November 2009 Archives
If, as is too common, our universities are merely providing new technicians for sustaining the status quo, the debate over private vs public might indeed be moot. But, if we use higher education for realizing a better and more equitable world, the public could be best convinced that student demands are justified.Â
The battle over higher education in California is really a battle over the shape of the future, not just in California, but the country...Â
Thursday 19 November 2009
by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report
A long-awaited Justice Department watchdog report that is said to be highly critical of the legal work three attorneys who worked at the agency's powerful Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) conducted for the Bush administration will be released at the end of the month, Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday during testimony before a Senate committee.
"The report is completed. It is being reviewed now and it's in its last stages," Holder said in response to a question by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-Rhode Island), who queried the attorney general about the status of the report. "There is a career prosecutor who has to review the report. We expect that process should be done by the end of the month. At that point, the report should be issued."
release has at least one of those attorneys running scared; see Torture Memo Author Sets Up Defense Fund to Fight Possible Impeachment
KABUL, Afghanistan -- An American military detention camp in Afghanistan is still holding inmates for sometimes weeks at a time and without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to human rights researchers and former detainees held at the site on theÂ BagramÂ Air Base.Â
former detaineeÂ interview transcriptsÂ here.
By:Â Jim WhiteÂ Thursday November 26, 2009Â
Over six and a half years have elapsed since March, 2003, but much information has become available in the past year to help us reconstruct a number of important events that month. The evidence points convincingly to a conscious decision by the Bush administration to engage in overwhelming use of torture in a last-ditch attempt to provide another false justification for a war which was still launched, even as the justification then in use also was being shown to be false...
Condoleezza Rice's part in this here
The Guantanamo Lawyers: Shipwrecked
Posted on NovÂ 22,Â truthdig
By Baher AzmyÂ
Editor's note: This important new book tells the story of the world's most famous prison from the perspective of the lawyers who toiled under notoriously difficult conditions on behalf of the detainees. In this excerpt, Baher Azmy tells the story of his client, who was held for years despite having been found by his captors to have no connection with terrorism.
I first saw him on a TV screen. Before my initial meeting with Murat Kurnaz in October 2004, the U.S. military police escorted me--the third civilian lawyer to enter the inner sanctum of GuantÃ¡namo's Camp Echo-- through several fifteen-foot-high locked gates and into the guard booth of the world's most notorious military prison. On my way to the booth, walking across gravel made bright white by the blazing Caribbean sun, my status as a civilian--clean shaven, dressed in a tie and formal shoes--was punctuated by the loud sounds of practice machine-gun fire in the distance...Â
see also FIVE YEARS OF MY LIFE
By Peter Finn
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 25, 2009Â
A key official in the Obama administration's effort to remake detention policy and close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay has resigned.
Phillip Carter, who was appointed deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee policy in April, said in a brief telephone interview that he was leaving for "personal and family reasons" and not because of any policy differences with the administration. He tendered his resignation Friday, Pentagon officials said.
Carter, a lawyer and Iraq war veteran, was responsible for coordinating global policy on detainees...
Philadelphia Inquirer still printing John Yoo's opinionsÂ by Ross Levin
see War Criminals Map for more culpritsÂ
Christopher Edley, Dean
November 20, 2009
At the request of some students at Berkeley Law, I write to elaborate on my statements concerning academic freedom as regards Professor John Yoo and the widespread concerns about the role he played in the Bush Administration's efforts to combat terrorism while he was on leave from Berkeley. (For my earlier detailed statement, see http://www.law.berkeley.edu/5961.htm)
I believe that until a competent body makes findings of fact and offers conclusions of law concerning Professor Yoo's actions related to torture and human rights, vital principles of academic freedom require that all of us affirm and respect his right to teach and the right of our students to take courses from him without interference, including disruption or intimidation. I have specifically asked my staff and the University Police to make reasonable efforts to prevent such disruption or intimidation and, if unsuccessful, to arrest trespassers.
However much any of us may agree with the political and policy views of protesters, I believe that all members of the law school community share a duty to uphold freedom of thought, however unpopular, and freedom of inquiry, however uncomfortable. As to illegality or professional misconduct, as some have alleged against Professor Yoo, the investigative and disciplinary mechanisms of the University are in my judgment neither designed nor sufficiently knowledgeable to decide the matters at issue. Other institutions should and must serve that function.
