A civil lawsuit filed against a former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo has been tossed out of court, granting Yoo immunity for memos he wrote that authorized the torture of some terrorism suspects. Yoo was being sued by Jose Padilla, the man who was convicted on criminal charges of trying to build a "dirty bomb."
After Padilla was arrested way back in 2002, Yoo — who was working in the Office of Legal Counsel — helped craft the Bush administration policies that both declared Padilla to be an "enemy combatant" and justified the use of certain interrogation techniques, like waterboarding, on those very combatants. Back in 2009, a district court judge ruled that case could go forward despite Yoo's request for dismissal, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in Yoo's favor on the grounds that the techniques he was arguing for were not legally defined as torture at the time he wrote the memos.
The Court also ruled that because Padilla was arrested as a enemy combatant, it was not clear that had the same constitutional rights as a regular U.S. citizen. Of course, the very idea of an enemy combatant as a new class of prisoner not subject to the rules of the Geneva convention was created by... John Yoo's memos. Both the enemy combatant designation and the torture techniques he authorized are no longer a part of U.S. law. The logic may be confusing to most people, but it's apparently not illegal. The dismissal of the case would also mean that U.S. government will be held liable for the torture that took place during the Iraq and Afghan wars.
You can download the full opinion from the Ninth Circuit's website.