July 2009 Archives

A day of reckoning for Bush's 'torture' lawyers
By Ronald Sokol, The Christian Science Monitor

Under even the most dire conditions, there is a gold standard when it comes to applying the rule of law. It was set 65 years ago by a former attorney general of the United States. At issue today is whether the current attorney general will uphold that standard.

There's a McDonald's on the high street, suburban houses, rats the size of dogs and 229 of the world's most high-profile prisoners. Six months after President Obama declared that he would close it down, Naomi Wolf heads to Guantánamo Bay to see whether anything has changed.

Guantánamo Bay: the Inside Story

by: Naomi Wolf  |  Visit article original @ The Times UK

Six months ago this week President Obama, on his second day in office, promised to close the Guantánamo 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?

    I went to Guantánamo last month to see for myself what difference, if any, Obama's election had made...

Continue reading story at logo, http://www.truthout.org/073109C?n .

On June 27, 2008 the NO TO TORTURE - JOHN YOO MUST GO! Coalition sponsored a Town Hall, featuring constitutional lawyer, lecturer, writer, and political activist Stephen Rohde (archived video of event here). While we have seen much exposure of torture at Guantanamo, Bagram, and "black sites" around the world since then, Stephen reminds us of alleged abuse at home:

Taking On Torture

By Stephen Rohde, Daily Journal, June 19, 2009

As the debate continues over whether President Obama will seek criminal prosecutions against former Bush administration officials for authorizing and carrying out torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees, one of the victims is taking the law into his own hands.

Jose Padilla, an America citizen labeled an "enemy combatant" by Bush, has filed an unprecedented civil lawsuit against John Yoo, former deputy attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel, seeking $1 in damages and a declaration that Yoo violated his constitutional rights.

On June 12, in the first court ruling addressing Yoo's role in the "war on terror," U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White, a Bush appointee, denied Yoo's motion to dismiss the suit. White, quoting Alexander Hamilton, wrote: "[War] will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free."

For White, the task was to "strike the proper balance of fighting a war against terror, at home and abroad, and fighting a war using tactics of terror."

See Torture report a 'security risk' for brief, full story here.

Urging 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. 

In the new filing 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..."   (The filing was accompanied by a declaration 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.)

see Constitutional clash over detainee? 

With all the controversy over the use of Survival, Evasion, Escape, Resistance, or SERE, psychologists in the interrogation of "high-value detainees" -- most recently detailed in a fascinating melange of an article in last Sunday's Washington Post --  everyone seems to assume that terrible chapter is a thing of the past. Recent documentation that has come to my attention suggests otherwise. - Jeffrey Kaye

John DiPippa 
Dean of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law

tools of torture

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The Curious Case of Gertrauta Conrad
The witch hunters of the 16th century had the same mindset as our Bush Administration. 

Link to Yoo's Memo's
Link to Yoo's Memo's c/o Butner Blogspot

It's hardly a new revelation that Bush administration officials believed they could ignore practically any law while pursuing national security interests, but even now, the list of laws they felt comfortable ignoring keeps getting longer. -  Steve Benen, July 25, Washington Monthly

He's a tenured law professor at Berkeley.

Under Lingering (and Lingering) Fire, John Yoo Continues to Fight

By Ashby Jones JULY 27, 2009 THE WALL STREET JOURNAL Law Blog


yooThe 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 to this article in the Washington Post, rather than shrink from public view, Yoo has continued to defend himself, often in very public fashion.

"All of us in the healing professions know we are vulnerable of causing harm in the process of doing good... What is truly horrific is our vulnerability to be asked to do harm without doing any good."Jancis Long, PhD, president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility

Medical human rights groups and medical ethicists are calling for an independent investigation into the role of U.S. military and government healthcare personnel in the brutal interrogation of detainees suspected of terrorism in the years following 9/11. 

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.

video: "Sick of Yoo"

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Your Taxpayer Dollars at Work: Defending John Yoo
"... feel free to contact the Justice Department's Civil Division, Torts Branch (Constitutional Tort Litigation Section) and ask to see the representation memo that argues why John Yoo is entitled to private counsel at government expense: (202) 616-4140.  The director is Tim Garren." - Department of Justice employee Jesselyn Radack
Protest in support of Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed
Protest in support of Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed outside the American Embassy, London, February 17, 2009. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Geoffrey Mcallister / Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

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.

Tech faculty oppose Gonzales

by Sarah Nightingale | AVALANCHE-JOURNAL 

an excerpt from

Don't Turn the Page on History

Facing the American World We Created
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.

"What Do We Do Now?"

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excerpt from 
Dallas: Into the Belly of the Beast

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 told Face the Nation's 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.

A dozen of us decided to exercise our First Amendment rights and go see if George and Laura were home.  [Click here for images and here for story.]

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).

Former Iraqi Weapons Monitor Describes U.S. Abuse For First Time

Michael Bronner   |  Huffington Post Investigative Fund 
Lt. Gen. Hussam Amin, of the Iraqi National Monitoring System, left, speaks with Hans Blix, chief UN weapons inspector, right, at Saddam International Airport in Baghdad, Iraq Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2002. Blix and about a dozen U.N officials were leaving after a two-day visit to Iraq in which they discussed the inspection process with Iraqi officials. (AP Photo

Lt. Gen. Hussam Amin, of the Iraqi National Monitoring System, left, speaks with Hans Blix, chief U.N. weapons inspector, right, at Saddam International Airport in Baghdad, Iraq, Nov. 20, 2002. Blix and about a dozen U.N. officials were leaving after a two-day visit to Iraq in which they discussed the inspection process with Iraqi officials. (AP Photo)

...Amin's story of his incarceration, related here for the first time, offers another instructive chapter in the scandalous history of detainee treatment -- one that encompasses both physical torture and the more subtle moral quandary of leaving prisoners to languish indefinitely without any meaningful legal process, the status quo for prisoners at U.S. detention facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.

read full story in THE HUFFINGTON POST.

 President Barack Obama meets with Army Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, in the Oval Office at the White House, May 19, 2009. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates recommended that the president nominate McChrystal as the new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

President Barack Obama meets with Army Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, in the Oval Office at the White House, May 19, 2009. McChrystal, who was head of Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq, is now the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. 

...McChrystal's tenure began shortly after Amin's five-day stay at Camp Nama but coincided with the abuses alleged in the New York Times and Human Rights Watch reports...

None of the senators on the Armed Services Committee asked McChyrstal about Camp Nama during his confirmation hearing for the Afghanistan post last month...

In a sharp follow-up query to McChrystal after the hearing, however, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) pointed out that seven months into his command McChrystal made a request to Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. military operations in the Middle East, for permission to use five additional "enhanced" interrogation techniques not listed in the Army Field Manual - techniques that had been suspended by Abizaid two months prior - including "sleep management," "control positions," and "environmental manipulation." As an addendum, McChrystal asked that, in "exceptional circumstances," handcuffs be allowed to "enforce the detainee's position."

Reports Signal White House Interest in Expanded Detention Powers

By DAPHNE EVIATAR 7/21/09 The Washington Independent
US Attorney General Michael Mukasey (WDCPix)

US Attorney General Michael Mukasey (WDCPix)

It's been exactly one year since then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey proposed in a speech 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

The Obama administration continues to deny UN requests to investigate conditions at Guantanamo Bay and other US prisons overseas. TheWashington Post reports at least two human rights investigators were recently turned down after asking to visit Guantanamo. A top UN torture official also requested a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton but was denied. One researcher says though the Obama administration has banned CIA torture techniques, it's avoiding a legal obligation under the 1984 Convention Against Torture to investigate unresolved allegations. Six months after the Bush administration left office, the UN officials say the investigations are particularly urgent since a statute of limitations on prosecuting alleged torturers expires as early as next year.

Judge: Case Against Gitmo Prisoner "an Outrage"

The Obama administration meanwhile is facing a Friday deadline on whether to continue jailing Guantanamo Bay prisoner Mohamed Jawad. The American Civil Liberties Union has challenged Jawad's indefinite imprisonment, saying he's been abused, threatened, and deprived of sleep in US custody. The case has received further scrutiny because it's believed Jawad was jailed when he was twelve years old. Federal District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle has given the Justice Department until tomorrow to explain why Jawad should still be jailed. Huvelle called the government's current case "an outrage" and "riddled with holes."

more on child soldier case here, and here.

See also Obama Accused by Lawyers of Stonewalling on Terror Questioning

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - A Perfect World
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMark Sanford

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 to detention without charge.

An Obama administration task force set up to develop a plan for the closure of the U.S. detention facility at Guantánamo 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.      

