The attacks on John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who penned memos authorizing the waterboarding of terrorism suspects and the wiretapping of U.S. citizens, have ramped up in recent months. Still, according toÂ this articleÂ in the Washington Post, rather than shrink from public view, Yoo has continued to defend himself, often in very public fashion.
July 2009 Archives
Saturday 25 July 2009
Six months ago this week President Obama, on his second day in office, promised to close the GuantÃ¡namo detention camp within a year, and to undo the secretive and coercive detention and interrogation policies of George W. Bush. But has Obama been as good as his word?
Â Â Â Â I went to GuantÃ¡namo last month to see for myself what difference, if any, Obama's election had made...
Continue reading story atÂ ,Â http://www.truthout.org/073109C?n .
UrgingÂ a federal judge to order the immediate release of a young prisoner from Guantanamo Bay, his lawyers warned on Tuesday of a constitutional confrontation if the Obama Administration resists such an order.Â
In the new filingÂ by attorneys for Mohammed Jawad, an Afghan national, they argued: "Any assertion by the Executive that this Court somehow lacks the power to order his release and return to Afghanistan would raise serious separation of powers concerns..."Â Â (The filing was accompanied byÂ a declarationÂ by a military lawyer for Jawad discussing the Afghan government's plan to arrange to pick up the prisoner at Guantanamo; that government has asked for his return.)
The human rights advocates, such as Physicians for Human Rights and Psychologists for Social Responsibility, are asking members of Congress to conduct a nonpartisan investigation into how and why medical personnel were involved in the design, implementation, and monitoring of enhanced interrogaton techniques and if they violated the ethics of their professions.
"The only way you make sure abuses of this magnitude never happen again is through accountability and punishment," says Nathaniel Raymond, who a member of the advocacy group Physicians for Human Rights.
Your Taxpayer Dollars at Work: Defending John Yoo
Alberto Gonzales, the 80th attorney general of the United States, answers questions from The Avalanche-Journal on Thursday at Texas Tech. Gonzales was hired by Tech as a guest lecturer and political science professor, but now about 45 Tech faculty members are petitioning against him.
byÂ Sarah NightingaleÂ |Â AVALANCHE-JOURNALÂ
By Tom Engelhardt
In the name of everything reasonable, and in the face of acts of evil by terrible people, we tortured wantonly and profligately, and some of these torture techniques -- known to the previous administration and most of the media as "enhanced interrogation techniques" -- were actually demonstrated to an array of top officials, including the national security adviser, the attorney general, and the secretary of state, within the White House. We imprisoned secretly at "black sites" offshore and beyond the reach of the American legal system, holding prisoners without hope of trial or, often, release; we disappeared people; we murdered prisoners; we committed strange acts of extreme abuse and humiliation; we kidnapped terror suspects off the global streets and turned some of them over to some of the worst people who ran the worst dungeons and torture chambers on the planet. Unknown, but not insignificant numbers of those kidnapped, abused, tortured, imprisoned, and/or murdered were actually innocent of any crimes against us. We invaded without pretext, based on a series of lies and the manipulation of Congress and the public. We occupied two countries with no clear intent to depart and built major networks of military bases in both. Our soldiers gunned down unknown numbers of civilians at checkpoints and, in each country, arrested thousands of people, some again innocent of any acts against us, imprisoning them often without trial or sometimes hope of release. Our Air Force repeatedly wiped out wedding parties and funerals in its global war on terror. It killed civilians in significant numbers. In the process of prosecuting two major invasions, wars, and occupations, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans have died. In Iraq, we touched off a sectarian struggle of epic proportions that involved the "cleansing" of whole communities and major parts of cities, while unleashing a humanitarian crisis of remarkable size, involving the uprooting of more than four million people who fled into exile or became internal refugees. In these same years, our Special Forces operatives and our drone aircraft carried out -- and still carry out -- assassinations globally, acting as judge, jury, and executioner, sometimes of innocent civilians. We spied on, and electronically eavesdropped on, our own citizenry and much of the rest of the world, on a massive scale whose dimensions we may not yet faintly know. We pretzled the English language, creating an Orwellian terminology that, among other things, essentially defined "torture" out of existence (or, at the very least, left its definitional status to the torturer).
And don't think that that's anything like a full list. Not by a long shot. It's only what comes to my mind on a first pass through the subject...
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's TomDispatch.com. He is the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of the Cold War and beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008), an alternative history of the mad Bush years.
