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When Anonymity Fails, Be Nasty, Brutish and Short

David Addington, left, under subpoena, and John Yoo, back by popular demand.
David Addington, left, under subpoena, and John Yoo, back by popular demand. (By Melina Mara -- The Washington Post)

"You're asking me to define what you mean by the word?"

"No, I'm asking you to define what you mean by the word 'implement,' " the exasperated lawmaker clarified.

"It can mean a wide number of things," Yoo demurred.

After several such dances around the questions (whether, for example, the president could order somebody buried alive), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) offered his grudging respect: "You guys are great on 'Beat the Clock,' " he said.

"I don't play basketball," replied the 41-year-old Yoo.

"That was a game show," Cohen explained.

But Yoo was not about to win a nastiness contest with Addington. As Wasserman Schultz questioned him, he put his chin in his hand, stroked his beard and cut off the congresswoman with an offer of advice "that may be helpful to you in asking your questions."

Schultz, declining the offer, asked him to describe an interrogation he witnessed at Guantanamo Bay. "You could look and see mouths moving," Addington answered. "I infer that there was communication going on."

Cohen asked Addington to explain his curious theory that the vice president is not part of the executive branch. Addington explained that the vice president "belongs to neither" branch but is "attached by the Constitution" to Congress.

"So he's kind of a barnacle?" Cohen inquired.

"I don't consider the Constitution a barnacle," Addington said reproachfully.

Cheney's Cheney continued to dole out the scorn ("You asked that question earlier, today, and I'll give you the same answer") until Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.), the last questioner, inquired about waterboarding. "I can't talk to you -- al-Qaeda may watch these meetings," Addington said.

"I'm glad they finally have a chance to see you, Mr. Addington," Delahunt joked.

"I'm sure you're pleased," Addington growled.

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