When presidential power is used to extend empire, to spread violence or to bomb sovereign nations, it always seems permissible to Congress and the corporate media. But using presidential power to help people, to close Guantánamo, "dramatically" upsets the controlling interests in Congress and the media...

Congressional restrictions aside, Commander-In-Chief does as he pleases

Wednesday October 15, 7pm
Revolution Books
2425 Channing Way, Berkeley

For nearly forty years, the United States has been gripped by policies that have placed more than 2.5 million Americans in jails and prisons designed to hold a fraction of that number of inmates. Our prisons are not only vast and overcrowded, they are degrading--relying on racist gangs, lockdowns, and Supermax-style segregation units to maintain a tenuous order. 

"A masterful job of assessing the qualitative shift in the court's analysis on human rights concerns as they apply to our notorious prison system, the book points the way to a legal strategy premised on human dignity as a means of challenging mass incarceration."
-- Marc Mauer, executive director, The Sentencing Project, and author of Race to Incarcerate

Jonathan Simon is the Associate Dean of the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley, author of Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear and Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass, 1890-1990, co-editor of Punishment & Society, associate editor of Law & Society Review, and a professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Policy, and Legal Studies. 

According to the Gitmo authorities, there's also no such thing as 'force-feeding' at the base [Guantanamo concentration camp] -- only 'enteral feeding.' Recently, they decided there was also no such thing as a 'hunger strike' going on -- only 'longterm non-religious fasts.'

"..implementing or proposing any changes "is the furthest thing from my mind." -- new Guantanamo commander Rear Admiral Kyle Cozad

new Joint Task Force emblem includes razor wire surrounding camps


A university that allows a war criminal to teach constitutional and international law courses to the next generation of lawyers and judges under prejudice of "academic freedom" is protecting war crimes. Faced with the challenge of moral relativism popularized in today's schools, will students find the courage to speak out against the crimes of their government?


Photo: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group

For the president to officially admit that men were tortured in the name of national security is one thing. For him to justify those actions, and attempt to induce sympathy or even exculpate those who were in charge of designing and implementing a torture program - in the name of all Americans - is reprehensible.

-- Professor Falguni A. Sheth, Hampshire College


The failure of President Obama to seek a more rational foreign policy is a disquieting but important lesson: those pressing for a lawful, constitutional government that resolves international conflicts instead of initiating them have far more work to do and cannot rely on the promises -- falsely given -- by politicians from any political party.. Both parties remain committed to imperialism and the wars that accompany them...

so-called responsibility to protect is a thinly-veiled excuse for Western meddling in countries thousands of miles away.

Amrit Singh, a lawyer with the New York-based Open Society Justice Initiative and the author of Administration of Torture, a book detailing the Bush administration's torture policy, said the new details of the CIA excesses should not come as a surprise.


For liberals, it was an embarrassing day. Senator Barbara Boxer of California was there to defend the President and his misuse of the AUMF. And the most ardent defender of the Constitution and Congress's power to declare war was not a Democrat but Senator Rand Paul...

John Kerry Fronts for Illegal War

"What is remarkable," the torture professor told BuzzFeed News, "is not that Obama eventually had to exercise the powers of his predecessors to protect American national security, but that his party in Congress, and his allies in the media and the universities, have remained so silent about it."

More on the Obama-Yoo alliance here

By Sharon Adams, Vice-President, National Lawyers Guild, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

the facts: 

Choudhry represented Omar Khadr, a 15-year old boy removed from Afghanistan* and rendered to Guantanamo in 2002, in a case heard by Justice Abella and the other Justices of the Canadian Supreme Court. John Yoo is infamously known for writing the legal memos stating that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to so-called "enemy combatants" detained in Guantanamo and other black sites outside of the United States.

While Choudhry was a faculty member at the law school of the University of Toronto, he filed an intervener's brief before the Canadian Supreme Court on behalf of Khadr in which Choudhry condemned Guantanamo as a "legal black hole". He quoted with approval a statement by the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights that "the choice of the site in Guantanamo Bay was the first marker that there was an attempt by the U.S. administration to manage the war on terror outside the legal framework." Choudhry did not mince words, and identified the question before the Canadian Supreme Court as "what constitutional duties Canada owes [Khadr] under [Canadian law] in light of this flagrantly illegal conduct of the American government."

The particular issue was the legal validity U.S. military commissions to try detainees, and use of information gathered by Canadian agents. Choudhry stated that Canada profited from "violation of [Khadr's] rights under international law by the American authorities" that the "proceedings in Guantanamo Bay violate international law" and that the legal proceedings at Guantanamo Bay "do not meet the minimum standards of due process under international law."

In considering what happened to Khadr in Guantanamo, the Canadian Supreme Court, in Minister of Justice et al. v. Omar Ahmed Khadr, 2008 SCC 28, unanimously agreed that "the conditions under which Mr. Khadr was held and was liable for prosecution were illegal under both U.S. and international law ..."

ISIS militants copy practices championed by the University of California:

James Foley was tortured by members of the militant Islamic State group who were modeling some of their techniques on those used by the CIA, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

Foley was held by ISIS in Syria for nearly two years before his horrific beheading last week. The Post reported that, during that time, he and at least three others were "waterboarded several times."

Waterboarding became perhaps the most notorious method of torture practiced by American interrogators in the years after September 11th...


John Yoo and the Senate Torture Report

By Ralph E. Stone

August 21, 2014

Professor John Yoo stepped away from his lectern at the UC Berkeley School of Law to send an e-mail to the San Francisco Chronicle criticizing the forthcoming Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) torture report saying that if "torture was used and it didn't work, she [Senator Dianne Feinstein] is flat wrong."

Yoo claimed the report failed to maintain "bipartisanship" that "will undermine its conclusions." This is a preemptive attack by Yoo as the release of the Senate torture report will probably place Yoo on the hot-seat again.

The SSCI Torture report has been approved for public release.  However, the SSCI and the CIA are fighting over the CIA's substantial redactions to the torture report summary. The torture report is 6,000 pages, adopted by the SSCI in December 2012. It is the most comprehensive report on the CIA's use of "enhanced interrogation techniques," a euphemism for torture...

DownloadedFile.jpegThe United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday announced the appointment of experts to carry out an independent commission charged with investigating possible war crimes during the month-long assault on Gaza that has killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians and 67 Israelis...

The announcement prompted immediate backlash from Israeli officials who charge that the author of Genocide in International Law holds an anti-Israel bias -- how dare he suggest that the military occupation of Palestinian territory is in some way wrong?

"It is dangerous to be outspoken against the war," says journalist Haggai Matar. Vigorous suppression of dissent within Israel makes outside pressure against the siege of Gaza all the more critical. 

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