Bad Law Professor of the Week

Once again Stinque presents Bad Law Professor of the Week. Today we offer Jack Landman Goldsmith for your consideration. Believe it or not, this clown teaches at Harvard, where he is the Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law.  And today he has an editorial in the WaPo.  Let’s dive right in.

There has been much speculation about how the Obama administration will deal with what many view as the Bush administration’s harsh, abusive and illegal interrogation program. Some have called for an investigation by Congress or the Justice Department, possibly leading to criminal sanctions. Others think such investigations are infeasible or would smack of political retribution, proposing instead that a bipartisan commission look into the matter.

These are all bad ideas. They would bring little benefit, and they would further weaken the Justice Department and the CIA in ways that would compromise our security. (I worked at the Justice Department from 2003 to 2004 on issues that probably would be subject to new investigations, so readers should consider my views accordingly.) (emphasis supplied)

This has to be the most blatant attempt at a CYA in the history of opinion journalism.

Plodding on:

To begin with, all of the relevant facts — who approved what, what the legal opinions say and what actually happened — are well known inside the government. The interrogation and related programs have been extensively scrutinized in public sessions of Congress, in many classified sessions by congressional intelligence committees, in several investigations by the CIA inspector general and the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility and by the special prosecutor investigating the destruction of interrogation tapes.

If no one should be held responsible, then why the fuck are we bothering to find out who was responsible?

Skipping ahead:

But we should also recognize the costs of these investigations. Second-guessing lawyers’ wartime decisions under threat of criminal and ethical sanctions may sound like a good idea to those who believe those lawyers went too far in the fearful days after Sept. 11, 2001. But the greater danger now is that lawyers will become excessively cautious in giving advice and will substitute predictions of political palatability for careful legal judgment.

I seem to remember how that “careful legal judgment” resulted in this sort of thing:

I paid attention in law school, and I sort of remember one of the main points was that “careful legal judgment” wasn’t supposed to result in heaps of dead bodies and violations of the Geneva Conventions.

And, predictably:

Yet another round of investigations during the Obama administration, even by a bipartisan commission, would exacerbate this problem. It would also bring little benefit. The people in government who made mistakes or who acted in ways that seemed reasonable at the time but now seem inappropriate have been held publicly accountable by severe criticism, suffering enormous reputational and, in some instances, financial losses. Little will be achieved by further retribution.

So enforcing laws that trace their lineage back to the Magna Carta bad, scolding torturers good. Bad Cheney!

The best way for the Obama administration to establish a record of what happened under President Bush without further debilitating our national security system is simply to let the many current investigations run their course.

Shorter Jack Goldstein: While I am all for this “rule of law” thing, it would be unjust to actually hold anybody responsible for doing stuff everybody knew was illegal.  Especially me.


“ways that seemed reasonable at the time but now seem inappropriate”

Reasonable to whom? I seem to recall the distribution of Kool-Aid falling well short of the coverage needed.

Oh, and “enormous reputational and financial losses”? Walk the fucking walk, chickenhawk.

@nojo: And don’t forget the “severe criticism” … don’t you remember how David Addington broke down in sobs at his hearing?

Whining piece of shit mewling about retribution. So what if it looks like retribution when Cheney is strapped to the gurney, screaming and howling like a desperate animal and then put to death? Sometimes justice and retribution have common valences. In this case, however, you will only get to put Cheney to death once. If there were justice, he would be tortured for exactly the same length of time as all the prisonsers at Gitmo and in rendition camps in the US and overseas and then thrown out of a helicopter into downtown Baghdad to be torn to shreds and fed to dogs.

Even Shorter Jack Goldstein: Move along. Nothing to see here.

I’m sure Chimpy will give him a preemptive pardon.

I’ve seen this guy speak at a conference. Arrogant prick.

Damn, my snark switch is stuck in the OFF position today.

Has our society really turned into a kakistocratic anti-meritocracy where only the worst fuck-ups in politics, religion and business are rewarded? Sure seems that way.

How long can our nation survive when its leaders openly undermine our own laws, principles and values, and no one is capable of holding anyone responsible for their actions?

@Original Andrew: How long can our nation survive when its leaders openly undermine our own laws, principles and values, and no one is capable of holding anyone responsible for their actions?

Approximately 28 years. And then it implodes.

@Original Andrew: And wait until I get to John Yoo. Your ability to snark will wither and die.

@nojo: Or George P. Bush is (s)elected president.
@blogenfreude: Oooooh, I know some Boalt Hall grads who will love that one.
@OA: Here are some gauzy hopey photos of the Unicorn if you need something to remind you to give thanks tomorrow.

@SanFranLefty: And this guy lurks in the shadows awaiting my gentle touch.

I’d really like to see President Obama push through the legalization of most drugs and then grant a blanket pardon to all of the prisoners generated by the wildly successful War on Drugs. Then I’d like to see Bush and Cheney and Rummy and Wolfie and Ashcroft and Gonzo and Scooter and the whole neocon gang get the full Rudolf Hess treatment. Let each one of them be incarcerated all by himself in one of the newly emptied prisons dotting the US landscape. Let them receive the very best medical treatment to ensure a long and crushingly lonely life for each prisoner. When each felon eventually dies bulldoze his personal prison to remove the last traces of these thugs.

TJ: It seems that not everyone is lurving US-America now with Obama in charge, after a coordinated attack on foreigners in Mumbai:

One witness told local reporters gunmen had tried to find people with U.S. or British passports and took about 15 of them hostage.

Yeah, I don’t know if that’s confirmed but the attacks were at places where Westerners typically are.

More reasons, seriously, that I’m grateful for simply being alive. I hope that’s not offensive, but that’s the honest truth.


You are so right. And that “woman overcome with emotion” is photo #5? I L-O-V-E her fierce highlights. That’s the kind of hair that I can believe in.

I’m serious about being thankful tomorrow, especially about good health. You never realize how good you’ve got it until you or a loved one comes down with something serious, FSM forbid.

And I’m thankful for family, friends, Dalmatian fur-babies, and you Stinquers of course!

@Original Andrew: I wish I had the chutzpah to get highlights like hers – I loved them. But I’m too chicken to do something like that to my hair.

Photos #11, 12, 28, and 29 are especially beautiful.

This is one where I come down firmly and severely on the side of Chainsaw Justice. I lived abroad when all that shit went down with Abu Grayb, indeed for the whole ginned up GWOT and Mission Accomplished and PlameGate and everything except the kickoff to Campaign 08. I missed a lot of the pictures that were published from AG and Gitmo except for the guy with the wires and that woman with the smoke in her mouth pointing at the guy’s nads. Oh, and the dogs, I saw the dogs.

But this one. This one makes me really really pissed off. That guy is either dead and in an unzipped body bag or he’s been severely tortured and still in a body bag and that young soldier is fucking mugging for her facebook friends at home.

Chainsaw, you get the helicopter and I’ll round up a coupla Chilean friends who can help us do to our leaders what Pinochet did to their families. These fuckers deserve to be very very harshly judged, and this legal prick should go with them.

Now let us give thanks…

@nabisco: Fuck, yes, what America needs now is Chilean Stormtroopers engaged on the side of fucking Justice.

@rptrcub: It’s confirmed, it’s a bloodbath all over CNN and MSNBC. At least 78 dead, at least 15 taken hostage, Brits and Americans targeted, Taj Mahal hotel on fire.

@Mistress Cynica: The photos on the Beeb website of the Taj Mahal hotel are pretty horrifying.
@rptrcub: That’s not offense. The majority of the world says that every day.

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