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Archive for the ‘John Yoo’ Category

by The Robert Jackson Steering Committee – 2010-02-23

The Justice Robert Jackson Steering Committee, a group of lawyers, journalists and advocates formed in the fall of 2008 to pursue the prosecution of top Bush administration officials for alleged war crimes while in office, is both greatly concerned and guardedly hopeful by the recent release of 2 different assessments from inside the Department of Justice on whether John Yoo and Jay Bybee, the lawyers who crafted “torture memos” inside the Bush administration’s Office of Legal Counsel, engaged in professional misconduct.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17789
http://lawsnotmen.org/

Conspiracy to engage in aggressive and illegal war

Yoo, Bybee, and Disinformation

by David Swanson
After Downing Street – 2010-02-21

Everything you’re reading about torture lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee getting off the hook is wrong. They are not torture lawyers, they are not off the hook, there never was any hook, they may not be lawyers for long, impeachment and indictment are on the agenda, and you have a role to play.

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17754

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Yoo: ‘Sure,’ The President Could Order A Village Of Civilians Massacred

TPM Muckraker

Justin Elliott | February 22, 2010, 10:10AM

In John Yoo’s vision of executive power, the president can legally order a village of civilians “massacred,” according to the internal Justice Department report released Friday.

But in a letter (.pdf) sent to the DOJ last October, Yoo’s lawyer, Miguel Estrada, accused the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility of ripping “out of context” Yoo’s statement on the massacre question.

Estrada argues that OPR included the exchange “in an effort to shock the reader and to make clear to all right-thinking people that Professor Yoo is a bad man, indeed.” (See page 5 of the letter.)

The massacre exchange comes during the OPR report’s discussion of Yoo’s August 2002 memo (.pdf) that is widely seen as one of the key opinions authorizing torture.

The document — which is known as the Bybee Memo because it was signed by Yoo’s boss at the Office of Legal Counsel, Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee — argues that the U.S. law banning torture would be unconstitutional if it “impermissibly encroached” on the president’s commander-in-chief power.

An OPR investigator asked Yoo “to explain how the torture statute would interfere with the President’s war making abilities.” Here’s the back-and-forth that followed, which is quoted in the OPR report and was first caught by Michael Isikoff at Newsweek:

MORE HERE

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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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by Bob Egelko, The San Francisco Chronicle, Dec 8, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO – The Obama administration has asked an appeals court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing former Bush administration attorney John Yoo of authorizing the torture of a terrorism suspect, saying federal law does not allow damage claims against lawyers who advise the president on national security issues.

[John Yoo is accused of authorizing the torture of a terror suspect. (AP)]
John Yoo is accused of authorizing the torture of a terror suspect. (AP)

Such lawsuits ask courts to second-guess presidential decisions and pose “the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military’s detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict,” Justice Department lawyers said Thursday in arguments to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

Continues >>

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Do the Secret Bush Memos Amount to Treason?  Top Constitutional Scholar Says Yes

By Naomi Wolf, AlterNet. Posted March 25, 2009.

Legal expert Michael Ratner calls the legal arguments made in the infamous Yoo memos, “Fuhrer’s law.”

In early March, more shocking details emerged about George W. Bush legal counsel John Yoo’s memos outlining the destruction of the republic.

The memos lay the legal groundwork for the president to send the military to wage war against U.S. citizens; take them from their homes to Navy brigs without trial and keep them forever; close down the First Amendment; and invade whatever country he chooses without regard to any treaty or objection by Congress.

It was as if Milton’s Satan had a law degree and was establishing within the borders of the United States the architecture of hell.

I thought this was — and is — certainly one of the biggest stories of our lifetime, making the petty burglary of Watergate — which scandalized the nation — seem like playground antics. It is newsworthy too with the groundswell of support for prosecutions of Bush/Cheney crimes and recent actions such as Canadian attorneys mobilizing to arrest Bush if he visits their country.

The memos are a confession. The memos could not be clearer: This was the legal groundwork of an attempted coup. I expected massive front page headlines from the revelation that these memos exited. Almost nothing. I was shocked.

As a non-lawyer, was I completely off base in my reading of what this meant, I wondered? Was I hallucinating?

Astonished, I sought a reality check — and a formal legal read — from one of the nation’s top constitutional scholars (and most steadfast patriots), Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has been at the forefront of defending the detainees and our own liberties.

MORE HERE

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More OLC Memos To Come?

