Padilla sues "Torture Memos" author John Yoo

The once-accused dirty bomber has targeted Yoo as the architect of the legal theories that allegedly resulted in Padilla's torture.


Alex Koppelman
January 5, 2008 2:25AM (UTC)

Jose Padilla, the man once accused of harboring a desire to set off a dirty bomb before he was convicted on lesser terror-related charges, has long maintained that he was tortured while being detained as an enemy combatant. Today, Padilla began an effort to hold responsible one of the men who provided the Bush administration's legal justification for the kind of actions allegedly taken against him, filing suit against John Yoo, the former deputy assistant attorney general.

Yoo, who has since left government service and is currently a professor at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, is most infamous for being the author of a group of legal opinions known as the "Torture Memos." He's also known for his seemingly cold calculation over a question of whether the president could order the crushing of a child's testicles. (Yoo's answer was that there was no treaty that could stop the president. When the questioner then prompted, "Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo." Yoo responded, "I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that.")

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Padilla's suit is not yet available on the federal court system's electronic database, but Andrew Sullivan has snippets on his blog. In their complaint, Padilla's lawyers write:

"Defendant John Yoo, along with other senior officials, deliberately removed Mr. Padilla from due process protections traditionally available to U.S. citizens ... Defendant Yoo and other senior officials then personally formulated and/or approved and/or failed to act upon actual or constructive knowledge of, a systematic program of illegal detention and interrogation, which was specifically designed to inflict, and did inflict, severe physical and mental pain and suffering on Mr. Padilla ... Defendant Yoo personally provided numerous legal memoranda that purported to provide to senior government officials a legal basis to implement an extreme and unprecedented interrogation and detention program -- even though such tactics are unprecedented in U.S. history and clearly contrary to the U.S. Constitution and the law of war."

This isn't the first time someone has attempted to hold Yoo responsible for his actions; he was included in an earlier attempt made in Germany to prosecute former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and others for war crimes.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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