Torture Sells 

Suddenly, John Yoo is everywhere.

It's been a little more than a year since Boalt law professor John Yoo was identified as coauthor of a series of memos providing legal cover for the Bush administration to torture alleged members of al Qaeda and the Taliban. In an alternate universe somewhere, Yoo has been subjected to the moral disgust that is his due, surrendered his license to practice law in shame, and now cleans out grease traps at a Burger King in Fruitvale.

But in this universe, Yoo is not only still a respected legal mind -- he's a celebrity. Apparently, you can greenlight the electrocution and waterboarding of other human beings, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer would still like your opinion on the Supreme Court's new docket of cases. Here's a sample of the questions broadcast news anchors are asking Professor Yoo instead of "How does your wife like waking up next to a war criminal every morning?"

• September 30, 2004, Talk of the Nation, NPR. Yoo discusses sentencing guidelines with former Stanford law school dean Kathleen Sullivan and host Joe Palca. The subject of ripping out prisoners' fingernails with pliers does not come up.

• November 3, 2004, The Abrams Report, MSNBC. Dan Abrams and John Yoo speculate about John Ashcroft's future as attorney general. Neither man alludes to sleep deprivation.

• December 6, 2004, The Abrams Report, MSNBC. Yoo is back with Dan Abrams for a scintillating talk about sodomy laws and gays in the military. No one mentions how many acts of sodomy Yoo's memos may have caused in Abu Ghraib.

• March 31, 2005, All Things Considered, NPR. Host Robert Siegel consults Yoo on organizational problems within the Justice Department. Expressions such as "prolonged beatings," "organ failure," and "modern-day Mengele" mysteriously go unspoken.

A few more appearances like this, and spitting on Yoo as you pass him on the street might be considered rude again.


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