December 2010 Archives

"I was one of the students who met with Dean Edley last year to ask him to sign on to a letter that close to 500 Boalt Hall students signed to AG Holder asking for a prompt release of the DOJ report on Prof. Yoo. It was an extremely tame letter --- balanced, not pointing fingers, etc. --- and Dean Edley agreed to sign it. 

A couple weeks later, having heard zero from Dean Edley, we met with him again to ask what was happening. His answer was (verbatim), "Oh, did you think we had a binding CONTRACT that I'd sign it. Sorry." His big explanation, though, was that he NEVER signed on to group letters. He didn't think it was becoming of a dean of a law school.

Whatever you think of Prof. Yoo --- and I don't want to sidetrack the conversation here --- it was a wildly insulting backtrack. And what makes it all the more flabbergasting that apparently he's more than happy to sign onto group letters when it's his bloated paycheck he's fighting for.

but is actually a concrete manifestation of injustice, and of the durability of 
the Bush administration's malignant rewriting of international laws and 
treaties. - Andy Worthington
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Government lawyers told President Bush that he did not have to obey the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which prohibits the government from spying on citizens without a warrant, thus destroying the right to privacy. The U.S. Department of Justice ruled that the President did not have to obey U.S. law prohibiting torture or the Geneva Conventions. Habeas corpus protection, a Constitutional right, was stripped from U.S. citizens. Medieval dungeons, torture, and the windowless cells of Stalin's Lubyanka Prison reappeared under American government auspices.


The American people's elected representatives in Congress endorsed the executive branch's overthrow of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Law schools and bar associations were essentially silent in the face of this overthrow of mankind's greatest achievement. Some parts of the federal judiciary voted with the executive branch; other parts made a feeble resistance. Today in the name of "the war on terror," the executive branch does whatever it wants. There is no accountability.


The First Amendment has been abridged and may soon be criminalized. Protests against, and criticisms of, the U.S. government's illegal invasions of Muslim countries and war crimes against civilian populations have been construed by executive branch officials as "giving aid and comfort to the enemy." As American citizens have been imprisoned for giving aid to Muslim charities that the executive branch has decreed, without proof in a court of law, to be under the control of "terrorists," any form of opposition to the government's wars and criminal actions can also be construed as aiding terrorists and be cause for arrest and indefinite detention...

Ninth Circuit Court Judge orders first-ever damages for Bush-era wiretapping, 

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Citing Yoo's "flawed" advice, Judge Walker rules 

the electronic surveillance program illegal. 

(Yoo's 2001 opinion has been repudiated by his 

successors at the Justice Department.)


Plaintiffs' counsel Jon Eisenberg remarks 

"This is quite an indictment of John Yoo."


Judge Vaughn Walker is scheduled to teach a course at Berkeley Law in the spring.

Two weeks have passed since David Omondi and I began our sojourn here at Irwin County Detention Center in southern Georgia. Some may say, "Vitale has protested himself back into the pokey below the Mason-Dixon line" and "He has been jailed again in an effort to bring peace and social justice." SF Chronicle 11/28

LouieMany ask, "Why do you keep doing this?" We try to respond: "Because the oppression goes on and our nation is a major participant in that oppression of the poor and of all creation." Specifically this manifestation of mourning focuses on the School of the Americas (WHINSEC) at Ft. Benning, Georgia, where U.S. military have taught counter-insurgency techniques, including torture and disappearance, to Latin American military. It still goes on, as recently observed with the outrageous coup in Honduras carried out by graduates of the School of the Americas. In fact, our involvement in oppressive militarism extends throughout the world!

But why so many times at Ft. Benning (my fourth arrest and incarceration, and so far from my home base)? The School of the Americas is an icon of our intrusion into developing countries over many years and the source of horrific massacres including religious leaders and thousands of peasants. Also Ft. Benning is a major military base feeding vast numbers into the war machine. Thousands gather annually to mourn the victims and to call for an end to our war machine that continues to grow into more bases, nuclear weapons manufacturing facilities, even into space war (and the new X-37B militarized version of the space shuttle).

Are we ready to declare peace and act in its presence? Let's call - with all our energy - for nonviolent solutions now, transforming many peoples' lives and our world. Our work is cut out for us as we must be vigilant and active with nonviolent resistance. May we move towards peace in the new year.

[Louie, serving a 6 month sentence for trespass at Ft. Benning, was moved from the Irwin County Detention Center on December 15, and is currently in transit. We will let you know as soon as he reaches his final destination.]


