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Berkeley Law enables the nightmare we refuse to accept

Fascist in Chief: John Yoo's Fight for a Unitary Executive

The attorney who helped craft the Bush administration's 2002 legal justification for torture told The Guardian he was giving advice to the White House on how President Trump could bypass Congress and impose his own policies.

Protesters are being snatched from the streets without warrants. Can we call it fascism yet?

Michelle Goldberg, Opinion Columnist, July 20, 2020
"Through the Trump years, there's been a debate about whether the president's authoritarianism is tempered by his incompetence. Those who think concern about fascism is overblown can cite several instances when the administration has been beaten back after overreaching. But all too often the White House has persevered, deforming American life until what once seemed like worst-case scenarios become the status quo."
"President Trump and top White House officials are privately considering a controversial strategy to act without legal authority to enact new federal policies -- starting with immigration," report Alayna Treene and Stef W. Kight. "The White House thinking is being heavily influenced by John Yoo, the lawyer who wrote the Bush administration's justification for waterboarding after 9/11."

"Yoo detailed the theory in a National Review article, spotted atop Trump's desk in the Oval Office, which argues that the Supreme Court's 5-4 DACA ruling last month "makes it easy for presidents to violate the law."

"The fact that John Yoo is employed and free to opine on legal matters is an example of the culture of impunity in the United States," says prisoner defense counsel Alka Pradhan

No one has ever been held responsible for the torture, illegal detention and other human rights violations that have been and are still being committed at Guantánamo Bay -- not even the author of those "enhanced interrogation" methods. 

 

 
On May 27th, via a live stream, you can meet Mohamedou Ould Slahi who spent 14 years at Guantánamo Bay where he was illegally imprisoned and subjected to torture. Despite living under inhuman circumstances, he learned to speak English from listening to his prison guards and wrote down his experiences in letters to his lawyers. "Guantánamo Diary" was published (albeit partly censored) while he was still captive, and it became a best-seller.
 

https://www.facebook.com/events/2597235703930920/?notif_t=event_invite_reminder&notif_id=1590258834903045

 

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear lawyers argue the president's claim that he has absolute immunity while in office, write law professors Claire Finkelstein and Richard Painter. NOTE: Spanish version here. Thanks Ed Charles!

"What is at stake is no less than the accountability of a president to the rule of law... If the justices endorse this extreme view, they will make it impossible to hold this president, and all future presidents, answerable in courts for their actions."
Donald Trump's lawyers have introduced a novel argument -- that the president should not be distracted from attention to the Covid-19 crisis. (As if he has bothered to manage it at all, short of sacrificing thousands of lives to the health of the stock market.)
 
The president has availed himself of John Yoo's "unitary executive theory," declaring himself the "chief law enforcement officer" of the country, "asserting a right to ignore the traditional independence of the Justice Department."
Should the Supreme Court side with the defendant in Trump v. Vance, the justices will make it impossible to hold this, and all future presidents, answerable for their actions.
Shame on John Yoo. Shame on Berkeley Law.

'pandemic' contempt for medical advice characterizes the Trump/Pence regime's response to COVID-19. Many White House cheerleaders share in the Christian Right's denial of science; suppressing truth and accountability. When asked about his own culpability for delayed action in addressing the crisis, placing millions at risk of infection, Trump answered, "Yeah, no, I don't take responsibility at all."  

Trump supporters, usually enchanted with 'unitary executive' theory, now defend the President on legal grounds, arguing that the federal government has a limited role in fighting COVID-19. "Under our federal system, Washington, D.C., has only limited powers to respond to a pandemic," writes UC Berkeley Law's John Yoo. "The Constitution grants the national government a limited set of enumerated powers. Stopping the spread of disease is not among them."

Many nations, from South Korea to Germany, have done far better at responding to the virus, notes David Remnick at The New Yorker. "The pandemic is an event in the natural history of our species, but it is also a political episode. Its trajectory is shaped by policy measures specific to particular governments. The fact that the United States is experiencing tremendous losses--that it has far more covid-19 cases than any other country in the world--relates to a number of collective risk factors and The Preëxisting Condition in the Oval Office."

The Cook County Jail in Chicago is America's biggest coronavirus hotspot. Why did we allow this?
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

"A mix of fanatical punitiveness and a callous disregard toward how much incarcerated people suffer under routine circumstances, to say nothing of during a pandemic, has made America's jails and prisons into habitats of sustained torture... 

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/coronavirus-pretrial-detainees-face-possibility-death-200409190112955.html

"Ever since the coronavirus began its alarming global spread, those who work with, and on behalf of prisoners have been aware of the threat that it poses to those who are incarcerated," writes Andy Worthington, https://warcriminalswatch.org/index.php/news/40-recent-news/3018-2020-04-08-00-24-38. "This applies, as commentators have noted, whilst urging urgent action, to the many million of prisoners worldwide who are imprisoned after being tried and convicted of crimes, as well as, in some countries, political prisoners."

