Posts Tagged john yoo

Torture called legal for 10 years, but “we don’t torture”

Torture memos

Ten years ago today, lawyers for the Bush Regime sent memos up the chain of command which quickly reached the military and the CIA. The August 1, 2002 “torture memos” authored by attorneys in the Office of Legal Council at the White House gave the green light to torture, calling it “harsh interrogation” and completely legal.

Prisoners in Guantanamo were immediately water-boarded, “walled,” put in isolation, deprived of sleep. A few were men the US thought were part of al Qaeda; most of them were just guys sold to the US by someone in Afghanistan for bounty. Almost none of them, it’s now admitted, were involved in criminal activity, or even military struggle, against the US. But, they were still “the worst of the worst.”

I was reminded of this anniversary by Curt Wechsler, who edits FireJohnYoo.net, a project of World Can’t Wait:

The clock is ticking. August 1st marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of professor John Yoo’s “Torture Memos,” which sanctioned mental and physical torment and coercion practiced by the state. It’s been 9 years since those same documents were found legally defective and withdrawn. The Bush Gang left the stage, Barack Obama took the helm, and 168 prisoners remain at Guantanamo.  These men must not be forgotten, or their stories conveniently swept under the rug for the remainder of this election season.

Amy Davidson, a senior editor at The New Yorker, interviewed Jose Rodriquez, who for 30 years was head of the Counterterrorism Center during his 30 years at the CIA and who recently published a book defending everything done to prisoners, Hard Measures: How Aggressive C.I.A. Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.  Rodriguez neatly recounted where the Torture Memos fit:

Over the summer of 2002, when we knew we had to do something different to get information out of Abu Zubaydah, who had been captured a few months earlier, we worked with our lawyers to make sure that we came up with techniques that were within the law. These techniques were vetted with the Department of Justice and the White House—with the policy people and the leadership people at the White House. Then, on August 1, 2002, we received a binding legal opinion in writing from the Justice Department that said waterboarding and nine other techniques we wanted to implement were not torture. We then went to the White House and asked the N.S.C. to give us policy approval to proceed, and for the President to direct us to proceed. And they did. A month later, when the Congress came back to town, we briefed the leadership of the House and Senate committees on intelligence, both Democrats and Republicans. They had no objection.

Which is the point, exactly.  Everyone was in on it; “everyone” now in government has no objections to what happened. John Yoo teaches constitutional law at one of the most highly regarded law schools, Boalt Hall at UC Berkeley, protected, and actually defended by an administration that uses its liberal credentials as a shield against justice. Jay Bybee got a gig as a federal judge, nominated by G.W. Bush and approved by the same Congress which was OK with torture methods as long as they were named harsh interrogation.”

And none of the torture team partners has suffered indictment, or even deeply serious investigation by the Obama administration.

I have to add a thanks to Women Against Military Madness in Minneapolis, who are outside the Federal Building in Minneapolis today in an action called Tackling Torture at the Top.

And from Curt Wechsler:

My donation to World Can’t Wait today will help send an orange-jumpsuited contingent to the Democratic National Convention to represent the victims of brutal prison policy, and all of us who say NO to torture.

Drones and Guantanamo, owned and operated in a bi-partisan fashion.  But it’s the Democrat War party who got people at accept them as “normal” and even legitimate.

Read the original memos, courtesy torturingdemocracy.org:

Memo from Jay Bybee to Alberto Gonzales
DATE: August 1, 2002
SUBJECT: “Standards for Conduct for Interrogation under 18 U.S.C. 2340 – 2340A”
AUTHOR: Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel 
In what has become notorious as the “torture memo,” Jay Bybee signs off on an opinion authored by John Yoo. The memorandum systematically dismisses numerous U.S. federal laws, treaties and international law prohibiting the use of torture, essentially defining the term out of existence.

