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The Need to Know

A detail from artist Fernando Botero's reflection on the 2004 prisoner abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

The Senate Judiciary Committee today is holding a hearing on Chairman Patrick Leahy's proposal to establish a bipartisan "truth commission" to examine former president George W. Bush's counterrorism strategies. The timing couldn't be better.

The nine previously undisclosed Justice Department memos released on Monday (see yesterday's post, Bush's Secret Dictatorship) are a vivid reminder that we need to more fully explore not just the Bush administration's conduct regarding detainee policies and wiretapping, but the covert attempts to rewrite the nation's laws that enabled both -- and who knows what else.

Much has been exposed already, here and there, by journalists (especially in a handful of books), in civil litigation, during the course of a few limited congressional investigations, and now through the limited release of documents by new management.

But much remains unknown. Who knew what, and when did they know it? How direct was the link between what happened in the offices of the president and vice president and in the holding pens of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib? How willful was the administration's corruption of the law?

The people responsible have not been made to answer to the public. And the victims have not had a chance to tell their stories to the nation and the world.

Charlie Savage and Neil A. Lewis write in today's New York Times: "A day after releasing a set of Bush administration opinions that claimed sweeping presidential powers in fighting terrorism, the Obama administration faced new pressure on Tuesday to support a broad inquiry into interrogation, detention, surveillance and other practices under President George W. Bush.

"Justice Department officials said they might soon release additional opinions on those subjects....

"Among those that have not been disclosed but are believed to exist are a memorandum from the fall of 2001 justifying the National Security Agency’s program of domestic surveillance without warrants and one from the summer of 2002 that listed specific harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that the C.I.A. was authorized to use."

Savage and Lewis also note: "The increased calls for a greater public accounting come as the Justice Department’s internal ethics office is preparing to release a report that is expected to criticize sharply members of the Bush legal team who wrote memorandums purporting to provide legal justification for the use of harsh interrogation methods on detainees despite anti-torture laws and treaties, according to department and Congressional officials.

"The Office of Professional Responsibility at the Justice Department is examining whether certain political appointees in the department knowingly signed off on an unreasonable interpretation of the law to provide legal cover for a program sought by Bush White House officials."

David G. Savage writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Legal experts said Tuesday that they were taken aback by the claim in the latest batch of secret Bush-era memos that the president alone had the power to set the rules during the war on terrorism....

"'You can never get over how bad these opinions were,' said [Duke University law professor Walter Dellinger], who headed the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in the Clinton administration. 'The assertion that Congress has no role to play with respect to the detention of prisoners was contrary to the Constitution's text, to judicial precedent and to historical practice."

Ari Shapiro reports for NPR: "About a month ago, the American Civil Liberties Union sent the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel a letter and a chart. The chart listed 55 classified Bush administration legal memos on national security issues. The letter basically said, 'release these memos.'

"Some of the memos that the Justice Department declassified Monday were not even on the ACLU's list.

"'So there are dozens of memos that are still secret,' said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's national security project. They include 'memos that provided the basis for the national security agency's warrantless wiretapping program and memos that provided the basis for the CIA's torture program.'...

"One reason there's a lot of interest in these documents is that they could contain some surprises. For example, one memo declassified Monday is dated Oct. 23, 2001. It asserts that the military can ignore Americans' Fourth Amendment privacy rights and conduct searches against suspected terrorists without a warrant. It's a controversial claim, but the public learned about the assertion years ago in a footnote to another Justice Department document. The public did not know about a line in the same memo that said: 'First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully.'"

In an interview published today with Orange County Register reporter Eugene W. Fields, John C. Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who authored several of the most controversial memos, expressed only one regret: That the memos "lack a certain polish."

"Q. Is there anything you would have done differently?

"A. These memos I wrote were not for public consumption. They lack a certain polish, I think – would have been better to explain government policy rather than try to give unvarnished, straight-talk legal advice. I certainly would have done that differently, but I don't think I would have made the basic decisions differently."

He whined about the pressure he was under.

"Q. Do you have a different perspective as a private citizen?

"A. The thing I am really struck with is that when you are in the government, you have very little time to make very important decisions. You don't have the luxury to research every single thing and that's accelerated in war time. You really have decisions to make, which you could spend years on. Sometimes what we forget as private citizens, or scholars, or students or journalists for sure (he laughs), is that in hindsight, it's easier to say, 'Here's what I would have done.' But when you're in the government, at the time you make the decision, you don't have that kind of luxury."

