4 White House Officials Enjoying the Academic Sweet Life Who Should Be Held Accountable for Torture and Other Abuses

Human Rights

When you're a high-ranking government official, you usually have a job in the private sector waiting for you after stepping down. This revolving door is most prominent with respect to members of Congress, who often retire from their jobs as lawmakers to become corporate lobbyists.

But a lesser-known cottage industry has developed, a pipeline between individuals who worked in national security and foreign policy and academia. In recent years, this pipeline has been particularly lucrative for lawyers and high officials who were architects of the government's torture programs and other policies that systematized human rights abuses. Here's a tour of how some of these people have not only escaped accountability but are living posh retirements courtesy of tuition-paying students.

Drone Program Legal Adviser Harold Koh, NYU

Harold Koh was once dean of the Yale Law School, and he used his position to criticize the Bush administration's ever-expanding war on civil liberties. Yet soon after joining the Obama State Department, he used his position as legal adviser to expand the power of the executive branch, particularly the targeted killing program carried out by unmanned drones. He has been appointed a visiting scholar at NYU, and taught international human rights law in the 2014-2015 academic year. This has spawned a petition of around 200 NYU staff, students and alumni who objected to Koh being granted such a position at the university. He told Newsweek that “pretty much the whole” set of allegations being levied against him are untrue, though didn't go into detail.

Torture Architect John Yoo, UC Berkeley

John Yoo famously authored legal memorandums for the Bush administration's Office of Legal Counsel that justified torture and other breaches of core civil liberties. Yoo was rewarded with a tenured position at the UC Berkeley College of Law. Yoo faced intense protests from both the student body and faculty, but the school despite its liberal reputation went ahead with his appointment. In 2013, Yoo was paid $264,767 in base pay along with $116,581 in extra pay for the year, for a grand total of $381,348. Interestingly, the dean of UC Irvine's law school, Erwin Chemerinsky, recently called for Yoo to be prosecuted for his role in authorizing torture.

Torture and Iraq War Architect Condoleezza Rice, Stanford

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was not only a prime mover of the Iraq war, she also personally approved torture techniques used against detainees. Rice was once the provost at Stanford University, and after Bush left office she was hired to be a professor at the school. While she has been teaching at the school for years, she has not avoided controversy. When she was going to give a commencement address at Rutgers, student protests forced her to withdraw. Nonetheless, Stanford continues to be proud of its association with Rice and has tapped her to help recruit incoming football players.

Alberto Gonzalez, Shredder of Geneva Conventions, Baylor University

Alberto Gonzalez, the former Bush Attorney General, was most known for calling the Geneva Conventions' regulations on how to treat prisoners of war both “obsolete” and “quaint.” He first took up a position teaching at Texas Tech. A couple years later, he uprooted to the Christian school Belmont University in Nashville. In an interview with the Tennessean last week, Gonzalez talked about a variety of topics but steadfastly refused to take any questions related to the Bush administration's torture techniques.

Revolving Back Into Government

It's worth noting that a few of the individuals listed above such as Rice and Koh, previously held senior faculty and administration positions before joining presidential administrations. So don't be surprised if we once again see these individuals avoid any sort of accountability for their roles in abuses. The universities they currently reside at are nothing more than halfway homes paying them six-figures on students' dimes.

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