Category Archive 'John Yoo'

02 Apr 2008

John Yoo Memo Released

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Baltimore Sun:

Part 1

Part 2

Sample (from Part 1): On why Due Process is not applicable to war-time military operations:

The strictures that bind the Executive in its role as a magistrate enforcing the civil laws have no place in constraining the President in waging war:

    Soldiers regularly in the service have the license of the government to deprive men,the active enemies of the government, of their liberty and lives; their commission so to act is as perfect and legal as that of a judge to adjudicate …. Wars never have been and never can be conducted upon the principle that an army is but a posse comitatis ofa civil magistrate..

Military Commissions, 11 Op.Att’y Gen. 297, 301-02 (1865) (emphasis added); see also The Modoc Indian Prisoners, 14 Op. Att’y Gen. 249, 252 (1873) (“it cannot be pretended that a United States soldier is guilty of murder if he kills a public enemy in battle, which would be the case if the municipal law was in force and, applicable to an· act committed under such circumstances”).. As Attorney General Speed conciuded, the Due Process Clause has no application to the conduct of a military campaign:

    That portion of the Constitution which declares that ‘no person shall be deprived… of his life,liberty, or property without due process of law,’ has such direct reference to, and connection with, trials for crime or criminal prosecutions that comment upon it would seem to be unnecessary. Trials for offences against the laws of war are not embraced or intended to be embraced in those provisions…. The argument that flings around offenders against the laws of war these guarantees of the Constitution would convict all the soldiers of our anny of murder; no prisoners could be taken and held; the anny could not move. The absurd consequences that would of necessity flow from .such an argument show that it cannot be the true construction-it cannot be what was intended by the framers of the instrument. One of the prime motives for the Union and a federal government was to confer the powers of war. If· any provisions of the .. Constitution are so in conflict with the power to carry on war as to destroy and make it valueless, then the instrument,instead of being a great and wise one, is a miserable failure “a felo de se.”

I thought it was a fine piece of work, placing the issues in the correct historical perspective, citing proper precedents, and arriving at just and accurate conclusions. The Bush Administration ought to have released it immediately upon its production, and staunchly publicly defended it.

10 Jan 2008

Yale Law Clinic Harrasses Alumnus on Behalf of Terrorist

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The Wall Street Journal notes a certain irony in the characteristic choice of pro bono activity expressive of today’s cultural values at an elite institution like Yale Law School.

John Yoo can be forgiven if he’s having second thoughts about his career choice. A Yale Law School graduate, the Berkeley professor of law went on to serve his country at the Justice Department. Yet last week he was sued by convicted terrorist Jose Padilla and his mother, who are represented by none other than lawyers at Yale. Perhaps if Mr. Yoo had decided to pursue a life of terrorism, he too could be represented by his alma mater.

Padilla is the American citizen who was arrested in 2002, and detained as an “enemy combatant” in a military brig in Charleston, S.C., under suspicion of plotting to set off a radioactive “dirty bomb” in a U.S. city. Padilla fought his detention on Constitutional grounds, losing his case in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In January 2006, the feds transferred him out of military custody to be tried in civilian court in Miami. The dirty bomb charge was never filed because the military hadn’t read him his Miranda rights or provided him a lawyer when he was interrogated. A jury nonetheless took a day and half last August to convict him of conspiracy to murder, kidnap and maim people overseas. Padilla could get life in prison.

Mr. Yoo is the former deputy assistant attorney general who wrote memos laying out some of the legal parameters in the war on terror. Those memos most famously pertained to interrogation techniques, some of which were used against such enemy combatants as Padilla. Mr. Yoo long ago returned to Berkeley, and we are happy to say he sometimes writes for us.

Now, years later, Mr. Yoo is being harassed by a lawsuit claiming he is personally liable for writing those memos as a midlevel government official. “Defendant Yoo subjected Mr. Padilla to illegal conditions of confinement and treatment that shocks the conscience in violation of Mr. Padilla’s Fifth Amendment Rights to procedural and substantive due process,” the complaint asserts.

But Padilla’s rights weren’t violated, and certainly not by Mr. Yoo, whose legal arguments at the time were accepted by his superiors, including Attorney General John Ashcroft. The decision to hold Padilla as an enemy combatant was made by President Bush, and defended in court by executive branch lawyers. They won that case in the most senior court in which it was heard, in an opinion written by then-Judge Michael Luttig of the Fourth Circuit. The Bush Administration later transferred Padilla to be tried in the Miami court, and the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal. Padilla got his day in court — on both Constitutional and criminal grounds — and lost.

What we really have here is less a tort claim than a political stunt intended to intimidate government officials. Nothing in the claim will change Padilla’s future, and the suit asks for only $1 in damages, plus legal fees. Instead, the suit seeks “a judgment declaring that the acts alleged herein are unlawful and violate the Constitution and laws of the United States.” In short, the Yale attorneys are using Padilla as a legal prop in one more attempt to find a judge willing to declare that the Bush Administration’s antiterror policies are illegal. And if it can harass Mr. Yoo with bad publicity and legal costs along the way, so much the better.

This is nasty business and would have damaging consequences if it worked. Government officials have broad legal immunity (save for criminal acts) precisely so they can make decisions without worrying about personal liability. If political appointees can be sued years later for advice that was accepted by their superiors, we will soon have a government run not by elected officials but by tort lawyers and judges.

The antiwar left has failed to overturn U.S. policies in Congress, or by directly challenging the government in court. So its latest tactic is suing third parties, such as the telephone companies that cooperated on al Qaeda wiretaps after 9/11. And now it is suing former government officials, hoping to punish them and deter future appointees from offering any advice that the left dislikes.

Which brings us back to Yale. The real litigant here is the National Litigation Project at the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School. That sounds august, but this is really a leftwing bucket shop using Yale’s sponsorship to achieve antiwar policy goals via lawsuit. We trust the dean of Yale Law, Harold Koh, is proud of suing an alumnus on behalf of a terrorist, and that Yale’s other alumni know how their donations are being used.

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