April 2009 Archives

while a larger group protests outside:

Students grill former Secretary of State

By: Devin Banerjee

The Stanford Daily Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hoover Fellow and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday faced questions from students regarding her role in the Bush administration's approval of waterboarding terror suspects, denying both her personal authorization of the interrogation techniques as well as the qualification of those techniques as torture.

"I didn't authorize anything," Rice told a group of Roble students in a conversation that surfaced on YouTube Monday night. "I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the [CIA] that they had policy authorization subject to the Justice Department's clearance."

see also Condi Rice Pulls A Nixon...

and Actually, Condi, When the President Breaks the Law...

Spanish Judge Opens Probe Into Guantanamo Torture

by: Agence France-Presse  |  Visit article original @ Agence France-Presse

A detainee is escorted at Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba. (Photo: Getty Images)

    Madrid - A Spanish judge on Wednesday opened an investigation into an alleged "systematic programme" of torture at the US Guantanamo Bay detention camp, following accusations by four former prisoners.

    Judge Baltasar Garzon will probe the "perpetrators, the instigators, the necessary collaborators and accomplices" to crimes of torture at the prison at the US naval base in southern Cuba, he said in his ruling, a copy of which was seen by AFP.

My parents almost died at the hands of the Nazis. They told me stories of those times, and in my youth I often wondered what a war criminal looked like. Meeting John Yoo showed me. I now understand what Hannah Arendt -- one of the leading political theorists of the 20th Century who, as a Jew, fled Nazi Germany -- meant when she wrote on the banality of evil and how unthinking bureaucrats facilitate evil. When you meet him, Yoo appears as a normal and pleasant person, as someone who cares for his family and his dog. However, he will willingly sign a torture warrant when you leave. -

excerpted from I Debated a War Criminal
by Peter Jan Honigsberg 
Welcome to the new spin (on torture). Same as the old spin.
There are some very smooth and swarmly torture advocates (CIA plants?) making the rounds this week. Are these guys the CIA operatives and plants in mainstream media we have been hearing about? They sure are real dedicated to being punching bags for torture. Scott Shane (CIA plant?) says it was all a mistake on Terry Gross' Fresh Air today; "New York Times reporter Scott Shane covers national-security issues from the newspaper's Washington bureau. He's been covering the release of the torture memos, and he talks to Fresh Air host Terry Gross about what the documents reveal -- and what the fallout may be": NPR's "Fresh Air" today, Reporter Scott Shane On 'Torture Memo' News. Cliff May (CIA plant?) minces words, evades and dissembles before withering debate with comedian John Stewart; The Daily Show in 3 clips of about 7 mins apiece:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Cliff May Unedited Interview Pt. 3
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days

Court allows landmark torture renditions case to proceed


Published: April 28, 2009 
Updated 9 hours ago 

Ruling strikes major blow to Bush/Obama position on state secrets

A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday to reinstate an ACLU lawsuit against a Boeing subsidiary that allegedly helped the CIA transport terror war prisoners to so-called black sites where they were tortured. The Obama administration had argued the case's very existence would endanger national security and pressed the court to dispose of it.

"Today's ruling demolishes once and for all the legal fiction, advanced by the Bush administration and continued by the Obama administration, that facts known throughout the world could be deemed 'secrets' in a court of law," said Ben Wizner, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, in a media advisory.

"In a 26-page ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the federal government failed to document how the lawsuit would reveal state secrets, sending the case back to San Jose U.S. District Judge James Ware for further proceedings,"reported Mercury News. "Ware dismissed the lawsuit last year, concluding that litigation over the controversial flight program could prompt the disclosure of CIA secrets."



It's not going to go away,
However much you might want it to.

It's not going to go away,

the acts of sexual humiliation, the "stress positions," the "walling,"
the months, years of solitary confinement, the "waterboarding,"

the photos of the pyramid of naked bodies, the wired, hooded man on a box,
the man cowering from an attacking dog, the man dragged by a leash,

These are not going to go away.

the attempts to legalize, the Geneva Conventions deemed "quaint,"
"if it does not result in serious physical injury," "organ failure," "death,"

the lies of Condoleeza Rice, "the United States does not engage in torture,"
the lies of Donald Rumsfeld, "a few bad apples,"
the lies of George W. Bush,  "We do not torture."

These are not going to go away.

the torture testimonies of prisoners negating fair trials,
the calls for accountability from institutions and persons of integrity
are not going to go away.

Oh, yes, we know, we know,
We face so many problems right now.

Many of those you will address and some will be solved
Through your brilliance and commitment.

But this, this will not be solved, and this will not go away;

This destruction of our reputation as a nation of laws,
These sickening, heinous, inhuman acts done in your name and our names,
This criminal betrayal of America,

This is not going to go away.


Mary O'Leary McGlinn 

posted at themcglynn.com/theliberal.net 

It ranges from the pure brutality of physical torture often described in many of the wars for suppression of indigenous control in Central America to the more 'refined' torture currently used to break down a prisoner's psychological persona without leaving the physical scars of the less sophisticated forms of torture. Torture is used to create terror, to create a population that is subservient and easily controlled by the very fear, the terror that it spreads. In turn, as terror and torture strips away the thin layers of civilization that control man's baser instincts, terror and torture become devices used by the combatants on both sides. - 
Jim Miles, OpEdNews
check out today's
The Daily Californian

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

anticipating return of the "Torture Professor", an academic 
community confronts

prospects mount that

it is time to take a stand:

For several hours last night, a loudly chanting line of two dozen protestors marched slowly back and forth across the entry of the Hyatt at Fisherman's Wharf.  Some wore the orange jumpsuits and black hoods representing the detainees - some wore giant human billboard signs denouncing torture as a war crime,and John Yoo as a war criminal who should be fired, disbarred, and prosecuted for his role in green lighting torture for the Bush Regime.  The action was planned overnight, with activists learning of Yoo's appearance at this conference only late the previous evening. TV news cameras caught the sunset footage of the demonstration and interviewed World Can't Wait speakers including SF Bay Area KTVU, Fox News, Channel 2. Click the picture below to view:play2.jpgThis TV News coverage aired in juxtaposition with comments by College Republicans praising Yoo and claiming that torture isn't really torture.  (The College Republicans are a campus organizing wing of the David Horowitz school of fascist thought, and actively mobilize for it in this area, for example by promoting the annual Muslim-bashing hate speech of "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week" and in flag-waving counter-protests at anti-war events.  They invited John Yoo to their state conference to be greeted as a "hero...(to)...tell behind the scenes stories we really want to hear..."College Republican leader and conference co-organizer Leigh Wolf is pictured here being confronted outside the conference. Leigh Wolf frequently leads bigoted radical-right political demonstration like the 2-18-08 "Battle of Berkeley" where nationally syndicated radical-right shock-jock Melanie Morgan's front-group "Gathering of Eagles" protested the Berkeley City Council taking a principled stand against the Berkeley Marine recruiting Center.

Many of the tourists from other countries who happened upon the scene expressed strong sympathies with World Can't Wait's message, were glad to see the action, and gave words of encouragement.

Although hotel security kept non-Republicans out of the convention proceedings, as Yoo rose to speak to his audience of several hundred, their welcoming applause was disrupted suddenly by thundering chants: demonstrators had discovered a (non-see-thru) glass wall between the auditorium and the street, and aimed their voices straight into the room: "TORTURE IS A WAR CRIME!  JAIL JOHN YOO!" "GUANTANAMO  GUANTANAMO! WAR CRIMES, WAR CRIMES....   ABU GHRAIB, ABU GHRAIB! WAR CRIMES, WAR CRIMES...."  For all of Yoo's 30-minute talk, dismayed College Republicans had to listen to their "hero" against a constant echoing string of truthful, powerful chants.

Head of Obama's transition team calls for Bybee impeachment

Raw Story April 26th, 2009

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee

Another voice has joined the chorus calling for federal judge and 'torture memo' author Jay Bybee to either resign or be impeached.

John Podesta, who oversaw Obama's transition team and was former president Clinton's chief of staff, said Sunday that "a simple matter would be to remove [Bybee] from office." Support for impeachment from Podesta, who heads the Center for American Progress Action, a think tank with close ties to the Obama administration, could foreshadow support for such a step from the president himself.

"There's still a lot we don't know, about how this all took place, how this went up and down the chain of command... Based on what we know now, it would indicate that the Department of Justice would be derelict in its duties to not follow the evidence where it might lead and initiate some sort of criminal investigation. Both of those who perpetrated it and those who ordered it -- the relationship between the lawyers who were assisting part of a criminal conspiracy. Because that's what we're talking about here. A criminal conspiracy to violate the U.S. law against torture." -

Carolyn Patty Blum, emeritus law professor at Berkeley School of Law and expert on international human rights law

see Pressure Mounts for Torture Prosecutions 

by Daphne Eviatar, The Washington Independent

Us Obama
Obama Tells Lawmakers In Private Meeting He Won't Support Torture Probe

By Jason Leopold
The Public Record 
Thursday, 23 April 2009 
President Barack Obama has backtracked on statements he made earlier this week in which he indicated he was open to a 9/11-type commission to investigate the Bush administration's use of torture, telling lawmakers at a meeting at the White House Thursday he now doesn't support the idea.

see also Obama Didn't Ban Torture: The nonsensical case for "moving forward" by law student Randolph Brickey

Amid new revelations and citizen outrage the AG spoke before House members, but won't reveal whether he intends to prosecute.
Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington

Posted April 23, 2009 | 03:21 PM (EST

This is a defining moment for America.

The way we respond -- or fail to respond -- to the revelations about the Bush administration's use of torture will delineate -- for ourselves and for the world -- the kind of country we are.

It is a test of our courage and our convictions. A test of whether we are indeed a nation of laws -- or a nation that pays lip service to the notion of being a nation of laws.

And everyone engaged in our public conversation has a role to play.

more on Chapman debate

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The Trial of John Yoo

THE MOVING TARGET blog  April 21, 2009 


John Yoo

I have just returned from a debate on presidential power at Chapman University Law School.

In retrospect, the event should more properly have been called "The Trial of John Yoo."

And strikingly, it was Yoo who cast himself in the role of defendant.

the T-word

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While cable news outlets and major newspapers continue to use euphemisms such as "harsh interrogation tactics" to describe the Bush administration's approach to intelligence gathering, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) used a more succinct term Thursday: "torture." - 

see also Boehner's Blunder, both stories at HUFFINGTON POST 

It is significant that "torture" is being recognized as such.

UPDATE: AP coverage of event

Mike Morice, center, and other members of World Can't Wait group perform a live waterboarding demonstration outside the Spanish Consulate in Manhattan to urge prosecution in Spain of the alleged involvement of Bush administration officials in the torture of terror suspects, Thursday, April 23, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) - AP

The WORLD CAN'T WAIT called a public gathering at the Spanish Consulate to the United Nations today, April 23rd with a message from people here: PROSECUTE the torture team! 

While a group gathers outside the Consulate, a delegation will deliver a letter to the people of Spain praising Judge Garzon for considering investigation of John Yoo, William Haynes, Jay Bybee, Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith and Alberto Gonzales for war crimes, specifically torture.

A waterboarding demonstration will also take place.

SIGN the letter to the Spanish people here.