Asked about a recent opinion piece he wrote for the Wall Street Journal criticizing Obama for ordering the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison, Yoo replied: "Now that I'm not in the government, part of my role, because I have a certain amount of expertise, is to try to keep the government honest."

As for his future, he had this to say: "If I never serve in government again, that would be fine with me."

Tim Rutten writes in his Los Angeles Times column: "Just how close to the brink of executive tyranny did the United States come in the panic that swept George W. Bush's administration after 9/11? The answer, it now seems clear, is that we came far closer than even staunch critics of the White House believed."

The New York Times editorial board writes: "The released memos were written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which is supposed to ensure policies comply with the Constitution and the law. They make it chillingly clear how quickly that office was rededicated to finding ways for Mr. Bush to evade, twist or ignore both."

The Washington Post editorial board writes that the memo make clear "how intellectually dishonest Bush-era lawyers were in coming to these preposterous conclusions."

By Dan Froomkin  |  March 4, 2009; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Looking Backward  
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"The thing I am really struck with is that when you are in the government, you have very little time to make very important decisions. You don't have the luxury to research every single thing and that's accelerated in war time."

Gee, Mr. Yoo...why not take an hour or so and read the Constitution.

Posted by: Honus | March 4, 2009 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Yoo replied: "Now that I'm not in the government, part of my role, because I have a certain amount of expertise, is to try to keep the government honest."

I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | March 4, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Reading Mr. Froomkin reminds me of a pithy observation by the comedian Ron White. You can't fix stupid.

Posted by: BlueIguana | March 4, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

John Yoo should be stripped of his license to practice law. If nothing else these memos demonstrate his inability to distinguish between a constitutional democracy and a dictatorship. That inability alone should be enough to strip him of his license. And the fact that this man is teaching such disregard for law and the constitution to others at any university in America should give us all pause as well.

Posted by: Prakosh | March 4, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Bloody typical; shoddy work, incompetent people, conclusions preceding analysis. These guys should to to the electric chair, every last one of them.

Michael Brown was the soul of diligence compared to these jerks. To underscore the point, they should be turned over to the International Criminal Court

Posted by: chrisfox8 | March 4, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse


I am curious what part of this posting you find stupid. Do you think it is stupid to be concerned about our civil liberties? Do you think it is stupid not to allow a single person dictatorial power through a circumvention of the law? Do you think it is stupid to question our leaders at all? Please explain, because I for one believe that the stupid people are the ones who aren't concerned about these things.

And please try to add something to the debate. Give me an intellectual justification for ANYTHING the Bush administration did or said regarding the opinions of the OLC or the limits of executive authority. Calling me a 'wingnut liberal traitor socialist' just won't cut it. I want an argument, not just a blanket assertion that Bush is being treated unfairly.

Posted by: silence309 | March 4, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry, Mr. Yoo - I think it's incredibly unlikely that anyone will ever consider you fit for government service again.

Posted by: blondie3 | March 4, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Dear Silence309

I am calling you a left wing looney "wingnut liberal traitor socialist," based on the content of your message post.

So There.

Posted by: alutz08 | March 4, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

Ohhh Frooooommmieeee-kins...

What a nice person you are to AVOID talking about the current whitehouse and their supposed plans to bolster the economy and set a new social direction for the country...... and instead focusing on older subjects that you have beaten the bush (maybe a pun was intended) with over a hundred times over already. (I'm sure if we go backwards and count your columns, we'd find enough instances to make my claim true)

So is it true that Obama's plan for the future is scaring the beejezus out of everyone and resulting in flow of capital and leding to dry up.... thus slowing the economy. Cause now everyone is unsure whether this is a plan that will get us moving again.

Posted by: alutz08 | March 4, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

As for his future, he had this to say: "If I never serve in government again, that would be fine with me."

If you never set foot in this country again, it would be fine with me. I hear North Korea has some openings you would be perfect for.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | March 4, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

yoo says "If I never serve in government again, that would be fine with me."
I'd like to see him serve ... time! At the very least, lose his license to practice ...

Posted by: 5lee | March 4, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse


Right on, couldnt have said it better.


What can i say, you bring nothing but GOP parroting points. Where was your concern when Dubya ignored his Presidential Daily briefings? From what i have seen so far Obama hasnt ignored anything that has led to an attack on this country and the lives of over 3000 of its citizens. But that really doesnt concern you does it? Just that Obama is bad

Posted by: rharring | March 4, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Yoo is not stupid. His interpretations were not a mistake. He willfully raped the constitution and the rule of law to please his White House masters. It's called sucking up. He obviously was acting in his own self interests. He now resides in California. California needs to dis-bar him immediately. The Justice Department needs to prosecute him immediately, along with his criminal peers and superiors.

Posted by: kgeakin | March 4, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse


I never called you any of those names. You've confused me with another person posting on this column.

By the way, I can be concerned about all of the things you mention and still think Mr. Froomkin is an idiot.

Posted by: BlueIguana | March 4, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Yoo is not stupid. His interpretations were not a mistake. He willfully raped the constitution and the rule of law to please his White House masters. It's called sucking up. He obviously was acting in his own self interests.


I agree with your post, except for one point: Yoo is stupid.

A smart man would have understood what he was up against.

Yoo didn't, still doesn't.

The current position of the US is hardly an accident, Cheney's people unable to understand much less administer the reality around them.

On a different note, Dan does a great job, we're very lucky for his honest and intelligent analysis.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | March 4, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

"Ignorance of the law is no defense in a court of law, especially when the law itself is secret. Therefore, no defendant shall be allowed to enter a court of law, lest he learn the contents of the secret laws for the purpose of harming The Homeland."

--U.S. Constitution (revised)

Posted by: motorfriend | March 4, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

War crimes trials can't come soon enough for these unpatriotic scum in the Bush Regime.

That said, I'm glad we've returned to being a nation where the Rule of Law is paramount, and not that of the Soviet Republicans.

Posted by: WillSeattle | March 4, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

ah Foaming Froomy finds away to bring back Bush but ignorant Froom has NEVER read the the legislation related to war - the Patriot Act, and The war on terror edicts by both the Tom Daschle(D) Senate and the U.N.

Froomy doesn't want the truth just power to kill Bush!!!

Bush will win every argument Leahy or Waxman can dig up in the trash.

Posted by: hotdad14 | March 4, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Correct me if I'm wrong, but is it not true that the Obama Admin has NOT repudiated these memos? So,in fact, these opinios are still operable? And all the others besides?

Posted by: davidbn27 | March 4, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

"These memos I wrote were not for public consumption. They lack a certain polish"

All government officials and employees in a representative democracy should operate at all times under what used to be called the "New York Times Rule": never say, write, or do anything you wouldn't want to have show up on the front page of the NYT. If that means that everybody in government feels constrained to only offer opinions they feel they can defend, that's just the price we have to pay.

The actual number of cases where secrecy is required are quite small: the identities of covert agents, military movements during war time, technical details on security and weapons systems, protected trade secrets of regulated industries, and maybe a handful more. Get much beyond that and you intrude on the People's ability to carry out their constitutional duties, such as selecting the best representatives.

The Conservatives like to talk about how the People are the real boss in our system - too bad folks like Yoo consider that just so much lip service.

Posted by: dj333 | March 4, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

It is tremendously important to investigate and reveal all of the illegal activity that took place during the Bush administration. When possible offenders should be prosecuted. From the lackeys at the Dept of Justice to the Veep's office and all the way up to Bush himself, if laws were broken the public has a right and a need to know.

This is congress' purview, President Obama does not need to be distrated by this. But it has to be done.

Posted by: gposner | March 4, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse


So, you agree with me that these issues should be raised and discussed because they are important?

I am still curious then why you think Froomkin is an idiot.


Your posts were articulate and insightful. It is amazing to me that with so much intellectual heft on the conservative side, you find yourselves out of power.

We can argue about whether Obama's plan will correct the economy (Froomkin has, in fact, talked about it repeatedly and I, personally, don't think it will), but analyzing the mistakes Bush made is very much relevant to how we got into this mess. Rather than try to divert attention from the blatant illegality of Bush, maybe you should defend him? On civil liberties? On the economy? Bring it. I am ready.

Someone of your obviously overwhelming intelligence should find that easy.

Posted by: silence309 | March 4, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Just like a dog with a bone, Froomkin is with BUSH. A new president trying to pull the socialist wool over america's eyes and little froomkin is still obsessed with Bush. PATHETIC!

Posted by: pwaa | March 4, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

However odious, he was the pawn of ADDINGTON.

And the claque at DOD and the VP's offie. The decades long plan. Which found excuse in 9/11.

And there dmned well better be an investigation of why Israel had offices in the Pentagon and was all over the intelligence. ALL OVER hardly gets it.

TO say that Bush was a swaggering easily led war legacy seeker is one thing; to investigage who captured that administration,
with decades long malice aforethought.
and the total conspiracy THE thing.

And who doesn't think those memos were written after the fact to cover? Hmmmm?

