February 28, 2010

DON'T KNOW WHAT MR. CAMPOS WAS TAUGHT IN SCHIOOL...:

What the Torture Prof Teaches: After authorizing torture for the Bush administration, John Yoo has returned to Berkeley Law School without any apparent professional repercussions. Paul Campos on what Yoo's students can learn from him. (Paul Campos, 2/28/10, Daily Beast)

Yoo’s continuing and apparently permanent position on the faculty of one of the nation’s leading law schools does have some significant educational value for his students. For one thing, I am reliably informed that, when he’s not busy arguing that the president has the legal authority to massacre villages and crush the testicles of children, Professor Yoo teaches a very fine class in civil procedure.

Beyond that, having Yoo as one of their professors teaches Berkeley’s law students several valuable lessons.

First, if you’re a person of high social status and have good enough political connections, nothing will happen to you even if you commit the most serious crimes. (This applies even more obviously to Yoo’s former White House employers, but the fact that it’s impossible in this country to levy even the mildest professional sanctions against a mere law professor illustrates the absurdity of imagining it might be possible to actually prosecute the likes of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.) Second, the legal profession’s system of self-regulation is largely dedicated to protecting lawyers at almost any cost rather than protecting the public from the consequences of incompetent or immoral lawyering.

Third, legal argument is a sufficiently flexible tool that, under the right circumstances, it’s possible to argue successfully that torture isn’t torture , that laws which explicitly make no exceptions for exceptional circumstances actually do make exceptions for exceptional circumstances, that in time of war America is essentially a dictatorship, and that we are always at war. These are all very valuable lessons, which American law schools generally do their best to avoid conveying to the students. John Yoo’s brilliant career makes these lessons easier for his students–and are we not all, in this matter at least, his students?–to learn.


...but in my Con Law class we learned that if the war was ongoing the Court wouldn't be much bothered by a president having the military round up American citizens he thought suspicious and put them in concentration camps. Waterboarding a few foreigners seems pretty mild, especially by comparison.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 28, 2010 2:25 PM
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