images-1.jpgFormer Bush Justice Department Official splits hairs in defense of Trump Jr's Russian lawyer meeting. Shameless? Hypocritical? You bet.

"Unfortunately, while Trump may not know or care about the legal precedents behind his actions, his lawyers surely do, and you can be sure they'll be citing Yoo's work on the unitary executive theory," notes political blogger Heather Digby Parton. "No one could have predicted that Trump, of all people, would become president, but that's exactly why the cumbersome checks and balances were put in place to begin with."

"Worse, a majority of Trump supporters don't believe the meeting occurred. This is an example of just what we're up against. Fortunately, we have the agency to counter denial of the crimes of our government:

Refuse Fascism Organizing Meeting
Thursday July 20, 6:30 - 8:30 pm
Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts
2868 Mission Street, San Francisco

Hundreds, in several major cities, took to the streets and raised a unified demand: THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO! This signifies something new. An organized force proposing a bold plan to demand that an entire regime be removed from power because it is fascist and what that would mean for the future of humanity and the planet. Everyone who stepped out July 15th should know we have put this demand, the stand and organization of RefuseFascism.org on the map.
There are plenty of 'bad guys' complicit in the criminal actions of the Trump administration. More are likely to be exposed. But until then, people living in the United States share responsibility to acknowledge the horrors perpetrated in their name, and demonstrate determined resistance to the cruel and brutal future advanced by America's executioner-in-chief.

"Assault on truth has been slowly building for years. It took the election of Donald Trump to make frighteningly clear the civic consequences of living in a world in which the truth is not respected," blogs Bill Scheinman. "But a community denial of truth -- which is what we can call it when millions of people, on the political left and right, choose to believe patent falsehoods -- this community denial of truth can only happen if we, as individuals, are also denying the simple, basic truths of our own lives."

The Trump/Pence regime not only subverts the separation of powers, the separation of Church and State, and calls for a new nuclear arms race; it demonizes the press and substitutes "alternative facts" for scientific reality. 


Dr. James Waller, Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Keene State College, explains that "what makes perpetrators of genocide and mass killing different is the group dynamic. Any type of group amplifies a situation, either for bad or for good. Individual killers in these groups believe that killing itself is wrong but it is a worse wrong to not kill. That subtle difference may be the key element in what separates the mentality of "them" and "us." 

Dr. Waller also points out that perpetrators have a very high sense of morality "BUT their morality goes in the opposite direction of ours. For the perpetrator, the victim means nothing to them morally speaking, but for us, we will empathize for the victim and with the victim's loved ones. Perpetrators are able to reconfigure their mindsets, justifying their actions."

The process of 'normalization' attending these crimes, enhanced by codification into law by ruling parties, plus the bombardment of justification by news media, threatens to make monsters of us all -- if we let it. Say NO! The Trump/Pense Regime Must Go! 

Only political organizing and popular mobilization can overturn a Muslim Ban.

"The glorification of lawyers and the courts that took place in the immediate aftermath of the ban was misguided," says Shamas. "This mistaken response was prominent among protesters, academics, journalists and perhaps most predictably, lawyers. And as the struggle moved from the streets and airport terminals to the courts, politicians stopped paying attention. In enabling them to look away, we have done a disservice to those we seek to help."

The reward of amnesty to perpetrators of state-sponsored discrimination and false imprisonment by the U.S. Supreme Court last week serves the interests of a ruling class determined to preserve the status quo of a thoroughly rotten system of exploitation. We must not be fooled by appeals to faith in a 'balance of powers' construct to 'check' the advances of fascism in America. 

"The Trump/Pence Regime will not be bound by the rule of law and the Courts cannot be relied on to stop them," say the folks at RefuseFascism.org. "It is on us - on the masses of people, in our millions who hate and fear what this regime is doing - to stand up and say NO!"

Stay tuned for local protest against the reintroduction of the Muslim Ban. And share your plans for national protest, July 15th. Statement here.  
trump-sessions.jpg"Military coups aren't the most likely model for destroying democratic institutions," argues University of Chicago Law professor Aziz Huq. "One lesson is that the road away from democracy is rarely characterized by overt violations of the formal rule of law. To the contrary, the contemporary path away from democracy under the rule of law typically relies on actions within the law." 

The process is known as democratic backsliding, says Alexandra Rosenmann at AlterNet.org.

Central among these legal measures is the early disabling of internal monitors of governmental illegality by the aggressive exercise of (legal) personnel powers. Often, there are related changes to the designs of institutions, which might be brought about through legislation, Professor Huq explained. "Ironically, the law is deployed to undermine legality and the rule of law more generally."
What role do political scientists play in the normalization of the crimes of your government? 

