Wednesday, April 30, 2008
So I need more help. I want to make sure I am not missing out on any dirty little detail. Pick out a few on this list (or more) and send me everything you can about the individual. I will be letting you know more about this project as time passes but please know I appreciate all of your help.
And thank you all for sending bits and pieces of information and a few more names that I am looking at....
and the full names .... which I was too busy to put in!
(click on the title to go to the Guantanamo Testimonials Project)
(click on the title to go to the Guantanamo Testimonials Project)
TITLE: Witnessing Guantánamo: Amy Goodman Speaks with Former Detainees.
WHAT: Award-winning journalist Amy Goodman will interview a group of former Guantanamo prisoners live before a Davis audience.
HOW: The interview will be through videoconference, as the former prisoners will be in their native Sudan.
DATE: Saturday, May 31, 2008.
WHERE: 123 Sciences Lecture Hall, University of California, Davis, CA 95616.
WHY: To gather testimony for the Guantanamo Testimonials Project, to raise funds for it, and to educate broadly on the issue.
BONUS: A free copy of Ratner and Ray's book Guantanamo: What the World Should Know.
AUDIENCE: Limited seating available; purchasing advance tickets is highly recommended.
ORGANIZER: Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas, UC Davis.
EMAIL CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org
PHONE CONTACT: 530 752 3046 or 530 574 4865
Monday, April 28, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I happen to believe that the practice of law is an honor and that those who abuse or otherwise take advantage of this honor do not deserve the title of "attorney at law." So yes I will start small... but trust me I will not forget or give up.
So give me your names... If you post them on line here, that is great...but, if you want me to keep the fact that the name came from you confidential...
then email me at this site... It will be even more confidential than say... oh I won't say... but trust me I will never tell.....
So who are the worst lawyers in this administration? Who deserves to have their law licenses taken from them... not to mention their liberty?
As I receive the names I will research the individuals and make sure their names and deeds are not forgotten...
and when you tell me how much you respect what I am doing... remember you are doing it too...
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Roger Fitch Esq • April 11, 2008
Our Man in Washington
Fresh torture memo by Bush lawyer unearthed … Advice on legally immunising detainee interrogators proves to be invalid … Torture trip driven from the top down … Exciting new harsh techniques devised at “brainstorming sessions”
Thanks to FOI, the American Civil Liberties Union now has 100,000 pages of documents concerning the mistreatment and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo and elsewhere, including many “torture memos” of the Bush adminstration’s legal lackeys. However, the smoking gun memo has been elusive.
Now the search may be over. Earlier this month, a low-key headline in The New York Times announced, Memo sheds new light on torture issue.
This proved to be quite an understatement. The document in question was a previously undisclosed memo (since rescinded) by the infamous Office of Legal Counsel “lawyer” John Yoo (pic).
It promised to do for the US military what another Yoo memo had done for the CIA – immunise detainee interrogations from any legal oversight or consequences whatever.
According to The Washington Post, the Justice Department memo, written for the Pentagon in 2003, claimed that:
” – federal laws prohibiting assault, maiming and other crimes did not apply to military interrogators who questioned al-Qaeda captives because the president’s ultimate authority as commander-in-chief overrode such statutes.”
“If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network… In that case … interrogators who harmed a prisoner would be protected by a ‘national and international version of the right to self-defense’.”
” ‘In wartime, it is for the president alone to decide what methods to use to best prevail against the enemy,’ Yoo wrote. Elsewhere in the memo, he argued that ‘even if an interrogation method arguably were to violate a criminal statute, the Justice Department could not bring a prosecution because the statute would be unconstitutional’.”
Interestingly, Yoo’s memo relies largely on a closed circle of enabling “legal opinions” by other OLC underlings and Pentagon hacks, each purporting to reinforce the other, which may be why Yoo uses the royal “we” and “our” throughout his memo of March 14, 2003.
The other memos, many of which were previously unknown, are cited in footnotes.
Now, thanks to Yoo’s document, we have learned about legal opinions with such intriguing titles as Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities Within the United States (Oct 23, 2001); Legality of the Use of Military Commissions to Try Terrorists (Nov 6, 2001); and Military Detention of United States Citizens (June 27, 2002).
It was the first of these which caused the most consternation as it purported to exempt the military from the 4th Amendment (searches and seizures) in the US.
Blogger-lawyer Phillip Carter wonders what this signifies.
The Washington Post has more on the 4th Amendment opinion, and reveals that Yoo’s torture memo was not even seen by the then Attorney General, John Ashcroft.
The lawyers for Ali Al-Marri (pic), the legal United States resident who has been held by the US in a South Carolina navy brig for five years, immediately made a submission in their client’s case in the DC Circuit Court, based on the invalidity of the Yoo memo .
The Washington Post noted the apparent satisfaction with which Yoo itemised the assaults and maiming now permitted, while the Congressional Quarterly’s blog, CQ, was quick to note that Yoo’s memo authorised the use of drugs in interrogations.
Former Clinton OLC head Dawn Johnsen (pic) expressed outrage in Slate’s Convictions legal blog.