Dallas progressives were receptive to the notion that, by happenstance, they may bear a special responsibility to face into the reality that one of their new neighbors is, arguably, a war criminal.
How does one actually deal with that? It seems a matter of conscience; ignoring the situation does not seem quite right. And yet, an American is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
A dilemma. Because, those who are not captives of the Fawning Corporate Media, are aware of so much incriminating evidence of such heinous crimes, that walking down the street with a, "Hi, George; how's Laura?" really jars.
A consensus seems to be building that perhaps Dallasites are uniquely situated to bring their dilemma to the attention of the country as a whole. How do we Americans handle this unprecedented set of circumstances?
By investigating what happened and, if warranted, initiating a judicial process.
As one Dallas Peace Center activist put it, "We are here in Dallas, with George W. Bush playing golf and living a life of ease, while a library and institute is built to enshrine his version of history.
"Our struggle for clarity and accountability must intensify, not out of vindictiveness but because there will be dire consequences in the future, if no one is held accountable for the suffering and devastation of torture."
Even Dick Cheney now says that the former president knew everything Cheney knew about "enhanced interrogation techniques."
On May 10 the former vice president toldÂ Face the Nation'sÂ Bob Schieffer that Bush "knew a great deal about the program. He basically authorized it. I mean, this was a presidential-level decision. And the decision went to the president. He signed off on it."
This is not to suggest we have to take Cheney at his word, but is there not a compelling need to get to the bottom of this? The question answers itself. No One Is Above the Law cannot become an empty slogan.
And so, it was very encouraging to have a good turnout on Saturday morning, July 11, at the Dallas city branch library nearest the new Bush residence. We took some time to think these things through, and ponder Cesar Chavez' dictum: Without action, nothing good is going to happen.
And you know the best news? As one hardened activist put it:
"For some of those joining us this was their first such march. There was the distinct possibility we might end up in the pokey, but they did not blink an eye. It was a small group, but the point was, we took it right to the belly of the beast. I think we all knew that we were doing what has to be done. We were jacked!"
No pious platitudes for peace. Rather, placards for justice and accountability. And BLOCK LETTER reminders that no one, no one is above the law.
It is, no doubt, too early to know for sure. But it does seem as though a sturdy group of George W. Bush's neighbors are determined to hold their new neighbor accountable, and may become an example -- a catalyst -- for the whole country.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He spent almost 30 years in Army intelligence and as a CIA analyst, and now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
It's been exactly one year since then-Attorney General Michael MukaseyÂ proposed in a speechÂ at the American Enterprise Institute that Congress pass legislation declaring a new, expanded war with al-Qaeda and the Taliban -- thereby granting the president the authority to detain indefinitely members of those groups anywhere in the world where they're found.
That proposal from a lame-duck Attorney General never got very far with the Democratic-controlled Congress. But a year later, the country is still debating that exact same detention authority. And news reports suggest that President Obama may seek precisely the same sort of authority that Mukasey was talking about.
two articles on DEMOCRACY NOW! today cause me to raise that question, http://www.democracynow.org/2009/7/23/headlines
UN: US Uncooperative on Human Rights Probes
Judge: Case Against Gitmo Prisoner "an Outrage"
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|The Word - A Perfect World|
Stephen Colbert on Chuck Todd and torture investigations
Amazingly, reports that Eric Holder is considering commencing an investigation into Bush-era torture crimes has created extreme consternation in multiple Beltway circles despite how narrow and limited those investigations would be. As I wrote last week, numerous reports indicate that Holder wants to replicate the Abu Ghraib travesty by investigating only low-level interrogators who exceeded the torture limits approved by John Yoo and George Bush, and not investigate the high-level policy makers who instituted the criminal torture regime or the DOJ lawyers who authorized it.
Since then, the Newsweek reporter who first printed what DOJ officials told him about Holder's intentions, Daniel Klaidman, confirmed in an interview on The Young Turks that Holder intends to confine any investigations only to "rogue" interrogators who exceeded John Yoo's torture permission slips while shielding high-level Bush officials who acted in accordance with Yoo's decrees. Proving yet again that there is nothing more difficult than satirizing our rotted political culture, here is what I wrote about Holder's intentions last week:
Holder's plan, at least at the moment, is -- from the start -- to confine the prosecutors' authority to investigate to CIA agents who went beyond what John Yoo and George Bush decreed could be done ("he used more water than Yoo said he could"; "he tied him up for longer than Yoo authorized"; "the room was colder and the freezing water icier than Yoo allowed"). At least if these reports are accurate (and, for several reasons, that's unclear), anyone who "merely" did what John Yoo said was legal -- meaning everyone who matters -- will be shielded and immunized...Read the complete Salon.com article here
He's right. We demand an end toÂ detention without charge.
