April 2011 Archives

"UC Berkeley should fire John Yoo, the legal scholar whose work led to Abu Ghraib and secret spying on Americans."

2011 Berkley Law School Graduation: Protest UC Complicity and War Crimes

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The 2011 Law Day theme provides us with an opportunity to assess and celebrate the legacy of John Adams, explore the historical and contemporary role of lawyers in defending the rights of the accused, and renew our understanding of and appreciation for the fundamental principle of the rule of law...

"Whether it was a series of misjudgments and missteps... or conscious and crass political calculations, as the record of the Obama Justice Department and White House could be argued to demonstrate, the end result is the same: a bastardization of the rule of law and a condemnation, of particular concern in the case of the more than 75 men who remain in the prison at Guantanamo Bay who have been cleared for release, to a future of unjust imprisonment.

While the article (Washington Post, "Guantanamo Bay: Why Obama hasn't fulfilled his promise to close the facility") steered clear of laying blame at anyone's feet (instead seeming to insinuate a sort of collective blame), when it comes to Guantanamo Bay, the politics of fear and cynicism have won out over any promised hope or change.

--Matthew W. Daloisio, Witness Against Torture



June 1, "Accountability Today - Preventing Torture Tomorrow": a panel discussion featuring Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, legal experts, and special video testimonials from victims of the U.S. torture program.

June 23, March & Civil Resistance in Washington, DC: Witness Against Torture will gather in Washington DC from June 22-26 to participate in the Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition's (TASSC) "Torture Survivor's Week". Join us on June 23rd for a march and action focused on the 172 men that remain in Guantanamo, particularly the 90 men currently cleared for release but still being held.

"Universal Jurisdiction and International Justice: An Inseparable Reality?"


Baltasar Garzon, an investigating magistrate of the Spanish National Court, came to international attention in 1998 when he issued an international warrant for the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet on human rights charges. He has also presided over human rights cases against Argentine and Chilean military leaders and worked to unearth crimes committed during the Franco era in Spain.

Wednesday, April 27, 5:00 pm
Maude Fife Room, 315 Wheeler Hall

sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies, UC Berkeley

While the "areas of potential exploitation" often included presumed areas of further intelligence seeking, based upon supposed links of the detainee to the area under consideration, others areas of proposed "exploitation" are vaguer, or seem to imply research into prisoner psychology, or even possible status as an informant or intelligence asset after release...

Thanks Jeff, for sorting out the truth here, and cutting through the government lies 
attendant to these disclosures.
The Guardian provides an excellent first look. 

Our good friend Andy Worthington will be sifting through the documents, starting here.
"the right to be free from torture is one of the most fundamental human rights recognized by the global community today." -- Unitarian Universalist Service Committee


On Friday, May 6 at 6:30 p.m. Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fairbanks joins with the ACLU of Alaska to host a potluck, lecture and discussion with Steve Wax, a federal public defender, who will speak on the issue of the moral and legal authority of torture. Author of the book, "Kafka Comes to America," Mr. Wax will discuss how our civil liberties have been eroded by security concerns...

Mr. Wax will be in Fairbanks the annual Alaska Bar Association Convention being held at the Princess Hotel (see www.alaskabar.org for details). On Friday morning from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Mr. Wax will debate Professor John Yoo (author of the controversial "torture memo" under the Bush Administration) in an interactive program of cross-examination and Socratic dialog titled "The Balance Between Security and Civil Liberties in Wartime."

Guantanamo is still open

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default.jpgApril 20, 2011, San Francisco CA: A few hundred protesters mobilized by many organizations protested in the cold rain outside the Masonic Auditorium where Barack Obama led a Democratic Party fundraiser to kick off his re-election campaign.

If you are inside this building and you are supporting, with money, the man who's going to run for president on the Democratic ticket -- you are supporting with your money war crimes, and there is blood on his hands as he shakes your hand at the dinner table tonight. -- Stephanie Tang for The World Can't Wait

video here

Torture never "left"

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Is it infuriating to anyone else that irrational belief in the President's "good intentions", 
by people who should know better, serves only to disable effective resistance? The true 
"moral hazard" to Adam Serwer's piece on Al-Nashiri today rests in abrogation of 
our individual responsibility to stop the crimes of this government. The "timidity" 
Adam refers to is in reality not that of the Obama administration, but that of the 
American people's resolve to do what is right, to demand accountability of the war 
criminals in our midst, at every opportunity. Anything less is complicity.

Tomorrow April 22, students at Stanford will confront the audacity of providing a 
forum for perhaps the premier architect of the U.S. torture state. See "Repudiate 

a message to the Stanford community: Don't Legitimize Torture


"This Friday, UC-Berkeley Professor John Yoo will visit the Law School to speak at an event in room 290 from 12:45 to 2:00 p.m. Yoo's presence on campus is an affront to the dignity of our community. It also undermines the University's mission to train tomorrow's leaders to follow the highest ethical standards.

I ask all interested members of the Stanford community to join me in protesting this event. 

