Complicit in Torture: University of St. Thomas defends its star Law Professor
Law students headed to class Monday morning at the University of St. Thomas School of Torture-- so called by anti-torture activists waiting outside.
At 10:30 am on August 30, Professor Robert Delahunty taught his first class of the school year at the School of Law, but not without facing the protesters on his way to work. An activist group called Tackling Torture at the Top was there to educate the public about Delahunty's role in the Bush administration, paving the way for CIA and military torture as a tool against terrorists.
Delahunty, as a member of the Office of Legal Counsel, wrote legal memos supporting presidential war powers under the Constitution is a higher law than any treaty, intimating that the president can use his Constitutional war powers to override treaties.
"As the Nation's representative in foreign affairs, the President has a variety of constitutional powers with respect to treaties, including the powers to suspend them, withhold performance of them, contravene them or terminate them."
-Yoo and Delahunty, Application of Treaties and Laws to al Qaeda and Taliban Detainees.
His legal opinion denies that the Geneva Conventions apply to non-state actors or enemy combatants. His legal memos built upon other legal decisions and memos, and they in turn were expanded upon by the John Yoo/Jay Bybee legal memos. Those explicitly permitted torture and water-boarding by redefining torture as anything that pushes the body to organ failure or death.
For a physical act to constitute torture, "It must be of an intensity akin to that which accompanies serious physical injury such as death or organ failure."
-Bybee, Standards of Conduct for Interrogation under 18 USC SS 2340-2340A
After the Obama administration released the "torture memos" for the world to see in April 2009, anti-torture activists and law students alike read them in horror. Thousands of Americans pressed Attorney General Eric Holder to prosecute the officials who allowed for torture, through petitions, calls and demonstrations. However, the Obama administration would not go forward with prosecutions, claiming that they had to "look forward" and not back.
As the T3 activists waved their flags outside the law school, they talked to several passers-by who expressed their familiarity with the torture memos.
The activists have brought their concerns to Delahunty as well as to the University of St. Thomas' Law School Dean Mengler and its Board of Governors.
Delahunty went by without comment, today as usual, but the Board of Governors did respond to the group's complaints and letters and protests of the past few years. Last week, the Chair of the University Law School's Board of Governors, Laurence Fl LeJeune, wrote to the group with full awareness of the controversy around Delahunty, and in full support of him as a law professor at this Catholic, ethics-centered University.
Mr. LeJeune noted that they have been very well advised by Dean Dr. Mengler and others of the facts about Delahunty and they are very satisfied with him as an employee. As has been noted by Dean Mengler, they feel that Delahunty has served "four presidential administrations, and other institutions with distinction. His impressive academic and professional record can be found on the School of Law website.” He noted too how "the graduating class of 2010 selected Professor Delahunty as its Professor of the Year - for his excellence as a teacher and scholar, and for the many ways in which he works with and supports our students."
Individuals on the Law School Board of Trustees have also been contacted. Neither the Board of Governors nor the Board of Trustees will meet with T3. These individuals influence not only the University but the larger community and economy as well: among the highest paid CEO's in Minnesota in 2008 were two UST Board of Trustees members. The Star Tribune then listed Stephen Hemsley of United Health Group as 5th highest paid, and George Buckley of 3M as 13th highest paid.