Curt Wechsler, The World Can't Wait: July 2010 Archives

Why this is significant

The Fast Against Torture

Sunday August 1, 2010 [was] the 8 year anniversary of the writing of the "torture memos" by Office of Legal Counsel lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee. (Bybee, who is now a 9th Circuit Judge, recently secretly testified to the House Judiciary Committee not admitting any wrongdoing but blamed Yoo for being too close to the White House when he wrote the memos legalizing torture. Thousands of Yoo's e-mails during this time have suspiciously disappeared.) 

8 years is also the time period specified in the statute of limitations (SOL) for bringing a prosecution for the crime of torture. So legislation is desperately needed at this point to extend the SOL as it soon will run, for instance, on certain acts of waterboarding. Obama's insane slogan and policy about "looking only forward" makes no sense as it would entail overlooking all crimes committed in the past. 

Inside a chilly cell, the man was shackled and left half-naked. He was found dead, exposed to the cold, in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2002...

goes on ad nauseam, while real people suffer public indifference to extrajudicial detention.

john-yoo.jpgProtesters confront John Yoo, a constitutional law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, as he makes his way to a classroom on Monday, Aug. 17, 2009, in Berkeley, Calif. About 75 demonstrators called for the university to fire Yoo, a former Bush administration attorney, who wrote legal memos used to support harsh interrogation techniques that critics say constituted torture. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

August 16 marks John Yoo's return to the classroom. Mark your calendars now, and resolve to end Christopher Edley's abdication of responsibility to protect the ethical integrity of Berkeley Law. Join World Can't Wait and other advocates raising their voices to insist on investigation of criminal activity by a member of the Boalt Hall faculty.

Community speak-out
UC Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall) steps
Monday August 16, 2010

  • Press Conference 12 Noon
  • Procession Against Torture and Complicity begins 12:30

obstruction of justice

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The ACLU has released a report on National Security, Civil Liberties, and Human Rights under the Obama Administration.  

"... if the Obama administration does not effect a fundamental break with the Bush administration's policies on detention, accountability, and other issues, but instead creates a lasting legal architecture in support of those policies, then it will have ratified, rather than rejected, the dangerous notion that America is in a permanent state of emergency and that core liberties must be surrendered forever."

I have an obligation to show the world what is going on down here and it seems that we've done every thing but the world doesn't get it, so it might work if the world sees the US sentencing a child to life in prison, it might show the world how unfair and sham this process is, and if the world doesn't see all this, to what world am I being released to?"

excerpt c/o Andy Worthington
"Looks like John Yoo will be visiting William and Mary Law School in February 2011 for the annual Law Review Symposium there. The topic of the symposium will be "Constitutional Transformations: The State, the Citizens, and the Changing Role of Government." Since I'm going to be home at the time and William and Mary Law School is about 40 miles away from where I live, I will be going to the symposium, with the hopes of asking John Yoo a question or two. Any suggestions on what I should ask him? 

respond here
UPDATE: Naji Speaks to Algerian Media

Last week, Barack Obama returned Naji to Algeria against his will. So thanks to the President's calculations of political expediency, this victim of U.S. cruelty will suffer further indignities:  

People are just beginning to comb through the additional 75,000 records released by WikiLeaks on Sunday, but I suspect there will be some "enhanced interrogation" exposure contained therein... the files may be accessed directly at . 

This could very well be the crack in the wall of government secrecy that makes an accounting for war crimes impossible to ignore any longer.
 US prison at Bagram airbase 
While the use of special forces is down and evidence gleaned from torture is outlawed, the Obama administration has also appealed habeas corpus rulings, leaving some detainees in confinement even after judges have ordered their release.

"The problem of Guantánamo is not the access to video games or TV or communal areas, but access to federal court,''
said Jamil Dakwar, who monitors the facility for the American Civil Liberties Union.

How do we put our ethics, or morality, our political beliefs into action with integrity? But most of all, what does a sane person do when faced with the unimaginable horrors that our country has regularly produced--highlighted now, in this  last near-decade of the post millennium, so that no one can claim ignorance any longer...

respond to "My Dinner with John Yoo" here
"Obama blocks probe... this is how the United States endeavors to protect its 
image abroad

The question Sri Lanka faces today is that the United States, itself not prepared to open any investigation on alleged prisoner abuses and torture under the previous Bush administration, is taking initiative to open a 'war crimes-genocide' investigation on it.

Abdul Aziz Naji - imageAbdul Aziz Naji described his situation as "dancing between fires." If he were returned to Algeria, he would face threats to his life and safety from both the Algerian government and from fundamentalist insurgents. He was brought to Guantánamo as the victim of a Pakistani house raid in the chaotic aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. Yet, he remained in Guantánamo because no country would advocate for his release.

"Disappeared" but not forgotten: detained for 8 years without charges, 
prisoner's fate unknown. This is NOT the way to close Guantanamo.

