Posts Tagged ‘John Yoo


The Torturous 13


The following thirteen Bush Administration officials and advisors have been deemed those most responsible for advocating torture; according to Marcy Wheeler writing for, in an article entitled: “The 13 people who made torture possible”  This article is excellently authored with respected references, clarity and thoroughness.

Personally, I believe we all are of the understanding that more culprits are involved, other than just those mentioned, but this is a very good “top – down” list of candidates that I feel should be made to answer for their involvement in front of our legislative branch of government.

The list of thirteen follows:

1. Dick Cheney, vice president (2001-2009)

Dick Cheney

On the morning of 9/11, after the evacuation of the White House, Dick Cheney summoned his legal counsel, David Addington, to return to work. The two had worked together for years. In the 1980s, when Cheney was a congressman from Wyoming and Addington a staff attorney to another congressman, Cheney and Addington argued that in Iran-Contra, the president could ignore congressional guidance on foreign policy matters. Between 1989 and 1992, when Dick Cheney was the elder George Bush’s secretary of defense, Addington served as his counsel. He and Cheney saved the only known copies of abusive interrogation technique manuals taught at the School of the Americas. Now, on the morning of 9/11, they worked together to plot an expansive grab of executive power that they claimed was the correct response to the terrorist threat. Within two weeks, they had gotten a memo asserting almost unlimited power for the president as “the sole organ of the Nation in its foreign relations,” to respond to the terrorist attacks. As part of that expansive view of executive power, Cheney and Addington would argue that domestic and international laws prohibiting torture and abuse could not prevent the president from authorizing harsh treatment of detainees in the war against terror.

But Cheney and Addington also fought bureaucratically to construct this torture program. Cheney led the way by controlling who got access to President Bush — and making sure his own views preempted others‘. Each time the torture program got into trouble as it spread around the globe, Cheney intervened to ward off legal threats and limits, by badgering the CIA’s inspector general when he reported many problems with the interrogation program, and by lobbying Congress to legally protect those who had tortured.

Most shockingly, Cheney is reported to have ordered torture himself, even after interrogators believed detainees were cooperative. Since the 2002 OLC memo known as “Bybee Two” that authorizes torture premises its authorization for torture on the assertion that “the interrogation team is certain that” the detainee “has additional information he refuses to divulge,” Cheney appears to have ordered torture that was illegal even under the spurious guidelines of the memo.

2. David Addington, counsel to the vice president (2001-2005), chief of staff to the vice president (2005-2009)

David Addington

David Addington championed the fight to argue that the president — in his role as commander in chief — could not be bound by any law, including those prohibiting torture. He did so in two ways. He advised the lawyers drawing up the legal opinions that justified torture. In particular, he ran a “War Council” with Jim Haynes, John Yoo, John Rizzo and Alberto Gonzales (see all four below) and other trusted lawyers, which crafted and executed many of the legal approaches to the war on terror together.

In addition, Addington and Cheney wielded bureaucratic carrots and sticks — notably by giving or withholding promotions for lawyers who supported these illegal policies. When Jack Goldsmith withdrew a number of OLC memos because of the legal problems in them, Addington was the sole administration lawyer who defended them. Addington’s close bureaucratic control over the legal analysis process shows he was unwilling to let the lawyers give the administration a “good faith” assessment of the laws prohibiting torture.

3. Alberto Gonzales, White House counsel (2001-2005), and attorney general (2005-2008)

Alberto Gonzales

As White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales was nominally in charge of representing the president’s views on legal issues, including national security issues. In that role, Gonzales wrote and reviewed a number of the legal opinions that attempted to immunize torture. Most important, in a Jan. 25, 2002, opinion reportedly written with David Addington, Gonzales paved the way for exempting al-Qaida detainees from the Geneva Conventions. His memo claimed the “new kind of war” represented by the war against al-Qaida “renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners.” In a signal that Gonzales and Addington adopted that position to immunize torture, Gonzales argued that one advantage of not applying the Geneva Convention to al-Qaida would “substantially reduce the threat of domestic criminal prosecution under the War Crimes Act.” The memo even specifically foresaw the possibility of independent counsels’ prosecuting acts against detainees.

