March 2010 Archives

"With 183 prisoners still at Guantánamo and 101 of these cleared for release by Obama's task force and, in some cases, by the US courts, the shrill rhetoric of those who still insist that the prison is full of terrorists should have been silenced, but as the cynical fearmongering of recent months has shown all too clearly, when it comes to Guantánamo, Republican lawmakers are more than happy to stir up unsubstantiated hysteria about the prison..."

journalist Andy Worthington considers how these attacks damage victims' chances to rebuild their shattered lives:

added 4/6/10: Abu Zubaydah: Tortured for Nothing

declassification of government cases against so-called "terrorists" reveals the fabrication 
of "imminent danger" to justify use of torture, debunking Yoo's "Keep America Safe" 
Picture taken by CIA officials during Abu Zubaydah's interrogation.

By the government's own admission, Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times while in captivity, and has been passed off as an important asset in the War on Terror by Bush administration apologists, who've long contended that if only we knew what they knew -- the things that have been kept behind a firewall of classification -- we'd see the virtue of their actions. But as we see with this declassified filing, the charges are changing, the hype is diminishing and the fact that we once considered Zubaydah a detainee so valuable that we had to torture him is being glossed over...

plus disclosure could affect Canadian case against Mohamed Harkat
A new poll indicates growing public acceptance of the hell-hole known as Guantanamo. As Obama vacillates with his own conscience, we must assume leadership for stopping the crimes and repudiating the sordid history of that place.

Send your letters to D.C. Bar Association and Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
c/o Frances Dinkelspiel, BERKELEYSIDE

Google images salt pitInside a chilly cell, the man was shackled and left half-naked. He was found dead, exposed to the cold, in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2002... 

so begins one sordid tale from within the secret prison network of the CIA.

photo c/o REPRIEVE 
Mark Crispin Miller asks: Why not John Yoo?
warns that crimes could be repeated if Justice Department not fixed

"So long as we avoid any process of accountability (no trials, no commissions, nothing), we can expect to remain stuck in a depressing spiral of arguments over whether torture is ever justified or legal" - David Kaye, Executive Director of the UCLA School of Law International Human Rights Program 

The reason this case is the first against so high an American official to have survived so far is that the two plaintiffs are American citizens. In his 39-page March 5 ruling, Judge Andersen quoted from Justice Sandra O'Connor's decision for the Supreme Court in the 2004 Hamdi v. Rumsfeld case: "We have long since made clear that a state of war is not a blank check for the president when it comes to the rights of American citizens."

But what about the great number of non-Americans who have been subject to the U.S. torture policy?

See full size image
UPDATE: Obama appoints Retired Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald 

"All the indications we've been given are to get ready for a lot of activity in Guanantamo [so much for closing that prison down]," said a military prosecutor, who asked not to be identified talking about upcoming cases. "It's full steam ahead."

Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law at Berkeley Law
Event Type:Meeting
Location:Goldberg Room, Boalt Hall
Thursday, April 08, 2010
3:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Berkeley Law Events
Camille Crittenden
Department:Human Rights Center
With the addition of the Human Rights Center to the Law School's roster of research centers, Berkeley Law is home to one of the most comprehensive, globally active, and student-oriented human rights programs of any top law school. Join faculty, staff, and students for an afternoon symposium highlighting innovative research and opportunities for student involvement. A keynote address by Michael Posner (Boalt '75) will be followed by panel discussions on "Armed Conflict and Accountability" and "Justice and Transition."
Sponsored by the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, Human Rights Center, International Human Rights Law Clinic, and the Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law. 
On March 23 John Yoo returned to Chapman University for a debate with former 
congressman Bob Barr. This Federalist Society event reportedly marked the end 
of his book tour for "Crisis and Command"; see Yoo believes the President should 

The following day he appeared at The Sports Club in Irvine... human 
rights activist Sharon Tipton reports: 

-----Original Message----- 
From: Sharon Tipton
Sent: Mar 24, 2010 5:57 PM 
Subject: Report: Protest John Yoo Irvine March 24 

I told John Yoo he was a Wanted Man and handed him his Wanted Poster.

