The Yoo and Bybee Rulings

I feel, I dunno, grumpy about the decision to grant John Yoo and Jay Bybee impunity for their role in torture. The situation calls for a really good post equal to the moral stakes, and I don’t know that I have it in me to write one. But Adam Serwer did one and John Balkin did.

I will say on behalf of Yoo that there’s something a bit odd about the dialectic that led so much opprobrium to attract to him personally. The crux of the matter is that serious violations of domestic and international law were committed thanks to orders given at the highest level. But it would be politically unthinkable to hold the front-line perpetrators of the torture accountable while ignoring the fact that their conduct was specifically authorized by the relevant officials. And it would also be politically unthinkable to put Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. on trial for their lawbreaking. So the idea of John Yoo as the villain began to take shape. And in the end it looks like even he’ll get away. People will make some noise about how maybe he should lose his job at Berkley, but in the end I’m pretty sure he’ll keep it.