Continue reading ‘The Torturous 13’


Torturing Democracy – The Film


icon_digg8 Film and video documentaries are beginning to roll out regarding the Bush years of echoing continuous threats to our livelihoods if we didn’t adhere, allow and fellow our vice assistant leader Dick Cheney and his chief adviser on torture assistant Mr. John Yoo, (John can recalled here and here to refresh your memories).

The latest and most popular is entitled “Torturing Democracy” and has been awarded the RFK Journalism Award, where the awards committee calls the film “The definitive broadcast account of a deeply troubling chapter in recent American history”.

National Security Archive Update, April 14, 2009:

Washington, DC – Today, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights announced that “Torturing Democracy” has won a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for domestic television and is a finalist for the grand prize. Produced and written by eight-time Emmy winner and National Security Archive fellow Sherry Jones, the RFK Center called the documentary film on the Bush administration’s interrogation and detention policies “the definitive broadcast account of a deeply troubling chapter in recent American history.”

From the RFK Center’s Web site:

“Domestic Television Winner: “Torturing Democracy”, Sherry Jones, Washington Media Associates: Meticulous reporting unravels the inside story of how torture was adopted by the U.S. government as official policy in the aftermath of 9/11. With exclusive interviews, explosive documents and rare archival footage, the documentary has been called the definitive broadcast account of a deeply troubling chapter in recent American history.”

The entire film can be viewed at the companion Web site,, along with key documents, a detailed timeline, the full annotated transcript of the show, and lengthy transcripts of major interviews carried out for the film. Hosted by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, the Web site will ultimately include a complete “Torture Archive” of primary sources.

Prior to the just released nine memos of Bush Administration regarding torture, the following seven highly censored documents were released in the fall of 2008.  All furnished documents are in pdf format:

Torture Memos Released 2008

The following uploaded documents were just released by the Justice Department on the 16 of April 09:

Torture Memos Released 2009

Please consider giving the website a visit and reviewing this timely and informative film, it’s definitely worth a “watch”.

Update 16 Apr 09:

Richard Armitage On Torture: I Should Have Resigned From Bush Administration (Video)
Ryan Grim | HuffPost Reporting From DC

Richard Armitage, the second in command at the State Department under President Bush, told Al Jazeera English in an interview to be aired Thursday that had he known then what he knows now about the torture of detainees, the right thing to do would have been to resign.

“I hope, had I known about it at the time I was serving, I would’ve had the courage to resign,” Armitage said in an interview, according to a transcript provided to the Huffington Post.

Armitage: ‘Maybe I should have quit’

Richard Armitage, the former US Deputy Secretary of State, tells Avi Lewis on Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines why he should have resigned from the Bush administration over its lack of respect for the Geneva conventions.

From Fault Lines, a new show on Al Jazeera English hosted by Avi Lewis and Josh Rushing.

The first episode examines the Obama administration’s emerging policies on detention, rendition and torture.

Related Newswires Articles on Torture from Huffington Post

Related Newswires Articles on Torture from The White House

Related Newswires Articles on Torture from TIME

Related Newswires Articles on Torture from CBS News

Related Newswires Articles on Torture from Politico

Related Newswires Articles on Torture from ABC News


The Blinds of Justice are Lifting


icon_digg3 A couple of months ago (February 2nd to be precise), I authored a posting entitled, “John Yoo A Tough Decision to Defend for the President” regarding the redemption of America’s justice system in wake of all the miscarriages of justice which occurred during the Bush Administration and in particular those pertaining to John Yoo.  Yoo was Bush’s lead legal adviser authoring legal memos concerning the treatment, incarceration and trial (hearings) proceedings of Iraqi and Afghan detainees.

