July 2008 Archives

Broken Laws, Broken Lives

Ben Greenberg of PHR shot this 47-second video, and PHR's Jesse Hamlin added the titles. Please take a minute to witness this.

If you want to learn more and take action on behalf of Laith and all the other detainees tortured by US personnel, visit http://brokenlives.info.

Our silence on torture signifies tacit approval

Silence about torture is morally corrosive. We need to have a national conversation about its practice of torture in the "war on terror" and our role as a major ally [Australia] to a country that persists in doing it. As it stands, the public and political silence on this issue constitutes a de facto endorsement of the crime. It wrongs us all.

by Nina Philadelphoff-Puren, Online National Forum, November 2007


"Madness and Shame"

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When the constraints of the law are unlocked by the men and women in suits at the pinnacle of power, terrible things happen in the real world. You end up with detainees being physically and psychologically tormented day after day, month after month, until they beg to be allowed to commit suicide. You have prisoners beaten until they are on the verge of death, or hooked to overhead manacles like something out of the Inquisition, or forced to defecate on themselves, or sexually humiliated, or driven crazy by days on end of sleep deprivation and blinding lights and blaring noises, or water-boarded.
Shame on the University of California and it's law school at Berkeley
This anti John Yoo billboard went up yesterday, July 24, 2008. It declares "Silence + Torture = Complicity". This wording challenges the apathetic and those who refuse to get off the fence as well as the University of California and it's law school at Berkeley. This well positioned billboard on University Avenue at the intersection of Milvia Street in Berkeley, CA is just FOUR BLOCK FROM THE UC BERKELEY MAIN ENTRANCE! where John Yoo will be teaching United States Constitutional Law as a tenured professor again at the end of August. For those who don't know the Bay Area, University Avenue is the main street in Berkeley running from the Bay through the downtown straight to the main front entrance of The University of California and it's law school at Berkeley. This pictures below are from the press conference and demonstration at the un-veiling yesterday. Click here for the complete photo gallery.

Pictured above is a World can't Wait activist with her sign featuring one of the designs rejected by the billboard company.

Pictured above is the initial view of the billboard as you approach the University by car.
part 1

part 2

Videos courtesy of "the video team" of The San Francisco Bay Area chapter of THE WORLD CAN'T WAIT - DRIVE OUT THE BUSH REGIME! For more of our videos, go to our youtube channel.

UPDATE: Judge bars evidence from "coercive questioning": http://tinyurl.com/6ehqzp

Bin Laden's driver is in the dock, but America's war on terror is on trial

by Leonard Doyle, Sunday, July 20

It is not only Mr Hamdan's future that will be determined by the trial. There is great concern among members of the Bush administration that they too could find themselves before foreign or international courts for the role they played in facilitating and encouraging the torture of detainees.


The Dark Side: the Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals


We spend the hour with New Yorker magazine investigative journalist Jane Mayer about her new book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. In the book, Mayer reveals a secret report by the International Red Cross warned the Bush administration last year that the CIA's treatment of prisoners categorically constituted torture and could make Bush administration officials who approved the torture methods guilty of war crimes. Mayer also reveals that the Bush administration ignored warnings from the CIA six years ago that up to a third of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay may have been imprisoned by mistake. [includes rush transcript-partial]


Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals. She is a staff writer for The New Yorker.

NOTE: Book signing event Friday August 8: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/07/17/18517054.php

Over 150 wear hoods, walk out during former AG's speech


by Michael Siegel, Huffington Post, November 30, 2007

At Cornell University on Thursday, over 150 people expressed their resistance to the policies of John Ashcroft and the War on Terror through creative, silent protest. Over 70 placed hoods on their heads, stood and turned their backs to Ashcroft when he tried to justify his repressive actions post-9/11.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxTcPM9HxBQ 

Press Conference

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With continuing exposure of the Bush torture program worldwide, World Can't Wait--Drive Out the Bush Regime! has initiated a billboard campaign in support of the NO TO TORTURE - JOHN YOO MUST GO! coalition.

A Press Conference unveiling of the billboard will take place this Thursday, July 24th at 1pm at 2017 University Avenue in Berkeley. The billboard containing the following equation: "Silence + Torture = Complicity" seeks to expose that the inhumane practice of torture will continue if we do not take action to uphold human dignity for all citizens of the world.

Constitutional Law expert Johnathon Turley was interviewed by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. 

During the interview, he explained that the Bush Administration hired lawyers because they would take extreme ideological positions to support the Administration's abusive policies. 

