Carol Platt Liebau: Setting the Record Straight

Friday, July 07, 2006

Setting the Record Straight

In today's LA Times, John Yoo, an architect of some of the policies struck down in last week's Hamdan decision, explains everything you need to know about the separation of powers, executive power during wartime, and why the Supreme Court egregiously overreached.

Here's a tidbit:

Congress has an important role but one exaggerated by critics of the war on terrorism. It could easily have blocked any aspect of the administration's terrorism policies simply by removing funding or political support. It could have closed Guantanamo Bay in a day, if it wished. Instead, it authorized the president to use all necessary and appropriate force against any individual, organization or state connected to the 9/11 attacks. Then, following past practices, it sat back and let the president handle the details and assume the political risks. Critics seem to believe that Bush's policies are at odds with the Republican Congress. They are not.

What makes this war different is not that the president acted while Congress watched but that the Supreme Court interfered while fighting was ongoing.


Indeed.

15 Comments:

Blogger wrabkin said...

Gosh, it all sounds so purty when Mr. Yoo talks. Then, of course, there's the reality:

"After being held for a week in a prison in the mountains of Malawi, Mr. Saidi said, a group of people arrived in a sport utility vehicle: a gray-haired Caucasian woman and five men dressed in black wearing black masks revealing only their eyes.

The Malawians blindfolded him, and his clothes were cut away, he said. He heard someone taking photographs. Then, he said, the blindfold was removed and the agents covered his eyes with cotton and tape, inserted a plug in his anus and put a disposable diaper on him before dressing him. He said they covered his ears, shackled his hands and feet and drove him to an airplane where they put him on the floor.

"It was a long trip, from Saturday night to Sunday morning, " Mr. Saidi recalled. When the plane landed, he said, he was taken to what he described as a "dark prison" filled with deafening Western music. The lights were rarely turned on.

Men in black arrived, he said, and he remembers one shouting at him through an interpreter: "You are in a place that is out of the world. No one knows where you are, no one is going to defend you."

He was chained by one hand to the wall in a windowless cell and left with a bucket and a bottle in lieu of a latrine. He remained there for nearly a week, he said, and then was blindfolded and bound again and taken to another prison. "There, they put me in a room, suspended me by my arms and attached my feet to the floor," he recalled. "They cut off my clothes very fast and took off my blindfold." An older man, graying at the temples, entered the room with a young woman with shoulder-length blond hair, he said. They spoke English, which Mr. Saidi understands a little, and they interrogated him for two hours through a Moroccan translator. At last, he said, he thought he would learn why he was there, but the questioning only confounded him.

He said the interrogators focused on a telephone conversation they said he had had with his wife's family in Kenya about airplanes. But Mr. Saidi said he told them that he could not recall talking to anyone about planes.

He said the interrogators left him chained for five days without clothes or food. "They beat me and threw cold water on me, spat at me and sometimes gave me dirty water to drink," he said. "The American man told me I would die there."

[...]

In prison, Mr. Saidi said, he was interrogated daily, sometimes twice a day, for weeks. Eventually, he said, his interrogators produced an audiotape of the conversation in which he had allegedly talked about planes.

But Mr. Saidi said he was talking about tires, not planes, that his brother-in-law planned to sell from Kenya to Tanzania. He said he was mixing English and Arabic and used the word "tirat," making "tire" plural by adding an Arabic "at" sound. Whoever was monitoring the conversation apparently understood the word as "tayarat," Arabic for planes, Mr. Saidi said.

"When I heard it, I asked the Moroccan translator if he understood what we were saying in the recording," Mr. Saidi said. After the Moroccan explained it to the interrogators, Mr. Saidi said, he was never asked about it again.

"Why did they bring me to Afghanistan to ask such questions?" he said in the interview. "Why didn't they ask me in Tanzania? Why did they have to take me away from my family? Torture me?" "

That's from today's New York Times. Now I guess we'll hear how the Times is full of traitors who don't understand that if we aren't free to kidnap and torture people whenever we want with no accountability, well, then America can't be that shining beacon of freedom anymore.

