Posted by: N.S. Palmer | February 20, 2010

War Criminals Go Free — Again

By N.S. Palmer, Ph.D.

Surprise, surprise: Today’s New York Times reports that the U.S. Justice Department has given only a slap on the wrist to John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Bush-Cheney regime lawyers whose “torture memos” provided specious legal cover for violation of U.S. and international law.

Yoo and Bybee’s work not only tried to justify torture of prisoners. It also committed torture: against logic, human decency and — most relevant — against both statutory law and legal precedent.

Yoo is now a (much-protested) law professor at the University of California / Berkeley. Bybee is a federal judge, appointed to the post by the Bush-Cheney regime.

Ethics lawyers in the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) concluded that Yoo and Bybee had

… ignored legal precedents and provided slipshod legal advice to the White House in possible violation of international and federal laws on torture.

The OPR recommended that Yoo and Bybee be cited for “professional misconduct,” which could have led to the revocation of their licenses to practice law.

However, David Margolis, associate deputy attorney general, overruled the OPR’s recommendations, which were already far too mild. As a result, the official Justice Department report (PDF) cited the two war criminals only for “poor judgment.”

Thus, the Obama administration once again let the psychopathic monsters of the Bush-Cheney regime (starting with Bush and Cheney themselves) escape justice.

In 1947, German jurists who had provided similar legal apologetics for the Nazi regime were tried at Nuremberg for crimes against humanity, were convicted, and served long prison terms. As a result of the Justice Department’s whitewash, Yoo and Bybee won’t even suffer the loss of their law licenses.

Republicans try to frighten the uninformed by painting Obama as a wild-eyed leftist (as well as a Kenyan Socialist Muslim), but there’s no indication he’s anything but a slightly less vicious, considerably more intelligent version of his predecessor.

From his continued support for Bush-Cheney policies that benefit Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, to his continuation of the Bush-Cheney regime’s Afghanistan occupation, to his complete lack of leadership on issues such as jobs and health care reform that would benefit working Americans, Obama is starting to look very much like “Bush-lite.”

And that is not “change we can believe in.”

Copyright 2010 by N.S. Palmer. May be reproduced as long as byline, copyright notice, and URL ( are included.


  1. […] N.S. Palmer, Ph.D. February 20, […]

  2. “Bush-lite.” LOL, love it.

    It’s sad how many similarities there are between the Obama admin and the Bush one- very sad. Just goes to prove there’s really very little real difference between the two parties.

  3. I agree with you, Liberty. I wish that I had a solution. The future of our country will depend on young people like you, and that gives me hope.

  4. Glad to see you back in the saddle again, NS — or under the thinking cap as the case may be. 🙂

    Speaking as someone outside the US, I’m disappointed in Obama too. I figured things would start to turn around. Oh, not everything; I’m not so unrealistic that I believe a president’s hands aren’t tied by what’s come before and by the realities of things around him. But how hard, really, would it be to step down Iraq and Afghanistan? Even Nixon managed it with Vietnam, and the sacrifice made in terms of US blood there was far greater. If not an end to the wars, I at least expected a Democrat, and a man who faced discrimination, to stand up for civil rights and the US Constitution. How strange, how sad, how puzzling that he has not. It must seem like the last gasp for a lot of liberals and progressives in the US… even their best shot now falls short of the mark. Even for someone like me, it’s disturbing. 😦

    • Hi, LP —

      I share your disappointment in President Obama. Even though I never idolized him like a lot of people did prior to his election, I did expect more and better action. it’s true that the federal government and the military-security-industrial complex have their own momentum. Just like it’s hard to turn an aircraft carrier around quickly, it’s hard to turn the country around quickly. And there are definite risks for Obama in taking bold moves: remember what happened to President Kennedy. Even apart from the danger of a coup like the one that killed JFK, there are probably thousands of people who hate Obama mainly because he’s black and who have been incited by propaganda that paints him as a socialist, a Muslim, a foreigner, and as an illegitimate president. That must give him pause. And of course, as Paul Krugman pointed out, he was the most conservative of the Democratic candidates for president, so it was probably never wise to expect him to initiate radical change.

      I don’t know what’s going to happen. Just hang on tight and hope for the best, I guess.

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