Encyclopedia, Or Smear Machine?

Wikipedia can be a useful tool for getting basic information on a wide range of topics. Sadly, though, the “wiki” concept has shown no ability to generate fair or objective information about controversial subjects. A case in point is the Wikipedia article on Professor John Yoo. We have written about Professor Yoo a number of times, most recently here, and also here, here and elsewhere.
Our friend Dafydd ab Hugh called our attention to the disgraceful Wikipedia article on Prof. Yoo, a distinguished legal scholar who now teaches at the University of California. Yoo was recently sued in a frivolous case by would-be terrorist Jose Padilla. The case hasn’t yet been dismissed; in the meantime, though, it sounds as though Padilla’s lawyer (or Padilla himself) has been editing the Wikipedia entry, which contains a section titled “War crimes accusations”:

On January 4, 2008, John Yoo was sued in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Case Number CV08 0035) by Jose Padilla and his mother. The complaint seeks damages based on the prolonged torture of Padilla directly resulting from Yoo’s torture memoranda. [Ed.: There is no evidence of “prolonged torture,” or any torture, of Padilla.] Legal commentators have pointed out that the “Judge’s Cases” prosecuting the Nazi legal elite at Nuremburg provide a clear precedent for holding attorneys liable for their unlawful opinions which lead to torture. Yoo’s torture memoranda were almost immediately retracted by Jack Goldsmith, the new chief of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice. In 2007, Goldsmith published a book, The Terror Presidency, which is cited on page 20 of the Padilla complaint. Goldsmith’s book and his interviews while marketing the book publicly exposed the incorrect legal analysis in Yoo’s torture memoranda and the widespread opposition to the memoranda among ethical lawyers in the Justice Department. This exposure provided the factual basis for suing Yoo. The claim is that Yoo is the cause of Padilla’s damages resulting from torture which was authorized solely by Yoo’s torture memoranda. Yoo is currently employed by Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California in Berkeley. His employment at Boalt has been the subject of protests and requests for Yoo’s resignation. As a member of the Pennsylvania bar, Yoo swore to defend and support the U.S. Constitution. The allegations in the Padilla litigation, if proved, would form a clear basis for disbarment proceedings against Yoo.

Where it is not pure fiction, this is pure editorializing, betraying a near-complete ignorance of the facts of Yoo’s involvement in legal issues surrounding treatment of terrorist detainees, the facts relating to Padilla’s incarceration, or the relevant law. Whoever wrote this section is likely the same person who contributed to the same article an ignorant discussion of the concept of the unitary executive, which the writer completely mischaracterizes and refers to, again absurdly, as the “Yoo doctrine.”
Whoever wrote this inaccurate and tendentious description of Yoo’s career supported it with links to such definitive legal sources as Consortium News (“Today, Americans have rights only at George W. Bush


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