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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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Hey Americans, the Pundits Blame You for Bush and Cheney’s Torture Policies

By Rory O’Connor, MediaChannel.org. Posted May 13, 2009.

In their mad dash to ensure that no one in the Bush administration is held accountable for torture, the media are putting the blame on all Americans.

What is it about torture that is so seductive to our mainstream media?

First, our leading (and often “liberal”) commentators and analysts, writing in supposedly respectable publications such as Newsweek and The Atlantic, tried to appear as tough-minded believers in realpolitik by siding with such REALLY tough-minded believers as Dick Cheney when he led our country over to “the dark side.”

Then multiple Pulitzer Prize winner Tom Friedman — ever consistent and persistent in his excuse making for the powerful — hailed, in a recent column, Barack (“Split the baby“) Obama’s “torturous compromise” to expose, but not prosecute, those responsible for violating our Constitution and international law by torturing in our names. This despite the fact that, as Friedman accurately noted, “more than 100 detainees died in U.S. custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, with up to 27 of those declared homicides by the military. They were allegedly kicked to death, shot, suffocated or drowned. Look, our people killed detainees, and only a handful of those deaths have resulted in any punishment of U.S. officials.”

Then Jacob Weisberg, chairman and editor-in-chief of the Slate Group, agreed with Friedman’s contention that there should be no torture prosecutions because we had all “acquiesced” in the Bush-Cheney Torture Agenda; we were all “the President’s accomplices,” and thus “pursuing criminal charges would be too hard legally and politically and too easy morally.’ According to Weisberg’s twisted morality and logic, “Prosecuting Bush and his men won’t absolve the rest of us for what we let them do.”

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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.

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UN official: Enough evidence to prosecute Rumsfeld for war crimes

Raw Story- David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Monday January 26, 2009

Monday, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak told CNN’s Rick Sanchez that the US has an “obligation” to investigate whether Bush administration officials ordered torture, adding that he believes that there is already enough evidence to prosecute former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

“We have clear evidence,” he said. “In our report that we sent to the United Nations, we made it clear that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld clearly authorized torture methods and he was told at that time by Alberto Mora, the legal council of the Navy, ‘Mr. Secretary, what you are actual ordering here amounts to torture.’ So, there we have the clear evidence that Mr. Rumsfeld knew what he was doing but, nevertheless, he ordered torture.”

Asked during an interview with Germany’s ZDF television on Jan. 20, Nowak said: “I think the evidence is on the table.”

At issue, however, is whether “American law will recognize these forms of torture.”

A bipartisan Senate report released last month found Rumsfeld and other top administration officials responsible for abuse of Guantanamo detainees in US custody.

It said Rumsfeld authorized harsh interrogation techniques on December 2, 2002 at the Guantanamo prison, although he ruled them out a month later.

The coercive measures were based on a document signed by Bush in February, 2002.

This video is from CNN’s Newsroom, broadcast Jan. 26, 2009.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Gonzales: I don’t think anyone is going to prosecute me.»

Think Progress- By Faiz Shakir at 1:32 pm

In his confirmation hearings, Attorney General nominee Eric Holder declared “waterboarding is torture,” worrying conservatives that he might pursue criminal prosecutions of officials involved in detainee interrogations. In an interview with NPR today, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said he doesn’t believe he’ll be prosecuted:

On the question of prosecuting officers who employed any of the “extreme tactics” that the Bush administration has acknowledged, without admitting to any “torture” of detainees: “I don’t think that there’s going to be a prosecution, quite frankly.” Gonzales said. “Because again, these activities…. They were authorized, they were supported by legal opinions at the Department of Justice.”

When Holder is confirmed – with a vote expected Wednesday – he “will have to make a decision as to whether or not move forward with an investigation or a prosecution,” Gonzales said. “But under those circumstances, I find it hard to believe…

“Nonetheless, the very discussion about it is extremely discouraging,” the former attorney general said.

Gonzales recently wondered, “What is it that I did so fundamentally wrong?” As ThinkProgress noted, he politicized the Justice Department, approved torture, lied about warrantless wiretapping, and distorted pre-war intelligence.

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Holy Cow: Top Dems Are Serious About Investigating Bush’s Criminal Acts

By Jason Leopold, Consortium News. Posted January 26, 2009.