I registered for the debate between Bob Barr and Yoo, but when someone saw the John Yoo wanted poster, asked me if I was going to be disruptive. I said, No, not since I forgot my handcuffs to make a citizen arrest on Yoo, at which point I was asked to leave, but not before I gave Yoo his wanted poster, and handed out some of the 25 posters and 50 flyers on innocent victims of Yoo. I also gave a flyer to Mr. Barr, and shook his hand. In addition, Dean stood outside with his "Torture is Immoral" banner from National Religious Campaign Against Torture. After I joined him, we chanted John Yoo is a War Criminal, America Bless God Stop Torture, and I recited the crimes of John Yoo: instrumental in forging the illegal war against Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, including 500,000 children. Etc.

Kicking myself for missing a photo op of Yoo next to his Wanted Poster.
Thanks for Everyone's Support! Next time, we'll be really prepared. Nuremberg wants you, Mr. Yoo!

Sharon Tipton
Boalt Hall has earned the dubious distinction of providing safe harbor for America's premier torture advocate (John Yoo). I admit I don't know much about Goodwin Liu. What stand does he take on Torture? Will he have the guts to rise above the acquiescence to state cruelty demonstrated by Dean Christopher Edley?

Goodwin Liu's nomination to an appeals court pleased liberals and alarmed conservatives.
Goodwin Liu (Berkeley School Of Law Via Associated Press)

UPDATE: Liu confirmation postponed.

Associate Dean and Professor Goodwin Liu, President Obama's pick for the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, is expected to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow. His nomination puts UC in the spotlight once again. 
Jay Bybee.

March 25     10:00 a.m.    

Courtroom 1, 3rd Floor 

James R. Browning US Courthouse 

United States Court of Appeals - 9th Circuit 

95 Seventh St, San Francisco


05-50170 United States v. Aguila-Montes De Oca 

"Torture Judge" Should be Impeached and Prosecuted

Jay Bybee, the former head of the Office of Legal Counsel, justified and authorized clear acts of torture by the CIA during the Bush Era. Bybee was confirmed as a federal judge to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in March 2003, well before his now infamous torture memos came to light. A lifetime appointment, he sits in a deciding position on the bench when there is clear evidence that his judgment is tainted...

see also Quid Pro Quo

Activist and musician Sander Hicks recounts January actions at the U.S. Capitol Building, culminating in a "memorial service" for three Guantánamo suicides:

Ewen Academic Freedom Center at NYU is producing a Conference on Guantánamo on April 16, 2010 at NYU's Cantor Film Festival. 
212 992 7050

Bagram: Obama's Gitmo

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U.S. prison at Bagram air base

The U.S. military recently opened this new prison at Bagram air base, north of Kabul, but the facility remains controversial in Afghanistan because of cases of detainee abuse at the former prison there. (Saeed Shah / MCT /February 11, 2010)

see U.S. may expand use of its prison in Afghanistan

a war fueled by torture

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Last Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq, but by now, it seems, the American people have become used to living in a state of perpetual war, even though that war was based on torture and lies. Protesters rallied across the country on Saturday, but the anti-war impetus of the Bush years has not been regained, as I discovered to my sorrow during a brief US tour in November, when I showed the new documentary film, "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo" (directed by Polly Nash and myself) in New York, Washington D.C., and the Bay Area...

Secretary General of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe 
Jonathan Goldsmith considers the question of torture and the 
public interest:

"These debates raise fundamental issues about the role of lawyers. What is the borderline between bad legal advice and unprofessional conduct? Must you knowingly provide false advice? Recklessly? Is it enough to save you if you sincerely believe the most foolish and unlawful things to be true and lawful? Is it the procedures you use in coming to the wrong legal advice which should be considered when coming to a conclusion about unprofessional conduct, or the substance of the advice itself?"

