Nothing’s Incidental

July 26, 2009

This Heat

July 24, 2009

Hi Baku Shyo (Suffer Bomb Disease)

Not Waving


Whoever declared irony dead apparently never foresaw our government’s respect for the Rule of Law being shredded by the very public servants entrusted to uphold it, directly resulting in the absurdity of an unrepentant war criminal threatening arrest upon civilly disobedient pranksters for having the temerity to point out this contradiction.

Furthermore, how impaired is our national sense of moral outrage that we need Australians to come to America in order to get anyone to pay attention to the absurdity of  allowing war criminals like John Yoo and Dick Cheney to walk about with impunity?

Just like we needed the Spanish government to get any substantive discussion of our governing war criminals being indicted:

But the decision on whether to begin a criminal investigation of the six officials will be made by an investigating judge. In this case, that is likely to be Baltasar Garzón, who has ignored opinions of politicians and law enforcement officials before. Spain’s best-known judge, he gained international fame by achieving the arrest of the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998.

Lawyers at the court said they now expected a tug of war within the court and between judges and politicians.

Madrid’s National Court is somewhat set apart from the country’s regular court system. As the top criminal court, it deals with cases that are international in scope, including terrorism, corruption, drug trafficking and human rights violations. The suit against the six Americans was filed at this court by a group of human rights lawyers in March, and until this week it appeared to be moving ahead unhindered.

Last week, the prosecutors gave the green light for legal action, according to lawyers who saw a draft of their review. The draft said that Spain had jurisdiction under international law, including under the United Nations Convention Against Torture, and that there was enough evidence of wrongdoing for a criminal investigation to proceed, those who saw the legal opinion said. In addition, five former Guantánamo inmates, three of them Spanish citizens and two Spanish residents, have said that they were tortured.

But that green light turned red on Thursday, when Spain’s attorney general, Cáandido Conde-Pumpido, told journalists that he was opposed to an investigation.

He argued that the proper forum for any criminal actions would be American courts. And, citing what he called flaws in the complaint, he insisted that the focus of investigation should be on the interrogators who actually mistreated detainees.

That appeared to put him at odds with President Obama, who the same day sought to reassure C.I.A. operatives that they would not be prosecuted for using brutal interrogation methods if they had acted on official legal advice.

Or recall how the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) was forced to utilize the German justice system to open serious consideration of war crime charges against Donald Rumsfeld and other U.S. government officials for authorizing torture at Abu Ghraib:

The complaint is brought on behalf of 12 torture victims – 12 Iraqi citizens who were held at Abu Ghraib prison and one Guantánamo detainee – and is being filed by CCR, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), the Republican Attorneys’ Association (RAV), and others, all represented by Berlin Attorney Wolfgang Kaleck.


In November 2007, CCR, FIDH, and RAV appealed the decision of the German Federal Prosecutor not to open an investigation. On April 21, 2009, the Stuttgart Regional Appeals Court dismissed the appeal. See the original and the translated Court decision attached below. A motion for reconsideration was filed on May 25, 2009.

And why was the CCR forced to rely on German Federal Prosecutors to bring charges that the U.S. government violated international criminal law?

The United States has refused to join the International Criminal Court, thereby foreclosing the option of pursuing a prosecution before it. Iraq has no authority to prosecute. Furthermore, the U.S. gave immunity to all its personnel in Iraq from Iraqi prosecution. All this added to the United States’ unquestionable refusal to look at the responsibility of those of the very top of the chain of command and named in the present complaint, and the recent passage of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 aimed at preventing war crimes prosecutions against Americans in the U.S., German courts are seen as a last resort to obtain justice for those victims of abuse and torture while detained by the United States.

And finally, of course, we needed an Iraqi journalist to exquisitely express exactly how a majority of Americans felt by the end of 2008 about George Bush and his illegal invasion of Iraq:

But getting back to those wonderful Australians, I couldn’t help but notice the classroom reaction to the John Yoo stunt was less than supportive of the merry pranksters. Despite the fact that this was a Constitutional Law class, some student can be heard whining about how the protesters were “cutting into my time”, followed by applause apparently for Professor Yoo’s stirring riposte that the protester was putting himself in the position…of protesting Yoo’s support for torture…or something. Ha-ha, take that you dirty hippie!

I know law students usually don’t have a lot of control over who teaches their core doctrinal courses and I also understand the motivation to not threaten one’s final grade by unnecessarily pissing off one’s professor, but neither of these facts demand active support of the piece of shit either. Perhaps they hadn’t yet covered that part of the Constitution regarding the Free Speech Clause, or for that matter, Due Process.

More than likely, these students who chose to take a course taught by a shameless idealogue who advocates demonstratively deficient legal theories on Executive power, simply failed to develop the moral compass necessary to ascertain what’s plainly wrong about a person like John Yoo holding any professional post anywhere.

And I think the question we must ask ourselves, as a society, is why would these students develop that type of moral clarity while coming of age during the last eight years of political depravity? After all, John Yoo should be at the very least disbarred and reduced to a pariah for his role in discrediting any claim to superior morality this country had prior to the election of George W. Bush. Instead he teaches law courses at respected institutions, and writes a monthly column for the Philadelphia Enquirer as if nothing horribly wrong ever occurred.

I can’t help but wonder how our political leaders and politically conscious citizens would have reacted to a John Yoo 65 years ago, when the U.S. had the type of leadership that insisted on open trials for war criminals, including characters like Yoo, who dutifully aid and abet human atrocities behind the pretense of objectivity supposedly granted by their law degrees.

In the end, I think we all could take a page from the less tractable undergrads at Stanford: