May 2010 Archives

"Gifts to the Boalt Hall Fund are important because they are immediately available to be spent at the dean's discretion."Campaign for Boalt Hall

Think before you donate: how much of your $ will go to a defense of Torture?
Dean Edley is credited with funding the rise of Berkeley Law's ranking among the 
nation's preeminent law schools. Is promotion of a war criminal an acceptable price?


The Promise of Berkeley, page 18

Many of the school's faculty and students think NOT, and expressed their opposition to 

Torture by wearing orange ribbons at the 2010 graduation ceremonies. See video here

c/o ricochet:

John Yoo

This all leaves me wondering why the better solution is not to auction off the right to enter the country to work (a voucher system applied to visa's), and then use the proceeds to fund better border control. Visa's are just a way to ration the numbers of people who enter the country, but the way we do it, they are not distributed with any reason. Why not let the market perform this function rather than the government, which I don't trust to make the right allocation (for the same reason, I think education is better funded through vouchers rather than a public monopoly in schools -- same goes for health care too). In fact, those who enter the country legally would have an interest in making sure the border was controlled -- if it is not, then the property value of their visas will drop.

  • #4 ·
  • May. 28 at 2:34pm 

so much for "the tired, the poor, the huddled masses"

A former Army prosecutor faces retaliation for testifying before Congress and a military commission about torture and other Constitutional violations at Guantanamo Bay. As the Guantanamo military commissions resume proceedings today, Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveld awaits a June 1 decision from a "promotion" board that may deny him an honorable retirement after nearly 20 years of service.

see Guantanamo Bay Prosecutor Faces Retaliation

Poster of SF8 by Emory Douglas
                            Emory Douglas Poster 

Electric shocks to the genitals, mock executions, suffocation with bags over the head, beatings and painful stress positions are among the torture techniques that Burge and police officers under his command are accused of using to extract confessions in Chicago, mostly from African-American men. 

Vietnam vet gets Overdue Day in Court
 Yesterday Berkeley's own Torture Professor referred to Youngstown Sheet and Tube v. Sawyer in an opinion piece considering the appointment of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, the same case he conveniently overlooked or disregarded when prescribing his own views on executive power. Once again Yoo twists and manipulates the law to serve his own ends in further example of his incompetency to interpret the law, let alone teach constitutional law and ethics to the next generation of lawyers and judges.

executive producer Howard Gordon on why time's up for '24'

the ticking clock dimension of each season's storyline... paralleled the ongoing legal debate over "enhanced interrogation techniques" sanctioned by the Bush administration

Much has been made about the unlikelihood of the show's scenarios occurring or torture 
producing reliable information, but ultimately does it really matter whether torture 
"works"? National Religious Campaign Against Torture founder George Hunsinger 
"Sadly, the detainees at Guantánamo, both the guilty and the innocent, continue to be mere pawns in a drawn-out political chess game with no clear end in sight." - Lt. Col. David Frakt, see More "Congressional Depravity" on Guantanamo 

House Armed Service Committee Votes to Keep Gitmo Open and Investigate Lawyers Who Represent the Men at Gitmo

Andy Worthington observes that "it is by no means a tragedy that the plan to 
replicate some of Guantánamo's most unpalatable innovations on American soil 
has been prevented."

Threats against detainee lawyers continue.
Attempts to prevent judicial review of the rendition and torture programs are moreover an official position of President Obama's administration. On May 12, the administration filed a brief to the Supreme Court about whether to hear an appeal from Maher Arar in his lawsuit against former Attorney General Ashcroft and other Bush administration figures. Arar was kidnapped from New York's JFK Airport and rendered secretly to Syria, where he was tortured for almost a year. His suit was dismissed by a federal circuit appeals court. Now, President Obama's Acting Solicitor General, Neal Katyal, has pronounced the administration's position that further deliberations on Mr. Arar's suit are "unwarranted." The former Solicitor General, Elena Kagan, who was involved in U.S. decision-making on the case, is now a nominee for the Supreme Court.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

there's no new promised date for its closure because Obama folks have learned that when you promise something, words have meaning and consequences and some silly people actually expect you to keep your word. i.e. End Don't Ask-Don't Tell, go through the budget line-by-line, double the Peace Corps, allow five days of public comment before signing legislation, negotiate healthcare bills on C-SPAN, support a crewed moon mission by 2020, give an annual State of the World address to Americans on national security, end no-bid contracts above $25,000, double funding for after-school programs, reduce legislative earmarks to 1994 levels, recognize the Armenian genocide, create a public option health plan for a new National Insurance Exchange. 