NOTE: Predictions of Holder's dismissal proved premature.

"If you consider that you're not getting anywhere and that the matter is important enough, then you leave." - Eugene Fidellericholderbarackobama20090115 Yale professor: Growing divide between Holder, Obama could end with AGs resignation

The attorney general's dilemma is similar to that of Greg Craig, Obama's former White House counsel.
his flagrant disregard for liberty extends far beyond the confines of Guantanamo; 

Domestic Military Mission: "Operation Noble Eagle": US Air Force New Jersey Air National Guard KC-135 Tankers from the 108th Air Refueling Wing refuel US Air Force Air National Guard F-16 Fighter Jets on Combat Air Patrol over Washington, D.C. as part of Operation Noble Eagle, America's Homeland Defense campaign. 12 December 2001 Byline: ©2001 Allan Tannenbaum.

Reported by Henry Graff c/o WVIR-TV ( )Updated: Mar 19, 2010 1:22 PM

news-protester-connorJennifer Connor was the first protestor to be hauled out by police.

A controversial person from the George W. Bush administration is touring the University of Virginia. John Yoo, author of the infamous "torture memos", started off his day just as he ended it; surrounded by a sea of protesters. 

His day began at the Miller Center and wrapped up on UVA Grounds with a speech at Minor Hall, and the protesters were with him every step of the way. Yoo wasn't able to get out a single word before protesters began challenging his views. Two people had to be removed by UVA police, while several others left on their own. 

During his talk, Yoo spoke about broad presidential powers and the torture memos he penned under the Bush administration. Yoo says, "In a normal war where people fight by the rules we never have to think about these questions. But with this kind of terrible enemy who carried the kind of surprise attack on civilians, defenseless civilians on 9-11, the government had to figure out what to do." 

Protester David Swanson says, "He authorized torture which is a crime. He authorized warrantless spying which is a crime. He authorized lawless imprisonment." 

A much larger group of people rallied against Yoo in front of Minor Hall on grounds. As for the protesters, Yoo says what he was doing in government was protecting the right of people to exercise their right to speak out, even if it is against him.

more on Miller Center event 

read Ray McGovern's prepared remarks

Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris speaks out

watch video from inside Minor Hall here, here and here

photo stream c/o David Swanson

Guantanamo is about the body

"Ultimately, the body in extremis must speak.  For the lawyers, our challenge is to listen and to amplify, to be 

in conversation, to speak when our clients cannot, and sometimes to be in silence, so that the clients' 

assertion of humanity might be heard.  The prisoners' resistance thus underscores a far more basic value 

of the lawyers' rights assertion: it, too, is resistance and it, too, can help to keep the prisoners human."

Yesterday's presentation by
Muneer I. Ahmad, Clinical Professor of Law at Yale, was 
inspirational. I encourage everyone to check this guy out.

*abstract of paper and (free) link to full text here
The White House is nearing a bipartisan deal with US lawmakers to close the Guantanamo Bay prison by putting more detainees on trial before military commissions, a report said Friday... Forty eight Guantanamo prisoners would face indefinite detention... 

it seems to me that a more difficult question looms: when will someone--whether a president, a member of Congress, or a third-year law student--muster the necessary courage to confront a war criminal like John Yoo and force him to accept responsibility for the reprehensible acts that have led directly to our diminished standing in the world?  
University of Denver Professor Alan Gilbert jokes that perhaps it should be renamed the "School of Pretence at Law"*:

Mr. Yoo is, perhaps, a smart and dignified teacher.  But he might pray that no legal proceeding ever gives him a "grade" for his illegal and immoral truckling to Mr. Cheney.  Law students have a conscience and awareness and  perhaps even the expedient of keeping the class location secret - along with threats of punishment for "disruption" (heaven forbid that Berkeley law students should be concerned about the US government's policy of torture; they are only will not protect Yoo from protest.

