As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Why Are We Paying War Criminal John Yoo's Salary?

At my home site I took a look today at John Yoo's recently declassified memo, which is more responsible for torture and detainee abuse at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and throughout American prison sites abroad than practically any other document.

If you're interested in weeping, you can read the 81-page memo yourself.

Part 1

Part 2

Yoo simply made up a new set of executive powers that trumped the Geneva Conventions, domestic statutes against torture, and virtually the whole system of the law itself.

If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network. In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch's constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.

Kind of a "self-defense before the fact" belief, completely contrary to how the American legal system works [...] The closed loop here is self-perpetuating. The DoJ writes a memo saying that the President has virtually unlimited power in wartime. The CIA and the Pentagon then takes the memo and uses it as proof of legality for their crimes. So we have an executive branch validating the rest of the executive branch, essentially a one-branch government that writes, executes and adjudicates the law.

There is no question that John Yoo is a war criminal; he provided the legal theories that the executive branch follows to this day, even though the Defense Department vacated this particular memo in 2003.

Elsewhere in the piece I noted that Berkeley must be exceedingly proud. Yoo is a tenured law professor who has been teaching at the University of California since leaving the Justice Department. The UC, as we know, is a public university system paid for with 3.2% of the general fund budget. Full professors there can earn up to $164,700 a year annually.

That comes out of my hide. Your hide. John Yoo is making his living based on public payments through taxes and other receipts. And he is an unquestioned war criminal.

I believe in academic freedom and understand the slippery slope of removing a faculty member with tenure because of their political views. In a best-case scenario The Hague would be making the decision of when John Yoo leaves his cushy law professor job by dragging him off in leg irons. But failing that, there has to be at least some standard of competence and dignity among a public university. The shoddy logic and faulty reasoning in this declassified memo should be a firing offense alone; and the implications of that memo should be more than enough to cement that. Not only is John Yoo teaching your kids about the Constitution and the law, we're all paying him to do it. And so at the very least the UC Regents need to hear from everyone in California, expressing their disappointment that they are harboring a war criminal at their flagship school, and determining what they will seek to do about that.

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