"Of course, many people in society disagree with the decision [to use torture to interrogate people], and I knew when I was making it that it would be a controversial and difficult decision," Yoo said. "But I still think ... it was still the right decision to make."

The Epitome of Shame

The University of California harbors a war criminal. Please help sustain resistance to the hideous ideology that holds high officials above the law. Contribute generously to the national organization that makes the Fire John Yoo! blog possible: The World Can't Wait.


The Chagossians - the rightful inhabitants of the islands - have sustained a very different sort of torture. They were not beaten or raped, they were not waterboarded or forcibly deprived of sleep, but they were threatened, they were ripped from their homelands (ancestors, communities, schools, homes), they were forced onto the hull of a ship, and they were dropped on foreign islands and forgotten. And this didn't happen in long ago history, it happened only 40 years ago - a slow and pronounced torture that continues today.

illustration: http://inforeunion.overblog.com/2014/05/torture-et-prison-secrete-a-diego-garcia.html

Torture of Neglect and Marginalization Renders a People Invisible

..but after more than a dozen years, we are no closer to an answer. Who exactly Is the U.S. at war with? Clue: "The list is classified and not for public release" says a Pentagon spokeswoman. 

How many people will Obama kill to secure American hegemony? 

The President's embrace of Congress' Authorization for Use of Military Force protects the presumed power of unlimited executive privilege championed by George W. Bush's Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General: At its most basic level, John Yoo's legal analysis restated Richard Nixon's famous line that "when a president does it, that means that it is not illegal." 

see A War Without End: The Untold Story Of The Most Dangerous Sentence In U.S. History  

Bush's 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) set into motion the drone war, torture, and mass warrantless spying. Under Obama's proposed AUMF the government will be free to wage endless, expanding wars all over the world without geographic limits. All of this imperial military doctrine is absolutely illegal, whether Congress approves it or not.

New Documents identify Geoffrey Miller's role in the U.S. torture program.

Tasked with "Gitmo-izing" Abu Ghraib, 
Major General Geoffrey Miller used dogs and 
daily doses of degradation with intent 
to break prisoners mentally and emotionally. 
The infamous Abu Ghraib photos were taken about two months after Miller's visit. 

When confronted about the illegality of his procedures the general responded that these 
detainees would never be brought to trial, 

Upon retirement, Miller was awarded a medal 
for distinguished service and a citation for "innovation" in his career.  

"That the United States is wholly unwilling to investigate and prosecute the very serious claims of torture involving high-level U.S. officials is the very reason for France to thoroughly investigate this case-- not shelve it, thereby extending impunity across borders," said Center for Constitutional Rights Senior Staff Attorney Katherine Gallagher, who is also Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights. "Geoffrey Miller should be summoned and questioned about his role in the U.S. torture program at Guantánamo."

The whole idea [of] fighting or defending against "terrorism" needs to be challenged. Terrorism, particularly inside the borders of the U.S., has been and remains an issue for police, not the military. There is no justification for defining the U.S. as a "war zone" -- much as today's militarized cops might pretend it is... terrorism is not an issue for the military anywhere in the world.

The Senate Torture Report gave a pass to culpable actors beyond the CIA, especially in the White House, the Cabinet, and the Justice Department. At every point where the White House and the DOJ could have and should have said no to tactics that were patently illegal, they said yes.

see New Torture Files by David Cole

Contents of the Senate Intelligence Committee report are largely public record, have been for years, but lawyers for the defendants can now talk in court about what was done to their clients, thanks to its release. Guantanamo clients were brutally interrogated by the CIA. 

"It gives much more authority to the arguments that we're making, it's just not us making up things to try and convince somebody of something," says attorney James Harrington. "Now we have an independent source, and obviously a very high source that verifies the things that we would want to say."

see Report Lends Credence To Defense

Meanwhile, incoming Senate Intelligence Chair Richard Burr has indicated there will be no follow-up to the report: "Put this report down as a footnote in history." North Carolina Stop Torture Now has other plans.

"Had I come forward a little sooner, these programs would have been a little less entrenched, and those abusing them would have felt a little less familiar with and accustomed to the exercise of those powers... Once you grant the government some new power or authority, it becomes exponentially more difficult to roll it back."

Edward Snowden's One Regret


When the CIA looked for legal cover for its post-9/11 torture programme, it is little surprise it looked to Israel. Washington's ally has its own Guantanamo, Camp 1391, which the Israeli Supreme Court has consistently shielded from investigation.

see U.S. looks to Israel to justify torture

In 2009, the UN Committee Against Torture asked for access to this Camp, but their request was summarily denied.


photo: uruknet.info

Although American politicians and their legal advisors are often the public face of this attack, the root of this movement is a coordinated and deliberate attack by law professors hostile to its philosophical foundations, including Eric Posner, Jack Goldsmith, Adrian Vermeule, and John Yoo. In a series of influential writings, they have claimed that since states are motivated primarily by self-interest, compliance with international law is nothing more than high-minded talk. These abstract arguments provide a foundation for dangerous legal conclusions: that international law is largely irrelevant to determining how and when terrorists can be captured or killed; that the US President alone should be directing the War on Terror without significant input from Congress or the judiciary; that US courts should not hear lawsuits alleging violations of international law; and that the US should block any international criminal court with jurisdiction over Americans.

