The Yoo Coverup

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I don't think I have the stomach to try to do any serious original analysis of John Yoo's now-declassified torture memos. As usual, you can find a lot of great legal analysis at Balkinization. But Yoo aside, you need to really be staggered by the mental processes of his employer. Some subordinate shows up in your office with a memo about how it is, in fact, legal to break all kinds of laws -- specifically laws that seek to entrench a few hundred years' worth of conventional wisdom about the moral and political unacceptability of torturing people. What do you do? Fire the guy? See if you can recommend that he get counseling? Not if you're George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, if you're those guys you adopt the legal reasoning and move on to the torturing.

Except eventually it becomes clear that the torture's gotten out of hand -- it's happening to innocent people, it's spreading throughout the U.S. detention and interrogation system, it's producing all kinds of possibly spurious information, etc., so naturally you respond by classifying the whole thing and pretending that it would imperil national security for everyone to know what a bunch of sickos you are. It really makes the stomach churn.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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