This tale of crime and no punishment has gone back and forth so many times that it's tempting to ignore this latest development, but John Yoo, Orange County's favorite torture enabler, may be back in deep doo-doo over his role in providing the legal justification for the Bush administration's practice of torturing terrorist suspects. Ever since President Obama stated that no government official was "above the law," speculation has abounded that Yoo, a Berkeley law professor who fled the Bay Area People's Republic for Orange County's friendlier, more conservative shores, might face criminal charges for basically serving as a mafia-style consigliere to the Bush administration.
According to a story that ran yesterday in the Christian Science Monitor, a San Francisco federal judge has ruled that Yoo, a visiting professor at Chapman Law School, can "be held personally responsible for the indefinite military detention and alleged torture of an American citizen who was suspected of involvement with Al Qaeda." The U.S. citizen in question, Jose Padilla, is the alleged "Dirty Bomber" who was arrested in Chicago on May 8, 2002 and charged with plotting to blow up buildings in that city. Although no evidence ever emerged that Padilla intended to carry out any such plot, Padilla acknowledged having visited terrorist training camps in Afghanistan.
After being held for two years in solitary confinement at a Navy brig in South Carolina, he was convicted in 2007 of conspiracy to commit murder. During his two-year imprisonment, Padilla reportedly had no contact with the outside world except with his interrogators and the occasional guard who pushed his food through a sliding panel in the front door of his jail cell. He had no window or clock in his room and therefore had no idea whether it was day or night. Guards also subjected him to sleep deprivation: he slept on a cold steel bunk with no mattress, constantly awoken by loud or terrifying noises.
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Similar lawsuits filed by other 9/11 detainees have been rejected by federal courts because they failed to demonstrate specific involvement of Bush administration officials in the alleged acts of torture. But Judge White ruled that Padilla's lawyers passed that test. "Here, in contrast, Padilla alleges with specificity that Yoo was involved in the decision to detain him and created a legal construct designed to justify the use of interrogation methods that Padilla alleges were unlawful. "Yoo set in motion a series of events that resulted in the deprivation of Padilla's constitutional rights."
We'll soon find out if Yoo faces any consequences for his actions--waterboarding anyone? Meanwhile, hats off to you, Yoo. You're a real American hero! And by hero, I mean douchebag.