Neocon Law Professor Calls Trump’s Aggression on Syria Constitutional
by Stephen Lendman
John Yoo formerly served as Bush/Cheney’s deputy assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Counsel, US Department of Justice.
He erroneously claims presidential war powers grant the executive:
- unlimited authority to ignore international, constitutional and US statute laws;
- the right to indefinitely detain and torture so-called “enemy combatants,” holding them uncharged and untried;
- authority to deny them habeas and due process rights, consigning them to kangaroo court show trial injustice; and
- justify virtually anything to defend national security, including when no threats exist.
All US post-WW II wars were and continue to be naked aggression against nations threatening no one. Yoo ignored US lawlessness.
His infamous Bush/Cheney administration “torture memos” claimed legal justification for what international law categorically prohibits at all times, under all circumstances, with no allowed exceptions.
Yoo’s criminality includes serious breaches of the Constitution, US War Crimes Act, Geneva Conventions, UN Charter, UN Torture Convention, Nuremberg Principles, and various other statutes.
On April 13, he lied, calling Trump’s aggression on Syria “constitutional.” Without Security Council authorization, warmaking is illegal, no exceptions allowed.
Yoo: Trump “punished the Assad regime for its use of sarin nerve gas on its own people and only begun to correct the mistakes the Obama administration made when it allowed the Syrian civil war to metastasize into a conflict that is destabilizing the Middle East.”
Fact: Syria is Obama’s war, now Trump’s. It’s not civil.
Fact: No evidence suggests Assad used any type toxic agents against anyone throughout over six years of US-launched war, using ISIS and other terrorists as imperial foot soldiers, aided by Pentagon terror-bombing.
Fact: America and its rogue allies bear full responsibility for endless Middle East wars and destabilization - along with millions of casualties, vast destruction, and high crimes against peace.
Yoo claims waging war without declaring it or getting congressional authorization is OK. He ignored UN Charter provisions, including Security Council members alone having power to approve warmaking - only permitted in self-defense, never preemptively for any reason.
Yoo’s reasoning is based on “tradition(al) American foreign policy,” saying “(t)hroughout our history, neither presidents nor Congresses have acted under the belief that the Constitution requires a declaration of war before the US can conduct military hostilities abroad.”
The Constitution’s Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 grants Congress alone the power to declare war.
Since the 1945 UN Charter, Security Council members alone may authorize warmaking - not presidents, Congress or US courts. Acting without SC permission is naked aggression - a post-WW II American tradition, lawless every time waged, from Korea to Trump wars.
What pre-WW II presidents did is unrelated to current rule of law principles. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR and other earlier administrations were required only to observe constitutional and US statute laws.
The UN Charter changed warmaking rules. From Truman to Trump, all US presidents breached its principles, accountability not forthcoming.
Yoo: “(O)ur framers decided that the president would play the leading role in matters of national security.”
Fact: The framers decided warmaking was too serious a matter to be left to executive authority, why they gave Congress sole power to declare war.
Today, they’d have to observe UN Charter provisions and other post WW I and II international laws, what didn’t exist when the Constitution was drafted and approved.
Yoo ignores cold, hard, vital facts. What was OK in 1776 is OK now for him. Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR would likely observe what Yoo rejects. Neocon extremism was unknown in their time.
Yoo: “Congress is too large and unwieldy to take the swift and decisive action required in wartime.”
Fact: On December 8, 1945, Congress declared war on Japan (Public Law 77-328, 55 STAT 795) - one day after Pearl Harbor was attacked.
As events dictate, Congress, the courts and administrations can act swiftly. Yoo lied, claiming congressional “loose, decentralized structure would paralyze American policy when foreign threats” arise.
“Our Constitution has succeeded because it favors swift presidential action in war…” Changing things “could…seriously threaten…national security.”
What utter rubbish! Why would any sensible UC Berkeley law student choose classes Yoo teaches?
Law Professor Francis Boyle earlier said “Harvard is to Law School as Torture is to law.”
“The Harvard Law School Faculty and Deans torture the Law. Do not send your children or students to Harvard Law School where they will grow up to become racist war criminals! Harvard Law School is a Neo-Con cesspool.”
The same applies to UC Berkeley Law School with disreputable scoundrels like Yoo on its staff.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.