April 2010 Archives

reflections of a former law student:

Young, privileged students interpret the principle of "academic freedom" to mean "I can say whatever I want and you can't criticize me." This atmosphere of polite disagreement, no matter how odious the position offered, was stifling to me as a law student. It was based on the notion that we law students were all in this together, and therefore should "play nice," even when there were other students whose stated political aim was to deny rights...

The legal system is built to try to address unfairness and injustice, to make sure everyone gets their due process and fair share. If we didn't care about the well-being of our fellow citizens, we wouldn't need justice at all...

It matters how people feel. It matters whether racist arguments are tolerated, and whether other voices rise to their aid.


Professor Yoo seems to be driven more by ideology than by fact when he binds Obama Justice to the ACLU. As he surely knows, the ACLU is actively opposing the Obama administration on everything from assassination targeted killings to the invocation of state secrets.
"I realize the president inherited this quagmire, but does that allow him to sweep one of the country's great moral infractions under the rug in perpetuity? The statute of limitations has long passed for Iraq and Afghanistan to still be considered Bush's wars...

Taking a Cue from the United States?

Johan Spanner/Polaris, for The New York Times
"America is the symbol of democracy, but then you have the abuses at Abu Ghraib... the American government took tough measures, and we are doing the same, so where is the problem and why this raucousness?
 -
Nuri Kamal al-Maliki



Prime Minister says prisoners faked abuse

Fahad Hashmi trial

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UPDATE: Yesterday, Syed "Fahad" Hashmi accepted a plea deal from the federal government, and will be sentenced on June 7 for one count of material aid to terrorism.  Agence France Press reported that he now faces 15 years in prison, after the past 3 years in solitary confinement while awaiting trial.

On Monday, Judge Loretta Preska had granted government request for an "anonymous jury" with extra security. 

Free Fahad from The Legal Black Hole in Lower Manhattan

Theaters Against War plans to hold their usual vigil on Monday night (May 3) outside the Metropolitan Correctional Center." Video and directions to vigil.

C/o Democracy Now (scroll about 10 minutes into the broadcast):

Rallies were held around the world this weekend to support a leading human rights judge facing trial in Spain. Baltasar Garzón is accused of overreaching his authority in a probe of human rights abuses during the Spanish Civil War and the Franco regime. Garzón is known worldwide for taking on international human rights cases. His actions include ordering the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998, indicting Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks, and probing the abuse of US prisoners at Guantánamo Bay. On Saturday, thousands of people marched in Madrid to support Garzón. The demonstrators included the film director Pedro Almodóvar.


2010_Spain_GarzonProtest.jpg

A demonstrator holds a banner during a gathering in support of Judge Baltasar Garzón in front of the High Court in Madrid on April 15, 2010.

lessons from Nuremberg

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Whitney Harris, '33Berkeley grad and aide to chief prosecutor 
Robert H. Jackson, Whitney Harris was 
a leading advocate for bringing modern 
war criminals to justice.

In response to Boalt Alliance Against Torture advocacy for a Torture Memos class,
Berkeley Law will reportedly offer the course "Legal Ethics for Government Lawyers" 
for Spring 2011:

[The course] "will cover the basic framework of legal ethics that apply to all US lawyers, but will pay particular attention to how the framework gets applied to government lawyers.  For example, the course will take a hard look at how to define the client, and look at government lawyers like prosecutors, administrative agency lawyers, lawyers for Congressional committees, etc.  Professor John Steele expects to have a few classes on the role of the Attorney General and the Office of Legal Counsel, including an analysis of the memoranda regarding the Global War on Terrorism and the interrogation methods for detainees.  He is also open to including analysis of whatever kinds of government lawyers the students want to add, such as municipal lawyers, state lawyers, judicial clerks, etc.

"more humane conditions at Guantánamo reflect the path the Obama administration has chosen to take on national security -embracing Bush-era policies with minor substantive changes and a dramatic change in tone. This is Bush with a smile... While torture and inhumane treatment at Guantánamo have been banned by Obama's executive order, the defining injustice of Gitmo -- the indefinite imprisonment of individuals without trial or charge -- remains. 


