A day in court against John Yoo

A DAY IN COURT AGAINST JOHN YOO…. Lawyers representing Jose Padilla want John Yoo to answer for his conduct in Bush-era torture policies. It looks like the matter is headed for a trial.

The decision issued late Friday by a judge in San Francisco allowing a civil lawsuit to go forward against a former Bush administration official, John C. Yoo, might seem like little more than the removal of a procedural roadblock.

But lawyers for the man suing Mr. Yoo, Jose Padilla, say it provides substantive interpretation of constitutional issues for all detainees and could have a broad impact.

Mr. Padilla was held as an “enemy combatant” in solitary confinement for more than three years in the Navy brig in Charleston, S.C. Mr. Padilla, who was convicted of supporting terrorism and other crimes, demands that Mr. Yoo be held accountable for actions that Mr. Padilla claims led to his being tortured.

During the time Mr. Padilla was held in the brig, according to his filings in the case, he “suffered gross physical and psychological abuse at the hands of federal officials as part off a systematic program of abusive interrogation intended to break down Mr. Padilla’s humanity and his will to live.”

Instead of throwing out the civil suit, Judge Jeffrey White said case is representative of the tension “between the requirements of war and the defense of the very freedoms that war seeks to protect.” White also explained, “Like any other government official, government lawyers are responsible for the foreseeable consequences of their conduct. The specific designation as an enemy combatant does not automatically eviscerate all of the constitutional protections afforded to a citizen of the United States.”

Citing the Federalist Papers, White added that in times of war, nations, to be more safe, “at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.”

White, in case you’re wondering, was appointed to the federal bench by George W. Bush.