The Question of ‘What to Do About Professor Yoo’?

Today is our first meeting in meatspace about the the alleged criminal Yoo. Many have asserted he is a war criminal, so I believe, there is no question but that he has played a role in BushCo.’s attempt to negate the Geneva Convention and simultaneously insulate themselves from prosecuting under that set of international laws. Many have likened him to a mob lawyer cranking out whatever bogus motions or pleas it takes to keep his bosses out of jail. He has not yet been found guilty of anything but other facts and customs apply to his maintaining his position as Professor of Law at Boalt Hall Law School. I will report back what the group discussion is late today. Please study this post and the relevant links, making comments as you see fit, as the answer to my question is neither simple nor easy to achieve. But as I have already said to more than one commenter about this:

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.’

-Dietrich Bonhoeffer

My involvement with this issue goes back several years to when I found out that the despicable Yoo is a tenured Professor of Law at Boalt Hall Law School which is part of my alma mater the University of California at Berkeley. This fact I considered, and still do, a stain on my school’s reputation of which I generally am very proud. I have written on more than one occasion to the then Dean of Boalt and the President of the UC system asking that Yoo be sent packing. I have made it clear that I will not be receptive to any requests for help from the University until he is gone.

I have never received a single reply to my letters.


There is a renewed interest in this situation resulting from the full release of what is called the ‘Yoo Torture Memo’, bet the grandkids will love talking about that with their schoolmates John, and subsequent outrage of what the actual memo reveals: That Professor Yoo really, really is not a very good lawyer. I believe that his shoddy work on this vile document will be his undoing but we will see. Here is a link to one of looseheadprop’s analysis of the memo from a lawyer’s perspective, the comments are very informative also, read the whole thing. Looseheadprop makes a convincing argument that Professor Yoo’s work to enable Bush to assert dictatorial powers is shoddy, incomplete and, most importantly, wrong in the law because Yoo ignores what the Supreme Court of the United States has already ruled as to the President’s war-time powers. Emptywheel and Brad DeLong have also posted on this issue at their blogs: Empty Wheel and Grasping at Reality I highly recommend going there, using the search feature, and reading what you find. There are several hours of reading there if you get into the comments, which I also recommend strongly, not only is it all very informative I feel you need to know at least some of what’s already been said by others to understand what my recommendation for action against Boalt and Yoo is and why it is what it is.

By no means is my recommendation the only method by which we can express ourselves as to Yoo’s activities and work but is one that can work. Disbarment is not an option as Yoo does not belong to the
California bar not is he licensed to practice in the state as far as I or anyone else has been able to determine.

Here in the form of a comment from one of the readers of this Brad DeLong post where Professor DeLong, Economics UCB ruminates about bring the issue of Yoo’s dismissal before the Faculty Senate is where I think things stand now:

Edley (the Dean of Boalt Hall who has issued a statement that he can’t fire Yoo due to….whatever) does a good job of distinguishing between the various objections that people have no doubt raised with him about Yoo. I do think

he missed a couple things, though.

Yoo may not be as culpable as Bush and Rumsfeld, but surely he bears *some* responsibility for the advice he provided to them. This is

what conspiracy law is all about, right? “No, I didn’t rob the bank — I just gave the guys who did some guns, told them to be careful

where they point them, and drove them to the corner on which the bank sits.”

Academic freedom, as Edley says, must be maintained. On the other hand, so must academic quality and rigor. At some point, Edley as

Dean must answer the question: “Is Yoo’s understanding of the Constitution, the separation of powers, and the role of the judiciary so

far outside the mainstream that it places the education of our students at risk?” Is a criminal conviction the only way in which Edley

could answer “Yes” to that question?

Of the two questions Edley asks at the end, the first is the one that caught my eye. In looseheadprop’s series of posts at FDL

dissecting elements of Yoo’s memo, she’s raised questions of academic misconduct. Yoo claims that his citations say one thing while in

actuality they say/mean the opposite, and he fails to grapple with one of the most fundamental war powers cases anywhere in the memo

(Youngstown). The latter is an error so basic that one questions either his grasp of the subject (not likely, given his course reading

lists) or his motives as a lawyer (whether he consciously twisted the law to please his clients).

Both of these are academic misconduct issues — not policy issues — and neither is defensible under the rubric of “academic freedom.”

About the only thing worse, from an academic point of view, would be outright plagarism. Absent a criminal conviction, this is where

Yoo is most vulnerable.

Keep after him, LHP!

That is, the surest route to removing Yoo from the national scene is petitioning the UCB Faculty Senate to terminate him for incompetence as a lawyer. This would do two significant things:

First, publicly rebuke a member of the NeoCon cabal which is attempting to engineer a change in our government making the office of the President the ‘Office of the Dictator’.

Second, deeply undercut the ‘Torture Memo’s and all other work by Yoo’s validity. Thus making the cabal’s job much more difficult.

Please feel free to jump in in the comments and give us your thoughts.

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