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Who Is Lying About The Yoo Memo Approval?

CTuttle catches a big gap in representations by former AG Ashcroft and former Deputy AG Yoo with regard to the torture memorandum. To wit, from Ashcroft (via WaPo):

Neither the attorney general at the time, John D. Ashcroft, nor his deputy, Larry D. Thompson, were aware of the 81-page memo when it was written and sent to the Pentagon in March 2003, according to several former senior department officials. The Pentagon was told in December 2003 to disregard the legal advice in the memo after Justice Department lawyers raised objections.

And from John Yoo, in an interview with Esquire:

Esquire: That’s the one that’s been so strongly criticized. Goldsmith said it was slapdash and wasn’t well reasoned.

Yoo: I think that’s unfair, first because Goldsmith never issued an opinion of his own. He’s certainly free to criticize. It goes back to unless you’ve actually made the hard decision yourself, then you don’t really know how you think it through, what you would do. So he says “slapdash opinion,” but we have no idea what he would have done, because he left. Second thing is, it went through the normal process opinions go through in the Justice Department. It was primarily worked on by career staff people, and then went through a process of editing and review by different offices within the department, no different than any other.

Esquire: Ashcroft saw it?

Yoo: He approved it. And so the idea that’s its slapdash, or it was haphazard — I don’t think was true.

To be fair, Yoo may be referencing his first torture memo draft — the Bybee Memo — in his comments, but he’s certainly not saying that the second one — the recently released Yoo memorandum — differs in substantance from the first, at least that seems to be what he’s saying. So, if they weren’t so different, why not be certain that Ashcroft signed off on it before you disseminated it to the DOD as OLC policy? Why the rush that you had to get it out on a Saturday? Why the sneaky weekend pass through with no notice to the upper echelons at DOJ if it was all approval and backslapping for the Yoo gang?

For that matter, if there were problems with the memo, why did it take so long to rescind it? How deeply was it hidden? And, what’s up with the years and years worth of classification "pixie dust" for no apparent justifiable reason? Who ordered the classification — Marcy’s asked this already, but I’m asking as well — because Yoo didn’t have the authority to do so on his own according to everyone I’ve talked to about this.

This whole thing reeks of back-channel machinations and sneaky manipulation of the levers and processes behind the scenes to pull a fast one and force your misguided and unsupported view of the world and the undermining of the law to get your way…which points, again, directly to Dick Cheney and his minion squad. Doesn’t it?

Shouldn’t someone ask Ashcroft and Yoo directly — and on the record or on camera — about the discrepancies in their accounts?

(YouTube is Evanescence "Lies.")

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com