June 2008 Archives

featuring Stephen Rohde, constitutional lawyer, lecturer, writer, political activist,
and past President of the ACLU of Southern California

7PM, Friday, June 27, 2008
Berkeley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall
1924 Cedar Street (at Bonita), Berkeley, CA - Wheelchair accessible
$5-20 sliding scale - no one turned away for lack of funds - All ages welcome

This TOWN HALL is sponsored by "No To Torture - John Yoo Must Go!" - a new coalition founded to support the demands first raised by the National Lawyers Guild that UC law professor John Yoo must be dismissed, disbarred, and prosecuted for war crimes.

John Yoo was one of the main authors of the memos giving the Bush administration a green light for the torture that has shocked the conscience of the world. Come hear the "torture professor" controversy debated by constitutional lawyer Stephen Rohde and speakers from the National Lawyers Guild, World Can't Wait, and the UC Berkeley community.

  • Should UC Berkeley allow him to teach and mentor the next generation of lawyers and judges?
  • Does "academic freedom" or university tenure protect John Yoo?
  • What responsibility did John Yoo as a lawyer have for the torture, since he did not personally torture anyone?

The coalition includes members of the Bay Area chapters of the National Lawyers Guild and the World Can't Wait, Boalt and UC alumni, students, scholars, Psychologists for an Ethical APA (American Psychological Association), organizations who work for rights of torture survivors, the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, and other community, human rights, and anti-war activists.

You can follow the coalition's activities, and find a growing resource page with many links and press articles at

A Call for an Inquiry into the Ideological and Legal Origins of the Torture Doctrine

By David A. Sylvester, April 11, 2006

Today we are here to challenge Professor Christopher Edley, Jr, dean of Boalt Hall at the UC-Berkeley School of Law, as a former civil rights attorney, as well as the rest of the law faculty at Boalt Hall to respond to a national emergency. That national emergency is that their profession - the academic legal profession and the universities that have trained them - has produced an ideology that claims to justify what used to be considered crimes of totalitarian governments, namely arbitrary detention, torture, trials before military commissions without any civil due process, not just as emergency measures required during a state of war but as legally based on the United States Constitution.

continue reading at http://bydavidsylvester.blogspot.com/ 

Press Release: Massachusetts School Of Law

17/06/08 "
ICH" -- - A conference to plan the prosecution of President Bush and other high administration officials for war crimes will be held September 13-14 at the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover .

"This is not intended to be a mere discussion of violations of law that have occurred," said convener Lawrence Velvel, dean and cofounder of the school. "It is, rather, intended to be a planning conference at which plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth."

"We must try to hold Bush administration leaders accountable in courts of justice," Velvel said. "And we must insist on appropriate punishments, including, if guilt is found, the hangings visited upon top German and Japanese war-criminals in the 1940s."

Velvel said past practice has been to allow U.S. officials responsible for war crimes in Viet Nam and elsewhere to enjoy immunity from prosecution upon leaving office. "President Johnson retired to his Texas ranch and his Defense Secretary Robert McNamara was named to head the World Bank; Richard Nixon retired to San Clemente and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was allowed to grow richer and richer," Velvel said.

He noted in the years since the prosecution and punishment of German and Japanese leaders after World War Two those nation's leaders changed their countries' aggressor cultures. One cannot discount contributory cause and effect here, he said.

"For Bush, Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and John Yoo to spend years in jail or go to the gallows for their crimes would be a powerful lesson to future American leaders," Velvel said.

The conference will take up such issues as the nature of domestic and international crimes committed; which high-level Bush officials, including Federal judges and Members of Congress, are chargeable with war crimes; which foreign and domestic tribunals can be used to prosecute them; and the setting up of an umbrella coordinating committee with representatives of legal groups concerned about the war crimes such as the Center for Constitutional Rights, ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, among others.

The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover was established in 1988 to provide an affordable, quality legal education to minorities, immigrants and students from low-income households that might otherwise be denied the opportunity to obtain a legal education and practice law. Its founder, Dean Velvel, has been honored by the National Law Journal and cited in various publications for his contributions to the reform of legal education.

Further information Jeff Demers at demers@msl.edu   978) 681-0800; or Sherwood Ross, media consultant to MSL, at sherwoodr1@yahoo.com

Caged for life

| | TrackBacks (0)

John Yoo's Ongoing Falsehoods in Service of Limitless Government Power

by Glenn Greenwald

Published on Tuesday, June 17, 2008 by Salon.com

One of the most reliable methods for knowing that a position is unsustainable is that its advocates must employ outright falsehoods in order to support it. In a Wall St. Journal Op-Ed today, John Yoo defends the right of the Bush administration to imprison people at Guantanamo indefinitely with no judicial review and condemns last week's Supreme Court habeas corpus ruling as "judicial imperialism of the highest order." To do so, Yoo asserts what have become the now-standard though still-blatant falsehoods on this issue.

continue reading at http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/06/17/yoo/index.html

June 26th is the date that the United Nations has marked as the International Day in Support of Survivors and Victims of Torture.

