John Yoo and Jonathan Turley To Debate War Powers

Jonathan-Turley-e1416865770538I will be again debating Berkeley Law Professor and former Bush official John Yoo on war powers.  This will be our third debate on the subject and will be held in Washington, D.C. at George Washington University.  The event will be held on Wednesday at noon in the Moot Court Room at the law school.

Yoo is the Heller Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.  He served as Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice (OLC), during George W. Bush and is considered one of the authors of the “torture memos.”

Professor Peter Raven-Hansen (who has written extensively on national security law) will serve as our moderator.

36 thoughts on “John Yoo and Jonathan Turley To Debate War Powers”

  1. @Anonemouse, March 29, 2017 at 2:44 pm
    “Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country. George Washington”

    Just to be clear, I’m sure that General Washington was referring to white prisoners, so his strictures wouldn’t apply in the latterday cases of torturing hairy brown people.

    On a related note, I hope all these observations by the weak-stomached American colonists you’ve quoted don’t tempt Professor Turley to appeal to them in his debate with Fu Manyoo regarding the glories of wars and who gets to call them.

    That would just be wrong.

  2. Congress does not have the authority to cede its War Powers to a President. Period.

    “The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”- James Madison

    George Washington: “The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.”

    James Wilson: (framer and ratifier): “This system will not hurry us into war; it is calculated to guard against it. It will not be in the power of a single man, or a single body of men, to involve us in such distress; for the important power of declaring war is vested in the legislature at large. . . .” (To the Pennsylvania ratifying convention, 1787.)

    “The power to declare war is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature”- James Madison

    “Having seen the people of all other nations bowed down to the earth under the wars and prodigalities of their rulers, I have cherished their opposites, peace, economy, and riddance of public debt, believing that these were the high road to public as well as private prosperity and happiness.” -Thomas Jefferson

    “Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause… for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country.” George Washington

    “Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands.” George Washington

    “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”- James Madison

    ‘A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defense against foreign danger have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”- James Madison

    1. “Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.” -George Washington

      “War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.”-James Madison

      “I abhor war and view it as the greatest scourge of mankind. The most successful war seldom pays for its losses.” — Thomas Jefferson

      “Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.”-James Madison

      “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”-James Madison

      “It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.”-James Madison

      “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”- James Madison

      Not a Founding Father but a great quote

      “Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.”
      George Orwell

  3. desperatelyseekingsusa, March 28, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    “When you’re done striking poses, you might point out which federal statute Prof. Yoo neglected in his remarks.”

    So, if it were legal for the President to order the crushing of a child’s testicles, you’d be OK with it?

  4. Gently alluded to by JT in the article, Yoo, along with his sidekick, David Addington, are the Bush torture apologizers. Here’s the infamous insight into Yoo’s soul from a debate at the University of Notre Dame (of all places) that should disqualify him from notice or consideration by decent human beings:

    “‘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?’, to which Yoo replied ‘No treaty.’ Cassel followed up with ‘Also no law by Congress—that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo’, to which Yoo replied ‘I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.”

    Why give this immoral slug a platform? Why debate a mind with synapses that can gargle out this kind of insanity? I have no idea why.

    1. Well put.

      Also we can thank the American Psychiatric Institute for declaring that torture was a medically sound device, thus allowing the MDs to practice it without threat of losing their license to practice “medicine.”

      Your quote thoroughly proves the abject hypocrisy of the USA’s self-perception as a so-called “Christian” nation. The populace conflates and confuses a word that, from a Bible perspective, applies only to converted human beings, and instead applies it (Christian) to inanimate objects like political constructs (nations).

      The above described lie started with Constantine’s alleged “conversion.” Prior to Constantine’s “conversion” believers were fed to lions, and Romans could chose only from a limited list of certified pagan religions. Post-Constantine’s conversion, the Pope was in bed with the Emperor, each scratching the other’s back, and Romans were faced with two choices: “converting” to the Emperor’s new religion, or death. This was the birth of the alleged “Christian nation,” and the Roman church has to this day never denied this wrongful turn. The current Pope has confirmed much of the church’s history of killing and bloodshed in union with the Emperor, but has not defined the source of the error, being so-called Christian “sacralism” (assigning a particular religion to a geographic territory).

      1. Your quote thoroughly proves the abject hypocrisy of the USA’s self-perception as a so-called “Christian” nation.

        It proves nothing of the kind.

    2. Mespo,

      Let’s not forget the honorable Jay Bybee, who signed the legal memorandum which endorsed “enhanced interrogation techniques” as lawful. This was done as Assistant Attorney General, leading the Office of Legal Counsel, 2002.

    3. When you’re done striking poses, you might point out which federal statute Prof. Yoo neglected in his remarks.

  5. “Stephens tried to rally the audience to the model of what he called the United States as “liberator” as opposed to merely a symbol of liberty.” If Cheenie hadn’t been so dead set on a protracted “nation-building” war in Afghanistan and then (absurdly) in Iraq, I feel the outcome for long-term decent relations with Muslims in the area would have been far greater. We needed to hit al Qaeda as had as possible, and get the hell out of Afghanistan. Then if they reconstituted, hit them again. and again if necessary.

