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Klippenstein writes: "John Yoo, the Bush Administration official who authored the Torture Memos, refused to appear alongside an ACLU representative on CNN the day that the Senate's Torture Report was released, emails obtained by RSN under the Freedom of Information Act reveal."

Protesters confront John Yoo as he makes his way to a classroom at the University of California, Berkeley in 2009.  (photo: AP)
Protesters confront John Yoo as he makes his way to a classroom at the University of California, Berkeley in 2009. (photo: AP)

FOIA Documents Reveal a John Yoo Unwilling to Address Torture Report

By Ken Klippenstein, Reader Supported News

19 May 15


ohn Yoo, the Bush administration official who authored the Torture Memos, refused to appear alongside an ACLU representative on CNN the day the Senate’s Torture Report was released, emails obtained by RSN under the Freedom of Information Act reveal. Yoo’s Torture Memos provided the legal framework for the CIA to use torture methods such as waterboarding on detainees.

The emails show a CNN representative telling Yoo, “We may have you on with someone else. No one is booked yet. It could be someone from the ACLU.”

Yoo replied: “If it is with someone else, I would rather not.”

In another email, the CNN representative told Yoo, “We can do you alone in the segment ... no problem.”

For comment, RSN contacted John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent who was the first US official to expose the CIA’s use of waterboarding. Regarding Yoo’s refusal to appear alongside the ACLU on CNN, Kiriakou remarked:

“It is sad and very telling that a former public servant, responsible for one of the darkest legal chapters in modern American history, is apparently afraid, or at least unwilling, to defend a work that is his defining legacy in the presence of an ACLU representative. I can only conclude that Yoo’s actions were indefensible at their core.”

Another email shows Susan Gluss, the Media Relations Director of the University of California at Berkeley, where Yoo is a professor, telling him, “Looks like the Senate report on CIA tactics will be released tomorrow (Tues.). If reporters call, are you interested in doing any interviews? (I assume not, but checking in.)”

Yoo replied to Gluss that he would “probably not do general media interviews.”

Days afer the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence released the Torture Report, Jeffrey Toobin, a legal expert critical of the Bush administration’s torture program, condemned Yoo for his role in the program, stating, “If you look at the villains in this sad chapter in American history, John Yoo is really near the top of that list.”

Yoo rejoined, “That’s funny. I've been with him face-to-face on panels and things and he doesn’t man-up enough to say that to my face. I’m really disappointed at him.”

The emails, however, tell quite a different story. Following Yoo’s accusation that Toobin wouldn’t voice his criticisms to his face, a CNN representative emailed Yoo, asking, “Do you want to debate Toobin?” Yoo declined, replying, “I heard he called me a villain ... I don’t like to debate those who thrive on the ad hominem.”

An email from Gregory Dolin, a professor of law at the University of Baltimore, invited Yoo to speak: “We would love to host you whenever it is convenient for you. Just let me know what’s good and I will block out that date. Perhaps something around 9/11?” Apologists for the Bush administration frequently point to 9/11 as a justification for its employment of torture.

Another email shows C-SPAN offering to interview Yoo on topics including “the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA and ‘torture’” – notably putting the word “torture” in quotes.

One show Yoo wasn’t afraid to appear on was Fox News’s “The O’Reilly Factor.” In an email following his appearance, Yoo praised Bill O’Reilly in for having “let a guest get in a word edgewise for once!”

In one email in which Yoo turned down a request for a TV appearance, he alludes to the lack of work he apparently thinks academics are assigned: “this is a rare day when an academic’s day is booked.” The lack of responsibilities Yoo believes academics enjoy did not, however, prevent him from turning down many requests for interviews following the release of the Torture Report – as evidenced by the emails RSN obtained, which can be viewed below in their entirety.