An Obama administration task force set up to develop a plan for the closure of the U.S. detention facility at GuantÃ¡namo Bay will miss its first deadline this week--and put off a key report until the fall--amid continued divisions over how to resolve one of the president's thorniest policy dilemmas.Â Â Â Â Â Â
The task force, set up on Obama's second day in office, was charged with preparing a report to the president by Tuesday, July 21, outlining a long-term detention plan for detainees captured in counterterrorism operations after Sept. 11. But continued debate within the task force over the legal basis for holding detainees who are not charged with any crimes--and where to house them once they are moved from GuantÃ¡namo--has forced the task force to postpone its report by a "few months," a senior administration official told NEWSWEEK...
"You and me... let's make it 'cool to care' again."
"This is your horrible,
dystopian future: John Yoo, the former Office of Legal Counsel official who had
a hand in crafting the Bush administration's detentions, interrogations and
warrantless surveillance abuses, writes endless and endlessly misleading defenses
of himself. Some people die because of Yoo's cavalier relationship with the law
-- about 100, actually -- and others get law school
sinecures and limitless op-ed real estate to explain away what they did. Few
people write so much for so long with so little self-reflection. You'll be
reading these op-eds in the nursing home. Yoo's latest comes in response to Friday's report from five inspectors general about the warrantless
surveillance and data-mining escapades of the Bush administration. Welcome
to your future... - Spencer
Ackerman, The Washington Independent
"This is your horrible, dystopian future: John Yoo, the former Office of Legal Counsel official who had a hand in crafting the Bush administration's detentions, interrogations and warrantless surveillance abuses, writes endless and endlessly misleading defenses of himself. Some people die because of Yoo's cavalier relationship with the law -- about 100, actually -- and others get law school sinecures and limitless op-ed real estate to explain away what they did. Few people write so much for so long with so little self-reflection. You'll be reading these op-eds in the nursing home. Yoo's latest comes in response to Friday's report from five inspectors general about the warrantless surveillance and data-mining escapades of the Bush administration. Welcome to your future... - Spencer Ackerman, The Washington Independent
The Chronicle of Higher Education, March 20, 2009 by David Glenn
Mr. Edley also says that a higher standard should apply to law professors and other instructors in professional schools. In those fields, Mr. Edley says, the university should investigate credible allegations of serious off-campus professional misconduct, even if a criminal conviction is nowhere in sight. "Law professors, after all, are charged with preparing the next generation of professionals to live their lives according to our ethical canons," he says.
On Pacifica Radio's KPFA Evening News program for 6-14-09, Aarin Murray reports on the World Can't Wait rallying for the impeachment of Judge Jay Bybee in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. World Can't Wait set up a 'Bush and Bybee Torture museum' featuring photos of tortured prisoners and signs the detailed approved torture techniques... This news segment runs about three minutes:
NEW YORK - The government today stated it would no longer rely on evidence obtained through torture and other coercion in the habeas corpus case challenging the unlawful detention of GuantÃ¡namo detainee Mohammed Jawad. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion on July 1 to suppress Jawad's statements, and today the Justice Department announced it would not oppose that motion.Â
So the Justice Department got most of what it wanted here. Judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled this morning that the CIA will have until August 24 to release a declassified version of the 2004 CIA inspector general's report on torture, a report that documents abuse so disturbing itÂ reportedly brought Attorney General Eric Holder to the point of authorizing a torture prosecutor. Two weeks ago, the department filed paperwork, contested by the American Civil Liverties Union, to delay aÂ long-scheduled release of the report by August 31.
By Karen Gullo
July 14 (Bloomberg) -- Justice Department attorneys will no longer defend former Bush administration lawyerÂ John Yoo, who wrote memos justifying harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists, in a lawsuit claiming he's responsible for violating the constitutional rights of a detainee.
Private lawyers paid by the Justice Department will represent Yoo, who is appealing a federal judge's refusal to throw out the lawsuit, according to court filings and a Justice Department spokeswoman. The filings didn't name the lawyers.
