Tag Archives: John Yoo

Advocacy Groups Seek Disbarment of Ex-Bush Administration Lawyers

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.

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Audacity Has a New Name: John Yoo

John Yoo, one of the main legal architects of Bush’s torture defense, had the audacity to publish an editorial in the Wall Street Journal critiquing Obama’s decision to suspend the CIA’s special authority to interrogate terrorists, claiming that it will “seriously handicap our intelligence agencies from preventing future terrorist attacks.”  Really?  I think Mr. Yoo needs to stop watching ’24’ reruns and think about why most of the world sees Guantanamo as anything but a success.

How a law professor at UC Berkeley, a position that Yoo somehow managed to score after leaving the Department of Justice in 2003, can have so little respect for the US Constitution is astonishing.  If John Yoo really believes that “the civilian law-enforcement system cannot prevent terrorist attacks” and that the only way to do so is to stoop to their level, then he is the one that is incredibly naive.

The shamelessness of it all.  If anything, Yoo should be preparing for his debarment, rather than penning editorials for the WSJ about how much Obama has to learn about governing.  Considering that Yoo stated that “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” then he surely doesn’t deserve to keep the right to practice law.  These are not mere procedural details or niceties, they are the foundations upon which the entire American criminal justice system has been built up on.

It will be interesting to see if Yoo’s tune changes over time as the Republican base continues to shrink, while the Democrats majorities grow.   The Rule of Law is too important to sacrifice out of fear.  If the US does give in any more than it already has, then 9/11’s fallout will have been truly greater than anyone could have imagined.