Letter from John Yoo to Alberto Gonzales
DATE: August 1, 2002
SUBJECT: N/A
AUTHOR: John Yoo, Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel 
John Yoo writes to White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales warning of potential threats of international prosecution regarding the administration’s interrogation policies. Yoo notes that “Interrogations of al Qaeda members … cannot constitute a war crime” because of the Presidential determination that Geneva’s protections do not apply.

Memo from Jay Bybee to the CIA
DATE: August 1, 2002
SUBJECT: Memorandum for [REDACTED] Interrogation of [REDACTED]
AUTHOR: Jay Bybee, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel 
Written by the Office of Legal Counsel’s Jay Bybee and sent to the Central Intelligence Agency, this heavily redacted document was released to the ACLU in 2008. It details “advising the CIA regarding interrogation methods it may use against al Qaeda members,” and in one un-redacted portion, argues that “to violate the statute, an individual must have the specific intent to inflict severe pain or suffering. Based on the information you have provided us, we believe those carrying out these procedures would not have the specific intent to inflict severe pain or suffering.”

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Marching in Protest of 7 Years US Occupation of Iraq

Protesting John YooSeven years of U.S. war and occupation of Iraq were marked with varied protests in the U.S. last weekend. There were more of us than last year, in 2009, when people widely believed the election of Barack Obama was going to end these wars.  It’s important we’re out there to go against the tide.

Today, Obama is in Afghanistan, on dark-of-night unannounced trip to twist the arms of Hamid Karzai, the president who didn’t win the recent election, but nevertheless is the US’ best hope to secure Afghanistan firmly under the domination of the U.S. empire.  Even Fox News notes today that

Both of Karzai’s vice presidents are former warlords whose forces allegedly killed thousands of people in the civil war of the 1990s that paved the way for the rise of the Taliban.

Few people, including those against the wars, are paying attention to the US offensive in Marja, Afghanistan, which is now being spread north to Kandahar.  The U.S. is already warning people there to leave, or else they will be considered Taliban sympathizers…in the second largest city in the country!  Where should people go? It’s impossible not to kill civilians in an occupation, as reported Friday in Tighter Rules Fail to Stem Deaths of Innocent Afghans at Checkpoints.

“The people are tired of all these cruel actions by the foreigners, and we can’t suffer it anymore,” said Naqibullah Samim, a village elder from Hodkail, where Mr. Yonus lived. “The people do not have any other choice, they will rise against the government and fight them and the foreigners. There are a lot of cases of killing of innocent people.”

Still Waitin on that ChangeYes, Obama and General Stanley McChrystal report the occupation is now “winning” even while they tell us to expect more casualties.  While the headline is US deaths double in Afghanistan as troops pour in, the news is that more people in the US support the offensive than in December 2009

After a summer marked by the highest monthly death rates of the war, President Barack Obama faced serious domestic opposition over his decision in December to increase troops in Afghanistan, with only about half the American people supporting the move. But support for his handling of the war has actually improved since then, despite the increased casualties.

The latest Associated Press poll at the beginning of March found that 57 percent of those surveyed approved his handling of the war in Afghanistan compared to 49 percent two months earlier.

The Washington Post today polls 53% in favor of Obama’s policy in Afghanistan, so Obama feels he can get away with telling the troops in Afghanistan that people at home support the war there.  I think that support is shallow, and temporary, and that we have a great responsibility to bring reality to people on why the U.S. is occupying Afghanistan.  See A War for Empire – Not a “Good War” Gone Bad by Larry Everest.

The Iraq War was Illegitimate from Bush’s Invasion On

The Bush regime’s war on Iraq was, and remains, completely illegitimate by all measures.  Yet, too few people, even those against the wars, stop to look at  how the Iraq war began.  As we said in Call to Drive Out the Bush Regime in 2005, “YOUR GOVERNMENT, on the basis of outrageous lies, is waging a murderous and utterly illegitimate war in Iraq, with other countries in its sights.”  Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet and the whole cabal openly lied about Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction and a link to al Qaeda and 9-11 in an attempt to bully other countries into joining the invasion.