Omar Khadr at a hearing at the U.S. Military Commissions court for war crimes, at the U.S. Naval Base, in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in a court sketch.
 

Omar Khadr today, from a court sketch. Captured at age 15, Omar has spent nearly 8 years at Guantanamo. Photograph by Janet Hamlin, AFP/Getty Images


Initial hearings in the case of Canadian national Omar Khadr begin next week. Watch The Washington Independent for coverage of Obama era military commissions. An observer from Amnesty International Canada will also be reporting here.
Qari Saad Iqbal Madni recalls the horror of 98 months of torture that begun with his pre-dawn arrest on January 19,2002 in Jakarta, Indonesia and ended with his release from the infamous Guantanamo Bay Prison last month. Saad, a Qari and Hafiz-e-Quran, is a cripple now- the electric shocks have taken a heavy toll on his legs. He is also near-death because the long torture has done irreparable and severe damaged to his ears and the head.

Sami al-Hajj was not in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was just doing his job. But he got arrested anyway...

So why was he arrested and detained?

According to Almerindo Ojeda, a UC Davis professor of linguistics and director of the university's Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, it was because of Hajj's name.


 
Professor Ojeda believes President Barack Obama has found himself in the position of disobeying his own order to close down Guantánamo Bay. "People who have been deemed not to be enemy combatants by both the Bush and Obama administration are still in custody."
PHOTO BY GABOR MEREG

Judge Grants Habeas Corpus Writ to Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman; 
held since 2002, he is 33rd Guantanamo prisoner to have detention declared illegal
Exposing Torture, Misconceptions and Government Incompetence

A prisoner at GuantanamoIn an attempt to raise awareness of the importance of the rulings being made in US courts on the habeas corpus petitions of the prisoners held at Guantánamo (as authorized by a significant Supreme Court ruling in June 2008), I'm devoting most of my work this week to articles covering the 47 cases decided to date (34 of which have been won by the prisoners), as a series entitled, "Guantánamo Habeas Week"... - Andy Worthington

Check here daily for additions to this series

UC professor Brad DeLong proposes a resolution: should the Berkeley Division Academic Senate recommend disciplinary investigation of John Yoo?
Data obtained from interrogation of Abu Zubaydah reportedly "used to shape the parameters of the torture program and the types of legal approval John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Steven Bradbury gave in those legal memos." 

In Response to CREW FOIA Request for Missing Torture Memo Emails, DOJ Releases Documents on Department's Email Retention Policy

WASHINGTON - April 19 - On Friday, April 16, CREW received an initial response to itsFreedom of Information Act request of the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) related to the failure of former OLC official John Yoo to preserve any of his emails. In response to CREW's request for record keeping guidance issued to OLC staff, OLC produced two memos, both of which require OLC staff to retain all emails "that are important to understanding a decision of the Office." There can be no question Mr. Yoo's failure to preserve any emails directly contravenes OLC's record keeping guidance.

Click here to read the OLC's response.

Emails Do Not Just Disappear

"Over the past two years, I have consistently been told by insiders at Justice that an elaborate game was played to try to slow down or block the OPR's report. Efforts were made to pressure OPR to rewrite its report, to adopt softer standards, to allow Yoo and Bybee to respond internally, and to require OPR to address the responses. I was told that one man was consistently behind these tactics: David Margolis. So, far from being an objective and impartial analyst, Margolis became engaged in the process at least by the fall of 2008, as an advocate for Yoo and Bybee and opponent of OPR." - Scott Horton


David Margolis (center) accepting the Mary C. Lawton Lifetime Service Award in 2006 from then-Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. (UPI photo via Newscom)

David Margolis (center) accepting an award from then-Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty (left) and then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, both of whom later resigned over the U.S. Attorneys firing scandal. (Newscom)


The Margolis memorandum, issued more than five years after OPR began its investigation, was in accord with OPR's conclusion that Yoo and Bybee's work on legal justifications for the brutal interrogation techniques was flawed...
by releasing the memorandum and the accompanying OPR reports, Margolis "essentially made a bar referral without making a bar referral." Margolis invited others to pick up where he left off, writing, "OPR's findings and my decision are less important than the public's ability to make its own judgment."


see The Institutionalist

abuses are all said to have taken place since Obama's election

BAGRAM AIRBASE
Map

The prisoners, who were interviewed separately, all told very similar stories. Most of them said they had been beaten by American soldiers at the point of arrest before being taken to the prison...

witnesses told the BBC in interviews or written testimony that abuses continue in a hidden facility. 