Write the the Prisoners of Conscience

To write to Louis, please direct correspondence to: Fr. Louis Vitale, c/o The Nuclear Resister, P.O. Box 43383, Tucson, AZ 85733

To write to Michael David Omondi, also sentenced to six months for trespass at Ft. Benning, please direct your correspondence to: David Omondi, c/o The Los Angeles Catholic Worker, 632 N. Brittania St., Los Angeles, CA 90033 

Dean Christopher Edley plugs "major human rights developments" at Boalt Hall -- 
no, he's not talking suspension of torture advocate John Yoo pending investigation of 
criminal conduct...

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The University of California continues to shrug 
responsibility for ethical leadership, forcing 
students to take extraordinary steps to evade 
the immoral academics of a resident war criminal. 
The message that "anything goes" short of 
criminal conviction must be rejected. 

c/o National Lawyers Guild Torture Working Group*:

John Yoo remains enshrined [at] one of the nation's premier legal schools, Boalt Hall at U.C. Berkeley.  Over a year ago, the Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture sent a letter to the University expressing its concerns about allowing torture-enabler Yoo to remain as faculty at Boalt.  The University finally responded, finding that Yoo's behavior does not violate the "ethical principals" of the University.

read letter here

* The Torture Accountability Working Group is a new subcommittee of the National Lawyers Guild International Committee. It focuses on achieving accountability for torture perpetrated or supported by U.S. officials, in the "War on Terrorism" or at home, in policing and incarceration. Tactically, its current focus is raising awareness through reports, media and events of roadblocks to achieving accountability at the state and local level. The Working Group met at the September 2010 National Lawyers Guild Convention in New Orleans.

the torture of isolation

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In disturbing reports from the US, it appears that Private First Class Bradley Manning, the former intelligence analyst accused of leaking the Afghan and Iraqi war logs, the US diplomatic cables and the "Collateral Damage" video, which have dominated headlines globally since WikiLeaks began making them available in April this year, is being held in conditions that bear a marked and chilling resemblance to the conditions in which a handful of US citizens and residents were held as "enemy combatants" under the Bush administration. - Andy Worthington


blogger Bradley Gardner asks: 

...if John Yoo made an indisputable case for the legality of torture in certain 
situations, does that mean its right, or does that expose a fundamental flaw in our 
legal system?
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Legal Adviser Harold Koh's question is particularly relevant today, considering President Obama's disdain for civil liberty guaranteed by the writ of habeas corpus  


"With the announcement of indefinite detention as a policy, rather than a possibility, the United States will cross a threshold that, as torture did, takes us back to the past, a past before the introduction of trials, when guilt and innocence were decided by signs from the heavens and an appeal to God, rather than to legal processes conducted by men. - Karen Greenberg



White House drafts executive order for indefinite detention


Center for Constitutional Rights statement here








The Torture of Bradley Manning
(Illustration: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

One peculiar outcome of the new clampdown on whistleblowers is the spectacle of Americans cheering on the destruction of their own rights, as in the case of avowed tough guys commenting in blogs that people like Bradley Manning "did the crime and now does the time," deserve no sympathy and merit the clear torture he is now undergoing. The tough consistently miss the point that while Manning has been accused of leaking classified military and State Department files to WikiLeaks, he has been convicted of nothing. The treatment he is undergoing has become the new norm in the case of high-profile cases purportedly involving national security...

The Torture of Bradley Manning

*Daniel A. Mengeling: We occupy ourselves endlessly with stating the obvious, that torture is torture and by so doing concede that the question is even arguable. Mr. Lopez implies that the danger to our "system of justice" is in calling for the execution of Mr. Manning before he is adjudged guilty. This implies that the Empire's legal system could give him justice. This is a myopic view of where where we find ourselves. When what you are accused of is no crime it is small consolation that the judge directed your peers find you guilty and thereafter you are "legally" tortured for the rest of your natural life.

Call It What It Is: Torture

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Some want to claim that equating the torture techniques used by the Bush administration with those used by the Nazis is unforgivable hyperbole. Sadly, it isn't. It's indisputable fact. And one man responsible for it, Stanley McChrystal, was rewarded with promotion and now teaches at Yale. And another man who twisted the law to make it happen, John Yoo, teaches at Berkeley.


...the Nazi Verschaerfte Vernehmung technique of cold baths, dowsing with cold water, use of ice cold hoses, and air-conditioners - was a specifically approved technique by president Bush and vice-president Cheney.



