In Democratic legal circles, no attorney has been more pilloried than former Bush Justice Department official John Yoo, chief author of the so-called torture memos that Barack Obama last week sought to nullify.
But now President Obama’s incoming crew of lawyers has a new and somewhat awkward job: defending Yoo in federal court.
Next week, Justice Department lawyers are set to ask a San Francisco federal judge to throw out a lawsuit brought against Yoo by Jose Padilla, a New York man held without charges on suspicion of being an Al Qaeda operative plotting to set off a “dirty bomb.”
The suit contends that Yoo’s legal opinions authorized Bush to order Padilla’s detention in a Navy brig in South Carolina and encouraged military officials to subject Padilla to aggressive interrogation techniques, including death threats and long-term sensory deprivation.
The point made in the article is the Obama DoJ must argue to protect U.S. government prerogatives which they now represent.
As for torture itself - it's banned, er, well, almost. Even the socialists saw through this one. Speaking of the Executive Order signed by Obama last week the World Socialist Web Site notes:
On the question of so-called “harsh interrogation techniques,” i.e., torture, Obama’s orders leave room for their continuation. White House Counsel Gregory Craig told reporters the administration was prepared to take into account demands from the CIA that such methods be allowed. Obama announced the creation of a task force that will consider new interrogation methods beyond those sanctioned by the Army Field Manual, which now accepts 19 forms of interrogation, as well as the practice of extraordinary rendition.
In reality, that's the same policy in force now. And speaking of the Army Field Manual:
Retired Admiral Dennis Blair, Obama’s nominee for director of national intelligence, told a Senate confirmation hearing that the Army Field Manual would itself be changed, potentially allowing new forms of harsh interrogation, but that such changes would be kept secret.
As NRO points out, the "closing" of Gitmo was more rhetoric than reality and something which might be quietly extended at the end of the year. More symbolism than substance. It appears the same is true with regard to torture and extraordinary rendition.
When loopholes are purposely left open, it is an acknowledgment which implicitly condones the possible need for techniques that were so roundly and unequivocally condemned prior to assuming office.