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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/12/10

Yoo's Lies About Obama

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Never mind that the Democratic primaries have been conducted this way since before Carter was nominated, and never mind that Carter won. Yoo is not trying to slip into honesty here, he's trying to argue that rightwingers are a majority and that Congress interferes with the service of that majority performed by deserving Republican emperors.

Yoo complains when Obama does not write every word of a bill for Congress and actually allows the legislative branch to play a minor role in the legislative process. And Yoo blames this imperial failure on the corrupt hold Congress has over Obama:

"Obama would fulfill the role set out for him by the Framers by checking Congress's instinct to overregulate and hand out benefits to interest groups, rather than asking for stimulus bills and letting Congress fill in the details."

Of course, in reality, presidents tell Congress what to do far more than the reverse. In June 2009, Obama wanted yes votes on a bill for war money and IMF bailouts for bankers. He threatened a loss of election funding, the backing of challengers, removal of chairmanships, blockage of earmarks and bills, and promised money, advertising, PR events with big-shot White House staffers, and economic goodies for districts. Congress fell into line. Yoo, you can be sure, was not disturbed by the backroom corruption.

When Yoo turns to matters of illegal wars, assassinations, lawless imprisonment, and torture, he writes of his initial worry that Obama might be straying back toward the rule of law, and his relief in observing Obama's Bushlike trajectory. Yoo credits this to Obama becoming aware of the real and scary world out there. Others credit it to a combination of Obama's initial feints in the direction of decency having been dishonest, and the influence of the permanent Washington war machine having taken over. Regardless of the explanation, however, Yoo is pleased, the law is trashed, and either the majority of us are displeased (as some polls suggest) or "the left wing of the Democratic Party" is upset, as Yoo alleges.

Who knew the Democratic Party had a left wing?

What upset Yoo were Obama's early PR stunts announcing an end to torture and the closure of the death camp at Guantanamo, his decision to give "enemy combatants" a new label, and his release of secret memos, most of them involving the handiwork of John Yoo himself. Yoo is ever the disinterested party whom you'd never realize risks dying in prison if established laws are enforced against him. While Obama's misguided actions, Yoo says

"certainly pleased the left wing of the Democratic Party, they also threatened to handicap our intelligence agencies from preventing future terrorist attacks."

And yet no one has shown any possible way in which any of the memos that have been made public have endangered the people of the United States, with the possible exception of people like John Yoo and Jay Bybee who wrote the criminal memos. The same argument was made by Obama to the United Kingdom in demanding that a court there not reveal that our "intelligence agencies" had extensively tortured an innocent man named Binyam Mohamed. Obama threatened to cut off "intelligence sharing." He freed the innocent prisoner, a step our Yoovian government resists above all others. But in the end, the court made public its brief summary of what our "intelligence agencies" had shared, and there was nothing in there to endanger anyone other than CIA officials who prefer to stay out of prison.

Yoo is, in fact, very concerned that some "terrorists" might be charged with crimes and tried in courts of law. And he is frightened by the mythical dangers arising from fraudulent claims to have eliminated torture:

"The CIA must now conduct interrogations according to the rules of the Army Field Manual, which prohibits coercive techniques, threats and promises, and the good-cop, bad-cop techniques used in police stations throughout America."

The Army Field Manual (see Appendix M) does no such thing, and the CIA is actually forbidden to torture people by the Bill of Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 113C, which made all acts of torture and conspiracy to torture felonies under our law before President Cowboy and his gang of lawyers moved to Washington. And why doesn't Yoo like Obama pretending to "ban" torture be executive decree?

"President Bush already banned torture or physical abuse in 2002."

We can't have every president re-banning torture, now can we? Sooner or later someone might notice that it was already illegal under a real law. And, besides, Obama's ban on torture goes too far, at least when the marijuana smoke drifts up the Berkeley hill on which Yoo lives:

"President Obama's new order amounts to requiring -- on penalty of prosecution -- that CIA interrogators be polite."

Who knew?

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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