Yoo before his Chapman debate.
Yoo before his Chapman debate.
Photo by Christopher Victorio

The Heat is Back on John Yoo

The April 21 morning "terror memo" lawyer John Yoo appeared at the Chapman University debate, President Barack Obama said it would be up to his attorney general whether to prosecute former Bush administration advisors like Yoo. Since that day in Memorial Hall, the heat has turned up on AG Eric Holder to push the case forward, the U.S. Senate is leaning toward its own probe and, as many believed would happen, Spain's top investigative judge formally launched a new criminal investigation into allegations of torture at Guantánamo Bay and other U.S. prison camps that will target the "possible material authors, enablers and accomplices" of the illegal abuse of detainees.

In his strongly worded court order, Judge Baltasar Garzón indicated that he would investigate the role of high-level Bush administration officials in what he called an "authorized and systematic plan for torture and harsh treatment of people deprived of their freedom without any charges and without the most basic elemental rights for detainees, set forth and demanded by international treaties."

Garzón did not name any specific Bush administration officials in his announcement, although he did say he is also seeking to have the criminal complaint of a Spanish human-rights organization against the so-called "Bush Six" recently reassigned by the chief judge of the Audiencia Nacional to Judge Eloy Velasco, referred back to him for purposes of consolidation with his new preliminary investigation. The targets of that complaint are former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, former chief of staff to the vice president David Addington, former general counsel of the Department of Defense William J. Haynes II, former undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith, former assistant attorney general and current federal judge in California's ninth U.S. district Jay Bybee and Yoo, the former deputy assistant attorney general and now professor of law at UC Berkeley.

Yoo spent the spring semester as a visiting professor at Chapman's School of Law. Debating presidential power against Chapman law professors and former federal prosecutors Katherine Darmer and Lawrence Rosenthal, Yoo said, "I do not endorse" an investigation into his role in the terror memos. His debate partner, Chapman law school dean John C. Eastman, also rejected the notion on grounds that the U.S. did not torture and what's actually in the memos is being misrepresented.


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