Interested in wholly vexing your mind, body, and spirit? Then you need to read John Yoo’s recently released 2003 Torture Memo. There’s a reason you find news banners flashing “Tortured Logic” in companion with stories on the Department of Justice document. The reasoning attempted by Yoo aims to fit U.S. law to the desires of the administration rather than apprise the administration of U.S. law. Besides massaging the executive ego and dressing the President in a Saran wrap Armani, Yoo treats the law like an insurance adjuster approaches an accident. Both keep in their forethought, how do I best serve my boss rather than how do I best serve. This isn’t the first time Bush people are found doing an end around logic. Remember the British memo that said of the Bush administration: “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy” to invade Iraq. The Raw Story quotes a victim of the DOJ, “…the federal government and prosecutors…attempted to make his conduct fit into some criminal statute. This is not how our system of justice is supposed to operate.” Disgraced former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was accused of subverting the Constitution for the Bush Administration like a tax attorney dodges liabilities on a client’s tax filing.
Yoo is of the same ilk. Bush’s, Cheney’s, Rice’s, Rumsfeld’s, and Tenet’s desire that torture be implemented at the pleasure of the President, that torture fall under a omnipotent Commander-in-Chief that Congress and the Rule of Law may not interfere with because the execution of war is done at the the sole discretion of the President.
Read Yoo’s assertions in quotes:
…International Law is not federal law and the President is free to override it at his discretion” (2).
The Eighth Amendment which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment does not apply to prisoners in the War on Terror because it “applies solely to those persons whom criminal sanctions have been imposed” or those convicted of a crime (10).
“We do not believe that Congress enacted general criminal provisions such as prohibitions against assault, maiming, interstate stalking, and torture pursuant to any express authority that would allow it to infringe of the President’s constitutional control over the operation of the Armed Forces in wartime” (13). So in Yoo’s world, laws against torture, maiming, etc. cannot impede on President Bush’s commanding a war.
And Yoo gives members of the Armed Forces license to commit any crime that is punishable by a maximum of less than 1 year in prison (26). That is because these crimes generally constitute misdemeanors and are not prosecutable outside the United States (20).
Yoo points CIA and the military to what he sees as loopholes. If President Bush wants a prisoner beat up for information, that’s okay because beating someone up is a misdemeanor and not enforceable outside the U.S. Furthermore, to stop President Bush’s command to beat a prisoner up impedes on Commander-in-Chief authority.
The Torture memos are meant to serve as the legal institutionalizing of torture by the United States under Bush. They mean to undermine the authority of those that recognize torture as an atrocity and the experts who concluded torture does not work. They mean and did set Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and Tenet et al. above the Rule of Law.
I’ve included the tribunal judgement excerpt from Judgement at Nuremberg:
“…under a national crisis, ordinary men and even able and extraordinary men can delude themselves into the commission of crimes so vast and heinous that they beggar the imagination.”
“A country isn’t a rock. It’s an extension of oneself. It’s what it stands for. It’s what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult.”
The worst of human crimes must be genocide and slavery. Institutionalized torture cannot be far behind the two worst crimes.