The Obama administration has asked the Department of Justice to dismiss a lawsuit brought by convicted terrorist Jose Padilla against torture memo author John Yoo, asserting that Yoo cannot be sued for legal opinions he offered in the course of advising then-President Bush on national security matters.
Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley finds ths decision inexplicable. "The president literally has gotten onto a plane this evening to go to Norway," he told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday, "to accept the Nobel Prize, while his Justice Department is effectively gutting a major part of Nuremberg."
"The Obama administration is arguing not only that they shouldn't be prosecuted," Tuirley emphasized, "but it's now saying that you shouldn't even be able to sue them civilly. ... It's an international disgrace."
Turley pointed out that several legal advisors to Germany's Ministry of Justice were convicted during the Nuremberg trials held after World War II for providing the legal advice that justified Nazi war crimes. Now the Obama administration, in its desire to uphold executive privilege at any cost, is willing to toss that principle aside.
"There is no limiting principle here," Turley explained. "John Yoo was essential to this torture program. ... If John Yoo cannot not be sued for an alleged war crime, what possibly could a Justice official be sued for? ... We're talking about the most extreme case."
"The Justice Department's prosecuted lawyers who give advice to mobsters," Turley concluded, "but apparently if you give advice to advance a war crime, that's just 'full and frank advice.'"
This video is from MSNBC's Countdown, broadcast Dec. 9, 2009.