Friday, April 11, 2008

Something to Gnaw Over

The Dean of UC Berkeley's law school, Christopher Edley, Jr., has posted a statement arguing why he is not inclined to dismiss John Yoo from the faculty.

Viscerally, of course, I think John Yoo should be wrapped in manacles and a hood, flown around the world chained to the floor of a cargo plane, and subjected to a few years of the medicine he helped prescribe. But Edley makes a good case for there being insufficient grounds for firing Yoo according to official university policy. He also raises an emotional point which resonates with me: that rights like academic freedom mean nothing unless they also apply to unpopular points of view.

I'm still of the opinion that a larger "law" applies in this particular case, because I think Yoo failed to do his job as a counselor to the White House to a degree which I'd call criminally negligent, de facto if not de jure. It was not his job to act like a common criminal defense lawyer, looking for a technicality through which he could exonerate his client. It was his duty to represent the intention of United States law fairly, and he did the exact opposite. So, I'd still vote to dismiss Yoo* if it were up to me, but I do think Edley's argument is worth considering.

(h/t: Paul Kiel/TPM)

* I almost typed "to can Yoo," but that would have been silly. Besides, I couldn't figure out how to get "who" in there.


Anonymous said...

"...academic freedom mean nothing unless they also apply to unpopular points of view..."

This is not an issue of point of view, which he is welcome to regarding the actions of others. This was instead an action, which probably rises to the level of a war crime, and is in any event a felonious assault and battery. There is no 'academic shield' for such.

bjkeefe said...

Don: 99% of me agrees with you. I can only say that there is at least a theoretical point that the dean raises that I am unable to dismiss out of hand; to wit, Yoo supplied legal analysis only, and is not responsible for others acting upon it.

Maybe it's too much of a stretch to compare a White House counsel drawing up a brief with a professor writing a boundary-pushing paper for a legal journal, but I just can't make myself say with certainty that the dean is making the wrong call.

jiminy jilliker said...

I don't believe it's the school's place to do anything to John Yoo on account of his dangerous, horrid, intellectually and legally shoddy work for the Bush administration.

It was their place to not have hired him in the first place, but that ship has obviously sailed.

I do believe that Mr. Yoo should be subject to war crimes charges just like his administration patrons, though.

bjkeefe said...

JJ: Yup. That's about how I feel.