Posted by: whistling | March 4, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

The Office of Legal Counsel, along with so much of the rest of the Bush administration, was taken over by the mentality of a corporate lawyer who sees his duty as finding legal cover, if not justification, for flouting a law or regulation.

The guiding principle was embodied in the infamous line invoked by Al Gore, and by numerous politicians of both parties since Gore uttered it: "There is no controlling legal authority . . . ." . . . Even if there was.

So, these small-minded people, driven by Dick Cheney's self-assigned mission to expand executive power, to restore the Imperial Presidency that gave us Vietnam and Watergate, among other things, treated the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and numerous laws and treaties as if they were inconvenient OSHA or EPA regulations.

I wish John Yoo no personal harm, but part of me longs for a Berkeley of 40 years ago, when the prospect of a John Yoo holding a full professorship at its law school--Boult Hall--would have closed the campus.

Posted by: bfieldk | March 4, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

In addition to the California State Bar considering whether Prof. Yoo should be disbarred, one may hope that the Tenure Committee at U. C. Berkeley, Prof.Yoo's home campus, will consider whether his tenure might be revoked for treasonous violations of the oath he must have taken when he joined the government, to support and protect the Constitution.

Posted by: dschwa2222 | March 4, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I suspect John Yoo needs to get a lawyer. One far more able in the practice than Yoo has turned out to be.

Posted by: CardFan | March 4, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

pwaa, et al,

Froomkin is not "obsessed with Bush." The Senate had a hearing today on the subject. The DOJ released these memos yesterday. That makes the article relevant.

There are plenty of other articles and posts regarding Obama's agenda.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | March 4, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

This was so predictable. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Once you've decided that you can override even one small piece of the US Constitution for "national security reasons," you'll do that trick again and again until there's nothing left. In this case, not even the First Amendment.

You can have all the elections you like, but if the voters can't find out what they need to know, that's not democracy. Why were all these memoranda secret? So Osama bin Laden wouldn't find out? It's time to take the government's "Confidential" stamp away.

But what we already knew of Bush's excesses was plenty, and the key players in Congress knew plenty more than that. In the final analysis, the absolute powers of the unitary executive came straight from the hand of Nancy Pelosi, the "impeachment refuser." That's how a dime-a-dozen lawyer in the OLC was given leave to confer tyrannical power over the People of the United States of America. By all means try Bush or let the World Court do the job, but if we want to make an instructive example for the politicians, to prevent recurrences of constitutional collusion, it's really Nancy's head we need to have brought to us. She violated her oath of office. She should be tried for treason.

Posted by: fzdybel | March 4, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse


You're a hoot. The purpose of my reply was to point out the fallacy of your accusation, namely that calling Mr. Froomkin stupid requires that I not care about the litany of offenses you listed. I can think Mr. Froomkin a genius or stupid, and care/not care about your litany of offenses. The two positions are independent of each other. Familiarize yourself with the basic tenant of logic. Doing so may make your posts more cogent.

Posted by: BlueIguana | March 4, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I just linked over the Editorial in the Post and read it. They are shocked, shocked at what was revealed. And where were they when all this was happening? Nowhere to be seen. Following meekly anywhere dear leader wanted to take us. Makes me sick to think about it.

Posted by: jowc123 | March 4, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I suppose it's easy to scape goat Yoo, the memos are those of a yes man, but the reprimands coming from the LA Times, the NY Times and the WaPo strike me as the stuff of pointing out the faults of others while ignoring your own. The Bush years, especially the run up and aftermath of the Iraq war will never be highlighted as periods during which journalist, or rather the institutions that employ them, spoke truth to power.

Posted by: SarahBB | March 4, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

The trolls at Dan's blog are using tired attempts at rhetoric.

Big surprise.

The 40 odd other memos still in the pipeline should be interesting reading. Not that the resident know-nothings will actually read them. Too much work.

Dan, keep up the good work.

Posted by: crix | March 4, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

And they are kind of doing it all over again. Obama just announced that we will be in Iraq at least three more years, that's half again as long as we have already been there, and there is nary a peep.

Posted by: SarahBB | March 4, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Got a couple of topics for you Froomy in your search for the Truth. Should Rahm Emanuel be investigated for compiling a Richard Nixon-style enemies list? Or what exactly was his role in manipulating the Illinois Senate appointment? Or what did Rahm Emanuel actually do as a member of the Board of Directors of Freddie Mac for the $200,000+? How many meetings did he attend? And just what did Rahm Emanuel do to earn 16 million dollars in 2 1/2 years? That works out to, using a 16 hour day, to about $2133 per hour. Not bad. What a shame that he has to endure a pay freeze at the White House. Hopefully the $100 per pound Japanese Kobi beef being served at the White House will ease the pain. I know you are as anxious as I am to find the Truth so I as sure you will start work on this immediately.

