Today, I will have a debate with Berkeley Professor and former Bush Administration lawyer John Yoo at Christopher Newport University’s Center for American Studies (CAS). The debate will cover Free Speech in War and Peace Time. However, the focus will be on the constitutionality and use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This is part of the Constitution Day events at the university.
This (I believe) is the sixth debate that I have had with John Yoo.
Yoo served as the Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, Department of Justice (OLC) during the George W. Bush administration. He is best known as one of the authors of the so called “torture memos” that legitimated waterboarding and other interrogation techniques long defined as torture and violations of the Geneva Conventions. The debated however focused on the broader question of the rise of executive power in the executive states. Yoo has long been an advocate for a dominant executive power in the United States and has written books arguing that presidents have sweeping powers, particularly in the areas of foreign affairs and national security.
I always enjoy visiting the 260-acre campus in Newport News of Christopher Newport University, which is beautiful. Much of the campus has been built in the last 20 years and they planned it out beautifully. I particularly love the statue of Christopher Newport at the entrance though it has one anomaly: he has two arms despite the fact that in 1590 (early in his career as a privateer) he lost his right arm during his attempt to capture a prize ship off of Cuba. Yes, Newport was viewed as a pirate but he preferred privateer and he was a very cool historical figure.