DownloadedFile.jpegRebecca 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...

"invisible victims"

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In Refracted Justice, Professor Laurel Fletcher argues that international courts and tribunals consistently frustrate the victims of mass atrocities. In her analysis of transitional justice and victims' rights, she questions whether the International Criminal Court can live up to its moral commitments.

Which begs the question: whose 'morals' does Berkeley Law represent?

" is imperative that we develop new models of philanthropy that recognize and honor the interests of our donors." --  UC President Janet Napolitano

Guantanamo nurse refused to participate in "criminal" force-feedings

c/o, with special thanks to Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald

For immediate release: Tue July 15, 2014


A military medical professional at Guantanamo Bay recently refused to force-feed detainees after witnessing the suffering it caused detainees, it has been revealed. 

The incident is thought to be the first case of 'conscientious objection' to force-feeding at Guantánamo since a mass hunger-strike began at the prison last year. Cleared Syrian Abu Wa'el Dhiab related the news on a phone call last week with his Reprieve lawyer, Cori Crider. Dhiab explained that a military nurse recently told him he would no longer participate in force-feedings, saying: "I have come to the decision that I refuse to participate in this criminal act."  

A Department of Defense spokesperson confirmed the basics of this account in an email to Miami Herald journalist Carol Rosenberg. The Spokesman wrote: "There was a recent instance of a medical provider not willing to carry out the enteral feeding of a detainee." The nurse in question has apparently been assigned elsewhere; Mr. Dhiab said that after the man made his decision known, he never saw him again.

The nurse also related to Mr Dhiab the discrepancy between military descriptions of force-feeding and the reality: "before we came here, we were told a different story. The story we were told was completely the opposite of what I saw." Other nurses have voiced their concern about the practice, according to Mr Dhiab, but said they had no power to object. Mr. Dhiab says he often heard comments to the effect of: "Listen, we have no choice. We are worried about our job, our rank."

Force-feeding has been ongoing at the prison since men started hunger striking in peaceful protest at their detention without charge or trial. Last year more than 100 men participated in a mass hunger strike at worsening conditions and indefinite detention after President Obama closed the office charged with closing the prison. That office has since reopened but 149 men, the majority of whom have been cleared for release, remain imprisoned.

Mr Dhiab is currently engaged in a high-profile court battle against force-feeding, winning the first-ever disclosure of videotapes of the practice. Mr Dhiab's security-cleared lawyers have been able to watch the tapes - which they said were so disturbing they had trouble sleeping - but are banned from disclosing their contents to the public or even, in unprecedented censorship, to other security-cleared Guantanamo lawyers. Sixteen major media organizations have intervened in the litigation, seeking to have the force-feeding tapes made public.

Cori Crider, Reprieve's strategic director and attorney for the detainees, said: "This is a historic stand by this nurse, who recognized the basic humanity of the detainees and the inhumanity of what he was being asked to do. He should be commended. He should also be permitted to continue to give medical care to prisoners on the base but exempted from a practice he rightly sees as a violation of medical ethics."


1. For further information, please contact Clemency Wells: 001 (929) 258 2754

 2. The Miami Herald article on the nurse can be found here.

A poignant, heart-wrenching and profoundly truthful poem by Professor Francis A. Boyle

Ode to My Colleague and Friend Frank Newman


Way to go Berkeley Law!
Deeming Yourselves above The Law
Your Dean Frank Newman now crying in Heaven
Berkeley Law can go to Hell!
Accessories After The Fact to torture, murder and war crimes
Law Prof Carl Schmitt would be proud of You All
The Nazis had Their Law Schools too
Replete with John Yoo
RIP Berkeley Law
Into the Ashcan of History You All go
Good Riddance to Cal's Neo-Nazi Rubbish!.
American Law Professors
What have we become?
American Law Professors for torture!
American Law Professors for Gitmo Kangaroo Courts!
American Law Professors for indefinite detention!
American Law Professors for spying!
American Law Professors for drone strikes!
American Law Professors for murder!
American Law Professors for assassinations!
American Law Professors for war crimes!
American Law Professors for crimes against humanity!
American Law Professors for genocide!
American Law Professors for wars of aggression!
American Law Professors for murdering US citizens!
American Law Professors for murder courts!
American Law Professors for trashing the US Constitution!
American Law Professors for trashing the Bill of Rights!
American Law Professors for trashing International Law!
American Law Professors for trashing Human Rights!
How much lower can American Law Professors sink
Into this criminal shit
Of Neo-Nazi Legal Nihilism?
The Nazis had their Law Professors too
The worst of the bunch was Carl Schmitt
And now we have: American Law Professors
For Carl Schmitt too!
Arabs and Muslims
Have become
American Law Professors'
New Jews
And now at Berkeley Law too
With Chaired John Yoo
Francis A. Boyle is an attorney and a professor  at the University of Illinois College of Law. His books include Foundations of World Order (Duke University Press: 1999) and Tackling America's Toughest Questions (2009).   His most recent book is United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law.   This is his poem "Ode to My Colleague and Friend Frank Newman."
Sujit Choudhry defended a victim of Guantanamo. He now has the power to hold the architect of the boy's incarceration accountable.

