YOO TWO: IN THE NAME OF LOVE. The ACLU is trying to get its hands on something we lowly national-security reporters have tried for years to obtain. That's something known colloquially as Yoo Two -- Yoo as in John Yoo, the torturer from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel in the first Bush administration. And Two as in a second memo in or around August of 2002 about torture. The first memo -- and here "first" is a statement about when it was released, not necessarily when it was written -- is the infamous August 1, 2002 memorandum on torture, which radically redefined torture as anything approaching severe organ failure or death, meaning anything short of that standard -- and maybe even that itself, Yoo argued -- was permissible under the president's commander-in-chief powers during a time of war.
But we've long believed there was a second memo, Yoo Two: a piece of paper that specified in detail what the CIA could do to detainees in its custody. And according to Dan Eggen, the intrepid Washington Post reporter, the ACLU might be closing in on it:
The second document is an August 2002 legal memo from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel to the CIA general counsel. The ACLU describes it as "specifying interrogation methods that the CIA may use against top al-Qaeda members." (This document is separate from another widely publicized Justice memo, also issued in August 2002, that narrowed the definition of torture. The Justice Department has since rescinded the latter.)
Last year, ABC News revealed a CIA memo detailing 16 permissible torture techniques. If the ACLU can obtain Yoo Two, we will know -- or at least know more -- how many of those were approved by the Justice Department, and under what legal justification. Of course, "legal" here is used very lightly: Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh once described Yoo's argument as "perhaps the most clearly erroneous legal opinion I have ever read." And we might never get to read Yoo Two, as the Bush administration and the CIA, predictibly, are fighting tooth and nail against its release. It's time for Patrick Leahy to subpoena that document, and demand that Bush, Yoo, Alberto Gonzales and George Tenet answer for it.
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