…And Disgraced Ex-OLC Tell No Truths

In some sectors of the world, people still listen to what John Yoo has to say. It’s nothing short of remarkable. One would think that near-exclusive responsibility for the torture of hundreds of people, in derogation of all settled standards of human decency, and based on the kind of slipshod legal reasoning that would get me fired and my firm sanctioned, would be enough to get one sidelined to the very periphery of human society.

But nope! Not for the National Review! (Or Berkeley Law, but this is the kind of guy you kind of want at your school, if only as a cautionary tale.)

Yesterday, Yoo blasted President Obama’s increased use of Predator drones not for killing more people, but for depriving us of useful intelligence by killing more people. The article uses the most recent Wikileaks dump, which rather conclusively proved the flimsy to non-existent basis for most detentions, as a sort of catch-hook of relevance.

The problem is, the choice between “detain and interrogate” versus “target and kill” isn’t anywhere near as simple as Yoo makes it. When we commit to targeted assassination over capture by military action, itself not a choice that Yoo asserts Obama actually has made, we also make a choice not to commit American lives to a sortie that may or may not end with a live capture. Such tactical decisions can’t really be evaluated from Yoo’s birds-eye view, and it’s a distortion of military decisionmaking to imagine otherwise.

Further, since when did John Yoo care about quality intelligence, when almost all logical persons agree, torture, which Yoo would surely deploy on any detainees, results in no such thing?

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8 comments

  1. “…we also make a choice not to commit American lives to a sortie that may or may not end with a live capture.”

    But isn’t the truth that we use Predator strikes because we don’t have the political will to tell Pakistan to kiss off and invade their tribal region?

    1. What good do you imagine that would possibly do? Other than pissing the Pakistanis even more off than they already are.

      1. The Pakistanis all know we are using predators in their country. Would ground troops really make things worse?

        1. I think it would; a ground invasion is a much greater deal than predator missions. There would probably be some heavy political fallout inside Pakistan, and less stability is not precisely what we need there right now.

          But seriously, what practical purpose, which interests would it serve? After all, the strategy right now is to reduce the presence in the region, not to get even deeper engaged.

        2. Yes it would. Armed troops in combat in an unfriendly country always makes things worse. It has done so in Iraq; it did so in Afghanistan, in Vietnam, in Lebanon, and it does so for Israel in the Palestinian Territories and the Golan heights. Drones can be decried by politicians, pundits and religious leaders alike without further action; troops must be actively resisted.

          1. And just to add, since Pakistan doesn’t actually have the means to resist such an incursion in the tribal areas, the result would be a lot of public anger and a serious loss of credibility for the government, which is rickety enough as it is.

            Coming next, a fallen government, probably another military coup, and overall loss of stability in the region. A nuclear-armed region, in case anyone forgot.

  2. Are the drones actually accomplishing anything? Is the situation better or worse because of their use?

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