The Bush regime carried out the destruction of civil society in Iraq.  The electrical, educational, sewage, water, and security systems.  In the process 1.2 million, displaced more than 4 million, tortured unknown numbers directly in detention, and made the country unlivable.  The Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war amounted to a war crime on its face, of aggressive war.

Should we stop talking about that?  Much of this country thinks the war is a) over or b) ending because Obama is withdrawing troops, even though private contractors are still pouring in for a permanent US military occupation.  Foreign policy is gone from the headlines, except for that minor problem Obama has with Netanyahu.

I am still thinking about the piece in the Christian Science Monitor by Michael Ollove, reporting on the war from York, PA

After seven years in Iraq and nine in Afghanistan, residents of York, Pa., talk about how the wars have become like a screen saver: always there but rarely acknowledged.

So, that’s why our visible protests are important. A survey of the ways in which people protested:

Washington, DC:

Stop the KillingCindy Sheehan set up Camp OUT NOW on the national mall as part of the ongoing Peace of the Action effort to have continuous protest in Washington until the wars end.  The action resumes April 6.

The Iraq War Memorial came to the Washington Monument, stopping thousands of tourists with the names of those killed in Iraq, both US military and Iraqis.

ANSWER Coalition 7,000 rallied and marched around the White House, depositing symbolic coffins at the offices of Haliburton (where an effigy of Dick Cheney was trampled); the offices of the Washington Post and Veterans Administration; and in the front of the White House.  Cindy Sheehan, Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux and 5 others were arrested for not moving from in front of the White House, held for 48 hours, and banned from the White House area for six months. Read AP report. Watch the AP video. Flickr Gallery.

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans marched along with military families.  While speaking at the rally, Elaine Brower, a leader of World Can’t Wait; Robynn Murray, an Iraq veteran, and Matthis Chiroux, an Afghanistan veteran and Iraq war resister, said the American flag stands for empire, and burned one. See The Nightmare Will End When We Wake Up! Watch the video.

Marches in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle:

Thousands marched.  See Stephanie Tang of World Can’t Wait: Obama’s War is Killing the Afghan People, not Saving Them.

In San Francisco, Daniel Ellsberg spoke to a rally of thousands on the importance of protest:

Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers study of the Vietnam War and is the subject of the recent documentary film, “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” likened the protest and others like it around the country Saturday to a day of demonstrations organized against the conflict in Vietnam in 1969.

“They thought it had no effect,” he told the crowd in San Francisco, referring to the 1969 protesters. “They were wrong.”
Ellsberg said President Richard Nixon was planning to escalate the war around that time, but held off.

In Los Angeles, thousands also marched, including a We Are Not Your Soldiers contingent carrying a banner signed by many more youth pledging to resist military recruiters.

Charlottesville, VA:

Friday, March 19, John Yoo made two speeches at the University of Virginia, and was disrupted at both by questions and objections to his authorship of the Bush torture memos; his promotion of aggressive war; and his theory of presidential powers.  150 people protested outside.  See David Swanson, John Yoo: A President Can Nuke the United States for an account, photos & video.

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John Yoo Confronted in VA Today

War criminal John Yoo got protested by more people than he attracted in two appearances today.  His presentations were
disrupted with questions at least six times, and a venue was wrapped in yellow “crime scene” tape.

150, maybe more, came out in Charlottesville to protest John Yoo’s appearance at the University of VA as part of a book tour on Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush.

Local peace and accountability activists did newspaper ads, posters, and lots of preparation so that students and others knew that Yoo was coming.  A small number of students joined the protest; but more came by to talk to us and see what the protest is about. Other youth did a “Funk the War” march on the STOP TORTURE theme.

While protesters gathered in a park across from a 3:30 pm lecture, a few went inside, and, one by one, called Yoo a war criminal, calling him out for promotion of aggressive war and torture as war crimes.  Yoo’s customary remark when he’s met by protesters that “Berkeley has followed me here” turned out to be true, as several of the protesters came from the Bay Area.