To the surprise of progressives and anger of the GOP, leading Dems support investigations.

As President Barack Obama reverses some of ex-President George W. Bush’s most controversial “war on terror” policies, a consensus seems to be building among Democratic congressional leaders that further investigations are needed into Bush’s use of torture and other potential crimes.

On Wednesday – the first working day of the Obama administration – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would support funding and staff for additional fact-finding by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which last month released a report tracing abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib to Bush’s Feb. 7, 2002, decision to exclude terror suspects from Geneva Convention protections.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, who issued that report, echoed Reid’s comments, saying “there needs to be an accounting of torture in this country.” Levin, D-Michigan, also said he intends to encourage the Justice Department and incoming Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate torture practices that took place while Bush was in office.

Two other key Democrats joined in this growing chorus of lawmakers saying that serious investigations should be conducted.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, a former federal prosecutor and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a floor speech, “As the President looks forward and charts a new course, must someone not also look back, to take an accounting of where we are, what was done, and what must now be repaired.”

Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters: “Looking at what has been done is necessary.”

On Jan. 18, two days before Obama’s inauguration, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed support for House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers’s plan to create a blue-ribbon panel of outside experts to probe the “broad range” of policies pursued by the Bush administration “under claims of unreviewable war powers.”

In an interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Pelosi specifically endorsed a probe into the politicization of the Justice Department, but didn’t spell out a position on Conyers’s plan to examine the Bush administration’s torture and rendition policies, which could prove embarrassing to Pelosi and other Democratic leaders who were briefed by the CIA about these tactics.

Still, when Wallace cited Obama’s apparent unwillingness to investigate the Bush administration, Pelosi responded: “I think that we have to learn from the past, and we cannot let the politicizing of the — for example, the Justice Department, to go unreviewed. Past is prologue. We learn from it. And my views on the subject — I don’t think that Mr. Obama and Mr. Conyers are that far apart.”

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Are We Civilized Enough to Hold Our Leaders Accountable for War Crimes? The World Is Watching

By John W. Dean, FindLaw.com. Posted January 24, 2009.

Other countries are likely to take action against officials who condoned torture, even if the United States fails to do so.

Remarkably, the confirmation of President Obama’s Attorney General nominee, Eric Holder, is being held up by Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn, who apparently is unhappy that Holder might actually investigate and prosecute Bush Administration officials who engaged in torture. Aside from this repugnant new Republican embrace of torture (which might be a winning issue for the lunatic fringe of the party and a nice way to further marginalize the GOP), any effort to protect Bush officials from legal responsibility for war crimes, in the long run, will not work.

It is difficult to believe that Eric Holder would agree not to enforce the law, like his recent Republican predecessors. Indeed, if he were to do so, President Obama should withdraw his nomination. But as MSNBC “Countdown” anchor Keith Olbermann stated earlier this week, even if the Obama Administration for whatever reason does not investigate and prosecute these crimes, this still does not mean that the Bush Administration officials who were involved in torture are going to get a pass.

With few exceptions, the discussion about what the Obama Administration will do regarding the torture of detainees during the Bush years has been framed as a domestic matter, and the fate of those involved in torturing has been largely viewed as a question of whether the Department of Justice will take action. In fact, not only is the world watching what the Obama Administration does regarding Bush’s torturers, but other countries are very likely to take action if the United States fails to do so.

Bush’s Torturers Have Serious Jeopardy

Philippe Sands, a Queen’s Counsel at Matrix Chambers and Professor of International law at University College London, has assembled a powerful indictment of the key Bush Administration people involved in torture in his book Torture Team: Rumsfeld’s Memo and the Betrayal of American Values. He explains the legal exposure of people like former attorney general Alberto Gonzales, Dick Cheney’s counsel and later chief of staff David Addington, former Office of Legal Counsel attorney John Yoo, the former Department of Defense general counsel Jim Haynes, and others for their involvement in the torture of detainees at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and CIA secret prisons.

After reading Sands’s book and, more recently, listening to his comments on Terry Gross’s NPR show “Fresh Air,” on January 7, 2009 I realized how closely the rest of the world is following the actions of these former officials, and was reminded that these actions appear to constitute not merely violations of American law, but also, and very literally, crimes against humanity — for which the world is ready to hold them responsible.

MORE HERE

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