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March 2: Hear legal theorist John Yoo explain the Constitutional Powers of War and Peace

The Economic Club hosts Prof. John Yoo of Boalt Law School at UC Berkeley for his insiders view of the Bush Administration's legal thinking in the war with extremism

When: Friday March 2 noon
Where: Indiana Convention Center

John Yoo is one of the most controversial legal scholars in the US. If he were only the author of the book The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs after 9/11, he would have stirred up argument. He argues that the President has almost no checks on his power if the country is at war (and the country is at war for all practical purposes when the President deems it to be at war) and that treaties are not legally binding on American politicians. What pushed him from "controversial" to "notorious" was the position described by David Cole:

Few lawyers have had more influence on President Bush's legal policies in the 'war on terror' than John Yoo. This is a remarkable feat, because Yoo was not a cabinet official, not a White House lawyer, and not even a senior officer within the Justice Department. He was merely a mid-level attorney in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel with little supervisory authority and no power to enforce laws. Yet by all accounts, Yoo had a hand in virtually every major legal decision involving the US response to the attacks of September 11, and at every point, so far as we know, his advice was virtually always the same-- the president can do whatever the president wants.

Yoo has few supporters in academia or Congress ... but his ideas ought to be taken seriously since they will continue shaping the practice of American law and foreign policy long after the next Administration takes power. Yoo was in the center of the debate over President Bush's administration's position on torture, detention, surveillance, civil liberties, and so on. His new book, War by Other Means: An Insider's Account of the War on Terror, he moves from theory to the reality he witnessed and helped shape while advising the President and Attorney General. Geoffrey Stone in the Washington Post captures the book's tone well:

He sets an ambitious goal for himself: "to explain the choices that the Bush
administration made after 9/11," choices made "under one of the most dire
challenges our nation has ever faced." Yoo is mild-mannered, but he is angry,
and his anger pervades this work. He attacks the media, human rights advocates,
legal academics, civil libertarians, former attorney general John Ashcroft, the
Supreme Court, conservative pundit George F. Will, librarians and even the Bush
administration (among others) for cowardice, self-aggrandizement, overreaching,
ignorance, dishonesty and cupidity.

Information: 317-464-2212.

If this event sounds interesting, you should check out some of the Great Decisions discussions of the legal aspects of the "war on terrorism" on February 28 and March 13. I will surely disagree with John McCormick about this topic in our debate about the American empire on January 30. I would be very eager to contrast Ruth Bader Ginsburg on March 8 and the #2 guy at the FBI March 20.

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