When I spoke to the crowd about our responsibility to the people of the world, who can’t wait to stop these crimes, two people in orange jumpsuits and hoods stood with me.  Afterward, police told them it was illegal to wear masks in the city, and threatened to arrest them if they weren’t removed.  Cindy Sheehan grabbed one of the hoods, and wore it when she spoke about having met men who had been detained in Guantanamo under harsh conditions.

David Swanson, Ray McGovern, Mike Ferner, Susan Harmon, Ann Wright, Shahid Buttar, and Mark Lane also spoke to the crowd, before we marched to the hall where Yoo was speaking, and attempted to enter.  A dozen city cops blocked the way.

More photos here! Video too.

Some rest now before the big protest tomorrow. You can join this movement: in the streets and through supporting the $10,000 fundraising effort underway now, that will fund the We Are Not Your Soldiers tour.

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Cheney Accuses Guantanamo Lawyers of Crimes

It’s outrageous enough that Obama’s Justice Department has declined to pursue criminal, or even professional misconduct charges, on Bush White House lawyers who cooked up “legal” justification for torture, indefinite detention, secret rendition, and the whole nasty suite of “legal” means by which the United States became a pariah.

Eric Holder hasn’t gone to court yet against the Bush crimes; in fact, he defends the Bush administration in cases involving detainee abuse on the basis of executive privilege, “national security” and the need for CIA agents not to have to fear prosecution.

But now we have “Dick” Cheney’s daughter, Liz, and her Keep America Safe neo-cons on a tear against attorneys who came into the Justice Department after defending Guantanamo detainees.  Calling them the “al Queda 7″, Cheney joined with Fox News and Republican Senator Chuck Grassley in asserting that the attorneys “support terrorists” and are dangerous.  Keep America Safe ran an ad with creepy background music and an Investors Business Daily headline, “Department of Jihad.”

These are attorneys who won major cases in the U.S. Supreme Court during the Bush years.  One is Neal Katyal who argued Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, challenging the legality of President Bush’s military commissions.  Ironically, this is the same Neal Katyal who just argued for the government against habeas corpus rights for detainees held at Bagram, on the grounds of national security.

A lot of Bush-ite conservatives, even, are alarmed at the tone of the Cheney attack, which must be why the story has finally made the New York Times today.

But the Cheney group loves a different sort of attorney; the ones who made torture acceptable in the eyes of the CIA under VP Cheney.

Global “warriors on terror” John Yoo, Jay Bybee and Stephen Bradbury came out looking very bad in the Office of Professional Responsibility Report released on February 19.  Looking through the 600+ page report, one can only imagine what’s on the large number of redacted pages, presumably blacked out to cover for the the White House “principals” who commissioned the torture memos.

I attended a briefing by the Alliance for Justice, “After the OPR Report” where attorneys Scott Horton, David Cole, Bill Yeomans and Michael Frisch took apart the report, and spoke to how justice could be served on the torturers.  (It won’t happen through U.S. courts, said Horton, but because a Spanish citizen was tortured in Guantanamo, Spain is proceeding with war crimes prosecutions of Bush officials).

Demonstrators from the group "World Can't Wait" hold a mock waterboarding torture of a prisioner in Times Square 11 January 2008 to mark the sixth year anniversary of when the United States opened the camps at Guantanamo. Waterboarding is a form of torture that consists of immobilizing a person on his or her back, with the head inclined downward, and pouring water over the face and into the breathing passages. TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Internal CIA documents recently released give even more detail about the how the waterboarding was done to at least 3 detainees in Guantanamo, based on an authorizing memo drafted by one Stephen Bradbury (see above.) “Dick” Cheney famously smirked that water-boarding was a “no-brainer” and is still on the hustings arguing for it.

Mark Benjamin writes in Salon, Waterboarding for dummies, on the new documents, and relates it detail the practices the CIA used.

The CIA’s waterboarding regimen was so excruciating, the memos show, that agency officials found themselves grappling with an unexpected development: detainees simply gave up and tried to let themselves drown. “In our limited experience, extensive sustained use of the waterboard can introduce new risks,” the CIA’s Office of Medical Services wrote in its 2003 memo. “Most seriously, for reasons of physical fatigue or psychological resignation, the subject may simply give up, allowing excessive filling of the airways and loss of consciousness.”