The American Political Science Association (APSA) has engaged UC Berkeley torture advocate John Yoo for two sessions of its "Quest for Legitimacy":  

The Future of the Judiciary
Thursday August 31, 10:00 to 11:30am
Hilton San Francisco Union Square 

Checks on Executive Power in the Age of Obama and Trump
Friday September 1, 4:00 to 5:30pm
Hilton San Francisco Union Square 

Berkeley Law School harbors a War Criminal. APSA gives him a platform. We say NO! Not In Our Name! Indict, Prosecute, Disbar John Yoo!
A lawyer for the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has embraced complicity in sheltering Torture Professor John Yoo. . .

"I have very high regard for John Yoo as a scholar and as a teacher and I know that he's a terrific colleague," Erwin Chemerinsky said. "I look forward to being his colleague."

The new dean expressed his priorities: Raising money, and continuing to attract "top faculty and students." Presumably those willing to close their eyes to the Federal Torture Act.

Shame on John Yoo.

Shame on the University of California.

Shame on Lawyers who put Career above the Law.
"A grim reality underlies the White House circus," writes Theo Anderson at In These Times. "Trump's election is the culmination of a radical right-wing movement that began with the founding of [the Heritage Foundation] in 1973. . . Trump is that movement's best hope yet for achieving its great dream of gutting government. Heritage isn't an appendage of the Trump administration's radicalism. It's the heart of it."

"If you are looking to understand where the underpinning of the Trump Administration's deregulation, tax breaks for the wealthy, Obamacare repeal and replace alternatives, climate change denial, and privatization agenda will be coming from, look no further than the Washington D.C. based Heritage Foundation, America's most influential right-wing think tank." - Bill Berkowitz for Buzzflash at Truthout 

The last thing humanity needs is for Donald Trump to "make America great again." From the foundational institution of slavery to tireless exploitation of resources across the globe, untold numbers of government lawyers have defended crimes against humanity subsidized by U.S. government. The Heritage Foundation boasts more than its share. Staffers in the Trump administration demonstrate an unsettling disregard for legal limitations on executive power. 

"Many thousands, if not millions, of people in the United States itself are demonstrably sickened, ashamed and angered by their government's actions, but as things stand they are not a coherent political force - yet," said the late British playwright Harold Pinter upon receipt of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005. "But the anxiety, uncertainty and fear which we can see growing daily in the United States is unlikely to diminish."

World Can't Wait urges you to accept the Refuse Fascism challenge:


Progressive Radio host Steve Lendman asks why any sensible UC Berkeley law student would choose classes taught by Torture Professor John Yoo, whose infamous Bush/Cheney administration memos "claimed legal justification for what international law categorically prohibits at all times, under all circumstances, with no allowed exceptions." 

As deputy assistant attorney general, Yoo sanctioned executive power to:


Last week, the professor defended the ultimate war crime, "the act of aggression with or without a declaration of war, on the territory, vessels or aircraft of another State." 

WCW_Syria_Eng_StillWrong_C.jpg"In his torture memos, John Yoo, a lawyer for the Bush administration, notoriously asserted the authority of the commander in chief to violate statutory commands -- only to see Presidents Bush and Obama repudiate his extreme assertions. But the present case [President Trump's airstrike on Syria] is even more serious," says NY Times op-ed contributor Bruce Ackerman. The U.S. Congress provides shaky agency for moral righteousness: a bipartisan majority supports reprisal against Syria's President Assad absent evidence or due process.

Did we learn anything from the Iraq war? 

"If the commander in chief may unilaterally begin new wars against new enemies whenever he wants, the resulting carnage can mount into the millions," adds Ackerman.
"The delusion that holds that U.S. presidents have the power to make laws," writes author, activist, journalist, and radio host David Swanson, "whether closing transgender bathrooms, banning Muslim immigrants, or criminalizing torture, has reached its apex with the collective fantasy that Obama banned and Trump unbanned torture...

"In recent decades we've moved from presidents issuing 'executive orders' and calling them laws, to presidents rewriting laws that they are signing with 'signing statements', to presidents secretly creating laws (and signing statements) in hidden memos, to presidents secretly or publicly tossing out their choice of the presidential 'laws' created by their predecessors, all the way to presidents just making laws by announcing them on television or Twitter."

Can the president write his own laws and procedures? "It is a fairly common rhetorical flourish for presidential candidates to say something like 'when elected, I will repeal' a law," notes American legal journalist Lyle Denniston. "But they can't... the process for repealing a law has to begin in Congress."

