January 2011 Archives

America's Favorite Torturer

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"As the people of Egypt continue to show no willingness to tolerate any longer the 30-year dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak, no one -- least of all the Egyptian people -- should be fooled into thinking that Mubarak's response, appointing intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his Vice President, constitutes any kind of change... 

Andy Worthington reports on the major role this rendition operative played in the Bush regime's torture program; New Human Rights Watch publication here

Andy Worthington on Press TV's "The Autograph"

On the last day of my recent US tour to raise awareness of the plight of the remaining 173 prisoners in Guantánamo on the 9th anniversary of the opening of the prison, I was invited to be the subject of a Press TV show entitled "The Autograph," described as "a 25-minute weekly interview with academics, authors, politicians and dignitaries encompassing a whole range of different topics from cultural to highly political issues." The host, Susan Modaress, was engaged and very well informed, and it was excellent to have the opportunity to explain the story of Guantánamo past, present and future in more detail than is usually available to me on TV...

MADRID, c/o the Morningstar: 
European Pressphoto Agency

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In a National Court writ, Judge Eloy Velasco said the U.S. government must promptly state whether alleged human rights abuses in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp during the George W. Bush administration are being probed by U.S attorneys. In the absence of a positive response, he will decide whether Spanish courts must take on the lawsuit against former U.S. General Attorney Alberto Gonzales,John Yoo--author of the so-called "torture memos" on interrogation techniques--and David Addington, formerly a chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, as well as three others.

In the writ, the judge said he requested information on any Guantanamo probes in 2009 and 2010 and he hasn't yet received a response. He also called on the plaintiff, a little-known Spanish association in defense of jail inmates' rights, to provide evidence that three former Guantanamo inmates, Hamed Abderraham Ahmed, Reswad Abdulsam and Lahcen Ikassrien, are Spanish citizens as claimed in the lawsuit...

A letter in support of action has been presented to the 
Spanish Embassy, video here



A Message from Camp 6

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more on story here
d712818770b3ebce475905942e369430.gifOn the first anniversary of President Obama's 
failure to close Guantánamo within  a year, as he promised on his second day in office in January 2009, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has led the legal battle over Guantánamo for the last nine years, and has been responsible for organizing and coordinating more than 500pro bono lawyers across the country to represent the prisoners, issued the following press release, not only condemning all three branches of government for their failure to close Guantánamo with justice, and to remove this enduring stain on America's reputation, but also releasing information from a prisoner currently held, describing "a spontaneous peaceful protest that has swept through Camp 6, where most of the remaining detainees are currently being held," with the men creating signs "demanding justice and humane treatment," and also explaining how "the protest was inspired by news of the recent revolution in Tunisia"...

Obama = Bush = Torture

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275px-Mohammad_Iqbal.JPG"There are a lot of times I start to cry. I still feel like I am in Guantanamo," he says, his voice cracking and hands trembling. "I have memorized the torture. I wake up in the middle of the night screaming. - Saad Iqbal Madni


President Barack Obama, desperate to keep his campaign promise to reduce the prison population and eventually close the facility, has strong-armed allies to take former prisoners in, according to secret diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks...

Back home in Pakistan Madni's ordeal is still not over. He remains under house arrest and needs permission from security officials to leave home and meet with people, even with his own sister.

Obama administration policies of indefinite detention, forced expatriation and now, a return to military commissions, represent expansion and legalization of the very Bush era crimes that the "new" President pledged to stop.

A new "Professional Misconduct Review Unit" will handle disciplinary action stemming from Office of Professional Responsibility findings, in which intentional or reckless professional misconduct is alleged. The unit will decide whether evidence and the law back those OPR discoveries. It will also take over from OPR the responsibility for deciding whether the misconduct merits referral to the prosecutor's state bar association for discipline...

Federal judges have long grumbled that the department's internal ethics process seemed rigged to sweep embarrassments under the rug. The new review unit doesn't appear to address those concerns, because it won't review cases where prosecutors weren't found by OPR to have committed misconduct (i.e. the David Margolis review). 

see Former Holder Chief of Staff to Lead New Misconduct Unit

meanwhile, court rules government can continue to suppress detainee statements

The protesters are dressed in orange prison suits to show solidarity with Guantanamo 
prisoners. They are outside the Justice Department protesting broken promises and 
broken laws. 

video here
"Well we've got John Yoo at Cal, and he's just as big a criminal so there. - Forester

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Before his students enter the classroom on a Tuesday morning in November, retired four-star Gen. Stanley McChrystal scrawls the phrase "TRUST AND RELATIONSHIPS" in all caps on the whiteboard... yeah, like he applied to Pat Tillman. 

