Re: John Yoo's Advocacy of the Use of Presidential Pardons

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"Trump has, time and again, called the handful of American soldiers convicted by military courts of war crimes 'heroes'," notes Sasha Abramsky at Truthout. "These include Navy SEAL Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, who is standing trial for thrill-killing civilians in Iraq; Nicholas Slatten, a Blackwater contractor found guilty in 2007 of killing numerous Iraqi civilians; Green Beret Mathew Golsteyn, who stands accused of killing an unarmed Afghan man; and several Marine Corps snipers accused of urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters."

The legal theories which vest the President with literally unlimited power remain largely in place -- including pardoning U.S. military personnel convicted of, or standing trial for, war crimes -- with no small thanks to the legitimacy afforded torture advocate John Yoo by media institutions and UC Berkeley Law. 

In a 2006 memoir of his government service, entitled War by Other Means, the professor promulgated that a president could take a number of steps so that people criminally charged with allegedly torturing prisoners would go free:

"There are ways that the legal system could develop effective approaches toward coercive interrogation. A president could decline to prosecute an officer whom he believed properly acted in self-defense or in an emergency, or out of necessity.  A President could pardon those involved.  Even if a prosecution occurs, a jury must find that that the defense is not met, and convict the agents and his superiors of violating the law.  It would require the only juror to agree that it was reasonable for the defendants to believe the coercive interrogation would yield information that would save lives, and that it would be necessary under the circumstances, to prevent the conviction."

The general framework on which John Yoo's infamous "torture memo" rests is one under which we continue to live under the fascist regime of Trump/Pence; the "twisted" notion that the president's DOJ has the authority to immunize government officials or private actors from the reach of the law is a recipe for inevitable lawlessness, wrote former Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald on release of the document.

While prospective pardons failed to materialize on Memorial Day (facing a barrage of criticism from military top brass, he pulled back), Trump's pardons are expected to be resurrected and "dangled as red meat" before the MAGA crowd. Abramsky concludes that "Trump's glorification of violence and knee-jerk defense of people such as Gallagher are part of a much bigger pattern. Over the past four years Trump has stated that he believes American soldiers ought to be able to torture terrorism suspects, kill the families of terrorists and use such methods as dipping bullets in pigs' blood before firing them at Muslim fighters as a way of humiliating them. In other words, Trump has repeatedly advocated the carrying out of war crimes by American military personnel. 

"Have we learned nothing from the past?"

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This page contains a single entry published on May 31, 2019 12:44 PM.

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