(CN) – Former Bush administration attorney John Yoo said he will appeal a judge’s refusal to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a convicted terrorist supporter who claims Yoo’s legal opinions justified his torture.
In June, a federal judge in San Francisco allowed Jose Padilla to sue the UC Berkeley law professor for the legal opinions he wrote while serving as a Justice Department attorney from 2001 to 2003. One of the memos, written in 2002, said detainee treatment was only torture if it caused the same amount of pain as “organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death.”
Padilla, a Brooklyn native who converted to Islam, had initially been charged with plotting to detonate a radioactive “dirty bomb” in the United States, an allegation that was later dropped.
A federal jury in Miami convicted Padilla and two others of conspiring to murder, kidnap and maim people in a foreign country, along with two counts of providing material support to terrorists.
He was sentenced to 17 years and four months in prison, a lighter sentence than prosecutors had pushed for.
He sued Yoo and various government officials, claiming he suffered abuse and torture during his nearly four-year detention at prisons in South Carolina and New York. He said he endured sleep deprivation, exposure to extreme light and temperatures, threats of physical abuse and torture, denial of adequate medical care, constant surveillance and prolonged isolation.
He claimed Yoo was personally involved in the government’s decision to label him an “enemy combatant.” He also cited several memos written by Yoo that allegedly justified the deprivation of his constitutional rights. The memos were crafted “with the specific intent of immunizing government officials from criminal liability for participating in practices that Defendant Yoo knew to be unlawful,” Padilla claimed.
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White denied Yoo’s motion for dismissal on all but one claim, saying the complaint “alleges conduct that would be unconstitutional if directed at any detainee.”
Yoo filed a notice that he would appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit in San Francisco. Government attorneys also said they were dropping out of the case, and that Yoo would be represented by an unidentified private lawyer.