John Yoo Is Safe in Berkeley But Not in Spain 

The University of California defends the infamous torture professor while a Spanish Court moves toward indicting him. Plus, the City of Oakland has some bad karma.

UC Berkeley law school Dean Christopher Edley has reaffirmed his position that professor John Yoo is in no danger of losing his job. In an op-ed published in the Contra Costa Times last weekend, Edley repeated his stance from last year that there is basically nothing that the university can do to Yoo unless he is convicted of a crime. Edley's piece came in response to a CC Times and Oakland Tribune editorial that expressed concerns that the university intended to punish the man most responsible for enabling torture. Edley assured the newspapers that he had no such intention.

In fact, Edley seemed to be taken aback by the assertion that the university might go after Yoo. The dean argued that the university has no choice but to leave Yoo alone, because even though it's home to some of the smartest people on the planet, it simply "does not have the institutional competence to conduct investigations involving classified intelligence." Never mind the fact that some of Yoo's classified work, including one his torture memos, has been public for more than a year. Never mind that one of his now-public memos clearly authorized torture. Never mind that scholars from both the left and right have publicly excoriated Yoo's legal scholarship. And never mind the fact that Yoo's work was so abhorrent that George W. Bush's own administration was forced to renounce it, repeatedly. And yet UC Berkeley, one of the great academic institutions in the world, doesn't have the brainpower to cope with something so complicated as John Yoo?

Tell that to Spain. Because it looks like a Spanish court has plenty of "institutional competence" to go after Yoo as part of a sweeping war crimes investigation into top Bush administration officials who gave legal cover for torture. Along with Yoo, the court is looking at former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; former undersecretary of defense for policy Douglas Feith; former Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff David Addington; Justice Department lawyer Jay Bybee (who was Yoo's boss, and is now a federal judge); and Pentagon General Counsel William Haynes, who now works for Chevron in San Ramon.

According to the Associated Press, human rights lawyers brought the case to leading anti-terror judge Baltasar Garzon, who agreed to send it on to prosecutors to decide whether it has merit. Garzon is best known for bringing charges against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998. Interestingly, the Spaniards view Yoo and the other lawyers as being more legally culpable than Bush and Cheney or the torturers themselves. But luckily for Yoo, both UC Berkeley and the editorial pages of the East Bay's two major dailies have his back.

Dellums' Incompetence, Oakland's Embarrassment

It was a rough week for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums. First came the news that the families of two of the four slain police officers refused to allow him to speak at the huge funeral at Oracle Arena. Then came the revelation that the reason was a concern that he would botch the dead cops' names. The mayor, you see, had done it before. Last year, he repeatedly messed up the name and rank of police Lieutenant Derrick Norfleet at his funeral. Dellums reportedly referred to the dead officer as "Fleetwood."

Some cops were so aghast at what Dellums had done that they left specific instructions not to allow the mayor to speak at their funerals for fear he would do it again, according to a report by Oakland Tribune columnist Tammerlin Drummond. Dellums' staff then mounted a furious and ill-advised, behind-the-scenes campaign to overrule the wishes of the slain cops and their families, so that the mayor could speak. Thankfully, they failed.

The Don Is on Deck

Meanwhile, as Dellums stumbles through the second half of his term, the leading candidate to replace him appears to be none other than Don Perata. You know, the former state Senate President Pro Tem who has been the target of an FBI public corruption probe for more than five years. Perata touted his gun-control credentials and told the San Francisco Chronicle that he feels vindicated by the fact that he has not yet been charged with taking bribes or kickbacks. Honestly, what did Oakland ever do to deserve this?

It's not as if the city ever embraced torture.

Three-Dot Roundup

As Major League Baseball appointed a task force to find the Oakland A's a new ballpark, team co-owner Lew Wolff agreed to sit down with Dellums to talk about keeping the team from leaving. Hopefully, the mayor will remember Wolff's name. ... On a positive note, Dellums did make one smart move. He finally fired Leslie Littleton, the aide who helped Yusuf Bey IV, the likely mastermind of the murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey. ... In a surprise move, a judge reversed himself and threw out Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks' libel suit against Chron columnist Chip Johnson, saying that it didn't matter after all that Johnson may have printed falsehoods about her. ... Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi might give state Senator Mark DeSaulnier a real fight in the race to replace Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher. ... Ex-state Senator John Burton, a pre-Internet dinosaur who says he doesn't even own a computer, is the strange but top choice to lead the next generation of state Democrats. ... The California drought likely will lead to tougher water rationing this summer. ... And Iowa turned out to be more progressive than California when its state Supreme Court unanimously legalized gay marriage.


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