Obama lawyers set to defend Yoo
By: Josh Gerstein
January 28, 2009 09:49 AM EST
In Democratic legal circles, no attorney has been more pilloried than former Bush Justice Department official John Yoo, chief author of the so-called torture memos that Barack Obama last week sought to nullify.
But now President Obama’s incoming crew of lawyers has a new and somewhat awkward job: defending Yoo in federal court.
Next week, Justice Department lawyers are set to ask a San Francisco federal judge to throw out a lawsuit brought against Yoo by Jose Padilla, a New York man held without charges on suspicion of being an Al Qaeda operative plotting to set off a “dirty bomb.”
The suit contends that Yoo’s legal opinions authorized Bush to order Padilla’s detention in a Navy brig in South Carolina and encouraged military officials to subject Padilla to aggressive interrogation techniques, including death threats and long-term sensory deprivation.
That’s not all. On Thursday, Justice Department lawyers are slated to be in Charleston, S.C., to ask a federal magistrate there to dismiss another lawsuit charging about a dozen current and former government officials with violating Padilla’s rights in connection with his unusual detention on U.S. soil, without charges or a trial.
The defendants in that case are like a who’s who of Bush administration boogeymen to Obama’s liberal followers — former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz and former Attorney General John Ashcroft.