The University of California at Berkeley is under pressure to fire tenured law school professor John Yoo, who wrote several memos as a lawyer for the Bush administraton saying that the U.S. could legally torture suspected terrorists for information.
In the years after 9/11, the U.S. interrogated suspected terrorists at places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, military prisons that have since become lightning rods for criticism of the Bush administration's torture policy. When Yoo worked at the Justice Department from 2001 to 2003, he wrote that controversial techniques like waterboarding and sleep deprivation were legal.
Protesters and some students and faculty are calling for the university to fire the professor for work done outside the university while others argue that the principles of academic freedom dictate that professors should not be punished for their opinions.
In this video, NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels reports on Yoo's case and the larger question of whether the country should continue to investigate interrogation policies of the Bush administration.
"If an extreme situation arose, we don't want to, I believe, take certain options away from the president, if by doing -- you know, aggressively interrogating someone, you could save thousands, if not millions, of American lives." - Professor John Yoo
"You need something more than simply incompetence to revoke a professor's tenure, especially somebody who's been hired, promoted, published in the top journals. John is one of the most prolific scholars on the Boalt faculty. What you need is some evidence of serious professional misconduct. And that is what we don't have yet." - Christopher Kutz, president, U.C. Berkeley Academic Senate
"To take somebody who espoused views that are sharply unpopular outside and to say that, because they're unpopular, we're going to -- to chastise or even discipline you, that, I think, absolutely flies in the face of everything we know about what makes a great university." - Christopher Edley, dean, Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law
1. What did the U.S. government do after 9/11?
2. What is Guantanamo Bay? What is Abu Ghraib?
1. What does academic freedom mean to you? Is it important to you? How does it work in your school? What can teachers or students say or not say? How is it different in college?
2. Do you think Professor Yoo should be punished for opinions espoused outside his work at the school? Why or why not?
3. What does torture mean, in your own words? Do you believe that techniques like waterboarding or exploiting a prisoner's fear of insects constitute torture?
4. If the government arrests someone suspected of plotting a future attack against the United States, what is it allowed to do to get information from that person?
Read the transcript of this report :