Imagine what would have happened if the Obama administration had been running things immediately following 9/11. After their “arrest,” we would have read [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] and [Abu Faraj al-Libi] their Miranda rights, provided them legal counsel, sent them to the U.S. for detention, and granted them all the rights provided a U.S. citizen in criminal proceedings.
If this had happened, the CIA could not have built the intelligence mosaic that pinpointed bin Laden’s location. Without the intelligence produced by Bush policies, the SEAL helicopters would be idling their engines at their Afghanistan base even now. In the war on terror, it is easy to pull the trigger — it is hard to figure out where to aim.
– Professor John Yoo, in an opinion piece in today’s Wall Street Journal. While serving as a Justice Department official in the Bush Administration, Professor Yoo provided legal analysis supporting the application of enhanced interrogation techniques to terror detainees — techniques that may have yielded information used in locating Osama bin Laden.
(A counterpoint to Professor Yoo — we believe in presenting both sides here at Above the Law — appears after the jump.)
We took a muscular view of presidential authority. We were offering a bottom line to a client who wanted to know what he could do and what he couldn’t do. I wasn’t running a debating society, and I wasn’t running a law school.
– Ninth Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee, testifying to the House Judiciary Committee about his authorization of aggressive interrogation methods as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
If you happen to be on the frigid East Coast today, currently experiencing the coldest temperatures of the season, grab yourself a cup of cocoa and a copy of the Sunday New York Times. The NYT often has articles of interest to a legal audience, but this weekend’s edition has an especially high number of stories either by or about the boldface names of the legal profession. To wit:
1. Power of Attorney: Questions for John Yoo. Deborah Solomon interviews John Yoo, the Berkeley law professor perhaps most well-known for his authorship of the so-called “torture memos.” Considering her liberal politics and modus operandi as an interviewer — we’ve previously described her as “snarky, cranky, exceedingly direct” — we were expecting her to go to town on Yoo.
But Professor Yoo actually comes across very well in the short Q-and-A (and is looking newly svelte in the accompanying photo). He’s smart, funny, and charming — not a surprise to us, based on our personal interactions with him, but perhaps a surprise to some who know only the cartoon villain depicted by the mainstream media.
2. The 30-Minute Interview: Jonathan L. Mechanic. An interesting interview with real estate super-lawyer Jonathan Mechanic, chairman of the real estate department of Fried Frank (and previously profiled here). We learn that Mechanic, in addition to being a top real estate attorney, is also a real estate investor: he owns retail and commercial properties in Bergen County, NJ (where we grew up).
Three more stories, after the jump.
Tired of talking about terrorism, torture, and related topics? You might not be alone. At a Federalist Society discussion we attended on Tuesday night, entitled Do We Have the Legal Tools to Prevent Terrorist Attacks?, even some of the panelists wondered why these subjects still generate so much discussion, over seven years after the 9/11 attacks. (More about the panel later today.)
Similarly, when former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey made the war on terror the focus of his recent commencement address at UNC School of Law, some of the graduates (and their families) were less than pleased. From one attendee:
Michael Mukasey just spoke at UNC commencement and used the entire speech to cover his own ass on torture. It was wildly inappropriate for a graduation….
A lot of people were very upset. The speech hardly mentioned the students graduating, if at all, and was instead a 30-minute legal argument defending torture. He focused on Jose Padilla for most of the speech, basically talking about how bad of a person he was and how much information they got from him. People in the audience were walking out, including all ten members of my family who were present.
This is not the first time Mukasey has caused commencement controversy. See here (first paragraph), discussing events at Boston College Law School last year.
Some way harsh reviews of ex-AG Mukasey, after the jump.
* The Tax Workshop for Strippers & Sex Workers will be “specifically helpful to those who work as independent contractors, whether in a club or doing private work.” Nice try federal investigators, but they’ve already pulled this stunt on To Catch a Predator. [The Faculty Lounge via TaxProf Blog]
* If Michael Jackson songs are prohibited on American Idol, I strongly recommend canceling the show. [Popsquire]
* When I first heard the term “waterboarding,” I thought it sounded like a delightful sport. [Brad DeLong: Notes]
* House Democrats oppose Senate spy bill’s telecom immunity. [Washington Post]
* Justice Scalia approves of “so-called torture” under some circumstances. [MSNBC]
* Just a few months later, Senate committee gets around to admonishing Sen. Craig. [CNN]
* Clemens and McNamee go head to head before Congress. [ESPN]
* City’s scantily clad cowboy sues candy-coated counterpart. [WSJ Law Blog]
Not everyone likes Attorney General Michael Mukasey. At Boston College Law School, students are protesting Dean John Garvey’s decision to invite Attorney General Mukasey to deliver the school’s 2008 Commencement address. See here (Facebook group: “Waterboarding IS Torture”), here, and here.
Why are liberals so unhappy about Mukasey? We’d expect the AG to receive a warmer reception, in light of this happy news, which made the pages of the Washington Post:
Five years after a gay advocacy group was told that it could no longer use the e-mail, bulletin boards and meeting rooms at the Justice Department, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey has reversed that decision and issued a revised equal-employment-opportunity policy barring discrimination against any group.
Mukasey informed leaders of DOJ Pride last week that the department would give it the same rights as all other DOJ employee organizations, said the group’s president, Chris Hook. In a statement, Mukasey said the department will “foster an environment in which diversity is valued, understood and sought” and maintain “an environment that’s free of discrimination.”
Writes a Department of Justice source:
Finally — now I can celebrate “Pride on Ice” anytime I want! Michael Mukasey gets two snaps in a circle for this decision!
* “T.Owes.” [ESPN]
* Rebates to $500? [CNN]
* AG Mukasey won’t label waterboarding. [MSNBC]
* Sen. McCain wins Florida, Rudy to bow out. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Federal inquiry into stolen artifacts expands. [New York Times]
* Margaret Truman, only child of President Truman and author of mysteries set at the Supreme Court and the FBI, RIP. [AP]
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