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Torture’s Best Friend: An Interview With John Yoo

Posted on Dec 29, 2009
John Yoo
Wikimedia Commons / YooTube

The New York Times picks the brain of John Yoo, who compares George W. Bush to Abraham Lincoln and says “It was my job” to write the memos that sought to legalize torture. Yoo now teaches at the University of California at Berkeley, of which he says: “I remind myself of West Berlin ... surrounded by East Germany during the Cold War.”

He elaborates: “There are probably more Communists in Berkeley than any other town in America, but I think of them more as lovers of Birkenstocks than Marx.”

This chat is a little cutesy for someone who shares responsibility for the agony of countless detainees, the besmirching of America’s reputation and the agitation of God knows how many terrorists, insurgents and other people who now want to kill American soldiers and civilians.

How does he live with it all? Denial helps. If that fails, apparently both of Yoo’s parents are psychiatrists. Although he says, “I don’t actually know that much about their work. I’ve never really been interested.” What a putz.  —PZS

The New York Times:

Do you regret writing the so-called torture memos, which claimed that President Bush was legally entitled to ignore laws prohibiting torture?
No, I had to write them. It was my job. As a lawyer, I had a client. The client needed a legal question answered.

When you say you had “a client,” do you mean President Bush?
Yes, I mean the president, but also the U.S. government as a whole.

But isn’t a lawyer in the Department of Justice there to serve the people of this country?
Yes, I think you are quite right, when the government is executing the laws, but if there’s a conflict between the president and the Congress, then you have to pick one or the other.

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By Inherit The Wind, December 30, 2009 at 7:04 pm Link to this comment

Talking to these bozos (are you reading this GRYM) reminds me of a conversation with my MIL:
Me (to my kid): Hey! Don’t do that!
MIL: No, it’s OK if he does it.
Me (to MIL): Please don’t contradict me.
MIL: I’m not contradicting you.

And so it goes when faced with fundamentally irrational people.

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By Lawlessone, December 30, 2009 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

If Yoo is not disbarred as an attorney and law professor for his advocating torture, then the legal ethics codes are worthless.

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By Cole..., December 30, 2009 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yoo should remind himself ‘as an A-hole surrounded
by buttocks’.

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By Jim Yell, December 30, 2009 at 9:20 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Once more the question must be asked “why aren’t these people at lest being forced to answer for their crimes in the courts?” There is no way that torture can be just a matter of policy in a true democratic country, with the protections of a Bill of Rights.

This man’s paranoia and the fact it has mostly been allowed to stand is a disgrace, but worse it is a sign of more dangers to come. What do we do when our own Government becomes terrorist controlled?

Two Hundred plus years of evolving democracy thrown away by one Frat Brat President listening to the voices in his head instead of to the people. What can we say about the soft response to these crimes. We voted for “change”, not more of the same.

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By don knutsen, December 30, 2009 at 9:07 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Pressure should be brought to bear on the University of Ca. to dismiss this cheerleader of torture in America’s name. Doesn’t the University benefit from millions in tax payers money ? Why should the tax payers have to help pay the lucrative salary of someone who was so instrumental in destroying the credibility of the US thruout the world. Someone so completely deranged as to compare GW Bush to Lincoln ? Is this the kind of person we want to support teaching a generation that will be taking the reins eventually ?  Sociopaths like this need to have a bright light shone on them showing who they are. The tax payers have a right to expect those who are employed by them, to have atleast a basic understanding of what this country supposedly stands for, and should not have to subsidize someone like this who has no moral compass what-so-ever.

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By george szabo, December 30, 2009 at 5:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Unfortunately, as was said a long time ago, America is like a wormy apple nice and shiny on the outside
infested with worms that are slowly eating the heart out of the apple, and once in a while a worm pops
to the surface, Mr. Yoo may be one of these worms, One good thing though , the worms don’t eat the
the seeds, so even though the worms may eat the whole flesh, the seeds of hope , love , peace and
kindness to the people of the world and this beautiful world that we are trying so hard to destroy, can be
planted to start all over again. The world will survive with or without people.

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By jack, December 30, 2009 at 5:21 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

a spectacular piece of work - torturing the laws of the world’s so-called beacon of
freedom, justice and democracy into condoning torture - someone, quickly
nominate him for the Kafka award for social/political absurdity of the decade,
before it goes to David Axelrod

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By jameszy, December 29, 2009 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To say Mr. Yoo is deranged is not really getting at the heart of the issue. His smug
appearance tells the truth, however.  Here is a man who has actually turned
cowardice into righteousness… with the flick of a pen,  not a mean feat.  He is the
lawyerly version of Bush, Jr., nothing more, nothing less.

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By maxwell, December 29, 2009 at 5:43 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is it too late to pull his parents’ licenses to therapize?

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By TAO Walker, December 29, 2009 at 3:55 pm Link to this comment

John Yoo’s paranoid delusions of both persecution and grandeur are certainly on prominent display here.  Could that be the actual effect of the “influence” his parents inevitably had on him, after all?  It can’t be healthy,  being subject (in both law and fact) to the papered professional expertise of a couple of psychiatrists, during one’s “formative years.”

He exemplifies perfectly, however, what Chalmers Johnson pegs so accurately as the “militarist” mind-set.  He is signaling, as well, his own CONviction that he and his fella ‘n’ gal “power”-mongers have nothing whatsoever to fear from those expendable masses now believed by them to be subject abjectly to the “global” command-and CONtrol regime of which they think theirownselfs “in-charge.”

Boy, are they in for some “shock-and-awe.”


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By msgmi, December 29, 2009 at 2:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Every government, no matter how defined, has its gophers to do their bidding. An advocate who can legitimize torture can legitimize any form of criminality.

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By gerard, December 29, 2009 at 2:25 pm Link to this comment

Well, this is so totally weird it’s hard to believe!

“I deny that I’m in denial.”  Just like the entire nation!
“If there is a conflict between the President and the Congress, you have to pick one or the other?”
  If there’s conflict between war and peace, then you have to pick war?
“Do you regret writing the torture memos?”
“No, I had to write them.” (same reason most people are doing (or not doing) what they “have to” do, no matter how counter-productive or downright evil. (War, for example)
“What effects have your parents (psychiatrists) had on you?”
“None, I hope.” 

Well that just about does it, folks.  And the interview was excerpted at that.  Who excerpted it?  Why?  It’s extremely prejudicial as is. Was it even worse, the longer it went on?

Not that I bear any kindness toward Mr. Yoo, who came from the evil side of the hill long before this interview.  But this is a pretty bad example of reporting, even so. The man was enough of a villain before it came out here.

To try to make sense of such drivel is to admit being three sheets in the wind of chaos. I comment that I am not commenting here—and my parents were not psychiatrists. Furthermore, there are more communists—yawk!

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By dr wu--I'm just an ordinary guy, December 29, 2009 at 12:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Yoo is a disaster! Worse than the Unibomber, the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber combined. His tortured logic has the world gasping and the great People’s Democracy of Berkeley ready to revolt and send the revolting Berkeley professor packing.

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By wilson, December 29, 2009 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

John Yoo is a sociopath protected by other sociopathic lawyers at UC Berkeley.

Hey John, your sociopathic friends can only protect you in the U.S.  You might not want to travel to Spain or any other civilized country.

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