John "enhanced interrogation" Yoo gets punk'd

The Chaser's War on Everything (TV show in Australia) punks torture memo author John Yoo while he teaches a class. (Via The Agitator)


  1. Is this real? At no point do we see them both in frame at the same time, and the white balance is different on the shots of the guy and of Yoo. I want it to be real, just wondering if this is a well edited fake.

  2. John Yoo’s current job is proof that U.C. Berkeley isn’t nearly as liberal as everybody thinks it is.

    1. John Yoo’s current job is proof that U.C. Berkeley isn’t nearly as liberal as everybody thinks it is.

      Anyone who lives in the area and is a leftist has probably picketed at some Berkeley office or other in the last four decades. Berkeley the city is much different from Berkeley the University.

  3. What’s unfortunate is that Yoo was put in the position to have to write down something that should not be written down. In that respect, his inability to extract himself from that situation squarely marks him as the “greater fool” for failing to pass the hot potato onto the next guy.

  4. I’m stunned that some students were asking the comedian/protester to leave, and that they clapped John Yoo as he left.

  5. The voice of the student is definitely faked and dubbed over. I think it was shot in the same classroom, the drop ceiling, desks, chairs and light fixtures appear to be the same, and then cut together with another bit of video of Yoo.

  6. @ Antinous #15:

    I know, which is why I specified the University (which I still refuse to refer to as “Cal”).

  7. Yoo Bastard ,(sorry had to), teaching anywhere or working for anyone out side of KBR is amazing.

  8. @7: UC Berkeley partially runs and employs many of the professors at the forefront of the US Nuclear Weapons program. So, no, UCB is not a particularly liberal institution. In this case, UCB blithely ignores the City of Berkeley “Nuclear Free Zone” ordinance–which bans all ties (business, research, anything) to nuclear weapons and power. The city gives them an exemption every year, but that’s only because the city knows there is fuck all they can do about it.

    (This also makes me want to build a fusor, which although I am in Oakland, would run me afoul of this regulation. As far as I can tell, fusors are illegal in the City of Berkeley.)

  9. Oh, and Brainspore@7: I’m agreeing with you, and pointing out another (huge) indicator of UCB not being so liberal as everyone thinks. (On reread, it sounded like I was correcting you ala Antinous’ comment above.)

  10. I’m with the ‘faked’ crowd on this one.

    The lighting is completely different and I hardly doubt they would have flown from Oz to California to shoot a 30 second clip.

    Even so, cleverly edited and quite funny.

  11. To the fake crowd… I’m not sure either, I agree it looks fake at some point. But watch the video Cory posted above. It’s a little longer and in the end you see him in the same frame as yoo when he walks out of the classroom. My guess is it’s real but heavily edited.

  12. @21: the Chaser team have shot a fair bit of footage in the USA, and flown to other parts of the world to shoot a 30 second clip, eg:

    To others who’re dismissing the veracity of the video because of the variations lighting, it’s to be expected since it was filmed with a small hidden camera. I think it’s entirely genuine and that’s what makes it so shocking.

    @16: I think those who were there to be taught by John Yoo didn’t exactly have a problem with his past. No dubbing necessary when everyone else in the room is his fan.

    The Chasers do sometimes fake things for a cheap laugh but of their stunts are much more elaborate and, like the Yoo video, make a good point:

  13. The only thing that makes me question the authenticity are the logistics. Did this guy slip on his “uniform” during the class and just stand up without Yoo even noticing? Seems somehow unlikely.

  14. Come on disbelievers, of course it’s real, these people have a real tv show it might be they’re australians or whatever, but it’s obviously not that hard to get into a class in a university, slip on a torture gown and stand up on the table is it? it’s also not a big problem to have a couple of cameramen to do the filming and a covert camera either, one of the cameramen (who’s ignored because he doesn’t make trouble) collects the hidden camera and sits out the rest of the class or leaves…

  15. Two different cameras for two different shots, both relatively hidden and the fact that they have different white balance settings means it’s faked? heh. nah

    Seriously if anyone would do this for real it’s the Chasers team.

    Im often one to assume fake on such vids and for a non-australian audience unfamiliar with the Chasers i guess it’s easier to say fake.

    But as an aussie fan of the Chasers and rather familiar with their work, it’s safe to give these guys benefit of the doubt on the reality of their video. It’s a real bona fide Tv show here in Australia and they may edit things but it’d be safe to say they are in the same room there and its not ‘faked’

  16. As much as I don’t like how that guy justified torture – he’s was very soft on the pranker. At least here in Ohio, distrupting a professor’s class can be a felony offense.

  17. I just want to know why it’s a bunch of Australians doing these kind of Truth to Power stunts. George Bush, the Pope, the Chinese Government, Dick Cheney and now John Yoo have all been targets of the Chaser’s humor. The US has 300 million people in it and we need a bunch of prep-school Aussies to show us how to do it?

  18. To Anonymous re: our need for prep-school Aussies:

    I guarantee a large majority of those 300 million Americans have no idea who John Yoo is. Sadly, the distraction potential of our media is fully utilized and works amazingly well.

    Manufacturing Consent – I suggest everyone read it.

  19. So what’s happening here with the class? Are they perturbed by the prank? Are they clapping Yoo as he exits? Are they clapping the prankster?

  20. Totally real – the chaser are sorta like the jackass team, but thoughtful and politically motivated – in their purile, adolescent way.

    At the end of the clip it all ties in, and you can see security asking them to leave.

