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Monday, November 9, 2009

Yoo Withdrew: Amidst Growing Call for Criminal Investigation, Torture Memos Author John Yoo Withdraws from Federalist Society Panel

Amidst a growing call for a criminal investigation of the DOJ lawyers who authorized torture, John Yoo, author of the most infamous of the “torture memos” withdrew as a speaker at the conservative Federalist Society Convention where Alliance for Justice and human rights supporters are scheduled to take action.

“John Yoo’s withdrawal from the Federalist Society Convention shows that pressure is building to hold accountable those who provided legal cover for torture,” said Alliance for Justice President Nan Aron.

Yoo was scheduled to speak on the panel, “Professional Responsibility: The Role of Government Attorneys and the Global War on Terror” this Thursday, November 12. Alliance for Justice is organizing human rights supporters to rally outside the convention that day and call the Attorney General to ask for immediate release of the report by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) on the Justice Department lawyers who wrote the “torture memos.”

Yoo’s withdrawal comes after a top Bush administration Justice Department official, Daniel Levin, publicly stated last week that he was not opposed to a criminal investigation of his and his colleagues’ conduct in preparing and reviewing the “torture memos.” Levin was the acting head of the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel in 2004-05, during which the OLC reviewed the legalities of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation practices.”

Speaking publicly about this controversial issue for the first time, Mr. Levin said last week at a conference featuring the Alliance for Justice film Tortured Law at American University’s Washington College of Law about professional ethics and the “torture memos:”

I personally am not opposed to criminal investigation of the conduct of myself and others during the period in question, because I think any government employee is appropriately subject to investigation of their conduct while they are serving in the government.
(view clip here)

With the escalating call for accountability, it is no surprise that John Yoo wanted to avoid a question about a criminal investigation during Thursday’s panel.

A steady drumbeat of voices has been calling for accountability for those who ordered, designed, and authorized torture. More than 10,000 people have signed petitions from Alliance for Justice and CREDO Action to Attorney General Eric Holder, urging the immediate release of the OPR report. And on the day that Yoo was scheduled to speak to the Federalist Society, thousands of activists will pick up their phones to call the Department of Justice to ask Attorney General Holder to authorize a full investigation of the authors of the torture memos.

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