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?