Thursday, April 03, 2008

Yoo's memos

Scott Horton's must read article today is You Two. He traces the Yoo torture memos through the DOJ and the Pentagon, and clearly elucidates the crimes that were committed.
He says:
The circumstances under which the memoranda were prepared and issued constitute a joint criminal enterprise involving individual actors; the memos were issued as part of an actual plan to induce individuals to commit criminal acts by ensuring that their crimes would never be investigated or prosecuted. Under the standards of United States v. Altstoetter it was reasonably foreseeable that the issuance of these memoranda would result in serious harm, including assault, torture and death, to protected persons in the custody of the United States. Accordingly, each of the actors, including the memoranda writers, is criminally liable. As a product of a joint criminal enterprise, none of the legal memoranda has any force or effect as a legal opinion. It is particularly noteworthy that the major focus of Yoo Two is the criminal liability of the actors.
What he writes towards the end is the most interesting to me, and the most important. He's speaking about the reaction of others to this story:
On the other hand, I was amazed speaking with colleagues today who expressed their “torture exhaustion.” “But we already knew all this,” one said to me. “But how can you know about it, know that the nightmare still hasn’t stopped, and not be infuriated?” I answered. “Have you abandoned all sense of ownership, or at least of participation, in the American idea?”
The colleague of course is correct. Even without the specific memos, what had happened, what is still happening is clear. The claims of dictatorial powers and the corruption of justice have been resisted by some, mostly in the military justice area. Many have been punished. But the Congress, the bar, and most of the bureaucracy have been mute, or worse. They remain mute.

Horton concludes:
Silence will buy us a continuation of this corruption of our nation. But isn’t it worth raising your voice and articulating your anger to get our country back? It should start with insisting that Congress use the tools it has–oversight and the budget–to force changes. Say “no” to torture; it’s an easy first step on the road back to decency.
But without impeachment on the table, Congress will face the same stonewalling that has impeded them in the past. This latest Congress, controlled by the Democrats, is the accomplice of the administration unless they use their powers to oppose it. They continue to show no sign that they are willing to do this.


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