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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Law Students with a Conscience

posted by Jazz at 6/09/2004 08:02:00 AM


Out in California, at the University of California at Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, they held their 2004 graduation recently. A number of students wore red arm bands over their gowns. Why? As reported in this article by FindLaw's Julie Hilden, they were protesting one of their professors. Apparently John Yoo was co-author of a memorandum written in 2002, when he served in the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, giving a legal basis for the Bush administration and our national security forces, to ignore the Geneva Conventions when it comes to people who are even suspected of being members of al Qaeda or other terrorist organizations.

The students apparently felt that this was tantamount to aiding and abetting a war criminal.

The author gives Yoo some measure of benefit of the doubt, saying;
Granted, Yoo and his co-author did not specifically take up the issue of abuse and torture, and were very clear that their memo covered only legal, not policy issues. But they must have known the possibility of torture was a real one, and the memo lacked any stern caveats about legal or moral issues. And in the international law arena, the lines between law, policy, and ethics can be unclear -- suggesting an especially great need for caveats.

However, it is made clear that Bush was looking for legal advisors who could create a basis to justify abuse of prisoners. John Yoo, however, went even one step better and declared that the president was above the oversight of the courts in these matters.

At the same time that Yoo advised the president that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees at Guantanamo and elsewhere, he also advised, in a separate memo, that no U.S. court can review claims by Guantanamo detainees saying that they are innocent of any crime, and are not even members of such groups in the first place.

This advice the author views as "morally suspect" and having the potential to lead to abuse.

Ya think?