HUFFINGTON POST  April 23, 2009

Cheney Rice Waterboarding

Rice Approved The Technique As Early As Summer 2002

April 22, 2009 | News covering the UN and the world

The UN and various human-rights organizations have indicated they will investigate the policy of controversial interrogation tactics and torture, approved by George W. Bush administration officials and executed by CIA agents, if the Barack Obama administration refuses to pursue them. Consensus exists among various human-rights lawyers that interrogation techniques approved by Bush administration officials amount to a violation of international law, and recent memos declaring approval for the techniques eases the way for those investigations. Many of the interrogation techniques, adopted from a handbook designed for military training, were torture methods used by the Communists during the Korean War -- methods whose history, legality and efficacy were neither revealed nor researched by any U.S. government officials when those techniques were approved. The Washington Post (4/22) , The New York Times (4/21)


Tuesday, Apr. 21 2009 
By Matt Coker in A Clockwork Orange, Crime & Sex,Politics
Photo by Christopher Victorio

As John Yoo makes his case, John C. Eastman is hard at think.

see also OC REGISTER: Bush lawyer defends waterboarding... 

and LA TIMES: Different approaches for two men...

Isikoff: Justice Dept. may pursue torture probes anyway


RAW STORY April 21, 2009

The Obama administration has made it clear that it has no intention of prosecuting individual CIA officers who acted in good faith under the Bush administration's torture memos, and White House advisor Rahm Emanuel stated on Sunday that the officials who devised the policy "should not be prosecuted either." However, the desires of the White House do not control the Justice Department.

Journalist Michael Isikoff, who has been talking with Justice Department officials, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Monday, "Just listening to some of the comments in the last few days, particularly from Rahm Emanuel and Robert Gibbs about how the president is focused on looking forward, not backward, and he is not interested in seeing these people prosecuted, there are some people in the Justice Department who are listening to that and saying, 'That's not their decision to make. Decisions about criminal prosecutions are made by the Justice Department based on the facts and the law.'"

There is some important information about U.S. torture that is not admitted to by those involved, and may be hard for torture opponents to think of without certain experience. That is the information from clinicians involved in treatment of torture survivors. What I have to say here comes from 19 years' clinical work with survivors. -- Gerald Gray, LCSW 

1. What the Bush Administration officials deny as torture has been known and accepted for years as torture in federal immigration courts in political asylum appeals. It is often presented there by clinicians from the 25 U.S. torture treatment centers--which are federally funded through the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. These centers are also funded through the U.N. Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture--which is in part voluntarily funded by the U.S. That is, there is wide evidence of federal knowledge from its own sources that is has engaged in torture--but the public does not know this.

2. There is no official comment on what punishment is given prisoners who refuse to cooperate with certain torture. For instance, what if a prisoner refuses to stand for hours on end in one place? In the experience of survivors I have treated, this results in torture that is immediately more painful but does not physically show. Most commonly , this means beatings to the soft parts of the body, but it can also mean rape, electrocutions, etc. in order to force compliance with what is refused. Then there is always rendition to other countries. I have seen those people too.

3. There is no mention of an additional torture technique which even the International Red Cross appears to have missed. That is, torture by forced disappearance -- "disappearance" of prisoners is accepted both by the U.N. and by torture treatment centers worldwide as a form of torture. "Disappearance" tortures both the prisoner and the prisoners' families. The latter are unable either to give up hope, or to finally grieve, and their imaginations are uncontrolled; for the prisoners, it means high anxiety about their families, in particular that they may be tortured in ways the prisoner is. Moreover, it is the one torture technique that escapes the secret torture chamber--it is realized by the families, and so by communities, and so by regions--and in this way it takes torture from ostensible torture for information, to torture for control of regions by terror. It is not just so-called "high value" prisoners who have been disappeared by the U.S.

4. Finally, about waterboarding. It is a form of suffocation, and so is easily understood by anyone as torture--and yesterday's news indicates scores of waterboardings of single prisoners in U.S. custody. Moreover, it too has been understood by federal officials to be torture and specifically forbidden in the Torture Victim Relief Act of 2003. Torture techniques named there include, inter alia, "rape...systematic beating, sexual torture (sic), electrical torture, suffocation, burning, bodily suspension...deprivation and exhaustion, threats about the use of torture, witnessing the torture of others, humiliation, and isolation." Federal Register, v. 69, no. 55, March 22, 2004. Page 13308.

and for discussion of an ongoing local court case see 
Since the release of the memos last week, while the focus of many lawmakers and advocates has been on potential prosecution of the lawyers and policymakers who approved them, the ACLU's letter picks up on a different part of the accountability equation that so far has gotten far less attention: granting the victims their day in court.


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Whereas 65 concerned United States citizens gathered on April 18, 2009 at the Chapman University School of Law, Kennedy Hall; and


Whereas it was unanimously agreed that John Yoo's legal advice to United States governmental officials as evidenced by "torture memos" including without limitation his August 1, 2002 memo, violated constitutional, statutory and international law by justifying torture, cruel, unusual and/or degrading treatment, and he was thereby complicit in the commission of crimes against humanity; 




John Yoo should be discharged from his positions as Constitutional Law Professor at University of California, Berkeley (Boalt Hall) and visiting professor of law at Chapman University School of Law;


John Yoo should be disbarred as an attorney; and


John Yoo should be investigated and prosecuted by the United States Justice Department for crimes against humanity.


John Yoo's boss

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Release of new torture memos puts Jay Bybee on hot seat

By Carol Eisenberg


April 20, 2009 at 11:30am

Jay S. Bybee has been the forgotten man among the legal architects of the torture policies of the George W. Bush administration.