Will the new Berkeley Law Dean meet the challenge? Respecting student calls for long overdue investigation of the actions of John Yoo could go a long way towards restoring the moral imperative to release Omar Khadr and all the prisoners at America's torture camps.

John Yoo - Caricature

Caricature credit: DonkeyHotey

The selection of John Yoo to fill an endowed faculty chair
 at Boalt Hall has raised righteous indignation across the board, from academics to un-credentialed people of conscience. The appointment represents a huge leap in institutional complicity in war crimes. Where neglect in enforcement of ethical conduct was excused by platitudes of powerlessness from the former dean, the current administration (new Dean, new Chancellor) appears to embrace the politics of exceptionalism: that international law may be selectively employed. Indeed, promotion of John Yoo's hyperbole has helped to normalize illegal government policy on what might be better labelled a "war of terror."
Fire John Yoo has documented the dearth of moral leadership at the Law School, but abandonment of human rights study by the Dean of Humanities adds to serious concerns about campus-wide accommodation for the contemporary imperial state.
..terms of the agreement would prevent lawyers from helping their clients reach out to human rights organizations or UN agencies that deal with torture. Judge Pohl, no expert in international law, rejected their [defense teams for 9/11 suspects] motion for the right to seek remedies under the Convention against Torture, and this is something that they want to relitigate. If they sign the agreement in its current form, they would in essence be voluntarily abandoning that option.

and the 505th day of the Guantanamo hunger strike. 

Guantanamo film stills

A scene from Guantánamo Bay: The Hunger Strikes.

"..the deliberate and systematic scourge of torture continues to be used by brutal and repressive regimes to control populations, extract information, stifle dissent, and suppress emerging movements... Countries who are parties to the Convention Against Torture, including the United States, should be urged to fulfill their legal and moral obligations to provide survivors "as full a rehabilitation as possible" and to fully and promptly investigate all credible allegations of torture and cruel treatment."

 -- Curt Goering, Center for Victims of Torture


Fight Impunity

mainstreaming torture

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The activity of identifying a group as an acceptable torture target simultaneously signals and confirms the non-human status of its members.

A recent federal court decision re-sanctions the force-feeding of hunger strikers at the Guantánamo prison. According to the UN and other international bodies, such practice inflicts pain, suffering and long-term injuries and constitutes torture. Forced cell extraction and the use of dangerous drugs to induce prisoner compliance add to the abuse. The military's refusal to disclose the number of hunger strikers violates President Obama's promise of government transparency and deprives the prisoners of their only means of communicating the deplorable conditions of their imprisonment. 

-- L. Michael Hager, International Development Law Organization, Rome

Americans should see force-feeding for what it is: another example of Guantánamo's shameful abuses.

779 men and boys, all of them Muslim, have been imprisoned over time at Guantánamo since January 2002.

86% were sold to the United States during a time when the U.S. military was offering large bounties for capture; commonly, $5,000 offered per man.

629 men have been transferred.

149 men remain detained. 

88 of them are from Yemen. 

78 have been cleared for release for years but remain imprisoned.

 of those who are cleared for release are Yemenis, but they continue to be detained because of their citizenship.

38 men have been designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial by President Obama's Task Force.

22 or more were children when taken to the detention camp.

More men (9) have died at Guantanamo than have been convicted (8) by the military commissions.

8 years is the longest hunger strike by a man at Guantanamo. It's still going.

0 senior government officials have been held accountable for the wrongful detention and torture at Guantanamo.

Guantánamo by the Numbers, c/o Center for Constitutional Rights

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