One must ask, where are the investigations of health professionals in relation to these releases?  The principal role of CIA Medical Services seems to have been keeping detainees alive to be tortured longer.

Speaking to the levels of irony in this story, Liliana Segura says today on Alternet:

The broader, unfortunate reality is that many Bush-era conservatives have found little to complain about with Obama’s DOJ and so may be more inclined to defend it. Reports that the administration may do a major league flip-flop on its decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his cohorts in civilian courts are only the latest potential example of Bush-era policies that the Obama’s Justice Department has kept in place, from warrantless wiretapping to denying habeas corpus rights to prisoners at Bagram, to its embrace of preventive detention for prisoners at Guantanamo. Were Obama’s record a real departure from that of the Bush administration, these conservatives may well have little to say against an ad like Liz Cheney’s.

But it’s the ideological defenders of torture in the name of “keeping America safe” — really keeping America on top through global empire — who refuse to rename or back down on the “war on terror” begun 9 years ago.  Remember Cheney himself saying this would be a war to last “generations?”

They will not accept civilian trials for anyone held in Guantanamo, won’t let it be closed,won’t allow people who provided legal defense to anyone there — never mind the Bush administration itself released most of the detainees because they had nothing to do with al Queda or attacking the U.S.

Who says they aren’t fascist?

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Obama Justice: Officially, Yoo & Bybee Are Not Criminals

Friday, after 5 delays, the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility finally issued its report on whether John Yoo and Jay Bybee are guilty of crimes associated with their role providing legal cover for torture while working in the Bush White House.  Since the findings were leaked weeks ago, no one was surprised that the DoJ’s answer is: NO.  They are not very competent lawyers; they engaged in “professional misconduct: says the Department of Justice, but they are not criminals.

War Crime indictment at warcriminalswatch.org

NO crimes were committed, no one will be held accountable, says Attorney General Eric Holder.  Every major newspaper in the country echoed this message Saturday in its coverage, as did the New York Times, DOJ Review Finds No Misconduct by Memo Authors.

Yet, some groups who have opposed and worked very intently to stop U.S. torture state are looking for the “best” in this report (see the ACLU for example) as the basis for Congress to act.  Congress has held dozens of hearings going back to the abuse and torture of detainees at Abu Ghraib, and shown itself willing to look into, and then tolerate and accept the little bit of the reality that came out when lawyers, human rights workers, former guards and ex-detainees testimony was heard.

Jay Bybee Mug

war crime indictment at warcriminalswatch.org

It barely qualifies as hand-wringing to call for next week’s Congressional hearings as any sort of real response to the OPR findings. Hearings on a Friday?? Without subpoenas?? And really: a single day of hearings?  Is anyone supposed to take this seriously?   The OPR report was over 5 years in the making.

The report’s findings deserve the strongest and most substantial opposition. See World Can’t Wait’s response to the report.

These are men covered with the blood of countless victims of unspeakably cruel torture, rendition, and imprisonment without any recourse to trial in hell hole dungeons across the planet. The OPR report essentially exonerates Yoo and Bybee – and those who ultimately called the shots for them, Bush, Cheney, Rice, and the rest of the criminal gang – and clears the way for embedding the practices of torture as an integral, condoned element of U.S. policy. These practices are, in fact, continuing today under the administration of Barack Obama, as they did in the years of the Bush Regime.

I looked around the internet to find condemnation of the DoJ’s “let them off the hook” report, and found:

Raw Story pulled out the most passage in the report most damning of John Yoo in Bush had the power to massacre an entire village: Torture author Yoo by quotin Michael Isikoff in Newsweek:

Pressed on his views in an interview with OPR investigators, Yoo was asked:

“What about ordering a village of resistants to be massacred? … Is that a power that the president could legally -”"Yeah,” Yoo replied, according to a partial transcript included in the report. “Although, let me say this: So, certainly, that would fall within the commander-in-chief’s power over tactical decisions.”

