NYT Mag on Torture-Memo Author John Yoo: Aw, Ain't He Cute?

Uttered in any location with a view of San Francisco Bay, the name of John Yoo tends to reduce people to convulsive hand-wringing. Yoo, a professor at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, has been a frequent target of liberal protesters and activists -- many of them students -- because of his association with the Bush administration's controversial interrogation policies. As a Justice Department lawyer, Yoo authored an infamous set of "torture memos" justifying the harsh treatment of suspected terrorists.

But also sorta cute?
Yoo, apparently shilling for his new book, Crisis and Command, consented to an interview with veteran New York Times Magazine Q&A writer Deborah Solomon. While nothing explosive comes to light in this breezy transcribed chat with the alleged torturer's apprentice, the piece is an interesting source document for those interested in the side of Yoo's personality that escapes protesters' attention -- the professor's famous erudition and charm.

In fact, one could make the case that Solomon lets her subject dial up the affability a tad high for the interests of a serious reading public, comparing him in a question to former White House intern Monica Lewinsky and cracking jokes about his psychiatrist parents. "She was much closer to the president than I ever was," Yoo quips in response to the Lewinsky prod.

Yoo also gets off scot-free on the question of his responsibility for the shameful practice of torture by American officials under the last administration, peddling what is by now a shopworn excuse: that he was a lawyer ethically serving his client, the U.S. government. (In fact, many legal experts assert that Justice Department lawyers had a duty to deliver an impartial judgment on the legality of proposed interrogation practices, and put the brakes on hot-to-trot administration hardliners.)

You can read the story here.

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