Recently in Academia Category

On 1-27-10, the San Francisco Commonwealth Club nationally syndicated NPR Program featured John Yoo Author of the notorious "Torture Memos" promoting his book about presidential power "Crisis and Command" - was shut down five times by WORLD CAN'T WAIT protesters throughout this program. This NPR program is currently being replayed around the country on NPR radio affiliates. Throughout the evening, many protesters engaged attendees coming in and out of the prestigious Commonwealth Club. The program was moderated by Stanford Law School professor Alan Wiener who was also protested for legitimizing Yoo by participating...regardless of a few hard ball questions at the end of the program. Below are transcriptions of the protesters comments. Protesters start times are indicated because each was spaced 5-15 minutes apart throughout the program. Each protester was quickly and peacefully escorted out by police. This Minnesota Public Radio audio program begins with a brief commentary and is briefly interrupted for commentary.

1:49 John Yoo is a war criminal. He is directly responsible for the torture of thousands of people, thousands of innocent people all over the world. John Yoo is a war criminal. He should be in prison. He shouldn't be teaching at UC Berkeley. He should be fired, disbarred, prosecuted for war crimes...

13:51 John Yoo is a war criminal. War Criminal! The Nuremberg judgments say attorneys who assist in the commission of war crimes are war criminals. You are a war criminal. Torture is a war crime. A war crime.

19:20 Professor Wiener, you may be a good person. You may be an ethical professor. But, why are you giving John Yoo legitimacy? What you have to make a decision whether you think torture is okay or not. Torture is never okay. It is not okay to torture. He is a war criminal. John Yoo is a war criminal. He should be prosecuted to the fullest...

31:38 Torturer. Torturer. Your victims will have their justice John Yoo. The people of the world will have their justice. You murderer. You murderer. Your victims will have their justice. War Criminal. You murderer. YOU SMUG SMUG MURDERER! Your victims will have their justice.

33:50 Torture is not a polite debate. Torture is a war crime. It's a crime against humanity. Torture is a crystallization of what John yoo stands for. To sit here politely with the most important torturer on earth is wrong.

Rocking direct action in Yoo's classroom by Austrailian blogger 'Young and Grumpy' Read more about it at the blog
Go to the song producers blog to comment and learn more about this Cuban tradition:   Music begins about :55 second into the video.


Condoleezza Rice has officially returned to Stanford, after working eight years as National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State under the Bush administration. The student group STANFORD SAYS NO TO WAR is initiating a coalition of Stanford community members to create a campus-wide movement to hold Condoleezza Rice accountable for human rights & international law violations.

UC Berkeley continues to tolerate torture and massive covert domestic-spying as John Yoo remains employed as a Professor of Law at Boalt Hall. UC Berkeley legitimizes John Yoo's Torture Memos and rationalization of secret surveillance with polite academic discourse and arguments of academic freedom, the First Amendment, and Due Process. UC Berkeley continues to do nothing to repudiate John Yoo's deliberate thwarting of professional responsibility. Berkeley Law and Chapman University School of Law provide safe harbor for John Yoo to be shielded from investigation, dismissal, and prosecution for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

John Yoo did not take orders from the top to legalize and implement a domestic spying program and state torture--John Yoo is the principal. The secret collection and data-mining program and secret surveillance were instigated and implemented by John Yoo, who argued that the president's constitutional powers as commander in chief trumped the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

As the legal profession and academia accept John Yoo as providing "the other side of the debate," they neglect confronting reality and the dire consequences for the future of legality. The 'Ivory Tower' and the American Bar Association send the message that illegality can be sanctioned and protected no matter how gruesome and long-lasting the consequences. UC Berkeley has sent the message that tenure outlasts rampant illegal, immoral, and illegitimate decisions to be carried out in creating new standards in which surveillance and torture are viewed as normative. UC Berkeley stands for strengthening draconian laws for empire and shielding John Yoo from accountability and repudiation.
John Yoo wrote the legal rationale that became the basis for state sanctioned torture.

The immediate source of deliberate mis-governance began with John Yoo's radical, and doubtfully constitutional, interpretation of the "unitary executive," propounded when he served in the Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel-the office that prepares legal opinions for the White House, in this case for the disposition of suspected terrorists captured after 9/11. Yoo's interpretation of an all-powerful executive was carried over the course of two presidential terms to its illogical, baseless unconstitutional extremes.

Having successfully completed that task, he returned to UC Berkeley to teach students about the law, its place in a global society, and the role of the lawyer in constitutional structure. Is John Yoo teaching future lawyers to act as he has acted? To put the needs of their client above the demands of the law? To do whatever is necessary to make sure that their client gets their way? And is that what Berkeley Law wants its faculty to teach the future power elite? Are those the values that people in power for the future of legality should be taught? To usurp professional responsibility and legal obligations? Are there no limits according to UC Berkeley, no legal methods which are out of bounds? Is Ethics no part of the curriculum taught at Berkeley Law?

See Mis-governance: Cleaning Up After the Bush Administration and Berkeley Defends John Yoo With Nonsense.

CVillarreal's Blog, DECEMBER 5, 2008

The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, the organization I work for, has asked the University of California to "initiate an investigation into whether Professor Yoo's 'outside professional conduct,' as an attorney of the U.S. Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, violated the Faculty Code of Conduct as set out in the University of California Academic Personnel Manual (Section 015)." The University, through a statement written by Law School Dean Edley, a letter written by Chancellor Birgeneau, and a statement by a University spokesperson, has refused to do so misstating University regulations and the need for a criminal conviction (and possibly even jail time) before they can move forward with any sort of disciplinary action. Such a policy would be illogical; which is probably why it really is not the policy at all.

As our letter to the University points out, the UC Academic Personnel Manual's Faculty Code of Conduct "specifically identifies outside professional conduct that can lead to formal investigation. While it includes violations of the law resulting in convictions, the list of unacceptable faculty conduct it enumerates is specifically noted as 'not exhaustive.'" So there is no need to wait for a criminal conviction before the University takes action. 

Whether one defends such dangerous radicalism with sober, polite academic discourse (as Kerr, John Yoo and Bill Kristol do) or with shrill, invective-driven bombast (as, say, Rush Limbaugh, John Bolton, Andy McCarthy and Sean Hannity do) doesn't alter the fact that one is legitimizing, defending and serving as an apologist for anti-constitutional extremism. [...]

As the Bush administration comes to a close, one overarching question is this:  how were the transgressions and abuses of the last eight years allowed to be unleashed with so little backlash and resistance?  Just consider -- with no hyperbole -- what our Government, our country, has done.  We systematically tortured people in our custody using techniques approved at the highest levels, many of whom died as a result.  We created secret prisons -- "black site" gulags -- beyond the reach of international monitoring groups.  We abducted and imprisoned even U.S. citizens and legal residents without any trial, holding them incommunicado and without even the right to access lawyers for years, while we tortured them to the point of insanity. We disappeared innocent people off the streets, sent them to countries where we knew they'd be tortured, and then closed off our courts to them once it was clear they had done nothing wrong.  We adopted the very policies and techniques long considered to be the very definition of "war crimes" 

For the full text of Glenn Greenwald's "Orin Kerr and the responsibility of elites for the past eight years."

excerpted from Ayers and Yoo

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan October 07, 2008 

I don't think I could serve on a board with Ayers in good conscience. But neither could I serve on a board or participate in an organization that employs a war criminal. John Yoo is such a war criminal, a man who gave oral consent to war crimes and then provided phony legal cover for torturing suspects. He is responsible for policies that have led to the death-by-torture of well over a dozen individuals that we know of, and the brutal torture of countless more. Without Yoo's green light, and willingness to make a mockery of the rule of law by signing off on torture, these people would be alive or susceptible to real and reliable non-coercive interrogation. If Obama deserves some censure for consorting with Ayers, why is there no censure in Washington or Berkeley for consorting with a war criminal?

and some faculty are willing to speak out, including Professors Plater and Brodin

"Our students should know well that we love them. But they should know us well enough to know that when a matter of illegality, immorality, and oppression comes before us, standing up against it takes precedence. This is still the Boston College Law School of Father Drinan and a host of others who care about social justice."  

Friday, May 30, 2008

Haven't We Seen This Film Before?

Marty Lederman

There's a UC Berkeley alum in my household, and so we're frequently inundated with promotional materials from the University.

Last week we received the latest issue of The Promise of Berkeley, a big glossy production designed to tout the accomplishments of members of the University community. The Spring issue includes a piece promoting the close connections between Cal Berkeley and the U.S. government here in D.C. "A number of Berkeley's faculty have held positions in past presidential administrations or worked closely with presidential candidates," it boasts. And so the Promise of Berkeley asked six faculty members -- "three from each side of the aisle" -- to "reflect on their time in Washington, what's at stake in the 2008 presidential election, and what Berkeley means to them."

The Dems profiled are, not surprisingly, Chris Edley, Bob Reich and Janet Yellen. The editors apparently had a more difficult time finding prominent Republican officials on their faculty: The chose Dan Schnur (a Poli Sci lecturer who worked on McCain's 2000 primary campaign), Sandy Muir (a speechwriter for Bush 41), and, you guessed it . . . John Yoo.

