Would it be possible to use the
nuclear generators aboard an American aircraft carrier or submarine to provide
electricity to Port-au-Prince? Cdr. Herb Carmen, Best Defense's pirates
columnist, points out an interesting precedent -- in 1929, when the city of
Tacoma, Washington, couldn't generate enough hydroelectricity because of a
severe drought, the USS
Lexington hooked up and powered the city for a month.
Last week, my book researcher, Kyle Flynn, went to see John
Yoo speak. Here are some thoughts provoked by the experience:
By Kyle Flynn
Defense Special Operations Correspondent
the former deputy assistant attorney general in the office of legal counsel of
the U.S. Department of Justice during George W. Bush's first term, appeared at
American Enterprise Institute, where he is also a visiting scholar, to discuss
his new book Crisis and Command, the last in his trilogy
concerning the political, constitutional, and legal dilemma brought on by 9/11
and the Bush administration's handling of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).
For those of you who missed the
less-than-enthralling discussion, do not fret, you can catch Yoo's recent appearance on the "Daily Show" with funny man Jon
Stewart. And for those of you interested in a more serious book review, check
out the excellent ones that appeared in the Washington Post and the National Interest.
As one of the co-authors of the now
infamous memos justifying waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques, Yoo
solidified his position on one side of the most polarizing national security,
ethical, and constitutional debates of our time. Whether you believe Yoo to be
a bright and loyal civil servant, a disgraced monster and criminal, or
something in between, is a matter of opinion. Having been to SERE school at Mackall, I feel that torture is
too strong a word to describe what Yoo laid out in the memos. I also assume,
perhaps wrongly, that other people whom shared that experience would agree.
This is not a defense of Bush's decision to institutionalize what some view as
torture as a policy. It is purely my perspective on why the Army Field Manual may not be the best approach
to dealing with insurgents in Afghanistan or al Qaeda on the Arab Peninsula.
Playing catch and release may be
fun while fishing for striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay; it's not so fun when
you're attempting to clear an area of insurgents in Oruzgan. To secure an
individual, send him off to Bagram Air Base, and then have him back on the
street within seventy-two hours can be frustrating -- especially when you catch
that same individual planting IEDs in the same location three weeks in a row.
If this was a result of too rigid guidelines or poorly trained interrogators
remains moot. But our enemies are not ignorant and good intentions do not
always result in sound policy.
The story of John Yoo is
controversial, complex, and somewhat ironic. Yet Yoo does not shy away from his
convictions. Love him or hate him, the tenured Berkeley professor has become
the poster boy for the Bush Administration's legal pursuit of the Global War on
Terrorism. In his latest book, Yoo argues that the executive branch was
designed by the founders to be able to respond swiftly to unanticipated
threats. Following a long line of presidents including George Washington,
Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt
whom all were charged with usurping Congress for various reasons and lengths of
time during their presidencies, Yoo contends the "Constitution is deliberately
vague on the limits of executive power so as to allow strong presidents leeway
to act in defense of the nation in times of crisis." To see if Yoo makes a
compelling case, you will have to read the book.
One interesting note from yesterday's panel is that
when asked which former executive Yoo believes President Obama most resembles,
he answered with Dwight Eisenhower. Personally very popular, even if his
policies were not, Eisenhower ran a strong campaign against the policies of
Harry Truman's administration. Similarly, President Obama ran against the
policies of George W. Bush. But rather than shift away from some of the most
tightly held and controversial national security policy secrets, Yoo suggests,
the current administration chose to continue down a similar path.