Some followup by the New York Times on the Bush-era OLC memos released yesterday by the Justice Department…

Department officials have told the paper that they may soon release more secret opinions about counter-terror tactics. Those that contain classified information will need to be cleared with other government agencies before they can be released.

Separately, some Democrats are jumping on the controversial memos to bolster their argument for a commission to look into the Bush administration’s counter-terror policies.

Senate Judiciary chair Pat Leahy, who has called for such a commission, put out a statement Monday that praised the Justice Department for releasing “some of these long-secret opinions.” But it also argued that a “fuller review of these policies” by the new Obama team was needed.

And Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said: “These memos appear to have given the Bush administration a legal blank check to trample on Americans’ civil rights. We need to get to the bottom of what happened at O.L.C. and ensure it never happens again.”

Also, the Times picks up on that footnote in the Steven Bradbury memo that we highlighted earlier. Reports the paper:

In a footnote to Mr. Bradbury’s Jan. 15, 2009, memorandum sharply criticizing Mr. Yoo’s work, Mr. Bradbury signaled that he did not want his repudiation of the legal reasoning employed by Mr. Yoo to be used against Mr. Yoo as part of the ethics probe.Mr. Bradbury wrote that his retractions were not “intended to suggest in any way that the attorneys involved in the preparation of the opinions in question” violated any “applicable standards of professional responsibility.”

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Justice probe may pose ‘enormous consequences’ for Bush officials

Raw Story- David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Tuesday February 17, 2009

A Department of Justice report has called into question the entire legal basis of the Bush administration’s repeated justifications of abusing prisoners captured in the former president’s terror war. According to Monday night’s guest on MSNBC’s The Rachael Maddow Show, the “consequences” of some of the report’s findings could be “enormous” for members of the Bush administration.

A draft of the report from the Office of Professional Responsibility, the department’s watchdog unit, was submitted during the waning days of the Bush administration, but former Attorney General Michael Mukasey objected to it, according to a Monday report by Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff.

“The [Justice Department] report is expected to focus on three former officials of the Office of Legal Counsel, the Justice Department office that advises the executive branch on the interpretation of the law,” reports the International Herald Tribune. “They are John Yoo, a Berkeley law professor, now a visiting professor at Chapman University, who was the primary author of opinions on torture while at the counsel’s office in 2002; Jay Bybee, now a judge on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who as head of the office signed the 2002 opinions, which were later withdrawn; and Steven Bradbury, who wrote three more still-secret opinions on interrogation in 2005, when he was the top lawyer in the counsel’s office.”

Mukasey and his deputy wanted the report to contain responses from Bybee and Yoo, along with Steven Bradbury, chief of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), at the time the report was submitted.

The OPR is now working to include the ex-officials’ responses before presenting a final version to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. If Holder accepts the report’s findings, it could be forwarded to state bar associations which may choose to disbar the attorneys.

On Monday night’s The Rachael Maddow Show, Isikoff took time to shed additional light on the subject, offering several stark possibilities.

VIDEO AND MORE HERE

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Dem Senators To DOJ: How’s That Report On Torture Opinions Coming?

Looks like it’s not just journalists who are interested in the progress of that DOJ report into whether Bush administration lawyers shaded their opinions on the legality of harsh interrogation methods in order to please the White House.

In the wake of Newsweek‘s story from over the weekend that a draft of the report criticizes several top Bush officials, including John Yoo, Democratic senators Dick Durbin and Sheldon Whitehouse, both of whom sit on the Judiciary committee, have sent a letter to Marshall Jarrett, who heads the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility and is overseeing the report.

In the letter, the senators, who wrote to Jarrett last year requesting the investigation, note that, according to Newsweek, a draft of the report was submitted in the final weeks of the Bush administration. They ask for an update on the status of Jarrett’s probe by February 23.

They also suggest that they’ll take action if the evidence shows that DOJ lawyers shaped their opinions to conform to the White House’s views, writing:

Our intelligence professionals should be able to rely in good faith on the Justice Department’s legal advice. This good faith is undermined when Justice Department attorneys provide legal advice so misguided that it damages America’s image around the world and the Justice Department is forced to repudiate it. If the officials who provide such advice fail to comply with professional standards, they must be held accountable in order to maintain the faith of the intelligence community and the American people in the Justice Department.”

As we noted before, it’s not clear that the report will ultimately be released to the public. But at least some in Congress appear to be taking it seriously.

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‘Sadism-gate’: Call Torture ‘the Bush system,’ Olbermann says

Raw Story- David Edwards and Ron Brynaert
Published: Friday January 30, 2009

John Yoo, a former member of the Justice Department who wrote the first rationalization that torture is legal, argued in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Thursday that the United States must continue to use enhanced interrogation methods, even torture, in order to stop future terror plots.

