Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Connecting the dots. 

There was an interesting article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on Monday. It was about an “opinion maker”, John Yoo, and his ideas on how to fight “terrorism”. But before getting to those ideas you may be thinking who in the world is John Loo.

Currently he is a professor of law at Berkeley. But before that he worked for the U.S. Department of Justice from 2001 to 2003 writing, in the Wall Street Journal’s works, “some of the most controversial internal legal opinions justifying the Bush administration’s aggressive approach to detaining and interrogating suspected terrorists.” You know, the ones where the President has unlimited powers to wage war, where as long as it doesn’t cause organ failure its not torture, and where the Geneva Conventions don’t apply to the “War on Terror”. Before writing these opinions for John Ashcroft in the Department of Justice he worked for Orrin Hatch who was Chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee, and before that he clerked for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Clearly his ideas are not those of a fringe player – rather they are front and center in the thinking of the Bush administration, which also probably explains how they found their way onto the front page of the WSJ.

So what is his idea for combating “terrorism”. Here it is straight from the article:

In June, about 100 people gathered at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, to hear a lecture by John Yoo on “fighting the new terrorism.” Mr. Yoo recommended an unusual idea: assassinating more suspected terrorists.

A law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, he said his proposal would require “a change in the way we think about the executive order banning assassination, which has been with us since the 1970s.” Such a change is needed, he said, because it is wartime: “A nation at war may use force against members of the enemy at any time, regardless of their proximity to hostilities of their activity at the time of the attack.”


At the Department of Justice Mr. Loo crafted the legal arguments for the presidents power to launch pre-emptive strikes against terrorists and their supporters

So just as the idea is floated that maybe it would be good to assassinate an inconvenient South American President now the idea is floated that maybe it would be a good to legalize assassination again. Coincidence? Maybe. Then again, maybe the path is being prepared for something.

And please note how broadly everything is defined. Would Chavez be considered a terrorist? Certainly not by any rational person but in their very expansive way of thinking anything is possible. Further, one doesn’t have to be an actual “terrorist”, it is enough to be “their supporters” to justify using “pre-emptive” force against you. So lets see, the U.S. considers the FARC to be a terrorist organization and it has repeatedly asserted that Chavez supports them (albeit without evidence). So by this rational pre-emptive attacks on Chavez would be justified.

And do note that under this legal doctrine the U.S. government “may use force against members of the enemy at any time, regardless of their proximity to hostilities of their activity at the time of the attack.” So Chavez needn’t actually DO anything. They can simply claim he was thinking of doing something (not selling oil to the U.S. maybe?) and can use that as their excuse for his pre-emptive assassination. Such are the ideas peddled on the front pages of some of the most learned and respected newspapers in the United States.

So lets see where this leaves us:

Prominent members of the Venezuelan opposition want Chavez assasinated.

Some friends of people in high places in the U.S. government have called for his assassination.

Prominent and well connected think tanks in the U.S. call for regime change.

And now prominent “opinion makers” in the U.S. are calling for the return of assassination as a tool of U.S. policy.

Connecting all the dots here I think Chavez needs to make sure his security detail is up to snuff.


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