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View Diary: The Risen Book: Is That All There Is? Afraid Not. (90 comments)

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  •  Berkeley (none)
    Make no mistake, Yoo is insanely intelligent, which is why he is so dangerous.  He is using his intellectual powers for the Dark Side, unfortunately.  In this case, his service to power has led him to take an indefensible position, but he has a brilliant legal mind, otherwise.

    And as for Berkeley, I went to law school there, and the faculty is dominated by right-wingers.  Terrible irony, given the history of the place and the very, very liberal student body at the law school.

    "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

    by scorponic on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 05:16:36 AM PST

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    •  "Insanely intelligent" (none)
      Excuse me, the evidence of that is sorely lacking at this time.

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 05:22:55 AM PST

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      •  Don't get me wrong. (none)
        I think the man is the worst thing to happen to the legal profession since Nazi lawyers enabled Hitler, but he is very, very smart.  One can be smart yet still take stupid positions out of ideological compulsion.  See, e.g., Scalia, J. or Buckley, William F.

        "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

        by scorponic on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 05:31:49 AM PST

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      •  Yoo Who? (none)
        According to the review cited above:

        Yoo contends that the president has unilateral authority to initiate wars without congressional approval, and to interpret, terminate, and violate international treaties at will. Indeed, ratified treaties, Yoo believes, cannot be enforced by courts unless Congress enacts additional legislation to implement them.

        I'd say this may be insane, but it isn't very smart. Yoo renders all international agreements moot in order to give supreme powers to the president of only one country that ratified the agreement. Is he just hoping that no other country (or coalition of countries) that signed the agreement will get big and strong enough to fight back? Duck! Here comes China! or Here comes Europe! I think the appropriate term is "delusions of grandeur." Another good diagnosis is solipsism, which is way worse than ethno-centrism, being the belief that the self can know only its own modifications and therefore the self is the only thing that exists. Houston, we have a problem.

        Not to mention that, according to the reviewer, Mr. Yoo has now created for himself the impossible task of reconciling his absurd position regarding presidential powers with the "original intent" of the framers of the Constitution, a challenging stretch that has sent him scurrying into libraries, looking for archaic definitions of words such as "declare" and "war." The Constitution does not MEAN that only Congress can declare war, says Yoo. It probably means that only the King, uh, President can start a war, after which Congress can add its stamp of approval. Stop this idiot before he figures out how to argue Congress entirely out of existence.

        I still say the fastest way to stop Bush/Cheney is to stop giving them any money. Shhh. Don't educate Mr. Yoo about the words budget or appropriations. He will just get busy redefining what they mean. Last time I looked, Congress controlled the purse strings.

        I know, some of you will say that Halliburton controls the purse strings, but give me the benefit of the doubt, please. Technically, Congress, although perhaps nearly dead, is still clinging to life.

        "That story isn't worth the paper it's rotten on."--Dorothy Parker

        by martyc35 on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 12:03:05 PM PST

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        •  For a lot of technical reasons... (none)
          ...for which this is not the appropriate forum, Mr. Yoo's positions on these various topics are fairly mainstream.  (I'm referring to the excerpt you quote, not the "Article II makes POTUS a king during war-time" argument).  In fact, as the law now stands, the POTUS does have constitutional authority -- as a matter of domestic (i.e., internal US) law -- to abrogate treaties unilaterally.  (President Carter established this principle when he unilaterally abrogated the U.S.-Taiwan mutual defense treaty.)  He may also, obviously, involve the country in armed conflict without a Congressional declaration of war.  (I think the courts have gone way astray of the plain words of the Constitution here, but they have nevertheless endorsed presidential authority, without Congressional action, in this area.)  Finally, it is true under current U.S. law that a treaty may not be enforced in U.S. courts unless it is deemed "self-executing" by the courts.  The courts deem almost all treaties non-self-executing, meaning they lack the magic language that makes them directly enforceable in U.S. courts, and are thus only enforceable if Congress enacts specific enabling legislation.  For better or worse, these are solidly mainstream positions.  Which just goes to show, in my opinion, how hostile the U.S. in general is to international law -- particularly domestic application of international law.

          "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

          by scorponic on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 02:50:41 AM PST

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        •  A simple point. (none)
          Here is John Yoo's biography from the Boalt Hall website:

          John Yoo received his B.A., summa cum laude, in American history from Harvard University. Between college and law school, he worked as a newspaper reporter in Washington, D.C. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was an articles editor of the Yale Law Journal. He then clerked for Judge Laurence H. Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the D.C. Circuit.

