Sunday, July 02, 2006

Yoo Hoo

The other evening, I was chatting with a friend of mine and we were discussing the Supreme Court's ruling on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. Whom did this decision really smack down? he asked. His opinion was that is was David Addington, Cheney's General Counsel, which the decision mostly rebuked. While Addington was certainly part and parcel to the unitary executive theory and had written the key "torture memo," I argued that this was a more of a repudiation of the legal theories of John Yoo, the principle constuctor of the entire presidential-power house of cards. Over and back it went: Yoo, no, Addington, no Yoo, etc.. Of course, it must be realised that these were only the men who had been tapped to formalise the entire argument for unitary executive power; it has been a decades-long desire of Cheney since Nixon had claimed exemption to the law.

Well, I was rather interested to see this blurb today, an article that discusses John Yoo and his reaction to the decision. Yoo, it would seem, is "perplexed and little bitter" that the Court had "dismantled" the entire argument that Bush could treat prisoners however he liked. I have expressed doubts that the decision would do much of anything, since Congress, at the behest of the White House, appear ready to leap into the now extant legal void and concoct some legislative legerdemain that would retroactively legalize everything Bush has already done. And Congress will do this upon advice received from the Supreme Court itself on how best to legalise the conduct the Supremes were calling illegal on that day.

Yoo's biggest, or at least foremost, complaint had me nearly snorting the morning's coffee out my nose.
What the court is doing is attempting to suppress creative thinking.
It is grand testiment to the galling arrogance of Yoo that he views the Hamdan v. Rumsfeld decision as a suppression of "creative thinking," and I'm guessing he means his creative thinking. His baby just got smacked for pooping on the floor. Or perhaps it was for Gitmo detainees pooping on their floor.

Let's just look at what Yoo and his brain trust believe is "creative thinking":
Mr. Yoo helped write a series of memorandums setting out a bold and novel legal strategy to find, hold, question and punish the nation's enemies. The memorandums said the Geneva Conventions do not apply to people the administration designates as enemy combatants. They contemplated the use of highly coercive interrogation techniques. They justified secret surveillance.
There is really nothing terribly creative in this laundry list at all. It is tried and true behaviour of despots throughout the ages. The only thing "creative" about it is John Yoo's fancy-pants legalistic lingo. The article goes on to cite various legal scholars who all think this decision has "blown out of the water" the entire legal position of the Bush administration. While this might be true in more normative times, in more normative times, we wouldn't even be seeing this decision in the first place.

I just don't see Hamdan v. Rumsfeld doing much, other than stirring Congress into more White House appeasement. The theatre of operations for Congress these days is to madly flail and do essentially nothing. They will, however, give Bush another pass and the legislation he wants, which he could choose to ignore anyway, as he so often has done in the past. If there is one prediction I would love to be wrong about, it is this one. But what evidence is there that Bush won't get exactly what he wants? His poll numbers are terrible still, but that has never seemed to bother Congress, which now more fully resembles a bowl of warm noodles Bush* stirs around occasionally, just before he feeds on them.

* Usage here is in the sense of the Royal Bush, which includes, but is not limited to, Bush, Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc.


Blogger Kel said...


I am just delighted that someone has drawn a line in the sand and said that there is a limit to Bush's executive power.

Now, of course, he'll try to get round it, but I think most of his arguments concerning wiretapping etc have simply collapsed.

He's drawn all his power from a rather bizarre reading of what constitutes Presidential authority.

It's been explained to him rather forcefully that he does not possess the power that Cheney, Rumsfeld and these others nuts have been telling him he has.

11:59 AM  
Blogger theBhc said...

I guess I am becoming a bit of defeatist as far as watching Congress. I don't put any amount of accomodation beyond them right now. Yes, it is good that finally someone has splapped Bush's wrist. But that is about all it will be as far as I can tell.

12:25 PM  

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