But the release Thursday of several additional memos by the Justice Department puts Bybee, then an assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, front and center. He is the author of an August 2002 memo, to CIA General Counsel John Rizzo, concluding that waterboarding, among other enhanced interrogation techniques, did not meet the legal definition of torture.

see also Jay S. Bybee: It's Not Torture If You Use A Caterpillar

and Impeach Bybee: The Growing Movement to Unseat Bush Torture Lawyer Turned Federal Judge

It's official: No U.S. prosecution of Bush officials

Raw Story

Bad news for anyone hoping that President Obama might still be open to the possibility of prosecution of high-level Bush officials: It ain't gonna happen.

That much was close to being certain before the torture memos were released Thursday. But the statement from Obama released with those shocking memos included this sentence: "In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution."

By singling out CIA interrogators to assure them they will not be subject to federal prosecution, I thought perhaps he was leaving room for future prosecution of higher ups. Given that he released such explosive materials almost without redactions, I thought perhaps he might allow himself to be influenced by shifting popular sentiment.

Nope: Obama's right-hand man, chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, explicitly rejected that possibility this morning on ABC's This Week. Emanuel said that the president believes Bush officials "should not be prosecuted either and that's not the place that we go." Not that that should surprise anyone: Obama said as much from almost his first day in office, when he told reporters he wasn't interested in a proposed Capitol Hill "truth commission."

That commission, of course, still hasn't happened, as our elected representatives reach across the aisle to block any prosecution suggestions.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina: "I think it would be disaster to go back and try to prosecute a lawyer for giving legal advice that you disagreed with to a former president."

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri: "I don't think we want to look in the rearview mirror."

It ain't gonna happen.

-Jeremy Gantz

Well no, not by Obama. Its up to us.

see Torture: Who Could Care? by Rafe Pilgrim 

(Unrelated audio is the falungun club doing a presentation nearby.)

Fire John Yoo and World Can't Wait spoke to hundreds of new students and their families about John Yoo's tenure at UC Berkeley Law (formerly Boalt Hall) demonstrating and providing information about Bush's "Architect of Torture" teaching United States Constitutional Law at the UC Berkeley. Cal Day is a big outdoor celebration centered at historic Sproul Plaza where all the student groups and departments gift food and other stuff, meet and greet the families. John Yoo is perhpas the leading US advocate of torture today. As White House legal counsel under former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Jay "bugs" Bybee, Yoo legally "authorized" torture and actively worked to confuse and distort the law of torture through his notorious torture memos. UC Berkeley Law Dean Edley is dissembling when he says he cannot do anything except defend Yoo's Academic Freedom of speech. Dean Edely has a right to - and a responsibility to - take a public stand against John Yoo perpetuating torture. Yoo participated in and sometimes led the formulation and development of a broad system of torture and Crimes Against Humanity.
caldaymaryannsuperpicket4-19-09.jpgWelcome to UC Berkeley!

The FJY blogger coordinating on cell phone from the Sproul Hall steps
Yes, Fire John Yoo
Posted to Economics of Contempt 

I agree with Brad DeLong: John Yoo should be fired.

I am not a constitutional lawyer. I think most non-lawyers would be surprised to find that a vast majority of U.S. constitutional law is mind-numbingly boring.

But a good friend from law school who is a bona fide constitutional law expert has repeatedly assured me that Yoo's so-called "Torture Memo" is undeniably false, and that Yoo is effectively guilty of professional misconduct. Had the Torture Memo been submitted to a court, Yoo's failure to even address Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952) would have violated Rule 3.3(a)(2) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, which prohibits lawyers from "knowingly . . . fail[ing] to disclose to the tribunal legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the lawyer to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel." On grounds of professional misconduct alone, Yoo could--and should--be fired from Berkeley Law.

DeLong's reasoning is solid, but the arguments about academic freedom are extraneous. Repeat after me: OLC memos are not academic scholarship. "Academic freedom" is not the same thing as "immunity for academics." Yoo is guilty of professional misconduct, and is probably criminally liable as well. Giving arguments about "academic freedom" the time of day is far too generous, in my opinion.

see also Think, before you (invite someone to) speak
Clinton, Agnew, Nixon Redux

William Fisher

The Huffington Post April 19, 2009

Lawyers who reject President Barack Obama's decision not to seek prosecution of officials who may have participated in the torture of terror-suspect prisoners are seeking justice through another avenue: Sanctions against government lawyers who created the "enhanced interrogation" policies of former President George W. Bush.

New York Times

April 19, 2009

The Torturers' Manifesto

To read the four newly released memos on prisoner interrogation written by George W. Bush's Justice Department is to take a journey into depravity.

Their language is the precise bureaucratese favored by dungeon masters throughout history. They detail how to fashion a collar for slamming a prisoner against a wall, exactly how many days he can be kept without sleep (11), and what, specifically, he should be told before being locked in a box with an insect -- all to stop just short of having a jury decide that these acts violate the laws against torture and abusive treatment of prisoners.

In one of the more nauseating passages, Jay Bybee, then an assistant attorney general and now a federal judge, wrote admiringly about a contraption for waterboarding that would lurch a prisoner upright if he stopped breathing while water was poured over his face. He praised the Central Intelligence Agency for having doctors ready to perform an emergency tracheotomy if necessary.

These memos are not an honest attempt to set the legal limits on interrogations, which was the authors' statutory obligation. They were written to provide legal immunity for acts that are clearly illegal, immoral and a violation of this country's most basic values.

How Obama Excused Torture


Obama Torture Memos

Mandel Ngan, AFP / Getty Images
Former Reagan Justice Department official Bruce Fein writes that Obama's decision to release CIA memos without prosecuting Bush administration officials flouts his constitutional duty.