*Professor Gilbert's assessment is actually not far from that expressed in a statement by the Federalist Society at Boalt Hall that the school's curriculum is taught "as if it were the law". Society leader John Yoo is particularly adept at selecting legal opinions which conform to his own extreme views and ignoring inconvenient precedent. 
ASUC Bill Opposes UC Investment in Israel
Divestment Bill Passed (then vetoed)

OK, we're well aware of the profligate arms industry, and employment of mercenary 
troops and political operatives to sustain expansion of empire, but we shouldn't 
overlook the part a black market in "policing weapons" plays in enforcing the 
culture of fear required to maintain U.S. hegemony:
'Sting stick' or spiked baton on sale at a public security exhibition in China, 2007
'Sting stick' or spiked baton on sale at a public security exhibition in China, 2007 
© Robin Ballantyne / Omega Research Foundation

'TOOLS OF TORTURE' (includes Amnesty International video).
UK can't guarantee allies don't torture detainees

Britain's government can't completely rule out that its allies torture detainees while seeking to tackle the threat from terrorism, according to an official report released Wednesday... But the government acknowledged "there are times when we cannot reduce the risk to zero."

The U.S. government sets its standards much lower:

The United States ratified the Convention, subject to certain declarations, 

reservations, and understandings, including that the Convention was not self- 

executing, and therefore required domestic implementing legislation to take effect. 

In accordance with CAT Article 3, the United States enacted statutes and regulations 

to prohibit the transfer of aliens to countries where they would be tortured, including 

the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998, section 2340A of the 

United States Criminal Code, and certain regulations implemented and enforced by 

the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and 

the Department of State.  These authorities, which require the withholding or deferral 

of the removal of an alien to a country where he is more likely than not to be tortured, 

generally provide aliens already residing within the United States a greater degree of 

protection than aliens arriving in the United States who are deemed inadmissible on 

security or related grounds such as terrorism.  Further, in deciding whether or not to 

remove an alien to a particular country, these rules permit the consideration of 

diplomatic assurances that an alien will not be tortured there.  Nevertheless, under 

U.S. law the removal or extradition of all aliens from the United States must be 

consistent with U.S. obligations under CAT. - Overview of U.S. Implementation Policy Concerning the Removal of Aliens

Edward Horgan speaking at the International Peace Conference, Shannon Ireland in 2009 (source: TradeUnionTVIreland via YouTube)

c/o firedoglake:

U.S. Revokes Visa of Irish Anti-Renditions Activist

By: Jeff Kaye Tuesday March 16, 2010 

The North Carolina News Observer reports in a March 15 article that the co-founder ofShannonWatch, Edward Horgan, a well-known Irish activist and former Irish Defense Force officer, has had his 10-year, multiple-entry U.S. visa revoked without explanation. Horgan and others believe it is because of his principled stand against the U.S. use of renditions, and in particular, the use of Shannon Airport in western Ireland as a stopover for U.S. rendition flights. ShannonWatch has documented the use of the airport as a stopover for CIA rendition flights (see their page documenting such flights).

As the NO article by Christina Cowger and Robin Kirk notes, Horgan is no long-haired radical, or bomb-making terrorist. He has been a UN peace keeper, and monitored "elections in places like Ghana, Armenia, Zimbabwe, East Timor and Ukraine." According to his online resume, he has worked with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the European Union. He is getting his Ph.D. in international relations at the University of Limerick. He is also nowpersona non grata in Barack Obama's supposedly more open and transparent United States...

The Russell Tribunal, also known as the International War Crimes Tribunal or Russell-Sartre Tribunal, was a public body organized by British philosopher Bertrand Russell and hosted by French philosopher and playwright Jean-Paul Sartre. Along with Ken Coates, Ralph Schoenman, and several others, the tribunal investigated and evaluated American foreign policy and military intervention in Vietnam, following the 1954 defeat of French forces at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu and the establishment of North and South Vietnam.

