Thursday, June 26, 2008

The World According To Yoo

Image credit: UCSB collection

(Updated introduction) According to the article I where I found that photo, it depicts five Chinese prisoners being buried alive by Japanese soldiers during the occupation of that country. Apparently, we're in this business now. Doesn't it make you proud to be an American? We're now acting like the Japanese when half the world hated them for what they'd done. (End of update)

Over at Folo, Lotus featured this bit of testimony from John Yoo before Congress:

Conyers: Could the President order a suspect buried alive?
Yoo: Uh, Mr. Chairman, I don’t think I’ve ever given advice that the President could order someone buried alive. . .
Conyers: I didn’t ask you if you ever gave him advice. I asked you thought the President could order a suspect buried alive.

Yoo: Well Chairman, my view right now is that I don’t think a President . . . no American President would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that.
Conyers: I think we understand the games that are being played.


“I don’t think I’ve ever given advice that the President could order someone buried alive”

Yoo is famous, one might even say infamous, for declaring publicly that if the President ordered it, crushing a child's testicles would be a legal act. Yet he's clearly reluctant to say that the President could have someone buried alive.

Does this strike anyone else as an odd ethical boundary?

If this man were merely a mental patient, or someone writing a blog, I'd find this distinction fascinating. But coming from one of the President's former legal counsels, it's just profoundly disturbing.

UPDATE: Apparently, it's not so much an ethical boundary as the difference between the hypothetical and the actual. The quote about boy testicles was a hypothetical posed during a debate. Apparently in the case of burying people alive, it wasn't so hypothetical. In the comments of that Folo article, Mary explains:

[cites a Vanity Fair article]

Bush’s lawyers (White House lawyers, as opposed to Dept of Justice lawyers - so people like Addington and Gonzales) approved live burial and the CIA had started to build the coffin for it when apparently some FBI agents put up a huge fight and the plan stopped. At least, for the time the FBI was still there.

There are other reports of a clash between FBI and CIA over some action which was so severe that FBI was on the verge of making arrests on site - if I had to bet, it would be that the live burial was what triggered that, but it would be just a guess.

Of course, there are also reports that Bush ok’d having the Taliban fighters who surrendered to US and Northern Alliance put in sealed shipping containers where many died

but I’m relatively sure that Conyers was getting at the Zubaydah situation.

Comments to “I don’t think I’ve ever given advice that the President could order someone buried alive”

As critical as I've been of what's being done in our name, I'm still shocked by some of the those things. This is one of those times.


Dana Hunter said...

I don't know what's sadder: that I'm not surprised the Bush regime engaged in that kind of depravity, or that I am surprised the FBI had the fortitude and decency to kick up a fuss.

Still... the shipping containers news did briefly take my breath away. Why isn't this being trumpeted on the front page of every newspaper? Why are these sick bastards still running the country (into the ground) instead of rotting in prison?

What the hell has happened to America?

Cujo359 said...

I'm not to surprised at the FBI's reaction. In general, they've been advocates for the sort of humane interrogations that they and the DoD favored before Rumsfeld took over. They and the military's justice system have been the only consistent forces for good within the government on this matter. Generally speaking, all the other agencies and departments you'd expect to be vocal about this have been MIA.

What the hell has happened to America?

I ask myself that same question quite often, and yet the sad truth is probably that this America has always been there. This ugliness always seems to be just under the surface, ready to come out when we've become too afraid or angry. Bush and his fellow politicians, not all of whom are Republicans, know how to push those buttons. I wish people were smarter, but the sad truth is that in this country they aren't.

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

I know! So totally AYFKM? I can't believe how cracked out this stuff has become. It is the tobacco execs testifying before congress: "I believe nicotine is not addictive" on steroids. Tahnk yu a=for your always timely, informative posts.

HopeSpringsATurtle said...

P.S. just wondering how depraved the whoever-US-agent actually tortured a child in front of the parent to get, "information." I pondered whether it was possible for me to do that, the answer was 'no'.

Cujo359 said...

Yes, I must say that even the kids who ride their bikes on my lawn don't deserve that. They're pushing it, though. ;)

I'd like to feel like this was insightful, but the truth is that I really was floored by this. That VF article is from a year ago. If you haven't read it yet, do so. It's like a laundry list of what's wrong with this Administration - cruelty, fecklessness, refusal to believe experts when they don't say what The Leader wants to hear, belief in pseudoscience. Even if you're just looking at it from a viewpoint devoid of feeling for your fellow human beings, it's still a sad tale.