On Thursday, April 16th, in response to a lawsuit initiated by the American Civil Liberties Union, President Barack Obama released four redacted Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memoranda from the Bush administration to the CIA justifying torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment. (The CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques were modeled on the Chinese Communist coercive brainwashing program against Americans captured in the Korean War to induce false confessions). Each memorandum hedged its conclusions with substantial caveats, such as the absence of judicial precedents and concessions that reasonable persons could dispute their exculpatory conclusions. The memoranda were later renounced as bad law.

Obama has set a precedent whitewashing White House lawlessness in the name of national security that will lie around like a loaded weapon ready for resurrection by any Commander-in-Chief eager to appear "tough on terrorism" and to exploit popular fear.

What's "Insect Jay" Bybee Doing These Days? Sitting on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Glad You Asked

By: Jane Hamsher Thursday April 16, 2009 

bybee.thumbnail.jpgPresident Obama deserves huge applause for releasing the OLC torture memos, as do the people in the Administration who fought for it. It's a brave move certain to bring down right wing howler monkeys crying about threats to national security, but a huge step toward restoring the rule of law in the United States.

While at the Office of Legal Counsel, Jay Bybee wrote the "insect memo" to authorize the torture on Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qada operative captured in Pakistan in 2002. His experience became George Bush's prime example for the efficacy of and need for torture. From Bush's 2006 speech:

We knew that Zubaydah had more information that could save innocent lives, but he stopped talking. As his questioning proceeded, it became clear that he had received training on how to resist interrogation. And so the CIA used an alternative set of procedures. These procedures weredesigned to be safe, to comply with our laws, our Constitution, and our treaty obligations. The Department of Justice reviewed the authorized methods extensively and determined them to be lawful.

accommodating torture

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update: Go Garzon! Spanish Judge Wants to Keep Hope for the Rule of Law Alive

The New York Times reports that there will be no Spanish probe of US officials...


Boalt Hall
Fall 2009
Instruction Begins Monday August 17

Instructor: John Choon Yoo
Contact Information

Course Title: civil procedure


240 sec. 1

Civil Procedure II

MW 3:20-4:35
Enrolled: 3 
Waitlisted: 0 
Enroll Limit: 75 
As of: 04/21 06:43 AM

Major General Taguba called for the Bush administration to be investigated for war crimes

Major General Taguba called for the Bush administration to be investigated for war crimes

Gen. Taguba: Accountability for torture does not stop at White House door

Andrew Kalloch

Harvard Law Record

Issue date: 4/16/09 

Major General Antonio Taguba called for an independent commission to investigate war crimes committed by senior members of the Bush Administration in remarks in Ames Courtroom on Tuesday, April 14. The event was sponsored by Physicians for Human Rights and the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School.

Taguba, who was pressured to resign by the Bush Administration in 2007 following the 2004 leak of his report detailing abuses by U.S. armed forces in Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, declared in the preface of the 2008 Physicians for Human Rights publication "Broken Laws, Broken Lives," that, "there is no longer any doubt as to whether the [Bush] administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

While the Obama Administration has "reaffirmed its commitment to valuing human rights and international law" by officially closing CIA black sites and the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Taguba insisted that "there are a lot of stories that have yet to be told."

AP Photo Lawrence Jackson

Early in the transition, former CIA official John Brennan was criticized by civil libertarians for having made statements in support of torture and extraordinary rendition. Brennan subsequently withdrew his name from consideration as head of the CIA and instead ended up taking a position as a deputy national security adviser. Brennan's withdrawal was seen initially as a victory for civil libertarians, a sign that the administration was responsive to substantive critiques from the left. According to news reports, he has been leading the opposition within the administration to disclosing a number of Bush-era memos from the Office of Legal Counsel dealing with torture. CIA director Leon Panetta has reportedly taken Brennan's side in this regard. 
The Bush Six to Be Indicted

But prosecutors will seek to have the case referred to a different judge... both Washington and Madrid appear determined not to allow the pending criminal investigation to get in the way of improved relations.

This video is from CNN's American Morning, broadcast Apr. 14, 2009.

640_tortureprotest3.jpg original image ( 640x925)

photo: Father Vitale at National Day of Protest: Close Guantanamo and End U.S. Torture Policies Everywhere, Market and Powell Streets in San Francisco, Sunday January 11)

Circle of Peace Speaking Tour Spring 2009
with Father Louie Vitale, 

Click here to see Fr. Louie's Tour Schedule! (in San Leandro April 18; see calendar in right hand column this page for details)

How do we relate with individuals and countries that believe differently that we do? How do we deal with our so-called enemies? Is torture morally acceptable? How do we respond to terrorism?

Father Louie Vitale has been grappling with these and other related questions for nearly half a century since he began his journey by enlisting in the air force as a young man, and having a conversion towards nonviolence. While all of our journeys take different paths, our hearts converge upon the commonality of Pace e Bene -- Italian for "peace and good."

referendum on John Yoo?

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a blawg by julie anne ines

School dean and law prof at Chapman Law debate if former Bush adviser John Yoo fit to teach

10 APRIL 2009 10:51 AM

John Yoo

The Chapman University School of Law dean and a professor at the Orange County, Calif., law school gave LA Times readers a preview of what the upcoming debate between former Bush administration legal adviser John Yoo and professors at the school could look like.

Published in the LA Times Opinion section Thursday, Dean John C. Eastman and professor Lawrence Rosenthal wrote separate pieces arguing whether Chapman visiting professor John Yoo, who teaches at U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall, is fit to mold and Socratize young legal minds.

Mr. Rosenthal, whose piece ran above Eastman's, stated that Mr. Yoo should not be teaching because the memos he produced for the Bush administration, including one that said the president could allow torture, were flawed in their legal reasoning.

P1020438 by gcammaro1.

