Curt Wechsler, The World Can't Wait: August 2011 Archives
wilkersonp.jpgChief of Staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration since leaving the State Department in January 2005. In this interview, Wilkerson maintains that Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld operate a "cabal" within the administration to bypass the traditional policy-making channels in order to push through their own agenda. He claims they "flummoxed" the decision-making processes to stifle dissent in the lead-up to war with Iraq and deliberately ignored the president's decision on setting limits to coercive methods of interrogation. 

"[John] Yoo had a hand in virtually every major decision involving the US response to the attacks of September 11, and at every point, so far as we know, his advice was virtually always the same: the president can do whatever the president wants. -- legal scholar David Cole 

In response to the U.S. War OF Terror, anti-torture activists confronted the deceit that war crimes keep Americans "safe".

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This banner provided by artist Clinton Fein was displayed outside the California Young Republican Convention
FridayAugust 26
Marines' Memorial Club Hotel
San Francisco


photo, and video of protest courtesy of Bill Carpenter

Torture is a war crime and a crime against humanity. International and U.S. law both prohibit torture, under any and all circumstances, without exception. Yet while the Bush-Cheney torture state was being built, people in this country were told that torture is necessary to keep Americans safe, and acceptance of this "excuse" has spread widely in society.

Under cover of Yoo's memos, thousands have been subjected to torture, tens of thousands incarcerated, tens of millions spied upon, and a million have died in U.S. imperialist wars. Without the provision of "legal cover", many of these crimes would not have been possible.

We must repudiate the legacy of the past ten years. If we fail to hold our government accountable for the creation of a national security state that utilizes torture and destruction of civil liberties to silence resistance, we are condoning these crimes.

Together we say NO! to Torture in our Name.         

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so why the veil of secrecy?

Warrantless Surveillance Memos Remain Under Wraps


The Department of Justice refused this month to declassify a 2001 legal Office of Legal Counsel opinion by John C. Yoo concerning the legality of the Bush Administration's program...



Image: Lance Page / t r u t h o u t
witnesstoguantanamo.gifMuch has been written about Guantanamo and the torture, isolation and harsh treatment of the men inside the prison as a result of America's rule of law violations and human rights abuses. However, the literature has not been as extensive in comparing the existential experiences of the men. For example, whose fate was worse: the men who were held incommunicado in isolation cells or the men who were held in the general prison population but who were unable to speak to their neighbors because they did not share a common language?

"That's what happens when the Government -- marching under the deceitful Orwellian banner of Look Forward, Not Backward -- demands that its citizens avert their eyes from the crimes of their leaders so that all can be forgotten: the crimes become non-crimes, legitimate acts of political choice, and the criminals become instantly rehabilitated by the message that nothing they did warrants punishment...

"Torture in the democracies happens most of the time with police abuse and in the jails. These are the two most important parts where torture is happening now. -- Dr Jose Quiroga

On August 23rd, San Francisco Representative Tom Ammiano and the Public Safety Committee in the State Assembly held an informational hearing on conditions and policies of the Security Housing Units at Pelican Bay. 

Cailifornia to reconsider prisoner placement in highest security unit

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"I found a small number of men at a time of crisis, with the acceptance of a large portion of our population, undermined our laws. We mustn't let this be accepted as expedient and necessary. It's neither. It's not the America I took the oath to preserve. -- Glenn L. Carle

"No medical school would employ an incompetent physician to teach the practice of medicine; such a teacher would surely be thought a menace to the professional development of its students, and to their future patients as well. Surely it is remarkable that the legal academy could regard as something of a superstar an individual who proves unable to practice -- at least at an acceptable level -- the profession for which he is training his students. Professor Yoo's case is unusual in that he took the rare step of leaving the academic cocoon and venturing into a position where his professional deficiencies were likely to be exposed, but there is reason to believe that his lack of professional judgment is common among the scholars of his generation. All of this suggests that there is something deeply wrong with the state of legal education today. -- Chapman Law Professor Lawrence Rosenthal 


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What a bizarre situation we face, when UC is paying an advocate/designer of illegal government action (rendition, aggressive war, torture) to teach constitutional law, and ethics, to the next generation of lawyers and judges! As long as John Yoo remains on the Boalt Hall faculty -- as long as a key legal architect of the Bush Regime's torture program enjoys the benefits of UC employment -- there is a bloodstain on every class, every department, and every diploma here. Demand that UC and Berkeley Law do the right thing. FIRE, DISBAR AND PROSECUTE JOHN YOO.
Yesterday, New York State Supreme Court Justice Saliann Scarpulla rejected the case against John Francis Leso, a psychologist accused of overseeing "coercive interrogation tactics" at Guantánamo Bay, claiming nothing in state education law guarantees that the office "formally investigate every single complaint of professional misconduct, no matter the contents or applicability of the complaint."