Following up on my past posting I’ve learned others share equally in my interest of Mr. Yoo’s all encompassing ability of embarrassing our country in the eyes of the international community.  In an article posted within Hoffington Post, Mr. Martin Garbus, a Trial lawyer, authored an article entitled: “The Times May Be Changing” where he states some of the following excerpts:

Now six years after Iraq started, nearly one hundred days into the new presidency, more and more information is coming out about the involvement of the Bush people in Iraq-related criminal acts. The legal memos and the statements of tortured detainees are only the beginning of what will soon be a flood of information.

The legal machinery is starting to build, case by case, a rejection of Bush’s legal theories.
Today’s decision from Federal Judge John Bates of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia that those detained in Afghanistan will have access to American courts builds on the recent cases that allow Guantanamo detainees access to the federal court. Judge Bates rejected both the Bush administration’s view and the recently articulated view of President Barack Obama that habeas corpus is not available to imprisoned non-Afghans who are arrested beyond Afghanistan.

We are seeing a pattern in the Washington federal courts. The judges are not shying away from tacking tough issues. The concept that a man sitting in Baghram has a right he can enforce in an American court seemed impossible a few years ago. The constant rat-a-tat of the media, with pictures of the tortured prisoners clearly influences judges along with the rest of the population. Judges respond also when the president too set a higher standard.

Attorney General Eric Holder is the one who must start the criminal process against Cheney, Gonzales, Yoo and the others. He does not shy away from difficult choices, given backing that lets him know he is not alone. He can, and has, taken positions that are ahead of Obama.

Attorney General Holder’s decision today is easier than it was yesterday, and as more and more stories of brutalized prisoners come out, it will get even easier, especially with our President’s recent executive order of allowing wider windows to be opened to the public through the “Freedom of Information Act.

Judge Bates, and the judges before him, including the Supreme Court, have rejected the rationale of Bush’s Attorney General and supporting lawyers that gave the President “unitary powers.”

The public should let Eric Holder and the president know they support criminal prosecution of the Bush people.  This may be accomplished by contacting the Department of Justice here.


John Yoo A Tough Decision to Defend for the President

I can’t agree on this decision by our President made regarding Justice Department official John Yoo, chief author of the so-called torture memos Barack Obama last week sought to nullify.

This I know creates a problem for the President’s Administration defending Yoo in federal court.

Mr. Yoo, was a former law clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, following this assignment Yoo was named a deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel in June 2001. An expert in presidential war powers, he became a key member of the secretive group of Administration lawyers who called themselves the “War Council.”

Unlike the others, Yoo’s position in the Justice Department gave him the authority to issue legal opinions that were binding through the executive branch, and he did so – including the now-infamous “torture memo” of August 2002.

The following PDF documents are some of the key memos generated during his assignment as Administrator of the War Council:

Memo from John Yoo to Tim Flanigan – September 25 2001

Memo from John Yoo to Jim Haynes – December 28 2001

Memo from Alberto Gonzales to President Bush – January 25 2002

Colin Powell Memo to Alberto Gonzales – January 26 2002

Memo from Jay Bybee to Alberto Gonzales – February 7 2002

Letter from John Yoo to Alberto Gonzales – August 1 2002

Action Memo to Secretary Rumsfeld – November 27 2002

As you can read Yoo was instrumental in what I consider “hiding” from the public, Bush’s policy on “torture” and doing so under the cover of the law.  This I feel is just another example of the Bush Administration operating under the “Law of Rule” as opposed to the justice system we believe in, and adhere to, namely the “Rule of Law.

The Yoo case came to the public’s attention, or at least my attention, in an online Newswire article entitled: “Obama lawyers set to defend Yoo” published by Politico.  Following are some excerpts from this article, which I have taken the liberty of high lighting what I consider key passages within the article.

