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For the second time this year, a federal appeals court shielded a former Bush administration lawyer from a lawsuit filed by a convicted terrorist who alleged the attorney's so-called "torture memos" led to his illegally harsh treatment while in U.S. military custody.

The two similar rulings from separate courts on both sides of the country may signal the end of inmate Jose Padilla's legal fight over the legality of the Bush administration "coercive interrogation" methods of terror suspects.

On Wednesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out Padilla lawsuit against John Yoo, a former deputy attorney general who wrote a series of memos outlining permissible treatment of "enemy combatants" in military custody.

The San Francisco-based appeals court said Yoo is protected from Padilla lawsuit and similar challenges because the law defining torture and the treatment of enemy combatants was unsettled in the two years after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, when the memos were written, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.

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