Posted by: hz9604 | March 4, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

In addition to the California State Bar considering whether Prof. Yoo should be disbarred, one may hope that the Tenure Committee at U. C. Berkeley, Prof.Yoo's home campus, will consider whether his tenure might be revoked for treasonous violations of the oath he must have taken when he joined the government, to support and protect the Constitution.


Is he teaching?

He hardly seems sane, must less qualified.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | March 4, 2009 5:18 PM | Report abuse

By the way Froomy, what kind of art work do you have on the Clinton/Gore extraordinary rendition torture? I would think that you could get some good back drops of Clinton's torture in Istanbul or Cairo. The architecture is beautiful in those cities.

Posted by: hz9604 | March 4, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

I think that it is Congress' responsibility to investigate what happened definitely. They then need to put concrete laws on the book governing what the Powers of the President are, who he needs to inform when he does X, etc... etc.... Our emergency powers laws need to really be tightened up so everyone is clear on and we have a debate over how things should be handled in the future.

In terms of people hoping for some kind of punishment being doled out to People involved in the Bush administration. Don't hold your breath.

1, There is a whole shadow system of laws in effect during war time that leave the powers of the executive branch to be pretty open ended. Not the least of these are the emergency powers granted the President in the constitution.


2, Many of these laws require the President to inform Congress. This often takes the form of briefing congressional leaders as was for instance done on gathering domestic intelligence. Take a look at this article.

Clearly many members of Congress in both parties were briefed regarding what the Bush administration was doing. Clearly also they agreed with these policies.

And guess what, these people are still the people in charge of Congress. Do you think Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are going to let it come out that Bush briefed them and they approved of everything he did?

Answer: NO.

So guess what this investigation will be sunk before it begins because both the Democrats and the Republicans want who knew what when to remain secret.

Posted by: DCDave11 | March 4, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

You've got it all wrong. Bush/Cheney did many wrong things but putting terrorists into Gitmo and torturing them was not one of them. We need really to get touch with Islamic terrorists. Like killing them on sight.

Posted by: ravitchn | March 4, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Blue Iguana

Thanks for the advice, although I believe I understand that the two points are not related. My question still stands: why do you think Froomkin is an idiot? Because he doesn't agree with you? Because he chooses to criticize Bush? Because his criticism of Bush is idiotic? I have been reading him for years now and, although i disagree with him from time to time, i don't think he is an idiot.

Conservatives love to belittle liberals and then act all disgusted when they get it back. We are so full of "hate" and "anger." Well, I am sick of it. Yes, it angers me when our leaders lie to us, torture people, conduct illegal surveillance, suspend habeas corpus, invade sovereign nations on false pretenses, etc. This was done in my name as a U.S. citizen and I hate it. There is not a shred of intellectual justification for 90% of the conservative platform and I hate that we have been led around by the nose through fear and deception. If all you can do is name call, you are part of the problem, not the solution.

So...I repeat: Do you have anything of substance to say? Not criticism of me or Froomkin, but some intellectual contribution that would further the debate over Bush's actions?

I would be willing to bet the answer is no, because, in my experience, the one thing conservatives fear above all else is a rational argument on the merits.

Posted by: silence309 | March 4, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

By the way Froomy, what kind of art work do you have on the Clinton/Gore extraordinary rendition torture? I would think that you could get some good back drops of Clinton's torture in Istanbul or Cairo. The architecture is beautiful in those cities.


Yeah, I don't know.

Surely the fact Clinton, like Obama, chose to render is utterly disturbing, but ultimately it's far more important to go after those "unnamed," shadowy, mediocre kooks who advise them to do so-- like Brennan, or even some stupid runt from the pentagon, say.

OTOH Clinton, despite rendering, made no concerted effort to take apart the Constitution, ala Yoo and Addington.

You do understand the difference in terms of intent, right?

Sometimes, I get the impression you technique trolls aren't really capable of grasping even simple complexities.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | March 4, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Bashir is the first step-Bush is next in the alphabet.Cheney...
A move like that would legitimize the International Criminal Court all over the world and also remind Barrack Hussein that there will be consequences..

To hope for an honest american judicial process is futile.
The US is a banana republic.

