Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The New York Times normalizes John Yoo

Perhaps this is my bugaboo, but I cannot stand the way the New York Times mentions torture advocate John Yoo this morning. My problem? They don't mention the torture advocacy. And it seems relevant.

Why? Because the mention comes in a story about how conservatives are angry with Chief Justice John Roberts' vote on the Affordable Care Act.
By Saturday, John Yoo, a former Bush administration lawyer, was suggesting in The Wall Street Journal that there had been a catastrophic vetting failure in 2005 when the administration was considering Chief Justice Roberts’s nomination. 
“If a Republican is elected president,” said Professor Yoo, who teaches law at the University of California, Berkeley, “he will have to be more careful than the last.”
But Yoo isn't just a "former Bush administration lawyer" who "teaches law" at Berkeley. He's the lawyer who campaigned for an exceptionally expansive reading of the president's commander-in-chief duties under the Constitution—opening the legal gate to torture, yes, but also eavesdropping on Americans, suspending the First Amendment and crushing the testicles of innocent children.

So he's not just another conservative angry about expanded government powers. He's a conservative who provided the paperwork for the scariest expansions of federal power in the last decade—and that deserves a footnote of some sort every damn time he's quoted protesting government overreach. What's more likely to threaten your liberty: A president who can detain, torture, and silence you? Or one who, with the cooperation of Congress, tries to expand access to health care?

Yoo deserves to be a pariah, frankly. But since he's not, New York Times, is it too much to ask that you note the dissonance when quoting him? He's not just another Obama Administration critic.