Friday, April 4, 2008

A thought on the "torture memo"

When I practiced law, I used to spend countless hours writing legal memoranda advising clients about questions of law. When writing a legal memorandum, we are supposed to be objective and tell what the law is, and not make a case for what it should be.

It's interesting that a legal memorandum written by a Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo (I think he is now a law professor at Berkeley) recently surfaced which is being condemned and dubed "the torture memo." This 2003 memo essentially told U.S. Military that it could subject suspected terrorist to hard treatment as long as it didn't cause "death, organ failture or permant damage." It gave a legal opinion that torture is not illegal.

This is an interesting question for me as a former lawyer because it poses a question as to what a lawyer who is a follower of Jesus is supposed to do in cases like this (I don't know if John Yoo is a Christian or not). How do we apply our faith to our professon? Are we supposed to be objective and lay out the law even though the result is violently against biblical ethics? What would you do?

What is more amazing is that torture was sanctioned and used by the Bush administration and this memo was a key enabler to that policy. How would you like to be the guy who justified use of torture?

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