Just up on YouTube (and posted below) are three edits of “The Giant John Yoo Debate,” which took place last Tuesday as part of “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week. This excellent piece of political theater involved a group of legal experts and activists, introduced by Stephanie Tang of the World Can’t Wait, and led by Sharon Adams of the National Lawyers Guild (San Francisco), responding to filmed statements and interviews with John Yoo, the UC Berkeley law professor who wrote the notorious “torture memos” in August 2002, which purported to redefine torture so that it could be used by the CIA (and then by the US military). Yoo narrowly avoided charges of “professional misconduct” in an internal Justice Department investigation that was cynically manipulated earlier this year, so that he and his immediate boss, Jay S. Bybee, who now serves as a judge in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, were merely adjudged to have exercised “poor judgment.”
The images of John Yoo were projected onto the wall of Boalt Hall, where Yoo teaches when he is not hiding out from protestors calling for his prosecution, and those joining Sharon Adams to debate the giant images included Ann Fagan Ginger of the Meiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, author and activist Larry Everest, Shahid Buttar, the executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan, who memorably described Yoo as “a baby-faced, twisted piece of human excrement.”
I also took part, as I explained in a previous article here, and among the other speakers were law student Yanin Senachai, part of the student group Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture, who said, “International law establishes an absolute prohibition on torture. We shouldn’t even be allowed to practice law if you don’t understand that.” Another extraordinarily passionate student called for John Yoo’s prosecution and told the crowd that many other students felt the same way, but were afraid of speaking out.
Note: See here for a report on the event by Nadia Prupis of Truthout.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, currently on tour in the UK, and available on DVD here), and my definitive Guantánamo habeas list, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
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On Facebook, Willy Bach wrote:
Andy, I particularly like the poster. Anyone riding into town and tying their horse to this lamp-post will notice the poster and set out to win the bounty by capturing this rogue of rogues. Bloody right too!
The posters are the work of an indefatigable activist named George, who spends all his spare time (and I mean all his spare time) putting them up, and, moreover, engaging with passers-by who ask what he’s doing in order to educate them about the war criminal in their midst. He is the very definition of the committed activist, and if Berkeley ever rids itself of John Yoo his work will have played a tremendously important part.
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