By Philip Watts
-- -- John Yoo publicly argued there is no law that could
prevent the President from ordering the torture of a child of a
suspect in custody – including by crushing that child’s testicles.
This came out in response to a question in a December 1st debate
in Chicago with Notre Dame professor and international human rights
scholar Doug Cassel.
What is particularly chilling and revealing about this is that
John Yoo was a key architect post-9/11 Bush Administration legal
policy. As a deputy assistant to then-Attorney General John
Ashcroft, John Yoo authored a number of legal memos arguing for
unlimited presidential powers to order torture of captive suspects,
and to declare war anytime, any where, and on anyone the President
deemed a threat.
It has now come out Yoo also had a hand in providing legal
reasoning for the President to conduct unauthorized wiretaps of U.S.
citizens. Georgetown Law Professor David Cole wrote, "Few lawyers
have had more influence on President Bush’s legal policies in the
'war on terror’ than John Yoo."
This part of the exchange during the debate with Doug Cassel,
reveals the logic of Yoo’s theories, adopted by the Administration
as bedrock principles, in the real world.
Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to
torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the
person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty.
Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you
wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks
he needs to do that.
The audio of this exchange is available online at
Yoo argues presidential powers on Constitutional grounds, but
where in the Constitution does it say the President can order the
torture of children ? As David Cole puts it, "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."
What is the position of the Bush Administration on the torture of
children, since one of its most influential legal architects is
advocating the President’s right to order the crushing of a child’s
This fascist logic has nothing to do with "getting information"
as Yoo has argued. The legal theory developed by Yoo and a few
others and adopted by the Administration has resulted in thousands
being abducted from their homes in Afghanistan, Iraq or other parts
of the world, mostly at random. People have been raped,
electrocuted, nearly drowned and tortured literally to death in
U.S.-run torture centers in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantánamo Bay.
And there is much still to come out. What about the secret centers
in Europe or the many still-suppressed photos from Abu Ghraib? What
can explain this sadistic, indiscriminate, barbaric brutality except
a need to instill widespread fear among people all over the world?
It is ironic that just prior to arguing the President's legal
right to torture children, John Yoo was defensive about the Bush
administration policies, based on his legal memo’s, being equated to
those during Nazi Germany.
Yoo said, "If you are trying to draw a moral equivalence between
the Nazis and what the United States is trying to do in defending
themselves against Al Qauueda and the 9/11 attacks, I fully reject
that. Second, if you’re trying to equate the Bush Administration to
Nazi officials who committed atrocities in the holocaust, I
completely reject that too…I think to equate Nazi Germany to the
Bush Administration is irresponsible."
If open promotion of unmitigated executive power, including the
right to order the torture of innocent children, isn’t sufficient
basis for drawing such a "moral equivalence," then I don’t know what
is. What would be irresponsible is to sit by and allow the Bush
regime to radically remake society in a fascist way, with
repercussions for generations to come. We must act now because the
future is in the balance. The world cannot wait. While Bush gives
his State of the Union on January 31st, I’ll find myself along with
many thousands across the country declaring "Bush Step Down And take
your program with you."
Philip Watts -