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UC Berkeley Students Want Professor John Yoo Fired

Four people were arrested Monday on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, in a protest against a law professor who wrote legal memos for the Bush Administration about interrogation techniques.

Shouting "war criminal," the protestors confronted John Yoo as he entered a building at Berkeley's law school on the first day of classes. The protestors want him fired, disbarred, and prosecuted for war crimes. Yoo ignored the demonstrators. The four who were arrested were taken away after they entered the building and refused to leave.

Yoo worked as an attorney for the Bush Administration from 2001 to 2003. He helped craft the legal theories that allowed waterboarding and other severe interrogation techniques.

Yoo still defends the controversial techniques, saying they were needed to protect the country from terrorists after 9/11. "To limit the president's constitutional power to protect the nation from foreign threats is simply foolhardy," Yoo wrote in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece just last month.

But many at Berkeley don't agree. The Berkeley City Council has passed a measure calling for the federal government to prosecute him for war crimes. And civil rights attorney Dan Siegel, who took part in the protest, said, "There is little doubt that John Yoo is a war criminal. John Yoo went to Washington and created the ideological, political and legal basis for the torture of innocent people."

Yoo returned to Berkeley for the fall term after spending the spring semester at Chapman University School of Law in Orange County. Christopher Edley Jr., Berkeley's law school dean, has rejected calls to dismiss Yoo, saying the university doesn't have the resources to investigate his Justice Department work, which involved classified intelligence.

Berkeley law students are divided over Yoo, whose classes are among the law school's most popular.

Liz Jackson said the university should determine if he violated UC's faculty code of conduct. "I personally believe he has blood on his hands."

But Nathan Salha, who took one of Yoo's classes last year and is enrolled in his course this semester, said he's a good teacher. "I don't think it's the university's place to fire him for political opinions."


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