“The past is never dead. It’s not even past” ― William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun.
I long ago made my position clear on the war crimes of the Bush-Cheney regime. The architects of illegal torture deserve to be prosecuted under the Nuremberg Principles for their war crimes, at least at a minimum, prosecuted under U.S. law and international conventions prohibiting torture.
But investigations of the architects of the Bush-era torture program had been all but ruled out in 2009, when President Barack Obama told ABC News that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” a remark which undermined the institutional independence of the Justice Department.
Investigation of Bush-era Torture Concludes With No Charges: “The Justice Department announced that the investigation into Rahman and al-Jamadi’s deaths would be closed with no charges. This means that the Obama administration will be turning the page on the Bush years with almost no accountability for anyone linked to the legalization and implementation of Bush-era interrogation techniques.” (Note that the special prosecutor was John Durham, currently assisting Attorney General William “Coverup” Barr in a criminal investigation of the investigators of the Russia investigation).
This was the single greatest mistake of the Obama presidency. Like President Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon, it sent the wrong message that there is literally nothing that these people can’t get away with and never have to face being held accountable at law. A President Joe Biden should not repeat this mistake … hold them all accountable to restore the rule of law.
(To be clear, there is no statute of limitations for war crimes. No one ever received a pardon. They can be prosecuted under the Nuremberg Principles. These war criminals should live under the threat of prosecution for the rest of their natural lives).
David S. Addington, John C. Yoo and Jay S. Bybee authored the “torture memos” that gave cover to the Bush-Cheney illegal torture program. David S. Addington is now Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Chief Legal Officer at the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Prior to joining NFIB, Addington was group vice president for research at The Heritage Foundation. “Jay Bybee is now a federal judge. John Yoo went back to being a professor at UC-Berkeley; National Review occasionally invites him to troll liberals by arguing that they fail to respect limits on executive power.”
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” – philosopher George Santayana.
War criminal John Yoo is back in the news today, still advancing an imperial presidency under the unitary executive theory to our authoritarian wannabe tin pot dictator.
Axios reports a Scoop: Trump’s license to skirt the law:
President Trump and top White House officials are privately considering a controversial strategy to act without legal authority to enact new federal policies — starting with immigration, administration officials tell Axios.
Between the lines: The White House thinking is being heavily influenced by John Yoo, the lawyer who wrote the Bush administration’s justification for waterboarding after 9/11.
Yoo detailed the theory in a National Review article, spotted atop Trump’s desk in the Oval Office, which argues that the Supreme Court’s 5-4 DACA ruling last month “makes it easy for presidents to violate the law.”
- The president has brought up the article with key advisers, two Trump administration officials tell Axios.
Yoo writes that the ruling, and actions by President Obama, pave the way for Trump to implement policies that Congress won’t.
- Some could remain in force for years even if he loses re-election.
- Yoo — who next week will be out with a new book, “Defender in Chief,” on Trump’s use of presidential power — tells Axios that he has met virtually with White House officials about the implications of the ruling.
What’s next: The first test could come imminently. Trump has said he is about to unveil a “very major” immigration policy via executive order, which he says the Supreme Court gave him the power to do.
- The order could include some protections for immigrants who traveled to the U.S. illegally as children, something most Americans support.
- That could be a political olive branch to Latino voters, though the Trump administration moved to end the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which led to the Supreme Court’s involvement.
- The order could also include significant new restrictions on immigration that couldn’t get through Congress but are favored by the president, Jared Kushner and hardline adviser Stephen Miller.
Driving the news: Yoo told Axios that Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion “sets out a roadmap about how a president can use his prosecutorial discretion to under-enforce the law.”
- The recourse would be if the next president tries to reverse what’s set in motion.
- “Suppose President Donald Trump decided to create a nationwide right to carry guns openly,” Yoo writes in his National Review op-ed. “He could declare that he would not enforce federal firearms laws, and that a new ‘Trump permit’ would free any holder of state and local gun-control restrictions.”
- “Even if Trump knew that his scheme lacked legal authority, he could get away with it for the length of his presidency. And, moreover, even if courts declared the permit illegal, his successor would have to keep enforcing the program for another year or two.”
Reality check: This is a somewhat strained reading of both procedural history and the law, according to Axios’ Sam Baker. The Supreme Court has never ruled either way on DACA’s legality.
- But the Supreme Court wouldn’t be able to decide the merits of anything Trump does before the election.
- Two administration officials told Axios that although the president has shown an interest in Yoo’s thinking, the White House wouldn’t rely solely on that.
- “You have to act in good faith, and think that what you’re doing is good and legal,” one official said.
- “It’s very much in dispute as to whether or not the president has that much control over immigration through executive order,” a second official said.
What we’re watching: Trump told Chris Wallace in an interview for “Fox News Sunday” that in addition to replacing DACA with “something much better,” he’s also going to be unveiling a health care plan within two weeks “that the Supreme Court decision on DACA gave me the right to do.”
In its decision in Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California barring repeal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, the court simply held that the Trump administration had failed to demonstrate a good faith attempt to comply with the Administrative Procedures Act. The court has never ruled on the merits of President Obama’s executive order for DACA, but it did affirm a 5th Circuit Court of Appeals opinion in United States v. Texas, on a tie vote in 2016, striking down the similar Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA. So NO, there is nothing in the court’s decision on DACA that gives Trump “the right” to violate the law with impunity.
Someday, somewhere in the world, there is a prison cell waiting for John Yoo where he should spend the rest of his life in prison for illegal torture.
He should not be allowed to roam free in this world encouraging more illegal behavior in pursuit of his extremist political ideology.
And he certainly should not be credentialed to teach at any university. WTF UC-Berkeley?