No Time to Dither
Washington Post Crashed-and-Burned Watch (Yet Another Fred Hiatt Special)

Condi Rice and John Yoo

At Berkeley, John Yoo is in trouble for saying that the president could legally order the army and the CIA to torture--but Berkeley Dean Chris Edley says that John is safe from any form of academic process because he was staff and not line--he did not actually order anybody to torture or tell anybody that they were ordered to torture anyone.

Now Condi Rice comes forward. Cenk Uygur reports:

Cenk Uygur: Condi Rice Pulls A Nixon: When the President Does It, That Means It is Not Illegal: Condoleezza Rice was recently speaking at Stanford when students asked her an excellent question on waterboarding and torture. They have her answer on tape and it isn't pretty.... Here are the relevant quotes:

"The president instructed us that nothing we would do would be outside of our obligations, legal obligations under the Convention Against Torture."...

"I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency, that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did."...

"The United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture, and so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture."...

[T]hese people don't understand the whole concept behind America. In our system of government, the president is not supposed to be above the law. He is not a king; his word is not the law. The president can violate the law and when he does, he is supposed to be held accountable. That is supposed to be one of the pillars of our democracy.... If someone doesn't do something about this dangerous idea it will do more damage than the torture itself...

As I understand things, Cheney and the Bush NSC--Rice and company--went hunting for someone who would tell them (a) waterboarding isn't torture, and (b) the president can legally order torture. They found John Yoo, who told them what they wanted. Then Bush told Rice to order the CIA to torture.

Now as I understand Edley's position, Berkeley cannot proceed against Yoo because he did not do any wrongful deeds--he just gave wrongful advice. And Stanford cannot proceed against Rice because even though she was in the chain of command she did not know that the deeds were wrongful.

A very nice setup indeed.