In early March, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine met in Barcelona... journalist 
Elsa Claro argues for a similar response to CIA atrocities: 

See full size image

"The House of Representatives has been an incredible partner throughout this year, but I hope you don't mind me singling out one of the best partners any President could ever have, and that is your unbelievable Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi." - Barack Obama

Office of Management and Budget chief Peter Orszag argues against proposed reforms 
to "Gang of Eight" policy which helps Congress hide from responsibilities:

America's torture prisons still flourish as secretly and abusively as under George Bush despite promises of more humane practices, quickly broken to pursue America's imperial agenda for unchallengeable power and total global dominance.

Author and journalist Andy Worthington posts a transcript of the statement made by the "high-value detainee" Abu Zubaydah during interviews with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross, following his transfer to Guantánamo from secret CIA prisons in September 2006:

to which another survivor responds:

"I think that guantanamo is not a problem that faces detainees and their families only but it is a problem that challenges every citizen of this world who believe in justice and human rights... - Ahmed Errachidi 590 ex detainee without trial

read his full comment here

"I am one of the lawyers who represent a Gitmo detainee. Like the other Gitmo lawyers, I volunteer my time and money, not because I sympathize with terrorists, but because I don't believe any government should have the power to indefinitely detain a person without charging him with a crime. I also believe in a basic principle of law (which this country used to follow) that merely calling someone a terrorist doesn't make him one." - Leonard Goodman, lawyer and adjunct professor of law at DePaul University

legal argument is a sufficiently flexible tool that, under the right circumstances, it's possible to argue successfully that torture isn't torture, that laws which explicitly make no exceptions for exceptional circumstances actually do make exceptions for exceptional circumstances, that in time of war America is essentially a dictatorship, and that we are always at war." - University of Colorado professor Paul Campos 

An article in the Asian Tribune confronts the mindset of "american exceptionalism" that censures crimes in other countries while disavowing accountability for the same offenses by the U.S. government:

This Online Daily did not carry this breaking story [OPR report] but decided to give the whole story of United States' moral retreat when the State Department in its annual human rights report sat on judgment on other nation's human rights practices.

While Karl Rove defends the use of harsh interrogation techniques, insisting that he is "proud" of the methods, Mark Benjamin describes the "meticulous cruelty" of the program:

The agency used a gurney "specially designed" to tilt backwards at a perfect angle to maximize the water entering the prisoner's nose and mouth, intensifying the sense of choking - and to be lifted upright quickly in the event that a prisoner stopped breathing...

Interrogators were instructed to start pouring water right after a detainee exhaled, to ensure he inhaled water, not air, in his next breath. They could use their hands to "dam the runoff" and prevent water from spilling out of a detainee's mouth. They were allowed six separate 40-second "applications" of liquid in each two-hour session - and could dump water over a detainee's nose and mouth for a total of 12 minutes a day. Finally, to keep detainees alive even if they inhaled their own vomit during a session - a not-uncommon side effect of waterboarding - the prisoners were kept on a liquid diet. The agency recommended Ensure Plus.

H. Candace Gorman is a civil rights/human rights lawyer in Chicago (and advisor to War Criminals Watch) who is representing two Guantánamo detainees pro bono. Having represented these two men for years, and with no end in sight, she shut down her civil rights practice to focus solely on getting her two clients out of Guantanamo, closing Guantánamo and bringing those responsible for and assisting with these particular war crimes to justice.

In a speech to high school students in the Chicago area, she explains what motivates her work, reminds us how much remains to be done to return to a rule of law, and answers a student's question: "Doesn't this just piss you off?"

