Small Fish

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The Bush administration lawyer who provided a legal basis for the brutal interrogation tactics used by the US military and CIA was called to account today by congressional Democrats.

John Yoo, now a law professor at the University of California, was asked to appear before the judiciary committee in the House of Representatives on May 6 to discuss the legal grounds for the harsh treatment of al-Qaida suspects.

Yoo left the office of legal counsel, where he gave legal advice to the Bush administration, in 2003. Earlier that year, he drafted an 81-page memo giving the Pentagon extensive leeway to harm detainees during interrogations without fear of legal consequences.

That memo, which the administration later revoked, was made public for the first time last week and caused a stir among liberals in Congress.

In one section, for example, Yoo said US interrogators could maim detainees without fear of prosecution, depending on the body part that was injured and whether intent to harm existed.

“Just because the statute says — that doesn’t mean you have to do it,” Yoo told Esquire last week. “You’re right, there’s still the moral question — after you’ve answered the legal question — whether you should do it at all.”

What I don’t understand is, why go after the person who gave a legal premise to torture? Why not go after the administration that implemented the legal argument into a law?

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