John Yoo
John Yoo

John Yoo, the controversial Berkeley law school professor who wrote the infamous torture memos for President George W. Bush, is coming out with a book on January 5. The impending publication of Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush prompted the normally reclusive Yoo to talk to the New York Times.

And he had a number of surprising things to say about Berkeley and his time in the Bush administration:

* He has never met President Bush.

* He was never invited to the White House Christmas party.

* He became a conservative at 9.

* He does not regret writing the so-called “torture memos”.

* He took a job at Berkeley Law School because it was the best offer he received.

* Protests against his faculty position don’t phase him. “At Berkeley, protesting is an everyday activity,” Yoo  told the New York Times. “I am used to it. I remind myself of West Berlin — West Berlin surrounded by East Germany during the Cold War.”

* Berkeley is populated by radicals, but Yoo doesn’t seem to take them seriously: “There are probably more Communists in Berkeley than any other town in America, but I think of them more as lovers of Birkenstocks than Marx.”

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...