Monday, April 25, 2011

Torture enabler coming to Fairbanks: We See Yoo!

As you can tell by the title of my post, I am in no way neutral when it comes to the crime committed by John Yoo, who enabled the torture of prisoners by the United States through his vile legal opinion for the Bush Administration. He has sullied the term "lawyer," and it is astonishing to me that he is still licensed to practice law. There is a warrant for his arrest for war crimes in Spain. (See also Fire John Woo! for more information.)

Yoo is coming as a guest speaker for the Alaska Bar Association convention, to be held at the Princess Hotel May 4, 5, & 6. Yoo is a featured speaker on Friday:
The Balance Between Security and Civil Liberties in Wartime

This program will be moderated by Jeff Feldman, and will put the views advanced by Professor Yoo and Mr. Wax on trial through an interactive program of cross-examination and Socratic dialog. Please join us in what we expect to be an electric discussion of the most pressing constitutional issues of our time.
Steve Wax is a federal public defender and the author of the book, Kafka Comes to America: Fighting for Justice in the War on Terror. This segment of the conference is scheduled from 8:30 am to noon on Friday in the Edgewater Room, according to the conference program.

After the conference, the ACLU and the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship will hold a potluck and discussion with Wax at 6:30 pm.

Perhaps a little review of the history would be helpful. First, here's a definition of torture under US legal code.
(1) “torture” means an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control;
Note that those who conspire to commit torture are subject to the same punishment as those who actually do the torture:
(a) Offense.— Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life.

(b) Jurisdiction.— There is jurisdiction over the activity prohibited in subsection (a) if—

(1) the alleged offender is a national of the United States; or
(2) the alleged offender is present in the United States, irrespective of the nationality of the victim or alleged offender.

(c) Conspiracy.— A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy.
John Yoo wrote the infamous "Torture Memo" that provided the Bush Administration with the justification it needed to commit torture (see the PDF: part 1 and part 2). The memo was eventually rescinded, but the man who authored it continues to defend it, and several others he wrote. By inviting John Yoo to speak at the convention, the Alaska Bar Association has, in effect, legitimized his position. It gives the appearance that he's seen not as a criminal of the very worst kind running around loose on a convoluted technicality; instead, he is a respected scholar with a defensible viewpoint. That is detestable, and shameful.

And the United States government, our CURRENT administration, continues to try to get the whole icky business swept under the rug.

I think the good people of Fairbanks need to get their feet on the street and protest the abomination that this man enabled, and protest the fact that he is out, free, and on the lecture circuit.

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