Monday, March 30, 2009

John Yoo to be Indicted?

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 10:24 AM

It looks like a Spanish court is going after notorious UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo. It's part of a war crimes investigation into Yoo and other top Bush administration officials who gave legal cover for torture. Along with Yoo, the court is looking at former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, former undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith, former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff David Addington, Justice Department lawyer Jay Bybee (who was Yoo's boss, and is now a federal judge); and Pentagon lawyer William Haynes, who now works for Chevron in San Ramon.

Spanish law allows its courts to reach beyond national borders in cases of torture or war crimes under a doctrine of universal justice. According to the Associated Press, human rights lawyers brought the case to leading anti-terror judge Baltasar Garzon, who agreed to send it on to prosecutors to decide whether it had merit. Garzon is best known for bringing charges against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998. Interestingly, the Spaniards view Yoo and the other lawyers as being more legally culpable than Bush and Cheney and the torturers themselves.

But even if Yoo and the others are indicted, it's not clear they would ever be brought to justice. First, they would have to travel to a country that is willing to honor the indictments and then extradite them to Spain. And even then, it's not clear whether the Spanish government would insist that the indictments be enforced. Still, Professor Yoo, if you're planning a trip abroad, you might want to do it now.

As for that torture you authorized with your infamous "Torture Memos?" Well, we all know that you ended up hurting a lot of people, and some even died from torture, but it looks like the torture itself got us nothing - except worldwide scorn and putting our own soldiers at risk. According to a comprehensive piece by the Washington Post, torturing suspected al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaida got interrogators nothing but bullshit leads.

That's the third report on the worthlessness of torture. Both investigative journalist Ron Suskind and the New York Times previously reported that the torture of Zubaida was a massive waste of time and money, because he sent government agents on wild goose chases around the globe. That should come as know surprise to interrogation experts who have long argued that torture doesn't work. Tortured prisoners, you see, will tell their abusers anything to get them to stop.

And why is Zubaida important? Because Yoo admitted last year that he wrote the first torture memo in 2002 because the CIA was anxious to use "enhanced interrogation techniques" on him. So thanks, John Yoo, for leading us down the path to the Dark Side for absolutely nothing. Oh yeah, we forgot, you did it all in the name of "academic freedom."

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