The question of whether Canadian soldiers knowingly handed Afghan captives over to torture in 2006 and 2007 will soon dominate Parliament Hill as two separate hearings resume in coming weeks. The long-simmering issue flared up last fall when Mr. Colvin accused Ottawa of turning a blind eye to warnings of torture risks facing detainees.

Assessment of the legality of the brutality itself:

In a more fundamental sense... both the OPR and Margolis failed to confront the real wrong at issue. They focused exclusively on the manner by which Yoo and Bybee arrived at their result, rather than the result itself. What is most disturbing about the torture memos is not that they employ strained reasoning or fail to cite this or that authority, but that they do so in the name of authorizing torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of human beings. Remarkably, neither the OPR nor Margolis directly considered the illegality of the conduct that was authorized by the memos.

"The prostitution of a judicial system for the accomplishment of criminal ends involves an element of evil to the State which is not found in frank atrocities which do not sully judicial robes." - excerpt from the Decision, U.S.A. v. ALSTOETTER ET AL (Nuremberg) 

CIMG0414.JPGCodePink video of action here

PRESS CONFERENCE AND RALLY, James R. Browning Courthouse, San Francisco 

The media sometimes comments on Judge Bybee's relatively lower protest profile - compared to John Yoo, who lately gets met with protest everywhere from NY and SF to Texas, Chicago, and Johns Hopkins -- and soon (March 19) in Charlottesville, VA. Bybee was Yoo's boss, and had an active role himself in producing legal handiwork promoting torture at the direct behest of the Bush-Cheney White House. Bush appointed him this lifetime federal judgeship as a direct reward for those crimes. Bybee is as much a war criminal as is John Yoo. 

About two dozen protesters from World Can't Wait, Code Pink, National Accountability Action Network, Progressive Democrats of America, and others displayed the "Bush and Bybee Museum of Torture" and called for removal of one of the chief architects of the Bush Regime's state torture program. A letter to each of Bybee's associates on the bench was delivered inside the courthouse, asking the Ninth Circuit Chief Judge, Alex Kozinski, to refer Jay Bybee to the Judicial Conference for impeachment. 

"When he was employed at the United States Department of Justice, Jay Bybee signed memos that were used as secret laws to legalize blatant crimes. This amounts to an attack on the idea of the rule of law. Our opinion is that such a person should not be a lawyer, let alone a judge." - excerpt from a statement by Disbar Torture Lawyers

The Ninth Amendment and Unenumerated Rights: A Debate
Prof. Kurt Lash (Loyola Law School) and Prof. Calvin Massey (UC Hastings Law, visiting prof. at Boalt). 
Moderated by Prof. John Yoo.
12:40 to 1:40 p.m. in Room 240, Boalt Hall. 

The Daily Californian reports on day's protest action here
untortureexpertmanfrednowak UN expert slams US for not looking into torture claims

Washington's fight against terrorism is "undermining the absolute prohibition of torture." - Manfred Nowak, UN special rapporteur on torture 
the ACLU pushes back:
ACLU asks Obama: "Change or more of the Same?"

The Obama administration's plan to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-conspirators as criminals rather than military prisoners has the potential to send a powerful message about the rule of law... offer an opportunity for Americans... to rethink the nature of terrorism...

President Obama's advisers are nearing a recommendation that Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, be prosecuted in a military tribunal, administration officials said, a step that would reverse Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.'s plan to try him in civilian court in New York City.

A federal judge refused Friday to dismiss a civil lawsuit accusing former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of responsibility for the alleged torture by U.S. forces of two Americans who worked for an Iraqi contracting firm...

said his decision "represents a recognition that federal officials may not strip citizens of well settled constitutional protections against mistreatment simply because they are located in a tumultuous foreign setting."

see Illinois judge won't toss torture suit naming Rumsfeld

Philippe Sands
"How did a state conceived in awe of The Rights of Man make psychopaths of its children?" That is the question posed by Philippe Sands QC and a professor of international law at University College London.
tell Holder to reject [OPR] report and hold torture lawyers accountable or be 

Nothing is more important than "full investigations" to the 60,000 individuals that have been through the U.S. sponsored kidnap, detain, torture and monitor "system," including those on the U.S.'s 32 'ghost ships,' according to Reprieve's Director, Clive Stafford-Smith.