Posted by: oddhogne | March 4, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin is worse than Captain Ahab going after Moby Dick.. he's obsessed with going after Bush. First off the reason Leahy wants to call it a Truth Commission is because he KNOWS Bush would NEVER be proscuted. Second Republicans know it would just be a witch hunt so they would never go along with it. Cause at the end of the day the worst of it was THREE guys were waterboarded.. ALL terrorists one being Khaild Sheik Mohammed, the guy who planned 9/11. So that's the big deal.. we wanted to prevent another 9/11 so KSM had a bad day... Except for the far left nobody really care that the guys responsible for 3000 American deaths had some water thrown in their face. And wiretapping that has already been covered in a court case and nothing was found illegal. This is a waste of time and money so Dems can make the far Left of their base happy. It would do nothing but get maybe a couple of CIA guys.. whose only crime was trying to keep this country safe. It could even adversely affect people working in the CIA today. Obama is RIGHT.. we shouldn't look back we need to go forward. You know Dems are so bloodthristy now but I don't remember reading they were so anxious to go after the FDR administration for putting Japanese Americans in camps during WW2. Which seems a heck of a lot worse to me..

Posted by: sovine08 | March 4, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

The three guys who got water "splashed" on their faces aside,there is a million dead Iraqis to account for.
The ignorance of americans is ingrained and baffling.
The US is a banana republic.

Posted by: oddhogne | March 4, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

I knew this active military guy of higher rank who used to sit around and brag he had an "iron d*ck" and therefore no attack could touch him or the US -- he was just the DUMBEST YOHOO I have ever ever seen, absolutely the most obtuse military person I have ever met. I shudder to think this guy is still in command, but it sure would explain the war losses.

You know how the trolls here are too dumb to make the connection between the stupidity of a Brennan and Yoo and the war losses, or even real intelligence?

This guy, active military, was even dumber, the kind of guy who would COMMAND kooks as stupid as the trolls, but always failng to connect the subsequent losses to his decisions.

The DUMBEST thing, EVAH! We used to laugh at the kook day and night, he and his stupid boys (some even phd's) just the DUMBEST things ever...

And this is the kind of guy, like Brennan, who makes the US a banana republic, or a banana military.

At some point, someone in power has to make the connections, but as a matter of conscience, I just can't see stayig silent in the face of employing people who think torture is a solution -- that is not a smart man, that is NOT the best and the brightest. And it shows in the results, the broken eceonomy very, very real, everything that has made America successful ignored by the kook Brennans, if it was ever understood.

The country fails until those people are removed, they're just too DUMB to understand how torture really functions against America.

It's abstract -- guys like Brennan and the stupid trolls don't really do abstract.

It's too hard.

Posted by: thegreatpotatospamof2003 | March 4, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

We are a lot closer to "government tyranny" now than when Bush was in power.
Have you ever read Atlas Shrugged?
Your idea of a "Truth Commission" sounds just like something out of Ayn Rand's novel.
I sincerely hope that you will demand such accountability from the Obama administration. But I fear that your journalistic "scrutiny" is partisan.

Posted by: sbegat | March 4, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

This is all very interesting and complex stuff. Obviously, or we would all be idiots for letting things get so bad for so long or we would all be fools for caring and carrying on so much. The truth, as it seems so often, probably lies somewhere in the middle of all this.

The big question to me is: have we let so much go unchallenged by the courts and Congress that we literally don't have the time or resources to uncover it in the midst of all the other dire crises we face? In my mind, even though I would like to learn the truth and see justice served, we didn't even investigate 9-11 adequately, by a long shot. Go to the web site and see how many military, intelligence, government, academic and legal professionals agree that the 9/11 Commission Report was grossly flawed and incomplete. The amount of secrecy and questionable or unethical actions done in our name looks to be purely ominous, and I wonder if we - the people - really can handle the truth. I'd like to think that we can, but it might be enough to break the social trusts that bind us together. Rven so, I guess if it's as bad as I fear then we've already lost the battle, so we might as well get at the truth to learn who's screwed us and just how bad, with the slight hope that we can correct our abuses and rescue this fragile democracy for future generations.

Posted by: russgeer | March 4, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

"Now that I'm not in the government, part of my role, because I have a certain amount of expertise, is to try to keep the government honest."

As for his future, he had this to say: "If I never serve in government again, that would be fine with me."

In reading these Yoo quotes it's pretty obvious that Mr. Yoo's problem was not that he didn't have enough time to do his job but that he was given far too much time to do it.