“To order a village of civilians to be [exterminated]?” the OPR investigator asked again.

“Sure,” said Yoo.

David Swanson, in Yoo, Bybee, and Disinformation goes after the need for war crimes prosecution:

How many villages could a president “legally” massacre? You’re missing the point. John Yoo’s president cannot be limited in any way when it’s war time, and it’s always war time. And can other nations’ presidents potentially “legally” massacre our villages? Again, you’re missing the point. The ONLY way to prevent them from doing so is to massacre enough of their villages first. And the only way to do that is to empower presidents. Thus think these psychopaths, and so will our children think like this if we do not put a stop to it now.

Yoo and Bybee are openly guilty of conspiracy to engage in aggressive war, banned by the U.N. Charter and Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, and of conspiracy to torture, a felony under 18 U.S.C. § 2340A-c and § 2441, and to spy without warrants, banned by the Fourth Amendment. Their memos are public. The fact that everyone waited for years to do anything about it, until they could see the Justice Department’s own report on the matter doesn’t change the absolute irrelevance of such nonsense. Yoo’s and Bybee’s actions, no matter what you make of them, consist entirely in authorship of a series of written documents available for all to read. And those documents constitute overwhelming grounds for impeachment and indictment.

Allison Kilkenny, on True/Slant goes to the irony that President Obama (We Do Not Torture!) now says Yoo can’t be prosecuted.  Yoo argues president has authority to massacre entire villages.

This man teaches law at Berkeley and was hired as a columnist for the Philly Inquirer. He recently wrote a book, which will earn him lots of money. He gets to walk around every day, a free man.

Rest assured, if a government employee is another country — let’s say Iran — argued that massacring entire villages and using poisonous beetles on prisoners of war was acceptable behavior, President Obama would rightfully denounce that behavior as criminal.

Of course, since Cheney and Yoo are American former government employees, the law doesn’t apply to them.

World Can’t Wait, War Criminals Watch, FireJohnYoo.org, Code Pink and others have been protesting and disrupting Yoo’s book tour.  See

(Video) John Yoo speech disrupted at Johns Hopkins Univ – Va. campus next

A full schedule of protests at his tour in on WarCriminalsWatch.org. Join in! The biggest protest of John Yoo will be Friday March 19 in Charlottesville VA, just before the major march in Washington DC against the Afghanistan & Iraq Occupations.

This event supported by After Downing Street, Bill of Rights Defense Committee, CODE PINK: Women for Peace, Peace of the Action, Progressive Democrats of America, War Criminals Watch, and World Can’t Wait.

March 19, 2010, Charlottesville, Va.: Year 8 Begins in Iraq War, as Afghanistan escalates

2 p.m. meet on grass across from Corner for Funk the War musical march.

3 p.m. meet in front of Minor Hall at the University of Virginia for rally to protest John Yoo, who speaks in Minor Hall at 3:30.

Flyer and newspaper ad: PDFEmail Alert.  –  Map and directions.  –  Song lyricsMedia Advisory.

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Challenging Bush Torture Architect John Yoo

Shut Down Guantanamo! in San Francisco

Tuesday January 12, on both coasts, World Can’t Wait, Code Pink and other people of conscience demanded the prosecution of John Yoo, the principal legal architect of the justification of torture by the United States.

In Berkeley, where his 2010 class schedule called for the first class of the semester, UC officials made the location secret, they said, because of “concerns for students’ safety.”   One might note that it would be more dangerous for a law student to be taught Constitutional law by someone who opposed international law on the subject of torture (not to mention U.S. law) than for those students to encounter advocates against torture.

But no matter.  20 people delivered the message that John Yoo should be prosecuted for war crimes; disbarred from practicing law; and fired from his teaching position at Boalt Hall School of Law.  Not, as we have said many times, for what he thinks, writes, or speaks as a professor, but because he provided the legal justification for torture while working for the Bush regime, which led to the deaths of detainees.