These poisonous minds, like John Yoo, have infected the body of the United States with their poisonous policy. For the United States to recover from this sickness of torture, it must hold these sinister minds accountable and reject their kind. These policies are unworthy of a nation that was once the beacon of human rights. Shame on us until we end the torture. - from a blog by Mash, http://www.docstrangelove.com/2006/06/03/is-it-safe 

And then there's Bybee

| | TrackBacks (0)

Circuit judge accused of pro-torture bias 

 by Josh Richman

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

I was at Cal's School of Law this morning to cover arguments to a 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in the federal civil rights lawsuit brought against San Francisco and its police department in the "fajitagate" case. Sitting on this three-judge panel was Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee, an Oakland native who maintains his chambers in Las Vegas.

bybee.jpgAs John Roemer reported in Monday's edition of the Daily Journal legal newspaper, attorney Dennis Cunningham, representing plaintiff Jade Santoro, filed a motion last Thursday asking Bybee to recuse himself on the basis of an August 1, 2002 memo he signed while serving as the assistant attorney general in charge of the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel...

Cunningham's motion argued Bybee shouldn't hear Wednesday's case involving police officers with a history of excessive-force accusations because "unnecessary, and gratuitous, and so often sadistic, uses of force" are among "domestic forms of torture."

Stop Funding Torture!

| | TrackBacks (0)

An Open Letter Urging
Action by Congress

May 27, 2008

Dear Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi

We call on our Congress to speak out and organize public hearings on the systemic human rights violations occurring with American funding and advisers in Iraq. While there continues to be considerable media and congressional attention to torture in Guantanamo, there is comparatively little attention to the mounting evidence of human rights violations, including torture and targeted killings of civilians, in Iraq since the 2004 Abu Ghraib revelations, and virtually none at all devoted to Afghanistan.

continue reading letter at http://www.stopfundingtorture.com/ .


| | TrackBacks (0)

The Bush Administration has been holding people at Guantanamo for several years, and has acknowledged using "enhanced interrogation techniques" on these suspects.  The Timeline For Torture sets out, in chronological order, the relationship between certain legal memos written specifically to enable torture, and the occurrence of torture at Guantanamo.  It also shows how these memos were used to spread torture from Guantanamo to Abu Ghraib.

from New York Times article, Elusive Starting Point on Harsh Interrogation,

by Scott Shane

June 11, 2008


More testimony on interrogation is coming, some of it from officials with firsthand knowledge of how the policies were developed, including those that applied to the secret prisons that the C.I.A. established overseas.

Next Tuesday, the Defense Department’s former legal counsel, William J. Haynes II, and several other former military officials will address the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has been investigating how harsh tactics were approved for use at Guantánamo and elsewhere.

a meeting of the Committee on ARMED SERVICES

 Tuesday, June 17, 2008

9:30 AM

Room SD-106, Dirksen Senate Office Building

 To receive testimony on the origins of aggressive interrogation techniques:

 Part I of theCommittee's inquiry into the treatment of detainees in U.S. custody


In the next few weeks, the House Judiciary Committee is expected to hear testimony on interrogation from John Ashcroft, the former attorney general; John Yoo, the former Justice Department official who wrote legal opinions justifying harsh methods in 2002 and 2003; David S. Addington, chief of staff and legal adviser to Mr. Cheney; and Douglas J. Feith, the former under secretary of defense.

Last week, 56 House Democrats signed a letter to Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey asking him to appoint a special counsel to investigate the interrogation policies and whether they violated laws against torture.

Human rights advocates are heartened. “Members of Congress are beginning to connect the dots,” said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the Washington legislative office of the American Civil Liberties Union. “First they blamed the privates and the field operatives, then the generals. But now Congress is finally beginning to ask who made the ultimate decisions at the top.”

Is John Yoo a Monster?

| | TrackBacks (0)

"It seems grotesque, doesn't it? To sit in a comfortable classroom as the future lawyers of America clack away on their laptops, parsing definitions with the man whose legal mind turned America into a torturing nation?"

