John Yoo Calls the Kettle Black

Submitted by Lawrence Rafferty, (rafflaw), Guest Blogger

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama announced that he was considering an Executive Order that would mandate that all contractors who receive Federal money must disclose their political contributions.  Since I am not a big fan of Executive Orders and since President Obama was not a big fan of Executive Orders when he was a candidate, I was not especially enthralled about the possibility of another Executive Order.  However, once I read what the proposed Executive Order was going to do, I have to admit that I embraced it with open arms.

“President Obama is considering an executive order that would force government contractors to disclose their donations to groups that participate in political activities, a move Republicans slammed Wednesday as an attempt to restrict political speech.  White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the administration has a draft proposal and would not offer details. But he said Obama thinks it is crucial to allow taxpayers to learn more about contractors who seek federal funds. “ Washington Post   It is not surprising that Republicans have cried foul over what they consider an improper end run by the President that would have the effect of bringing politics into the process of hiring Federal contractors.  ‘“The draft order says it is necessary to ensure that politics are not allowed to impair the integrity of the procurement process,” said Stan Soloway, the group’s president. “But by force-feeding irrelevant information to government contracting officers, who would otherwise never consider such factors in a source selection, the rule would actually do precisely what it is intended to stop: inject politics into the source selection process.”’  Mr. Soloway is the head of a lobbying group, The Professional Services Group that represents companies that are looking to do work for the Federal Government.

I have to admit that I chuckled a bit when Mr. Soloway says he is worried about politics being brought into the contractor selection process.  However, that moment of hilarity was quickly forgotten when I came across one of our old friends who came out against the proposed Executive Order in an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal.  John Yoo of the infamous Torture Memos fame, joined in with David Marston to suggest that First Amendment rights would be violated if the proposed Executive Order was allowed to proceed.

“There was no bipartisanship, but there was certainly a forceful response. Democrats proposed the Disclose Act, which would have muzzled political speech by prohibiting federal contractors from making contributions to federal candidates or parties. Though the act failed to overcome a filibuster last year in the Senate, its supporters remain undeterred.Having failed to undo Citizens United by legislation, Mr. Obama apparently believes that he can veto the Supreme Court by naked presidential fiat. But before the administration barrels through with this attempt to suppress corporate political activity, it would do well to revisit NAACP v. Alabama.  The court declared that the privacy of group membership and political activity were critical to the “effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones.” Privacy can be critical for free speech. “Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs,” Justice John Marshall Harlan wrote for a unanimous court. “ Wall Street Journal

Mr. Yoo and his co-author are horrified at what they consider a blatant abuse of the Executive Order process and that the result would be a violation of the First Amendment rights of the poor contractors who are receiving Federal funds.  Yoo and Marston also complain that forcing contractors to disclose who they are contributing to and how much they are contributing would be a violation of their First Amendment rights.  I guess Yoo and Marston agree with the Citizen United majority viewpoint that political speech is good and since contributing to campaigns and candidates would create more money which would create more speech, therefore restricting spending in any way violates Free Speech protections.  (see Harvard Law and Policy Review, Vol 5, No. 1, “First Amendment Fault Lines and the Citizens United Decision”, Monica Youn)

Does anyone else find it hilarious that the same attorney who argued that the President of the United States could crush the testicles of a detainee under the President’s Commander in Chief powers, now argues that the President of the United States cannot require that the campaign donations of Federal contractors cannot be disclosed to the American public whose tax money is paying that contractor?  According to Yoo and Marston, it is ok for individual citizens to be required to disclose their personal contributions, but it is a violation of the First Amendment rights of Federal contractors to do the same.  Why don’t individuals have the same protections as Federal contractors?  What do you think?

Additional source: FireDogLake

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence Rafferty Guest Blogger

32 thoughts on “John Yoo Calls the Kettle Black”

  1. The sooner we see the Woo-Clown behind bars at the Hague, the better.

  2. frank,
    while I don’t agree on the testicle crushing part, I would like to see the torture crowd prosecuted for their admitted torture of detainees.
    anon nurse,
    thanks for the linked article.

  3. I do wish I could be President for just one day. I’d like to order Mr. Yoo, and all the other torture enablers and cheerleaders be taken to Gitmo to have their testicles (or ovaries, lets not be sexist here) crushed . . . for the good of the good of the country of course.

    I’m sure they wouldn’t mind because they know it isn’t torture and it is for the good of the country after all.

  4. I’ll keep saying it, until the truth spills out: There are some terrible things going on domestically. We need all the transparency we can get.

    Thanks, rafflaw. And I agree with Rich…

    Honoring Those Who Said No

    Published: April 27, 2011


    Thus far, though, our official history has honored only those who approved torture, not those who rejected it. In December 2004, as the leadership of the C.I.A. was debating whether to destroy videotapes of prisoners being waterboarded in the agency’s secret prisons, President Bush bestowed the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, on George J. Tenet, the former C.I.A. director who had signed off on the torture sessions. In 2006, the Army major general who oversaw the torture of prisoners at Guantánamo was given the Distinguished Service Medal. One of the lawyers responsible for the Bush administration’s “torture memos” received awards from the Justice Department, the Defense Department and the National Security Agency.

    President Obama has disavowed torture, but he has been unenthusiastic about examining the last administration’s interrogation policies. He has said the country should look to the future rather than the past. But averting our eyes from recent history means not only that we fail in our legal and moral duty to provide redress to victims of torture, but also that we betray the public servants who risked so much to reverse what they knew was a disastrous and shameful course.

    Those who stayed true to our values and stood up against cruelty are worthy of a wide range of civilian and military commendations, up to and including the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Honoring them is a way of encouraging the best in our public servants, now and in the future. It is also a way of honoring the best in ourselves.

    Jameel Jaffer is a deputy legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union. Larry Siems is the director of the Freedom to Write program at the PEN American Center

  5. Mr. Scribe,

    That is a very interesting issue. I am very much interested in ALEC, they seem to have an agenda which is very much Un-American.

  6. os

    something tells me in the near future computers will stop working very well for @septscelles

  7. This is really OT, but insiders at the hacker group Anonymous have issued a caveat regarding the midnight document dump. They are alleging it may be a false flag attempt to discredit critics of the Chamber of Commerce:

    n April 29th a person using the twitter account “@septscelles” released a large file to Barrett Brown that purportedly contained secret US Chamber of Commerce documents. This file was later made available via File Dropper as a (strangely truecypted) torrent named “chambersecrets2″. It is also reported to have been made available in an unencrypted form on the Pirate Bay.

    Despite the promise of secrets and leaks, early research has thus far shown that this information is publicly available through a simple Google search. It’s very possible that “@septscelles” is just an attention seeking troll. Despite this, there is a more insidious possibility. We learned from the HB Gary emails that the Chamber of Commerce was advised to “feed the fuel between the feuding groups, [creating] disinformation.” Specific mention was made of “[creating] messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organization [and to] submit fake documents and then call out the error…”

    The file is very large, and will therefore take some time to fully examine. Nevertheless, we would like to state that this information was provided by an unknown party and may be an attempt to discredit Anonymous through a campaign of misinformation. More information will be coming soon.

    We Are Anonymous
    We See Through Your Lies
    We Do Not Forgive
    We Do Not Forget
    Expect Us.

    More from Balloon Juice:

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