Dump Torture

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Christopher Edley's "retirement letter" has received a lot of ridicule, much of it directed at the dean's misapprehension of his own worth. By equating academic excellence with financial compensation this bureaucrat attempts to relieve himself of the obligation to provide an ethical environment for students. With the sad result of a John Yoo presiding in the classroom. 

Seize this moment to change the face of Boalt Hall... repudiate the policy of accommodation for torture apologists.

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"I'm kinda disappointed this is a moot court and not a mock trial prosecuting 

John Yoo" - Buzz

(the James Patterson McBain Honors Competition has been moved from Wheeler 

Auditorium to Zellerbach Hall... get your tickets early!)

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Today, if an American is not afraid, he is a coward-and if an American defends an "Unlawful Enemy Combatant's" basic human right to a fair trial, he may be considered a traitor in the "homeland"...






"Many of us knew years ago that waterboarding (along with other inhumane practises) was being used on (mostly) illegally detained individuals in prisons that remain open and active under the Obama regime. Is the Obama regime prosecuting or even investigating these crimes that have been openly admitted to by the instigators like Berkeley Law professor John Yoo and the torturers? Heck no! Obama has famously said that we need to "look forward, not backward."

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Next time I get pulled over for speeding, I hope the police officer has the moral vision of our president and accepts my pleas of 'I won't do that again, I promise'. I mean if it works for mass torture, surely... humour aside, the entire corruption of the interpretation of Constitutional Law in regards to Gitmo/'terror' detainees has not only led to a substantial reduction in the civil rights of most Americans; but also made it legally impossible to lawfully prosecute those who were genuinely out to cause harm. The case is building against teachers of Constitutional Law, it seems such a career is the best preparation for a life of subverting the Constitution...


Cindy Sheehan: Transparency in the Age of Obama

c/o Richard Brenneman:

 "Here in Berkeley, John Yoo, the legal architect of the George W. Bush administration, is a proud member of the University of California Law School faculty, a well-paid scholar on the state's payroll.

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But in Texas, Jim Mitchell, a psychologist who helped design the Yoo-enabled torture techniques practiced on captives taken in the "war on terror," may lose his state license, report Danny Robbins and Adam Goldman of the Associated Press...

Nice to see that at least one of the professions is taking actions against a major player in one of this country's greatest and most despicable human rights scandals.

c/o Center for Constitutional Rights:

Please read, sign, and distribute our "Close Guantanamo with Justice Now" statement by adding your information and personal or organizational affiliation at the bottom of this site. We are seeking both organizational and individual signatures. This statement is gaining support from prominent human rights organizations and individuals, including scholars, lawyers, torture survivors and activists all over the world -- including the United States, Middle East, Latin America, Europe, Australia and Africa.
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Obviously, financial calculation should not replace ethical accountability as the basis to send the "Torture Professor" packing, BUT it could release students from Yoo's clutches and force the issue of university complicity in his crimes...




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People protest in orange jumpsuits against the Guantanamo Bay prison outside the E. Barrett Prettyman US Court House in Washington,DC. The ACLU has argued a complaint against former US Secretery of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and other high-ranking members of the armed servives responsible for torture and abuse of civilians detained by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Professor Marjorie Cohn's new tome on the subject has received rave reviews,

"A magnificent, though deeply disturbing collection of essays on torture, considering its history, its use since September 11, and the obstacles to holding those responsible accountable. This is the best collection of essays on the topic and it leaves no doubt that the nation has not yet come to grips with the inhumanity perpetrated under the guise of national security." --Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine, School of Law

Introduction to book here

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A professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild, Marjorie's books include Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent. The 2008 recipient of the Peace Scholar of the Year Award, she has testified before Congress about Bush Administration torture policy. 

Video of Marjorie's participation in a Forum on Torture and the Law, Torture and Human Rights during Berkeley Says NO To Torture Week can be viewed here.

On the ninth anniversary of Guantanamo, a circle of "detainees" in jumpsuits and hoods stood silently in witness - as the names of the 173 detainees* still being held at Guantanamo (including Abdelrazak Ali Abdelrahmanrepresented by our friend Candace Gorman) were read aloud. 

Journalist Elaine Pasquini and photographer Phil Pasquini captured the action:


Local Activists Protest Guantanamo Bay

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source: SFNewsfeed.us

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (1/11)- On January 11, human rights activists held a protest inside the James R. Browning United States Courthouse, calling for the closure of the U.S.-run prison at Guantanamo Bay and an end to torture and other inhumane practices.


