The Supreme Court got it right, and John Yoo has it wrong for one fundamental reason: Humans are fallible. As much as we hate to admit it, our intelligence agencies and our justice system sometimes get it wrong, very wrong.

A few examples make my point:
  • What weapons of mass destruction? Need I say more?
  • Tonkin Gulf? What attack?
  • Missile Gap? Great politics; lousy facts.
  • We have sent some individuals into the black hole of extraordinary rendition, only to later discover that they were not terrorists. Oops.
  • We have released some individuals from Gitmo, only to be told by our European allies that their citizens were not involved in terrorism. So sorry.
  • We have released some individuals from Gitmo who have gone on to commit additional acts of murder and terrorism. Well, boys will be boys.


One has only to look at the results of the Innocence Project to see that even our much vaunted criminal justice system sometimes makes mistakes, big time.

Yes, we humans are less than perfect. We do in fact need checks and balances, oversight and review. Faceless bureaucrats making paranoid decisions behind closed doors worked fine for the great dictators of yore, but our Founding Founders were right to fear the power of the State and its ability to act arbitrarily and capriciously.

Sorry, John, but the fundamental premise of your argument � that anonymous bureaucrats know best � is terribly flawed. Justice needs all the oversight, checks and balances, and review possible. If that sort of system is not good enough for your fellow travelers, then get thee to a small island 90 miles off Florida. You will find there many who love the way you think.

Thomas H. Clarke Jr.
Walnut Creek

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