Friday April 10th, WORLD CAN'T WAIT and friends protested the continued employment of War Criminal John Choon Yoo by the dean of Berkeley Law, Christopher Edley. 

The venue for this action was Chevron Auditorium at International House, where U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer presented a lecture on international law, followed by a conversation with Dean Edley. In addition to the above tableau, an estimated 400 attendees were presented with literature urging the dean to take a stand against torture, indefinite detention and other crimes against humanity by dismissing professor John Yoo for commission of gross violations of the law.

Professor Yoo's infamous "torture memos" ignored various laws and legal precedents and presented a justification for torture and illegal detention. They stated that in time of war the president as commander-in-chief could ignore international and domestic laws against torture. Yoo created an unprecedented "definition" of torture out of whole cloth that was then used by the Bush regime to torture and kill detainees in the so-called "war on terror."

John Yoo is morally and legally guilty of all the crimes committed as a result of his legal memos. If the dean continues to protect John Yoo he is not protecting academic freedom, free speech, due process or other ideals, but he is protecting a war criminal.  He is sanctioning the crimes of Yoo and others in the Bush regime and sending a clear message to the world that war crimes and other crimes against humanity are okay as long as they are done in the interests of U.S. imperialism.  Is this the message that the community wants to come out of Berkeley? 

San Francisco Chronicle

Sunday, January 8, 2006

The decision of an individual to support, or reject, torture seems at first to be a purely moral question. But what would be the long-term consequences to society if we were to make this radical break with the past? 

NYTimes: Obama to Appeal Detainee Ruling
White House / Pete Souza

see also
Air Force One, shrouded in fog, as it carries Barack Obama across Europe. The president's detention policy is equally obscure. While he has ordered the closing of Guantanamo, Bagram air base, where so many humanitarian crimes are alleged to have occurred, remains open.

Challenge to Dean Edley

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FIRE JOHN YOO! - 48Berkeley Law Commencement, Spring 2008                                              photo by Dan Jung/SF Chronicle 

Why are you (Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley) protecting John Yoo, one of the legal architects of torture, indefinite detention, and other crimes against humanity? What message is sent to the world when Boalt Hall's dean allows Yoo to teach after his criminal deeds have been revealed to the world?

War Criminals Watch:
No Sanctuary From Prosecution!

Friday April 10
Dean Christopher Edley 
In Conversation with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer
(following Justice Breyer's lecture on international law)

Lecture begins 4:30 PM **
Chevron Auditorium, International House
2299 Piedmont, Berkeley, CA  94720

World Can't Wait and Fire John Yoo invite you to join us at the International House starting at 3 PM.  Stand up to say that we refuse to be silent in the face of torture, and that we refuse to accept UC complicity with this great crime by harboring a principle legal architect of the current Torture State.

** From the (Berkeley Law) calendar, where tickets are already "sold out":
"Doors will open at 3:30 PM. Audience members must be in their seats by 4:15 PM. Open seats at that point will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests must present their Acteva confirmation page and a picture ID upon arrival."

UC and Berkeley Law/Boalt Hall alumni and current students are especially welcome to join in delivering this anti-torture message.  Let UC know where you stand - and what you will not support (i.e., complicity with crimes against humanity and war crimes).  

CIA medics joined in Guantánamo torture sessions, says Red Cross

Leaked ICRC report claims medical staff monitored terror suspects during waterboarding

Medical personnel committed a "gross breach of medical ethics" by taking part in torture in Guantánamo, a leaked International Committee of the Red Cross document has revealed.

The 40-page confidential report, written in 2007, describes how medical staff working for the CIA monitored prisoners' vital signs to make sure they did not drown while being subjected to waterboarding, during which water is poured over a cloth placed over a person's nose and mouth.

Medical personnel were also said to be present when prisoners were shackled in a "stress standing position". The detainees were "monitored by health personnel who in some instances recommended stopping the method of ill-treatment, or recommended its continuation, but with adjustments", according to the report.

The Red Cross concluded: "The alleged participation of health personnel in the interrogation process and, either directly or indirectly, in the infliction of ill-treatment constituted a gross breach of medical ethics and, in some cases, amounted to participation in torture and/or cruel inhuman or degrading treatment."

Kiyemba v. Obama

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First sequel to Boumediene filed

The first test of the Obama Administration's detention policy to reach the Supreme Court was filed Monday, symbolically bearing the title Kiyemba v. Obama.  It is a case that, at a minimum, could shape the future of 17 Chinese Muslim prisoners still at Guantanamo Bay although cleared for release, but its impact could reach far wider.

More broadly, however, what is at stake ultimately could be the fate of many if not most of the more than 240 prisoners still at Guantanamo, who might have to remain confined there or somewhere else even if the government decides that they are not dangerous enemies.

And, in that broad sense, the new case tests just what the Supreme Court meant last June, in Boumediene v. Bush, when it recognized a constitutional right for Guantanamo detainees to challenge their confinement, and decreed that release from that imprisonment is one remedy that was to remain available.

Obama Official and GOP Are Protecting John Yoo

East Bay Express April 7, 2009

President Obama's Department of Justice had said that it planned to release still more secret torture memos written by notorious UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo. But now there is word that the administration may go back on that promise. According to the New York Times and Newsweek, high-ranking Obama adviser John Brennan is leading a campaign within the White House to keep the memos under wraps. And journalist/human rights attorney Scott Horton is also reporting that top Republican Senators are blackmailing the administration, promising to block key legal appointments if the president makes the memo public.

At the same time, the New York Review of Books last night published the entire International Red Cross report on torture. Previously only parts of the damaging report had been made public. The full report demands investigations and prosecutions of the people responsible for torturing up to 14 prisoners it examined. Remember, it was Yoo who gave the Bush administration legal authority to torture people. Presumably, Yoo would be a target of the Red Cross' investigation demand, which is all the more reason for why the Berkeley law professor's work should be released.

