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The Berkeley Daily Planet

Cornell, TP and Yoo

From Matt Cornell
Tuesday April 20, 2010

According to a press release from Los Angeles artist Matt Cornell, students at UC Berkeley were surprised to discover a new brand of toilet paper in the stalls of the law school building this morning.

Cornell made a private donation of ” Yoo Toilet Paper ” protesting the tenure of controversial Bush lawyer, and author of the “torture memos,” Professor John Yoo.

Each roll of toilet paper contains text from the United Nations Convention Against Torture, just one of the many laws that critics say Yoo violated when authorizing the use of torture against detainees.

Cornell says that the irreverent prank is intended to remind Berkeley’s law students that Professor Yoo helped turned human rights laws into toilet paper. At the bottom of each roll is a reminder that “this toilet paper was made by possible by John Yoo, Professor of Law.”

Cornell also notes that his brand of toilet paper is softer and of higher quality than that provided by cash-strapped UC Berkeley and contains “valuable reading material” for law students.

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Sahil Kapur, Raw Story, March 17, 2010

Senior Bush administration officials sternly cautioned the 9/11 Commission against probing too deeply into the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, according to a document recently obtained by the ACLU.

The notification came in a letter dated January 6, 2004, addressed by Attorney General John Ashcroft, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and CIA Director George J. Tenet. The ACLU described it as a fax sent by David Addington, then-counsel to former vice president Dick Cheney.

In the message, the officials denied the bipartisan commission’s request to question terrorist detainees, informing its two senior-most members that doing so would “cross” a “line” and obstruct the administration’s ability to protect the nation.

Continues >>

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John Yoo

ACLU Sues Justice Department On Torture Report

TPM Muckraker

Zachary Roth | January 25, 2010, 9:08AM

The ACLU filed suit Friday in a bid to force the Justice Department to release its internal report on torture.

The long-awaited report from the department’s Office of Professional Ethics considers whether DOJ lawyers like John Yoo broke ethics rules in writing the memos that approved torture.

In November, Attorney General Eric Holder testified that it would likely be out by the end of the month. At that time, the department said it was going through the normal review process.

In December, the ACLU had filed a FOIA request for the report.

ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer said in a press release:

Under the Bush administration, the Office of Legal Counsel issued a series of memos intended to permit interrogators to use methods that the United States had previously described as war crimes. As a result of those memos, hundreds of prisoners were abused and tortured, and some were even killed during the course of interrogations. The public has a legitimate interest in knowing whether the authors of the memos violated ethical rules as well as the criminal laws, and in ensuring that those who wrote the memos, as well as those who authorized torture, are held accountable. The release of the ethics report is long overdue.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Feeling Nervous? 3,000 Behavior Detection Officers Will Be Watching You at the Airport This Thanksgiving

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted November 24, 2009.

Nearly 100,000 passengers were pulled aside by TSA behavior watchers last year, and it remains to be proven whether you can spot terrorists by the looks on their faces.

Here’s a question to ponder the next time you’re taking off your shoes at airport security: Can you spot terrorists by the look on their faces?

For the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the answer is yes. For the past few years, airports across the country have been using what many call “behavioral surveillance” to weed out potential hijackers among us, by covertly examining travelers’ facial expressions and body language as they go through security. Unlike those airport employees who herd us along as we remove our shoes and relinquish all liquids over three ounces (with dubious results), this new program, named “Screening Passengers by Observational Techniques,” or “SPOT,” is carried out by TSA employees who have been trained to monitor travelers’ faces and movements. As Americans head out of town this holiday season, more than 3,000 “Behavior Detection Officers” will be at 161 airports nationwide, watching our every move.

The TSA boasts that the SPOT program is “derivative of other successful behavioral analysis programs that have been employed by law enforcement and security personnel both in the U.S. and around the world.” Yet, the success of the SPOT program remains highly questionable. This month the Washington Post reported that, in 2008 alone, Behavior Detection Officers across the country pulled 98,805 passengers aside for additional screenings, out of which 9,854 were questioned by local police. 813 were eventually arrested.

The cost of the program, according to TSA spokesperson Ann Davis, was $3.1 million.

In an e-mail correspondence with AlterNet, Davis could not say how many of the 813 arrests led to convictions — or for that matter, whether any terrorists were caught. “Many of the SPOT cases that resulted in arrests remain under active investigation by law enforcement,” she said. “TSA doesn’t always hear back from the investigative agencies on the outcome of the cases so we cannot track convictions.”

But as Stephen Soldz, Director of the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Program Development at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis points out, “Even if the arrests are justified, they are less than 1 percent of the total singled out. What happens to more than 9,000 who are subjected to questioning and released?”

This question cuts to the heart of protests by civil liberties advocates and others who argue that, not only is the SPOT program a violation of people’s privacy, but it is actually counterproductive, a wasteful exercise in false positives.

