20 Questions for David Addington
Cassel: If the president deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty
Cassel: Also no law by Congress - that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo...
Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
And the memo's author - John Yoo, then a deputy in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel - was a longtime ally and notoriously pliant scribe for the radical legal views of Vice President Cheney and his chief enforcer, David S. Addington. Yoo's memo is a historic document. It is the ultimate expression of Cheney's belief that anything the president or his designates do - no matter how illegal, barbaric or un-American - is justifiable in the name of national self-defense.
I've written about David Addington many times. He's Dick Cheney's "resident evil" and chief enforcer in the administration. Murray Waas wrote a great piece on Addington a while ago. "Addington's Role In Cheney's Office Draws Fresh Attention"
Where there has been controversy over the past four years, there has often been Addington. He was a principal author of the White House memo justifying torture of terrorism suspects. He was a prime advocate of arguments supporting the holding of terrorism suspects without access to court…
Well, he's going to testify and Froomkin sends an important message to Congress.
David S. Addington, Vice President Cheney's formidable and reclusive chief of staff, is scheduled to appear before the House judiciary committee Thursday for a hearing on how the Bush administration developed its interrogation policies. Signs are that he actually intends to show up.
It's essential that members of the committee not blow the best chance the public has yet had to understand how the United States came to adopt torture as an acceptable interrogation technique and, in so doing, found itself among the world's pariah nations. A compelling and well-supported (if partly circumstantial) narrative casts Addington as the dominant figure in the interagency push to step up the pressure on terror suspects. This is not surprising, as Addington is thought to have been at the red-hot center of pretty much every one of President Bush's most extreme assertions of unfettered executive power. The 51-year-old lawyer is Cheney's most able and devoted henchman, his sharpest knife, his lead loyalist among the legion salted throughout the executive branch. Indeed, he is widely thought to have ghost-written memos and public statements ascribed to better-known figures such as Alberto Gonzales, John Yoo, and William Haynes.↓ Story continues below ↓
The judiciary committee's sole aim on Thursday should be to keep Addington at the table until he provides answers to some essential questions. Here's a draft script to that end...read on
Thank you Dan Froomkin. He hits on all the points that need to be asked. I expect Addington to show as much contempt as he possibly can for these proceedings.
At least four top White House lawyers took part in discussions with the Central Intelligence Agency between 2003 and 2005 about whether to destroy videotapes showing the secret interrogations of two operatives from Al Qaeda, according to current and former administration and intelligence officials.
Those who took part, the officials said, included Alberto R. Gonzales, who served as White House counsel until early 2005; David S. Addington, who was the counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney and is now his chief of staff; John B. Bellinger III, who until January 2005 was the senior lawyer at the National Security Council; and Harriet E. Miers, who succeeded Mr. Gonzales as White House counsel.