Another Clinton OLC lawyer Marty Lederman was equally scathing in a Balkin Blog post.
Most shocking of all, your own correspondent discovered a faux citation.
Goldwater v Carter was cited by Yoo as authority that a president can unilaterally abrogate a treaty of the US (eg, the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture).
In fact, this 1979 Court of Appeals decision was vacated on appeal by the Supreme Court.
For Shayana Kadidal of the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Yoo memo proves that torture came from the top down rather than bottom up.
He cites Philippe Sands’ (pic) new Vanity Fair article, The Green Light, based on Sands’ interviews with leading actors in the Guantánamo interrogation drama.
The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan captures the most important part of the article by Sands (a British QC).
It’s the bit that describes the personal, hands-on torture-establishing journey to Guantánamo by the number one lawyers – the legal counsels to the president, vice-president, Pentagon and CIA.
Before these distinguished (Bush-appointed) lawyers arrived, meetings were held to canvass new “harsh” techniques.
As Raw Story reports, the resident JAG, Lieutenant Colonel Diane Beaver, charged with writing a legal authority for “harsh” interrogation, kept minutes of these technique “brainstorming sessions”:
“The younger men would get particularly excited, she says: ‘You could almost see their dicks getting hard as they got new ideas’. Beaver also notes that ideas arose from other sources, such as the television show 24. Jack Bauer, the main character, had many friends at Guantánamo, says Beaver: ‘He gave people lots of ideas’.”
In the Vanity Fair article Philippe Sands describes what he learned of the meeting of high-level administration lawyers at Guantánamo on September 25, 2002 and reveals that all were aware of Mohammed al-Qahtani (the so-called 20th hijacker), the first person to receive the new interrogation techniques.
“Beaver confirmed the account of the visit [of Gonzales, Addington, Haynes and Rizzo] ... They met with the intelligence people and talked about new interrogation methods. They also witnessed some interrogations. Beaver spent time with the group… She recalled the message they had received from the visitors: Do ‘whatever needed to be done’. That was a green light from the very top – the lawyers for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the C.I.A.”
* * *
Perhaps, after all, there’s a technical solution to the problems associated with “harsh interrogation” and determining whether an abusive interrogator is acting in “good faith” – another Yoo concept.
“Some robotics researchers feel that robots could make the perfect warrior … even more ethical soldiers than humans, because they have no desire for self-preservation, no emotions, and no fear of disobeying their commanders’ orders in case of bad orders.”
Yes, but who can we trust to program ethical robots? Surely not the Bush lawyers.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Supreme Court justices, current or retired, are not known to talk about cases in public. They rarely, if ever, criticize the current administration. So many of us in the audience were surprised when, unprompted, Justice O'Connor turned the discussion to the Supreme Court's ruling on the Guantanamo detainees, a ruling that found the military commissions the Bush administration put in place at Guantanamo Bay violated both U.S. law and the Geneva Conventions.
Justice O'Connor explained that, while the Supreme Court can rule on cases, it has no power to enforce its own ruling. For that, the court relies entirely on the Executive Branch. And even though the Court had ruled Guantanamo was illegal, the Executive Branch -- Bush's White House -- had still not enforced the court's findings. Detainees were still imprisoned; the machinery for hearings had not even been put in place.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
(CLICK ON THE TITLE FOR THE FULL TRANSCRIPT)
Below is an excerpt from remarks delivered by Hillary Clinton at the Associated Press Annual Meeting :
"Fourth, because government abuse is checked by the separation of powers, I will restore respect for our coequal branches of government.
I'll start by limiting the excessive executive powers this president has accumulated, like the unilateral power to wiretap or to detain and try people, even American citizens.
I will work with Congress again as a partner to solve problems. I'll end the use of signing statements to rewrite the laws that Congress has passed. I'll shut down Guantanamo, disavow torture and restore the right of habeas corpus."
"Even as criticism of Guantánamo mounts, Guantánamo’s underlying hypocrisy endures. That hypocrisy manifested itself again last week in a little-noticed decision by Washington, D.C. District Judge John D. Bates. The decision involves Abdul Hamid Abdul Salam al-Ghizzawi, a Libyan citizen transferred to the base in 2002 after, he alleges, Afghan warlords sold him for bounty. Like the hundreds of other Guantánamo detainees held as “enemy combatants” al-Ghizzawi has never received a hearing on his habeas corpus application. In a recent filing, he complained that the government was refusing to provide him with adequate medical care and had denied him treatment for a severe liver condition that was jeopardizing his health."
(Click on the title to finish the article....)
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Although I applaud the Dean for addressing the issue I don't believe the analysis was complete.
A criminal prosecution is quite a different standard than the standard used to retain a law license.Stated differently, conduct that clearly demonstrates unfitness to continue to practice law surely must disqualify an individual from teaching law. If John Yoo were stripped of his license, which he should be because he is not fit to practice law, then he would surely have to be discharged from teaching regardless of whether he was criminally prosecuted or not...this man (and many others in the administration) should not have the honor of being referred to as an attorney…
Thursday, April 10, 2008
(Click on the title to read the rest of what I have to say about the decision....)
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Judge Bates entered the order yesterday... I know I shouldn't be surprised that the judge continues to believe everything the government says and refuses to allow us to even see the medical records... but I am. In fact one would think that even if the judge was not going to allow Al-GHizzawi or his counsel to see his records... that he would ask to see the records himself just to be sure (in the off chance that Al-GHizzawi and I are not lying)... sigh...The judge actually goes so far as to blame Al-Ghizzawi for his health problems and trivializes his condition...
I thank everyone who submitted letters and signed petitions.... Judge Bates does not. In a footnote he stated that he found it "inappropriate" but hey, I say if a letter writing campaign was good enough for Scooter Libby in trying to stay out of jail it is certainly good enough for Mr. Al-Ghizzawi in trying to stay alive.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Click on the title to go to Scott Horton's discussion today about the duty of the legal bar to police those who advocate torture.... and protect those who have attempted to follow supreme court precedent...
"A system that punishes and shames Matthew Diaz, yet obstructs any investigation into the misconduct of John Yoo and Jim Haynes, and particularly their focal rule in the introduction of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, is corrupt. Indeed, it persecutes the innocent and rewards the guilty. A bar association that disbars Matthew Diaz and leaves Yoo and Haynes free to practice is fundamentally corrupt. In essence, this choice reflects a legal profession that puts upholding the will of the Executive, even when it commands the most egregious and unlawful conduct, over the Rule of Law. It reflects the abnegation of the bedrock principles of the profession and the principles of the American Constitution and the Revolution which gave rise to it."
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Click on the title for the original blog on cabdrollery....
I did a bit of checking into the history of complaints about gitmo personnel with licenses in California... and it seems there is good reason to make this a state statute as opposed to leaving it in the hands of the agencies that police themselves (we know how that goes, don't we....?)
It seems that back in 2005 a complaint was filed against John Edmondson (the former head of detainee care and a CA licensee). First the California Board denied that it possessed jurisdiction over activities at the base. Then a mandamus action was filed in state court against the board alleging that under CA state law the Board not only possesses jurisdiction but was required to investigate complaints of unprofessional conduct. In response the Board conceded that they possessed jurisdiction but that they were exercising administrative discretion not to proceed in investigating complaints (citing budgetary constraints, inherent difficulties in conducting an investigation abroad, etc.) Ultimately the Guantanamo detainees lost on that point. Anyone familiar with administrative law knows that once an agency gets into the realm of discretion it's almost impossible to force action. Maybe there has been a change on that board since 2005...but I can tell you with certainty that they were rather resistant about digging into this issue at all back then. For that matter so was the AMA, WMA, and WHO.
Maybe we can make all of these agencies do the right thing now? and what about the lawyers and the American Bar Association?
I actually sent out emails to a couple of my favorite legal bloggers trying to understand their position on this topic... some seem to have no opinion and others feel as I do... that those who advocate torture on a policy level do not deserve the honor of being an attorney at law.
When the transcrip is available I will try to figure out a way to post it... but that brings me to the second interesting part of the argument... part of the argument was done behind closed doors...because of the secrets... you know "national security"... what a crock.
So the Courts might finally be figuring out how they have been hoodwinked these past 7+ years but they still fall for the governments ploy of doing things in secret so the rest of the world can't see or hear the bogus arguments.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
There are really two stories here... the memos again show how third rate lawyers with no ethical principles have been running the "justice" system in the United States but beneath that is the story about the classification system being misused by our criminal government to keep inconvenient information from the rest of us. Although we have long known about these additional memos they were withheld all these years "for national security reasons."
I have written about the things withheld on the basis of national security in Mr. Al-Ghizzawi's case but to remind you.... They have tried to keep half of his torture secret (Al-Ghizzawi wrote a six page letter outlining his torture at US hands... the first three pages are "classified" the last three pages are "cleared".) A letter describing Al-Ghizzawi's still failing health has recently been "classified" and I have to fly to DC to the "secret facility" and have a "cleared" translator meet me there to translate the letter for me... and the letter must remain at the secret facility in my secret drawer. (last time that happened the letter was about Al-Ghizzawi's health and the fact that he misses his family..I resubmitted the letter for clearance in English and it cleared, go figure...)... The complete record of Al-Ghizzawi's CSRT (combat status review tribunal) is "classified" but the full version only shows that there is no evidence against him.. a fact found by the first panel that reviewed his case and found him to not be an enemy combatant. Clearly the classification is used to make it seem like there is some secret evidence that warrants his continued imprisonment.
Most recently drawings from Guantanamo prisoner and Al-Jazeera reporter, Sami Al Haj, have been "classified." His attorneys found an artist to reconstruct the drawings based on a description by Al Haj of his pictures (the descriptions of the pictures were cleared!) So we have an artist on this side of the wire redrawing Sami's pictures so we can have a look at his suffering.... (go to Reprieve's website to view the artist's rendition of the 4 pictures that are apparently classified because of national security concerns). (http://www.reprieve.org.uk/Press_Sami_Al_Haj_Fourth_Sketch_2008.03.28.htm)
So who's national security is at stake and why does everyone accept this?