“By the math alone, rare events are impossible to accurately detect,” says Soldz. “One will either miss most of what one is interested in [false negatives] or else identify many people falsely [false positives].”

MORE HERE

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Ex-CIA directors urge Obama to drop abuse probe

AFP

WASHINGTON — Seven former CIA directors have called on US President Barack Obama to end a probe into claims the agency abused terror suspects, warning it will cause “serious damage” to intelligence operations.

The former intelligence chiefs, appointed by both Democrat and Republican presidents, in a letter to Obama called on him to end the Justice Department inquiry, warning it would make agents more reticent to act for fear of prosecution.

“This approach will seriously damage the willingness of many other intelligence officers to take risks to protect the country,” the group stated.

Warning of “endless criminal investigations,” the seven said allegations of detainee abuse had already been probed, with the supervision of federal prosecutors.

“Attorney General (Eric) Holder’s decision to re-open the criminal investigation creates an atmosphere of continuous jeopardy for those whose cases the Department of Justice had previously declined to prosecute,” the letter read.

The signatories warned that the investigation could jeopardize relations with other nations that had co-operated with investigations, on the proviso of secrecy.


Though not a signatory to the letter, current CIA Director Leon Panetta also opposed Holder’s investigation.

“I think the reason I felt the way I did is because I don’t believe there’s a basis there for any kind of additional action,” Panetta said.

“My concern is … that we don’t get trapped by the past. My feeling is ultimately, we’re going to be able to move on,” he told reporters this week after a speech in Michigan.

Is Leon Panetta up to the job?

I think not!

…………zzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

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I voted for Obama because he represented the people, and called for change and transparency in government, but most of all because he admitted that he inhaled. Little did I think that he would be cowed by the shadow government. Little did I think that he would allow the continuation of corporate government as usual. Little did I think that his presentations to the public would be photo-ops, but here is one of them, that are as big as life and twice as ugly.

Counterpunch

April 10 / 12, 2009

Fakes Left, Goes Right

Obama’s Crossover Dribble on Marijuana Policy

By FRED GARDNER

Executive summary: Obama fakes left, goes right. Passes to Holder at the head of the key. Holder holds the ball, looking for a cutter. Looks in to Brown posting up, then swings it over to Russoniello on the wing. The Warriors veteran finds Obama behind a screen from Holder. Obama launches from beyond the arc… Off back iron. Rebound, Sibelius.

It has been business as usual for the Drug Enforcement Administration since Barack Obama took office. Attorney General Eric Holder has decreed a “policy change,” and some PC (as in Pro-Cannabis) lobbyists and lawyers have hailed that “policy change” as a major victory. But try explaining it to workers at any of the six dispensaries that have been raided by the Obama-era DEA.

“I would have let them in if they would have showed me something,” said John W., 35, who came to the front door of Emmalyn’s on Howard St. in San Francisco on the afternoon of March 25. “They were dressed kind of like me,” according to John, who was garbed in a football jersey. “Once they actually got in I could see that they had bulletproof vests that said DEA on the back. But I couldn’t see that from the door. The only thing I could see was a person with a gun. I asked for a search warrant or a badge but they didn’t show me either one, they just battered down the gate.

“They rushed in and pushed us down -me, two or three patients, a lady who doesn’t work here anymore, and Rose [a beautiful woman of 30 who was behind the counter when your correspondent visited Emmalyn’s a week after the raid]. There were between 15 and 20, all DEA. The man lying next to me didn’t put up any kind of struggle but he kept saying, ‘I’m a patient.’ And ‘Why are you doing this?'”

“They never asked me no questions. They just went through the whole place and took the medicine we had and the little bit of money.” Some heavy machinery was deployed to rip out a safe that had been bolted to the floor. The agents hauled it off, past a passionate group of protesters on the sidwalk chanting, “This medicine is marijuana. Listen to Obama.” Did they know that Obama has said no such thing?

More

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Panetta: Too Dangerous To Release Torture Tape Docs

TPM Muckraker- By Zachary Roth – June 9, 2009, 9:58AM

Do we have yet another case of the Obama administration mimicking its predecessor’s notorious penchant for government secrecy?

The CIA argued yesterday that Bush-era documents detailing the videotaped interrogations of detainees should not be released, citing national security concerns, reports the Washington Post.

The videotapes, which depicted harsh interrogation tactics, were famously destroyed in 2005. As part of a wide-ranging lawsuit, the ACLU is seeking the release of CIA emails discussing the tapes, handwritten notes taken after reviewing the tapes, and a photograph of one high-value detainee, Abu Zubaydah, among other items relating to the tapes.

CIA director Leon Panetta argued in a statement that releasing the material “could be expected to result in exceptionally grave damage to the national security by informing our enemies of what we knew about them, and when, and in some instances, how we obtained the intelligence we possessed.”

Panetta wrote that the “disclosure of explicit details of specific interrogations” would give al-Qaeda “propaganda it could use to recruit and raise funds.” He called it “ready-made ammunition.”

MORE HERE

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