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 Guantánamo--has forced the task force to postpone its report by a "few months," a senior administration official told NEWSWEEK...

see Obama's Gitmo Task Force Blows Its Deadline

An al-Jazeera journalist who was imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay plans to launch a joint legal action with other detainees against former US president George Bush and other administration officials, for the illegal detention and torture he and others suffered at the hands of US authorities.

The case will be initiated by the Guantánamo Justice Centre, a new organisation open to former prisoners at the US base, which will set up its international headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, later this month.

"The purpose of our organisation is to open a case against the Bush administration," said co-founder Sami al-Haj, an al-Jazeera reporter from Sudan who was illegally detained by US authorities for over six years after being captured while he was working as a cameraman...

see Al-Jazeera journalist imprisoned in Guantánamo Bay to sue George Bush

"A brand new, powerful music video from David Ippolito. (That Guitar Man from Central Park) Watch this video...Be heard. Download this song for free at thatguitarman.com. PASS THIS VIDEO ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!"
"You and me... let's make it 'cool to care' again."
think he'll consult with Jay Bybee?

Waterboarding not being considered, but there could be 
"similarities" with Bush approach. 

See Wall Street Journal article here .

"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 



Rocking direct action in Yoo's classroom by Austrailian blogger 'Young and Grumpy' Read more about it at the blog youngandgrumpy.com
John Yoo: Still Lying
by A.L., anonymousliberal.com  THURSDAY, JULY 16, 2009

In this morning's Wall Street Journal, John Yoo has an op-ed defending himself from the malpractice charges set forth in the recent Inspecter General's report. As with the opinions themselves, the op-ed is deeply disingenuous and misstates the law repeatedly.

John Yoo's boss, part 3

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Chris Edley Believes Law Profs Must Follow Higher Ethical Standards

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:

Adobe Flash Player to listen.

You can also download an mp3 of the segment here.

ADDENDUM: Obama Still Hasn't Stated Position on Evidence Acquired Through Torture 

Government Abandons Reliance On Tortured Evidence In Habeas Case Of Guantánamo Detainee (7/15/2009)
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 Guantánamo 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. 

Judge Orders 2004 CIA Inspector General Report on Torture Released by Aug. 24

By SPENCER ACKERMAN 7/15/09 The Washington Independent

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 it 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 a long-scheduled release of the report by August 31.

includes video from MSNBC's Countdown

Protesters calling for the impeachment, disbarment, and prosecution of a federal judge they accuse of aiding illegal torture will rally at 12 noon this Tuesday, July 14 at the James R. Browning Courthouse, 95 Seventh St. (at Mission).

Organized by the World Can't Wait, the activists will focus on Judge Jay Bybee, whose lifetime appointment to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by Bush they claim was a presidential reward for Bybee's role in legalizing torture.

As head of Bush's Office of Legal Counsel, in 2002 Bybee wrote a key legal memo justifying fourteen (14) specific torture techniques including waterboarding, walling, and sleep deprivation.

World Can't Wait's Stephanie Tang calls Bybee as "a member in good standing of the Torture Team, along with Yoo, Rice, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush. Without a green light for torture from the lawyers, the Bush regime could not have organized the horrible torture apparatus that is still operating today - and called it legal."

World Can't Wait and other activists have begun turning up to protest wherever Bybee travels across the Ninth Circuit. In a statement, World Can't Wait explained why these demonstrations will occur whether Bybee himself is in the courtroom on any given day: "Torture is a war crime, and the Torture Judge is a war criminal. As long as a war criminal sits on the bench of this court, every decision it issues is tainted."

Tang said today: "Our protests will not stop, because the torture has not stopped. And as more revelations keep coming, the whole world can see how central torture has become to the so-called 'war on terror. What does it say when Obama doesn't want to prosecute those responsible - when the new president follows in the footsteps of the old, and the torture goes on and on?"

Comment on this story, by email comment@newsblaze.com

U.S. Lawyers Won't Defend Ex-Bush Attorney in Torture-Memo Case

By Karen Gullo

July 14 (Bloomberg) -- Justice Department attorneys will no longer defend former Bush administration lawyer 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.

Yoo's boss, part 2

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As "high government officials" clamor to deny knowledge of wrongdoing, one character in particular stands out as willing accomplice in the Bush program of state torture and illegal surveillance: former Assistant Attorney General and now Federal Judge Jay Bybee.

While his subordinate John Yoo gets much deserved credit for creating the "legal" framework to subvert the law, Bybee took the ball and ran when asked to provide specific interpretations  of torture techniques...

