In this groundbreaking conference, Ralph Nader moderates conversations with twelve leading scholars, practitioners, and advocates about transforming America’s broken legal system. Speakers from former Attorney General Ramsey Clark to the founder of the National Legal Services program Edgar Cahn will explore topics ranging from corporate capture of government and the courts, mass incarceration, campaign finance reform, access to justice, and the excesses of executive power.
In case you did not know, May 1 is Law Day! Initiated by the American Bar Association (ABA), established by President Dwight D. Eisenhower and made official by Congress in 1961, Law Day was seen as a counterweight to May Day which celebrates the workers of the world within socialist and communist countries.
The rule of law is rapidly breaking down at the top levels of our government. As officers of the court, we have sworn to “support the Constitution,” which clearly implies an affirmative commitment on our part.
Take the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The conservative American Bar Association sent three white papers to President Bush describing his continual unconstitutional policies. Then and now civil liberties groups and a few law professors, such as the stalwart David Cole of Georgetown University and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, have distinguished themselves in calling out both presidents for such violations and the necessity for enforcing the rule of law.
John Yoo, the man who provided the legal rationalizations for many of our numerous and multifaceted war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush II administration came to speak in Austin last week at the University of Texas law school. I skated out from work a little early and went to see him speak.
Got there good and early to get a seat, and waited outside the auditorium while the Federalist Society types ran around trying to tie up all the loose ends. Clearly they weren’t my type of people–all the men were wearing identical black suit white shirt red tie outfits and looked, and acted, like a hybrid of John Belushi’s two nemeses in Animal House, Neidemeyer the preppy ROTC turd, and Marmelard, the smarmy student government sellout. Except that all the Federalist types were all short, with short-man personalities. Their Federalist Society women had a little more flexibility in their apparel, and all dressed well and looked physically attractive but all seemed wound rather too tight. Seeing them reminded me of a friend of mine’s remark about Sarah Palin–he’d thought she might be worth some naked time with but somehow he suspected she’d be a lousy piece of ass. They were both officious and incompetent–the line to the auditorium didn’t get sorted out until I stepped up and started it and gave some clear directions to the crowd milling outside there.
The long-awaited report by the OPR (the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility) into the conduct of the lawyers in the OLC (Office of Legal Counsel), regarding their role in approving the use of torture, has finally been published (PDF).
The report largely focuses on two memos dated August 1, 2002, and a third dated March 14, 2003. Widely known as the “torture memos,” these notorious documents sought to redefine torture so that it could be used by the CIA (and by the US military in the March 2003 memo), and the report concludes that the primary author of the memos, John Yoo, an OLC lawyer who is now a law professor at Boalt Hall, the University of California’s School of Law in Berkeley, and the senior official who signed the August 2002 memos, Assistant Attorney General Jay S. Bybee, who is now a judge in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, were guilty of “professional misconduct.”
Lauren Booth is speaking at “Stop The Gaza Massacre” Demonstration in London on January 10, 2009. This video clip is also planned to be included into an upcoming Gaza documentary by Joshua Smith. Lauren Booth Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauren_Booth
In a disgraceful example of bullying and intimidation, Marc Falkoff, a law professor at Northern Illinois University College of Law, who has been a lawyer for 16 Guantánamo prisoners since 2004, was forced to call off a talk about Guantánamo at a college in Illinois last week after receiving threats of violence to himself and his family. In Sunday’s Northwest Herald (“Local news and video for McHenry County, Illinois), Professor Falkoff wrote a guest column explaining what he would have said had the event not been called off, which I reproduce below, as it is not only a ringing endorsement of the right to free speech, but also a concise explanation of why it remains important for those who see beyond the Bush administration’s rhetoric about Guantánamo — that it holds “the worst of the worst” — to be able to discuss the many reasons that this claim is a blatant lie.
Tortured Law, a new 10-minute documentary by Alliance for Justice, examines the role lawyers played in authorizing torture, and calls upon Attorney General Holder to Join those calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to release the report of the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility, and hold accountable those who ordered, designed, and justified torture.
Congressional Conferees Agree To Language Allowing Defense Department To Exempt Photos From Freedom Of Information Act
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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WASHINGTON – According to a conference summary, House and Senate conferees today approved language for the homeland security appropriations bill that, if passed, would grant the Department of Defense (DOD) the authority to continue suppressing photos depicting the abuse of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas. The language described in the summary appears to incorporate an amendment put forth by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) that would allow DOD to exempt the photos from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The photos were ordered released by a federal appeals court as part of an American Civil Liberties Union FOIA lawsuit.
Lawyer declines to say how he found out accuser didn’t talk to Justice Department
Karl Rove’s latest attempt to proclaim his innocence and demand apologies from those who have accused him of being behind the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman may backfire if it turns out that Rove was improperly receiving inside information after leaving his position as Deputy White House Chief of Staff.
“For more than two years,” Rove writes in the Wall Street Journal, “House Judiciary Committee Democrats and the New York Times editorial board have argued that I personally arranged for Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman to be prosecuted in 2004 for corruption and ordered the removal of eight U.S. attorneys in 2006 for failing to investigate Democrats. The Washington Post editorial board also echoed this last charge. The Times and the Post have published a combined 18 editorials on these issues, which were also catnip to House Judiciary Committee Democrats.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. D-Mich. today released over 700 pages of on-the-record interview transcripts of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers on the U.S. attorney firings and the Bush administration’s politicization of the Department of Justice. Conyers also released over 5,400 pages of Bush White House and Republican National Committee e-mails on these subjects.
The released materials reveal that White House officials were deeply involved in the U.S. attorney firings and the administration made a concerted effort to hide that fact from the American people. “After all the delay and despite all the obfuscation, lies, and spin,” Conyers said, “this basic truth can no longer be denied: Karl Rove and his cohorts at the Bush White House were the driving force behind several of these firings, which were done for improper reasons. Under the Bush regime, honest and well-performing U.S. attorneys were fired for petty patronage, political horsetrading and, in the most egregious case of political abuse of the U.S. attorney corps – that of U.S. Attorney Iglesias – because he refused to use his office to help Republicans win elections. When Mr. Iglesias said his firing was a ‘political fragging,’ he was right.”