02 Apr 2008

John Yoo Memo Released

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Baltimore Sun:

Part 1

Part 2

Sample (from Part 1): On why Due Process is not applicable to war-time military operations:

The strictures that bind the Executive in its role as a magistrate enforcing the civil laws have no place in constraining the President in waging war:

    Soldiers regularly in the service have the license of the government to deprive men,the active enemies of the government, of their liberty and lives; their commission so to act is as perfect and legal as that of a judge to adjudicate …. Wars never have been and never can be conducted upon the principle that an army is but a posse comitatis ofa civil magistrate..

Military Commissions, 11 Op.Att’y Gen. 297, 301-02 (1865) (emphasis added); see also The Modoc Indian Prisoners, 14 Op. Att’y Gen. 249, 252 (1873) (“it cannot be pretended that a United States soldier is guilty of murder if he kills a public enemy in battle, which would be the case if the municipal law was in force and, applicable to an· act committed under such circumstances”).. As Attorney General Speed conciuded, the Due Process Clause has no application to the conduct of a military campaign:

    That portion of the Constitution which declares that ‘no person shall be deprived… of his life,liberty, or property without due process of law,’ has such direct reference to, and connection with, trials for crime or criminal prosecutions that comment upon it would seem to be unnecessary. Trials for offences against the laws of war are not embraced or intended to be embraced in those provisions…. The argument that flings around offenders against the laws of war these guarantees of the Constitution would convict all the soldiers of our anny of murder; no prisoners could be taken and held; the anny could not move. The absurd consequences that would of necessity flow from .such an argument show that it cannot be the true construction-it cannot be what was intended by the framers of the instrument. One of the prime motives for the Union and a federal government was to confer the powers of war. If· any provisions of the .. Constitution are so in conflict with the power to carry on war as to destroy and make it valueless, then the instrument,instead of being a great and wise one, is a miserable failure “a felo de se.”

I thought it was a fine piece of work, placing the issues in the correct historical perspective, citing proper precedents, and arriving at just and accurate conclusions. The Bush Administration ought to have released it immediately upon its production, and staunchly publicly defended it.

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