Notes From Babel

John Yoo for Dummies

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John Yoo gives an excellent explanation of his role in drafting the so-called “torture memos” and the role of the President as commander-in-chief.  This despite the fact that Jon Stewart seemed to lack the mental hardware to keep up with him.  The interview amounts to a great primer for the legally uninitiated as to the difficult issues implicated in Yoo’s and the Bush administration’s unthinkable assignment.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

One of the reasons I really like Jon Stewart is for his comments like the ones he made at the end of this interview.  He remarked that it is too easy to villainize folks like John Yoo, but that, as evidenced from Yoo’s open and thoughtful detailing of the critical legal, moral, and political issues at stake, this was a fundamentally human endeavor characterized by lots of struggling with just what is the lawful and good and proper thing to do in these extraordinary circumstances, and even having to hash out the lines between “lawful” and “good” and “proper,” as they are indeed separate inquiries.  Thus, no matter how you come out on the issues, there’s simply no place for the vitriolic accusations about the Bush administration that we’ve become so accustomed to—sadly, even, from academics.

(Then again, there’s Nan Aron at HuffPo who, undaunted, staggers right on muttering condemnations against Yoo, spinning a paranoid conspiracy theory that Yoo somehow has deviously and unilaterally set the terms of a “political dialogue” concerning “a culture of fear,” and urging more progressivist journalists to do what Stewart failed to do—villainize John Yoo.)

[Edited and revised.]


Written by Tim Kowal

January 16, 2010 at 3:07 am

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