But let me state plainly: This fidelity to academic freedom and our notions of excellence does not mean that students, staff and faculty are obligated to stand mute or ignore the controversy. Protests that do not interfere with teaching and learning, and have no purpose or effect of intimidation, are certainly permissible. More importantly, serious and reasoned debate is at the very core of the academic freedom we are bound to safeguard. Learning, like the best kind of politics, involves the clash of ideas. In a great university, that clash should serve to illuminate and inspire, not to censor or intimidate. Berkeley Law has unfailingly been on the right side of this distinction throughout my experience here. To me, that is a tremendous source of pride.
When a student graduates from our law school, the faculty - indeed the whole community - has failed if he or she has not struggled to reconcile personal passions with broad principles anchored in the law. Whatever might be said for the rest of the academy, as a law school one imperative is clear: Our students must acquire a honed facility not only to advocate their cause, but also to marshal the self-critical discipline and temperament to know the weaknesses in their own advocacy and to discern any peppercorn of truth possessed by their opponent. None of this is possible without vigorous discussion in classrooms and corridors, curriculum and co-curriculum.
I am confident that I speak for all members of the faculty in stressing that when engaging any vexing and critical issue of the day - from torture to tort reform, abortion to habeas corpus, gay marriage to orphan drug patents, climate change to Glass-Steagall re-regulation - both our profession and our academic mission are centrally concerned with vigorous, disciplined, inquiry and debate. We live for the thrill of the rumpus, but not too wild.
- Foreign secretary's claims of security risk dismissedÂ
The high court today flatly rejected claims by David Miliband, the foreign secretary, that releasing evidence of the CIA's inhuman and unlawful treatment of UK resident Binyam Mohamed would harm Britain's relations with the US by giving away intelligence secrets.Â
Evidence that the foreign secretary also wants to suppress is believed to reveal what British intelligence officers knew about Mohamed's treatment. Mohamed, 31, an Ethiopian, says he was tortured in Pakistan, Morocco, Afghanistan, and GuantÃ¡namo Bay.Â
In the sixth in a string of damning rulings, the high court accused Miliband of wanting to suppress information about CIA activities even though details had already been disclosed by the Obama administration. Dismissing Miliband's claims, Lord Justice Thomas and Mr Justice Lloyd Jones insisted they were not trying to give away "American secrets". They said: "Of itself, the treatment to which Mr Mohamed was subjected could never properly be described in a democracy as 'a secret' or an 'intelligence secret' or 'a summary of classified intelligence'."Â
The judges revealed that seven paragraphs in a key document Miliband insists must remain secret "relate to admissions of what officials of the US did to BM during his detention in Pakistan". They repeated their earlier finding that "what is contained in those seven redacted paragraphs gives rise to an arguable case of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment".Â
Boalt spokesperson Susan Gluss saysÂ Edley will review the report before offering his opinion on whether or not Yoo should lose his position at Boalt.
Zachary RothÂ | November 18, 2009,Â TPMMuckraker
ThatÂ long-awaitedÂ report on the Justice Department's role in the Bush administration's torture program could finally be ready to see the light of day.
During his testimony before Congress today, Attorney General Eric Holder said that the report, by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility, is "in its last stages," and that he expects it will be released by the end of the month.
The OPR report, five years in the making, is focused in part on whether Bush DOJ lawyers violated laws or internal guidelines when they wrote memos that approved torture. TheÂ Washington PostÂ reportedÂ in May that a draft of the report recommended disciplinary action by state bar associations -- though not, apparently, criminal prosecution -- against former DOJ lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee.
And in August, theÂ New York TimesÂ reportedÂ that the study recommends reopening nearly a dozen prisoner abuse cases, some of which involve the death of detainees in U.S. custody.
221.9 sec. 1 - Constitutional Design and the California Constitution (Spring 2010)
Instructor: John Choon Yoo
Instructor: David A. Carrillo
View all teaching evaluations for this course
Meeting Time: W 6:20-9:00
Meeting Location: 240
Course Control Number (Non-1Ls): 51212
Main Section Enrollment:
Enroll Limit: 53
As of: 11/16 06:43 AM
Were Yoo not teaching at UC next semester, it would not mean loss of tenure, status, or position at UC. It would simply mean he would be doing something else, e.g., teaching somewhere else, consulting.
Here in Berkeley he's more visible and accessible to us. I want to see him fired and prosecuted, as I'm sure you do, not just simply take up residence somewhere else, however permanent or temporary.
I don't like the fact that he's teaching students, but as long as the UC system is protecting Yoo, the students are going to have to make up their own minds -- they're not children.
Saturday, November 14th, 2009 RAW STORY
Pursuant to new powers delegated to him by Congress, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has executed an order blocking the release of photos depicting the torture of detainees. In doing so, it becomes highly unlikely that the Supreme Court will further consider making the photos public, as a lower court had ordered.