-- Robert Gammon

SFGate Monday, April 6, 2009

A Spanish court has initiated criminal proceedings against six former officials of the Bush administration. John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, William Haynes and Douglas Feith may face charges in Spain for authorizing torture at Guantánamo Bay.

If arrest warrants are issued, Spain and any of the other 24 countries that are parties to European extradition conventions could arrest these six men when they travel abroad.

Does Spain have the authority to prosecute Americans for crimes that didn't take place on Spanish soil?

The answer is yes. It's called "universal jurisdiction." Universal jurisdiction is a well-established theory that countries, including the United States, have used for many years to investigate and prosecute foreign nationals for crimes that shock the conscience of the global community. It provides a critical legal tool to hold accountable those who commit crimes against the law of nations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. Without universal jurisdiction, many of the most notorious criminals would go free. Countries that have used this as a basis to prosecute the most serious of crimes should be commended for their courage. They help to create a just world in which we all seek to live.

The Devil's Advocate

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Dean Edley continues to defend John Yoo, on the basis of "academic freedom". But that is not what this is about.


"I agree that Yoo should absolutely be afforded due process by Berkeley and offered a right to defend himself. Respect must be shown for the tenure system and a bright line should be drawn that Yoo is not being asked to defend his beliefs, but his actions.

I also agree with Scott [Horton] that the public record is highly suggestive of criminal culpability, notwithstanding the current absence of political will to prosecute.

The question here, properly framed, is whether or not Boalt wants to employ a war criminal under the guise of academic freedom. 

Refusing to determine whether or not a faculty member is a war criminal, in the face of compelling evidence, is tantamount to wilfull ignorance.

Boalt has a duty to address these questions no matter how uncomfortable they may be."
Free_as_in_Freedom.jpeg These lyrics by Richard Stallman are set to the tune of the most famous Cuban song, Guantanamera. Before it became tied up with the concentration camp and torture center we've all come to know, Guantanamo was best known for the Cuban patriotic song Guantanamera. Although originally the story of a peasant girl from Guantanamo who broke the narrator's heart, "the Guantanamera became a popular vehicle for romantic, patriotic, humorous, or social commentary lyrics, in Cuba and elsewhere in the Spanish speaking world".

These lyrics to "Guantanamero" are from the point-of-view of a male prisoner

...guantanamera means "of Guantanamo (female)". "Guantanamero" means "of Guantanamo (male).

Adobe Flash Player to listen.

Richard Stallman (aka RMS) is an American software freedom activist, hacker and software developer. In September 1983, he launched the GNU Project Open Source (free) operating system,  started the free software movement and, in October 1985, set up and now leads the Free Software Foundation. At his urging, Wikipedia was founded. Thanks Richard.

Me odiaba mi primo
Por celos a mi carrera.
Lo arrestaron y dijo
Que terrorista yo era.

Guantanamero, soy preso guantanamero.
Guantanamero, soy preso guantanamero.

Ha decidido el imperio
Tenerme por siempre preso
Y la cuestión es hacerlo
Con o sin falso proceso.

Guantanamero, etc.

Cuando me hieren el cuerpo,
Dicen que no me torturan.
Causan heridas profundas
De esas que nunca se curan.

Guantanamero, etc.

No me permiten que duerma:
Mi fin no es un misterio.
Voy a salir cuando muera
O caiga el gran imperio.

Guantanamero, etc.

My cousin hated me;
He was jealous of my career.
They arrested him and he said
I was a terrorist.

Guantanaman, I'm a Guantanaman prisoner.
Guantanaman, I'm a Guantanaman prisoner.

The empire has decided
To keep me in prison forever.
The question is whether to do it
With or without a fake trial.

Guantanaman, I'm a Guantanaman prisoner.
Guantanaman, I'm a Guantanaman prisoner.

When they injure my body
They say they are not torturing me.
They cause me grave wounds
Such as never heal.

Guantanaman, I'm a Guantanaman prisoner.
Guantanaman, I'm a Guantanaman prisoner.

They don't let me sleep:
My end is no mystery.
I will get out when I die
Or the great empire falls.

Guantanaman, I'm a Guantanaman prisoner.
Guantanaman, I'm a Guantanaman prisoner.

Powell: I Don't Know Whether Torture 'Would Be Considered Criminal'


Last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow interviewed former Secretary of State Colin Powell.Unlike many journalists, Maddow asked him about -- and pressed him repeatedly on -- his role in approving torture against detainees. Specifically, she asked him about reports that he was among nine White House "principals" who approved torture techniques so specifically that "interrogation sessions were almost choreographed."

Powell refused to acknowledge his role in these meetings, and claimed ignorance aboutlong-released legal memos that specifically authorized torture. Choosing his words carefully, he would say only that, "at least from the State Department standpoint," it was important to stand by the Geneva Conventions. Powell also questioned whether tactics like sleep deprivation, stress positions, or waterboarding were "criminal" -- despite specific U.S. statutes and international law forbidding torture:

MADDOW: If there was a meeting though at which senior officials were saying, were discussing and giving the approval for sleep deprivation, stress positions, waterboarding. Were those officials committing crimes when they were giving their authorization?

POWELL: You're asking me a legal question. I mean, I don't know that any of these items would be considered criminal. And I will wait for whatever investigations that the government or the Congress intends to pursue with this.

Throughout the interview, Powell shirked any responsibility to account for his actions by deferring to hypothetical "investigations" or pointing to the unreleased -- and possibly non-existent -- "written record" of these meetings as providing the ultimate final word. As Maddow pointed, it's unclear whether any such investigations will ever take place. Watch it:

Powell has gotten credit in the past for supposedly "breaking" with the Bush administrationon the issue of torture. However, his refusal to even acknowledge centuries-long definitions of torture is a discouraging indication that he is more concerned with protecting himself legally than getting to the truth of America's national disgrace.

