Tuesday, March 10, 2009

But What If...

John Yoo is notorious for helping write several legal justifications for unconstitutional executive behavior while in the Office of Legal Counsel. His legal scholarship, along with that of Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury who also contributed, was investigated to see if it was "consistent with the professional standards that apply to Department of Justice attorneys." That report from the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, held back by former Attorney General Mukasey so Yoo and the others could respond to it, is supposed to be released soon. Yoo is even being sued by Jose Padilla, heavily hyped as the dirty bomber and then charged with lesser crimes.

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal, John Yoo tries to justify himself.

Suppose al Qaeda branched out from crashing airliners into American cities. Using small arms, explosives, or biological, chemical or nuclear weapons they could seize control of apartment buildings, stadiums, ships, trains or buses. As in the November 2008 Mumbai attacks, texting and mobile email would make it easy to coordinate simultaneous assaults in a single city.

In the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, strikes on New York City and Washington, D.C., these were hypotheticals no more.

Imagine if we had done this back in the 1970's and we decided that every hypothetical was now a possibility and the president had authority to do whatever he wanted in the name of fighting a war.

In my mind, Yoo does not present a convincing case. If his legal counsel was so valid, where is the support from the legal community? It looks like the "What if" he didn't take into account is "What if we destroy the rule of law?"

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