This last weekend, John Yoo was attending a conference at Stanford University sponsored by the Stanford Federalist Society. John Yoo, as you may remember, is the former Bush-era lawyer who wrote the memorandum justifying the use of torture.
As some students with Stanford Says No to War and I were wondering what we might do to speak out against the acceptance of Mr. Yoo into civilized society and academic circles, we were mindful that Stanford has begun to prohibit protests and have signs posted saying, “Protests Prohibited.” So it occurred to us that perhaps we should have a “Support John Yoo” event rather than a protest. Consequently, Darth Vader agreed to make an appearance in support of Mr. Yoo. What he didn’t expect was the enthusiastic welcome he would receive as dozens of people lined up to have their picture taken with him. Mr. Vader delivered the following message on behalf of Mr. Yoo:
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
These are dire times when our nation, The Empire, is under threat from many enemies both foreign and domestic. Our economy has been weakened by social parasites; international terrorists are attempting to attack us and weaken our mastery of land, sea, air and space; the Occupiers are attempting to take over important public and private space and buildings. We must remain ever vigilant and that is why we urge you to support John Yoo. Make no mistake, the critics of John Yoo are nothing less than enemies of The Empire.
Mr. Yoo has been accused of many things, including the following:
1) Writing a torture memo that justifies the use of torture in which he says that criminal law doesn’t prohibit torture because it doesn’t apply to the military. Treaties and the War Crimes Act don’t prohibit torture because they only apply to uniformed enemy soldiers. And federal statutes prohibiting torture don’t prohibit torture because they don’t apply to conduct on military bases. It is the view of The Empire that Mr. Yoo has performed a great service on behalf of The Empire and that his service should be recognized for what it is: We are now unrestrained in our use of force against those whom we perceive as a threat.
2) His memo endows the president with nearly omnipotent executive power because, as he states: “Any effort by Congress to regulate the interrogation of enemy combatants would violate the Constitution’s sole vesting of the Commander-in-Chief authority in the President….Congress can no more interfere with the President’s conduct of the interrogation of enemy combatants than it can dictate strategic or tactical decisions on the battlefield.”
And with regard to the Convention Against Torture? Any presidential decision to order interrogations methods that are inconsistent with CAT would amount to a suspension or termination of those treaty provisions. Furthermore, Yoo’s memorandum continues: “If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network. In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch’s constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.” In the view of The Empire, this memorandum provides us with tools that are essential for defending The Empire from our enemies whether they be foreign or domestic. With growing unrest at home and abroad, The Empire’s Commander-in-Chief must be free to use every tool possible to defend our country and our interests. When our nation is threatened, that is no time to get squeamish about violations of civil liberties, human rights, or a more robust executive branch.
3) At the Nuremberg Trials following WWII, it was determined that “war criminals” include not only those who directly apply the criminal violence and brutality, but also government officials who authorize it and military officials who oversee it. Mr. Yoo’s critics claim that his memorandum allowed the Bush administration to violate human rights and international law, that it led to abuses at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and at black sites around the world.
The official opinion of The Empire is simple and obvious: We don’t care! If we did care, you would have seen many of our supporters prosecuted. We would rather violate the sensibilities of a few than risk defeat by coddling terrorists. Are we going to defend The Empire or defend human rights? We believe in the right to defend ourselves in whatever way we think is effective; we refuse to be bound by the sensibilities of naïve leftists.
We hope that you understand what is at stake and join us in defending Mr. Yoo from the enemies of The Empire who are putting us all at risk. His critics would like to see him disbarred from practicing law and have him fired from his job of teaching future jurists. On the contrary, we need more jurists like Mr. Yoo who are willing to do The Empire’s bidding, who will not be bound by laws and international treaties. Your polite and respectful presence here today in support of Mr. Yoo is appreciated as you assist The Empire in striking back against human rights and international and domestic law.
May the Force of The Empire be with you.