    And this last, final (*sniff*) season has featured US-shot content from the start – generally mocking different parts of the US.

    last night they ahd a “fake” US tourist in the UK (yeah, they went to the UK for a 2 minute bit)asking for directions, and being totally miffed that they didn’t speak “english”. Another guy coms up and proceeds to translate from Uk accented english to American. Gold stuff, most of the time. A few misses.

    If there isn’t a country-wall has the week-old episodes, but YouTube is full of Chaser clips… definately worth checking out.

  21. And just a reminder who these guys are.

    When George Bush came to Sydney, Au for the APEC meeting a few years ago, they staged a “secure” motorcade, with fake credentials (that said “these are fake” on them) and waltzed through two security checkpoints until they where AT THE HOTEL all the gathered world leaders were staying and the conference being held.


    One of the guys was in the backseat of a limo in a bad Osama Bin Laden outfit, and it was when they got too close they chose to abort… since half the AFP’s automatic weapons were on the rooftops around them, ready to take down anyone suspicious.

  22. John Yoo has a position at Berkeley??? Why is this man still employed anywhere?

    Maybe because black listing people for impure political thoughts is a bad idea? M’kay?

    I am pretty violently against torture. Hell, I am against all corporal punishment. That said, I recognize the value of descent, even when I disagree with it, and especially in cases where we are talking about a rational person with rational beliefs. This isn’t a crazy religious whack-job trying to beat people with a bible. This is a policy maker with a legitimate difference of opinion. The idea that he should be black listed because has happens to be one of the poor suckers out of power is abhorrent.

    It was wrong of McCarthy to go after and get black listed the supposed ‘reds’. It is just as wrong to go after neo-cons now. We need descent and difference of opinion. Even when you agree with the authority/majority, you still need descent to to give your ideas a good thrashing and to weed out all of the bullshit your self congragulatory backslapping missed.

    If Berklee, a renowned ultra-liberal school, can tolerate Yoo, that actually raises my respect and esteem for the institution a considerable margin. Institutions (and people) that can tolerate a give voice to descent are the kind of are the kind of rational people that you want leading. People that seek to quash and silence rational descent are ideologues who are not to be trusted.

  23. @37 Rindan,

    But, Yoo is faculty in International Law. The only way it could be worse is if he were teaching ConLaw. Are you telling me you’re comparing the persecution of random individuals for substantially unrelated political views to the idea that it’s a bit atrocious that a respected instituion would have a faculty member whose main contributions to the body of law the previous decade was described by members of the administration he worked for as “catastrophically poor”, have been renounced by the Office of Legal Counsel, and are presently being investigated by the Justice Department for professional misconduct and prosecutors abroad for war crimes?

    Look, I would agree that the wall between academia and politics is a porous one, on many issues. However, I wouldn’t want a Young Earth Creationist on my university’s Biology (or Physics or Chemistry or Astronomy) faculty, just as I wouldn’t want a Flat Earther teaching Astrophysics. One could (and many do) cry “blacklist!” just as easily at either of those. However, these things speak directly to one’s competance in their supposed field of expertise. If someone does (vocally!) cling to discredited theories in their field of professed expertise, then any institution that wishes to maintain the level of prestige that UC Berkley enjoys really ought to think twice about hiring or keeping them. Thanks to tenure, that seldom happens, of course. But nobody’s about to hire these guys to teach Quantum Mechanics, after all, and the fact that Yoo’s views had political ramifications -in that they laid the groundwork for the repeated violation of the law, both domestic and international, rather than simply defrauding the gullible- hardly seems to be something to be raising to defend him.

    There’s that famous quote about how everything is a political act, including the decision to be apolitical. As is demostrable from this thread alone, hiring and keeping Yoo is itself a decision steeped in politics. That there is a political element to this does not itself make the invocation of McCarthyism wholly appropriate.

  24. a professor’s political activity is not supposed to be a consideration when it comes to her employment. when it comes to right-wing professors, it actually isn’t a consideration. either that, or berkeley just has way more integrity than CU, depaul, columbia and other universities that have made politically-motivated employment decisions in recent years. i rather suspect that it’s the former.

    criminal activity is different, of course, and it’s possible that yoo’s known activities were criminal (glenn greenwald argued so, and he’s usually right).
    but the obama administration seems disinclined to fulfill its obligation to prosecute torture, and so yoo has never been convicted.

  25. @38 YROGERG,

    Yoo isn’t a flat earther. The guy has a legitimate and rational difference of opinion, and I bet he can probably defend it. If you glance at his Wikipedia article it is pretty clear that the guy is stuffed to the neck with various distinctions and commendations that span both before and after Bush. This isn’t some cast out creationist who has no respect or distinction in his field. This is a guy with far more distinction than most in his field who served under a president, and was convincing enough to shift policy. The fact that the president he served under was an ass and is out of power doesn’t change any of this.

    His opinions are controversial, not provably false. You might not agree with his twisted interpretation of the law that gives el presidante near ultimate authority to trample over other laws, and I sure as hell don’t agree, but that doesn’t make him a provably false flat earth creationist.

    If alls it took to eject a professor was a controversial opinion on how things ought to be run and a disagreement with the current political power, we would have to fire about half of the economics and sociology department of pretty much every university in the US to weed out all the Milton Friedman free market capitalist and Marxist-Leninist communist.

    Diversity of opinion is a virtue, even when you violently disagree with it. Having a neo-con at Berkley, of all places, is a blessing for the institution and will make it stronger. Someone with a violently conflicting opinion adds strength to such institutions. Weeding out all opposition on the other hand just builds masturbatory self congragulatory weakness.

    Like I said, good for Berkley.

  26. Sorry I’m late in responding (vacation), but this is not a punking video at all. Punk’d would have been the video of those Chaser’s being detained by campus security for trespassing or worse.

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