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.

"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."

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 ..."

John Yoo's incredibly long, detailed and incorrect memos purported to give legal justification for suspension of the Geneva Conventions and implementation of illegal military commissions. For example, in his Jan. 9, 2002 Memo to William Haynes II, Yoo stated unequivocally that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to the Taliban or al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Yoo's other memos were the basis for the torture that occurred at Guantanamo and Abu Grahib. techniques-amounted-to-torture

the challenge: 

DEAN CHOUDHRY -- While a professor at a public university, you used that platform to denounce what you identified as "flagrantly illegal conduct". Now, you are Dean of a public university that harbors John Yoo -- one of the main authors of the memos that purported to permit that illegal conduct. Do you want your legal legacy to be: It's OK to do civil rights work, as long as you don't make real change? Or do you want your legal legacy to be that you stood up for human rights? INVESTIGATE JOHN YOO!!!

JUSTICE ABELLA -- Thank you for your decisions in the Khadr cases. Will you take this opportunity to speak out against torture, against indefinite detention and against harboring war criminals? SILENCE IS COMPLICTY!!!

*Khadr was charged with throwing a grenade at a U.S. soldier, although the evidence shows he was unconscious after being shot twice in the back.

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...

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

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. 
Our friend Henry Norr has posted a comprehensive archive here; thanks Henry!

Five years after the Obama Administration released the Torture Memos, "no 'patriotic official' has been indicted, no judges have been impeached and no professor has been stripped of his academic tenure--not even the one who defined torture as 'equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.' In June, John Yoo was awarded an endowed faculty chair at the UC Berkeley School of Law. Bush appointee Jay Bybee remains on the federal bench. Cheney's legal alchemist David Addington is now creating alternative realities at the Heritage Center. Psychologist James Mitchell, one of the consultants who helped the Bush administration render the Geneva Conventions quaint, didn't lose his professional credentials, even after claiming, 'I'm just a guy who got asked to do something for his country.' Jose Rodriguez, who as head of the CIA's clandestine service personally ordered the destruction of dozens of interrogation videotapes, is a conservative hero who has smeared the soon-to-be-released Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA torture program despite having never read a word of it...

President Obama and CIA chief John Brennan during his White House swearing in ceremony in 2013. (Photo: AFP/Brendan Smialowski)

The CIA chief's admission that the agency spied on the Intelligence Committee's panel investigating torture during the Bush years pressured Obama to concede "We tortured some folks."

Not that he's about to do anything about it. It's up to the people living in the United States to hold war criminals accountable. That's where we come in. Stay tuned for actions at Boalt's Hall of Torture.


Rebecca Gordon, author of the new book Mainstreaming Torture, says

"There are several important reasons why the resurgence of torture remains a possibility in post-Bush America:

* Torture did not necessarily end when Obama took office.

* We have never had a full accounting of all the torture programs in the "war on terror."

* Not one of the senior government officials responsible for activities that amounted to war crimes has been held accountable, nor were any of the actual torturers ever brought to court.

And further, "The U.S. has a long history of involvement with torture -- from its war in the Philippines at the dawn of the twentieth century on. It has also, as in Latin America in the 1960s, trained torturers serving other regimes. But until 9/11 top officials in this country had never publicly approved of torture...

That consensus no longer exists today. After 9/11 those 'gloves' came off." 

Whether that situation continues is up to us...

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