This is the America that John Yoo wants. Where we kidnap and torture and murder. And anyone who doesn't agree is a traitor.

11:31 AM  
Blogger page27 said...

I just don't get what you find appealing in Yoo's argument. Other than a basic claim that we should fight terrorism, do you find any substance in his article? I don't think he addresses the issues at stake in Hamdan except in a superficial way.

page27
http://the27th.blogspot.com/

12:11 PM  
Blogger The Flomblog said...

Mr. Wrabkin;

We all are aware of what you are against. What are you for? Can you explain your political philosophy in one pr two clear, concise sentences?

1:32 PM  
Blogger dodger said...

Did I miss something, I have read summaries of the Supreme Court decision and there doesn't seem to be anything about "the mountains of Malawi" and someone called Saidi?

Not being a constitutional scholar I, however, still find it distressing that the Supreme Court wants to take over the President's war powers.

One of the perks of shooting from the sidelines, as most of us do, is that if our advice is taken and turns out we were kaka, we can shrug and say, gee, guess I was wrong. The President, however, doesn't have that luxury.

Which is why he doesn't seek out folks like me for advice.

And I, for one, am glad he doesn't.

Can you imagine, Well, Tim, I have decided to let all the prisoners at Guantonamo go. The reason is fairly simple, my advisors at the NY Times (and Robert Byrd) said it was wrong, wrong, its wrong. Also, I discussed the matter with Cindy Sheehan and a wrabkin who straightened me out on this and a number of matters.

If this decision turns out badly they have all agreed to and have assured me they will take full responsibility.

3:08 PM  
Blogger dodger said...

Did I miss something, I have read summaries of the Supreme Court decision and there doesn't seem to be anything about "the mountains of Malawi" and someone called Saidi?

Not being a constitutional scholar I, however, still find it distressing that the Supreme Court wants to take over the President's war powers.

One of the perks of shooting from the sidelines, as most of us do, is that if our advice is taken and turns out we were kaka, we can shrug and say, gee, guess I was wrong. The President, however, doesn't have that luxury.

Which is why he doesn't seek out folks like me for advice.

And I, for one, am glad he doesn't.

Can you imagine, Well, Tim, I have decided to let all the prisoners at Guantonamo go. The reason is fairly simple, my advisors at the NY Times (and Robert Byrd) said it was wrong, wrong, its wrong. Also, I discussed the matter with Cindy Sheehan and a wrabkin who straightened me out on this and a number of matters.

If this decision turns out badly they have all agreed to and have assured me they will take full responsibility.

3:08 PM  
Blogger Dittohead said...

I doubt Yoo would show up on any short list of who to call for legal advise on the Constitution, after his crazy arguments were so thoroughly defeated in SCOTUS.

3:11 PM  
Blogger wrabkin said...

Mr Flombog:

What am I for? I am for the principles on which this nation was founded. Read the first ten amendments to the Constitution and you'll get a pretty good idea. Freedom of speech. Freedom of religion. Freedom of the press. The freedom to freely assemble. Freedom from government intrusion into my personal life.

Oh, and justice is good, too. The right of the accused to stand before a jury of his peers and face his accusers. The right to a speedy trial. The right not to be tortured or subject to cruel and unusual punishment.

And I'm for fairness and equality. I'm for a progressive system of taxation that prevents dynasties of wealth and power from ruling the nation. I'm for the rich having a little less so that everybody has a little more. I'm for free, quality education for every child, not just rich white ones. I'm for health care that's a right, not a privelege for the richest few.

I'm for a nation of people who work together for the common good, who know that while one child is starving, the entire country is impoverished. I'm for people who realize there's more to life than grabbing as much as they can for themselves. I'm for an honest day's pay for an honest day's work. I'm for eliminating the ludicrous "war on drugs" and using the money to actually help people, instead of imprisoning poor blacks while rich white radio blowhards with expensive lawyers walk free on the same charges.

I'm for truth. I'm for accountability and transparency in government. I'm for the Freedom of Information Act. I'm for the right of Americans to call their grandmothers without being spied on.