    But never, never did nation-building make sense – and not just because that country is basically living in centuries past – but also since the only reason for that was profiteering for Halliburton which at that moment been literally teetering on bankruptcy.

    Iraq of course was the phoniest of all wars and created a quagmire that we are not likely to be out of for decades – as Cheenie often said was okay with him.

  6. As I recall, he did, admittedly, write one of the two torture-is-okay memos for Cheenie. I can’t remember the DOJ guy who wrote the other but that guy got confirmed for a circuit appointment (4th?) before those memos were revealed. The revelation killed Yoo’s nomination to the 9th (I think it was) Circuit? Who was the other writer, Prof?

  7. My question is; how is your position on torture and executive power during a time of executive declared war different from Yoo’s? Gorsuch is a man who concurs with Yoo’s belief in the rightness of torture and the ability of the executive to make their own law, You stated that such a man is qualified to be a SC justice. I really don’t see that you have a difference from Yoo’s reasoning at this point.

    Since you began this blog you spoke forcefully against torture and unlawful executive power grabs. That has changed recently. I am so sorry to see what had been a strong voice for justice simply end.

    1. I think you may be missing a distinction (that professor Turley sees) between competence in a discipline and views/opinions that may differ from his own, but since I agree with you so strongly on the subject, it’s hard for me to formalize it. Clarification on this point from the professor himself would be most welcome, but I’ve noticed he no longer makes many (any?) comments and even back when he did, they were usually about hewing to courtesy standards.

      1. No, BB. JT addressed this point and I agree with him that people can have different opinions and still be qualified. What disqualifies Gorsuch is he dismisses the separation of powers in the constitution and he says the executive can make up their own law in the case of terrorism (one example is torture).

        JT has never before wavered on criticism of torture and executive overreach. That is, until now. JT refused to say Gorsuch was doing anything wrong in supporting torture (which is illegal) and supporting executive branch law making. Those are Yoo’s positions in defense of torture and executive power. I see no daylight between Yoo and JT on those issues at this point.

    2. Jill:

      The most important change? No difference between the three of ’em? Correct. Just follow the money, and the paths to power.

  8. I think you are trying to steer a ship that is already hard aground. The power to declare and implement war is firmly in the hand of the executive, and the fault lies not with the executive branch but with Congress who has utterly failed to defend its rights and responsibilities. Lacking the courage risk their lifetime tenure in office with a yes or no vote on the use of military force, it happily abdicated to an executive who, knowing his term was limited, was not afraid of using force. Thus was made clear why the founding fathers wrote the constitution so specifically to deny that power to the executive.

  9. That’s certainly be worth watching. War powers are obviously an issue that affects everyone in this country when they’re usurped.

  10. The Executive Office, not necessarily the OoP as we learned Kuscher will be running has decided that Sally Yates cannot testify at any Congressional Hearing regarding the Trump/Russia probe. I wonder what she has to offer? Enquring Minds Want to Know.

  11. MIght doesn’t necessarily make right.

    Assumptions of US supremacy hold water only if the US demonstrates the ability to competently manage international people and resources. It could demonstrate such competence by using its resources to help people in developing areas rather than allocating so many resources to carnage and destruction.

  12. War Powers can be easily graded as to it’s effectiveness by adding up the uses of the War Powers Act.

    Put in place to curtail Reagan from acting like Lyndon Johnson or some such reason it was followed to the letter twice. Once by each of the Bush Presidents. The Democrat Presidents have a100% failure rate.

    The last Democrat President created a military in a number of countries without stated purpose to most and without goals there can be no evaluation of what’s it all about Alfie. It seemed to be a a way of destroying our own military…Mr. Clinton invaded Kosovo based on a the unverified report of a ‘an un named mid level Nato official) managed to bomb a school a hospital and the Chinese Embassy gave an after the fact several reasons starting with ‘ because when the Presdent sends troops in harms way the public should support the President and then a few others ending in it was anti genocide; Ten years afterward one grave with ten bodies was discovered.

    Although voting to support the War Powers Act incursion into Iraq Democrats quickly aligned themselves wit the opposition. their reason? One third of the WMD reason was not to their liking or didn’t meet their constantlhy changing definition or something. The other ten or so reasons including genocide for which their is ample evidence was ignored.

    Conclusion…for a Democrat a Purple Dress is as a good an excuse for war as any and their overall view is some ragheads are more equal than other ragheads. In short they are knee jerk war mongers with out a cause.

    Not that their right wing of the left minded all that much (RINOs).

    Do we need one? Yes if it is reasonable, practicable, requires supporting the committed troops and requiresa ‘will’ to win not ‘snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.’ Most important it must be enforceable and apply to whomever happens to be sitting in the Oval Office or the houses of Congress.

    As a retired 24 year combat arms veteran I will state bluntly, “No More Cannon Fodder” and follow that with repeal the Selective Service Act UNLESS it is made gender equal. The ladies do not need to be treated as second class citizens and baby factories.

  13. War Powers. Similar to Executive Powers to keep illegal aliens out of our nation. Kind of related to Sanctuary Cities debacle.

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