PDA's Susan Harman gets in judge's face:

Somehow, Torture advocate and political appointee to the Federal Court of Appeals Jay Bybee manages to keep out of the limelight; but his importance as an architect of the U.S. Torture Program does not go completely unnoticed. 

In July of 2009, Susan confronted Yoo's former boss at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena. "Three of use sat quietly through the case that Bybee was hearing," she explained, "When it was finished, I said to Judge Bybee, 'When will you resign? Every senator I've talked to said they would not have confirmed you had they known about the torture memos."

Although Bush has left office, torture is still happening under the Obama administration. Susan believes that as a deterrance against future abuses of executive power, the architects of the torture policy must be pursued. "Obama has already used all the powers that Bush took from the legislative and judicial branches of government," Susan said, "And he's added preventive detention as an executive power which circumvents the judiciary." Susan believes that the best strategy is to go after the second tier of authority. "This means going after and disbarring the twelve lawyers who advocated the torture of detainees during the Bush regime, " she added.

"The facts revealed in the OPR report are shocking to law students like myself," said National Lawyers' Guild Boalt Chapter Co-chair Liz Jackson at a press event at Boalt Hall.  Jackson was referencing the new report from the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility about Boalt Hall Professor John Yoo's involvement in drafting the memoranda that justified torture of detainees in American custody during the Bush Administration. "We are taught to rigorously examine all sides of a controversy and advise clients candidly about the state of the law. The OPR report finds that Yoo did just the opposite. Because his client was the President, and the issue was torture, such professional misconduct had vile consequences."


"The serious breach of professional standards committed during the preparation of the torture memos is well-documented in the public record," stated second year Berkeley Law student Tam Ma. "I hope my fellow taxpayers will join me in calling on the University of California to examine the details of the OPR report and evaluate whether a lawyer-professor who seriously breaches standards of professional conduct should be teaching future lawyers."


In a publicly-released statement in August 2009, Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley stated: "When the Attorney General releases the results of DOJ's internal ethics investigation, I and many others will review it carefully and consider whether there are implications for this campus." It is time for Berkeley Law and the University of California administration to review and consider the report's findings...

A little-noticed subplot in the OPR's 289-page report was how the Bush administration got the legal opinions that it wanted from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, which advises the President and the Executive Branch on the limits of their legal powers.

[Senior DoJ attorney David Margolis] isn't even sure that standards of candor apply to OLC lawyers. He approvingly quotes Jack Goldsmith's testimony that it's an unsettled question whether OLC should offer "neutral, independent, court-like advice" or something "more like ... an attorney's advice to a client about what you can get away with. ..." Wow. What about the president's constitutional obligation to faithfully execute the law, which OLC is supposed to help the president discharge? Whatever you think "faithful execution" means, it surely isn't "what you can get away with."

the company Yoo keeps

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Did Ronald Rotunda Help Write the Torture Memos?...

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While we try to sort this out, Ronald's wife Kyndra co-anchors one of John Yoo's secret classes "Veterans' Law Practicum" (it's not clear whether Yoo's book tour has allowed him to actually teach this semester).

or was Yoo's assistant Jennifer Koester Hardy?

Dean EdleyOne wonders whether Dean Edley, a close advisor to candidate Barack Obama, is nervous about criticizing Yoo in light of the fact that the Obama Administration is continuing many of the Bush regime's most egregious policies, including extraordinary rendition of prisoners to third countries where they will certainly be tortured." -
law professor and political scientist Stephen Diamond 

photo c/o UC Berkeley School of Law

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Events & Calendars

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Important Reading

Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo

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