By Glenn Greenwald
April 12, 2008
In response to mounting criticisms of its ongoing employment of John Yoo, UC Berkeley School of Law’s Dean Christopher Edley issued a Memorandum — entitled “The Torture Memos and Academic Freedom” — citing the “near absolute” values of academic freedom and tenure to explain why the law school will not dismiss Yoo nor even initiate an inquiry into whether action ought to be taken against him. There are all sorts of interesting exchanges regarding those questions — from academics such as Berkeley Professor Brad DeLong, Marty Lederman, and Henry Farrell. The comment sections to those posts are well worth reading as well.
Some of those commentators argue — persuasively — that mere citation to “academic freedom” does not resolve the question, since Yoo is charged not merely with advocating repellent ideas (something that should never result in dismissal), but far beyond that, was acting as an architect of an actual torture regime. Others raise the concern that Yoo should be entitled to full due process, that all facts ought to be fully investigated and disclosed before one can determine what, if any, action is appropriate. I think all of those concerns are valid, though ultimately, what matters most is that some important American institution — somewhere — meaningfully demonstrate that perpetrating systematic torture and committing war crimes renders one beyond the pale in the United States. It shouldn’t be up to Berkeley to enforce that precept by itself, but if no other institutions are doing so, then (after a full and careful investigation), Berkeley should.
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.