Yoo Who? Inquiring Minds Fail

There is no justice in the world. John Yoo, the disgraced architect of the Bush Administration's odious torture policies, has been rewarded for his infamy with a job writing columns for the Philadelphia Inquirer. There are a dozen other people, journalists and scholars alike, who have covered the legal war on terror with dignity and candor and insight and integrity. But the Inky instead chose Yoo to continue to spew his twisted vision of the Constitution.

Like other former officials who drafted Office of Legal Counsel memos legalizing "water-boarding" and other torture methods, Yoo is the subject of a pending Justice Department investigation into whether he violated "professional ethics." Because there is little political will now to pursue criminal charges against former officials, Yoo will not be prosecuted for the illegal and improper "advice" he gave to his bosses at the White House and Defense Department.

Harold Jackson, editorial page editor at the Inquirer, defending his choice to hire Yoo. "He's a Philadelphian," Jackson said, "and very knowledgeable about the legal subjects he discusses in his commentaries. Our readers have been able to get directly from Mr. Yoo his thoughts on a number of subjects concerning law and the courts, including measures taken by the White House post-9/11. That has promoted further discourse, which is the objective of newspaper commentary."

By that standard, I'm surprised the Los Angeles Times hasn't yet hired O.J. Simpson to write about the criminal justice system; surprised the New York Post hasn't hired Eliot Spitzer to write about marriage; surprised the Washington Post hasn't hired Michael Brown ("Brownie!") to write about relief efforts in disaster zones. A newspaper owes more to its readers than merely hiring the most controversial and divisive voices around in the name of "furthering discourse."

John Yoo had his platform, his power, and his prestige—and what did he do? He sullied American law for decades to come with outlandish principles of executive-branch power. His time is over. His shells spent. His credibility tattered. The nation understands that. It's unfathomable to me why the Inquirer does not.

Andrew Cohen is CBS News' Chief Legal Analyst and Legal Editor. CourtWatch is his new blog with analysis and commentary on breaking legal news and events. For columns on legal issues before the beginning of this blog, click here.