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John Yoo: From Torture Memos to the Philadelphia Inquirer

May 12, 2009

Andrew Sullivan comments on Will Bunch’s outraged protest against Bush Justice Department lawyer and torture memo author John Yoo’s hiring as a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the paper that also employs Bunch. An excerpt from Will Bunch’s editorial:

By late last year, the world already knew a great deal about John Yoo, the Philadelphia native and conservative legal scholar whose tenure in the Bush administration as a top Justice Department lawyer lies at the root of the period of greatest peril to the U.S. Constitution in modern memory. It was widely known in 2008, for example, that Yoo had argued for presidential powers far beyond anything either real or implied in the Constitution — that the commander-in-chief could trample the powers of Congress or a free press in an endless undeclared war, or that the 4th Amendment barring unreasonable search and seizure didn’t apply in fighting what Yoo called domestic terrorism.

Most famously, Yoo was known as the author of the infamous “torture memos” that in 2002 and 2003 gave the Bush and Cheney the legal cover to violate the human rights of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, based on the now mostly ridiculed claim that international and U.S. laws against such torture practices did not apply. Working closely with Dick Cheney, Cheney’s staff and others, Yoo set into motion the brutal actions that left a deep, indelible stain on the American soul.

Yet none of that was enough to prevent my colleagues upstairs at the Philadelphia Inquirer — with none of the fanfare that might normally accompany such a move — to sign a contract with Yoo in late 2008 to give him a regular monthly column. The Inquirer thus handed Yoo a loud megaphone on what was once a hallowed piece of real estate in American journalism — to write on the very subjects that have now led Justice Department investigators to reportedly recommend disbarment proceedings against Yoo and has led international prosecutors as well as millions of politically engaged Americans to consider the Episcopal Academy graduate worthy of charging with war crimes.

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