Jon Stewart hosted John Yoo on "The Daily Show" this week, and essentially gave the guy a free pass.
As Deputy Assistant Attorney General in 2003, John Yoo was the author of the infamous "torture memo" which argued that torture was allowable if the physical pain was anything less than "death, organ failure, or the permanent impairment of a significant bodily function." This memo, signed by Yoo, is available at the website of the ACLU at this link. In a debate in 2006 with Notre Dame professor Doug Cassell, Yoo apparently justified even the torture of children, in this exchange:
Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty.
Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
Torture is explicitly prohibited by the Geneva Conventions; the 1984 Convention Against Torture; the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Human Rights; and the American Convention on Human Rights. Most scholars also believe torture violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Jon didn't raise any of these issues with Yoo.
Last spring week, a Spanish court opened a criminal investigation against Bush administration officials, including John Yoo,for violating international law in providing the legal framework for the U.S. government’s use of torture. (See my previous post on this).
By almost any measure, the decisions of Yoo and his superiors were legally incompetent. At the very least, their recommendations, and the decisions taken by President Bush, were violations of international law. They come close to crimes against humanity. They should be brought to account in this country, under American law. But Yoo, far from facing indictments in the U.S. continues to teach at one of the most prestigious law schools in the U.S., and continues to find a hearing for his views in the pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
And we expect more from Jon Stewart!