"Today is the ninth anniversary of the opening of the illegal, immoral prison at Guantanamo Bay set up under the Bush-Cheney regime and continuing now under the Obama administration," World Can't Wait member Stephanie Tang told the small crowd gathered inside the marble entryway of the federal building. "Failing to fulfill the executive order he signed at the start of his administration, President Obama has continued indefinite detention, blocking accountability for torture both by refusing to conduct independent and thorough investigations and by attempting to prevent the courts from reviewing lawsuits brought by formerly detained men." A lawsuit against San Jose-Based Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. by plaintiffs Binyam Mohamed, Abou Elkassim Britel, Ahmed Agiza, Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah and Bisheral-Rawi is one case blocked by both the Bush and Obama administrations fromproceeding to justice. In December the five plaintiffs petitioned the U.S Supreme Court to review their case.

In addition to The World Can't Wait, hundred of other organizations, including Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights, called on the Obama administration to recommit to rapidly closing Guantanamo and to acknowledge that many of the prisoners were detained in error. In addition, the groups demand the prisoners be either charged or released and that the government abandon plans for indefinite detention. The Obamaadministration has declared it will hold some 50 of the men indefinitely without charge or trial and to formalize indefinite detention through an executive order.

In closing, seven human rights activists, dressed in orange jumpsuits and black hoods, read the names of the 173 detainees still incarcerated in the controversial site.

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Phil & Elaine Pasquini

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=268099&id=171020735816&ref=mf

photo © Phil Pasquini all rights reserved worldwide


video of DC action here

Monday, January 24 | 5-7 p.m. | 110 Boalt Hall, School of Law

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Nuremberg: Its Lesson for Today depicts the most famous courtroom drama in modern times, and the first to make extensive use of film as evidence. It was also the first trial to be extensively documented, aurally and visually. All of the proceedings, which lasted for nearly 11 months, were recorded. Producer Sandra Schulberg, introduced by Human Rights Center faculty director Eric Stover, will discuss her film and show a 20-minute clip. Dick Buxbaum, professor of law, will follow with remarks and lead a discussion with Schulberg and audience members.

centralintelligenceagencycia Attorney at firm representing Assange accusers helped facilitate CIA renditions in 2001An attorney representing two Swedish women who brought sexual assault charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was investigated following revelations that during his time in the Swedish government, his administration helped facilitate extraordinary renditions that allegedly resulted in two terrorism suspects being tortured in Egypt.

The US policy of extraordinary rendition, or kidnapping terrorism suspects from foreign countries and transporting them to locations where torture is permitted, was a hotly contested issue during the administration of President George W. Bush -- and it wasn't just Americans who were outraged by the practice.

A Swedish investigation in 2009 ended up referring former justice minister Thomas Bodström, who now resides in the US, and former prime minister Göran Persson, to a constitutional committee looking into the expulsion of two terrorism suspects at the outset of America's terror war in 2001...

Statement from Former Prisoner on the 9th Anniversary of Guantánamo


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"It isn't my eye, not my broken fingers or broken ribs, not the sexual abuse or the humiliation that is the worst.  It is missing those seven early years of my child's life." - Omar Deghayes, Outside the Law

to profit self, demanding more compensation for his defense 
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"I think that a certain amount of controversy is necessary because excellence always means 

exceptional.  Most of the public would probably oppose tenure, sabbatical leaves, support 

for basic research, admitting out-of-state or foreign students, and below-market tuition for 

students heading for elite careers in business or law.  And, as I've discovered and Berkeley 

has experienced, much of the public doesn't care about academic freedom.  UC leaders 

must be prepared to defend these policies despite their unpopularity and have almost 

always done so... 

can Yoo keep a secret?

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It appears that the "Torture Professor" will not be teaching Constitutional Law this 
semester, but has been tasked with the following course, meeting times and locations 
withheld from the public:

Berkeley Law
Spring 2011 

Instructor: John Choon Yoo
Course Title: Veterans' Law Practicum
Course Number: 222.9

Course:Title:Meeting:Enrollment:

222.9 sec. 1

Veterans' Law Practicum
Yoo

Unknown
Enrolled: 15 
Waitlisted: 1 
Enroll Limit: 15 
As of: 01/09 07:59 AM

Information on seats available per course not displayed due to varying constraints on course structures that result in variations on a course by course basis.

Just what goes on behind these closed doors?

In a rare U.S. appearance, author and filmmaker Andy Worthington will speak with renowned investigative journalist Jason Leopold (Truthout) at two events in the Bay Area.