In addition to the endangerment of 2.2 million prisoners in the U.S. -- the largest prison population per capita in the world -- activists highlight the threat to the 40 men illegally incarcerated at Guantánamo Bay, indefintely detained for 12 to 18 years, most without charge or trial.

RefuseFascism.org demands immediate release of everyone not convicted of a violent crime, and of asylum seekers and families.

"The war court where the men accused of plotting the September 11, 2001, attacks are on trial operates under classification rules that are inconsistent, complex and sometimes absurd," writes Carol Rosenberg for The New York Times: 

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/04/us/politics/the-growing-culture-of-secrecy-at-guantanamo-bay.html

The trauma Donald Trump's administration caused to young children and parents separated at the US-Mexico border constitutes torture, according to evaluations of 26 children and adults by the group Physicians for Human Rights (PHR):

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/25/trump-family-separations-children-torture-psychology?fbclid=IwAR0CiTOmAUemNIksjPahNfGSv-jSdY3UYi71rNYhHeScq6JtxyxXk5Nq81A

 
The Last Prosecutor From the Nuremberg Trials Says We're Committing Crimes Against Humanity: "Law Always Beats War"

John Yoo's diatribe condemning the International Criminal Court cannot go unchallenged ("Prosecuting the Peace-Can international tribunals curb future atrocities or is the intervention of a great power needed?," Books, Jan. 7). His absurd argument that the threat of prosecution may "exacerbate humanitarian atrocities" denigrates the deterrent effect of law enforcement. He dismisses U.S. Ambassador David Scheffer's "All The Missing Souls" as "a soporific memoir" but extols the virtues of American sovereignty and exceptionalism as justifying the unilateral use of our military might. He also distorts William Shawcross's thoughtful conclusion in "Justice and the Enemy" that "legal proceedings against violent extremists are a crucial defense of our civilization." [Shawcross's] father Sir Hartley Shawcross, the chief British prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, remained a strong supporter of having an international criminal court all his life.

Mr. Yoo also ignores President Dwight D. Eisenhower's 1958 warning: "In a very real sense, the world no longer has a choice between force and law. If civilization is to survive, it must choose the rule of law." Mr. Yoo fails to recognize that law is always better than war.

Benjamin B. Ferencz
Delray Beach, Fla.
Mr. Ferencz was a combat soldier in World War II and a prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

[Source: By Benjamin B. Ferencz, The Wall Street Journal, January 2012]

"It's imperative that every single American now recognizes all this for what it is," says umair haque, Eudaimonia and Co. "The game we've been playing for the last few years -- looking away politely, hoping the bad guys come to their senses -- was always a losing proposition. The bad guys don't have consciences or morals -- would they be bad guys if they did? Until and unless all these things are recognized for what they are -- genuine crimes against humanity, the real thing, identified by a prosecutor of fascism as fascism -- who will have the power to stop them?" 

EXHIBITION OPENING RECEPTION
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2020, 6:00 PM
CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK (CUNY) SCHOOL OF LAW

Featured Artists: Mansoor Adayfi, Moath al-Alwi, Djamel Ameziane, Mohammed al-Ansi (Pier, 2016 above), Ghaleb al-Bihani, Towfiq al-Bihani, Assadulah Haroon Gul, Khalid Qasim, Sabry Mohammed al-Qurashi, Ahmed Badr Rabbani, Abdulmalik al-Rahabi, Mohamedou Salahi

"From acrylic landscapes on canvas to model ships made from scavenged materials such as plastic bottle caps and threads from prayer rugs, Guantánamo [Un]Censored celebrates the creativity of the artists and their resilience...

"Guantánamo Bay has become a symbol of injustice, abuse, and flagrant disregard for the rule of law. Since the prison camp opened in 2002, 780 men have been unlawfully imprisoned. Many were subjected to torture and other brutal treatment. Today, 40 men remain, nearly all held without charge or trial. While some have already been cleared for release by the U.S. military and national security agencies, they continue to languish in prison."

After eight years of pretrial hearings, trials may begin of five detainees involved in 9/11. They've been in Guantanamo now for 14 years. "We are stuck in a kind of legal morass caused really by the nature of [their] detention and later treatment," says Julian Borger, world affairs editor for The Guardian and author of The Butcher's Trail

The CIA is hiding the names of those who ordered and carried out the torture, charges Marc Steiner at The Real News Network. Even after years of legal battles, the United States is likely still using black sites and torture. Psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen and "almost everyone else involved in the extensive ['enhanced interrogation'] program... has remained in the shadows in terms of legality. It's still the dark side of the moon," says Steiner. "So I mean, for all we know, these black sites... could still be going on. We don't know how far up the chain this could go."

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Important Reading

Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper
ON THE LAW OF TORTURE...

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo





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