"To this date, no prisoner has ever seen a lawyer in Bagram", said Tina Foster, who represents several of Bagram's prisoners in cases she has filed in on their behalf in the US.

The military categorically denied the existence of a secret detention site... [but] promised to investigate any allegations of abuse.

see Afghans 'abused at secret prison'

"Just think about this for a minute.  Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with Terrorism and pose 'a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests.'  They're entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations." - Glenn Greenwald

Crimes Are Crimes - No Matter Who Commits Them.

The time has come to finally say loud and clear: the same things that were crimes under Bush are crimes under Obama. Outrages under Bush are outrages under Obama.  All this MUST STOP.  And all this MUST BE RESISTED by anyone who claims a shred of conscience or integrity...

Add your name to this online statement and donate money to have it published in major publications.

Elected to enact "Change you can believe in," the administration has instead opted to entrench the worst of Bush & Cheney's abuses, effectively inviting more torture around the world by every despot eager to claim the Yoo-Holder precedent. - Shahid Buttar

today under the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, executing persons detained as a result of armed conflict without a fair trial before a regularly constituted court constitutes a grave war crime. To be sure, under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution Harvard Law Professor Vagts has the freedom to advocate war crimes so long as he does not participate in their commission, or incite them, or aid and abet them. But precisely where is that line to be drawn for law professors?  - Professor Francis Boyle 



*of course Obama, Edley and Yoo share this same alma mater, so perhaps this isn't a fair contest.

A town hall measure drafted by Elizabeth Adams, in concert with the Pioneer Valley Chapter of No More Guantanamos, calls for Congress to rescind its ban on cleared detainees from entering the U.S. and welcomes same to Leverett.


see Leverett residents may query Congress on cleared detainees

May 24: Anti-torture protest in Chicago

c/o Bill of Rights Defense Committee:

The Jail Jon Burge Committee urges residents of Illinois to join in a cry for justice from 8:30 to 10:00 a.m. on May 24, 2010, at Daley Plaza in Chicago.

The event will coincide with the commencement of the trial of former Chicago Police Department Commander Jon Burge, accused of perjury and obstruction of justice during a civil suit related to the Chicago Police Department's use of torture to force false confessions from criminal suspects.

The Jail Jon Burge Committee, a coalition of community-based organizations, is taking a stand against torture of suspects by police officers under the supervision of former Police Commander Jon Burge, seeking justice for police torture victims, and raising awareness to prevent such crimes in the future. For more information, please visit jailjonburge.org or contact Kali Cohn .

Illinois Coalition Against Torture promotes anti-torture policy

Based in Chicago, the Illinois Coalition Against Torture (ICAT) is working to promote anti-torture policy on the local and state levels. One part of their effort is an educational campaign regarding torture that is set to launch this summer. The coalition is also recruiting additional organizational partners interested in approaching state and local legislatures to seek a declaration supporting a federal commission of inquiry. To join the Illinois Coalition Against Torture or learn more about their work, please contact Kali Cohn.


The three-day conference detailed at Weaving a Net of Accountability, was launched by an interfaith service attended by about 40 who were led in reflections on the congregation of humanity's obligation to our brothers and sisters, and featured a keynote address by Scott Horton, a contributing editor for Harper�s Magazine, author of the blog �No Comment� and an expert on international law and extraordinary rendition.

Horton told an audience of about 90, including U.S. Representative David Price (NC - Fouth District), his view of the talk's title "The Unresolved Legacy of Guantánamo" as shorthand for the nation's retreat from the rule of law and citizens' obligation to reclaim foundational values of the nation.

