Congressional hearings have revealed that John Yoo was the favored candidate to lead the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department based on a single resume item: his tolerance and support of torture. Alberto Gonzales and Cheney aide David S. Addington fought former Attorney General John Ashcroft, who submitted five names for the position that conspicuously omitted Yoo’s name.
The confrontation in 2003 resulted in a different candidate — Jack Goldsmith — being put into the position as a compromise. The vacancy was produced by the departure of Office of Legal Counsel chief Jay S. Bybee for the courts as a new federal judge. While Ashcroft submitted a list of qualified candidates including Paul Clement (who became solicitor general), the White House wanted someone who was torture-certified. It is an insight into how important the torture program was to the White House.
Once the torture program was revealed, the White House and military repeatedly defended itself by insisting that lawyers had reviewed the program and found its clearly lawful. Many scoffed at the notion — given the ability of the Bush Administration to hand pick such lawyers (who proved to be wrong repeatedly on these questions). Now, we have an insight into the lengths to which the Administration would go to guarantee the “right” lawyers reviewed such questions. It is also another ignoble moment for Yoo, whose supporters have insisted that he has more to his background than simply torture. Not according to the White House, it appears. It was Yoo’s willingness to sign off on torture that made him a viable candidate for Bush and Cheney zealots.
This seems to fall into a pattern of earning your bones (or your bona fides) in the Baba Bing! Bush Club.
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