Call it Bush Administration Fatigue, but I find it hard to get outraged about the following story:
The Justice Department sent a legal memorandum to the Pentagon in 2003 asserting that federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators who questioned al-Qaeda captives because the president’s ultimate authority as commander in chief overrode such statutes.
The 81-page memo, which was declassified and released publicly yesterday, argues that poking, slapping or shoving detainees would not give rise to criminal liability. The document also appears to defend the use of mind-altering drugs that do not produce “an extreme effect” calculated to “cause a profound disruption of the senses or personality.”
[… ] Sent to the Pentagon’s general counsel on March 14, 2003, by John C. Yoo, then a deputy in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, the memo provides an expansive argument for nearly unfettered presidential power in a time of war. It contends that numerous laws and treaties forbidding torture or cruel treatment should not apply to U.S. interrogations in foreign lands because of the president’s inherent wartime powers.
“If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network,” Yoo wrote. “In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch’s constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.”
Interrogators who harmed a prisoner would be protected by a “national and international version of the right to self-defense,” Yoo wrote. He also articulated a definition of illegal conduct in interrogations—that it must “shock the conscience”—that the Bush administration advocated for years.
We’ve long known about this memo and I’ve even written outraged entries about it in the past, but seeing the full version of it now just makes me shake my head. The fact that John C. Yoo to this day still tries to defend the memo as being just and correct just shows me how corrupt the people in the Bush Administration are, but that’s not a surprise either. Additionally the fact that the President believes we’ll look back on his presidency in 30 or so years and say he was right all along shows how far into his own little fantasy world the man has retreated.
I can’t get angry about it anymore. All I can do it look forward to that cold day next January when he’s finally gone for good and hope to hell that the next person we get in the White House does what he or she can to undue the damage done by the current occupant.