US: Torture and tenure

A civil liberties group that is working to curb what it sees as abuses by the Bush administration has mounted an email campaign to push for the firing of John Yoo, a tenured professor of law at the University of California at Berkeley, reports Inside Higher Ed. While Yoo’s views on torture have been widely condemned in the academic legal world, many are objecting to the campaign as an infringement on academic freedom – ironically coming from a group formed to protect civil liberties.

Yoo’s controversial writing, justifying forms of interrogation many view as torture and in violation of the Constitution and international conventions, came while he worked in the Bush administration’s Justice Department.

The email campaign calling for his dismissal is from a group called the American Freedom Campaign. It is not alone in raising questions about Yoo’s suitability to teach. An editorial recently in The New York Times, while not calling for his dismissal, said in passing, “Mr Yoo, who, inexplicably, teaches law at the University of California at Berkeley....”

But in the academic legal blogosphere, the move to fire Yoo is receiving substantial criticism – even from people who disagree with his views on torture. Brian Leiter, a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote that he had himself removed from the American Freedom Campaign’s email list as a result of its “disgraceful attack on the academy.”
Full report on the Inside Higher Ed site