Former Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel official John Yoo told The Los Angeles Times in a report published Monday that he relishes being a conservative law professor in “the People’s Republic of Berkeley.”
Yoo, who is a tenured professor at University of California, Berkeley, teaches a constitutional law course and seminar at the predominantly liberal university. He has often been the target of protests around campus for his role in drafting the George W. Bush administration’s so-called “torture memos,” which authorized harsh interrogation methods against terrorism suspects.
“I think of myself as being West Berlin during the Cold War, a shining beacon of capitalism and democracy surrounded by a sea of Marxism,” Yoo told the newspaper.
A Justice Department report released last month cleared Yoo of any misconduct in authoring the memos. DOJ veteran David Margolis said in the report that Yoo only showed “poor judgment.”
Christopher Edley, the law school’s dean, has faced pressure from Yoo’s critics to fire the tenured professor ever since the memos were released last year. The dean dismissed the possibility of taking action against Yoo after the DOJ report was released last month.
“I hope these new developments will end the arguments about faculty sanctions, but we should and will continue to argue about what is right or wrong, legal or illegal, in combating terrorism. That’s why we are here,” Edley said in a statement, according to the L.A. Times.
Although Yoo told the newspaper he might be tempted to return to public service if a Republican becomes president, he said he likes working at a college campus and bringing a new perspective into the discussion.
“Then [my law students] can always say, ‘I’ve met a conservative.’ They can tell their family and friends,” Yoo told the L.A. Times.