No Habeas at Bagram

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It ''ratifies a dangerous principle: that the U.S. government has unchecked power to capture people anywhere in the world, unilaterally declare them enemy combatants, and subject them to indefinite military detention with no judicial review,'' said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project.

and the American Psychological Association has been there all along

UPDATE: Intelligence Chief Walks Plank Without Ceremony

Dennis Blair and Barack Obama
Stepping down: Dennis Blair, pictured with Barack Obama in January 2009, has resigned his post as U.S Director of National Intelligence

Thursday May 20, 2010

Thanks to World Can't Wait, Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America and National Accountability Action Network activists, John Yoo's wall of privilege was breached once again. Until a number of torture supporters demanded that reluctant Orinda Country Club staff remove us from the premises, despite advertisement that the event was open to the public, we were able to distribute "Truth about Torture" brochures and engage with a few quite nasty members of Lamorinda Republican Women Federated (event sponsor; Chaplain Kandi Kaufman gets the prize for most vitrolic of the group).

We've pledged to be out there protesting the Torture Professor at every opportunity. Please tip us off to any Bay Area appearances or sightings of Berkeley's infamous War Criminal John Yoo by phoning us at 415 864-5153, or by emailing .

Guantanamo forever?

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People & Power video provides a good synopsis of lawlessness attendant to 
the infamous U.S. detention center.
Suppose he believes that the President has the power to 'attack apartment buildings and office complexes inside the United States, deploy high-tech surveillance against U.S. citizens and potentially suspend First Amendment freedom-of-the-press rights...

Photo: John Yoo (right) joined a panel discussion on privacy rights with David Cole. Protesters from World Can't Wait shouted 'torture' at Yoo.
John Yoo (right) joined a panel discussion on privacy rights with David Cole, April 14 2008. Protesters from World Can't Wait shouted 'torture' at Yoo.

"what is critical--as a moral, historical, and legal matter--is that we acknowledge in some official manner that what was done in our name was not just a terrible idea, not just an unfortunate mistake whose consequences we will live with for a long, long time. It was illegal. That accountability can take many forms. But what is unacceptable is to proceed as if no wrongs were done... - David Cole

see US Crimes Without Punishment, New York Review of Books May 27
(World Can't Wait CRIMES ARE CRIMES ad appears page 17 of this issue)
"I write this just hours after our law school graduation ceremony. Elite? You bet... - dean Edley

The Daily Howler's Bob Somersby responded to the dean's opinion piece in the Washington Post yesterday, Why elites do belong on the Supreme Court.

Another commentator observed:

like finding excuses to accommodate torture advocacy in school? 

When offered an orange ribbon on Friday (to declare "No Torture in my name"), Dean Edley reportedly answered "I don't need that." Apparently he doesn't "need" to listen to the faculty and students following him who were wearing ribbons either, or to answer their letters calling for investigation of his friend John Yoo.


Clarification: my posting of linked article is not intended for defense of the Supreme Court candidate. Kagan can hardly be regarded an activist; at first threat of federal funding cut to Harvard over the issue in question (barring of military recruiters from campus) she folded. What Joel finds John Yoo arguing here is that the duty of an American citizen -- at least in wartime -- is to submit without challenge to the decisions of government, even if those decisions are (by Yoo's own lights) wrong. In this universe, then, there is no right "to petition for redress of grievances," no check-and-balance provided by the judicial branch. The time-honored tradition of American dissent -- and of nonviolent resistance to laws deemed by citizens to be morally wrong -- is thus "activist," and thus potentially disqualifying when it comes to judicial nominations.

New video of action outside reception


Many orange ribbons in the house!

Friday 5/14/10, 7:30 AM -- two groups were assembling before the commencement ceremony for UC Berkeley Law's Class of 2010. 

·     Up at the stadium, World Can't Wait was gathering around a 9-foot mobile "Abu Ghraib prisoner" with UC's gold "Cal" logo emblazoned across his chest, setting up photo displays and posters dramatizing the torture unleashed by Bush-Cheney and their entire torture team, including Berkeley Law professor John Yoo.

      At the law school as grads and faculty put on their caps and gowns, basketfuls of orange ribbons were circulated.  By now everyone at Boalt knows exactly what the orange ribbon means:  constant protest, agitation and education everywhere Yoo goes have made it clear: "No Torture In My Name" and you're saying it publicly.  Some grads still don't think torture has anything to do with their law careers, and ribbon distributors caught a few disparaging remarks.  But more importantly, many more students took the ribbons and pinned them onto their gowns.  And so did many of the professors - and several profs asked for handfuls, passing ribbons out to other faculty on the spot.