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How about even ONE? The judge ruled that claimant Steven Reisner, a psychologist and an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine, "did not suffer an injury as a result of the state's decision not to investigate." WTF? We ALL, rights advocates and citizens of the whole damn world experience moral degradation by allowing legal protection for torture perpetrators. 

Despite the failure (as yet) of rights-based litigation to bring transformative results in freeing prisoners and closing Guantanamo, Yale Law School's Muneer I. Ahmad recognizes the potential of resistance to the dehumanization at the core of U.S. torture policy, inspired by hunger strikes engaged in by the Guantanamo prisoners themselves.

A new report published by Truthout last week suggests that there may be much more to interrogation techniques and where they were used. This includes a little known testimony by former Guantanamo detainee Murat Kurnaz before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, where he described not waterboarding, but a form of water treatment. Jeffrey Kaye, the Truthout contributor who authored the groundbreaking report, discusses:

John Yoo Says Value of Law Degree Determined by Market

This is speculative on my part, but I think I've figured out why the University of California defends and actually sponsors the "Torture Professor": John Yoo brings in big donations from Federalist Society members and their ilk. If nothing else, Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley is a master fundraiser. I KEEP making the argument against employment of a War Criminal from a moral standpoint, and I think that is correct, but it finally occurred to me, after noting how the Berkeley institution promotes its arguably most notorious faculty member (as an "expert" on 9/11, appointed to the position of "faculty director" of the Miller Institute for Global Challenges and the Law), that the almighty dollar represents the bottom line in administrative policy, justice be damned. 

To be clear, I don't suggest that school "reputation" or "honor" should be the determinant of accountability for war crimes. But it might inspire faculty, staff and students to look at what a representative of the UC community promulgates IN THEIR NAME. And to take action to stop the damaging results of acquiescence to a torture state.

Torture + Silence = Complicity. Fire, Disbar, PROSECUTE John Yoo.
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Charles Graner, the prison guard from Hell, has been released after serving 6 1/2 years of his 10 year sentence for torturing prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Graner's attorney said piling naked prisoners into pyramids and leading them by a leash were acceptable methods of prisoner control. He compared this to pyramids made by cheerleaders at sports events and parents putting tethers on toddlers.


see TalkLeft report here

11-of-torture.jpg"We need a campaign to really enforce that when a person tortures and the situation is known there has to be an expedited investigation. And the person who has tortured or ordered torture has to receive some kind of sanction.

This is the type of thing that is eventually going to happen, it is beginning to happen. For example, the first example was when Pinochet was taken in to prison in London... The importance of this is that for the first time a president was made responsible for something that happened in their country."

Dr Jose Quiroga, a cardiologist and the former Chilean president Salvador Allende's physician, was in the presidential palace at the time of the Allende's death during the US-orchestrated coup. He is a survivor of torture, including water boarding, while in detention under the Pinochet dictatorship. Dr Quiroga has devoted much of his life since then to the treatment and development of rehabilitation programs for torture victims. He is the vice-president of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture victims and treasurer of the Physicians for Social Responsibility.

see Of torture and tyrants

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"What we are learning is more sick details of torture tactics that most certainly were authorized and advocated at the highest levels of the Bush administration... President Obama has an extremely poor record of holding U.S. agents accountable.

 -- Jeremy Scahill, national security reporter for The Nation

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...this is only the second case that has been allowed to proceed. The other case is Donald Vance and Nathan Ertel v. Donald Rumsfeld, et al (06 C 6964). In both cases, plaintiffs are being represented by Mike Kanovitz and Gayle Horn of the civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy, based in Chicago. The Washington, DC-based nonprofit Government Accountability Project is co-counsel in Doe v. Rumsfeld.


For a few weeks, the men of the Pelican Bay SHU ceased to be invisible. They forced the media and the public to bear witness to their torment, and see long-term solitary confinement for what it is: one of the most pressing domestic human rights issues of our time...

NY Times Heeds a Cry from the Depths of Pelican Bay Prison

c/o Stephen C. Webster at RAWSTORY:

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The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was sanctioned by a federal court Monday and ordered to reimburse the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for legal fees expended trying to obtain evidence that the agency tortured terror war prisoners during the Bush administration...

In striking down the ACLU's request to hold the CIA in contempt, New York district Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein affirmed the agency's seeming immunity to the law, insisting the U.S. needs "our spies" in spite of their apparent actions.

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It has been  1 0  y e a r s  already... Dahlia Lithwick reports on the 2011 Aspen "Security" Forum, here. If we, the people, had dealt with accountability in a timely manner, not living in false hope for salvation from the Democratic Party, John Yoo wouldn't be spouting off his demented excuses for crimes against humanity today.

(Illustration: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t) 

The whole conference can be accessed through links at the Sacramento Bee, but John Yoo features here.

War crimes should not be the subject of polite debate. They must be confronted head-on. August 24 is coming up. Stay tuned.