InÂ a new supplemental briefÂ [PDF link] filed with the high court, the administration's attorneys argue that the new law Congress passed to allow Gates this authority effectively exempts the photos from the Freedom of Information Act, therefore invalidating an earlier lawsuit.
WASHINGTON - The White House counsel,Â Gregory B. Craig, has told associates that he intends to step down from his post on Friday, putting to rest long-running speculation about whether he would remain asÂ President Obama's top lawyer.
Mr. Craig had been at the center of controversial decisions over whether to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as well as revising administration policies on theinterrogationÂ and detention of prisoners. For months, questions have circulated inside the White House about his status, but an official said early Friday that Mr. Craig had made the decision to resign.
Robert Bauer, a Democratic lawyer in Washington who has represented Mr. Obama for years, has agreed to be named to the position of White House counsel, according to an official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision was not scheduled to be made public until later Friday.Â
but its pretty damn weak.
I was delighted to be invited toÂ discuss GuantÃ¡namo on Democracy Now! this morning, just an hour after the story first broke that the Obama administration is preparing to bringÂ Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other prisonersÂ to the US mainland to face trials in federal court for their alleged involvement in the 9/11 attacks.
the court's decision "risks a government that can interpret theÂ
law to suit its own ends, without scrutiny."
Mark Danner, a UC Berkeley professor of journalism, has covered war, foreign affairs and political violence for two decades. He is the author of Torture and Truth (2004) and, most recently, Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War. Co-sponsored byÂ the Center for Latin American Studies and the Graduate School of Journalism.
Friday, November 13, 2009, 3:00 PM Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall, UC Berkeley
Bush torture 'architect' sits on court that will rule on another torture 'architect'
Wednesday, November 11th, 2009 RAW STORY
John Yoo, the former Bush administration lawyer who gained notoriety for penning a number of the so-called "torture memos" justifying the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" on terrorism suspects, has filed an appeal of a lawsuit against him with a court on whose bench sits another torture "architect" from the Bush administration.
Yoo's lawyers have filed an appeal against a lawsuit by convicted terrorist supporter Jose Padilla to the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. One of the judges on that bench is Jay Bybee, who served early on in the Bush administration in the same Office of Legal Counsel where Yoo wrote the torture memos.
Bybee is known for having written the "Bybee memo," which spelled out the definition of "enhanced interrogation techniques" the Bush administration used against terrorism suspects, now abandoned by the Obama Justice Department. Yoo wrote a number of controversial memos regarding torture, including one that declared "enhanced interrogation" only met the legal definition of torture if it caused pain equal to "organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death.
Christopher Edley, Jr., is supposedly in charge at Boalt Hall. I think he wants to hide behind the specious claim that he keeps Yoo on as a free-speech issue. Or maybe he claims that Yoo's tenure ties his hands. The second claim may have some substance--though I wager there would be a way to suspend Yoo from performing as a professor if Edley had the stomach for such a measure. As for the first, I call it specious. U.C. Berkeley is under no obligation to SPONSER Yoo in order to maintain free speech. It is one thing to allow free speech. It is quite another thing to appoint or maintain appointment to a teaching position. Appointing as a teacher implies some positive evaluation on the part of a university of what it is the teacher actually teaches. Granted, tenure clogs this issue some. But a math teacher would not remain active who decided to dispense with all odd numbers. A biology teacher would probably not be sustained who left evolution out of the account of biological development. A physics teacher who decided gravity is sheer hoax would probably not be permitted to continue. Yoo's approach to law is as egregiously misconceived as would be any of these. He should be let go. Â
- Tomo [Tom O'Neill]
The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO -- A former Bush administration lawyer is asking a federal court to toss a lawsuit by a convicted terrorist who accuses him of drafting the legal theories that led to his alleged torture.
John Yoo, a former senior Justice Department official, asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday to reverse a lower court ruling allowing the suit to proceed.
Yoo's lawyer argues that legal counsel to a president in wartime should not be subject to judicial second-guessing.
Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen serving a 17-year sentence for terrorism conspiracy, claims he was tortured while being held nearly four years.
Special note to the Berkeley anti-torture community:
AuthorÂ Andy WorthingtonÂ comes to Berkeley for a premiere of a new Spectacle Production film, "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo", November 10 at 7 PM, North Berkeley Senior Center, and a book signing event at Revolution Books the following night,Â http://www.revolutionbooks.org.
Andy reportsÂ hereÂ on his tour so far.