-- International Law Reporter, February 1, 2015

UC Berkeley journalism professor Mark Danner has been writing about the wretched system that facilitates Mohamedou Ould Slahi's detention for almost as long. 

"When the suffering of the untried and unconvicted becomes nothing more than collateral damage, America has crossed a gulf. The steps that took us there were largely secret, but thanks to this and other accounts we know about them now: We know where we came from, and we know where we are. We do not yet know how to get back." -- Sunday Book Review

Except we DO. Hold torturers accountable. Begin with Danner's colleague John Yoo.

January 13, 2015, UC Berkeley Law:  On the second afternoon of the new semester, 35 people arrived at Boalt Hall for a press conference and speak-out. Called by the local chapters of World Can't Wait, the National Lawyers Guild, and Code Pink, this protest marked the 13th anniversary of Guantánamo and raised three demands: Close Guantanamo Now - Prosecute All the Torturers - and Fire, Disbar and Prosecute John Yoo. 

There's a wonderful 20-minute "mini-documentary" radio broadcast highlighting the event that was aired later that afternoon on KPFA's Flashpoints news show, produced by Dennis Bernstein (more below). Listen here: http://www.flashpoints.net/?p=4377

Under signs and banners carried by protesters wearing jumpsuits and hoods, the speak-out was 
a powerful collection of voices, kicked off by Stephanie Tang (World Can't Wait) and attorney Sharon Adams for the National Lawyers Guild. 
Three Berkeley Law alums next took the bullhorn, all well-known for their life's work as lawyers defending justice and rights: Ann Fagan Ginger, 
Dan Siegel, and Stephen Bingham all spoke to the total outrage of having illegal torture condoned 
as legal, and having a war criminal teaching at Boalt. 

Bingham spoke of the anger growing among many alumni over UC's newest reward to Yoo, the oldest endowed chair in the law school. Toby Blome from Code Pink made the connections between the drone wars and the torture. Jeff Paterson (Courage to Resist and Chelsea Manning Support Network) brought solidarity from military resisters and recalled that one result of Chelsea's courage was the release of the Guantanamo Files. Nova from the Revolution Club called on us all to see the connections under a system that generates these abuses and police brutality and murder at home, and to look to a whole different world. And a Boalt law student stepped forward to tell of her shame at having Yoo teaching here, and to say today she was joining this group in protest.
Led by the "prisoners" and banners, the whole speak-out crowd filed into the law school and marched to the office of Boalt's new dean, Sujit Choudry.

We carried photographs of the Guantanamo child prisoner Omar Khadr. A Canadian native, Omar Khadr was 15 years old when he first entered Guantanamo only left 10 years later under a coerced plea bargain that sent him to spend 8 more years in a Canadian prison. Like the other 778 prisoners at Guantanamo since 2002, Omar Khadr was tortured physically and mentally. He suffers permanent damage (he lost one eye at Guantanamo and is in present danger of losing the other eye now due to lack of proper medical treatment in Canada).

In 2010 Sujit Choudry was an attorney with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and was co-counsel on a brief on behalf of Omar Khadr before Canada's Supreme Court (which did rule that the Canadian government had violated Khadr's rights). So Dean Choudry knows well the story of Omar Khadr's torture, and presumably had to study up on what happened in that prison more generally.  People who remember the former dean's protection of John Yoo are hopeful that the new dean will understand his duty to open a full investigation under UC rules into John Yoo's work enabling illegal torture, and move that process toward firing Yoo.
Sharon Adams and Therese Davis delivered to the dean's door a petition organized by the National Lawyers Guild, protesting the awarding of the endowed chair to Torture Professor John Yoo, and bearing over 3,000 signatures gathered in just a few months. The dean wasn't home to receive his guests, but you can hear some back-and-forth between the dean's chief of staff and Sharon Adams and Ann Fagan Ginger, and Susan Harman. (The male voice is the law school's public relations officer. He admitted to us that he "doesn't think much about" what international or U.S. law say about torture.)

Outside the dean's office hang several original paintings by Fernando Botero. They depict his nightmarish vision of the torture at Abu Ghraib. Many find this juxtaposition of proudly displaying the Abu Ghraib paintings, at the school which allows the lawyer whose work product enabled this grotesque, violent mistreatment and murder under official U.S. authority, just too bizarre for words. But we did end our visit to the dean, with a solemn presentation by Janet Weil (Code Pink) of a poem written by a Guantanamo prisoner, Mohammed el Gharani.

With no police in sight to clear the halls, we held a circle conversation for another half hour, grappling with this anniversary of torture, the incredible situation that Guantanamo is still open, and what next steps could be taken toward both closing Guantanamo AND forcing the prosecution of all those responsible including John Yoo.

And Holds Academic Freedom Captive To An Ideology Bereft Of Due Process

When Berkeley Law honors a professor found guilty of professional misconduct, effectively assuming complicity in advancing the illegal usurpation of constitutional powers prescribed, we have a responsibility to call out criminal and enablers alike.

Providing Cover of Law to a Crime Makes It No Less a Crime


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