I Wonder What John Yoo Thinks of All This

by Beverly Mann

I Wonder What John Yoo Thinks of All This

Most of you, I’m sure, know of the controversy concerning Freedom of Information requests by Wisconsin Republican officials to University of Wisconsin professor history and environmental studies professor William Cronon, in retaliation for certain postings on his new blog and for a New York Times op-ed piece critical of his state’s high-profile Tea Party governor. The requests demand copies of all the professor’s email exchanges using his university email account that include certain search words.

Cronon’s blog posts reported on a secretive rightwing state-legislation-drafting mill called the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Chamber of Commerce’s (not to mention the Koch brothers’) private Make A Wish Foundation, which drafts “model” legislation directed against unions, litigation plaintiffs and other usual-suspect Chamber/Koch targets, and then forwards the drafts to state legislators for introduction as legislative bills.

Actually, although this group’s membership is secret, the forwarding probably doesn’t require middleman lobbyists, because apparently some Republican state legislators are members. The group’s “model” legislation almost certainly is the source of a veritable slew of extremis sometimes really weird, sometimes clearly unconstitutional legislative bills proposed in state legislatures around the country in recent years, including more than a few that have been enacted. The immediate purpose of FIOA requests to Cronon is to find emails that include political discussion or planning, although of course the larger goal is retaliation and intimidation.

But Cronon, not surprisingly, didn’t remain the only victim of this FIOA-request-as-a-political-weapon tactic against state university professors for long. After all, all states have Freedom of Information laws, and most have liberal professors at state universities. The folks at the far-right Mackinac Center in Michigan have made a request to see e-mails from people in the labor studies departments at the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. And, undoubtedly, other such requests are in the works elsewhere. As well they should be.

It occurred to me that John Yoo is a professor at a public university, U-C, Berkeley. And I’d bet that his university email trove would make for some interesting reading. So, I’m sure, would the university email-account exchanges of, say, certain law professors at George Mason University a state university in Virginia that is a longtime Federalist Society hotbed. As is the venerable law school at the Univerity of Virginia. Ahhh, yes. Turnabout is fair play. And it’s time that the Democrats start playing fair. —-

Cross-posted on my blog at Annarborist