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February 24, 2010

The Left's Newest, Stupidest Smear: Yoo and Cheney Argued President Could Lawfully Order "Massacre" of Entire Village of "Civilians"

Note that last word -- "civilians."

See if you can spot it in this exchange:

At the core of the legal arguments were the views of Yoo, strongly backed by David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney's legal counsel, that the president's wartime powers were essentially unlimited and included the authority to override laws passed by Congress, such as a statute banning the use of torture. Pressed on his views in an interview with OPR investigators, Yoo was asked:

"What about ordering a village of resistants to be massacred? ... Is that a power that the president could legally—"

"Yeah," Yoo replied, according to a partial transcript included in the report. "Although, let me say this: So, certainly, that would fall within the commander-in-chief's power over tactical decisions."

"To order a village of civilians to be [exterminated]?" the OPR investigator asked again.

"Sure," said Yoo.

The word is used in the second posing of the question. The first time the question's posed, however, a different word is used: resistants. That is, enemy combatants.

They're not talking about passive resistance here. They don't mean Gandhi-like dead-weight people-chains.

They're talking about active, forceful resistance. In the context of our lawful and justified invasion (Afghanistan) with a lawful and justified purpose (hunting the terrorists and their enablers and protectors who caused 9/11). And those terrorists taking refuge in a village, and those villagers deciding to resort to force to repel a lawful, justified sweep of the town.

So the argument seems to be whether the President can order the destruction of a village comprised of enemy combatants who are "civilians" in the unlawful sense of not being part of a regular army with clearly-visible markings.

And of course he can. What would the rule be otherwise? That we can kill lawful, regular, uniformed combatants but not unlawful, irregular, un-uniformed ones? What the hell kind of incentive is that?

You'll be happy to know that Andrew Sullivan calls this This Era's Hiroshima. Something that didn't actually happen -- something that was argued was within the President's power to order. And he could -- if a village of Taliban opens fire on our soldiers and will not permit them to come inside and arrest the terrorists they're looking for, of course the president can order airstrikes. Neither Bush nor Obama is doing that, of course, but they could.

The Geneva Conventions, by the way, permit just this. The rule is against excessive civilian casualties when attacking a legitimate military target. If the target is legitimate and the civilian casualties "not excessive" (vague, to be sure, but how the hell else can you frame it?), the much-vaunted Geneva Conventions bless this.

And of course they do. How else could war be conducted?

Oh, and Sullivan then he compares this all to the Nazis' Lidice massacre and of course My Lai.

It's not just that Sullivan is shrill. And tedious.

It's also that he's ignorant. He postures as learned, but in fact he's not; I'd bet dollars to donuts he just picked up the Lidice reference from another leftwing blogger or in a Google serach. He was probably looking for the Katyn massacre and came up with this one and figured it was better, and made him seem a little smarter. Or more likely, he didn't even remember the Katyn massacre; he just knew he wanted to go full Godwin for the sixty-three billionth time and googled "Nazi massacre."

And I say that because that's his stock in trade; he tarts up shrill, hyperpartisan nonsense with the thinnest, shallowest veneer of Oxbridge book-learning and calls himself a genius for doing so.

Thanks to EdwardR.

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posted by Ace at 12:38 PM

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