I can't believe it but I'm actually quite stunned at the delusional nature of these quotes. This man has serious problems.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | March 4, 2009 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Dear Silence309

I am calling you a left wing looney "wingnut liberal traitor socialist," based on the content of your message post.

So There.

Alutz08...another Pro Slavery Republican who does not understand the talking point words he is taught to say..

Fei Hu

Posted by: Fei_Hu | March 4, 2009 11:33 PM | Report abuse

The most ridiculous phrase in the entire article is "...the panic that swept the Bush administration after 9/11?" This echoes the comment by another nonchalant writer who said the Bush administration 'overreacted' to 9/11. This is rich. Seven years without a homeland attack and you people still complain.

Posted by: david-mckenzie | March 5, 2009 1:00 AM | Report abuse


You really are something. You call me a conservative. How do you know? Would only conservatives called Froomkin an idiot? (FYI, this is known as a fallacy of association.)

You are rhetorically accomplished, to some degree, but logically impaired. Mr. Froomkin's is not a logical thinker. His columns are rife with fallacies of logic, including but not limited to arguments of authority, ad populum and bare assertion. He confuses supposition for evidence. I suspect he's never graced the inside of a logic course. If he has, he didn't pay attention.

Educate yourself in the discipline. You won't regret the effort.

Posted by: BlueIguana | March 5, 2009 9:15 AM | Report abuse

How easily, how comfortably Mr. Yoo dismissed Constitutional protections against tyrannical government....after just one attack .... for an administration not of sufficient moral fiber to wield such unrestrained power. ------what would he have given away when we were locked in the cold war struggle against the Soviet Union? He is a war criminal in my view, and deserves to be transferred to a country not so faint of heart about torture, where he is interrogated by the families of the war dead .... Americans and Iraqis ..... those who suffered because of his work enabling war crimes by Mr. Bush,VP Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld

Posted by: Mill_in_Mn | March 5, 2009 9:56 AM | Report abuse

If we commit atrocities, if we do the same as our immoral enemies like Al Quada beheaders, if we succumb to dictatorship.... if the only difference between us is the excuse used to justify inhuman brutality ..... then they have won for they turned freedom-loving Americans into murderers subservient to fascist authority

Posted by: Mill_in_Mn | March 5, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse


You made a short comment on Froomkin's blog under a post critical of Bush. Your comment had no content other than to denigrate Froomkin. In my experience over the last 4-5 years, when similar comments have been made, 99% of the time they were made by conservatives. I would never have sworn to the fact that you were a conservative, but neither is it at all illogical to make that assumption based on the available information.

But once again, you try to divert attention with some logic terms you googled (more evidence you are a conservative). I am looking for some facts (an argument). You can't just SAY our logic sucks, you have to prove it. Show me the money, as it were. And you think MY logic skills are flawed?

Posted by: silence309 | March 5, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse


Exhibit A:
It is illogical to argue/conclude that I am a conservative based on one comment (Froomkin is an idiot). As I stated, doing so is called a Fallacy of Association. That is a fact, not opinion.

Exhibit B:
You having witnessed some pattern of behavior from a non-random sample of responses is not evidence of anything except about that population. Arguing that it does is further evidence that you have no concept of what logic is or how to form cogent arguments.

Exhibit C:
Finally, as one more bit of evidence, you're finding a list of fallacies on Google is not evidence that I did (another fallacy).

Need more evidence? I don't think providing it will matter. You reason at an infantile level and are stridently confident in your ignorance.

Posted by: BlueIguana | March 5, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

- David McKenzie: You really need to pay attention. We in fact did endure another attack on the homeland (still unsolved, by the way). Plus are you really comfortable with the notion that England and Spain and plenty of other nations can be attacked so long as the US itself isn't?

Bush has kept secret any basis on which we could meaningfully judge his performance. I for one am prepared to blacken his record with BOTH fatal terrorist attacks here, coming as they did as a result of his ideological blindness to reality.]

...I suppose I must seem deranged to you. I can live with that.

Posted by: jimpharo | March 5, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse


Once again, you duck the question.

Isn't it interesting how, when I implore you to address the issues, you turn the thread to personal attacks?


Can I make it any more clear than that?

If you are not a conservative, you are sure doing a bang-up imitation. Your responses fit their modus operandi to a tee.

Posted by: silence309 | March 5, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

That there are always sycophants like Yoo to tell those in power that they may do as they like is no longer surprising, but it is ironic to the point of obscenity that Yoo could recently say that "Now that I'm not in the government, part of my role, because I have a certain amount of expertise, is to try to keep the government honest."

