Curt Wechsler, The World Can't Wait: January 2015 Archives

UC Berkeley journalism professor Mark Danner has been writing about the wretched system that facilitates Mohamedou Ould Slahi's detention for almost as long. 

"When the suffering of the untried and unconvicted becomes nothing more than collateral damage, America has crossed a gulf. The steps that took us there were largely secret, but thanks to this and other accounts we know about them now: We know where we came from, and we know where we are. We do not yet know how to get back." -- Sunday Book Review

Except we DO. Hold torturers accountable. Begin with Danner's colleague John Yoo.

January 13, 2015, UC Berkeley Law:  On the second afternoon of the new semester, 35 people arrived at Boalt Hall for a press conference and speak-out. Called by the local chapters of World Can't Wait, the National Lawyers Guild, and Code Pink, this protest marked the 13th anniversary of Guantánamo and raised three demands: Close Guantanamo Now - Prosecute All the Torturers - and Fire, Disbar and Prosecute John Yoo. 

There's a wonderful 20-minute "mini-documentary" radio broadcast highlighting the event that was aired later that afternoon on KPFA's Flashpoints news show, produced by Dennis Bernstein (more below). Listen here:

Under signs and banners carried by protesters wearing jumpsuits and hoods, the speak-out was 
a powerful collection of voices, kicked off by Stephanie Tang (World Can't Wait) and attorney Sharon Adams for the National Lawyers Guild. 
Three Berkeley Law alums next took the bullhorn, all well-known for their life's work as lawyers defending justice and rights: Ann Fagan Ginger, 
Dan Siegel, and Stephen Bingham all spoke to the total outrage of having illegal torture condoned 
as legal, and having a war criminal teaching at Boalt. 

Bingham spoke of the anger growing among many alumni over UC's newest reward to Yoo, the oldest endowed chair in the law school. Toby Blome from Code Pink made the connections between the drone wars and the torture. Jeff Paterson (Courage to Resist and Chelsea Manning Support Network) brought solidarity from military resisters and recalled that one result of Chelsea's courage was the release of the Guantanamo Files. Nova from the Revolution Club called on us all to see the connections under a system that generates these abuses and police brutality and murder at home, and to look to a whole different world. And a Boalt law student stepped forward to tell of her shame at having Yoo teaching here, and to say today she was joining this group in protest.
Led by the "prisoners" and banners, the whole speak-out crowd filed into the law school and marched to the office of Boalt's new dean, Sujit Choudry.

We carried photographs of the Guantanamo child prisoner Omar Khadr. A Canadian native, Omar Khadr was 15 years old when he first entered Guantanamo only left 10 years later under a coerced plea bargain that sent him to spend 8 more years in a Canadian prison. Like the other 778 prisoners at Guantanamo since 2002, Omar Khadr was tortured physically and mentally. He suffers permanent damage (he lost one eye at Guantanamo and is in present danger of losing the other eye now due to lack of proper medical treatment in Canada).

In 2010 Sujit Choudry was an attorney with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and was co-counsel on a brief on behalf of Omar Khadr before Canada's Supreme Court (which did rule that the Canadian government had violated Khadr's rights). So Dean Choudry knows well the story of Omar Khadr's torture, and presumably had to study up on what happened in that prison more generally.  People who remember the former dean's protection of John Yoo are hopeful that the new dean will understand his duty to open a full investigation under UC rules into John Yoo's work enabling illegal torture, and move that process toward firing Yoo.
Sharon Adams and Therese Davis delivered to the dean's door a petition organized by the National Lawyers Guild, protesting the awarding of the endowed chair to Torture Professor John Yoo, and bearing over 3,000 signatures gathered in just a few months. The dean wasn't home to receive his guests, but you can hear some back-and-forth between the dean's chief of staff and Sharon Adams and Ann Fagan Ginger, and Susan Harman. (The male voice is the law school's public relations officer. He admitted to us that he "doesn't think much about" what international or U.S. law say about torture.)

Outside the dean's office hang several original paintings by Fernando Botero. They depict his nightmarish vision of the torture at Abu Ghraib. Many find this juxtaposition of proudly displaying the Abu Ghraib paintings, at the school which allows the lawyer whose work product enabled this grotesque, violent mistreatment and murder under official U.S. authority, just too bizarre for words. But we did end our visit to the dean, with a solemn presentation by Janet Weil (Code Pink) of a poem written by a Guantanamo prisoner, Mohammed el Gharani.

With no police in sight to clear the halls, we held a circle conversation for another half hour, grappling with this anniversary of torture, the incredible situation that Guantanamo is still open, and what next steps could be taken toward both closing Guantanamo AND forcing the prosecution of all those responsible including John Yoo.