During Friday, April 9, a group of between between 70 and 80 was guided by a diverse and uniquely qualified group of speakers in an exploration and struggle with the challenge of framing and moblizing the reclamation project Horton described the night before. Of especial concertn was whether North Carolinians have either a special obligation or an organizational head start on seeding and nurturing such an effort from the grassroots.

On Saturday, April 10, a smaller, self-selected group worked in earnest to synthesize lessons and listening from the day before into an action plan and has charged a group to move forward on that task.

Al Haramain v. Obama

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It took an accidental disclosure by the government, but on March 31 the U.S. District 
Court in San Francisco ruled that the National Security Agency's warrantless 
spying program was illegal, characterizing expansive use of "state-secrets" privilege 
as overreaching and potentially abusive.


Photo by Jonathan Payne


"Judge Walker is saying that FISA and federal statutes like it are not optional... The president, just like any other citizen of the United States, is bound by the law." - attorney and Hastings College of Law professor Jon Eisenberg 


photos
Today's Flashpoints show features an fascinating interview with Professor Francis Boyle, discussing among other things why former dean of Harvard Law School and current Solicitor General of the United States Elena Kagan is the worst possible Supreme Court Justice candidate, and exposes the danger of Federalist Society control of the Court.

Glenn Greenwald has more to add here
"being critical of former OLC attorney John Yoo is now an adverse career move for 
someone who wants to work at the Justice Department." - Adam Serwer laments 

ex-Bush official willing to testify Bush, Cheney knew prisoners were innocent

Lawrence Wilkerson
"[I] made a personal choice to come forward and discuss the abuses that occurred because knowledge that I served in an Administration that tortured and abused those it detained at the facilities at Guantánamo Bay and elsewhere and indefinitely detained the innocent for political reasons has marked a low point in my professional career and I wish to make the record clear on what occurred." - Col. Lawrence Wilkerson 

sworn declaration here, filed in support of a complaint drafted on behalf of Adel Hassan Hamad (see entry below) 

Students File Suit For Guantanamo Detainee

A group of Willamette University students is celebrating - and preparing for a lot of work. The civil complaint they drafted on behalf of a former Guantanamo detainee has been filed in federal court.


Adel Hamad is a Sudanese national who was doing humanitarian work in Pakistan when he was seized by the Pakistani military.

He wound up in U.S. custody at Guantanamo. He stayed there for more than five years.

A federal public defender in Oregon worked on Hamad's case, and Hamad was sent home in 2007. But now,  Willamette's University's International Human Rights Clinic has filed a civil suit on Hamad's behalf, in a Washington federal court. 

Jon Strauhal is a third-year law student who worked on the complaint. He says the team studied the legal strategies of other former detainees.

Jon Strauhal "A lot of the cases have been dismissed in other jurisdictions, however, none of those cases have been brought in the 9th circuit, or in the Western District of Washington."

The team hopes to rely on Supreme Court precedent. They're also betting on key comments from a federal official who said that Bush administration officials knew innocent men were being held at Guantanamo.

The suit claims that Hamad was illegally designated an enemy combatant, and was tortured, in violation of international law.

Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon leaves Mad

Judge Baltasar Garzon is being investigated by Spain's supreme court, charged with 'perverting the course of justice'. Photograph: Dominique Faget/AFP/Getty Images

Spain's best-known investigative magistrate, Baltasar Garzon, is now being prosecuted in a politically driven case that should have been thrown out of court...

If convicted, he could be barred from the bench for up to 20 years, effectively ending a career dedicated to holding terrorists and dictators accountable for their crimes. That would please his political enemies, but it would be a travesty of justice...

Mr. Garzon is a fearless and controversial prosecutor who has made many enemies over the years. He has brought cases against Basque and Al Qaeda terrorists, powerful Spanish politicians, Latin American dictators and Russian mafia thugs... 

see An Injustice in Spain

This is the same judge that has been pressing ahead with a case against six senior Bush administration lawyers, including John Yoo, for facilitating the torture at Guantanamo Bay. World Can't Wait applauds this tireless hero and will continue to follow developments.

