May 28 Protest against "Torture Judge" Jay Bybee

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On the National Day of Resistance to U.S. Torture, the San Francisco Bay Area World Can't Wait, along with members of the San Francisco National Lawyers Guild's Committee Against Torture, Code Pink, Common Cause, and the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists gathered at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to publicly repudiate Jay Bybee's lifetime appointment to the federal bench. About thirty people responded to World Can't Wait's demand to disbar and prosecute Bybee for codifying specific torture tactics under the auspices of the law and for giving high administration officials immunity protections from both civil and criminal suit.

A super-sized banner reading "Torture is a War Crime! Release the Torture Photos! Prosecute the War Criminals!" lined one corner of the courthouse in downtown San Francisco. The adjoining side of the street featured "The Bush and Bybee Museum of Torture," an exhibit which included the fourteen torture methods Bybee auhorized in an August 2002 memo--sleep deprivation, stress positions, waterboarding, forced nudity, cramped confinement in a dark space, water dousing, wall standing, walling, facial slaps, abdominal slaps, insects placed in a confinement box, facial holds, attention grasps, and dietary manipulation. Each torture method was enlarged on a poster board so as to be easily visible and included a short description how the abuse was used. For instance, wall standing was illustrated as the following: "To induce muscle fatigue, the detainee is forced to lean with only his fingers for support against a wall four to five feet away from where he is standing." The museum also displayed photographs of torture from Abu Ghraib corresponding with the torture descriptions. Brilliant orange outlining the museum of torture underscored the visible resistance against torture that must be furthered among the people. Individuals in orange jumpsuits silently posed in the midst of the display, augmenting the question that Fire John Yoo organizer Curt Wechsler posed: "Who speaks for the detainees that continue to be tortured under Obama?"

Locals who walked through the demonstration asked, "Our country let this happen?" and "Who is Bybee?" as they were handed flyers and orange ribbons. These questions created a political terrain for further conversation and investigation among the people. The background of these conversations was further contextualized with chants, including: "They say Torture is national security, we say Torture is a crime against humanity!" and "Release the photos, quit hiding the proof! Release the photos, the world wants the truth! Release the photos, bring out the truth! Torture is a war crime, you got to prosecute!" Many conversations with pedestrians were also started directly in front of the steps leading to the entrance of the courthouse, where a statue-like Obama doll holding the sign: "Bush's INDEFINITE DETENTION was bad... Obama's PREVENTIVE DETENTION is worse!"

The demonstration also included a press conference featuring World Can't Wait, Code Pink and two attorneys from the National Lawyers Guild who have filed California Bar Association complaints arguing for Bybee's disbarment. WCW's Stephanie Tang emphasized that if the court does not disbar and prosecute and continues to provide safe harbor for Bybee, that any decision that comes out of the court is illegitimate. NLG attorney Anne Weills called for putting a halt to the whole ideological view of empire that has made torture palatable.

Press representatives from TV stations, print media, and legal journals gathered photographs and interviews. A staff writer from The San Francisco Daily Journal, California's Largest Legal News Provider, stood listening and writing while attorney Weills and I talked about the status of the Bybee bar complaint and how we can move forward regarding John Yoo, who plans to resume teaching at Berkeley Law this fall after a visiting professorship at Chapman Law this past spring. The writer responded favorably and began engaging with Anne and I when I said that we must demand that the bay area be a war criminal free zone.

At the end of the press conference, a call went out emphasizing the need for sustained resistance and for everyone to begin making plans for another demonstration. As one of our chants clearly states why we need to be out in the streets, bringing the truth to the people:

Bush and Obama

The torture stays the same

Preventive detention

Extraordinary rendition

Murder, rape and torture

Military commissions

Guantanamo prison

Not in our name!

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This page contains a single entry published on May 29, 2009 12:49 PM.

Secret cables may show doctors monitored CIA torture was the previous entry in this blog.

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