I’m still trudging through John Yoo’s newly declassified memo that gave the greenlight to torture as a natural extension of Executive Privilege in 2003.
But the logic is laid out in all its evil circularity early on.
It goes like this:
The Fifth Amendment’s due process protections and Eighth Amendment’s prohibitions against cruelty do not apply a) to aliens abroad and b) are rendered meaningless by the president’s totalitarian powers during time of war.
And if the president is above the constitution, he’s certainly above the law. Among the federal criminal statues that Yoo says “would conflict with… Commander in Chief power”: “assault… maiming… interstate stalking… war crimes… and torture.”
If foreign detainees held on foreign soil have no protection from U.S. law, what about international law? Well, says Yoo, the Geneva Conventions do not require anything more of the United States than what is provided for in the Fifth and Eighth Amendments, which as we just learned do not apply to foreign detainees. Furthermore: “international law is not federal law and the President is free to override it at his discretion.” (!)
To recap: The president is unbound by international law — ever — and not constrained by either federal law or the Constitution in his role as commander in chief, which gives him carte blanche authority to have illegal enemy combatants who are detained on foreign soil assaulted, maimed, tortured, and otherwise subjected to war crimes, so long as the president deems it necessary or in “self-defense” of the nation.
I’m literally sick.