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General News    H2'ed 7/3/08

John Yoo and David Addington: A Study of Contempt and Unabashed Evil

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Cheryl Abraham
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Somewhere in an American run prison a young man, a 'detainee', is bent over, his head touching his shins, his hands shackled tightly behind his legs and affixed to the bars of his cell. He is shirtless and his prison pants are soaked with sweat and urine. He cannot move and he is in agony, he has been in this position for hours, maybe days, he cannot remember how much time has passed, he does not know the day or the month, he only knows pain.


Meanwhile in the United States, John Yoo and David Addington temporarily disrupt their privileged lifestyles and leave their comfortable homes to testify before a House subcommittee meeting regarding the statements and documents they have authored that have been used by the U.S. government to legalize the destruction of the human body in the name of national security and to justify the opinion that the president has unlimited power.  Yoo and Addington arrive to all the pomp and circumstance of rock stars, lights flashing as the press takes picture after picture, questions being yelled out, and Yoo and Addington present themselves as 'experts' to some of the most powerful people in the world.


The young man's legs tremble and shake from the exertion and strain of the stress position he has been forced into. He has no idea how long he has been without water, sleep, or food. Muscles throughout his body have been in a perpetual spasm and there is no position he can move into to lesson his pain because he cannot move. The smell of his cell sickens him, the pain overwhelms him, and he can see no relief coming to him anytime soon. He is utterly alone and helpless against what is happening to him.


It seems as if David Addington has enough of a conscience to know that he should not blatantly state his approval of extreme, cruel, and harsh interrogation techniques, but much is revealed about the dark side of Cheney's former chief of staff by what he did NOT say under questioning by the House subcommittee. Addington kept a haughty demeanor during the entire meeting and did not bother to veil his utter contempt of both the questions and the questioners. These questions, almost without exception, related to the moral and legal issues regarding the treatment of prisoners. When Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D- N.Y.) asked Addington if he would bear any responsibility if the interrogation program was found to be illegal Addington's reply was a smug, "Is that a moral question or a legal question?" Addington went on to state that he bore no legal or moral responsibility for the interrogation program. Nadler asked Addington whether or not it would be legal to torture a detainee's child as part of an interrogation, to which he countered with subterfuge – incredible considering the simplicity of answering such a question by any moral, reasonable, and rational person.

Addington bobbed and weaved through further questioning stating that he "did not recall" if he had ever pushed for harsh interrogation techniques. The Washington Post writes of Addington, "Think of Addington as the id of the Bush White House. Though his hidden hand is often merely suspected -- in signing statements, torture policy and other brazen assertions of executive power -- Addington's unbridled hostility was live and unfiltered yesterday."


The young man doesn't know what the charges are against him, he's never seen a lawyer. He can't even allow himself to think about all the hows and whys that ended up with his imprisonment. He tries not to think about his family and whether they know where he is or whether they are even alive. It is an agonizing litany of questions and imaginings he often repeats to himself.  He is torn between wanting to die to escape this pain and wanting to live to prove his innocence. But these thoughts leave him as the pain overtakes the thinking part of his brain and he feels more like a trapped and horribly wounded animal than a human being.


Addington was asked to describe an interrogation he witnessed at Guantanamo Bay. "You could look and see mouths moving," Addington answered arrogantly, "I infer that there was communication going on."


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