John Yoo ordered to testify on torture

John Yoo, the former Bush administration lawyer connected to the torture program put in place by the Bush Administration, has been ordered to testify in court about accusations that his work led to the torture of a detainee. More at ThinkProgress and Raw Story.

From Raw Story:

Former Bush administration attorney John Yoo was ordered on Friday by a federal judge in San Francisco to testify in an appeal brought by Jose Padilla, an American citizen who was held for more than three years and allegedly tortured while in U.S. military custody.

Yoo was one of several administration lawyers who authored legal memos which outlined a legal range for torture, a war crime under the Geneva Convention relative to the prisoners of war.

“Judge [Jeffrey S.] White denied most elements of Mr. Yoo’s motion and quoted a passage from the Federalist Papers that in times of war, nations, to be more safe, ‘at length become willing to run the risk of being less free,’” noted The New York Times.

Yoo, while at the Office of Legal Council in 2002, authored a majority of the department’s opinions on torture along with Jay Bybee, who now serves as a judge on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Steven Bradbury, the former OLC chief who now practices law in Washington, D.C…

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Even If It Wasn’t Torture, It Was Still a Crime

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Article VI, Clause 2 of the US Constitution says:

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding. 

Article VI, Clause 3 says:

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. 

There are those on the right who insist that the US should never be bound by International Treaty, but they would be wrong. When we sign a treaty and ratify it in our Senate, it becomes “the supreme Law of the Land.” To fail to follow it would be to fail to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

The UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment makes it a crime to torture people or to treat prisoners cruelly or inhumanely. The United States signed this treaty on April 18, 1988. The United States finally got around to ratifying this treaty on October 21, 1994. This means that this treaty was the Law of the Land on January 20, 2001, when the Bush Administration came into office.

On August 6, 2002, Continue reading

War Criminals, Including Their Lawyers, Must Be Prosecuted

by Marjorie Cohn (Posted at TheZoo by permission)

Since he took office, President Obama has instituted many changes that break with the policies of the Bush administration. The new president has ordered that no government agency will be allowed to torture, that the U.S. prison at Guantánamo will be shuttered, and that the CIA’s secret black sites will be closed down. But Obama is non-committal when asked whether he will seek investigation and prosecution of Bush officials who broke the law. “My view is also that nobody’s above the law and, if there are clear instances of wrongdoing, that people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen,” Obama said. “But,” he added, “generally speaking, I’m more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards.” Obama fears that holding Team Bush to account will risk alienating Republicans whom he still seeks to win over.

Obama may be off the hook, at least with respect to investigating the lawyers who advised the White House on how to torture and get away with it. The Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) has written a draft report that apparently excoriates former Justice Department lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee, authors of the infamous torture memos, according to Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff. OPR can report these lawyers to their state bar associations for possible discipline, or even refer them for criminal investigation. Obama doesn’t have to initiate investigations; the OPR has already launched them, on Bush’s watch.

The smoking gun that may incriminate George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, et al., is the email traffic that passed between the lawyers and the White House. Isikoff revealed the existence of these emails on The Rachel Maddow Show. Some maintain that Bush officials are innocent because they relied in good faith on legal advice from their lawyers. But if the president and vice president told the lawyers to manipulate the law to allow them to commit torture, then that defense won’t fly.
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