As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, April 11, 2008

In Defense Of Yoo

The Dean of the Boalt School of Law, Christopher Edley, Jr., has written a brief defending his decision not to fire war criminal John Yoo, as he has been prodded to do by the National Lawyers Guild, among others. The most craven part is when Edley makes up the reason that Yoo didn't actually do the torturing himself, or something:

As critical as I am of his analyses, no argument about what he did or didn't facilitate, or about his special obligations as an attorney, makes his conduct morally equivalent to that of his nominal clients, Secretary Rumsfeld, et al., or comparable to the conduct of interrogators distant in time, rank and place. Yes, it does matter that Yoo was an adviser, but President Bush and his national security appointees were the deciders.

I guess this Law School Dean has taken the word "accessory" out of all the books. This is the reverse Nuremberg defense, and I agree with Marcy Wheeler:

In the same way those who facilitated torture still cling to the inadequate claim that they were just following bad orders, Edley here gives Yoo the excuse that he was just providing advice, that his advice is distanced from the outcome of that advice because someone else ultimately exercises the key moral decision. Furthermore, I think this argument allows Edley to ignore what appears to have gone on here--Yoo appears not to have conducted real analysis, but rather he appears to have delivered shoddy opinions that gave Bush and Rummy and Tenet and Cheney the green light to do what they had decided to do before they sought his advice. Yoo, in a sense, willingly took on the role of decider here, because by providing such utilitarian opinions, he freed Bush and Rummy and Tenet and Cheney of the requirement that they risk their own moral authority to implement plans they claim were correct. Yoo leant them his own moral authority, and in doing so allowed them to escape the moral and legal consequences of their own decisions.

So, yeah, Bush and Rummy and Tenet and Cheney are in the wrong here. But so is Yoo, because he has tried and has thus far succeeded in placing them in a position where all of them can commit moral wrongs without owning those actions.

Exactly. And add Edley now to that list.

...Let me again say that John Yoo is making a public appearance on the 14th of April, next Monday, at the Bancroft Hotel in Berkeley, and you should go and tell him how you feel, because this guy shouldn't be allowed to walk the earth without hearing from citizens disgusted with how he debased this country.

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