammed “will not select the prosecution venue,” Holder testified. “I will. And I have.”

By contrast, the positive benefits remain obscure to the point of vanishing.

I’m sorry, but why should we be listening to this man?  I’m not even going to give him the benefit of the doubt and disprove his claims because he has proven to America that his legal opinions are worthless.  When he was in a real position of power in the Bush Administration, he used it to undermine the Constitution and international treaties and justify war crimes.  The man is a war criminal and deserves to be on trial rather than on the pages of my hometown paper.

Even the Inquirer’s own Will Bunch, a Kossack himself, called the Inquirer’s hiring of Yoo “indefensible:”

Here is editorial page editor Jackson’s written response, in full:

John Yoo has written freelance commentaries for The Inquirer since 2005, however he entered into a contract to write a monthly column in late 2008. I won’t discuss the compensation of anyone who writes for us. Of course, we know more about Mr. Yoo’s actions in the Justice Department now than we did at the time we contracted him. But we did not blindly enter into our agreement. He’s a Philadelphian, and very knowledgeable about the legal subjects he discusses in his commentaries. Our readers have been able to get directly from Mr. Yoo his thoughts on a number of subjects concerning law and the courts, including measures taken by the White House post-9/11. That has promoted further discourse, which is the objective of newspaper commentary.

No personal disrespect toward Harold Jackson (a well-regarded colleague with whom I’ve crossed career paths in two far-flung cities, with many mutual friends) but I could not disagree more. None of this is a good enough justification for awarding a column to America’s top defender of such a serious human rights violation as torture — certainly not the fact that he’s now a celebrated Philadelphian (so is disgraced state Sen. Vince Fumo, who could be handed a political column based on this kind of rationale). Sure, his warped viewpoint that the president of our once-proud democracy can assume virtually dictatorial powers is controversial enough to “promote further discourse” (so did George Will’s recent blatantly misleading column on climate change) but that alone hardly makes something worth publishing.

The bottom line is this:  John Yoo is a war criminal whose opinions on legal matters, especially the topic he addresses in today’s column, should not be taken seriously.  And the Philadelphia Inquirer should be ashamed.

Here’s what you can do about this:

1.  Contact the Inquirer.  You can send them a feedback email and see all of the contact info here.  Send a letter to the editor to [email protected], fax them to 215-854-4483, and mail them to The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia, PA 19101 (you need to include a day and evening phone number and your home address).

2.  Get involved with World Can’t Wait, if you’re in or near Berkley get involved with their Fire John Yoo! project.  WCW is a leading anti-war and general protest/resistance organization, and their John Yoo project’s goal is to get Yoo fired from UC Berkley, where is unfortunately a professor.