He concludes:  "But [the Administration] still insists that because they hired a lawyer and they lawyer told them it was OK, that that somehow ratifies it"

Maddow asked:
"You don't get to call something legal just because you say it is and if you do so in a case like this, aren't you liable for prosecution?"

Turley:  "Well, you see, that's the terrible transparency of this whole use of lawyers.  And it's an embarrassment for the whole bar.  I mean the Bush Administration reduced lawyers, including the Justice Department, to a group of shills and sycophants.  And they were selected solely so they could come in and ratify whatever the President wanted.  And people like John Yoo, Alberto Gonzales, Kyle Sampson and Goodling, all these people were ideologues, and they took a very extreme view.  But they were also WRONG.  I mean the amazing thing is they were wrong on the easy questions. And they've been proven wrong.  Not just by the Red Cross and by Federal Courts, and by all these experts, but they haven't actually prevailed even in the Supreme Court that has a majority of conservative justices.  It takes a lot to lose 5 or so major cases before the Supreme Court when you claim to be a war time President. 

But they still insist that because they hired a lawyer and they lawyer told them it was OK, that that somehow ratifies it."

Maddow:  "Jonathon, are the chances now greater that some kind of international prosecution of Bush Administration officials could occur after this administration leaves office?  Even if it won't happen here, could it happen internationally?"

Turley:  "Yeah, Rachel, I never thought I would say this, but I think it might in fact be time for the United States to be held internationally to a tribunal. I never thought in my lifetime I would say that."

By Frank Rich, The New York Times. Posted to AlterNet July 14, 2008.

Top Bush hands are starting to get sweaty about where they left their fingerprints on U.S. torture policies...

 So hot is the speculation that war-crimes trials will eventually follow in foreign or international courts that Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, has publicly advised Mr. Feith, Mr. Addington and Alberto Gonzales, among others, to "never travel outside the U.S., except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel."


By Andrew Cohen |  January 18, 2008

Former Justice Department official John Yoo, author of our nation's most ill-conceived and damaging terror-law policies, wants your sympathy. He's being sued in civil court by former "dirty bomb" suspect Jose Padilla, who alleges that Yoo was behind his designation as an "enemy combatant" and the torture he endured while in military custody...

This is an ironic position for the man who practically invented "lawfare" as a tool against terrorists. Yoo has written relentlessly about the need for the executive branch to push beyond heretofore recognized legal limits in pursuing terrorists. He has advocated in favor of expanded presidential power -- even greater than the great power the Bush administration has taken for itself since Sept. 11, 2001. And now he claims he is shocked -- shocked! -- that he is the subject of an aggressive, almost daring, lawsuit by one of his former targets...

This guy's bright ideas brought international scorn to the United States, begat Abu Ghraib, and have tied up Congress and the courts in terror law disputes for years (with no end in sight). Along with vice presidential aid David Addington, Yoo is primarily responsible for virtually all of the legal missteps and overreaches since the Twin Towers fell. And now he wants you to consider him a victim. Oh, and if, understandably, you aren't game to go down that road, he wants you to be on his side anyway, because he's fighting for people in government who aren't as fortunate as he is.

"My situation is better than most," writes Yoo, "since I am a lawyer with many lawyer friends (that is not the oxymoron it seems).... But what about the soldiers, agents and officers who have to respond to the next 9/11 or foreign threat? They will have to worry about personal liability, hiring lawyers.


By pkiel - April 3, 2008, 10:58AM

Yesterday the ACLU noticed another of John Yoo's contributions to legal thought, tucked in a footnote of the March, 2003 memo. That footnote indicated that in a October 23, 2001 memo, Yoo had advised that the Fourth Amendment was too much bother. Here's that footnote: http://tinyurl.com/6s3r5d .

The October 23, 2001 memo remains classified. And as the AP and The Wall Street Journal report, it's unclear exactly what sort of activities the memo was used to support. A White House spokesman denied that it had anything to do with the warrantless wiretapping program, but as the AP points out, "the government itself related the October memo to the [Terrorist Surveillance Program] when it included it on a list of documents that were responsive to the ACLU's request for records from the program."

And how long did the administration rely on this finding? "It was in use at least until March 2003 but not after January 2006," reports the Journal.

At the very least, it's apparent what Yoo thought about "Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States." There seems to have been no limits to that authority. As Justin points out over at ABC, another of Yoo's infamous memos, the August 2002 "Torture Memo" signed by then-Office of Legal Counsel chief Jay Bybee, gave another indication of this:

A footnote to the Bybee document said that the October 2001 memo also concluded that Posse Comitatus ?- an 1878 statute barring the military from participating in "law and order" missions domestically, under most circumstances ? does not apply to the war on terror.

