Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Step in the Right Direction

Since U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled late Friday in San Francisco that former “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla can proceed with his lawsuit against “torture memo” author John Yoo, the decision has been interpreted by many in the media as a broad vindication of detainees’ rights to sue former Bush administration officials.

In fact, the ruling’s implications are narrower than that, and could also be appealed. But, still, the opinion has heartened some civil rights lawyers because it rejects many of the claims made by former Bush officials that they’re not liable for their actions formulating policy in the “war on terror.” That could persuade judges hearing other claims against former officials as well. The ruling also allows the civil case to move forward against John Yoo, and could in the process reveal significant new information not only about Yoo, but about his interaction with the White House, and exactly how he reached the legal conclusions that he did. That information could, in turn, be used against him in future criminal or congressional proceedings.


Represented by private lawyers working with a Yale Law School clinic, Padilla and his mother are now suing Yoo, among others, for orchestrating the policies that led to his treatment by U.S. officials. (Padilla has a similar case pending in South Carolina against former Attorney General John Ashcroft and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.)

  Washington Independent

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