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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/12/10

Yoo's Lies About Obama

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It's not that I really object to lies about Obama. Most people lie about Obama to make him look good, for the same reason they lie about death or God -- because they can't handle the truth. Others lie about Obama because Fox News told them to or because he's black, but they mostly make him look better too ("socialist!" "pacifist!" "government healthcare!"). What does disturb me is the entire 16-page afterword to John Yoo's book in which he criticizes Obama for all the wrong things, praises him for all the wrong things, and packs both procedures so full of lies that only a Fox News viewer could claim to understand it on a first reading.

Yoo describes the state of the world as Obama became president:

"Al Qaeda, which, along with its Taliban allies, continues to destabilize nuclear-armed Pakistan, remains a threat."

A threat to whom? A threat justifying wars and crimes? The Taliban and al Qaeda are allies?

"North Korea, the most brutal totalitarian dictatorship on the planet, successfully tested a nuclear weapon and continues its quest for a long-range ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States."

I'm sorry, but didn't the United States' president threaten Korea, Iran, and Iraq, and proceed to slaughter and displace more people in Iraq than the entire population of Pyongyang? Doesn't the United States have more people behind bars than that same entire population? Doesn't the United States have death camps around the world and openly defend the use of lawless kidnapping, imprisonment, and torture? Doesn't the United States have a larger military than the rest of the world combined, including bases and ships and missiles targeting North Korea?

And Iran, another consistent foe of the United States, continued its own efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology in defiance of international sanctions."

If "international sanctions" refers to punishing trade policies enforced by the same nation illegally occupying the nations to the east and west of Iran, then yes. But who ever heard of behaving "in defiance" of such things? This sounds more like Iran is acting "in defiance" of laws or treaties, and it is not -- as far as we know -- doing so. The United States, in contrast, clearly and unambiguously is violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, not just Article I on not sharing technology (how does Yoo think Pakistan got nukes and Iran got plans to build them?) but also Article VI:

"Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

How is that coming along? And since when is Iran a "consistent foe" of the United States? Granted, we've overthrown their government, we've funded a war against them, we've threatened to destroy their country. But what exactly has Iran ever done to us, or anyone else for that matter?

Yoo lists Reagan as a "great" president and claims that Reagan won a sufficient percentage of the popular vote in his elections to have a mandate to radically change the nation's policies. Obama's popular vote victory was smaller, and therefore he does not have the same "legitimacy" in trying to "realign" anything. This is curious coming from a former employee of the president who most drastically realigned things in Washington, who was never legitimately elected to that office, and who didn't even claim a popular vote victory at all prior to asking Yoo to write memos legalizing aggressive war and torture. But this whole argument is shaped around Yoo's conception of executives as people whose role has almost nothing to do with executing the laws passed by Congress and everything to do with single-handedly running the world, almost as a "totalitarian dictatorship" you might say. Yoo buttresses his claim of Obama's illegitimacy by arguing that California voted overwhelmingly for Obama while also voting for initiatives including one to prohibit same-sex marriage. But the issues involved had almost nothing to do with the presidential election, the vote on Proposition 8 (same-sex marriage) was very probably corrupted, according to the Election Defence Alliance, and reshaping the laws of our country is a job for Congress, not for interpreters of whether public opinion gives a particular president a mandate to abuse power.

Yoo is mostly concerned that Obama not change U.S. foreign policy, and he praises Obama's selection of Hillary Clinton, James Jones, and Robert Gates to continue charting our course to disaster. Yoo is heartened by Obama's failure to withdraw from Iraq and his decision to escalate in Afghanistan, and expresses strong hope that Obama will be willing to attack Iran and North Korea as well.

Yoo both warns Obama not to change anything and encourages him to get around Congress in order to run the nation from his throne:

"While avoiding the Scylla of overconfidence in his mandate, Obama almost [also??] must skirt the Charybdis of Congress."

Yoo raises his suspicions that Obama won the Democratic primary over Clinton by cutting deals and promising favors to super-delegates. Yoo is perfectly right to denounce the anti-democratic nature of the delegate selection process in the Democratic Party's primaries (although that is not actually Yoo's concern). And he is right to suspect that Obama cut deals with congress members. We've seen him cut lots of deals with congress members since he became president. But Yoo's fear is of "a President who obey[s] congressional wishes." Now, nobody wants a president who obeys secret pacts made to corrupt our open government. But obeying congressional wishes is actually the Constitutional mandate every president holds. Yoo actually admires the anti-democratic nature of Democratic primaries, which he says serves to

"head off insurgent candidates like a George McGovern or a Jimmy Carter who might be crushed in the general election."

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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 http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
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