Group to protest Yoo’s employment at law school commencement

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A San Francisco anti-war group will protest UC Berkeley School of Law professor John Yoo’s continued employment by the campus at Friday morning’s law school commencement ceremony at the Hearst Greek Theatre.

Members of the Bay Area chapter of national anti-war group World Can’t Wait are calling for protesters to speak out and bring signs and orange ribbons — items that represent protest according to the SF Bay World Can’t Wait website — to distribute to graduates and their guests.

“John Yoo teaching constitutional law to the next generation of lawyers and judges is a perverse mockery of what a law school education should be,” said World Can’t Wait spokesperson Stephanie Tang in a press release. “Yoo’s infamous disregard for, and destruction of, basic legal principles under the U.S. Constitution and international law, including the Geneva Conventions, renders him unfit to teach.”

Yoo, who is also a former deputy assistant attorney general, came under heavy scrutiny for authoring memos to the Bush administration concluding that an interrogation technique must cause damage equal “to the level of death, organ failure, or the permanent impairment of a significant body function” to be considered torture.

A federal appeals court last Wednesday threw out convicted terrorist Jose Padilla’s lawsuit accusing Yoo of authorizing illegal interrogation methods, ruling that because the definition of torture remained unsettled at the time Yoo authored the memos, he is protected from such lawsuits.

“(E)veryone needs a hobby,” Yoo said in an email. “For denizens of Berkeley, protesting makes for a neat distraction from working.”

Christopher Yee is an assistant news editor.