"For an academic to hold extreme views of executive power, of course, is arguably a matter of academic freedom, and even a form of creative theorizing that one might admire. (Although some of Yoo's Berkeley colleagues, such as economist Brad DeLong, among others, have described his theories as reaching so far beyond the bounds of creative academic theorizing as to be simply dishonest and undeserving of that protection.)
But Yoo's memos at OLC were not part of an academic
exercise; they were making policy. Setting aside for a moment the potential
culpability of Yoo himself, the more important point here is that, as the
inspectors general report makes clear, the White House specifically sought him
out and excluded his superiors, ignoring the usual chain of command in the
Justice Department, apparently because they knew that John Yoo would give them
the legal opinions that they wanted to hear. -Â DAPHNE
The Washington Independent 7/13/09
When CIA-backed Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum had up to 'several thousand' Taliban prisoners sealed and suffocated to death in metal shipping containers just days after the United States invaded the country, it did not go unnoticed by the White House.They simply chose not to do anything about it and quietly worked to discourage efforts to uncover the truth, according to a late FridayÂ report byÂ The New York Times.
Justice requires hearings, prosecutions at the highest levels against those who sullied our nation's cherished values
America is at a turning point. How we will come to terms with the government abuses unleashed in the aftermath ofÂ 9/11Â is a historic test of our highest principles. Are we a nation of laws? Will we stand by our commitment to the rule of law over the tyranny of state-sanctioned brutality?
read full article at The Baltimore SunÂ .
Last year the American Bar Association's Litigation Magazine asked if I would write an article about my experiences representing two men at Guantanamo. Last week it was published. Click on the title to read what I had to say.... this is reprinted by permission from the ABA.
Obama administration officials laid out in their greatest detail thus far on Tuesday for how the administration seeks to revamp the Bush administration's use of much-criticized military commissions for foreign terrorism suspects in order to withstand review by the courts.
Alberto Gonzales, who resigned as the Bush administration's embattled attorney general nearly two years ago, has lined up a fall-semester teaching spot at Texas Tech University, the university confirmed today.
Gonzales, who was Gov. George W. Bush's lawyer, Texas secretary of state and then a Texas Supreme Court justice before joining Bush in Washington, will be working in the university's political science department, teaching a "special topics" course on contemporary issues in the executive branch, according to Dora Rodriguez, a senior business assistant in the department.
I'm trying to reach Gonzales as well.
He recently told The Houston Chronicle that he wanted to re-settle in Houston or Austin and work on a book recapping his ups and downs by Bush's side. "You serve and you move on," he's quoted sayingÂ here.
He also disputed reports he was having a hard time finding work, saying he's working as a consultant, giving speeches and doing arbitration work as a lawyer. He said then that his dream job would be baseball commissioner.
|Pentagon Report Verified Detainee Torture|
|WRITTEN BY THOMAS R. EDDLEM Â Â|
|MONDAY, 06 JULY 2009,Â|
The picture that emerges from 51 pages ofÂ recently declassified documents about detention at GuantanamoÂ is one of persistent torture approved directly by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, combined with administrative incompetence on the ground at Guantanamo and a flagrant White House betrayal of military brass in charge of interrogations.Â
Published: July 2, 2009Â
Lawyers for the first Guantanamo Bay detainee to be transferred to US soil for a civilian trial, set for September 2010, asked on Thursday to see the secret CIA prisons where he was allegedly tortured.
The Associated Press reports, "A prosecutor agreed Thursday that the government will not dismantle overseas locations where a former Guantanamo detainee claims he was interrogated by the CIA before he was brought to the United States for trial on terrorism charges."
"Obviously some of the information that's out now can -- you can go back now through the older IG report -- in a sense, I don't know if this is a word, "unredact" some of that material.Â That's what -- I think that's a decent part of what's going on interagency-wise right now."Â
WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department is again delaying the release of an internal CIA report on the agency's secret detention and interrogation program during the Bush administration.
The report had been expected to be made public two weeks ago but was held back over debates about how much of it should be censored. The government published a version of the report in 2008, but its contents were almost entirely blacked out.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that the report, expected to be made public in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, may not be released this week.
The report was written in 2004 by the CIA's inspector general.
The review questioned the effectiveness of harsh interrogation methods employed by CIA interrogators, such as waterboarding. That's according to references to the report contained in Bush-era Justice Department memos that were declassified this spring.
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