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Did you know John Yoo is not in jail?

john-woo-daily-showThis is the kind of civility that I just can’t stomach. Berkeley Law Professor John Yoo, author of the Torture Memos which Bushco’s blimpnecks took for their greenlight to water-board, was a guest yesterday on the Daily Show. Short of Jon Stewart orchestrating a citizen’s arrest, or reality television setting Gitmo alumni upon Woo like bears on honey, I don’t want to see the John Yoo walking free.

I could see that Stewart had planned some zingers which Yoo was able to dodge, and afterward Stewart behaved like Hannibal Lecter had just passed through, but on the whole I think hosting criminals like Yoo is ill advised. For one, you have to shake his hand. Then of course the nature of television entertainment –unless you are Mike Wallace who’s just strode into the mark’s office– has you trying to make light of the interview, the whole of which has been choreographed for laughs. Worst of all I believe, are the too-many times a host finds himself asking the audience to give it up for the guest.

When Stewart first announced the night’s guest was to be John Yoo, the audience appropriately enough did not cheer. Of course when it came time for the cretin’s entrance, the applause was obligatory. And so it followed, each subsequent punctuation. How else are the audience members supposed to show their enthusiasm? It’s true, their energy is critical to the stage energy.

Stephen Colbert solves the applaud-the-bad-guy paradox by taking a victory lap himself when the audience applauds the introduction of the guest. But usually Colbert’s show specializes in leftist guests with whom the audience is sympathetic, so the maneuver is more for bringing the studio audience unto Colbert’s role-playing for the Right. Integral to his act is an audience that mimics O’Reilly-Limbaugh ditto-heads. A veritable right wing audience could never be brought to even show civility to a guest they’re told is hostile.

And I guess I long for a little more of that genuine sentiment. It began for me when I saw Sarah Palin treated with effusive cordiality on Saturday Night Live. Again the audience was expected to applaud Palin, if in fact they were really just excited to see her roasted.

John Yoo and ilk, the whole Bush troops, must be prosecuted and jailed. That they walk about at large, free to second guess President Obama’s terrorism strategies are nothing to laugh at. I’ll cop to being humorless on this point.

NOTES:
Excerpt, March 13, 2002 Memorandum

“… neither the GPW (Third Geneva Convention) nor the Torture Convention restrict the President’s legal authority to transfer prisoners captured in the Afghanistan conflict to third countries. Although the GPW places conditions on the transfer of POWs, neither al-Qaeda nor Taliban prisoners are legally entitled to POW status, and hence there are no GPW conditions placed on their transfer. While the Torture Convention arguably might govern transfer of these prisoners, it does not apply extraterritorially.”

Excerpt, August 1, 2002 Memo

“Under international law, therefore, the United States thus is bound only by the text of the Torture Conventions as modified by the first Bush administration’s understanding.”

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