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Report back: Yoo v. Pitts debate in Dallas

USA 31 October 2011. The topic was the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" and detainee treatment, when John Yoo, former Department of Justice official and author of the "Torture Memos" debated Chip Pitts, Stanford University law professor and former Chairman of Amnesty International, at the Meadows Museum at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

It was not widely publicized ~ at least, we didn't get the complete info until less than 24 hours beforehand. It was free, but required registration. When we called to register, we were told it was full. So, we planned to just go protest outside...but then at the last minute decided to see if we could get in anyway, without registration. There were some no-shows, so, to our surprise, they let us in after all...and we sat at the table right next to Yoo in a very fancy room lined with gilt-framed oil paintings and had a very lovely lunch. We decided not to disrupt because we didn't want to distract from Chip, and we knew Chip would blow Yoo away. (He did.) It was filmed, so I'm hoping it will be made public soon, because it was terrific ~ Chip is always terrific.

To judge who won the debate, different exit doors were assigned to each debater. The audience was asked to leave through the door assigned to the person they thought won the debate. After it was over and we'd been counted exiting Chip's door, we felt like we couldn't leave without confronting the war criminal...so Carol & I went back in and got in the line of people "meeting and greeting" Yoo. The woman in line in front of me offered Yoo her rubber bracelet that said, "there is no such thing as a lesser person." He said he didn't wear jewelry, but put it in his briefcase.

Shaking his hand, I thanked him for coming, and said I agreed with his assessment that Obama had carried on many of Bush's policies so if Bush was culpable then so was Obama. I said that I'd forgotten my handcuffs (true ~ I really didn't think we'd even get in)...but would he please turn himself in? (A big negatory on that one.) I told him he really should listen to what Chip had said and give up trying to legitimize all he'd done ~ that Chip had beaten him, hands down, on every point. He went into "I know where this is going, so I'm done" body-language-mode and was ready to pass me off, so I added that I just had one question:

You said, essentially, that it would be okay to crush the testicles of a person's child, if the president thought it would be of some benefit; how do you reconcile that with the Geneva Conventions and international law which clearly prohibit humiliating and degrading treatment, not to mention inflicting pain & suffering...i.e., torture!? He went into his usual song & dance routine and we went back & forth (Carol took a picture; make your own caption) until his entourage came to save him, saying that he had to catch his plane, and escorting him away.

We scurried to our cars and got our signs & props so we could give the proper parting message to Mr. Yoo and others leaving the SMU campus. Our signs said, "TORTURE IS ILLEGAL,"  "ARREST YOO," and, "THE AUDACITY OF WAR CRIMES," and Trish wore a prison suit and Yoo mask and carried a WANTED poster. We got several honks & thumbs up from people leaving the campus, and several one-fingered salutes from young people just driving by who seemed to think torture was a good thing. Seriously?

Word is, the final "score" of the debate was:  Pitts 55, Yoo 18.