Philly Paper Welcomes Home Native Torture Hero

Blogger and Philadelphia Inquirer writer Will Bunch has a review (Attytood, 5/11/09) of how, “by late last year, the world already knew a great deal about John Yoo, the Philadelphia native and conservative legal scholar whose tenure in the Bush administration as a top Justice Department lawyer lies at the root of the period of greatest peril to the U.S. Constitution in modern memory”:

It was widely known in 2008, for example, that Yoo had argued for presidential powers far beyond anything either real or implied in the Constitution–that the commander-in-chief could trample the powers of Congress or a free press in an endless undeclared war, or that the 4th Amendment barring unreasonable search and seizure didn’t apply in fighting what Yoo called domestic terrorism.

Most famously, Yoo was known as the author of the infamous “torture memos” that in 2002 and 2003 gave the Bush and Cheney the legal cover to violate the human rights of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, based on the now mostly ridiculed claim that international and U.S. laws against such torture practices did not apply. Working closely with Dick Cheney, Cheney’s staff and others, Yoo set into motion the brutal actions that left a deep, indelible stain on the American soul.

Bunch notifies us that, despite all this, his “colleagues upstairs at the Philadelphia Inquirer–with none of the fanfare that might normally accompany such a move”–decided “to sign a contract with Yoo in late 2008 to give him a regular monthly column.” Bunch explains that the paper “thus handed Yoo a loud megaphone on what was once a hallowed piece of real estate in American journalism–to write on the very subjects that have now led Justice Department investigators to reportedly recommend disbarment proceedings against Yoo.”