"In a matter of weeks, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is expected to open a full-fledged investigation into the 'war crimes of torture and related ill-treatment, by United States military forces deployed to Afghanistan and in secret detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency,' " submits Loyola Law School International Human Rights Clinic director Mary H. Hansel to the Wisconsin Law Review. The author invokes the principle of complementarity (all states have a duty to prosecute or extradite suspected perpetrators of international crimes when the state of the alleged perpetrator fails to exercise jurisdiction) to prescribe legal proceedings against government lawyers who authorized the use of 'enhanced interrogation' techniques amounting to torture. 

"Contrary to popular belief," says Hansel, "there is nothing about functioning in a legal capacity that immunizes lawyers from prosecution for their participation in crimes." Former Office of Legal Counsel John Yoo, attorney general Alberto Gonzales, undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, general counsel for the Department of Defense William Haynes II, Dick Cheney's chief of staff David Addington, and now-judge of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Jay Bybee were all involved in the drafting of torture memos that facilitated war crimes of torture, cruel treatment and rape.   

In an ICC report dated November 14, 2016 chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda found "these alleged crimes were not the abuses of a few isolated individuals." The report stated that the U.S. Army soldiers subjected at least 61 detainees to torture practices, and CIA officers did so to at least 27 detainees, mostly between May, 2003 and December, 2004, but continued after that date.

Time will tell if the ICC pursues charges, adds Hansel. "Meanwhile, members of the Trump Administration, including newly-confirmed attorney general Jeff Sessions, have indicated that they deem torture a viable option in the treatment of detained terrorist suspects.

"Indeed, the provision of legal cover for torture by government attorneys may be a recurrent problem in years to come."
Former acting head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel Steven G. Bradbury was spotted outside the Office of Presidential Personnel last week, reports Ryan J. Reilly to The Huffington Post, ostensibly peddling his expertise in abusive treatment of political prisoners to the Trump administration.

1304974861896.cached.jpg
Bradbury coauthored (with his pals Jay Bybee and John Yoo) the infamous "torture memos" -- legal opinions to justify CIA brutality at Guantanamo and "black sites" around the globe -- one of which authorized the use of 13 different "enhanced interrogation techniques": dietary manipulation, nudity, attention grasp, walling, facial hold, facial slap or insult slap, abdominal slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, water dousing, sleep deprivation of more than 48 hours, and waterboarding.

That last technique (waterboarding) holds particular appeal to Donald Trump, who wants to reinstitute the practice, saying "absolutely" he believes torture works, that "as far as [he's] concerned, we have to fight fire with fire." Torture's also a War Crime, a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions ratified by the United States in 1949. 

"The President appears hell bent on creating a world where all nations stoop to the most base behavior, where nothing is off limits, where no one upholds decency, human rights and the rule of law," reads a comment to The Northern Echo. Former Bush officials appear only too happy to collaborate with the legion of white supremacists, woman haters, science deniers, religious fundamentalist zealots, and war mongers inflicting repression and suffering on people in this country, violence on people across the globe, and destruction of the planet itself. 

Voices of Conscience demand that these criminal practices stop now. We have an obligation not only to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity after they occur but to put an end to the shameful policies which allow them to continue.

We say NO! to Torture and NO! to Trump Supporters who advocate its use. We refuse to accept the dictates of an illegitimate government!
On Wednesday, March 29, the American Enterprise Institute will release a new paper John Yoo and I [Todd Gaziano, Pacific Legal Foundation] wrote, "Presidential Authority to Revoke or Reduce National Monument Designations," which explains why presidential decrees are not "permanent" under our constitutional order, especially not pursuant to the Antiquities Act of 1906. That afternoon on Capitol Hill, Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) is hosting an event in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Hearing Room on the release of our paper.

If you are in the DC area on Wednesday and wish to attend the event on Capitol Hill, please RSVP to Collin Callahan at CBC@pacificlegal.org or call (703) 647-2112.
1485198713984.jpgOf the 41 who remain today -- overseen by some 1,650 troops and civilians -- only 10 have been charged with war crimes. The majority have been detained for more than a decade, and none were captured by the U.S. military. -- Foreign Policy reporter Molly O'Toole 

The $8.4 million renovation of Camp 5 proceeds as planned, presumably to house "bad dudes" of Donald Trump's choosing. Guantánamo supporters argue that the expense is cause to expand use of the American concentration camp. "We've invested a lot of money" in Guantánamo, and it's a "safe place to keep prisoners," says Attorney General Jeff Sessions. "It fits that purpose marvelously well."

Prisoner defense lawyers find a different motivation at work. "Guantánamo is at its core a place to send Muslim men and boys to be abused and forgotten, with only the most minimal judicial oversight and visibility to media," says Shayana Kadidal.

"So of course Trump loves it."

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Broken Laws, Broken Lives

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ON THE LAW OF TORTURE...

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo





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