- On Monday, May 18, 2009, a broad coalition of organizations
dedicated to accountable government, and representing over one million
members, filed disciplinary complaints with state bar licensing boards
against twelve attorneys who advocated the torture of detainees during
the Bush Administration. These detailed complaints with over 500 pages
of supporting exhibits have been filed against John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Stephen
Bradbury, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, Alice Fisher,
William Haynes II, Douglas Feith, Michael Mukasey, Timothy Flanigan, and
David Addington. The complaints, filed with the state bars in the District
of Columbia, New York, California, Texasand Pennsylvania, seek disciplinary
action and disbarment. Copies of the complaints and exhibits are available
- The individually tailored complaints allege that the
named attorneys violated the rules of professional responsibility by advocating
torture, which is illegal under both United States and international law.
Specifically, the Geneva Convention, UN Convention Against Torture, the
Eighth Amendment, the Army Field Manual and the United StatesCriminal Code
against torture and war crimes all prohibit torture of detainees. The memos
written and supported by these attorneys advocating torture have now been
repudiated by the Department of Justice, the White House, the Department
of Defense and other experts in the field. The recently released Senate
and Red Cross reports on detainee treatment provide uncontrovertible evidence
that the torture techniques advocated by the attorneys were used on human
beings over an extended period of time.
- In testimony at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Former
State Department counselor Philip Zelikow told a committee panel that Bush
administration officials engaged in a 'collective failure' on detention
and interrogation of suspected terrorists. He called the torture memos
"unsound" because "the lawyers involved ... did not welcome
peer review and indeed would shut down challenges even inside the government."
Another witness testified that the legal policy constituted "an ethical
train wreck" because it violated constitutional, statutory and international
law. http://www.disbartorturelawyers.com. <http://apps.facebook.com/causes/285677/47729282?m=fb5a6ed7>Facebook.
- Please visit the <http://www.disbartorturelawyers.com/>Disbar
the Lawyers page, read about our campaign and the details behind.
- Kevin Zeese, the attorney for the coalition who signed
the complaints, said, "It is time to hold these lawyers accountable
for violating their legal oath. Just as the bar would suspend an attorney
who advised a police officer to torture and brutalize a detained immigrant
or criminal defendant, the bar must suspend these attorneys for advocating
and causing the torture of war detainees. The disciplinary boards that
hear these complaints must act or they will be seen as complicit in the
use of torture. This is an important step toward the ultimate accountability
of criminal prosecution."
- The coalition expects these twelve complaints to be followed
with others after the involvement of additional attorneys is confirmed.
- The campaign website is at www.disbartorturelawyers.com.
- Kevin Zeese is the executive director of VotersForPeace.US
and a member of the Board of VelvetRevolution.US. He is an attorney who
signed the complaints against 12 Bush-Cheney lawyers who facilitated torture.
- Never Again
- By Robert C. Koehler
- Tribune Media Services
- The reason we must keep the torture issue alive is not
to exact a small measure of comeuppance from the Bush administration zealots
who bent the law till it screamed, but to alter the course of history.
- Thus the filing of disciplinary complaints a few days
ago against 12 Bush administration lawyers, who crafted the quasi-legal
justifications that made waterboarding a household word, has significance
well beyond the case for their disbarment. This action, taken by a coalition
of citizen organizations - from the ACLU and Vets for Peace to the Libertarian
Party of West Virginia, 200 groups in total, claiming a membership of more
than a million people - represents, as I see it, American citizens' furthest
reach of patriotic sanity.
- The Bush sins are unoriginal. We've always done torture.
We've always been at war with a dehumanized (and usually dark-skinned)
other, whom we have simultaneously attempted to kill and, in our armed
- The cocky Bush boys were different only in their open
pursuit of this agenda. They had no need for nuanced, bipartisan hypocrisy
and flaunted the shadow ops of empire as perfectly legitimate tools of
government. With the declaration of an endless war on terror and much of
the media on their side, they almost succeeded in legitimizing the premise
that the commander-in-chief and his designated agents are beyond all law,
and ushering in a strange new American oligarchy.
- This effort collapsed of its own hubris, as we all know,
and now Hope and Change, the Bobbsey Twins of the Democratic Party, skip
merrily through the wreckage, disavowing the obvious cruelties of the last
eight years and urging us to "move forward" - while the extra-legal
pursuit of America's strategic interests, as defined by the defense establishment,
retreats quietly to the background.
- Uh, excuse us, Mr. President. The mandate you've been
given is a little bigger than that, to the regret (I fear) of the Washington
establishment. We want to purge the Bush era from the national soul. We
want the words "never again" to hum with meaning. We want a new
relationship with the world and we want our "strategic interests"
to line up with our ideals, not merely because it's right but because it's
the only way we'll ever be secure. And for this to happen, we have to look
squarely at the truth of who we are and who we have always been.
- The failure of the Bush administration to remake America
- and the fact that the crimes of its attempt to do so are indelibly part
of the public record - present us with the best opportunity we've ever
had to confront our national flaws, at least those that flow from the bete
noir known as American exceptionalism, and begin making substantive changes.
All that's lacking right now is the will. Believe me, it won't come from
- "There's a vise grip on D.C.," said Kevin Zeese,
executive director of Voters for Peace and a leader in the effort to make
Bush officials accountable for trying to circumvent both the U.S. Constitution
and international law in order to legitimize torture. The Justice Department
has sat on it for five years; Congress is paralyzed by its own complicity;
and President Obama lacks the leverage to buck the defense establishment
even if he has the inclination (and it's not clear he does).
- We won't take the country back all at once, but we have
to start somewhere. And it begins with accountability. This is why I applaud
the coalition's filing of complaints with state bar licensing boards against
these dirty dozen Bush administration attorneys: John Yoo, Jay Bybee, Stephen
Bradbury, Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, Alice Fisher,
William Haynes II, Douglas Feith, Michael Mukasey, Timothy Flanigan and
David Addington. In addition, the coalition is calling for impeachment
proceedings against Bybee, now a sitting federal judge.
- I don't know how much of the truth will ever come out,
in a way that cannot be ignored (think Germany, think South Africa), but
my hope is that we begin a process that gets at all of it, that pries open
every secret grave: the CIA torture research of the 1950s; the Phoenix
Program of the Vietnam era; the overthrow of the governments of Iran, Guatemala
and Chile; the torture training at the School of the Americas; the Reagan
era complicity with the thug regimes of Central America; and so much more.
- These are all products of American exceptionalism, the
belief that our brutality is always benign. Where once we killed to spread
the word of God, we now kill and torture in the name of democracy - and
in the Bush era, we did both, a fact underscored by the recent revelation
that Donald Rumsfeld's special intelligence memos to Bush had inspirational
photos (an American tank at sunset, e.g.) and Bible verses on the cover:
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil
comes, you may be able to stand your ground . . ."
- Perhaps the antidote to this self-righteous lunacy is
to be found at the coalition Web site: disbartorturelawyers.com. It will
happen again if we don't stand up to it now.
- - - -
- Robert Koehler, an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist,
is an editor at Tribune Media Services and nationally syndicated writer.
You can respond to this column email@example.com or visit his Web
site at commonwonders.com.
- © 2009 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.
- Ilene PRoctor
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