The persistent work of World Can't Wait and other protesters demanding that John Yoo be fired, disbarred and prosecuted has had an impact, but much more than that has been affecting the climate at UC Berkeley lately.  The campus has been rocked by student uprisings against the fee hikes, and by the fight to divest UC from corporations who arm Israel's war crimes against Palestinians.  Then there's BP's $500 million campus debut -groundbreaking for BP's new UC facility is this week, even as the oil spreads across the Gulf of Mexico, outraging and terrifying the world.  And just now, the inspiring 10-day student hunger strike made headline news challenging the horrendous Arizona anti-immigrant bill and more.  So this is a time when every which way Cal students look, eye-opening events are posing the question: what kind of world are you going out into, and what are you going to do about it?

editor's note: May 13th marked the 50th anniversary of the first major student protest, the one that really ushered in the era of student mass movements. On this day in 1960, students from San Francisco State University, UC Berkeley, and elsewhere flocked to San Francisco City Hall to protest hearings being conducted by the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Plus, an article in Tikkun online edition: Conscience is contagious - The growing opposition of UC law profs and grads to John Yoo's torture theories

[Politics editor of The Atlantic magazine] Marc Ambinder notes that, "personnel at the facility are supposed to follow the Army Field Manual's guidelines for interrogations ... [but] under secret authorization, the DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency] interrogators use methods detailed in an appendix to the Field Manual, Appendix M, which spells out 'restricted' interrogation techniques." Although President Obama signed an order last year to eliminate the CIA's "black sites," it did not affect military prisons like the one at Bagram. 


At left is Ravil Mingazov in an undated photo taken before his 2002 capture in Pakistan. At right is U.S. District Court Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. who on Thurdsay May 13, 2010 ordered his release from the prison camps at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
At left is Ravil Mingazov in an undated photo taken before his 2002 capture in Pakistan. At right is U.S. District Court Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. who on Thurdsay May 13, 2010 ordered his release from the prison camps at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Photo c/o Miami Herald

* Author and journalist Andy Worthington maintains an interactive list of all 47 habeas cases here 
PHOTO: U.S. Department of Defense


The U.S. military is getting set to expand its controversial detention camp at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan -- just as new reports of a "black jail" inside the facility are surfacing...

see Military Expands 'Obama's Gitmo' in Afghanistan

Ahmed is not in a foreign prison, nor is he in Guantánamo; he is in a super maximum security prison in Florence, Colorado... a victim of "Special Administrative Measures".

"President Obama promised to close down Guantánamo; let us demand that he closes down the Guantánamo-style prisons on U.S. soil, too. Anyone with a true understanding of American values ought to demand an immediate end to these cruel and unwarranted punishments." - Mariam Abu-Ali 

"The great fear is that when the government has the power to strip some people of basic rights, it cannot be easily limited. Fundamental protections of our democracy are lost, and for no gain. We have seen time and again that terrorists can be successfully prosecuted without stripping them of their rights during the process...

In a further example of the slippery slope of "public safety" arguments, yesterday New 
York District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that torture doesn't violate due process.
On April 29th a reader of this blog requested that we not protest at this year's Berkeley Law School graduation ceremony; see letter by Boalt Grad.

We had heard similar arguments before, and decided to open up a discussion of why people should (or shouldn't) use this occasion to speak out against the university's employment of Torture advocate John Yoo.

Please submit your comments and we'll post them here: 

Dear Boalt Grad:

I understand your desire to have a memorable graduation event with your
family...and it will be.  Think of what it will mean to the future
generations if this were to be the last class that graduated under the
shame brought to UC by the unethical acts of John Yoo.

Instead, take a stand yourself, and proudly encourage your fellow
students and family to wear the orange ribbon, and go from your
graduation knowing that with a clean conscience that your graduation
stood for something meaningful, profound and worthy of notice.	Help
send a message to Dean Edley that academic freedom does not protect
one's actions, only one's speech....

And as an alum...when you send your check to support your alma matter,
send a blank check with the words, FIRE JOHN YOO, until the university
sees the light and rescinds his tenure.

congratulations on made it!!!!!

President Obam has named Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his choice for the Supreme Court.
AP photo

President Barack Obama's nomination of Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court is sure to be front page news tomorrow. But its significance may be appreciated only after reading today's stories about Obama's desire for new legislation permitting federal investigators to question terrorism suspects without issuing a Miranda warning...

what happens when you report publicly available information?

