It doesn’t of course — Republicans arguing that Gitmo is open because Obama has recognized the wisdom of using the facility is like a bully stealing a kid’s lunch money and then telling everyone he merely decided to make a shrewd investment. Gitmo is open only partially because of administration fecklessness; most of the fault lies with the cowardice of congressional Democrats and the cynicism — and political strength — of Republicans.
Like Glenn, I think this is somewhat too charitable to the administration — it’s true that the actions of Congress made it nearly impossible to close Gitmo per se, but a lot of the underlying problems that Gitmo symbolizes were policy choices made under Obama’s discretion. And while procedural constraints may have improved a little, these improvements are not nearly adequate.
Indefensible. I think it’s worth noting as well that this isn’t the case where there’s a clash between civil liberties and compelling political interests — the number of votes Obama would lose if Manning was treated in a humane, constitutional manner is “none.” They just think that this immoral treatment is good policy. More from Evitar, Kleiman, and of course Greenwald.
Via Julian Sanchez, Julian Davis Mortenson does excellent decimation work on John Yoo’s attempt to project his Schmittian views of executive power onto the framers and the Constitution. For the shorter version, Stephen Holmes’s essay remains an eternal classic.
And he’s proud of it! At least the pretense that the GOP actually opposed arbitrary and illegal torture is over…
Advocate for arbitrary torture attempts to engage in rational discourse, fails:
What I want to note is that John Yoo knows that he is already on trial – not just in Spain, but here in the United States – and he is already attempting to put on his defense.
And if his performance at Chapman is an indication of his skill as his own defense attorney – and I think that it is – John Yoo is in serious trouble.
Yoo was meandering, inarticulate, and alternately simplistic and condescending. He was no match for Darmer and Rosenthal – both former federal prosecutors and both clearly far smarter and more savvy than John Yoo.
I came away from the debate feeling that Yoo is a rather pathetic figure, intellectually out-classed by the others on the panel.
Discussing the recent whining of Alberto Gonzales who, like Jay Bybee, wants it known that he’s one of the real victims of the arbitrary torture regime he helped conceive of and implement, Dahlia Lithwick points out that according to reasonable, moderate, thinking man’s advocate of arbitrary torture Michael Mukasey there can never be any basis for holding people involved in said arbitrary torture regime accountable:
Those who distorted and upended the legal rules during the Bush era have hermetically sealed themselves inside a legal tautology that provides that lawyers cannot be held accountable for merely offering legal advice, and nonlawyers cannot be held accountable because they believed that what they did was legal. But now we are poised to drown in an even more dangerous tautology—first offered up by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey—which holds that the Bush administration lawyers made mistakes because they were the victims of the “difficulty and novelty” of the legal questions before them, and then victimized again by “relentless,” “hostile,” and “unforgiving” critics who would hold them responsible for their decisions. Under this view there can be no legitimate criticism of the Bush lawyers—no matter how well-intentioned or how well-reasoned, such criticism is partisan and political and vengeful. There is no law. There is only your team versus mine.
Nice racket if you can get away with it. And, alas, they can.
Shorter Jay Bybee: “I’m very sorry. I’m sorry that there are some people out there who think that designing specious legal arguments in order to enable executive branch officials to arbitrarily torture people who may or may not be guilty of anything should be a stain on your reputation.”
It really doesn’t get much more disgusting than an enabler of war crimes who is enjoying a well-compensated lifetime appointment on the federal bench rather than federal prison making with the self-pity. Fortunately, now that Roman Polanski has been freed I’m sure his prosecution is imminent.
The Supreme Court, to put it mildly, did not cover itself in glory this week when it refused to hear Maher Arar’s appeal. (This is not to say that I necessarily blame the Court’s four three more liberal members + Kennedy (?)* for not voting to grant cert: a Supreme Court decision affirming the executive’s ability to arbitrarily serve up innocent people for torture would be even worse than refusing to hear the case, and they would have good reason to believe that this would be the most likely outcome.) But it should be noted that while this is a case where the Court should intervene, this doesn’t relieve the relevant public officials of responsibility. The primary responsibility for this disgrace rests, of course, with the Bush administration, which ordered the arbitrary torture of an innocent man.
But by refusing to admit responsibility and by actively opposing Arar his day in Court, the Obama administration must now be counted accessories after the fact, and this just isn’t acceptable. And it’s not isolated; Obama’s record on these issues continues to be very poor, and there’s no way of defending it.
It would almost be funny to see such a classic example of ye old War on Analogy, except that when it’s in defense of a torture regime you had a hand in perpetuating and justifying it’s not remotely funny.
This gets it right. Obviously, trying to pose as defenders of the rule of law when you believe that the government needs to be doing a lot more arbitrary detention and torture is going to lead you to a lot of illogical arguments, but I’m especially amused by the “if prosecutors have good evidence, it’s like you’re not having a trial at all!” routine.