C/o The Washington Independent:

A letter from civil liberties groups to Congress urges legislators to vote against purchase of the Thomson Correction Center unless they also pass a "permanent, statutory ban on using the facility for indefinite detention without charge or trial or for military commission-related detention"...

"even Yoo did not consider the more radical claim of stripping American citizenship from a suspected terrorist for the purpose of legally killing him." - SPENCER ACKERMAN 


Anwar al-Awlaki, reportedly targeted for assassination by the US government, 06/15/09. (photo: Public domain)











David Swanson asks "is murder the new torture?"
A federal judge has dismissed more than 100 habeas corpus lawsuits filed by former Guantanamo captives, ruling that because the Bush and Obama administrations had transferred them elsewhere, the courts need not decide whether the Pentagon imprisoned them illegally...

Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/04/05/91651/judge-voids-scores-of-guantanamo.html#ixzz0kLv000pi

*by emptywheel Monday April 5
State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh denied that the Obama Administration sees its power to use drones as geographically boundless, rejecting the Bush Administration's view of a "global war on terror." But Koh and the Obama Administration have then failed to articulate what war they are fighting, where the boundaries are and the legal justifications for such limitations. (Deliberations over detainee policy suggest the Administration still lacks a clear legal position on the matter).

Free Fahad

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Today, in New York City, the US is torturing a Muslim detainee with no prior criminal record who has not even gone to trial... kept in total pretrial isolation... [in violation of] international standards for human rights...

Koester, because of relative inexperience and subordinate position, did not commit misconduct," but "she appears to bear initial responsibility for a number of significant errors of scholarship and judgment" - OPR report


Jennifer K. Hardy (formerly Jennifer Koester)

 

 









see The Torture Memo Author You've Never Heard Of

Yoo's pal caught

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JohnEastman9c.jpgJohn Eastman former Chapman University law school dean whose most famous education maneuver was bringing his pal and disgraced Bush torture memo author John Yoo to the private Orange institution to pollute future legal minds and defend himself--wanted to dupe voters by being listed as "assistant attorney general" or "special assistant attorney general" in campaign materials and on the June 8 Republican primary ballot.

see John Eastman Dealt Legal Blow in GOP Race for State AG


Photo by Christopher Victorio

When the OPR report was released many claimed that it vindicated John Yoo and others, but regardless of OPR's conclusion about the lawyers' ethical conduct, the report adds to the mounting evidence that warrants a full-scale investigation of those who ordered, designed, and justified torture.

The report also contained a shocking revelation: most of "torture memo" author John Yoo's emails had been deleted and could not be reviewed by OPR investigators. Also "missing" are the July and August 2002 emails of OLC attorney Patrick Philbin, who was reviewing Yoo's work that summer while he drafted the two most notorious "torture memos."

Deleted emails are almost always recoverable--and any intentional deletion or other destruction of emails that are material to an ongoing investigation would raise serious questions of obstruction of justice.

Act now to urge Attorney General Holder to investigate, using all of the tools at the Department of Justice's disposal, of the missing emails.

Write to Attorney General Holder NOW!

robert gibbs 3
what was once representative of dictatorial regimes is about to be codified by 
Your Government: Robert Gibbs endorses denial of civilian trials

"There is not going to be some savior from the Democratic Party. This whole idea of putting our hopes and energies into 'leaders' who tell us to seek common ground with fascists and religious fanatics is proving every day to be a disaster, and actually serves to demobilize people." - The Call, WorldCantWait.org
so what the hell is he doing teaching at CAL?

In yesterday's ruling, according to the Chron, Chief US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the "theory of unfettered executive-branch discretion" during wartime holds an "obvious potential for government abuse" and is unconstitutional. Yoo's sweeping view of a president as a defacto dictator during times of war has been repeatedly rebuked by the courts, including the US Supreme Court...

UC Berkeley Billboard

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Important Reading

Physicians for Human Rights
Broken Laws, Broken Lives

NLG White Paper
ON THE LAW OF TORTURE...

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo



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