Yoo wants America and the rest of the world to know that "President George W. Bush, not his successor, constructed the interrogation and warrantless surveillance programs that produced this week's actionable intelligence." Got that? Yoo wants to transfer credit from the White House team that actually got bin Laden to the White House team that famously did not. He wants to do so despite good evidence to the contrary. And he wants to do so without any expressed accountability or remorse for the impact many of those extralegal Bush-era "programs" wrought upon our rule of law and standing in the rest of the world. Abu Ghraib? What Abu Ghraib?
And there is more. In the World of Yoo, the Obama administration was able to carry out its daring plan not necessarily because of extraordinary intelligence work on behalf of its operatives but rather in spite of the current president's namby-pamby approach to terror suspects. Forty-eight hours after U.S. forces dumped bin Laden's body into the sea, Yoo writes:
Imagine what would have happened if the Obama administration had been running things immediately following 9/11. After their "arrest," we would have read [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] and [Abu Faraj al-Libi] their Miranda rights, provided them legal counsel sent them to the U.S. for detention, and granted them all the rights provided a U.S. citizen in criminal proceedings.
This is make-believe, a fantasy even more warped and cynical than was the fairy-tale world of legal precedent that Yoo and his Office of Legal Counsel colleagues ginned up in 2002 to justify the torture of terror suspects. It is a wild insult to the men and women of the Justice Department and the Pentagon who have worked so hard (before and after the 2008 election) to be just and thorough in their treatment of the detainees. It completely ignores the force of Supreme Court precedent -- from both before and after 9/11. And it shows that Yoo still darkly believes that if his critics in law and politics are not with him they are necessarily against American interests.
If this, too, were all Yoo were arguing today, it would be bad enough. But there is still more. In Yoo's view, the Obama administration made a big mistake by killing bin Laden. Instead, Yoo argues, the brave Navy Seals should have captured the fugitive so that he could be tortured for information about current Al Qaeda operations. Yoo wrote of bin Laden:
As Sunday's operation put so vividly on display, Mr. Obama would rather kill al Qaeda leaders -- whether by drones or special ops teams -- than wade through the difficult questions raised by their detention...
[Bin Laden's] capture, like Saddam Hussein's in December 2003, would have provided invaluable intelligence and been an even greater example of U.S. military prowess than his death.
So in the World of Yoo, the Obama administration demonstrated a form of cowardice by killing the man responsible for the most deadly crime in American history. And the Bush administration demonstrated a form of bravery when it captured and tortured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who, eight years later and unlike his former boss, still walks the face of the Earth, unprosecuted, unconvicted, unsentenced and very much undead. Yoo's notoriety from all of this will last so long as America follows a rule of law. But when, exactly, will his specific 15 minutes of fame end?