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'Waterboarding Memo' Author Speaks to College Republicans

Joshua Sharp

Posted: Apr 26th 2009 12:36AM

Filed under: Politics, Small Campus, Big Story, USC

Joshua Sharp is now a contributor for The Cram, a student news arm of the newly launched PoliticsDaily.com. To follow his future work, click here.

Former Bush Administration official John Yoo, author of several Justice Department memos determining waterboarding and other "enhanced interrogation techniques" to be legal, addressed the California College Republicans as the keynote speaker at their statewide convention in San Francisco this weekend.

Author's note: In addition to political commentary, I'm a member of the USC College Republicans. Views posted here are my own.

Two dozen protesters gathered outside the Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf hotel where the convention was being held, holding signs calling Yoo a war criminal as they chanted, "Jail John Yoo!"

Yoo was actually remarkably soft-spoken compared to the protesters outside. He described his background and his support of key Bush Administration policies, saying, "Sometimes in war, you have to take pre-emptive action to stop someone from trying to harm our country." He pointed out that al-Qaeda had deliberately targeted civilians on Sept. 11, not combatants or military troops.

Putting perspective on enhanced interrogation techniques, Yoo said the United States interrogates detainees "not because we're trying to get a confession [for use in the courts], we're trying to get information to prevent the next attack."

Yoo closed with a question: "Were those policies successful?" It's been almost eight years since 9/11, he said, and our nation has not seen another domestic terrorist attack "because of the Bush Administration's counterterrorism policies."

Yoo also encouraged young conservatives to "have the courage of your convictions" and engage in free speech and open debate with "the people who would shout you down."

Earlier in the day, hundreds of College Republicans took to the streets of San Francisco for an anti-bailout "Tea Party" protest, holding signs with slogans like, "You keep your Hope, I'll keep my Change."

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