Heard on the Hill

John Yoo on Rice Pick: 'I Just Don't Get It'

LOS ANGELES–The former Justice Department official who formulated the Bush administration's legal justification for torture diverted a panel discussion here on drones and due process to slam Susan Rice's appointment to be national security adviser.

"I have to say, I'm very surprised that the president would pick someone who's so embroiled in a current congressional investigation to be national security adviser," John Yoo, now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said Wednesday. "I just don't get it."

Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call

Julie Ershadi/CQ Roll Call

He likened President Barack Obama's pick to if Ronald Reagan had made Oliver North his national security adviser in the wake of the Iran-Contra Affair. The comparison drew laughter from the audience, in part an assemblage of lawyers and judges from the Federalist Society and Libertarian Law Council.

Yoo, no stranger to congressional heat himself, might have a bone to pick with Obama. Shortly after taking office in 2009, the president issued an executive order reversing U.S. policy on enhanced interrogation techniques by revoking and repudiating the legal rationales developed by Yoo and others in the administration of George W. Bush.

"I think it's a bad choice," Yoo told HOH after the discussion.

Topics: fightingwords