By John H. Richardson

Esquire magazine

May 13, 2008

He is the young Justice Department lawyer -- thirty-four at the time -- who wrote the Bush administration's first decisions on prisoner detention, interrogation, habeas corpus, military commissions, and the Geneva Conventions. He is the man who defined torture as pain equivalent to "death or organ failure," who said that the president could crush the testicles of a child to make his father talk, who picked the lock on Pandora's box and unleashed the demons of Abu Ghraib. He's been accused of war crimes and compared to the Nazi lawyers who justified Hitler. Many good Americans would like to see him fired, shamed, even imprisoned. But in his classroom at Berkeley School of Law, John Yoo is a charming and patient teacher, popular with students and cordial to all. He's wearing an elegant blue suit offset by a shiny silver tie. His face is more like a shield than a face, expressionless and almost perfectly round, but his voice is relaxed and warm. At this moment, he's trying to get his students to define war. "So Judge Tatel says it's not so hard to say what a war is -- casualties. What else?"

Continue story at http://www.esquire.com/features/john-yoo-0608.

IndyBay post by Mary Brassell
Saturday Jun 7th, 2008


 On May 31, 2008 an historic event took place; the Guantanamo Testimonials Project invited Amy Goodman to interview former Guantanamo detainees in a video conference connecting Davis with the Sudan. Organized by Almerindo Ojeda, the director of the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, and coordinated with his former student, Isma'il Kushkush from Sudan, the event focused on the testimony of former Guantanamo prisoners: Adel Hasan Hamad, Hammad Ali Amno Gad Allah, and Salim Mahmud Adam.

As the trials of Guantanamo prisoners begin and worldwide outrage is supported by a federal court decision that these trials are illegal, the UC Davis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas recorded the words of former Guantanamo prisoners in a video conference with Adel Hasan Hamad, Hammad Ali Amno Gad Allah, and Salim Mahmud Adam from Khartoum, Sudan. The event took place on May 31, 2008 at UC Davis.

Almerindo Ojeda explained the purpose of the Testimonial Project to those present, "Guantanamo--the prison--may close soon. Perhaps even by the end of the year. But Guantanamo--the experience--will go on for years to come. We will need to know exactly what happened there. To acknowledge the suffering of fellow human beings, to hold perpetrators to account, to seek reconciliation with the rest of the world, and to prevent it from ever happening again. The Guantanamo Testimonials Project will not end with the closure of the prison. It will end when the experience of lawlessness and abuse it created has been fully understood.

Adel Hamad encouraged the audience to move from understanding to action, "You should struggle against any government that abuses human rights and we are with you hand in hand in this struggle."

Isma'il Kushkush, a former UCD history student and a journalist in Sudan, translated each man's words from from Arabic.
Each man described his life before being arrested, the torture he endured, the inhumane treatment of others that he witnessed and his willingness to speak out to prevent this from continuing in the world.


 audio available at http://humanrights.ucdavis.edu

Huffington Post blogger Kent Greenfield writes that the message delivered by US Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey to Boston College Law School graduates May 22nd "was essentially a call to the avoidance of responsibility. I only hope our students did not take the message to heart."

Excerpts from "Mukasey's Defense of Professional Irresponsibility" :

Besides defending overly aggressive DOJ attorneys, Mukasey's second lesson for our graduates was more subtle but just as distressing. The task of a government lawyer, indeed any lawyer, is to "do law." Lawyers must give a "close reading" and "critical analysis" of text, and to "tune out" the "white noise" of criticism and second-guessing. He urged our graduates to learn to filter out their own moral and political views when they "do law," so they can "advise clients that the law permits them to take actions that you may find imprudent, or even wrong"...

What I wish our graduates had heard from the nation's leading attorney was the importance of personal responsibility for not only the technical part of lawyering but the moral side as well.

Read full blog at http://tinyurl.com/56ue76 .


Pacifica Radio's KPFA Flashpoints program 5-29-08 Activist Nation segment journalist Joe Tougas interviews 25 year old Kelly; one of two UC Berkeley students protesting John Yoo with a banner inside the Law School 5-17-08 graduation ceremony pictured here. Also interviewed on John Yoo is El Salvadorian torture survivor Carlos Mauricio who also protested.

Adobe Flash Player to listen.

(Photo montage above of two UC Berkeley students at the graduation raising a banner on the bottom and on top, an airplane banner that circled over the graduation.)

This video documents the first action after the first meeting of the FIRE JOHN YOO! Coalition led by The World Can't Wait, Act Against Torture, The National Lawyers Guild and members of the APA American Psychological Association representing PSYCHOLOGISTS FOR AN ETHICAL APA.

UC Berkeley Billboard

press conference, protest, photos, video, reports

Donations via PayPal
are not tax deductible.

Events & Calendars

War Criminals Watch Events

Important Reading

Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2008 is the previous archive.

July 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.