Thursday, June 26, 2008


Here's the problem: America didn't care all that much two and half years ago when John Yoo refused to deny that the president has the legal right to crush a child's testicles...

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.

So it's hard to imagine America caring now, when Yoo again refuses to rule out the legality of torture ordered by the president.

CONYERS: Could the President order a suspect buried alive?

YOO: Uh, Mr. Chairman, I don't think I've ever given advice that the President could order someone buried alive...

CONYERS: I didn't ask you if you ever gave him advice. I asked you thought the President could order a suspect buried alive.

YOO: Well Chairman, my view right now is that I don't think a President -- no American President would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that.

CONYERS: I think we understand the games that are being played.

Here's the thing. If, in reaction to 9/11 and the earlier history of the United States, you say "God damn America," you'll be a pariah. If you call the victims of 9/11 "little Eichmanns," you'll be a pariah. No surprise there. And I'm not defending Jeremiah Wright or Ward Churchill -- far from it. But all they were doing was describing the world as they saw it, however offensively. They weren't enabling brutality on the part of those with the power to brutalize, as Yoo did when he worked in the Bush administration. And yet he's no pariah.

We can ask Yoo this question a hundred different ways. He's always going to articulate the same philosophy, because he knows that most of America figures it's fine as long as it only happens to them. As long as most of us don't see ourselves as part of them, John Yoo will have a very pleasant life.

I don't know how to change the way most Americans look at this. Asking John Yoo about ever more grotesque tortures isn't going to do it, as long as Americans think that that is fine because it doesn't happen to us.

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