John Yoo Criticizes Liberals for Caring More About Torture Than Diversity

The man who helped institutionalize torture argues it's hypocritical to oppose the promotion of a woman who destroyed evidence of brutal interrogations.

john yoo fullness.png

Miller Center/Flickr

Since John Yoo played a prominent role helping to institutionalize torture during the Bush Administration, it's no surprise that he objects when other people who were complicit in that immoral and illegal behavior are stigmatized. His latest post at National Review laments the fact that the person chosen to head the CIA's clandestine service -- the first woman ever tapped for the job -- may not get it after all. As the Washington Post described the controversy, "She is a veteran officer with broad support inside the agency. But she also helped run the CIA's detention and interrogation program after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and signed off on the 2005 decision to destroy videotapes of prisoners being subjected to treatment critics have called torture." Remember that?

You can see the contours of disagreement: Yoo thinks this woman is "the most qualified person for the job," and should be appointed; her critics think her past behavior was immoral, illegal, and disqualifying.

That's why I find the line of argument Yoo pursues so hilarious. "This is a lot more serious than the hypocrisy of the diversity-crazed Obama administration's blocking the first woman for this most sensitive and important of intelligence positions," he writes. "This is the very politicization of the CIA that conservatives feared when Brennan was nominated ... because of the heat from the Left during his confirmation, Brennan is blocking the most qualified operative to head the CIA's key division because of her involvement in interrogations. Clearly, diversity only goes so far for the Left."

That last line is priceless.

Let's marvel at the reasoning. The left *preaches* gender diversity, sure, but the minute advancing it would require them to promote a torturer who obstructed the 9/11 Commission's investigation to destroy evidence of horrific acts ... well, suddenly diversity isn't the priority anymore.

It's an argument only Yoo would make. Of course he of all people thinks this proves hypocrisy. Why, it was "only" "enhanced interrogations." There wasn't even child-testicle crushing ... not that there would've been anything wrong with that! The man is so oblivious to the severity of what his colleagues in the Bush Administration perpetrated, so blind even to the beliefs of their liberal critics, that he thinks if liberals were being consistent they'd care more about promoting a woman than stigmatizing torture -- and that if they did, it would reflect more favorably on their intellectual honesty.

Interpretive reasoning is not his strong suit.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Wild Vacation in the Pacific Northwest

A not-so-ordinary road trip, featuring extra-tall art bikes, skateboards, and hand-painted vans

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Politics

Just In