The Obama administration transferred Aziz Abdul Naji to Algeria in July 2010 against his will. Naji argued that he would face a high risk to be tortured in Algeria when he would be forced to returned to this country but he lost his case before the Supreme court. Human Rights Watch and the United Nations have heavily criticized the Obama administration for their decision.
NOTE: coverage of week's events, as they transpired, here

On June 7, 2010 the Berkeley Peace and Justice Commission approved the proposal for a City Resolution, "Berkeley Says No to Torture" Week. A City Council vote on the measure has been postponed until September 21. Endorsers urge all interested parties to attend. This website will post the City Council Meeting Agenda for that date when it becomes available, but please MARK YOUR CALENDARS.

PROPOSED RESOLUTION: "Berkeley Says NO To Torture" Week

WHEREAS Chapter 3.68 of the Berkeley Municipal Code sets forth functions of the Peace and Justice Commission including "Advise the Berkeley City Council on all matters relating to the City of Berkeley's role in issues of peace and social justice, including, but not limited to support for human rights and self-determination throughout the world", and,

WHEREAS, the City of Berkeley has previously passed the following resolutions: 

12/8/08 resolution on John Yoo/Bush Administration Torture Memos
 3/13/07 resolution 63613-NS supporting prosecution of Rumsfeld and other Government Officials; and

WHEREAS, one particular human rights issue - torture, specifically torture policies and practices formulated and set into motion under Bush and Cheney, and not yet repudiated or reversed under their successor Obama - has been directly relevant here in Berkeley ever since UC Berkeley allowed John Yoo's return to his Berkeley Law teaching post after his two year sabbatical employment in the Department of Justice's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), during which time Yoo wrote key legal memos enabling the administration to commit illegal, cruel and inhumane practices (torture, rendition, etc.) and to make these practices permanent weapons in U.S. foreign policy; and

WHEREAS, under international laws and treaties (the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment {10/94}; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination {10/94}; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights {9/92}, torture is a crime against humanity and a war crime, and has also been condemned by such groups as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and;

WHEREAS, the shameful display of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, approved of and sanctioned from the highest levels of our government, is well-known to the world, and contributes to a horrifying intensification of anger, hatred, and violence in the world at a time when humanity needs the very opposite; and

WHEREAS, the recent release of the highly-publicized report from the Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has now even further revealed the criminal roles of John Yoo and his OLC supervisor Jay Bybee in the matter of illegal governmental sanctions of torture (Jay Bybee's active role in crafting torture policy at OLC was rewarded by former President George W. Bush with a lifetime appointment to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where Judge Bybee now sits on the bench); and

WHEREAS, torture and John Yoo are again very much in the news now because of his current book tour and because of the recent federal court Al-Haramain decision, which excoriated the legal work of John Yoo in enabling illegal governmental surveillance; and

WHEREAS, designating an official civic week would enable a concentrated, multi-dimensional, community effort including  school teach-ins, community art/culture events, religious communities' events, protest actions, speakers, film showings --  combining efforts by diverse and leading organizations including legal and civil liberties institutes and organizations, peace groups, human rights groups, veterans groups, and faith-based communities; and will make news and give encouragement to people in, near, and far beyond Berkeley;


Be it therefore Resolved that:

The City of Berkeley declares the week of [October 10-16], 2010 as "Berkeley Says No to Torture" Week.  During this week a diverse range of community and social groups will speak and act publicly, making clear that the community finds it unacceptable for an American torture apparatus to remain operational while those responsible remain unaccountable. 

The Peace and Justice Commission is authorized to work in co-operation with concerned community members to present an educational forum or program on the topic of torture during the "Berkeley Says No to Torture" Week at a public venue provided by the City.

Submitted to the Peace and Justice Commission by:

World Can't Wait and Fire John

Progressive Democrats of America

Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute

Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, Social Justice Committee

Rev. Kurt Kuhwald, Berkeley

"Does torture work?"

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Maybe it's time we begin treating torture as seriously as we treat bank robbery. Maybe it's about time we decide to prosecute those who "legalized," conspired to commit, authorized, ordered and committed torture in our names. Maybe it's time we take to heart Mahatma Gandhi's response to the question, "What do you think of Western Civilization?" He said, "I think it would be a good idea."

A much better photo and article here... thanks Jan!


July 22: Its no secret -- Torture is a war crime

United Irish Cultural Center, 2700 45th Avenue, San Francisco 

The Association of Former Intelligence Officers Jim Quesada Chapter hosted John Yoo, former deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he wrote the Torture Memos.

Closed to the public, World Can't Wait wondered what was being presented inside. But not too hard; the handful going in looked harmless enough. Not much of a gig from what we could see. But then, how do old spies entertain themselves? Paying to listen to discredited bombast just seems kind of sad. 