Yoo's "expertise" is in secretive and lawless government....DIShonest government. What could he possibly know of honesty? And how would anyone else be sure he was telling the truth about it, even if he did?

Posted by: Observer44 | March 5, 2009 4:34 PM | Report abuse


Ahh, I see, we've moved on from you pejoratively calling me a "conservative" (which is an excellent example of an ad hominem fallacy, btw). Fine!

This "Truth Commission," has nothing to do with finding the truth. It is intended to criminalize, if possible, policy disagreements between some democrats and the prior administration. That this commission is being chaired by a confessed traitor, Senator Leahy, makes it all the more pathetic.

You are aware that democratic leaders from the House and Senate were briefed about all of these practices, and none of them expressed opposition to them at the time. If they had real concerns and didn't voice them then they are cowards. If they didn't then they are frauds.

Anyway, am I bothered that we waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? No. Am I concerned about the use of warrantless wiretaps? Yep, but not to the hysterical level of some people. Government lawyers from both parties believed they were acting within the powers of the Executive Branch during a time of war. We can disagree with that, but to call it criminal, as Leahy and his cadre want to do is silly and dishonest.

It seems like you have a fairly firm set of moral values which tend towards civil libertarian. Here's a challenging question for you, one I want a sincere answer to (because it's asked in a sincere manner). Which is the greater sin/failing? To have someone like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in custody, knowing that he has information related to a future attack and using extreme measures to extract that information from him (and violating "our principals," thereby thwarting the attack, or sticking to "our principals," and not using those measures, thereby allowing the attack to occur? I think the latter, but would love to hear your take. Regards...

Posted by: BlueIguana | March 5, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse


Since you tout your logic skills, I am perplexed by your either/or alternative regarding the greater sin.

You fail to recognize that this is a false choice, although one proposed by many conservatives. In this case, you.

There are not simply two alternatives. This reminds of the logic of my son's theory that given any event, that the likelihood of any outcome is always 50/50. i.e. it either happens or it doesn't.

There are always more choices to be examined. Your proposal is similar to the 'when did you stop beating your wife' question.

(And don't confuse the argument. You ARE a conservative, by statement and intent, quite obviously)

We have heard from many intelligence professionals that extreme interrogation methods are not better, but worse, at acquiring reliable information from captives. You may get information faster, but at the cost of veracity.

I, for one, choose the high ground, without apology. To do otherwise is to alter ourselves in the image of those we despise.

And as silence says, stop toying with semantics, and just engage in an honest debate with those 'superior' logic skills of yours. There are legitimate issues to discuss.

Posted by: ostrom808 | March 5, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

My boyfriend agrees with Mr. Yoo's complaint that he didn't have nearly enough time to work on his memos. He thinks that the Justice Dept. should help him out by making sure that he gets a long sentence in Leavenworth so he has all the time he needs to work on polishing them. I agree.

Posted by: pmorlan1 | March 5, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Investigate, indict, prosecute, and jail those who curtailed our rights under the guise of abetting an unfettered, lawless, all powerful dictator named Bush.

No truth commission!

Posted by: bwaatrnwg | March 6, 2009 6:42 AM | Report abuse


Lovely little tantrum.

I never claimed there were only 2 alternatives. I asked Silence for his judgment on two alternatives. Never called them the only 2. Just wanted to know what he thought, so it wasn't a false choice. Nice try using those terms you looked up on Google. Fine, you think torture is the greater evil. Love to know what Silence thinks. Would also love to know what you two think about FDR executing, without a trial or a hearing, German saboteurs who landed on US soil. Was he a war criminal for doing so? How about Lincoln for suspending Habeas Corpus? Was he a war criminal?

Also, as for this conservative label, I never denied being conservative. I questioned Silence's reasoning to arrive at the conclusion that I was conservative. I called Froomkin stupid. To conclude from that one statement that I am conservative is bad reasoning since there are surely non-conservatives who think so too. He then used the conservative label to imply that I didn't care about a litany of things being "investigated," by Leahy's committee. Maybe you should take a bit more time reading my posts before you spout off.

As for my being a conservative based on statement and intent, how about the possibility of my intent being to pull people's chains on this bog. Ever consider that? Of course you have. You're a genius.

Fact of the matter is you’re an affected liberal who thinks you know more than you do. Your claim that my proposal is similar to the wife-beating statement is inaccurate, pathetic and proof of flawed reasoning skills.

Keep reading Froomkin. He seems to be perfect for your IQ.

Posted by: BlueIguana | March 6, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

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