Jackson West blogged on NBC News in the Bay Area “John Yoo Charm Campaign ‘Secret’ Classes at Cal” that “Torture memo” author John Yoo has nothing to hide, except John Yoo.

The protest took the question directly to Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley’s office on Tuesday.  Anna Bloom noted all the subterfuge the Law School administration is practicing in The New York Times Bay Area blog noted it Wednesday in John Yoo’s Spring Course at Boalt: Hide and Seek.

This story is so not over!  More upcoming at FireJohnYoo.org.

The Audacity of War Crimes

Protesting John Yoo

In NYC, Yoo promoted his new book at the Cornell Club.  Outside, we talked to members of the Cornell Club entering the building who had no idea why Yoo would be speaking there; and to people attending the event.  A dozen told us they were going in to question Yoo on torture, and of course there were Federalist Society members and others who vocally defended torture, racial profiling, nuclear weapons, and the swift, violent demise of people like us who questioned the “war on terror.”

Protesting John YooThe night went to those inside who questioned, challenged, and denounced Yoo for promoting torture.  First was Richie, wearing an “Audacity of War Crimes” message on his shirt, who added to the introduction of Yoo.  “John Yoo is a war criminal!”  He was roughly dragged from the room, but seems to have gotten everyone’s’ attention.

After Yoo’s presentation, the first question was from Stephanie Rugoff, co-ordinator of War Criminals Watch, a project of World Can’t Wait.  “With so many lawyers in the room, I want to know why John Yoo isn’t being prosecuted for war crimes?”

3 women from Code Pink brought a banner “John Yoo is a War Criminal” and were escorted out for holding it up.  Another woman challenged Yoo, and stalked out, saying she was disgusted to be in the company of those who promote torture.

Outside, a lively discussion followed, as people filing out stopped to ask why we felt so strongly about Yoo and torture.  We found many people who opposed it.  One of the common questions, though was, “He just gave his legal opinion.  Why is that a crime?”

We’ve encountered law students recently who have never heard of the Nuremberg war crimes trials.  But to the older lawyers, there’s one word: Nuremberg.  The U.S. prosecuted the Nazi lawyers in 1946 on the premise that the lawyers have the “penultimate” responsibility to ensure that laws of war are followed by a government.

The Bush regime was, and remains, forever marked by its flagrant disdain for international and U.S. law that didn’t serve its agenda.  Bush made his own law through hundreds of executive orders and signing statements, beginning with his doctrine of pre-emptive, agressive war against countries which did not attack the U.S.

If you knew torture and the culture supporting it could be stopped, wouldn’t you protest Yoo?

Friday, he will be at the Federalist Society in Washington DC. The event is said to be sold out, but as we learned last night, being outside with the message of prosecuting the torturers is very effective.

Rather than engaging in a wild goose chase to locate the venue, World Can't Wait has decided to bring the question directly to Berkeley Law Dean Christopher Edley. Join us 3:00pm on Tuesday at the Dean's Office to ask: "What will be taught behind closed doors that needs to be kept secret? Will this initiate a new policy for Boalt Hall to hide from public accountability?"

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War Criminal John Yoo’s book promoted by Jon Stewart

“You are the most charming torture author I’ve ever met.” – Jon Stewart to John Yoo.

Isn’t the key part of that sentence “torture?” Yoo, indeed, provided the legal justification necessary for the torture that defined the Bush years (and in fact, continues under Obama today).

Watch the video:

Torture law professor, John Yoo, on Jon Stewart's show

John Yoo restrained himself from publicly announcing that the President can “crush the testicles” of the child of someone suspected of terrorism on this influential show, and bantered in a friendly way with Jon Stewart.

