Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Audacity of Yoo

John Yoo, author of the infamous Bush torture memos, has become something of a self-parody. How else to explain this incredible statement:

President Obama continues to display his misunderstanding of the constitutional order by repeatedly inserting himself into matters reserved to the states and localities, such as the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, the location of a mosque near ground zero in New York City, and much of Arizona’s immigration bill. In ignoring the proper division of responsibility between the national and state governments, Obama distracts the national political state from the pressing responsibilities on its own docket, such as spending no more than revenues and protecting the nation’s security.


The sheer audacity is breathtaking. John Yoo, a man who thinks executive power is so broad and unchallengeable that the president can order the military or the CIA to crush the testicles of a young boy in order to induce cooperation from the boy’s father, thinks Obama is out of line by commenting on political controversies that are beyond the control of his office.

And the chutzpah of this statement is enough to make one’s jaw drop:

Obama’s intervention also shows that he misconceived the constitutional priorities of his office. The president’s primary job is to protect the national security and conduct foreign affairs. The chief executive’s role in domestic affairs was primarily intended to be one of moderating Congress. Obama seems to wish that someone else would take the lead on national security, preferably the courts.

What universe is Yoo living in? In the real world, Obama has done everything he could to prevent the courts from ever even considering a case that challenges the president’s national security decisions, arguing in case after case that such challenges must be dismissed immediately upon only the president’s declaration that they involve a matter of national security.

Yoo knows this, of course, because Obama has been making — and winning — that argument in at least two cases in which Yoo himself is the defendant. Obama is the only thing standing between Yoo and two major lawsuits and at least a handful of well-deserved criminal indictments. One would think he’d at least be grateful enough for the assistance not to lie about the man’s track record.

I didn’t think my opinion of John Yoo could fall any further. I was wrong.