John Yoo is a Berkeley law professor and one of the architects of the PATRIOT Act and the Bush Administration’s torture policies. Much is being made of an exchange with John Conyers of the House Judiciary Committee, in which Yoo refuses to delimit the possibilities of what a president could do to a suspect, or give a straight answer to a simple question: “Could the president order a suspect to be buried alive?” This has prompted a rather amusing game of “Stump the Yoo” at Pharyngula.
The inventor of that game, Gary Farber of Amygdala, alerts us to a previous interchange with Yoo in which he affirmed that the president had the right to order the testicles of a suspect’s child to be crushed:
Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty.
Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
In January 2002 Yoo, working for the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel, co-authored a memo declaring that the Geneva Conventions and other international laws did not apply to members of al-Qaeda. This prompted a quarter of the graduating class at Yoo’s law school to wear red armbands at their 2003 graduation ceremony in protest of the memo. Earlier this year, a much more comprehensive 2003 document co-penned by Yoo was brought to light in the form of a legal brief authorising the use of extreme interrogation methods, and arguing that wartime powers exempted interrogators from laws banning harsh treatment, and that many American and international laws would be inapplicable to interrogations conducted overseas.