Judge Rules Bagram Detainees Can Appeal to U.S. Courts

District Court Decision Could Have Far-Reaching Consequences for Prisoners Held by U.S. in Afghanistan

By DAPHNE EVIATAR 4/3/09 6:00 AM
Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan (army.mil)

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan (army.mil)

For years, the 600 men imprisoned at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan largely escaped public notice. While the detainees at Guantanamo Bay roused the ire of critics of the Bush administration around the world, their counterparts at Bagram, held with fewer rights and much less scrutiny, languished in a U.S.-run prison and in some cases suffered gruesome beatings and even death at the hands of their captors. 

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Fake Faith and Epic Crimes
By John Pilger

April 02, 2009 "
Information Clearing House" --- These are extraordinary times. With the United States and Britain on the verge of bankruptcy and committing to an endless colonial war, pressure is building for their crimes to be prosecuted at a tribunal similar to that which tried the Nazis at Nuremberg. This defined rapacious invasion as "the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." International law would be mere farce, said the chief US chief prosecutor at Nuremberg, Supreme Court justice Robert Jackson, "if, in future, we do not apply its principles to ourselves."

Five Stories From Britain's Guantanamo

by Andy Worthington   

Detainee Z


I am a 42-year old married man with two children, who has lived in this country for almost 18 years.
I was detained in September 2005 under immigration powers, and I have been informed, to my surprise, that I am a threat to national security. Until now I have not been told what the allegation is...

Hussain Al-Samamara


My name is Hussain Al-Samamara. I'm Jordanian, and I'm 33 years old. I'm a husband and I'm a father. I'm a brother and a son. I'm a friend and I'm an artist. But I am not a terrorist.
To be honest with you I don't know how I got here. This was never meant to happen ..

Detainee U


You know me as Amer Makhlulif, because I have been arrested, but never charged, as a threat to the national security, and I was therefore afraid to disclose my real name for fear of threats. Amer Makhlulif was the name given me by the immigration officer when I sought asylum in the UK, as he...

Detainee BB


They call me BB. I can't tell you my real name. I'm an Algerian and I've been in this country since 1995.
I'm 43 years old. I live with my wife and three children. I've got two girls and one boy -- he's only three. The bail conditions I'm under apply to me, but in reality...

Detainee Y


They call me Y. But I am more than a letter. I am a man. I'm Algerian, and am 39 years old.
It's been such a long time since I experienced "normal life."
My story is a bit confusing to follow. I'll keep it simple.
I came to the UK because of its impressive human rights record...

Obama's Gitmo

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Federal Court Rules Bagram Detainees Have Rights, Too

By DAPHNE EVIATAR The Washington Independent 4/2/09 

In a groundbreaking ruling today that directly contradicts the Bush and Obama administration's insistence that detainees held by the U.S. government at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan have no right to challenge their detention in U.S. courts, a federal judge ruled on Thursday that in fact, they do.

U.S. District Court Judge John Bates ruled that the four men -- all foreign nationals captured by U.S. forces outside Afghanistan and sent there to be incarcerated at a prison on the U.S.-run Bagram air base -- have the same rights as prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, who were similarly sent there by U.S. forces from other countries.

As I've written before, the Bagram prison -- which is fast turning into Obama's Gitmo -- has many of the same attributes as the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. That's just what the lawyers for the four detainees there argued.  Although the Obama administration had, like the Bush administration before it, argued forcefully that Bagram detainees have no constitutional rights and therefore no rights to challenge their detention in U.S. courts, Bates -- a conservative judge appointed by former President George W. Bush -- today disagreed.

"The writ of habeas corpus plays a central role in our constitutional system as conceived by the Framers," wrote Judge Bates. "Indeed, 'the Framers deemed the writ to be an essential mechanism in the separation-of-powers scheme,' " he wrote, quoting the Supreme Court's recent decision in Boumediene v. Bush, which gave Guantanamo detainees habeas corpus rights, "that, as Alexander Hamilton observed, was vital to the protection of individuals against the very same arbitrary exercise of the government's power to detain that is alleged by petitioners here."

Although all four of the detainees in the case were captured outside Afghanistan and have been held at Bagram for more than six years, Bates ruled that one of the men, who is an Afghan citizen, may not be entitled to habeas corpus review because of the "practical obstacles in the form of friction with the host country." He ordered the lawyers to file additional briefs with the court addressing those issues.

Bay Area's Gang of 3

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Chevron lawyer faces Spanish probe

"The Bottom Line", SFGate.com

More discomfort for San Ramon's Chevron Corp. and its chief corporate counsel, William J. Haynes II.

Spanish prosecutors are considering whether to bring criminal charges against Haynes, the Defense Department's former general counsel, and other members of the Bush administration, for their connection to detainee abuses at Guantanamo Bay.

Haynes, as we itemized in December, figures prominently in a critical Senate Armed Services committee report on the subject. Earlier this month, the San Francisco chapter of the leftist National Lawyers Guild called on the State Bay of California to disbar, suspend or otherwise sanction Haynes for his reported role. We're seeking comment from Haynes and/or Chevron.

Two other Bay Area-connected figures are also targets of the Spanish probe: UC Berkeley law professor, John Yoo, the author of numerous memos on interrogation techniques when he was Justice Department counsel, and Jay S. Bybee, another former Justice Department official who is now a judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Probably of most immediate concern to Haynes is whether to risk traveling abroad, where he could be served with an arrest warrant should the Spanish court choose to proceed.

Posted By: Andrew S Ross (Email) | March 30 2009

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