Insert Obvious Yoo Pun Here


There's currently a petition battle being waged by opposing factions of the Boalt community. The controversy arises out of a memo written by Boalt Professor John Yoo when he was a Deputy Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, concluding that certain detainees in the War on Terror were not entitled to the protections of the Geneva Convention. The anti-Yoo folks have put up this petition, which "does not constitute an attack on academic freedom" in exactly the same way that Catherine Ahn's anti-Squelch bill* did not constitute an attack on freedom of speech.

Meanwhile, the not-necessarily-pro-Yoo-but-pro-academic-freedom-nonetheless camp have this thing going, which is currently making the e-mail rounds under he painfully uncreative subject line "Got Rights?". I almost didn't sign the damn thing out of disgust for the use of "Got _____?"

Anyway, I urge you to sign either or both petitions as you see fit, regardless of your Boalt affiliation or lack thereof. The Anti-Yoo petition has a strong lead, but if you look at the comments a lot of signatures are sarcastic/ironic/otherwise insincere.

People have been posting on other blogs about the merits of the petition, but I'm not going to link to those other blogs because they're lame. For the record, I don't think that advising someone of a legal conclusion constitutes aiding and abetting a war crime, and I support the hiring of mouth-breathing conservative professors at Boalt as long as their qualifications are otherwise in order.

* The online version of the Daily Cal is as shitty as the print version, so the website isn't up at the time of posting.


I'm curious about how many of the petition signers actually read the memo in question. I did read it (msnbc had it cut up into 5 or so .pdf files) and I frankly don't understand the outrage. He's simply giving his view of the state of the law, not saying "torture them all, I command you." Considering what a mess international law is, his interpretation of it is at least as good as anyone else's, and probably a good bit better.

I'm with you B. His interpretation kicks ass:

Boalt Professor, John Yoo: A response to criminal action by individual soldiers should begin with the military justice system, rather than efforts to impose a one-size-fits-all policy to cover both Iraqi saboteurs and al Qaeda operatives. That is because the conflict with al Qaeda is not governed by the Geneva Conventions, which applies only to international conflicts between states that have signed them. Al Qaeda is not a nation-state, and its members--as they demonstrated so horrifically on Sept. 11, 2001--violate the very core principle of the laws of war by targeting innocent civilians for destruction. While Taliban fighters had an initial claim to protection under the Conventions (since Afghanistan signed the treaties), they lost POW status by failing to obey the standards of conduct for legal combatants: wearing uniforms, a responsible command structure, and obeying the laws of war.

As a result, interrogations of detainees captured in the war on terrorism are not regulated under Geneva. This is not to condone torture, which is still prohibited by the Torture Convention and federal criminal law. Nonetheless, Congress's definition of torture in those laws--the infliction of severe mental or physical pain--leaves room for interrogation methods that go beyond polite conversation. Under the Geneva Convention, for example, a POW is required only to provide name, rank, and serial number and cannot receive any benefits for cooperating.

The reasons to deny Geneva status to terrorists extend beyond pure legal obligation. The primary enforcer of the laws of war has been reciprocal treatment: We obey the Geneva Conventions because our opponent does the same with American POWs. That is impossible with al Qaeda. It has never demonstrated any desire to provide humane treatment to captured Americans. If anything, the murders of Nicholas Berg and Daniel Pearl declare al Qaeda's intentions to kill even innocent civilian prisoners. Without territory, it does not even have the resources to provide detention facilities for prisoners, even if it were interested in holding captured POWs.

Got my foot up your ass? Got a surprise punch-in-the cock? You signed the petition anyway.... now your soul belongs to me.

Obvious Yoo pun:-

I know - terrible...

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This page contains a single entry by hb published on May 28, 2004 9:37 PM.

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