Sunday, June 14, 2009

Terrorist Lawsuit Ruling -- Not Quite as Bad as it Looks

A federal judge in San Francisco ruled that a convicted terrorist could sue John Yoo for coming up with the legal theories that supposedly led to his mistreatment. A first glance this sounds completely insane. Yoo had nothing to do with anyone's treatment. All he did was give a legal opinion. The people responsible for the treatment of prisoners are those who actually carried it out. Yoo gave no orders and had no direct role at all. This judge appears to be either incompetent or acting out of political bias. But it isn't quite as bad as it looks.

The terrorist in question is Jose Padilla, not a alien. Unlike hostile aliens, Padilla has Constitutional rights that were clearly violated by the Bush administration when it declared him an illegal combatant. He probably has a lawsuit against someone, although Yoo isn't the right target. Regardless of the dubious merits of this particular case, there is nothing especially outrageous or unusual about a U.S. citizen filing a frivolous lawsuit, or some judge being stupid enough to pass it through the system. Unfortunately it happens all the time.

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