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"Torture Memos" author John Yoo talks about his relationship with former President Bush

Published December 29, 2009 11:30PM (EST)

The upcoming New York Times Magazine includes an interview of former Justice Department attorney and "Torture Memos" author John Yoo, conducted by Deborah Solomon. It turns out Yoo actually has a sense of humor, or an ability to fake one in playing along with Solomon, and that leads to some interesting exchanges between the two.

For example, Solomon and Yoo on his relationship with former President Bush:

Were you close to George Bush?

No, I’ve never met him. I don’t know Cheney either. I have not gone hunting with him, which is probably a good thing for me.

Weren’t you invited to the White House Christmas party during your two years at the Department of Justice?

I don’t think so. That’s the way the government works. There’s the attorney general, then the deputy attorney general and then an associate attorney general. Then there’s the assistant attorney general, who was the head of my office.

So you’re saying you were just one notch above an intern, you and Monica Lewinsky?

She was much closer to the president than I ever was.

And on the response to Yoo's employment at Berkeley:

I see various groups are protesting a decision by a California government lawyer to teach a course with you that starts on Jan. 12, claiming he is legitimizing your unethical behavior.

At Berkeley, protesting is an everyday activity. I am used to it. I remind myself of West Berlin — West Berlin surrounded by East Germany during the Cold War.

Are you saying the citizens of Berkeley are Communists, reminiscent of those on the dark side of the Iron Curtain?

There are probably more Communists in Berkeley than any other town in America, but I think of them more as lovers of Birkenstocks than Marx.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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