 "Yoo's animosity to US civil liberties made him a logical choice for appointment to the Bush Regime's Department of Justice (sic), but his appointment as a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, shatters that university's liberal image."


June 20, 2008


from Brad DeLong's weblog, http://tinyurl.com/6g96zb , May 10, 2008 

...it appears that there is a Berkeley law school professor who is (a) anxious that people far and wide know that he does not share the views John Yoo advanced in his Torture Memo, and yet (b) anxious that nobody know who he is.

I don't think it works that way.

If you are anxious to remain anonymous, you are not anxious that people know you do not share John Yoo's views.

If you are anxious that people know you do not share John Yoo's views, you are not anxious to remain anonymous.

Brian Leiter's Law School Reports: Thoughts from a Berkeley Professor on the Yoo Case 

A law professor at Berkeley writes:

Your postings on academic freedom and the John Yoo case have been pitch-perfect, from my point of view. Thank you for bringing some sanity to a sad and challenging affair. This is obviously a very painful topic for those of us at Berkeley, for a whole host of reasons.

  1. There is the sadness at seeing a colleague, foolish perhaps in his desire to be near power and/or have his voice heard, and substantively (in my opinion) about as wrong as he could be, but a hardworking and responsible member of our community, having his reputation and career taking a beating; even a self-invited beating is painful to watch when it is in progress.
  2. There is the sadness at seeing our integrity as a community challenged. Like many US law schools we welcomed a number of prominent European Jewish emigres during the WWII years (e.g., David Daube (Freiburg, Oxford), Albert Ehrenzweig (Heidelberg, Vienna), and others); I believe this not only helped launch the university into the first ranks of research universities worldwide, it also deepened this community's commitment to tolerance and openness -- a direct cause, in my opinion, of the campus free speech movement and therefore indirectly at least of much that followed at US campuses. In light of this history, at a personal level I thought long and hard about how I should treat John Yoo when he returned to campus; many of us still struggle with questions of how to balance concern for complicity with the requirements of collegial civility.  Even so, never once did I consider a move to revoke John's tenure, because he was in complete compliance with our standards. Only if that changes, due to a criminal conviction or the like, would it be appropriate to revisit the issue, in my opinion.
  3. This is painful because many people who do not know us might perhaps assume that John's work is representative of our views. As you well know, he is as much of an outlier here as he would be at most US law schools.  Consider for example the work of my colleague, Chris Kutz*. His essay on "Torture, Necessity, and Existential Politics," 95 Cal. L. Rev. 235 (2007), is a wonderful counterpoint to the memos John Yoo worked on, and it expresses something much closer to what I believe is the consensus of the Boalt Hall faculty regarding the torture issue...

I must say that I find the word "painful," used in this context, extremely ill-chosen. Being waterboarded is painful. Thinking that people elsewhere think you agree with John Yoo because you haven't spoken up because you would then be embarrassed to sit next to him at faculty meetings... that does not seem painful to me.


* Law Professor Christopher Kutz chairs the Committee on Academic Freedom, UC Berkeley Academic Senate.

The "White Paper..." is now a featured webpage on the firejohnyoo.net website linked to near the top on the sidebar of our homepage. I also made a PDF available there. The word doc provided by the NLG is nice to have but having it in the form of a PDF and/or a webpage is more convenient for emailing and linking. It's also important for of getting the White Paper ranked higher on google. The more hits and links on webpages, the better the ranking. We want this blog and the wite paper to come up near the top in google search results. Below is the link. Send it everywhere to everyone. 

continues expounding on presidential power


"John Yoo, a University of California at Berkeley law professor and former Justice Department official under George W. Bush, debated presidential power with David Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and history professor at Stanford, at the Aspen Institute's Doerr-Hosier Center.

'I'm here to make sure the presidency is safe, strong and secure for Barack Obama,' Yoo said to chuckles from the Aspen audience..."

from Law School Pays the Price in 'Don't Ask' Rule Protest,

New York Times, June 29, 2008

"Every once in a while an issue comes to a community and, despite a cost, it comes to the conclusion that it has to stand up for its principles," said Jeff Shields, president and dean of the law school. "It has to do with speaking truth to power, and it's one of those roles that those of us lucky enough to be trained as lawyers hopefully take from time to time."


UC Berkeley Billboard

press conference, protest, photos, video, reports

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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

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