John Yoo Defends Torture: John Yoo's Crisis and Command Argues That a Correct Interpretation of the Constitution Allows Presidents Unlimited Powers in Times of Emergency. He Is in Grave Error

By Eddlem, Thomas R. | The New American, March 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

John Yoo Defends Torture: John Yoo's Crisis and Command Argues That a Correct Interpretation of the Constitution Allows Presidents Unlimited Powers in Times of Emergency. He Is in Grave Error


Eddlem, Thomas R., The New American


John Yoo's Crisis and Command is a turgid, 524-page love letter to an all-powerful Presidency generally and to dictatorship specifically. His theme? More Caesar, less Senate.

Infamous for penning the 'Torture Memos" under the Bush administration, where he justified torture under the Bush administration by virtually defining torture out of existence, Yoo's book contends presidential powers are unlimited: "The executive was, rather, the servant of necessity, bound to act in accordance with, in the absence of, or in extraordinary emergencies, in defense of the republic, even contrary to regularly constituted law." Yes, you read that right. Yoo says the President is above the law.

Yoo criticizes Thomas Jefferson and all who say that the power of the presidency has limits under the U.S. Constitution. The "great" Presidents, Yoo contends, are those who recognize they possess unlimited power, use it, and get away with it politically. Thus he applauds all of the worst excesses of the "great" Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt, from Roosevelt's court-packing scheme and internment of Japanese during World War II to Lincoln's arrest of Congressmen and newspaper editors who disagreed with him during the Civil War. Because a President's powers are unlimited, a "national emergency" of any kind justifies indefinite detention of Japanese, denial of trial rights to anyone (including American citizens), torture, and warrantless wiretapping. Would the President's power even extend to the execution of masses of minorities without trial--say, Japanese-Americans during World War II--if the President thinks it's needed? Yoo doesn't say.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Though this pretty much defines the concept of dictatorship, Yoo claims he's got Founding Fathers who will back him up. He doesn't, but it is a bit of fun to look a little further into his blatant dishonesty. Yoo repeated a quote (ad nauseam, actually) from Alexander Hamilton in The Federalist, No. 23, as justification for his unlimited presidential power theory. In The Federalist. No. 23, Hamilton says.

  It is impossible to foresee or define the extent and variety of
  national exigencies, or the correspondent extent and variety of the
  means which may be necessary to satisfy them. The circumstances that
  endanger the safety of nations are infinite, and for this reason no
  constitutional shackles can wisely be imposed on the power to which
  the care of it is committed. This power ought to be coextensive with
  all the possible combinations of such circumstances; and ought to be
  under the direction of the same councils which are appointed to
  preside over the common defense.

To Yoo, this passage vindicates Presidents who assume unlimited power to command the nation in war, or whatever "emergency" he thinks the nation needs remedied. After all, the President is the "commander-in-chief."

It sounds convincing until you notice that Federalist No. 23 doesn't even mention the President. The full context of the quote Yoo employs so liberally throughout the book is this:

  The authorities essential to the common defense are these: to raise
  armies; to build and equip fleets; to prescribe rules for the
  government of both; to direct their operations; to provide for their
  support. These powers ought to exist without limitation, because it
  is impossible to foresee or define the extent and variety of national
  exigencies, or the correspondent extent and variety of the means
  which may be necessary to satisfy them. The circumstances that
  endanger the safety of nations are infinite, and for this reason no
  constitutional shackles can wisely be imposed on the power to which
  the care of it is committed.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

All those powers "without limitation" listed in the first sentence of Hamilton's Federalist essay above are specifically and exclusively delegated to the Congress by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, not the President. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

John Yoo Defends Torture: John Yoo's Crisis and Command Argues That a Correct Interpretation of the Constitution Allows Presidents Unlimited Powers in Times of Emergency. He Is in Grave Error
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.