I'm for decent border controls. I'm for huge penalties against large companies that hire illegal aliens. I'm for a big raise in the minimum wage. I'm for power once again to be distributed between labor, government, and business, instead of skewed completely towards the latter.

I'm for love. I'm for sex. I'm for Van Morrison. I'm for Bob Dylan, although I don't understand all the fuss over that last album. I'm for gratuitious female nudity in movies. I'm for Dryden and Pope and Tennyson and Byron's funny poems and Robert Browning. I'm for Daffy Duck.

What else would you like to know?

3:39 PM  
Blogger The Flomblog said...

JUst a simple sttement of your political philosophy without quoting the constitution.

I believe in limited government. I believe that decisions shoul be made at the lowest level possible - the comminity if possible. I believe in the value of the traditional family. I believe that the Values in the Torah (or bible) are a guide to how I should live my life.

I'm not trying to trap you or debate the point, but working out your actual belief system is a marvelous excersize.

I'm sure that we will disagree on some points, but we will have an idea where the other person is coming from?


One of the principle areas where we disagree is taxation. I oppose all but the most neccessary taqxes. Taxation is inherently (in my opinion) immoral. I believe that the rich are a national assett and should be encouraged to continue on in their busiess --- Assuming that they function within a minimal set of laws.

See - we acn now discuss our disagreements withoug gerttting personal. We can disagree with concepts NOT people.

B'Shalom

3:54 PM  
Blogger Mr. Twister said...

"Congress has an important role but one exaggerated by critics of the war on terrorism. It could easily have blocked any aspect of the administration's terrorism policies simply by removing funding or political support. It could have closed Guantanamo Bay in a day, if it wished."

What pretty sentiments. Unfortunately, the President heads a rogue administration that believes there is absolutely no role for Congress in its muscular foreign policy.

Case in point--in 2002 Congress provided funding explicitly for the war in Afghanistan and solely for the war in Afghanistan. Did the Bush administration obey the law as written? No, it shifted funds explictly earmarked for fighting in Afghanistan to pre-fund the staging of troops and equipment for an invasion of Iraq. This unlawful shift was, of course, not publically disclosed until 2005.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Mr. Twister said...

The Flomblog writes, "JUst a simple sttement of your political philosophy without quoting the constitution."

Wrabkin, for what it's worth, I think holding to the Constitution is itself a fairly decent political philosophy.

5:44 PM  
Blogger skribe said...

What am I for? I am for the principles on which this nation was founded...

Stirring stuff.

7:09 PM  
Blogger amber said...

As for the gratitous nudity in movies, I am definately NOT for that. I am for sex, though, but with my husband, and I do not want some nudy video getting inbetween his or my mental picture of each other. That is because I am for GREAT marriages with mutual respect and a unity with each other not found anywhere else. I do not need another person, fictional or otherwise getting between that.

7:34 PM  
Blogger The Flomblog said...

"What am I for? I am for the principles on which this nation was founded"

That's not an opion, it's a bumper sticker slogan!

Seriously, what is your personal philosophy on government?

12:38 PM  
Blogger wrabkin said...

I'm sorry, Mr. Flomblog, I left you a ridiculously long message. Did you stop reading after the first sentence?

And what's wrong with being for the principles on which this nation was founded. I realize that in Carol's world, that's enough to have me arrested, but I'm willing to stand by it.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Wrabkin:

Good response! I, for one appreciate it. It's a "prettied-up" and very general statement of some of the loftier ideals from the left.

I agree with a lot of the things you say you are for. Where we are likely to differ is on how to achieve those goals.

But even in portraying your ideals in as good a light as possible, you reveal how socialist thinking has poisoned you against some of the things that have allowed America to become a great nation (like capitalism).

By the way, do you believe America is a great nation?

And as for truth and accountability and transparency in government, do you think it is true that communist and socialist governments have proven to be harmful to the people they govern? Do you think those forms of government should be held accountable for the results of their policies? How transparent have those governments been?

But I have to give you high marks for some of the other things you say you are for, particularly Van Morrison and Bob Dylan!

6:35 AM  

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