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The Impact of Tortured Logic

Abu Ghraib Torture-715244.jpgJohn Yoo may be a fine law professor. That is for others at Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley's Law School, to determine. What is clear is that his work on the so-called "torture memo" used some equally tortured logic.

In an interview with a British journalist, Yoo said this about war:

Look, death is worse than torture, but everyone except pacifists thinks there are circumstances in which war is justified. War means killing people. If we are entitled to kill people, we must be entitled to injure them. I don't see how it can be reasonable to have an absolute prohibition on torture when you don't have an absolute prohibition on killing.

Here is a very solid explanation of the flaws in Yoo's thinking by Professor Dave Glazier from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles via Marty Lederman at the blog, Balkanization:

One of the most fundamental problems with Yoo's logic is that he is simply ignorant of the law of war. Yoo clearly believes that war is essentially a lawless regime, subject only to a few treaties he knows of. In his view, if you can distinguish your situation from those covered by explicit treaty language, then you get to do what you want. What Yoo fails to recognize is that war is far from a lawless regime.

Emotionally clear, and rigorously logical thinking are never as crucial as when we are faced with such critically important moments in history - moments that can alter a society permanently and irreversibly. Moments like when one is considering the long-term implications of going to war.

Such considerations transcend political affiliations, and/or inclinations.


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