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Harold Koh, Outspoken Opponent of Torture, Named State Department Legal Adviser

harold-hongju-koh.thumbnail.jpgPresident Obama just announced that Harold Hongju Koh, the head of Yale Law School and a human-rights official in the Clinton administration, will be the legal adviser to the State Department. That’s big news as the administration proceeds with its review of interrogations, detentions and renditions policy. Koh, recall, dramatically testified at Alberto Gonzales’ confirmation hearing to become attorney general in 2005, calling the infamous August 2002 Office of Legal Counsel memo authorizing torture "perhaps the most clearly erroneous legal opinion that I have ever read" and a "stain on our national reputation." With Koh advising the State Department, expect a great deal of emphasis on international human rights law. It’ll be especially interesting to see what he says about the legality of rendition in particular, and, relatedly, on the repatriation of detainees to countries where they’re likely to be abused, as with the Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay that Daphne has so diligently been tracking.

Crossposted to The Streak.

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Spencer Ackerman

Spencer Ackerman