(Bush - Bybee Museum of Torture photo).

... for which he was rewarded handsomely with appointment to a position on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Bybee is "not surprised" that Yoo "became the White House's guy" on national security matters, and signed off on memos that established policy to get around the law. But it was Bybee's own memo that offered legal cover for clear violations of the US Criminal Code and the Geneva Conventions, to which the US is a signatory.

As long as a Torture Judge sits on the bench of the Ninth Circuit Court, every decision this court reaches is tainted.  A court where an internationally-exposed war criminal sits in judgment on anything or anyone is a sham.


Let the courthouse press know that there is a growing movement of people living in this country who will not allow torture judges, torture professors, torture lawyers, torture ex-presidents and vice-presidents, et al to waltz back into comfortable civilian lives as if their hands aren't covered in blood.

Be at the Courthouse (at 7th & Mission Streets) this Tuesday at noon.

World Can't Wait and other anti-torture groups and people who refuse to accept the torture state will be there - will you? 

"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. - DAPHNE EVIATAR

One Need Look No Further Than John Yoo for Evidence of Executive Lawbreaking

The Washington Independent 7/13/09

"The temptation to tell a Chief in a great position the things he most likes to hear," Winston Churchill famously cautioned, "is the commonest explanation of mistaken policy." But perhaps an even greater failure of a leader is refusal to hear what he doesn't like. 

The above comment was directed at the Bush adminstration, but could be applied equally to the current president... 

Huffington Post blogger Scott Atran does just that:

*c/o http://themcglynn.com/ , Obama Admin: No Grounds To Probe Afghan War Crimes 

Report: Bush admin. skirted probe of mass Afghan slayings


Published: July 10, 2009 RAW STORY  

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 Friday report by The New York Times.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration sees no legal basis for investigation; 
The Terrorist Surveillance Program and the Constitution

John Yoo 
University of California at Berkeley School of Law

George Mason Law Review, Vol. 14, 2007 
UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 975333 

In response to the September 11 attacks, President Bush created the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which authorized the National Security Agency to intercept phone calls and emails traveling into and out of the United States. One of the parties to the communication had to be someone suspected of being a member of al Qaeda. This surveillance took place outside the framework of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which since 1978 has regulated the interception of communications entering or leaving the United States. This Essay argues that the TSP represents a valid exercise of the President's Commander-in-Chief authority to gather intelligence during wartime. Part I argues that critics of the program misunderstand the separation of powers between the President and Congress in wartime. Part II traces the confusion to a failure to properly understand the differences between war and crime, and a difficulty in understanding the new challenges presented by a networked, dynamic enemy such as al Qaeda. Part III explains that because the United States is at war with al Qaeda, the President possesses the constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief to engage in warrantless surveillance of enemy activity. It draws on historical examples to show a long practice of presidential authority in this area.

Keywords: terrorism, surveillance, president, separation of powers, intelligence

Accepted Paper Series

Date posted: March 27, 2007 ; Last revised: April 16, 2007

this monster resumes teaching August 17th... will you  

be there to stop him?:

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 of 9/11 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 Sun .

My Experiences Representing a 

Guantánamo Detainee

by H. Candace Gorman

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.

Ex-Commissions Prosecutor Says System Must Be Scrapped

David Kris and Jeh Johnson (Senate Judiciary Committee, Department of Defense)

David Kris and Jeh Johnson (Senate Judiciary Committee, Department of Defense)

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.

How to Trap a Torture Judge

c/o www.scoop.co.nz 

It's a problem that Jay Bybee is a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. How can he serve as a judge when he seriously violated the laws against inhumane treatment of detainees and gave legal approval to interrogation techniques that amount to torture. We agree with Patrick Leahy, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, that if Bybee's a decent human being, he'll resign. We agree with MoveOn and People for the American Way, who've submitted 140,000 petition signatures to John Conyers, Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, asking him to impeach Bybee. And we agree with the New York Times, which called for his impeachment twice in April...

Berkeley Pedestrian Bridge Becomes An Awareness Activist Action Against Torture/Censorship

Additional photos here

By Darin Allen Bauer | IndyBay

In light of the fact that the Obama administration has not publicly repudiate the state torture policies established by John Yoo and the Bush administration there is continual civil unrest on the issue of torture and censorship in the USA.

