Don't Go Away Mad, John -- Just Go Away
The architect of one dangerous Bush administration policy after another -- torture, warrantless domestic surveillance -- now is defending the White House's dubious assertion of executive privilege in the U.S. attorney scandal.
John Yoo, who never dreamed of a presidential power he wasn't willing to turn into an overbearing and arguably illegal policy, writes in today's Wall Street Journal that Republicans should rally around President Bush and help him stave off congressional Democrats' attempts to make former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former White House political director Sara Taylor answer under oath relevant questions about the prosecutor purge.
Among his many other chestnuts, Yoo writes:
Even if a few Republicans defect, he has the Constitution on his side. His poll numbers may be low, but Congress's are even lower. Congressional Democrats have failed to follow through on the reforms promised in the 2006 campaign. They're too preoccupied with investigating rather than legislating. If the House or Senate vote contempt motions against Ms. Taylor or Ms. Miers, a U.S. Attorney must enforce them, and since they're all Bush appointees, nothing should come of it. The president has every right to order his prosecutors not to bring charges against officials who defend his legitimate constitutional claims.
A few centuries ago, a Yoo-like figure, whose work on behalf of the king had come into disrepute, might have found himself exiled or dead. At a minimum, such a man would have yielded the public stage and gone off into the wilderness somewhere to preach to a few dedicated sycophants.
But this is now. And for unrepetent people like Yoo, there is no reason to hide and no cause for shame. His torture policy leading to Abu Ghraib? No problem. His justification for the National Security Agency's domestic spy program being patently skewed? So what. He is still present, still talking, still offering bad advice about what we ought to think about the rule of law.
Historians, I suspect, will not look fondly upon Yoo and the policies he ginned up. As for the rest of us, maybe it's time we used his flawed missives as a barometer for evaluating controversial legal issues: if Yoo is for it, it's a good bet that you want to be against it. And if he's against it, it might not be a bad idea to support it. If he's not going to go into the wilderness, then at least we can allow him to help us see the forest for the trees.
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