Anticipated Report To Clear Professor Yoo of Misconduct

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Report on John Yoo

Reporter Emma Anderson talks to Boalt law student Gretchen Gordon about a report that some view as too lenient on Professor John Yoo's role in the authorization of torture.

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A U.S. Department of Justice report will not find that John Yoo, a Boalt Hall School of Law professor, violated his professional obligations in his role as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Bush administration, Newsweek reported.

The report from the department's Office of Professional Responsibility will conclude that Yoo and Jay Bybee, another former Justice Department official, demonstrated poor judgment in authoring a 2002 memo that paved the way for harsh interrogation techniques and the alleged torture of suspected terrorists, according to Newsweek.

The report was softened from its original version, which said Yoo and Bybee had violated their professional obligations, a conclusion that could have meant a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action, Newsweek reported.

The news of the long-awaited report is a disappointment to groups critical of Yoo's actions during his tenure in the Bush administration, including the Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture, a group composed of campus law students who have actively opposed Yoo's continued employment at Boalt Hall.

"I was disappointed but not surprised," said Gretchen Gordon, a Boalt Hall law student and an organizer for Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture. "I don't want to downplay this kind of failure of the Justice Department."

She said the alliance launched a letter-writing campaign last November asking the department for a thorough investigation into Yoo's involvement in authorizing alleged torture.

Though the report offers a less harsh judgment of Yoo and Bybee's actions, the report will also provide more information regarding how questionable interrogation techniques such as waterboarding were adopted and what role Yoo played in the process, according to Newsweek.

"(The report) may establish facts that could lead to accountability through other ways," Gordon said.

She said the alliance will continue its cause against the use of torture and will now look to the U.S. Congress, the state of California and local groups to pursue further investigation.

"There are different organizations and branches of government that have the authority to ensure accountability and ... (this) failure doesn't relieve them of their duties," she said.

World Can't Wait, a nationwide activist organization, has also been active on campus in protest of Yoo's continued employment. In the past, members of the organization have donned orange jumpsuits to imitate Guantanamo Bay prisoners and have disrupted Yoo's law classes, whose locations are undisclosed this semester. World Can't Wait organizer Stephanie Tang said the group will continue its advocacy.

"This report is not at all the last word on this ongoing battle against torture," Tang said. "I think Bush and Cheney and their entire torture team should be prosecuted and brought to justice for crimes against humanity and war crimes. We will have more to say."

Boalt Hall spokesperson Susan Gluss said that until its formal release, the law school would not have an official position on the report. But in a statement released last August, Dean Christopher Edley said he doubted the Justice Department investigation would affect Yoo's employment at Boalt Hall.

"When the Attorney General releases the results of (the Department of Justice's) internal ethics investigation, I and many others will review it carefully and consider whether there are implications for this campus," Edley said in the memo. "In all candor, I doubt that there will be."


Emma Anderson covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected]

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