John Yoo’s Non-Ephemeral Writings

I’m reading the transcript of John Yoo’s side of the Esquire interview, and found this rather amusing bit.

Yoo explained that he had considered becoming a journalist. But didn’t do it because it was too ephemeral.

I gave a lot of thought to becoming a journalist. I was an intern at the Wall Street Journal under Al Hunt in the summer between college and law school. I gave that a lot of thought. It was very exciting. I had a great time. But there was something — no offense, but there was something about journalism that was very ephemeral. You write the story and then it’s gone and nobody remembers it.

I guess we ought to consider Yoo a success, then. Because it’ll be a long time before people forget his most famous writings

25 replies
  1. merkwurdiglieber says:

    Why am I not surprised to learn of his having interned at the WSJ?
    History is geneaology.

  2. AZ Matt says:

    Maybe Karl Rove wanted to be a journalist too, he could have been making up stuff all along. I see he really doesn’t want to talk to the House Judiciary Committee under oath cuz he couldn’t make stuff up.

  3. freepatriot says:

    wanna bet that yoo didn’t think he was gonna write America’s Wansea Protocol when he was in college

    careful what you wish for me eichmann, er, mr yoo

    btw, TPM has a headline that says Osama is now the Blue Light Special of terrorist, stuck in the discount bin, marked down from 10 million to $100,000. But there ain’t any text in the link

    I just had to laugh

    • bobschacht says:

      “I will never forget Yoo.”

      There’s an old Elvis song (1966) that’s popular in Hawaii, “I’ll remember you”. Changing it to “I’ll remember Yoo” spoils the whole thing.

      “I’ll remember you
      Long after this endless summer has gone.
      I’ll be lonely, oh so lonely,
      Living only to remember you.”

      Think of it as sung by certain Administration torturer-approvers, as they sit in their jail cells 20 years from now.

      Bob in HI

      • bmaz says:

        Instead, more likely that the actions of Yoo and the Bush Administration will forever fuel appropriately “Suspicious Minds”.

        • bobschacht says:

          Ah, you mean (thanks to the Wikipedia)

          “Suspicious Minds” is a song originating in the United States in 1956 that thematizes emotional entrapment within a dysfunctional relationship.[1] Most notably performed by Elvis Presley beginning in 1969, “Suspicious Minds” was widely regarded as the single that jump-started Presley’s career after his successful ‘68 Comeback Special. It was Elvis’s eighteenth and last number-one single in the United States. Rolling Stone later ranked it #91 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
          …This song is part of the soundtrack for 2001’s Black Hawk Down.

          Good catch! The Lyrics have some interesting echoes:

          We’re caught in a trap
          I can’t walk out
          Because I love you too much baby
          Why can’t you see
          What you’re doing to me
          When you don’t believe a word I say?
          We can’t go on together
          With suspicious minds
          And we can’t build our dreams
          On suspicious minds

          So, if an old friend I know
          Drops by to say hello
          Would I still see suspicion in your eyes?
          Here we go again
          Asking where I’ve been
          You can’t see these tears are real
          I’m crying
          We can’t go on together
          With suspicious minds
          And we can’t build our dreams
          On suspicious minds

          Oh let our love survive
          Or dry the tears from your eyes
          Let’s don’t let a good thing die
          When honey, you know
          I’ve never lied to you
          Mmm yeah, yeah

          Bob in HI

  4. freepatriot says:

    ooops, dialup screws me again

    the link at TPM works

    and it was only $5 million

    still, that’s a hell of a discount

  5. freepatriot says:

    here’s the link (ever been stuck on stupid)

    US slashes reward for al-Qaida Iraq leader

    her’s another howler:

    “Clearly it has been a biased media, no question about it,” McAuliffe said ON FAUX GNUS. When asked how much of the mainstream media is “in the tank” for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), who leads Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination, McAuliffe estimated that about 90 percent of the media favor Obama.

    it don’t get funnier than that

    here’s the link for that

    I gotta get outta the innertubes before I laugh myself to death …

  6. LabDancer says:

    No freep no – use it as a weapon for peace, like in the Monty Python sketch: “Troops: Ready – Steady – Read the – JOKE!”

    Ms E Wheel: It could be that Yoo was really lamenting the fate he shared with fellow minor league bard Scootzie: ever a pair of Salieri schmoes in comparison with the One True Bard of Bush-Cheney World*: Addington.

    [*Currently developing theme parks in Medellin & Kuwait City.]

  7. darclay says:

    Saw Scott Horton on Dan Abrams along with a call from Seigleman. What say you “oh mighty EW”, Preaching to the Chior or MSM may be catching on?

  8. JohnLopresti says:

    There is a pattern to Yoo’s discontinuity, even visible in this verbatim transcript of one side of an interview. I continue to read it. I see him heroizing his originalism but failing to recognize the confrontation Bork faced in the nomination process in congress was as real in the human rights area as Ashcroft’s hearing was; if Ashcroft had been as grandiose as Bork, Tribe would have set a fire under the panel and moved it the same direction he did in the Bork rout. As I read further I am looking for the leadership strains; Yoo wrote one side of the argument, the side the people who asked him to authorize torture wanted to hear without a balanced presentation. When he begins the rant about US slaves I was waiting for the segue into the brutal treatment of slaves in the South, but that subtext in history he omits. Yoo seems to have a nonfederal federalism. His appearance soon in congress should be interesting in the human rights repartee.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Yoo’s comment about ephemera, the intense irony aside, is fairly typical. He went for the institutional stature of Harvard Law and teaching law, the nth degree of having made it in American professional society. (The only thing that would top that is independent wealth, a bar that Bush’s eight years of more for the have mores has set higher.)

