In WSJ op-ed, Yoo claims he ‘helped save Obama’s presidency’
Recently cleared from criminal prosecution, President Bush’s “torture architect” John Yoo criticized Obama on Wednesday for allegedly ordering a “witch hunt” against him. But the timeline reflects that the investigation of his transgressions began under the former president, not the current one.
In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal Wednesday titled “My Gift to the Obama Presidency,” Yoo declared that he “may have just helped save [Obama's] presidency. How? By winning a drawn-out fight to protect his powers as commander in chief to wage war and keep Americans safe.”
The Justice Department’s Office of Personal Responsibility recently declared that Yoo and fellow torture architect Jay Bybee should not be disbarred, instead merely issuing them a rhetorical slap for “professional misconduct” and “poor judgment” for ignoring established case law.
Doubling down on the efficacy of his decisions, Yoo defended Bush lawyers and squared the blame for his reproach on Obama for “hounding those who developed, approved or carried out Bush policies” and criticized the “[r]ank bias and sheer incompetence” of OPR’s investigation.
But the investigation was underway by April 2008, when The Associated Press reported that the “Justice Department is investigating whether agency lawyers improperly advised the military it could use harsh interrogation methods.”
The main catalyst of the investigation, AP reported, was a 2003 memo “written by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo” which “said the president’s wartime power as commander in chief would not be limited by U.N. treaties against torture.”
Unresolved by the end of the Bush administration, it was passed on to Obama, and just last week the DOJ cleared Yoo of prosecution charges.
Joel Mathis of the Philadephia Weekly called Yoo “purely and completely dishonest” in the op-ed, pointing out that “the OPR investigation started during the Bush Administration.” He added that Yoo “distorts and politicizes the situation to create an entirely false narrative of his own victimization.”
“Get this straight,” Mathis continued. “The so-called ‘smear job’ came under the Republican president. The so-called ‘vindication’ came under the Democratic president.”
In the op-ed, Yoo rebuked Obama’s alleged “determination to take us back to a Sept. 10, 2001, approach to terrorism” by banning the CIA from using severe interrogation techniques, ordering the closure of Guantanamo Bay and subjecting suspected terrorists to the American justice system.
Watchdog groups and civil libertarians believe Yoo’s punishment was insufficient given his transgressions, arguing he ought to be at least stripped of his license to practice law, if not prosecuted.