FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Skeleton in John Yoo’s Closet

by JAYNE LYN STAHL

If former White House lawyer and deputy assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush, John Yoo, were ever to decide to join the ranks of newfangled conservatives running for office he would be hard-pressed to hide the skeleton in his closet. Mr. Yoo, who now teaches international law at U.C. Berkeley, is married to the daughter of former wartime correspondent, Peter Arnett.

For those who remember Mr. Arnett from his days reporting on both Gulf Wars on CNN, and MSNBC, we can only sit back and savor the irony. The man whose name has come to be synonymous with the “torture memo” of August, 2002 which authorized so-called enhanced alternative interrogation methods, a man who said that the U.S. doesn’t have to abide by the Geneva Conventions if our enemies don’t, and one who, according to the Contra Costa Times, recently told a Sacramento crowd that he doesn’t “consider” waterboarding torture gets to sit down to turkey dinner every year with a father in law who was fired from NBC News for saying on Iraqi TV what every American now knows, that the Iraq War was a failure.

Yes, that’s right, the White House lawyer who opined that one has to effectively kill somebody before it’s considered torture is now next of kin to the reporter who broke the story, in 1998, on network news that U.S. forces killed their defectors by using Sarin gas on a Laotian village in 1970.

Arnett, a war correspondent with 40 years of experience, won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of Vietnam as a reporter for the Associated Press. Yet, he quickly became George H.W. Bush’s biggest nightmare when he covered the allied bombing of a civilian baby milk factory. The Guardian U.K. reported that the senior Bush was so upset with Arnett, he called him a propagandist.

It quickly became clear that Peter Arnett was a whistleblower for U.S. military transgressions. But, it was his appearance on state-run Iraqi television back in March, 2003 that got him fired from his positions at MSNBC, NBC, and National Geographic. And, despite his official apology, he was forced off the air.

Peter Arnett now teaches journalism in China.

The discussions around the Yoo table must be fun to watch when Arnett comes to town now that the theatre of battle has moved to Afghanistan. In March, 1997, the seasoned journalist sat down to interview Osama bin Laden and, as he was later to tell CNN, as far back as 1997, U.S. intelligence “had figured out that bin Laden was a major potential threat.”

Arnett said that he gleaned from interviewing bin Laden, four years before the bombing of the World Trade Center, that it was bin Laden’s intention to convert Afghanistan into an Islamic state. He told CNN, only three months after 9/11, that it was clear four years earlier that Laden had “an apocalyptic vision about violent change, not only in the Arab world, but the whole Islamic world, including Indonesia and the Philippines.”

He could tell all this from one conversation with Osama bin Laden back in 1997, and still the CIA, those distinguished masters of political assassination, couldn’t figure out a way to target them.

In April, Arnett told a gathering of Vietnam era journalist colleagues that Vietnam was “the first foreign war the U.S. ever fought where the press challenged government thinking, challenged the decisions of generals, challenged the political decisions the war was based on.”

Maybe, during one of their meals together, Arnett can ask Yoo whether Yoo might expand his restrictive definition of torture, which requires organ failure, to include the more than 4500 American troops not to mention Iraqis who have died in that country alone, as well as those now being killed daily in Afghanistan.

Without a doubt, Peter Arnett’s career would be in as much jeopardy today as it was under both presidents Bush were he to report on Afghanistan with anything less than a positive slant.

Moreover, that Ward Churchill should have been forced out of the University of Colorado for writing a controversial essay about 9/11 while John Yoo continues to teach international law, of all things, at U.C. Berkeley is one irony that doesn’t fit in anybody’s closet.

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

JAYNE LYN STAHL is a widely published poet, essayist, playwright, and screenwriter, member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism: Transcending the Master’s Tools
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Mike Whitney
McMaster Takes Charge: Trump Relinquishes Control of Foreign Policy 
Patrick Cockburn
The Coming Decline of US and UK Power
Louisa Willcox
The Endangered Species Act: a Critical Safety Net Now Threatened by Congress and Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Norman Pollack
Drumbeat of Fascism: Find, Arrest, Deport
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
David Morgan
Trump and the Left: a Case of Mass Hysteria?
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Mike Miller
What Kind of Movement Moment Are We In? 
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Jonathan Taylor
Hate Trump? You Should Have Voted for Ron Paul
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Rev. William Alberts
Grandiose Marketing of Spirituality
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
David Swanson
100 Years of Using War to Try to End All War
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Randy Shields
Tom Regan: The Life of the Animal Rights Party
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mike Garrity
Why Should We Pay Billionaires to Destroy Our Public Lands? 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Ezra Kronfeld
Joe Manchin: a Senate Republicrat to Dispute and Challenge
Clancy Sigal
The Nazis Called It a “Rafle”
Louis Proyect
Socialism Betrayed? Inside the Ukrainian Holodomor
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
David Yearsley
Founding Father of American Song
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail