John Yoo Is Safe in Berkeley But Not in Spain

The University of California defends the infamous torture professor while a Spanish Court moves toward indicting him. Plus, the City of Oakland has some bad karma.

UC Berkeley law school Dean Christopher Edley has reaffirmed his
position that professor John Yoo is in no danger of losing his job. In
an op-ed published in the Contra Costa Times last weekend, Edley
repeated his stance from last year that there is basically nothing that
the university can do to Yoo unless he is convicted of a crime. Edley’s
piece came in response to a CC Times and Oakland Tribune
editorial that expressed concerns that the university intended to
punish the man most responsible for enabling torture. Edley assured the
newspapers that he had no such intention.

In fact, Edley seemed to be taken aback by the assertion that the
university might go after Yoo. The dean argued that the university has
no choice but to leave Yoo alone, because even though it’s home to some
of the smartest people on the planet, it simply “does not have the
institutional competence to conduct investigations involving classified
intelligence.” Never mind the fact that some of Yoo’s classified work,
including one his torture memos, has been public for more than a year.
Never mind that one of his now-public memos clearly authorized torture.
Never mind that scholars from both the left and right have publicly
excoriated Yoo’s legal scholarship. And never mind the fact that Yoo’s
work was so abhorrent that George W. Bush’s own administration was
forced to renounce it, repeatedly. And yet UC Berkeley, one of the
great academic institutions in the world, doesn’t have the brainpower
to cope with something so complicated as John Yoo?

Tell that to Spain. Because it looks like a Spanish court has plenty
of “institutional competence” to go after Yoo as part of a sweeping war
crimes investigation into top Bush administration officials who gave
legal cover for torture. Along with Yoo, the court is looking at former
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; former undersecretary of defense for
policy Douglas Feith; former Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of
staff David Addington; Justice Department lawyer Jay Bybee (who was
Yoo’s boss, and is now a federal judge); and Pentagon General Counsel
William Haynes, who now works for Chevron in San Ramon.

According to the Associated Press, human rights lawyers brought the
case to leading anti-terror judge Baltasar Garzon, who agreed to send
it on to prosecutors to decide whether it has merit. Garzon is best
known for bringing charges against former Chilean dictator Augusto
Pinochet in 1998. Interestingly, the Spaniards view Yoo and the other
lawyers as being more legally culpable than Bush and Cheney or the
torturers themselves. But luckily for Yoo, both UC Berkeley and the
editorial pages of the East Bay’s two major dailies have his back.

Dellums’ Incompetence, Oakland’s

It was a rough week for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. First came the
news that the families of two of the four slain police officers refused
to allow him to speak at the huge funeral at Oracle Arena. Then came
the revelation that the reason was a concern that he would botch the
dead cops’ names. The mayor, you see, had done it before. Last year, he
repeatedly messed up the name and rank of police Lieutenant Derrick
Norfleet at his funeral. Dellums reportedly referred to the dead
officer as “Fleetwood.”

Some cops were so aghast at what Dellums had done that they left
specific instructions not to allow the mayor to speak at their funerals
for fear he would do it again, according to a report by Oakland
columnist Tammerlin Drummond. Dellums’ staff then mounted a
furious and ill-advised, behind-the-scenes campaign to overrule the
wishes of the slain cops and their families, so that the mayor could
speak. Thankfully, they failed.

The Don Is on Deck

Meanwhile, as Dellums stumbles through the second half of his term,
the leading candidate to replace him appears to be none other than Don
Perata. You know, the former state Senate President Pro Tem who has
been the target of an FBI public corruption probe for more than five
years. Perata touted his gun-control credentials and told the San
Francisco Chronicle
that he feels vindicated by the fact that he
has not yet been charged with taking bribes or kickbacks. Honestly,
what did Oakland ever do to deserve this?

It’s not as if the city ever embraced torture.

Three-Dot Roundup

As Major League Baseball appointed a task force to find the Oakland
A’s a new ballpark, team co-owner Lew Wolff agreed to sit down with
Dellums to talk about keeping the team from leaving. Hopefully, the
mayor will remember Wolff’s name. … On a positive note, Dellums did
make one smart move. He finally fired Leslie Littleton, the aide who
helped Yusuf Bey IV, the likely mastermind of the murder of journalist
Chauncey Bailey. … In a surprise move, a judge reversed himself and
threw out Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks’ libel suit against
Chron columnist Chip Johnson, saying that it didn’t matter after
all that Johnson may have printed falsehoods about her. … Lieutenant
Governor John Garamendi might give state Senator Mark DeSaulnier a real
fight in the race to replace Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher. … Ex-state
Senator John Burton, a pre-Internet dinosaur who says he doesn’t even
own a computer, is the strange but top choice to lead the next
generation of state Democrats. … The California drought likely will
lead to tougher water rationing this summer. … And Iowa turned out to
be more progressive than California when its state Supreme Court
unanimously legalized gay marriage.


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