Once-Great Journalist Shawcross Now Receives John Yoo Seal of Approval

John Yoo

John Yoo

At the Wall Street Journal, John Eww, I mean Yoo, the Bush administration torture facilitator, reviews the new book by William Shawcross, best known for Sideshow: Kissinger, Nixon and the destruction of Cambodia, his investigation of the secret and illegal war that the United States waged on Cambodia from 1969 to 1973. (Thanks to Focal Pointer Michael Busch for bringing the piece to my attention.) Yoo writes that Justice and the Enemy

… mounts a full-throated defense of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies. Where international critics decry the detention of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay as a “legal black hole,” Mr. Shawcross sees a nation at war exercising its right to capture and hold the enemy. Where human-rights advocates allege the systematic torture of hundreds of al Qaeda prisoners, Mr. Shawcross understands that tough interrogations were needed in the months after the 9/11 attacks to gain intelligence on an enemy that refuses to obey the basic rules of civilized warfare. Where lawyers for 9/11 planners like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed portray military commissions as “kangaroo courts,” Mr. Shawcross describes military trials that will give terrorists a fairer process than victorious nations have ever given an enemy. “Any German in the dock at Nuremberg would be astonished to learn of his rights, privileges, and entitlements, if he were suddenly transferred by time machine to the court in Guantanamo,” he rightly observes.

As you can see, Shawcross has, uh, reversed course since the days he wrote to expose U.S. international crimes. In fact, he caught hell for supporting the Iraq War. In 2003, at the New Statesman, Jason Cowley wrote:

Shawcross is a robust Manichaean: he divides the world between our light and their darkness, between good and evil. He never pauses to question his own prejudices — about Israel, whose illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza he never mentions; about American imperialism, which he now considers to be at worst benign.

Meanwhile, if you’re still in need of emetic, here’s a strong dose of Yoo.

Were it not for America’s use of military power in the last century, nations in places ranging from Europe to East Asia would not know freedom today. Mr. Shawcross expresses a version of this idea when he observes that “the U.S. military was [in World War II], and has remained, the greatest defender of human rights that the world has ever seen.”

When John Yoo praises your work — “Mr. Shawcross vividly surveys the score of issues arising from the war on terror, and his judgments are sound, because they look to history and practice, not ideology” — you know it’s time to retire or find another profession.