The OLC, the federal Office of Legal Counsel has played a big role behind the scenes in the Bush constellation; more so than any other office in terms of impact. I've been reading and have been impressed by the positions taken, the top form rhetoric, and the blunt integrity of the newly named OLC chief to be, Dawn Johnsen. The "Notes From a Burning House" blog, featured Greenwald's article about her position on torture and the American stance on it... I had read it earlier, and here is the same link that Algernon used.
And just what is Johnsen passionate about? Her words:
"whenever any government or people act lawlessly, on whatever scale, questions of atonement and remedy and prevention must be confronted. And fundamental to any meaningful answer is transparency about the wrong committed. . . ."
Not a lot of people know about John Yoo, but he is featured in the most recent biography of Dick Cheney. Yoo was of counsel at the OLC, and was utilized to write neocom treatises of "the law" that allowed Cheney and his own counsel, David Addington (think Darth Vader) to promote the use of torture to the President. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who knew nothing about this area of the law, went along for the ride.
That's Yoo, above. And featured, from his now famous (infamous?) "torture memoes" are his words:
"If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network. In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch's constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions."
The memo concludes......" that foreign enemy combatants held overseas do not have defendants' rights or protections from cruel and unusual punishment that U.S. citizens have under the Constitution. It also says that Congress 'cannot interfere with the president's exercise of his authority as commander in chief to control the conduct of operations during a war."
And thus the simple concepts, torture is OK, in times of war, the executive branch has imperial powers. John Yoo. Tool of Cheney and Addington. Absolutely heinous. Most people want to be remembered for the words they wrote in their lifetimes. Yoo will spend a lifetime living them down.