Obama lawyers set to defend Yoo
By Josh Gerstein
1/28/09 4:18 AM EST

Next week, Justice Department lawyers are set to ask a San Francisco federal judge to throw out a lawsuit brought against Yoo by Jose Padilla, a New York man held without charges on suspicion of being an Al Qaeda operative plotting to set off a “dirty bomb.”

The suit contends that Yoo’s legal opinions authorized Bush to order Padilla’s detention in a Navy brig in South Carolina and encouraged military officials to subject Padilla to aggressive interrogation techniques, including death threats and long-term sensory deprivation.

The two cases raise the question of how aggressively the Obama administration intends to defend alleged legal excesses of the Bush administration in the war on terror. The Supreme Court recently gave the new president until March to decide whether to defend the detention without trial of another man held as an enemy combatant, Ali Saleh Al-Marri.

“When they go back to the privacy of their offices, they may wish that someone would draw and quarter John Yoo, but they have to wave the flag,” said a former federal terrorism prosecutor, Andrew McCarthy. “What they have to do is appear as if they are defending all the prerogatives of government that people want them to defend. … That’s the job of the Justice Department.”

Obama’s appointee for attorney general, Eric Holder, has taken issue with some of Yoo’s conclusions but does not appear to have singled him out by name. “I never thought I would see the day when a Justice Department would claim that only the most extreme infliction of pain and physical abuse constitutes torture,” Holder said in a speech last year, alluding to a 2002 memo Yoo wrote.

Other Obama Justice Department appointees have been far more strident in their criticism of Yoo. In an article in Slate just last year, Obama’s pick to head the Office of Legal Counsel, Dawn Johnsen of Indiana University, called one of Yoo’s memos “plainly flawed” and his defense of it “irresponsibly and dangerously false.”

A leading authority on legal ethics, Stephen Gillers, said the incoming officials’ criticism of the former Bush officials has been so withering that they should press to be defended by their own lawyers — at government expense.

“If I were counseling Yoo or Rumsfeld, I would certainly advise them to have private counsel or shadow counsel,” Gillers said. “The defense has to be put in the hands of people who have not been vocal in condemning Rumsfeld and Yoo and who have not taken a public position on the legality of their conduct.”

Obama also seems to be no fan of Yoo’s work. One of the new president’s first acts upon taking office last week was to nullify every detainee-related legal opinion issued during the Bush administration by the unit Yoo worked in, the Office of Legal Counsel.

Some liberal lawyers have suggested Yoo or other officials should face not just civil suits but a full-scale investigation into possible war crimes. “People really haven’t been talking about civil exposure. People have been talking more about potential criminal exposure,” said Eugene Fidell, an attorney specializing in military law.

At present, it doesn’t look like Yoo’s sharpest critics will end up directly in the chain of command responding to the civil lawsuits. Obama has tapped an Oakland, Calif., lawyer, Tony West, to head up DOJ’s civil division, which has primary responsibility for such cases. West hasn’t played a vocal role in the debate over detainee policy, but he was one of the lawyers for John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban caught in Afghanistan.

The following YouTube video is a TPM TV production of Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) during House Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing on Detainee Interrogation, June 26, 2008

Yoo Defines ‘Implement’: 7 and a Half Minutes of Torture

I believe watching this video you can easily understand “why” I possess such an adamant distaste for Mr. Yoo and why he should be brought up before a Senate Investigating Committee on possible charges of lying to congress on June 26, 2008.

Update 03 Mar 09:

Justice Department Releases Bush Administration National Security Memos
from ACLU Newsroom

NEW YORK – The Justice Department today released nine secret memos and opinions written by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that authorized some of the Bush administration’s unlawful national security policies, including a memo written by OLC lawyer John Yoo that argued the Fourth Amendment does not apply to military activities inside the United States. Some of the memos are responsive to American Civil Liberties Union lawsuits seeking OLC legal opinions and other government records.

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