And Holds Academic Freedom Captive To An Ideology Bereft Of Due Process

When Berkeley Law honors a professor found guilty of professional misconduct, effectively assuming complicity in advancing the illegal usurpation of constitutional powers prescribed, we have a responsibility to call out criminal and enablers alike.

Providing Cover of Law to a Crime Makes It No Less a Crime


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Dick Cheney says he would repeat the torture policies of the Bush administration. Obama snoozes. We can't afford to. The price of justice delayed is justice denied. One hundred and twenty-seven lives are on the line as you read this.

UC Berkeley Law School shelters the former vice president's accomplice and agent of descent into the 'dark side'. When students receive instruction in how to evade the law, we have every reason to challenge the administrators responsible. Accountability is essential if systemic threats to the rule of law are to be corrected.

..Sujit Choudhry, the new Dean of Berkeley Law School, now has the power to hold law professor John Yoo accountable for his actions, as one of the architects of the Bush administration's torture program. In January 2010, Choudhry was a lawyer with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and was co-counsel when the BCCLA "appeared as an intervener on behalf of Mr. Khadr" when Canada's Supreme Court ruled that "the Government of Canada violated the Charter rights of Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr."

-- Andy WorthingtonCanadian Appeals Court Rules That Former Guantánamo Prisoner Omar Khadr Should Be Serving a Youth Sentence 

Five years after his defense of one of the youngest victims of America's war of terror (Omar is now 28 and going blind due to injuries endured during his incarceration) Choudhry has an opportunity to discharge the architect of the young man's misery.

Meanwhile, we find ourselves in the inexplicable situation where rule by (not of) law presides, and acceptance of torture threatens our humanity. Will the 'real' Dean stand up?

Tuesday January 13, 1:00 pm
Press Conference followed by March to Office of the Dean 

West Terrace of Boalt Hall, UC Berkeley

The U.S. torture camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has been open 13 years. More than 100 men are still held, the majority of whom are cleared for release. They suffer the Obama administration's practice of indefinite detention. An unknown number of hunger strikers continue to be force-fed in violation of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. 


World Can't Wait joins the Witness Against Torture community to protest an era of ruthless brutality. Demonstrations at the CIA, White House and State Department and a symbolic fast in solidarity with Guantanamo prisoners will continue over a week. The special Bay Area action on January 13 demands long-overdue investigation of professional misconduct by "Torture Professor" John Yoo, author of Department of Justice opinions that enabled the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" employed at Guantanamo and revealed in the horrific photos from Abu Ghraib.

The Prohibition of Torture is Absolute.

The debate over whether torture "worked" presupposes an outmoded belief in American Exceptionalism, an assumption of moral superiority that belies the hard reality of U.S. exploitation of people and resources across the globe. International law and basic human decency deplores the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment employed to maintain control over victims of capitalist democracy.


The President is obliged to hold war criminals and their agents accountable; refusal to do so invokes application of the U.S. federal conspiracy statute, which supplies independent authority to prosecute those who evade oversight. ACLU/Human Rights Watch letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calls for investigation by a Special Prosecutor.

The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down.-- New York Times joins call for Prosecution of Torturers and Their Bosses  

Prosecutions are the very best way to ensure that officials don't torture again. The freedom afforded Bush administration officials today threatens to normalize criminal behavior by "do it again" Cheney and company. The Center for Constitutional Rights' Michael Ratner applauds investigation by a German human rights group, but as Curt Goering at The Center for Victims of Torture reminds us, "It is about us. And it is up to all of us to act."

From Ferguson to Guantanamo, masses of people are challenging the legitimacy of policies that contribute to state sanctioned terror. 

Avoiding the routine departure from "our values" requires confronting our actual history; it's the only way to learn from it. Torture and total war are not the work of a few bad people, but the product of a system that from its inception treated human beings as property and the right to property as more important than the rights of women and men - it's who we are, and if we want the violence wrought by our system to end, we must honestly address the systemic cause. -- Charles Davis, Blacklisted News

World Can't Wait organizes people living in the United States to repudiate and stop the fascist direction initiated by the Bush Regime, including: the murderous, unjust and illegitimate occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan; the global "war of terror" of torture, rendition and spying; and the culture of bigotry, intolerance and greed. This direction cannot and will not be reversed by leaders who tell us to seek common ground with fascists, religious fanatics, and empire. It can only be possible by the people building a community of resistance - an independent mass movement of people - acting in the interests of humanity to stop, and demand prosecution, of these crimes.

Get Involved

Today, many Americans and world citizens are trying to reconcile the image they have of the United States and the gruesome, brutal truth that they have been shown.

The Elephant in the Room: What Was Not in the Senate Torture Report

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

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in January 2015.

Curt Wechsler, The World Can't Wait: December 2014 is the previous archive.

Curt Wechsler, The World Can't Wait: February 2015 is the next archive.

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