The Politico reports that Justice Department attorneys are defending John Yoo and other former Bush Administration officials in civil suits filed by Jose Padilla and other former detainees.
Next week, Justice Department lawyers are set to ask a San Francisco federal judge to throw out a lawsuit brought against Yoo by Jose Padilla, a New York man held without charges on suspicion of being an Al Qaeda operative plotting to set off a “dirty bomb.”
The suit contends that Yoo’s legal opinions authorized Bush to order Padilla’s detention in a Navy brig in South Carolina and encouraged military officials to subject Padilla to aggressive interrogation techniques, including death threats and long-term sensory deprivation.
That’s not all. On Thursday, Justice Department lawyers are slated to be in Charleston, S.C., to ask a federal magistrate there to dismiss another lawsuit charging about a dozen current and former government officials with violating Padilla’s rights in connection with his unusual detention on U.S. soil, without charges or a trial.
The defendants in that case are like a who’s who of Bush administration boogeymen to Obama’s liberal followers — former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, his deputy Paul Wolfowitz and former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
The story notes the irony that Obama Administration appointees, potentially including some who have been quite critical of Yoo and other architects of the Bush Administration's counter-terror policies, could have to help defend the former Bushies in federal court. Yet, as the story notes, this situation could also raise a potential conflict of interest.
A leading authority on legal ethics, Stephen Gillers, said the incoming officials’ criticism of the former Bush officials has been so withering that they should press to be defended by their own lawyers — at government expense.
“If I were counseling Yoo or Rumsfeld, I would certainly advise them to have private counsel or shadow counsel,” Gillers said. “The defense has to be put in the hands of people who have not been vocal in condemning Rumsfeld and Yoo and who have not taken a public position on the legality of their conduct.”