A SYMPOSIUM AT BERKELEY LAW

Thursday, February 12, 2015 
3:30-5:30 pm 
Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall
 

 

PANELISTS

Robert H. Cole, Professor of Law Emeritus, Berkeley Law 
Mark Danner, author, Torture and Truth, and Professor of Journalism, UC Berkeley 
Rebecca Gordon, author, Mainstreaming Torture - Ethical Perspectives in the Post 9-11 United States 
Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director, ACLU

MODERATOR

Bill Roller, President, Berkeley Group Education Foundation

Co-sponsored by 
Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law 
Henderson Center for Social Justice 
Human Rights Center

In partnership with 
Berkeley Group Education Foundation

The foundational values of our legal system are at stake in United States national security programs. Accordingly, this symposium seeks to promote a heightened awareness of the responsibilities of lawyers, the organized bar, law schools and law students in the context of torture. The panelists will discuss the history and present status of the United States practice of torture, its effects on national security, the role of government lawyers and the impact of lawyers who are representing detainees and challenging government programs, and the possibilities for a regime of greater legal control and governmental accountability. In addition to government lawyers, other professionals have been involved in implementing government programs, and the symposium will report on the involvement of mental health professionals in torture and on what the psychological profession has done to establish ethical guidelines for its involvement in interrogations. Participants include a prize-winning journalist who has investigated government programs, one of the country's preeminent lawyers seeking accountability for national security programs, and the author of a recent book on Mainstreaming Torture.

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John Kiriakou is the only CIA employee to go to prison in connection with the agency's torture program. Not because he tortured anyone, but because he revealed information on torture to a reporter.

In a wide-ranging phone interview with The Intercept, Kiriakou, 50, shared his thoughts on the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA interrogation techniques, on his incarceration, and on his future after prison.



painting by Robert Shetterley


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

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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.)

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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

FREE OMAR KHADR NOW

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Dick Cheney says he would repeat the torture policies of the Bush administration. Obama snoozes. We can't afford to. The price of justice delayed is justice denied. One hundred and twenty-seven lives are on the line as you read this.


UC Berkeley Law School shelters the former vice president's accomplice and agent of descent into the 'dark side'. When students receive instruction in how to evade the law, we have every reason to challenge the administrators responsible. Accountability is essential if systemic threats to the rule of law are to be corrected.


..Sujit Choudhry, the new Dean of Berkeley Law School, now has the power to hold law professor John Yoo accountable for his actions, as one of the architects of the Bush administration's torture program. In January 2010, Choudhry was a lawyer with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and was co-counsel when the BCCLA "appeared as an intervener on behalf of Mr. Khadr" when Canada's Supreme Court ruled that "the Government of Canada violated the Charter rights of Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr."


-- Andy WorthingtonCanadian Appeals Court Rules That Former Guantánamo Prisoner Omar Khadr Should Be Serving a Youth Sentence 


Five years after his defense of one of the youngest victims of America's war of terror (Omar is now 28 and going blind due to injuries endured during his incarceration) Choudhry has an opportunity to discharge the architect of the young man's misery.


Meanwhile, we find ourselves in the inexplicable situation where rule by (not of) law presides, and acceptance of torture threatens our humanity. Will the 'real' Dean stand up?

Tuesday January 13, 1:00 pm
Press Conference followed by March to Office of the Dean 

West Terrace of Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley

The U.S. torture camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has been open 13 years. More than 100 men are still held, the majority of whom are cleared for release. They suffer the Obama administration's practice of indefinite detention. An unknown number of hunger strikers continue to be force-fed in violation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. 

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World Can't Wait joins the Witness Against Torture community to protest an era of ruthless brutality. Demonstrations at the CIA, White House and State Department and a symbolic fast in solidarity with Guantanamo prisoners will continue over a week. The special Bay Area action on January 13 demands long-overdue investigation of professional misconduct by "Torture Professor" John Yoo, author of Department of Justice opinions that enabled the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" employed at Guantanamo and revealed in the horrific photos from Abu Ghraib.

The Prohibition of Torture is Absolute.

The debate over whether torture "worked" presupposes an outmoded belief in American Exceptionalism, an assumption of moral superiority that belies the hard reality of U.S. exploitation of people and resources across the globe. International law and basic human decency deplores the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment employed to maintain control over victims of capitalist democracy.

