“That Yoo is me.”

May 4th, 2012

John Yoo takes a punny victory lap and celebrates his victory in Padilla v. Yoo:

Suppose a future president—let’s call him Mitt Romney—declares that last fall’s killing of al Qaeda leader (and American citizen) Anwar al-Awlaki amounted to an “assassination.” He orders a special prosecutor to pursue everyone from the drone pilot who pulled the trigger all the way to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and CIA Director David Petraeus. The murder investigation triggers lawsuits by Awlaki’s family, litigated gratis by law schools, human-rights groups and their legal allies, whose leaders the president later rewards with plum jobs.

Reverse the political polarities, and you have the counterterrorism policies of President Barack Obama. And that is the past—and the future—that I hope our nation escaped this week with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in Padilla v. Yoo. That Yoo is me.

And he really lays it into Holder, Koh, and the administration:

Nevertheless, a San Francisco trial judge felt that Padilla should have the right to sue me for my legal advice that the Constitution allows the military detention of Americans who join al Qaeda. It would have saved years of worrying about the litigation and potentially millions of dollars in legal fees for me to give in. Indeed, an Obama official even called to ask that I not appeal. In what must be Attorney General Eric Holder’s idea of subtlety, the Justice Department then withdrew as my legal counsel.

Only the intervention of Miguel Estrada, one of the nation’s finest criminal lawyers, gave me the freedom to fight on against the frivolous lawsuit, conducted for free by my alma mater Yale Law School. (Yale’s dean when the suit was filed in January 2008, Harold Koh, now serves as top lawyer for the State Department, where he has blessed the use of drones to kill Americans who have joined al Qaeda.)