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Thursday, June 10, 2004

U of C connection to torture memos 

I've been wanting to post about how it was very likely that two law professors closely associated with the University of Chicago Law School were involved in drafting these hideous and odious torture memos. I wasn't sure what to write, especially considering it could come very close to libel. But reader and fellow UC Law grad CB sent me an article from that pinko rag the Financial Times. Jack Goldsmith, hero to law school ass kissers since he came to U of C, was a tenured prof and a so-called "rising star" in conservative legal communities (societies) before he went to work for the government in 2002. I think he was in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department, but he may have been at the DOD. I'm not sure. Goldsmith is now professor of law at UVA. John Yoo is a Federalist Society hero and was a visiting prof at UC this past year. According to the article he's now at Berkeley. Excerpt:
Government lawyers have traditionally kept their clients - the president and top officials - out of trouble. Critics say the Bush administration has turned that on its head.

"It's the lawyers pushing the envelope, trying to eliminate restrictions rather than asserting them," says Tom Malinowski, a former lawyer for the National Security Council who works for Human Rights Watch.

Several current and former administration lawyers, including Jack Goldsmith, the head of the Justice Department's office of legal counsel and a former Pentagon special counsel, and John Yoo, a former deputy in the division, argued before entering the administration that international law could not constrain executive action.

Mr Yoo, now a professor at Berkeley, dismisses criticisms about the ethics of those who drew up the document as "groundless and without merit. It's clear what the memo does. It explains what the law is." It "tries to figure out what lines are drawn by different treaties and statutes", noting that Congress "set a very high definition on what torture is".

Mr Yoo denies the report was intended to free the hands of policymakers. "It's an abstract analysis of the meaning of a treaty and a statute." Critics are "confusing the difference between law and moral choice".

Mr Goldsmith did not return a phone call.

...

The most contentious claim is that the president's authority as commander-in-chief during wartime overrides congressional prohibitions on torture. "The idea that these laws can't be enforced against the executive branch just doesn't make any sense," says Gregory Maggs, a George Washington University law professor who advised the administration on the creation of the Guantánamo military tribunals.

Many legal experts wonder how such questions about torture came to be asked, even in the face of the terrorist threat. "These lawyers and officials seem oblivious to the first question that any law-of-war expert must ask: 'Would we tolerate such treatment of US prisoners?' " says David Scheffer, a former US ambassador for war crimes. "If the answer is no, then the subject is closed."
As CB said in the email to me accompanying this article: Coming late to class? WRONG!!! Torture? Not such a big deal.**

**Goldsmith was notorious for just losing his shit if you showed up even one second late. If he couldn't handle the hardship of that, I wonder how he'd fair in a beatdown that caused a U.S. soldier permanent brain damage.
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