    Yoo’s native intelligence, his acquired discipline and family resources got him there. It’s his politics and ethic-less ambition that ought to melt the wax in his wings and send him plummeting.

    The idea shared repeatedly on the legal blogs — that Yoo’s behavior is protected by notions of “academic freedom”, and that he was just rendering good faith if arguably flawed legal advice and can’t be held accountable for what his clients do with it — I find as flawed as the “reasoning” in Yoo’s infamous memos.

    • phred says:

      The idea shared repeatedly on the legal blogs — that Yoo’s behavior is protected by notions of “academic freedom”, and that he was just rendering good faith if arguably flawed legal advice and can’t be held accountable for what his clients do with it — I find as flawed as the “reasoning” in Yoo’s infamous memos.

      Agreed. The academic freedom defense is a hollow argument. Whatever happened to academic excellence? I thought that what institutions such as Harvard, Yale, and Berkeley sell to prospective students isn’t academic freedom, but academic excellence. They tell parents that the education their children will receive is the best that can be had. Using academic excellence as the critical measure, Yoo fails the test.

      Moreover, by leaving Youngstown out of his opinion he shows himself to be either an incompetent lawyer or an academically dishonest one. If a scientist at a leading research institution fudges their data by leaving contradictory data out of their analysis, they are subject to firing. Why are legal scholars not subject to the same academic standards as their scientific colleagues?

  10. JohnLopresti says:

    Gittings, who has filed at least one amicus brief before the Supreme Court, has an interesting evaluation of the first public statement of BoaltDean, CEdleyJr, toward the end itemizing rebuttals with respect to the quality of the specifically political ‘faith’ Yoo exercised at OLC.

  11. masaccio says:

    I bought a copy of The Torture Papers, edited by Karen Greenberg and Joshua Dratel, a compilation of source documents justifying the torturers. On sale at Amazon for the real junkies. Yoo is the first one out of the box with a September 25, 2001 memo laying out the President’s powers because we are at war with terrorists, and the President has the right to attack any nation that harbors terrorists.

    Where is Baltasar Garzon when you need him?

  12. freepatriot says:

    the results from Mississippi are in

    the repuglitard party is officially CRITICALLY DEAD

    John Mccain gets to spend the next six months reenacting the Parrot Sketch

    my popcorn stocks are thru the roof

  13. SparklestheIguana says:

    Well I’m only on page 13 of 27, but I’m a little surprised how relatively sane Yoo seems. He supports legal abortion and gay marriage (though, inconveniently, always seems to find himself working for people who seek to outlaw them – “I was just doing my job!”) Maybe his deep down desires to torture just up until organ failure don’t surface until page 14. I guess this interview really does reinforce the notion of “the banality of evil…..”

    • bmaz says:

      I guess this interview really does reinforce the notion of “the banality of evil…..”

      Precisely. The evil is constant, it is the banality that makes it so insidious.

  14. JohnLopresti says:

    The interview seems to have occurred summer 2007 last year. The lack of questions makes the answerStream perform double work, as if answers could suggest the apposite interrogatory. The extant memo on torture with Yoo part authorship at the time of the interview was much less damning of Y’s academic integrity than the recently publicly released 81pp Yoo memo, and we continue to lack ancillary documents which the 81pp discourse referenced.

    Ideologically Yoo’s muse appears to idolize the grandiose, and is indiscriminate in selecting heroes. In the Yoo pantheon are president Reagan, and Senator Hatch. It was a smidgeon humorous to read Yoo’s experiential reactions to justiceThomas and AttorneyGeneralAshcroft.

    What I see percolating in Yoo’s demagoguery in the interview is a dispersal defense the House committee who interviews Yoo soon will need to address in specificity, namely, that other attorneys and politicians removed the controls Yoo wrote into his original work, creating the basis for upending the uniform code of military justice, the field manual, international treaties on prisoner rights, and releasing nonselect people to perform torture. Yoo avers his concept was probably only about one official in 2002 whom the intell community wanted to torture, and Yoo states that is why he wrote his permissions. Yoo avoids depicting this in detail in several passages but puts it together in a few phrases, carefully read. And he attempts to employ the rhetorical device of claiming the sum total tortures traceable to his memo was three, discounting the deviance at AbuGhraib. He is fairly liberal in broadcasting such discounts, and lacking the interlocutor’s actual Q’s, it is impossible to discern how facilely Yoo seemed to escape providing direct A’s. A followup interview now would be in order, basing it on research of all the discussion that has occurred since the 81pp memo surfaced recently in the public realm. I doubt Yoo is as dissociated from his goals and the processes by which he produced his torture justifications as he intimates. Though I think after reading his discourse he thinks torture should be part of the American way of military life, and part of the intell armarium as well. There is an interesting echo of his notorious quaintness disparagement, too, in one retrospective he provides revealing that his expertise in foreign history related to law may be irrelevant in contemporary US society. He nears this wistful perspective when complaining about the problems the Supreme Court was causing with implementation of prisoner rights countering his own initiatives to establish an insulated executive outside of the law. He is less than explicit about this, but he provides the passing observation that people think now the courts should solve much more than has been the judiciary’s responsibility in the past, and he seems to think that is the weakest part of his having based his torture permissions on precedent; though, clearly, his individual mire in history has been selective, seeking reinforcements from noble ‘conservatives’ past.

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