John Yoo Lawyer: Critics Are Partisans

New head of "torture memo" author's old office called out

By Jackson West
|  Tuesday, Feb 23, 2010  |  Updated 3:15 PM PDT
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John Yoo Lawyer: Critics Are Partisans

Susan Walsh / AP

Lawyers for John Yoo feel that somehow criticizing Yoo's decisions to allow the torture of suspects is a partisan issue.

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Counsel representing former Bush administration lawyer and current University of California at Berkeley professor John Yoo are arguing that critics of the infamous "torture memo" author are simply partisan hacks.

Those critics include Dawn Johnsen, whom President Barack Obama has appointed to head the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.

That group advises the president on legal matters. Yoo served on it when he wrote the memos which classified detainees in a Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, jail as "enemy combatants" on whom "enhanced interrogation techniques" could be used because they weren't protected by the Geneva Convention barring torture.

One of those detainees was American citizen Jose Padilla, who has brought a suit against Yoo in federal court, accusing Yoo of authorizing the sleep deprivation and death threats guards tried to ply him with while in a Navy brig.

At the request of defendants, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is looking in to the decision by a federal judge not to dismiss the case.

Johnsen has argued that Yoo's opinions violated legal standards. Additionally, Yoo's legal peer at Cal, Robert Cole, filed a brief arguing that lawyers advising the president, like Yoo and Johnsen, should apply ethical standards to their work.

Miguel Estrada, Yoo's lawyer, argues that the criticisms are "absurd" and simply partisan political attacks.

Jackson West wonders how you can argue critics are partisan when the Obama administration has picken up Bush-era legal opinions and run with them.

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