Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Anathema of Yoo -- a letter to Chapman University Law School where, John Yoo, one of Bush administration's lawyers who wrote memos to George Bush justifying torture and other breaches of civil liberties, is a visiting professor at Chapman from the University of California Law School at Berkeley:

I have read your law school's rationalization for the employment of John Yoo as visiting professor of your prestigious university and find it abhorrent. John Yoo has treasonously subverted the very essence of who we are as a nation. He helped undermine the very foundation of our sacred Constitution and subverted our most cherished legal civil libertarian values. He wrote opinions some of which were enacted and some of which were not. Those that were enacted with respect to the advocacy of torture possibly could indict Mr. Yoo for crimes. Torture, as I do not have to remind you, is ILLEGAL in this country.

Employing a visiting professor who harbors a hint of complicity in the advocacy of such policies should be an anathema to you no matter what one’s political persuasion. Those policies he helped justify meant the overthrowing of the entirety of our nation’s system. His opinions try to justify the very tyranny of presidential power we profess to abhor. They serve to justify the imbuing of the executive branch with so much power it COULD have meant even the apprehension of many in your law school, many in the University of California at Berkeley Law School, many in Harvard Law School, indeed, many in any law school, any university, any home, anywhere and at any time. That person could be jailed, literally, forever with no ability to redress his grievances and worst of all he could even be a citizen of our country. The decision to do so would rest with only one man. In Jon Yoo’s universe that decision would rest with George W. Bush alone. Would YOU have wanted your fate determined solely by him?

Our Founders were dedicated to avoiding the pitfalls of tyranny and eschewed the idea that one man would be able to exercise so much power that he, on a whim, might use that power to levy punishment on anyone he chose. That person selected, no matter how innocent, would have no right of trial and no right to face his accusers to state his case. This should be an egregious affront not only to ALL those within the hierarchy of most especially a law school but to all of us, too, who love our Constitution and our country's form of government. Mr. Yoo’s memos constructing ideations of presidential power took the history of humankind’s hard slog toward civilized conduct and reversed it centuries. He did not bend, as Dr. King so eloquently iterated, the long arc of the moral universe toward justice but he twisted it to an unrecognizable shape of injustice so that any man occupying the highest offi ce in our land could do whatever he wanted without fear of consequence.

He ignored our separation of powers system. If our Founders wanted the system for which Mr. Yoo advocated in the memos he produced they would have let King George III remain as colonial overlord and the colonists would have been required to endure whatever injustices he wanted to bestow. The abrogation of those civil libertarian values, so necessary for our democracy to flourish, makes our country the laughing stock of the world when we attempt to tell totalitarian governments how they should act.

If our civil liberties cannot be maintained even in the harshest times then that must mean they apply only when times are good. Our cherished civil liberties are NOT simply for times that are easy but for also times that are hard. Mr. Yoo, in my opinion, should not be teaching at an institution that values the rule of law and his employment there or anywhere else in an institution of higher learning should be repugnant to those who value the essence of our nation.