John Yoo stands outside the Anglo-American legal tradition. His views lead to self-incrimination wrung out of a victim by torture. He believes a president of the US can initiate war, even on false pretenses, and then use the war he starts as cover for depriving US citizens of habeas corpus protection. A US attorney general informed by Yoo's memos even went so far as to tell the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Constitution does not provide habeas corpus protection to US citizens.
Yoo's animosity to US civil liberties made him a logical choice for appointment to the Bush Regime's Department of Justice (sic), but his appointment as a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, shatters that university's liberal image.
Habeas corpus is a centuries-old British legal reform that stopped authorities from arbitrarily throwing a person into a dungeon and leaving him there forever without presenting charges in a court of law. Without this protection, there can be no liberty.
Yoo is especially adamant that "enemy combatants" have no rights to challenge the legality of their detentions by US authorities before a federal judge. Yoo would have us believe that the detainees at Guantanamo, for example, are all terrorists who were attacking Americans. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The question is whether any of the detainees are "enemy combatants." Yoo would have it so because the president says it is so. As the president has already decided, what is the sense of presenting evidence to a judge? For Yoo, accusation by the executive branch is the determination of guilt.
But what we know about the detainees is that many are hapless individuals who were captured by war lords and sold to the Americans for the bounty that the US government offered for "terrorists."
Some of the other detainees could be Taliban who were engaged in an Afghan civil war that had nothing whatsoever to do with the US. The Taliban were not fighting the US until the US invaded Afghanistan and began attacking the Taliban. This would make Taliban detainees prisoners of war captured by invading US troops. How POWs can be tortured, denied Geneva Conventions protections, and tried by military tribunals without the US government being in violation of US and international law is inexplicable.
Suppose you were a traveling businessman grabbed by a tribe and sold to the Americans. Would you consider it just to be detained in Gitmo, undergoing whatever abuse is dished out, for 5 or 6 years of your life, or forever, without family knowing what has become of you?
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