But neither that restraint, nor Stewart’s recommendation that people read his book for insight into the “human struggle” the Bush regime was engaged in, nor Stewart’s plea not to “demonize” Yoo can cover up the trail of blood that leads to this “esteemed” Berkeley law professor’s door. Torture (which, as used by the U.S. over the past 8 years has meant: beatings, hanging people from ceilings, or chained to the floor in stress postions for hours or days, force-feedings in the most gruesome ways possible, extreme heat and cold, blinding people, locking them in boxes with insects, and the known deaths of more than a hundred detainees) is against U.S. and international law, and shocks the conscience of anyone with any humane ethics. The lawyers who crafted the torture memos were not just working for their clients. They are war criminals.

Josh Richman, on Political Blotter, the Bay Area Politics blog quotes Stephanie Tang, from World Can’t Wait in San Francisco in Protestors can’t find Yoo, but Jon Stewart did

“We continue to call for Yoo to be fired, disbarred, and prosecuted for war crimes, along with his entire cohort from the Bush-Cheney Torture Team,” World Can’t Wait organizer Stephanie Tang said in a news release. “Torture is a war crime. Thousands have been tortured thanks to John Yoo’s work for the White House, long after Yoo himself returned to teaching. The faculty and students right here at UC – and all people of conscience everywhere — need to denounce these crimes, not turn away in silent complicity.”

Yoo continues to travel the country promoting his book. Today, he’ll be protested on both sides of the country… at his scheduled first day of class in Berkeley, and in NYC at his book event. You can join us!

Watch this blog for coverage of the protests.

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Torture Lawyer John Yoo Gets a Feature in NY Times

Deborah Solomon relies on snarky questions, usually.  All of them must have been edited from the published version of Questions for John Yoo: Power of Attorney, her column in the New York Times for tomorrow.

We learn that he has a new book, “Crisis in Command,” that he says he has never met Bush or Cheney, despite working in the White House for two years; thinks conservatives have a hard time getting academic appointments;that presidents should have unlimited power, and that he has no interest in what his parents do as psychiatrists.

He does notice that there have been intense protests of him at UC Berkeley, and intends the impression that he doesn’t take them seriously.

I see various groups are protesting a decision by a California government lawyer to teach a course with you that starts on Jan. 12, claiming he is legitimizing your unethical behavior.

At Berkeley, protesting is an everyday activity. I am used to it. I remind myself of West Berlin — West Berlin surrounded by East Germany during the Cold War.

Are you saying the citizens of Berkeley are Communists, reminiscent of those on the dark side of the Iron Curtain?

There are probably more Communists in Berkeley than any other town in America, but I think of them more as lovers of Birkenstocks than Marx.

Communists, Constitutional lawyers, Boalt Hall graduates, and Council members have all been protesting Yoo, admittedly not enough of them with enough intensity, for six years now, for his role as the principal author of the torture memos which set the basis for the US torture state being given legitimacy in the U.S.  Not to mention the international protests, which are forcing the Obama administration into giving the appearance of shutting down Guantanamo, slowly.

I’ve been to Berkeley a lot in the last few years.  I’ve seen very few people wearing Birkenstocks, not that there’s anything wrong with those sandals. The remark is clearly meant to trivialize and dismiss a serious problem.

My main complaint with Berkeley is that there’s a certain smugness from a section of people there about how liberal the place is, best expressed by Boalt Hall law school Dean Christopher Edley Jr. who argues that Berkeley is such a liberal campus that it can tolerate the abhorrent views of a John Yoo.

As we’ve said many times, it’s not Yoo views, or the expression of them that endangers humanity.  It’s the fact that they were given the force of law by the Bush regime, a war crime for which there should be no tolerance!

You can stay up to date at Firejohnyoo.org

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White House asks to drop charges against Prof. Yoo

12-07-09 WASHINGTON (KGO) — The White House is asking a federal appeals court to drop charges against UC Berkeley professor John Yoo.  His memos approved the torture, including water boarding of terrorism suspects.  The Obama administration says federal law doesn’t allow damage claims against attorneys who advise the president on national security issues.  It says such lawsuits ask courts to second-guess presidential decisions, and pose the risk of deterring ‘full and frank advice,’ especially during times of crisis, or war.

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