"This is a subject I know all too well...Last year a judge in Mr. al-Ghizzawi's case barred me (and only me) from talking about the fact that Mr. al-Ghizzawi had been cleared for release....despite the fact that the same information was available all over the internet and the Government itself cleared the information for public release. Today the kangaroo court down at Guantanamo has given the boot to some of the best reporters covering Guantanamo (including the Miami Herald's Carol Rosenberg) for publishing the name of interrogator no. 1 at the Khadr hearing today... - H. Candace Gorman

"my point here is not to make the prosecutor's case against Yoo. It is to show that 
what he did raises not merely ethics issues, but actual criminal culpability. Edley's 
failure to appreciate that is very troubling... -

On May 4 activists in orange jumpsuits gathered outside the Olympic Club in 
San Francisco to demonstrate opposition to Torture policies advocated by John Yoo,
while he peddled his book inside 


and invited onlookers to join the Berkeley community in denouncing UC protection 
of this notorious war criminal. Help us make this year's Law School graduation 
memorable... stand up and say NO TORTURE IN MY NAME -- NO UC COMPLICITY, 
I WILL NOT BE SILENT on the morning of May 14 at the Hearst Greek Theater 
on the university campus.
an afterword to Duke University conference

In Johnston County, interactions over torture have often been adversarial - understandable when so much is at stake. But at the recent conference, it became apparent to us that while North Carolina has played a critical role in the implementation of torture ["extraordinary rendition" flights], perhaps there is more to unite us than to divide us...

The United States' walk on the "dark side" of torture and secret detention has robbed us all of our most precious birthrights: the rule of law and our basic value of respect for human life... 

Together, we can acknowledge what went wrong and bring it to the light of day. We can seek out those who were harmed, learn what they need, offer apologies and begin to make amends.

Yoo's terror

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Must we see every single act of wrongdoing, even minor ones, through the prism of 9/11?

STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer
A Philadelphia police officer with Taser in hand chases a Phillies' fan who ran on the field
the John Yoo-justified torture regime...  was expanded to many people who had nothing to do with 9/11 and eventually to people who were innocent of any crime altogether.

But even more damaging is the way that attitude -- that any kind of lawbreaking or even potential lawbreaking requires the harshest possible response, with no regard to more than 200 years of momentum toward basic civil liberties and human rights -- is filtering down to other aspects of American life. Exhibit A is what's happening in Arizona.

Having followed the ups and downs of the accountability movement over the last few years, and while writing The People v Bush, I can safely report that the battle to bring Bush and his top advisors to justice -- for murder, war crimes, warrantless wiretapping, bank fraud, and shredding the Constitution -- is far from over. In fact, it is becoming re-invigorated. We have Cheney, Yoo, and Rove to thank for keeping the battle for justice lively.

UPDATE: War court judge sets new Khadr trial date, Aug. 10

In this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin, reviewed by a U.S. Department of Defense official, Canadian defendant Omar Khadr, sitting at far left, attends a hearing with his defense team, in the courthouse for the U.S. military war crimes commission at the Camp Justice compound on Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba on Wednesday.
courtroom sketch by Janet Hamlin

After the first week of this hearing, whether or not Omar was abused in prison seems almost beside the point. The government's own witnesses are portraying him as a child who was victimized by the adults who raised him, then used by U.S. authorities to extract information, which he willingly provided - only to have it used against him years later, after he'd finally become, at least technically, an adult... 


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SPECIAL NOTE TO STANFORD COMMUNITY: In addition to encouraging submittal of individual letters in objection to this specific event, Stanford Says No To War offers a petition for your signature. 

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Aretha Franklin and Condoleezza Rice - The Philadelphia Orchestra

Tickets: $95, $75, $50, Lawn $24

Rossen Milanov, conductor
Aretha Franklin, singer
Condoleezza Rice, piano

The Queen of Soul pairs up with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for an evening of classics and R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Ms. Rice will enchant us with selections from Mozart and more and will feature Aretha on vocals with selections from her new album, A Woman Falling Out of Love. This extraordinary effort is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Don't miss this amazing duo with those fabulous Philadelphians for one night only!
New Events at Mann Center for the Performing Arts

concerned with how showcase trial will "play" with the public

proceedings, refusing to appear before the court in goggles and earmuffs

The Military Commissions building at the U.S. Navy Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The Military Commissions building at the U.S. Navy Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Omar Khadr rejects government bribe, defense allowed four hours to review new 

UC Berkeley Billboard

press conference, protest, photos, video, reports

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Events & Calendars

War Criminals Watch Events

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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