President Barack Obama is "reaping the benefits" of tough anti-terrorism tactics put into place by former President George W. Bush — tactics he hypocritically disapproves of and has been steadily weakening, former Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General John Yoo says.
"The Bush administration made a lot of investments to gain a huge amount of information about al-Qaida," Yoo told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
"The Obama administration has not been replenishing it, and so that's why we're being surprised all around the world — why we didn't know about Benghazi, why we haven't been able to keep up with the Syrian regime."
Yoo, now a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley, lamented the "wasting away" of the nation's intelligence assets under Obama.
"It's very much like [President Jimmy] Carter in the 1970s. He fired a lot of the CIA. We didn't know that Russia was going to invade Afghanistan," Yoo said Tuesday.
"We didn't know Russia was going to invade Crimea because Obama and his folks in the administration have really undermined and destroyed the CIA."
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Yoo — author of the new book "Point of Attack: Preventive War, International Law, and Global Welfare,"
published by Oxford University Press — was one of the architects of the government's use of enhanced interrogation techniques, including water-boarding.
He defended the use of those techniques as legal and effective and said critics remain unaware of the security threat the United States was under after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"These are all people who were never in the position of having to make a decision under the circumstances of one month, two months, three months after the 9/11 attacks . . . where terrorists killed 3,000 American citizens," Yoo said.
"We expected follow-up of attacks . . . [and] were lucky enough to capture the very top leaders of al-Qaida, who were not cooperating and they were not going to cooperate, they would rather die.
"The only way to stop future terrorist attacks is to get the information from them about what they're planning . . . So, it's easy to say, oh, you went too far, you shouldn't have done this . . . None of these critics ever has to answer the question, 'What would you do in that situation?'''
He said the Bush administration carefully followed the letter of the law when it explored the use of enhanced interrogation, which critics call torture.
"Would any government go through all the trouble and time and exercise we did to make sure that legally we were not torturing people?" Yoo asked.
That was the whole point . . . to say what does our law say, [what] we can and cannot do, and that was the important point."
Yoo complimented Obama's use of drones and pursuit and capture of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden.
"President Obama to his credit used drones and has gone after Osama Bin Laden, the top leadership of al-Qaida," he said.
"All of that is building and taking advantage of all the intelligence that was gathered from these interrogations [under the Bush administration]."
"They're reaping all the benefits from it, and to their credit, I want them to protect the country, I want them to be hypocrites and protect the country rather than to be true to their principles and allow another 9/11 attack to occur."
Yoo said critics have unfairly attacked Bush for claiming his power as commander in chief to take the initiative in war, while the Obama administration has repeatedly broken the law.
"The Constitution allows [what Bush did], but what the Constitution doesn't allow is the president to refuse to enforce laws domestically," Yoo said.
"The president has a duty and responsibility to take care the laws are faithfully executed unless they're unconstitutional, and none of these laws, immigration laws, healthcare laws, welfare, education.
"Plausibly, no one's claiming they're unconstitutional. He [Obama] is just doing it because he doesn't like the policy."
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