Now, it's one thing to decide not to challenge a tenured professor's job security, notwithstanding substantial evidence that he facilitated war crimes (a decision of Chris Edley's that I supported here). But it's quite another to give that faculty member pride of place -- because of his government service -- in a publication intended to encourage alumni contributions by stressing the laudable public service of one's faculty members. Did the editors of The Promise of Berkeley really think that including John Yoo in their brochure would result in more robust alumni donations? My sense is that this is tone-deafness of a very high order -- but what do I know?

Nuts & Boalts , Monday, July 28, 2008

My thought is that Boalt dropped the ball. Think about it:  John Yoo, a tenured professor at Berkeley Law, took a political bullet for the President because he was the President's lawyer.  Talk about  a teachable moment in legal professionalism! Academic freedom; service to country; legal ethics; politics; war; tenure -- all these issues were floating around our hallowed halls last spring, yet if you asked most of our professors whether Yoo made the correct ethical or moral decision, you would have had better luck listening for a pin drop than an answer. In substance, it matters little to me what Boalt professors and faculty think about Yoo or Bush or torture.  But the fact that they bit their lips and held their tongues in front of 800 soon-to-be lawyers seems disappointing. What could have motivated that silence? Political nonchalance? Adademic courtesy?  Decorum?  What kind of message did Boalt send to a rising generation of America's attorneys? That niceties are more important in the law than frankness or moral compass?

read full commentary at .

Over 150 wear hoods, walk out during former AG's speech

by Michael Siegel, Huffington Post, November 30, 2007

At Cornell University on Thursday, over 150 people expressed their resistance to the policies of John Ashcroft and the War on Terror through creative, silent protest. Over 70 placed hoods on their heads, stood and turned their backs to Ashcroft when he tried to justify his repressive actions post-9/11.


from Brad DeLong's weblog, , May 10, 2008 appears that there is a Berkeley law school professor who is (a) anxious that people far and wide know that he does not share the views John Yoo advanced in his Torture Memo, and yet (b) anxious that nobody know who he is.

I don't think it works that way.

If you are anxious to remain anonymous, you are not anxious that people know you do not share John Yoo's views.

If you are anxious that people know you do not share John Yoo's views, you are not anxious to remain anonymous.

Brian Leiter's Law School Reports: Thoughts from a Berkeley Professor on the Yoo Case 

A law professor at Berkeley writes:

Your postings on academic freedom and the John Yoo case have been pitch-perfect, from my point of view. Thank you for bringing some sanity to a sad and challenging affair. This is obviously a very painful topic for those of us at Berkeley, for a whole host of reasons.

  1. There is the sadness at seeing a colleague, foolish perhaps in his desire to be near power and/or have his voice heard, and substantively (in my opinion) about as wrong as he could be, but a hardworking and responsible member of our community, having his reputation and career taking a beating; even a self-invited beating is painful to watch when it is in progress.
  2. There is the sadness at seeing our integrity as a community challenged. Like many US law schools we welcomed a number of prominent European Jewish emigres during the WWII years (e.g., David Daube (Freiburg, Oxford), Albert Ehrenzweig (Heidelberg, Vienna), and others); I believe this not only helped launch the university into the first ranks of research universities worldwide, it also deepened this community's commitment to tolerance and openness -- a direct cause, in my opinion, of the campus free speech movement and therefore indirectly at least of much that followed at US campuses. In light of this history, at a personal level I thought long and hard about how I should treat John Yoo when he returned to campus; many of us still struggle with questions of how to balance concern for complicity with the requirements of collegial civility.  Even so, never once did I consider a move to revoke John's tenure, because he was in complete compliance with our standards. Only if that changes, due to a criminal conviction or the like, would it be appropriate to revisit the issue, in my opinion.
  3. This is painful because many people who do not know us might perhaps assume that John's work is representative of our views. As you well know, he is as much of an outlier here as he would be at most US law schools.  Consider for example the work of my colleague, Chris Kutz*. His essay on "Torture, Necessity, and Existential Politics," 95 Cal. L. Rev. 235 (2007), is a wonderful counterpoint to the memos John Yoo worked on, and it expresses something much closer to what I believe is the consensus of the Boalt Hall faculty regarding the torture issue...

I must say that I find the word "painful," used in this context, extremely ill-chosen. Being waterboarded is painful. Thinking that people elsewhere think you agree with John Yoo because you haven't spoken up because you would then be embarrassed to sit next to him at faculty meetings... that does not seem painful to me.


* Law Professor Christopher Kutz chairs the Committee on Academic Freedom, UC Berkeley Academic Senate.

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This page is a archive of recent entries in the Academia category.

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