...Without fear of official recourse, John Yoo remains free to roam the lecture circuit, instead of contemplating his mistakes inside the walls of the federal prison system where he belongs. Although one can find a diversity of political voices supporting the United States' torture policy, there is no reason that its architects should find a friendly audience at Stanford. I hope students from across the University will respectfully protest Yoo's talk and make it clear that torture advocates are not welcome on this campus.

-- Danny Cullenward, Class of 2013

One of Obama's most devoted fans is challenging his duplicity in condemning torture abroad while condoning it at Quantico:

"The United States Army is so concerned about Bradley Manning's health that it is subjecting him to a regime designed to drive him insane. . . . This is a total disgrace. It shouldn't be happening in this country. You can't be unaware of this, Mr. President. Silence gives consent. - UCLA Professor Mark Kleiman

Plus, Glenn Greenwald reflects on how the "Greatest Moral Leader of Our Lifetime" has been well aware of these crimes for quite 
some time, here.

Four Ohio residents filed court papers last week seeking to compel the Ohio State Psychology Board to investigate Dr. Larry James, a retired Army colonel and former chief psychologist for the intelligence command at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility, who oversaw the brutal torture of detainees, including children.

The motion was filed by Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on behalf of the four residents, which includes a psychologist, a veteran, a minister and a long-time mental health advocate...

read Jeffrey Kaye's, c/o Truthout, report here

In this segment of "The Story Behind the Story," (Chicago-based radio station) Vocalo's Sarah Lu conducts an in-depth interview with Truthout investigative reporter, Jason Leopold.


These people have to be jailed. These 
people have to learn a big lesson 
through the law to understand how 
big pain when you kidnap people and 
put them in torture for no reason and 
abusing power and do because you 
are in a position you can do whatever 
you have."

Former Australian terrorism suspect Mamdouh Habib says he was tortured and beaten by Egyptian security forces. (AFP: Anoek De Groot)

see America's Favorite Torturer

a tortured excuse

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http://thestoneoftear.blogspot.com/2007_04_01_archive.html http://newsformormons.com/category/member-news/ http://www.esquire.com/features/john-yoo http://www.ibabuzz.com/politics/category/civil-liberties/ http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/06/unlimited_government.php http://open.salon.com/blog/saturn_smith/2009/03/28/keep_an_eye_out

Caving to pressure from the U.S., Spanish Judge Drops Case Against Bush Lawyers

"This decision is a cowardly political act by a judge [Eloy Velasco]afraid to pursue justice under his country's own laws. He is hiding behind the fig leaf of the U.S.'s scant seven-page response, but the submission made clear the U.S. has no intention of investigating these crimes. -- Center for Constitutional Rights

Ten of us handed our fliers about John Yoo while answering the questions of passersby about who this war criminal is. He advocated torture; we want him held accountable for crimes against humanity.

Although reports had come earlier in the day that the Spanish court had folded to US pressure to not try the Bush Six, our messages were clear: "John Yoo and the Bush 6 Must be Tried for War Crimes", "Hold Yoo Accountable".

Jeri came all the way up to LA from San Diego with her time worn sign: "Who Would Jesus Torture". Our crowd was gathered just moments after three of us were escorted out of the Roma Café in Beverly Hills where John Yoo was addressing a tiny crowd of 10. His detractors outweighed his supporters this evening. 

Sharon jumped from the table where she was casually eating appetizers in order to blend in. Yoo was passing by en route to a closed-off back room. "I am conducting a citizens arrest! You are wanted for war crimes and crimes against humanity... you authorized the crushing of children's testicles, Democracy demands a fully functioning legal system - one that does not bend to not so hidden pressures and political agendas..." She waved her CODEPINK handcuffs in the air and read from a fact sheet that we had written earlier in the day to include the latest setback from the Spanish court... 

c/o Denny LeBoeuf, American lawyer for several Guantanamo detainees, speaking at Reprieve workshop:


the courtrooms at Guantanamo are divided in two, with family members of the defendants, human right activists and federal and civil lawyers sitting behind a glass partition and hearing proceedings with a 42-second delay.

A man presses a switch connected to a red light every time the defence lawyers mention any details of torture.

This is done to avoid any mention of the torture the prisoners are sometimes subjected to.

While the prosecution had access to intelligence documents, among other resources, the defence usually had neither access to such documents nor sufficient capital.

The prisoners, during meetings with lawyers, are made to wear masks and goggles and are not provided translators...

left, construction at McCalla Field 2007 

In a reprimand normally reserved for authoritarian regimes, Juan Mendez said:

"I am deeply disappointed and frustrated by the prevarication of the US government with regard to my attempts to visit Mr Manning... 

I am acting on a complaint that the regimen of this detainee amounts to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or torture...

