It only makes it worse when you consider the most visceral hatred for Bush came from the compassionate liberals so horrified at the mistreatment of criminals in the War on Terror. Of course, it was never really about that.
In a city full of them, Harold Koh is Washington’s biggest hypocrite.
As the dean of Yale Law School, Koh was the most prominent critic of the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies, deriding them as “executive muscle-flexing.” The former President, Koh said, was the “torturer-in-chief.” In a 2002 interview with The New York Times, he referred to the war on terror as “legally undeclared” and questioned the administration’s right to kill terrorists on the battlefield. “What factual showing will demonstrate that they had warlike intentions against us and who sees that evidence before any action is taken?” he asked.
In 2009, after the election of Barack Obama, Koh was awarded the job of State Department legal adviser. Since that time, he has defended a war waged in Libya without explicit congressional authorization, drone strikes targeting suspected terrorists and the extrajudicial assassination of an American citizen who had become a leading Al Qaeda ideologist.
None of these, however, can be considered the greatest of Koh’s manifold hypocrisies. That honor stems from a 2010 speech in which he triumphantly declared that the Obama administration “unequivocally guarantee(s) humane treatment for all individuals in U.S. custody as a result of armed conflict” (emphasis original).
One wonders, then, what Koh would make of Eli Lake’s blockbuster Daily Beast story last week. Reporting from Somalia, Lake found a secret prison holding alleged terrorists captured by, or with the assistance of, the United States.
“Overcrowded, underfunded, and reeking of urine, the Bosaso Central Prison could make even the most dedicated insurgent regret ever getting into the terrorism business,” Lake wrote. The prison’s warden told Lake that nearly 400 men are being held in a facility designed for 300. There today exist an untold number of such prisons where terrorism suspects, dispensed with by the United States, live in substandard, dehumanizing conditions.
The proliferation of such hellish prisons — which make Guantanamo Bay look like Trump Tower — is a function of two, seemingly contradictory impulses of the Obama administration: a near-religious conviction in its own moral immaculateness and the imperative to wage an aggressive fight against Al Qaeda.