More Yoo

Slate's blog on legal issues.
April 3 2008 5:41 PM

More Yoo

In a modest attempt to allow equal time, I note that Esquire magazine has posted what it calls the first interview with John Yoo since this week's release of the latest memo. You can find it here . Not that the interview sheds much light, but my favorite excerpt is when the interviewer presses Yoo on his decision to extract the pain-associated-with-organ-failure-or-death standard from an unrelated statute as a means of fleshing out the definition of the federal crime of torture.

Esquire : But at the same time, you as a human being writing that phrase -- this is not legal theory anymore. We're in the real world and its going to have a body count .

Yoo: This is unpleasant. Don't interpret what I'm saying as though I was happy to do this or eager, or I felt some satisfaction. Mainly because I had read what the British and the Israelis had gone through they had their own struggle with this issue and they had their own judicial decisions and I had read all kinds of articles and books about this issue. I mean, it's a difficult issue. You have to draw the line. What the government is doing is unpleasant. It's the use of violence. I don't disagree with that. But I also think that part of the job unfortunately of being a lawyer sometimes is you have to draw those lines. I think I could have written it in a much more we could have written it in a much more palatable way, but it would have been vague.

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Can't tell from this whether the greater unpleasantness for Yoo is in the topic or in the interview.