I am insisting the US government lets me see him without witnesses. I am asking [the US government] to reconsider."

more from The Guardian here

Bradley Manning Rally
A man protests about the detention of Bradley Manning. 
Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

a letter signed by "more than 250 of America's most eminent legal scholars" that "includes leading figures from all the top US law schools, as well as prominent names from other academic fields" -- featuring "Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who is considered to be America's foremost liberal authority on constitutional law"; who "taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and was a key backer of his 2008 presidential campaign"; and "joined the Obama administration last year as a legal adviser in the justice department, a post he held until three months ago" -- not only denounces Manning's detention but also the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner's personal responsibility for it...

Saturday, April 9 Code Pink and World Can't Wait disrupted champion protagonist for 
aggressive war and torture Condoleezza "this is your baby -- go do it" Rice. The 
former National Security Advisor was delivering a keynote speech to the National 
School Boards Conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco. Captured on the 
big screen televisions on either side of the speaker, Rice was reduced to platitudes for 
the "democracy" absent in Iraq.

This intervention in America's torture program followed denunciation of another Bay Area
War Criminal (John Yoo) on Tuesday; see "We Interrupt this Torture Program" below. 
Together, these actions provide fine examples for confronting the true terrorists in our 
midst, especially hangers-on from the Bush Regime.

Video of both actions here ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdLS4FeTEvM and 

Up next: Yoo and Condi "do" Stanford

Yoo's war OF terror

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On April 1, 2011, a quite appropriate date for what follows, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), the office in the Justice Department which is supposed to supply advice to the Executive branch on whether what it is doing is legal, opined that

the President has the power to commit United States troops abroad," as well as to "take military action," "for the purpose of protecting important national interests," even without specific prior authorization from Congress.


Moreover, the President as Commander in Chief "superintend[s] the military,"Loving v. United States, 517 U.S. 748, 772 (1996), and "is authorized to direct the movements of the naval and military forces placed by law at his command."

The OLC, of course, is the same office from which John Yoo wrote his famous memos legitimizing torture and advancing the theory that the President had unlimited powers in war. The war Yoo had in mind was the war on terror, and, as that essentially had no end, the dictatorial power he sought for the President was effectively permanent...

April Fool OLC Memo Legitimizes Obama's Libyan War

Confronting Yoo

Tuesday night April 5, World Can't Wait and members of Code Pink, Progressive Democrats of America and 9/11 Truth mixed it up with teapartiers in Mountain View, California.

The Conservative Forum of Silicon Valley was hosting a speech titled "Presidential Power in time of Crisis" by John Yoo, the sometimes-professor of law at UC Berkeley (he spends most of his time hawking a book). Hardly the "conservative" organization it pegs itself as, this group espouses radical ideas of unlimited executive power and a rewriting of the U.S. Constitution. Yoo has been traveling the country in a fierce attempt to rehabilitate the history of his part in establishing the state torture program employed by the Bush Regime. 

Scattered throughout a crowd of about 200 enthusiastic torture supporters, 10 activists interrupted the proceedings in as many times, identifying John Yoo as a War Criminal and calling for his arrest.  


Civil Court Judge Saliann Scarpulla didn't immediately rule after a hearing Wednesday, telling rights groups she shared their "sensibility" but wasn't sure the law was on their side. To be continued...

On the same day President Barack Obama formally launched his re-election campaign, his attorney general, Eric Holder, announced that key suspects in the 9/11 attacks would be tried not in federal court, but through controversial military commissions at Guantanamo. Holder blamed members of Congress, who he said "have intervened and imposed restrictions blocking the administration from bringing any Guantanamo detainees to trial in the United States." 

Soldiers Took Photos, Trophies from Murdered Afghan Civilians
It's the most despicable act of sadistic voyeurism by the US Military since the pictures from Abu Ghraib surfaced. The Guardian reports that 12 soldiers currently facing trial for senseless murders of Afghan civilians took more than 4000 photographs of their actions, including shots of themselves posing with the dead as though they were hunting trophies...

Thanks to Mukasey, Kaplan, King, those overseeing the treatment of Manning, and others, the embrace of cruel standards when it comes to alleged enemies of the state is gaining traction.  These officials and former officials seem to be part of a process, remarkably uncommented upon, that is turning previously unthinkable rhetoric into normal discourse and intolerance into a rationale for challenging the rights of anyone accused of violating the country's security.  

...At an increasingly rapid pace, the boundaries of acceptable civil discourse are being crossed, and rights in America are being tossed away -- at least when it comes to national security issues.

see America's Growing Intolerance

hillary_clinton_pensive-cropped-proto-custom_2.jpgWednesday, Hillary Clinton told the House of 
Representatives that "the White House would 
forge ahead with military action in Libya even 
if Congress passed a resolution constraining the 

"I defy anyone to identify any differences between the administration's view of its own authority -- that it has the right to ignore Congressional restrictions on its war powers -- and the crux of Bush radicalism as expressed in the once-controversial memos by John Yoo and the Bush DOJ.  There is none. -- Glenn Greenwald

Scott Horton dissects John Yoo and Robert Delahunty's tortured logic on Barack 
Obama's Libya strategy here

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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