It seems that the chances of John Yoo, Jay Bybee and others architects of the Bush administrations legal justification for torture are one big step closer towards getting disbarred. The NY Times (here), the Washington Post (here) and others, reported this week about the newly formed group, Velvet Revolution, that is actively calling for 12 high ranking former officials to be disbarred and judged for their actions.
As the Velvet Revolution succinctly puts it on their website (here):
“Torture is illegal under both United States and international law. The Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, and it states that treaties signed by the U.S. are the “supreme Law of the Land” under Article Six. The Geneva Convention and The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment both prohibit torture and have been signed by the United States. These laws provide no exception for torture under any circumstances. Moreover, the United States Criminal Code prohibits both torture and war crimes, the latter which includes torture. The Army Field Manual prohibits the use of degrading treatment of detainees.
Despite this well-established law, under the Bush administration, torture was authorized by George Bush and kept secret using classified designations. The White House requested legal memoranda to support its use of torture and it received those authored by a host of attorneys, including John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Stephen Bradbury. Attorneys who advised, counseled, consulted and supported those memoranda included Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, Alice Fisher, William Haynes II, Douglas Feith, Michael Mukasey, Timothy Flanigan, and David Addington.
Their site also has an excellent archive of documents related to the US’s use of torture during the war of terror and a petition for any and all willing to sign calling for these 12 figures debarment. All I can say is that it seems to be a good start and that no matter how much Obama might want to avoid such a move, it is great to see more and more people from civil society pushing for it. Impunity in whatever form will prevent the US from regaining whatever standing it once had or deserved about the importance of rule of law, human rights and the idea that no one is above the law.
While some are claiming that this move is too modest, such as the Washington Post, I think it is important to remember that this would be the start of a greater process of revealing what happened, who approved it, and who should suffer the consequences.