Sunday, May 17, 2009

Letter to John Yoo

Here's a letter I sent to John Yoo concerning the use of torture to elicit (false) information on the purported Saddam/al-Qaeda link.

Dear Professor Yoo,

I am a government professor at Morehead State University in Kentucky and a blogger at Open Salon and my own blog Red State Impressions.

I have several questions for you.

In April, McClatchy newspapers reported that Bush administration officials pressed the CIA and American military as early as 2002 to engage in torture (or "enhanced interrogations" if you will) for the purpose of establishing a connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein and thus justifying the upcoming invasion of Iraq.

Other reports on this topic--specifically by Lawrence Wilkerson--have emerged this week.

My first question is whether you knew that interrogation techniques such as waterboarding, confinement in coffins, sensory deprivation, or stress positions would be used to coerce prisoners into making the Saddam/al-Qaeda connection. Alllied to that first question is the question of whether you, or those with whom you worked, knew that were no major connections between Saddam and al-Qaeda and knowingly viewed the interrogations as seeking to elicit falsehoods.

My second question is how you would evaluate using torture/enhanced interrogations to provide justifications for a projected invasion of another country fits as an exercise of presidential power. Is this a legitimate exercise of presidential power? Is it a betrayal of the oath of office, the interest of the nation, or some other fundamental responsibility of the president? Is it a form of treason? Or do you see some other significance to these practices? My own opinion is that the Bush administration use of torture to elicit coerce prisoners into making the Saddam/al-Qaeda connection constitutes a betrayal of the Constitution that is unprecedented in American history.

But, I'm also interested in your opinion on these matters as a former Bush administration official and defender of Bush administration policies on these matters. If you choose to respond, I would publish your response on my quite modest little outlets and do my best to ensure wider coverage.

Ric Caric


Anonymous said...

I'm sure a professor at Berkeley is going to give a crap about some rhetorical questions from a no-name instructor at a podunk "university".

You way overestimate your significance.

Ric Caric said...

I usually don't publish comments from the three or four people whose highest priority in life is stalking this blog.

But I did want to emphasize in relation to my John Yoo post that it doesn't hurt to ask him the questions.

Who knows he might decide to answer.

Todd Mayo said...

Whereas Ric is supposed to lend any credence to an "anonymous" (read: NO NAME),right-wing sycophant from "who knows where?" Who the hell are you "anonymous", to question the significance of legitimate questions from one PHD to another? What hubris to suppose that because Ric uses his PHD to instruct in Kentucky!! How dare you impune an entire university based upon its size or its geographic location? A Professor at Berkley may well be MORE likely to answer some perfectly reasonable questions from a colleague at another school in another state. As Ric pointed out, "it doesn't hurt to ask him the questions." Whether he answers them at some point will be his decision and I doubt he'll be consulting you "anonymous."