Left, the chilling motto "No Blood, No Foul" of Camp Nama, c/o Human Rights Watch report, "Soldiers' Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq" 

UPDATE: On October 15, 2010 authors of the following article(s) presented a  "Forum on Torture and Human Experimentation"... video of that event is now posted at WeSayNoToTorture.org .




EXCLUSIVE: Controversial Drug Given to All Guantanamo Detainees Akin to "Pharmacologic Waterboarding"?
(Image: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t; Adapted: Okko Pyykkö, electron)

A TRUTHOUT EXCLUSIVE

by Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye  

The Defense Department forced all "war on terror" detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison to take a high dosage of a controversial antimalarial drug, mefloquine, an act that an Army public health physician called "pharmacologic waterboarding."


The US military administered the drug despite Pentagon knowledge that mefloquine caused severe neuropsychiatric side effects, including suicidal thoughts, hallucinations and anxiety. The drug was used on the prisoners whether they had malaria or not...

Psychologist/reporter/activist Jeff Kaye has uncovered new material suggesting 
concealment of detainee deaths during early days at the prison (officials have 
previously testified that the first fatalities were three "suicides" in June 2006) :

According to the transcript (PDF) of a February 19, 2002 meeting of the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board 
(AFEB), "[a] number of the detainees have died of the wounds that they arrived with...
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Dr. Steven Miles, author of Oath Betrayed: Torture, Medical Complicity, and the War on Terror, shared his reaction to news of the possible deaths:
This is an enormously important event. I have tried, without success to have the DoD or the media, clarify the huge inconsistencies in prisoner death reporting to no avail. My article on this remains unpublished...


Stay tuned for more on this and the continuing investigation into the mefloquine scandal at Truthout.org .

$5M to defend waterboarders

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Torturers Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen 
are alleged to have overseen the waterboarding 
of Abu Zubaydah, Abd al-Nashiri and
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (183 times).

This is the first time those who carried out the 
tactic have been publicly identified.

The Justice Department is investigating whether 
they should face criminal charges.

Gee, you think?


prosecution of these thugs: priceless



"Our heroes at Wikileaks are at it again. As you are thumbing through the thousands of documents keep your eyes pealed for any that relate to Guantanamo and please email or post what you find. - H. Candace Gorman


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R0011617.jpgSharon Tipton reporting from Pasadena, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, December 15:

Judge Bybee looked at me curiously. He must have recognized me since the last time I saw him I had protested inside his courtroom, LOUDLY reminding him of the laws affecting those who, like him, are complicit in torture. It's a 25 year jail sentence). I had told him how to do his job. 

He looked as if he were trying to figure me out, who I was, and what was my agenda. I sat quietly, occasionally asking my protest partner, Susan, questions about the case as I attempted to follow along. It was about an autistic child who had possibly been abused by his school. It made me think about the six year old student who was water boarded by his teacher; the father who water boarded his small daughter;  and the young man who used this "legal" method of interrogation, on his girlfriend. 

I thought of how Bybee's authorization of torture by water boarding was now seen as a legitimate form of interrogation by many, and had become normalized,as seen in the crevices and cracks of society . He had help create Trickle Down Torture. But could he really have no idea of why we were there? No idea of the mass of humanity his authorizations for illegal war had wasted? When is it ever okay to "simply follow orders" without following your conscience. Maybe he no longer had one. 

While we waited for the opportunity to speak out at the gavel drop signalling the end of the session, three of our friends were standing outside the grand entrance of the rose flanked courthouse - one dressed as a Gitmo detainee, and the others holding signs ("Extradite War Criminal Jay Bybee to the International Criminal Court"), and handing out Jay Bybee Wanted posters. And all three standing beneath a 20 foot banner which read:  " War Criminal Welcomed Here". 

Finally, it it was time for our action. Susan's clear, loud voice rose above the soft talking of lawyers. "GEORGE BUSH ADMITTED IN HIS BOOK THAT HE AUTHORIZED TORTURE. TORTURE IS NEVER LEGAL OR ACCEPTABLE! She continued for about 30 seconds, then ended with "IMPEACH JAY BYBEE!" She had just scolded [eleven] High Court Judges! The Contracted Security Officer pushed past me to grab Susan (harshly, it seemed, and later she confirmed it was so) and led Susan out of the Courtroom. One asked me to leave, so on my way out I yelled, "Jay Bybee, please step down. You are a black spot on the integrity of this court! Get a conscience!" I then went on to educate the people as I walked out about the three civilian water boarding occurrences, and Bybee's role in normalizing torture. I received some warm smiles (amused? commending?) as I was escorted out of the courtroom.

