Yoo Padilla got served!

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Jose Padilla’s case against John Yoo (one of the authors of the OLC “How not to torture” memos) was dismissed by a federal appeals court today.

I’d count this as another win for the good guys:

A federal appeals court ordered dismissal Wednesday of a prisoner’s torture suit against John Yoo, the UC Berkeley law professor who approved waterboarding and other brutal interrogation techniques as a Justice Department lawyer under President George W. Bush.

Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen now imprisoned for conspiring to aid Islamic extremist groups, accused Yoo of personally approving his detention and brutal treatment while confined in a Navy brig without charges for nearly four years.

While in the brig, Padilla said, he was shackled in stress positions, deprived of sleep, kept alternately in darkness and blinding light for lengthy periods, and threatened with death.

Both the Bush and the Obama administrations argued for dismissal of the suit. But a federal judge ruled in 2009 that the case could proceed, saying government lawyers could be held legally responsible for the “foreseeable consequences of their acts.”

On Wednesday, however, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that even if Yoo was responsible for the violating Padilla’s rights, the rights of a so-called enemy combatant like Padilla were not “clearly established” when Yoo gave his legal advice in 2001-03. Government officials can be held personally liable for violating individual rights only when those rights are clearly established.

Although torture of U.S. citizens was clearly illegal, it wasn’t clear at the time that “the specific interrogation techniques allegedly employed against Padilla, however appalling, necessarily amounted to torture,” said Judge Raymond Fisher in the 3-0 ruling.

He also said the Supreme Court did not rule until 2004 that prisoners held as enemy combatants had the right to be free from arbitrary detention and inhumane treatment.

Yoo’s lawyer, Miguel Estrada, said the ruling vindicates his client.

“The Ninth Circuit’s decision confirms that this litigation has been baseless from the outset,” Estrada said. He said Padilla and his lawyers had been “harassing” government officials with years of litigation, and that Padilla “will need to find a new hobby for his remaining time in prison.”

The case is Padilla v. Yoo, 09-16478, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (San Francisco). The lower-court case is Padilla v. Yoo, 08-00035, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

The real criminal in all of this is terrorist, Jose Padilla.

The knuckleheads at that bastion of human rights, diversity of opinion, and free speech-Berkeley- aren’t going to be thrilled…

…think the harassments by the morally-confused will stop?

6 Responses to “Yoo Padilla got served!”

  1. 1

    Scott K

    “Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen now imprisoned for conspiring to aid Islamic extremist groups, accused Yoo of personally approving his detention and brutal treatment while confined in a Navy brig without charges for nearly four years.”

    A U.S. citizen confined in a Navy brig without charges for four years? That’s a win?

    An American citizen was captured on U.S. soil, labeled an enemy combatant, denied his due process rights, and transferred to the U.S. military. Courts silently acquiesce on procedural grounds so that the executive (now with the added ammunition of the NDAA) need only allege a person threaten United States National Security to order indefinite detention in military custody without the burden of evidence. No formal charges necessary. No legal counsel. No communication with family. Denial of access to and recognition in courts.

    Courts want no role in restricting the executive–even with fundamental constitutional rights at stake.

    Seems like a loss to me.

  2. 2


    @Scott K:

    the complete context of his detention order:

    The order “legally justified” the detention using the 2001 AUMF passed in the wake of September 11, 2001 (formally “The Authorization for Use of Military Force Joint Resolution (Public Law 107-40)) and by opining that a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil can be classified an enemy combatant. (This opinion is based on the decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Ex parte Quirin, a case involving the detention of a group of German-Americans in the United States working for Nazi Germany).[15]

    According to the text of the ensuing decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Padilla’s detention as an “enemy combatant” (pursuant to the President’s order) was based on the following reasons:

    1.Padilla was “closely associated with al Qaeda,” a designation for loosely knit insurgent groups sharing common ideals and tactics, “with which the United States is at war”;
    2.He had engaged in “war-like acts, including conduct in preparation for acts of international terrorism”;
    3.He had intelligence that could assist the United States in warding off future terrorist attacks; and
    4.He was a continuing threat to American security.

  3. 3

    Liberal1 (objectivity)

    As I recall, the quantity of drugs given to Padilla, and other maleficent treatment of him, had resulted in making him a virtual imbecile.

  4. 4

    Scott K

    The AUMF only authorizes “the President … to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

    The power is restricted to people involved in 9/11 and those who protected them. Yet under novel theories of the executive branch’s constitutional authority, this was turned into a virtual blank check.

    Padilla had been held for 3 1/2 years as an “enemy combatant” in military confinement, without being charged in an alleged plot–only broad accusations.

    Why did this “enemy combatant suddenly” earn the right to be charged and have a jury trial after 3 1/2 years?
    Is that how long it takes for constitutional rights to kick in?–Or did the war on terror end at that point?

  5. 5


    @Scott K:

    again, read the entire context quote:

    1) the bolded part is what was pertinent in regards to your indignation concerning Padilla’s citizenship.

    2) your own AUMF quote should fill in the rest of the blanks for you since Padilla was associated with AQ, contrary to your stated interpretation it does not just limit the scope to 9/11 conspirators and that particular act. Specifically I direct your attention to this line:

    “in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

    Since AQ is in that category of “nations, organizations, or persons” and Padilla was associated and conspiring with AQ, you have your answer. It doesn’t get much more clear cut than that, but you seemed to have not absorbed that quoted line in your rush to righteous indignation.

    As for your final question regarding why after 3 1/2 years — maybe you should actually read the court history and understand the problem with the original habeas corpus filing, the precedent issues at work, etc.

  6. 6


    Can we call them “Extra constitutional citizens” please. They deserve the same consideration as persons of interest. They can be held forever without trial and they may never have been an enemy or a combatant.

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