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann hit back at Yoo during his Countdown show’s ‘Still Bushed’ segment.

“Sadism-gate, that is the only explanation left, clinical sadism,” Olbermann declared.

“John Yoo, the Justice Department flunky who wrote the department’s first rationalization that torture was legal, was in the ‘Wall Street Journal of Torture‘ today insisting we must, we must, we must torture people,” Olbermann continued. “President Obama, Yoo hallucinates, may have opened the door to further terrorism attacks on U.S. soil.”

Olbermann quoted from Yoo’s op-ed: “Eliminating the Bush will mean we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Relying on the civilian justice system…robs us of the most effective intelligence tool to avert future attacks.”

“That study after study has proven that torture produces unreliable information, that the Bush administration humiliated itself and this nation with its boasting about stopping plots that were laughable to anybody with an IQ over 35,” Olbermann intoned, “that he and Mr. Bush did more harm to this nation internationally than any terrorist ever could seems to escape Mr. Yoo in what must literally be a lust to know that somewhere somebody was fearing death at the hands of his own government.”

Olbermann did find a silver lining in Yoo’s op-ed.

“But in his fevered delusions at least he has given us this,” Olbermann said. “He has given us a new name for torture and I think we should use it forever.”

“Water boarding, sleep deprivation, sexual degradation, threats, use of animals, as he called it,” Olbermann paused before adding dramatically, “the Bush system.”

A separate RAW STORY article on Yoo’s editorial can be read at this link.

This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast Jan. 29, 2009.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Torture Lover John Yoo Excoriates Obama For Banning Torture»

Think Progress- By Ali Frick at 12:04 pm

John Yoo, infamous author of the Bush administration legal memos authorizing the use of torture on suspected terrorists, slams President Obama for banning torture in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, gravely warning that Obama “may have opened the door to further terrorist acts on U.S. soil.”

Throughout the article, Yoo insists that torture is America’s most effective weapon against terrorists and warns that without it, the U.S. will be incapable of intelligence-gathering:

Eliminating the Bush system will mean that we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Every prisoner will have the right to a lawyer (which they will surely demand), the right to remain silent, and the right to a speedy trial. […]

Relying on the civilian justice system not only robs us of the most effective intelligence tool to avert future attacks, it provides an opportunity for our enemies to obtain intelligence on us.

Considering the Bush administration repeatedly insisted its use of coercive techniques was “limited,” it would be a far stretch even for loyal Bushies to suggest that torture is not the one and only method to obtaining information. And as ThinkProgress has made clear again and again, numerous intelligence experts and real interrogators agree that, far from being “the most effective intelligence tool,” torture simply doesn’t work.

Yoo continues his screed by making up facts about Obama’s ban:

The CIA must now conduct interrogations according to the rules of the Army Field Manual, which prohibits coercive techniques, threats and promises, and the good-cop bad-cop routines used in police stations throughout America. … His new order amounts to requiring — on penalty of prosecution — that CIA interrogators be polite.

Yoo has no idea what he’s talking about. Nothing requires anyone to “be polite” — although the rapport building method has often proved to be interrogators’ most effective technique. And the notion that good-cop/bad-cop would be banned is simply false, Media Matters pointed out earlier this week:

In fact, the Army Field Manual explicitly permits good cop-bad cop interrogations under the name of “Mutt and Jeff” interrogations, which involve two interrogators “display[ing] opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source.” The Field Manual says the “goal of this technique is to make the source identify with one of the interrogators and thereby establish[ing] rapport and cooperation.”

It’s no secret that Yoo is an ardent torture enthusiast: He famously said that only those techniques that inflict pain equivalent to “death, organ failure or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body functions” constitute torture, and last year refused to agree that the president could not order a detainee buried alive. With Obama signaling a clean break from the Bush administration’s terrorism policies, it’s no wonder Yoo is desperate to restore his crumbling torture regime.

Update- Yoo also makes it perfectly clear that Bush himself directly and explicitly ordered torture, including the waterboarding of at least three detainees:

What is needed are the tools to gain vital intelligence, which is why, under President George W. Bush, the CIA could hold and interrogate high-value al Qaeda leaders. On the advice of his intelligence advisers, the president could have authorized coercive interrogation methods like those used by Israel and Great Britain in their antiterrorism campaigns. (He could even authorize waterboarding, which he did three times in the years after 9/11.)

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