TEN YEARS OF GUANTANAMO: A DISCUSSION WITH ANDY WORTHINGTON AND JASON LEOPOLD

12 noon - 2 pm

Louis B. Mayer Lounge

UC Hastings College of the Law

198 McAllister Street, San Francisco

Andy Worthington will speak on Guantánamo, Indefinite Military Detention, and the Fight for Justice. His path-breaking work continues to bare the truth about Guantánamo and the hundreds of prisoners held there illegally without charge or trial, and tortured. His book, "The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison" and film "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo" have been highly acclaimed by legal and civil liberties experts. In 2011, after working with WikiLeaks on the release of classified military documents relating to the Guantanamo prisoners, he began a new project, "The Complete Guantanamo Files," a million-word series that will continue throughout 2012.

Event hosted by National Lawyers Guild, Hastings Chapter


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DINNER RECEPTION:

6:00 - 8:30 pm

CYPRUS Restaurant

81 Shattuck Square, Berkeley

A chance to break bread (actually, a delicious catered Mediterranean buffet supper) with our two guests at this popular restaurant, just steps from downtown Berkeley BART.

This dedicated fundraiser is hosted by World Can't Wait, with all funds going to the 2012 campaign to Close Guantánamo, including this national speaking tour by Andy Worthington.  We suggest $40 general donation (students $20) -- sliding scale upward if you're able will be deeply appreciated.

RSVP  (for catering and due to limited seating space, thanks) to 415-424-7358 Stephanie or 818-480-1860 Curt, or email us at sf@worldcantwait.org .

Both events wheelchair accessible.

Bradley Manning, the alleged leaker of classified materials is being held in jail. Julian Assange was held in jail without being charged and for several days with bail withheld. Networks related to the distribution of the linked materials have been shut off from Wikileaks and avenues of fiscal support for Wikileaks have been cut off. Despite efforts and assurances that material that might endanger individuals was redacted, "perception management" specialists are peddling the view widely that the leaks put people and the nation in danger. Soldiers have been told not to read the leaked documents. University students in journalism and international relations have been told not to view the documents. Attorney General Eric Holder tells us that legal challenges to Wikileaks founder are in preparation and calls for his assassination have been made public in media in among politically visible people. Why the storm? Just what is it that they do not want us to know? And who are "they"?

 

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On one level there are embarrassing details on the role of government officials in condoning and covering up the use of torture (Professor Pilisuk examines "The Matter of Torture" in his book, WHO BENEFITS FROM GLOBAL VIOLENCE AND WAR), deceptions about the failures and costs of military efforts, secret communications with officials of other governments to bribe or to coerce deals favoring free trade agreements, military assurances to governments that violate human rights, communications regarding new military initiatives toward Iran. These are not activities with which public officials would care to be identified and are not parts of their public persona. They are just the unfortunate realities of ordinary affairs, what they consider to be the only way that coercion may supplement persuasion when consensus cannot be reached. But for whom? ...

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"By turning Bush-era indefinite detentions into institutionalized policy, President Barack Obama is laying the foundation for future presidents to use preventive detention (imprisonment) as a tool. 

- St. Petersburg Times columnist Robyn Blumner 

Welcome to the president's private prison.

Department of "Justice" denies requests for release of body of Salt Pit prisoner   

"It has been a mental torture for his family," said Dr. Gharat Baheer, who was picked up with Gul Rahman. Baheer spent six months at the Salt Pit and six years in Afghan prisons before being released in 2008. Baheer said the family has yet to even receive confirmation of his death from the United States.


*Habeas corpus /ˈheɪbiəs ˈkɔrpəs/, Latin for "you [shall] have the body," is the name of a legal action or writ by means of which detainees can seek relief from unlawful imprisonment.
Muneer I. Ahmad has much more on this here.
I'm tired of its acceptance as a national institution and fear that Americans have 
forgotten that there even was a time when we did not hold detainees in a 
Caribbean island fortress. - Amnesty International member Barbara Quintiliano

Guantánamo means Rendition.  Guantánamo means Indefinite Detention Without Trial.

Two weeks from now on January 11, the TENTH YEAR of the horrors at  Guantánamo will begin -- refreshed and underscored by the Obama administration and Congress's NEW moves to insure it all remains permanent.

GuantanamoBarbedWire.jpgOn January 11, World Can't Wait will be in Washington D.C. with Witness Against Torture, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and other activists who won't let this issue go, no matter who the president is, or what the promises are.  Join us there to make visible resistance and protest with a rally outside the White House, a "prisoner procession" to the Justice Department, and then non-violent direct action.

Here in the Bay Area, we're mobilizing for a public demonstration in San Francisco. Help us make plans for this and other 2011 events:

Sunday, January 9, 2:30 to 4:30 PM
Mechanics Library, 57 Post Street
, San Francisco

Guantánamo, and the whole torture regime that brought it, must be ended!

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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