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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Whichever way the wind blows

John Yoo gained fame for his legal justification of executive power to torture when he worked for the Bush administration. There was this classic Q & A:

Q: I guess the question I'm raising is, does this particular law really affect the President's war-making abilities ....

Yoo: Yes, certainly.

Q: What is your authority for that?

Yoo: Because this is an option that the President might use in war.

Q: What about ordering a village of resistants to be massacred? ... Is that a power that the president could legally--

Yoo: Yeah. Although, let me say this. So, certainly, that would fall within the commander-in-chief's power over tactical decisions.

Q: To order a village of civilians to be [exterminated]?

Yoo: Sure.

Now that a Republican isn't in the White House Executive power seems to have suffered from major shrinkage in Yoo's mind. In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal today he suggested that an Executive order signed by President Obama forcing government contractors to disclose political contributions. You would think any rational person would agree that this creates a reasonable degree of transparency that is desirable when Federal contracts are in play.

You would be wrong when it comes to John Yoo. Yoo writes that it's "only purpose is to dangle the specter of retaliation.. and harassment."

As Talking Points Memo writes, "While the editorial says that the order "represents the latest salvo in the Obama administration's war on the First Amendment rights of its political opponents," there's no word from Yoo on whether the President has the executive power to torture executives to force them to disclose their political donations.

Yoo would probably be okay with that.

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