 

The President is obliged to hold war criminals and their agents accountable; refusal to do so invokes application of the U.S. federal conspiracy statute, which supplies independent authority to prosecute those who evade oversight. ACLU/Human Rights Watch letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calls for investigation by a Special Prosecutor.


The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down.-- New York Times joins call for Prosecution of Torturers and Their Bosses  


Prosecutions are the very best way to ensure that officials don't torture again. The freedom afforded Bush administration officials today threatens to normalize criminal behavior by "do it again" Cheney and company. The Center for Constitutional Rights' Michael Ratner applauds investigation by a German human rights group, but as Curt Goering at The Center for Victims of Torture reminds us, "It is about us. And it is up to all of us to act."


From Ferguson to Guantanamo, masses of people are challenging the legitimacy of policies that contribute to state sanctioned terror. 

Avoiding the routine departure from "our values" requires confronting our actual history; it's the only way to learn from it. Torture and total war are not the work of a few bad people, but the product of a system that from its inception treated human beings as property and the right to property as more important than the rights of women and men - it's who we are, and if we want the violence wrought by our system to end, we must honestly address the systemic cause. -- Charles Davis, Blacklisted News


World Can't Wait organizes people living in the United States to repudiate and stop the fascist direction initiated by the Bush Regime, including: the murderous, unjust and illegitimate occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan; the global "war of terror" of torture, rendition and spying; and the culture of bigotry, intolerance and greed. This direction cannot and will not be reversed by leaders who tell us to seek common ground with fascists, religious fanatics, and empire. It can only be possible by the people building a community of resistance - an independent mass movement of people - acting in the interests of humanity to stop, and demand prosecution, of these crimes.


Get Involved


Today, many Americans and world citizens are trying to reconcile the image they have of the United States and the gruesome, brutal truth that they have been shown.


The Elephant in the Room: What Was Not in the Senate Torture Report

If we don't invalidate "horrifically faulty" Justice Department opinions, future lawyers will follow suit.


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http://s279.photobucket.com/user/davidckitchen/media/6a00e552b9224688340120a8609668970b-.jpg.html 


War Crimes Case Filed in Germany

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The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down...


any credible investigation should include former Vice President Dick Cheney; Mr. Cheney's chief of staff, David Addington; the former C.I.A. director George Tenet; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the Office of Legal Counsel lawyers who drafted what became known as the torture memos. There are many more names that could be considered, including Jose Rodriguez Jr., the C.I.A. official who ordered the destruction of the videotapes; the psychologists who devised the torture regimen; and the C.I.A. employees who carried out that regimen.


Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses


Berkeley Marine Corps Recruitment Center, January 2008.

Photo by Felix, exclusive to World Can't Wait.

Breaking Bad

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The debate over whether torture "worked" is beside the point.


The law doesn't say that torture is a crime unless it produces useful intelligence, any more than it says that murder is a crime unless it is profitable. It simply says that torture is a crime, always and in any circumstances. As it should.


Don't hold your breath waiting for the American legal system to punish the government officials responsible for the U.S. torture program. The greatest civil rights triumphs of the twentieth century were accomplished by principled activism to raise public consciousness about injustices.

 

Release of the Senate committee's report provides a rich opportunity to challenge the practice of State torture and the legitimacy of institutions that sanction its use.


We Can't "Move On"

Take Torture Off the Table

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Despite Obama's clear policy ban on torture, and the clear prohibitions in US law, there is little to stop a future president, in the wake an extraordinary national security event like the September 11 attacks, from unearthing unethical lawyers to revoke Obama's 2009 executive order, throw established law out the window, revive the twisted reasoning behind the old torture memos, and fashion a new "neo-torture memo" or other legal document to justify the CIA's old methods again...


why, if the tactics were illegal, is no one being prosecuted for them?

This is a point that UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism Ben Emmerson specifically made last week following the release of the report. In a statement, Emmerson said, "The fact that the policies revealed in this report were authorized at a high level within the U.S. government provides no excuse whatsoever. Indeed, it reinforces the need for criminal accountability."


see Torture Impunity and Police Shootings

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Important Reading

Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper
ON THE LAW OF TORTURE...

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo





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