          Professor Yoo joined the Boalt faculty in 1993, then clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court. He served as general counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee from 1995-96. From 2001 to 2003, he served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice, where he worked on issues involving foreign affairs, national security and the separation of powers.

          He has been a visiting professor at the University of Chicago and the Free University of Amsterdam. He has received research fellowships from the University of California, Berkeley, the Olin Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation, and is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Professor Yoo also has received the Paul M. Bator Award for excellence in legal scholarship and teaching from the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy. He has testified before the judiciary committees of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and has advised the State of California on constitutional issues.

          Professor Yoo has published articles about foreign affairs, international law and constitutional law in a number of the nation's leading law journals, including the law reviews of Boalt Hall, Chicago, Columbia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas. He is the author of War, Peace, and the Constitution (University of Chicago Press, 2005).

          You don't accomplish what he's accomplished without being "smart," in at least some accepted meaning of that word.  The word can mean many things, since there are many types of intelligence.  Being "smart," however, is no guarantee that everything one asserts will be "smart."  Yoo's work in this area of the law is morally and intellectually bankrupt, in my opinion.  But the man is still smart as hell.  I don't see the point in arguing with that assessment, which implies no endorsement whatsoever of his views, or even suggests that the particular views under discussions are, themselves, "smart."  Once again, for the record, I consider them to be indefensible.

          "When the intellectual history of this era is finally written, it will scarcely be believable." -- Noam Chomsky

          by scorponic on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 05:42:08 AM PST

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          •  Thanks for responding on John Yoo (none)
            Mr. Yoo has impressive credentials, obviously good enough to get him a job at Berkeley, but let's not forget that he lives in a publish or perish world, so it's his job to be writing all the time, just to survive in academia. I don't much care whether he is intelligent; my argument is that he seems slightly nuts, as does our president. What do you think of David Cole (law professor at Georgetown and author of the review in question)? He seems to respect the notion that some treaties (most likely long established ones such as the Geneva Conventions) ought to be honored:

            Yoo's most famous piece of advice was in an August 2002 memorandum stating that the president cannot constitutionally be barred from ordering torture in wartime--even though the United States has signed and ratified a treaty absolutely forbidding torture under all circumstances, and even though Congress has passed a law pursuant to that treaty, which without any exceptions prohibits torture. Yoo reasoned that because the Constitution makes the president the "Commander-in-Chief," no law can restrict the actions he may take in pursuit of war. On this reasoning, the president would be entitled by the Constitution to resort to genocide if he wished.

            Whether the president's prerogative to ignore international agreements is "mainstream" or not isn't very important, is it? What does it matter whether some or many lawyers have weighed in on the issue? Some agreements are more important than others. It takes only one lawyer who has the president's ear to do a whole lot of damage regarding the most important agreements. I lived through the "Police Action" in Korea, no declared war, and the Vietnamese Conflict, too (that's the way to find it in the library). The U.S. has long made its distancing from the United Nations known by not paying its agreed-upon dues; I see that as a tactic, not on a par with ignoring the Geneva Conventions or denying access to due process or breaking the FISA laws. Or flouting the Constitution of the United States.

            I was just reading yesterday about Alito's opinion on presidential opinions, that is, if the president records comments as to how he intends to interpret a bill that he signs, then he has leeway to interpret it contrary to Congress's stated intent in the Congressional Record. This is real, not theoretical, as Senator Carl Levin found out this week, when Bush decided to interpret a new law on Guantanamo detainees in exactly the opposite way that Levin had specified when cosponsoring it. It was an out and out betrayal. Apparently, Bush has done this on nearly every bill he has signed (like the cartoon of him with his fingers crossed behind his back), so even if John McCain thinks they reached an agreement on no torture of detainees, Bush can just do what he wants based on his own interpretation of the law. I'll bet Yoo would love that argument.

            The reason that I say such arguments are not very smart is that one can get away with them as long as your enemy is scared of you. If you slip a bit, then they will feel free to use your own tactics against you. Charging ahead on this short-term premise leaves a lot to be desired in the long-term. Getting rid of checks and balances internally will not protect the nation from retaliation for its bullying. There are other checks and balances out there, waiting for the chance to strike back. That's why I say that Mr. Yoo displays some signs of solipsism; he seems to think that the president of the U.S. is king of the world, totally infallible, into perpetuity. For an intelligent person, this is a stupid conclusion. Come to think of it, that was your point, too, wasn't it?

            "Outside of a dog, a man's best friend is a book. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read"--Groucho Marx

            by martyc35 on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 10:49:41 AM PST

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