It's late November and he really should be back in school (OK, maybe not), but apparently torture advocate John Yoo still has the Inquirer's megaphone. Many of us were hoping that Yoo's time inside Philadelphia's newshole had expired.
This week, he calls for the firing of Andy Reid....just kidding, it's about the 9/11 trials, what else did you expect One-Note Johnny to write about? As was the case with Yoo's last column a while back, he brings up most of the same wrongheaded notions we've already been discussing here for the last couple of weeks:
The only benefit of the trials mentioned, usually by unidentified administration sources, is improving America's international image. But America's place in the world did not suffer after World War II when President Harry S. Truman used military commissions throughout occupied Germany and Japan, or during the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln used them to try Confederate spies and saboteurs. America's victories in those wars, sometimes against prevailing opinion, were far more important to its world standing. Defeating al-Qaeda will do far more for the United States' image than trying Mohammed in civilian court.
I've finally doped out Yoo's writing style, which is to toss so many half-truths and head-scratchers into one piece that you get exhausted trying to swat them all down. Never mind that the commissions in Germany and Japan were international in nature (with a major U.S. component, to be sure) and addressed war crimes as they were defined before the Yoo years, which is lethal and immoral behavior by leading figures in nation states engaged in declared wars, or that Lincoln's version of military commissions was actually struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1866, a process Yoo ought to know a little about, having received the judicial back of the hand from the Supremes himself.
The thing I'm most baffled by is his assertion that the Union fought the Civil War and the United States battled in World War II "against prevailing opinion." Really, John? Where on earth was opinion "prevailing" in favor of Hitler occupying most of Europe, Japanese aggression in Asia or keeping slavery in the American South long after it had been banned by England and other civilized nations? Hitler's bunker, maybe, and few Klan rallies, but where else?
I think that is thowaway line -- rather, it's an important insight into Yoo's worldview. The pride of Episcopal Academy, and his conservative ilk, seem to think that most of the world is against real American values -- even when Nazism or slavery is in play, which may be why they are so, so terrified that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or his co-defendents will rise up in their Lower Manhattan courtroom and give some kind of "Manchurian Candidate"-eque speech that will convert the world to their ridiculous cause.
In fact, it looks like right-wingers' worst bed-wetting fears may come true:
The five men facing trial in the Sept. 11 attacks will plead not guilty so that they can air their criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, the lawyer for one of the defendants said Sunday.
Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but "would explain what happened and why they did it."
This article actually made me realize another advantage of the 9/11 criminal trial that hadn't even occurred to me at first. There are millions around the world who don't even think that it was al-Qaeda behind the attacks, that it was some kind of international Jewish conspiracy or an inside job by the Bush administration. Now, we will have al-Qaeda admitting its guilt in an American courtroom during a trial that will show Ali and his cronies as simply the small-minded, small-time civilian-killing cowards that they are. Only someone who thinks that "prevailing" opinion is against justice and decency wouldn't get that.
But that's probably not even the right question to be asking John Yoo, accomplice to torture and other criminal acts. The question is why are you still around?