If you have trouble with the embedded viewer, you can download the files here and here.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

Ken Klippenstein is a staff journalist at Reader Supported News. He can be reached on Twitter @kenklippenstein or email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it your social media marketing partner


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+47 # Helen Marshall 2015-05-19 17:44
While Yoo is what he is, the sickening thing is that he is also Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law at the University of California-Berk ley Law School. How far has the UC system fallen. I wonder if Mr. Heller would be pleased that this monster is occupying the chair named for him. Shame on them all!!!
+41 # Billsy 2015-05-19 18:02
Yoo states he will not debate someone too fond of ad hominem (referring to his critic Toobin) but manages to get in an ad hominem attack on Toobin saying "he's not man enough to say that to my face". Talk about bald faced hypocrisy and fear of confrontation. Yoo is yet another in a series of law school douche bags.
+34 # PABLO DIABLO 2015-05-19 18:36
Yoo is a war criminal and belongs in prison. Too bad George W. Obama sold his testicles in 2008
+24 # Coleen Rowley 2015-05-19 18:47
Yoo has lost a number of fair debates defending his legalizing of CIA torture so it's no wonder he's finally gotten smarter that it's a no win for him. He has to check his pompousness or he just digs himself in deeper. Watch this Oxford style debate with Chip Pitts at SMU, which Yoo badly lost. Berkeley Dean should fire him.
+10 # Coleen Rowley 2015-05-19 18:48
Here is the debate between Yoo and Pitts:
+5 # RSN 2015-05-20 01:16
Thank you.
+14 # Helen Marshall 2015-05-19 19:23
Thank you for commenting Coleen, you especially know how awful this guy is..
+9 # vicnada 2015-05-19 20:25
And thank you for the link to the debate between Yoo and Pitts
It is as instructive as it is concerning. Will the Hammer & Testicle become our new national emblem?
+26 # moby doug 2015-05-19 19:33
That NeoCon lickspittle and war criminal Yoo is still a professor at UC Berkeley Law School is a huge stain on the school. Absolutely disgraceful. And what a coward he is, running full speed from his own record as an enabler and endorser of torture and destroyer of civil rights. What's next? Will a Repiglican President some day appoint him to SCOTUS?
+14 # Helen Marshall 2015-05-19 22:08
You betcha, and a supine Senate will confirm, as it did Roberts and Thomas and Scalia and...
+17 # turnoutthelights 2015-05-19 20:07
Is someone surprised at the attitude of this war criminal who facilitated the crimes of complicit members of the American P$ychological A$$ociation?
+15 # Gordon 2015-05-19 20:39
So, Yoo declined to go on TV to be attacked by a known opponent with an axe to grind and a determination to chop his head off? And why would Yoo (or anyone, even you?) agree to such a thing? So it's hard to present this news as some kind of scandal. Yoo's work for the Bush administration speaks for itself. His defense of Alberto Gonzales, and the whole tortured legal language leading up to the conclusion that, legally speaking, "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment" is not torture and thus not illegal speaks for itself. He was a lawyer finding a legal pretext for justifying what his immensely powerful bosses wanted him to supply: limitless legal protection for their actions. Yoo's explanation from 2005 is here:
The last lines are chilling in that it says the whole thing was necessary because this was an "unconventional war" and warning about "future terrorist attacks," weapons of mass destruction," and so on: the paranoid whole nine yards.
What? Unconventional? Since when has fighting armed gangs, if that's all they are, been unconventional? We're allowed to torture anyone carrying a gun who isn't marching under a flag we recognize? For crissakes, even IRA terrorists had some recognized legal rights once arrested, though some would argue the point.
+24 # Kootenay Coyote 2015-05-19 21:16
In any decent country, Yoo would years ago have been charged & tried; & doubtless convicted.
+9 # Citizen Mike 2015-05-20 05:42
"I don't want a lawyer to tell me what I cannot do. I hire him to tell me how to do what I want to do."
--J.P. Morgan
+7 # kalpal 2015-05-20 05:50
In retrospect Yoo understand that he opened Pandora's box and unleashed vicious demons on us all. That is why he will avoid trying to be interrogated about what he did. No defense for the indefenseable.
+2 # wexit2 2015-05-20 15:05
Can anyone confirm Yoo's email statement that he is going on sabbatical?

Curt Wechsler
+4 # ljslotnick 2015-05-20 20:33
Bright, articulate stooges...parti cularly lawyers...are the most dangerous to society. Sadly, his boss was also a stooge, and not nearly as bright, lacking possession of historical perspective, and, frankly, a slacking idiot. Yes, I think that accurately describes GWB. Any thoughtful Chief Executive with a moral compass would have rejected Yoo's theories...even with a slime ball like Cheney as the lawyer's enabler.

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