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Earlier this month, when the Justice Department declassified a 2003 Justice Department memo authored by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, the listserve for lawyers representing detainees at Guant�namo Bay, Cuba, lit up. It was, as Alston & Bird partner Jon Fee put it, “aflame” with “a vigorous discussion” about what should become of Yoo. The memo, which was withdrawn by Yoo’s successor, exempted military interrogators from federal laws prohibiting maiming and assault. Yoo has said the memo was in keeping with the Justice Department’s deference to the president’s authority in wartime. Speaking at a panel discussion last week, Fee, who represents five detainees, said the so-called Gitmo bar was split, roughly, into three factions: those who said Yoo should be disbarred; those who said he should be fired from his Berkeley job; and those who felt that Yoo was “a tool” used by his superiors in the Bush administration. Asked the panel’s moderator, Neil Sonnett, the official American Bar Association observer for the military commissions: Are heads going to roll once the Bush administration is no more? Elisa Massimino, D.C. director of Human Rights First, said that when she had met the Democratic presidential candidates, both pledged to reverse the Bush administration’s interrogation policies. But when she asked whether they would consider taking legal action against those responsible for the policies, “they were very reluctant” to broach the topic, she said. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner Paul Wolfson, a lawyer for the group of detainees whose case is under review by the Supreme Court, added: “I just don’t think the country could stomach it.”
Joe Palazzolo can be contacted at [email protected].

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