A convicted terrorist can sue a former Bush administration lawyer for drafting the legal theories that led to his alleged torture, ruled a federal judge who said he was trying to balance a clash between war and the defense of personal freedoms. The order by judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco, regarding "dirty bomb" plotter Jose Padilla, is the first time a government lawyer has been held potentially liable for the abuse of detainees.
White refused to dismiss Padilla's lawsuit against former senior Justice Department official John Yoo on Friday. Yoo wrote memos on interrogation, detention and presidential powers for the department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2001 to 2003. White ruled Padilla may be able to prove that Yoo's memos "set in motion a series of events that resulted in the deprivation of Padilla's constitutional rights." Padilla, 38, is serving a 17-year sentence on terror charges. (Read more torture memo stories.)