Monday, August 14, 2006

A valid exception to the "Godwin's Law" rule

The "Godwin's Law" rule in Internet debate, that you should not analogize your opponents' beliefs with Nazi beliefs, should have one exception - when your opponents' beliefs are actually based on Nazi beliefs. Maybe we should call it the Yoo Exception to Godwin's Law.

Scott Horton at Balkinization makes an intriguing argument that the philosophical basis for both the Unitary Executive theory and the legal right to torture opponents in disregard for international law can be traced to a leading Nazi theorist, Carl Schmitt. The parallels are very clear, Schmitt took a brief respite from his anti-semitism to help the neo-conservative Ubermensch, Leo Straus, and Schmitt's translated work is available to the neoconservative field. John Yoo, the pro-torture law professor from UC Berkeley, could well have drawn from that source when he provided legal cover for disregarding the Geneva Conventions as a Bush Administration lawyer.

It's an interesting argument, but hard to prove (I suppose one could start by asking Yoo and seeing what he says). If Yoo's earlier work dealt with this stuff, that might make it easier to find the connections. I'd love to learn if the Yoo Exception applies here.

In other news, the Bush Administration dragged its feet on explosives detection, including liquid explosives detection.

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