John W. Burton, left, and Noel Juan were among about 10 people protesting outside the Capitol Plaza Ballrooms in downtown Sacramento

On Wednesday, July 21 John Yoo addressed the Sacramento Press Club on the subject. The "Torture Memos" author entered the building from a side door to avoid protesters outside, who called for him to be prosecuted for war crimes.

The Office of Legal Counsel is basically the Supreme Court inside the executive branch, providing legal opinions for the Administration on what they can and cannot do. It was legitimately good news at the time when that office was being staffed with people vocally opposed to torture. It's legitimately depressing news that they have all been either blocked from their jobs or left them on their own accord...

Jay Bybee, Self-Pitying Torturer

Himmler would recognize, and most likely admire, the ease with which Bybee has mastered the Nazi tactic of moral displacement.
It is a cold comfort that torture victims can continue to sue in U.S. courts for torture committed anywhere in the world, just so long as the U.S. didn't do it. - Valerie Brender 

"I have regrets because of the notoriety that this has brought me," he [Bybee] said. "It has imposed enormous pressures on me both professionally and personally. It has had an impact on my family. And I regret that, as a result of my government service, that that kind of attention has been visited on me and on my family."

What is missing is his responsibility in this morally corrupt affair.  If he would have said, "And I regret that, as a result of my actions during my government service, ....." But no, he is taking no responsibility for what he did, it was the fault of serving the government.

Jay Bybee's back-pedaling on the severity of his approved interrogation techniques fails. The Torture Judge shows no regret, says "We might have been clearer in some places. But, in terms of the analysis, I am going to stand by the memo."

Find a link to transcript of May 26 Judiciary Committee interview here.

The Bush administration lawyer who gave legal cover to the CIA to use waterboarding and other brutal tactics is throwing the agency under the bus... the CIA's inspector general has previously said that contractors sometimes went beyond legal guidelines, but this is the first time one of the authors of those guidelines (the other is John Yoo) has confirmed.

Recuse Bybee

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jay-bybee-mugOn Thursday July 15, World Can't Wait, Progressive Democrats of America, and Code Pink activists rallied outside the Ninth Circuit Courthouse in San Francisco to "FIRE, DISBAR AND IMPEACH JUDGE BYBEE." The judge was hearing three immigration cases at a time during which he finds himself implicated in a federal government lawsuit against Arizona's draconian immigration legislation. 

The Arizona law rests its argument on a 2002 memo which the Obama administration has yet to withdraw, hindering efforts to block enactment of SB1070.

new video explains what ongoing project involves and what it is trying to accomplish
c/o Sahil Kapur @ RAW STORY:

nadler%20court Rep. Nadler: Investigate torture or face road to tyranny

WASHINGTON - A New York Democrat argued that failing to prosecute former Bush administration officials complicit in the use of torture would create a dangerous precedent and place America on a path to "tyranny."

In an interview with Raw Story, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) invoked a "supremacy of laws" when critiquing President Barack Obama's decision to "look forward and not backwards" on his predecessor's abuses of power.

"Those who misuse government power to break the law and subject people to improper pressure or torture ought to be prosecuted," said Nader, chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. "That's why we have laws."

Pavel Horejsi for The New York Times
A Casa 235 about to take off from Ruzyne Airport in Prague on a flight to Afghanistan operated by CIA-connected Aero Contractors

In North Carolina, a tenacious grassroots coalition of peace and human rights activists, religious groups, and courageous locals has organized as NC Stop Torture Now (NC-STN). According to the group, "Officials of the Bush Administration used North Carolina as a key part of their secret off-shore torture program." The "torture taxi" planes were based in Johnston and Lenoir counties. Their pilots and crews work for Aero Contractors, a CIA linked company headquartered at the Johnston County airport in Smithfield, a town of less than 12,000 persons situated in the Coastal Plain of North Carolina about 30 miles east of Raleigh...

"The fact that this memo is lurking out there gives cover and comfort to people in Arizona and other states who want to pass these overbroad and extraordinary anti-immigration measures... - Cecillia Wang, managing attorney of the ACLU Immigrants' Rights Project

Thomson Prison Blues: A Look Inside Gitmo North

The likely outcome of current plans, which would leave Gitmo still open for business along with a new supermax in rural Illinois, is the worst of both worlds...

Confronting massive evil is daunting, sickening, spiritually exhausting and even enervates something called the thymus gland (under the breast bone). But if this country wants to save its collective soul we must wake up morally. We must acknowledge the war criminality of Obama and the rest of our leadership and then all the way down the chains of their command. We must detach from our own seduced "cronyism" with the amiable persona of this leader and face down reality. We must listen, hear and explore the details of what is going on in our name and with our tax dollars.

Bush officials justify war, presidential powers at 10th annual Federalist Society event 

Story and photos, Page 8

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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