Is John Yoo a Monster?

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"It seems grotesque, doesn't it? To sit in a comfortable classroom as the future lawyers of America clack away on their laptops, parsing definitions with the man whose legal mind turned America into a torturing nation?"

By John H. Richardson

Esquire magazine

May 13, 2008

He is the young Justice Department lawyer -- thirty-four at the time -- who wrote the Bush administration's first decisions on prisoner detention, interrogation, habeas corpus, military commissions, and the Geneva Conventions. He is the man who defined torture as pain equivalent to "death or organ failure," who said that the president could crush the testicles of a child to make his father talk, who picked the lock on Pandora's box and unleashed the demons of Abu Ghraib. He's been accused of war crimes and compared to the Nazi lawyers who justified Hitler. Many good Americans would like to see him fired, shamed, even imprisoned. But in his classroom at Berkeley School of Law, John Yoo is a charming and patient teacher, popular with students and cordial to all. He's wearing an elegant blue suit offset by a shiny silver tie. His face is more like a shield than a face, expressionless and almost perfectly round, but his voice is relaxed and warm. At this moment, he's trying to get his students to define war. "So Judge Tatel says it's not so hard to say what a war is -- casualties. What else?"

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This page contains a single entry published on June 9, 2008 12:18 PM.

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