The Obama administration's torture policy can be interpreted as very similar to the Bush administration in that within the guidelines of national security US torture policy currently severely limits international law under US foreign policy and removes freedoms such as habeas corpus to suspected terrorists, and prisoners of war.

These are frightening aspects of the neo-liberalist corporate globalization, and the police state in which it serves.

On May 23, 2004 The New York Times Magazine's main topic was by Susan Sontag, and the article regarded the then released photographs of prisoners in Abu Ghraib, where she notes Rumsfeld's aversion to using the terminology "torture", and simply citing the incident as "abuse," and "humiliation."

"Words alter, words add, words subtract. It was the strenuous avoidance of the word "genocide" while some 800,000 Tutsis in Rwanda were being slaughtered, over a few weeks' time, by their Hutu neighbors 10 years ago that indicated the American government had no intention of doing anything. To refuse to call what took place in Abu Ghraib - and what has taken place elsewhere in Iraq and in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay - by its true name, torture, is as outrageous as the refusal to call the Rwandan genocid a genocid. Here is one of the definitions of torture contained in a convention to which the United States is a signatory:

"any act by which sever pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a thrid person information or a confession." Read more.

Alberto Gonzales, former U.S. attorney general, expected to teach at Texas Tech University

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 saying 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
MONDAY, 06 JULY 2009, The New American Magazine

GuantanamoThe picture that emerges from 51 pages of recently declassified documents about detention at Guantanamo 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. 

see RAW STORY for link to Associated Press article.

"It is apparent that the CIA report is not being delayed for legitimate reasons, but to cover up evidence of the agency's illegal and ineffective interrogation practices. It is time for the president to hold true to his promise of transparency and once and for all quash the forces of secrecy within the agency. The American public has a right to know the full truth about the torture that was committed in its name." - 
Amrit Singh, staff attorney with the ACLU

read more here

Detainee's lawyers hope to inspect for evidence of torture


Published: July 2, 2009 

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."

Natl Press Club DC - June 29, 2009

On June 29, 2009, Velvet Revolution, along with Kevin Zeese, held a press conference announcing the filing of Bar complaints against two lawyers, John Rizzo and Jonathan Fredman in the DC Appeals Court.

ACLU of Northern California

Accountability for TortureDear Friend,

Even in the age of Obama, the lingering attacks on civil liberties by the Bush administration are still being revealed. With newly released evidence of state-sanctioned torture practices by the CIA, warrantless wiretaps of innocent Americans, and unconstitutional expansions of executive power, we can't sweep the abuses of the last eight years under the rug. Accountability for torture is a legal, political, and moral imperative. And the ACLU is committed to restoring the rule of law.

Join us for a briefing on Transparency & Accountability in San Francisco - or by telephone - on Wed., July 15

On July 15, we will hear from ACLU-NC staff attorney Ann Brick, counsel in our case that alleged that Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. knowingly provided flight services that enabled the CIA to transport people to secret overseas locations where they were tortured. Brick has also been at the center of the ACLU's lawsuit against telecommunications giants AT&T and Verizon to stop them from providing the government with the personal phone records of millions of Californians. Also joining us by phone will be Michelle Richardson, legislative counsel for the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, who will give us the latest update on what the ACLU is doing to ensure our civil liberties are protected at the federal level.

Transparency & Accountability
A briefing by the ACLU featuring Ann Brick and Michelle Richardson
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
6:00 - 8:00 p.m., dinner provided
ACLU-NC offices
39 Drumm St. San Francisco
Click to RSVP

Can't join us in person? Teleconference services will be available for those wishing to participate remotely. Please RSVP for more information.

As Thomas Jefferson famously said: an informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will. We hope you will engage with us in being the informed, empowered citizenry that is needed to get our country moving in the right direction again.


Abdi Soltani
Abdi Soltani
Executive Director
ACLU of Northern California free of discrimination are fundamental goals of the ACLU.

"It's not uncommon, of course, for our political debates to be distorted.  But discussions over torture and accountability have descended to a new level.  The picture that is most commonly conveyed -- that torture was confined to a small handful of cases, was highly regulated, and resulted in no long-lasting harm -- is pure propaganda, completely false.  The reality -- that our "interrogation tactics" killed numerous detainees, who, by definition, are people confined helplessly in our custody, virtually none of whom has been convicted of anything, and at least some of whom are completely innocent -- is virtually never heard as part of these debates.  It's vital that this changes." - Glenn Greenwald

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.

*Helen Thomas slams Obama over secrecy here (video). 

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The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo

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