Susan immediately sought to speak to Judge Alex Kozinski about her treatment, since harsh treatment isn't necessary for non-violent, peaceful protest. We should be able to state our concerns as long we don't disturb the session. And peacefully, and persistently, we will continue to speak the truth.

Jay Bybee's sociopathic self-absorption
AP
"Congress should impeach him." - NY Times

Nuremberg prosecutors brought charges against lawyers and judges for their failure to enforce the law.  Similarly, it appears the United States and her allies after 9-11 thwarted the independent judiciary in Spain on the subject of holding Judge Bybee and others accountable for legal memoranda used in connection with POW abuse, CIA rendition, and other alleged war crimes...


CCR [Center for Constitutional Rights] and ECCHR [European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights] urge Judge Eloy Velasco to retain jurisdiction over the investigation due to the failure of the United States to conduct its own investigation into the torture program and the ongoing failure of the Obama administration to prosecute those responsible.

see "the Guantanamo Myth"

Shame on the Dean for protecting this crap. And shame on Berkeley Law.

Public figures, intellectuals, former prisoners and human rights activists have today, Friday 10 December, issued a statement calling for an international ban on long-term solitary confinement and prisoner isolation.

Supporters of the statement include US academic Noam Chomsky, US author and poet Alice Walker, former Guantánamo prisoner Moazzam Begg, former prisoners Paddy Hill and Gerry Conlon (wrongly convicted over IRA bombings in England), former Beirut hostage Terry Waite, lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, barrister Michael Mansfield QC, Emeritus Professor David Brown (University of New South Wales, Australia) and Richard Haley (Chair, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities).

10 December is International Human Rights Day and marks the anniversary of the proclamation in 1948 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly of the United Nations...

Calls for Worldwide Ban on Solitary Confinement and Prisoner Isolation

Human Rights Watch's Letta Tayler calls for Obama administration to clean house on 
torture. Boalt Hall would be a good place to start.

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Christopher Edley, Jr. is Dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). Throughout the 2008 Democratic primaries, he was an advisor to candidate Barack Obama, one of his former students at Harvard Law School. On November 5, 2008, Edley was named to the advisory board of the Obama-Biden Transition Project. He claims to have the ear of the President.

Tell the Dean to stop providing safe harbor for "Torture Professor" 
John Yoo.
In a small classroom in Barrows Hall [UC Berkeley] last Tuesday, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld faced charges of extradition to France to be tried there for violating international torture laws. Students in the political science course "Accountability for International Human Rights Violations" acted as the defense, prosecution, and presiding judges...

The course will be offered every fall semester. For more information on this course and other courses in the major, visit the Human Rights minor website.

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Fayiz al-Kandari, a Kuwaiti citizen, has been a detainee in Guantanamo since 2002 after being captured by Pakistani forces and sold into US custody. Despite over 400 interrogations, suffering through endless hours of torture, including but not limited to beatings, sleep deprivation, threats and forced stress positions, the US government has failed to gather any of the coveted information that this treatment was ostensibly designed to garner. Furthermore, the US government has not produced any evidence against Fayiz al-Kandari aside from hearsay accusations of other Guantanamo prisoners and unidentified Afghanis, evidence which, under any other circumstances, would not be allowed in court.

With this in mind, we urgently call upon the United States government to immediately release Fayiz al-Kandari to the care of the Kuwaiti government. Kuwait has made various requests for the repatriation of Mr. al-Kandari which have been refused by the United States on the basis of concerns wit... more

bush-obama_300x200.jpgThreats to Germany, pressure on Britain, and 
bad blood with Canada reflect continuing 
U.S. disregard for human rights law... 
for example, Obama's work to kill a Spanish 
probe.

Amidst growing bipartisan panic over 
disclosures, Senator Joe Lieberman credited 
to WikiLeaks.

John Yoo dives for cover,

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now says George W shouldn't have listened to him. Would you buy a used car from 
this man? Better yet, would you allow your kids to take his class? 

Help us remove him from the classroom. Yesterday was the last day of instruction for 
the Fall Semester. As of today, Boalt Hall's "Torture Professor" is not listed to teach 
constitutional law in the Spring. Let's see that this holds true!

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
ON THE LAW OF TORTURE...

The President's Executioner

Detention and torture in Guantanamo



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