Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Can Professor John Yoo Be Sued for Allegedly Authorizing Torture?

According to the Ninth Circuit, the answer is no.

A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that included two Democratic appointees ruled Wednesday that the former Bush administration lawyer cannot be sued personally for allegedly authorizing the torture and months-long detention of an American citizen deemed an enemy combatant.

The court ruled that 10 years ago, when Yoo was with Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, it was not "beyond debate" that suspected terrorists were entitled to the same constitutional protections as ordinary accused criminals. In fact, the court held, that law remains unsettled to this day.

According to the court, Yoo enjoys qualified immunity.  The plaintiff was Jose Padilla, who was denied access to counsel or his family for 21 months. “Padilla alleged that he was placed in stress positions, deprived of sleep, exposed to extreme temperatures and threatened with torture and death as part of a systematic program of abusive interrogation.”

Padilla is no saint. He is now serving 17 years for conspiracy.  Here’s the article from The Recorder.


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