"The GuantÃ¡namo Files is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand how GuantÃ¡namo came to be the torture chamber of the United States. This comprehensive and well-researched exposÃ© reveals the stories of the many tragic men and boys who were picked up after 9/11 by, or at the direction of, the US government, and also clearly demonstrates the frightening and unchecked power of the Bush administration and the failures that have followed on from its miserable, inept and criminal policies. Perhaps most disturbing, from a personal point of view, is the author's unraveling of the US government's manipulation of classified information, not to protect national security, but in a vain attempt to hide the truth about GuantÃ¡namo. The fact that the prison's real story has been ignored by our corporate media, by politicians on both sides of the aisle and, most distressingly, by the judiciary, makes this book an important historical contribution to this dark period. If the US happens to survive this episode of cruelty and lawlessness, The GuantÃ¡namo Files will be an important tool for coming to grips with how we as a nation allowed indefinite detention without charge, extraordinary rendition and torture to become national policies."
additional voices from Guantanamo:
ACLU representatives traveled to the UK to interview five former GuantÃ¡namo prisoners: Moazzam Begg and Omar Deghayes (both featured in above film), plus Bisher al-Rawi, Ruhal Ahmed and Shafiq Rasul (the latter being two of the "Tipton Three," featured in the 2006 film "The Road to GuantÃ¡namo"). Listen to their storiesÂ here.
Memos authored by Professor John Yoo while serving in the Office of Legal Counsel of the Bush Administration opened the door for soldiers, secret service operatives and psychologists acting in the service of the United States to practice torture. Since the appearance of the memos, the vast majority of psychologists and mental health professionals, after heated debate with their colleagues, have unequivocally condemned the practice of torture, both physical and psychological, by members of their professions. The Ethical Guidelines of the International Association for Group Psychotherapy put it quite succinctly: "There are no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether induced by a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, that may be invoked as a justification for torture, including the invocation of laws, regulations, or orders"...
Hours before Yoo's regular 3:20 PM Monday class, starting at noon on Sproul Plaza, World Can't Wait will again raise a bold voice against torture. jumpsuited "detainees" will represent the call to Fire, Disbar, and Prosecute John Yoo as activists and students rally, then march, engaging the campus community over the simple question: where do you stand when it comes to torture designed by government lawyers including John Yoo?
meanwhile, as international charges of war crimes mount, John Yoo moderates the debate on the role of international courts... how does Berkeley Law manage to keep a straight face? And just who's in charge here?
Air Rendition:Â One of the planes operated by the CIA's front, North Carolina-based Aero Contractors, believed to have been used in CIA renditions of suspected terrorists to third countries such as Egypt. The European Union has documented more than 1,200 illegal CIA flights in European air space. (Photo by Pavel Horejsi/Getty Images)
Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, is an Egyptian cleric and member of al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, the Egyptian group chiefly responsible for the assassination ofÂ Anwar el SadatÂ in 1981. Nasr was living in Italy to avoid arrest following the designation of al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya as a terrorist organization by the Egyptian and American governments.
On Feb. 17, 2003, while he was walking to his mosque in Milan, Nasr was kidnapped by several CIA agents working in concert with Italian agents. Nasr was subjected to "extraordinary rendition," the illegal practice, utilized by the CIA since the Clinton administration, of kidnapping individuals and rendering them to other countries for imprisonment, and, usually, interrogation and torture by local officials not covered by American prohibitions against torture or illegal imprisonment. Nasr was flown from Italy to Germany through Swiss air space on what was one ofÂ at least 1,245 secret C.I.A. flights, some of them involving rendition, during the Bush administration, according to a European Union report...
see also US 'disappointed' at convictionsÂ
Victim of U.S. torture state gets a taste of "American Justice"
By Kenneth J. Theisen
By Kenneth J. Theisen
Â On November 2, 2009, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in a 7-4
decision dismissed Canadian citizen Maher Arar's law suit against various U.S.
officials for their illegal role in sending him to Syria to be tortured and
interrogated for a year.Â Arar is a
victim of the U.S. government's kidnapping and torture program known as
extraordinary rendition. He is now also a victim of "American Justice"...
Â On November 2, 2009, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York in a 7-4 decision dismissed Canadian citizen Maher Arar's law suit against various U.S. officials for their illegal role in sending him to Syria to be tortured and interrogated for a year.Â Arar is a victim of the U.S. government's kidnapping and torture program known as extraordinary rendition. He is now also a victim of "American Justice"...
By Jill McLaughlinÂ
UC Berkeley Billboard
Donations via PayPal
are not tax deductible.
Events & Calendars
Important ReadingPhysicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives
NLG White Paper
ON THE LAW OF TORTURE...
The President's Executioner
Detention and torture in Guantanamo