Andy Worthington Attends “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week, October 10-16

By Andy Worthington

Remember, John Yoo, the smug, shameless apologist for unfettered executive power who once claimed that, if he so desired, the President of the United States could crush a child’s testicles and there was nothing that anyone could do about it?

It was John Yoo, a follower of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who took a position with the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (which is charged with objectively interpreting the law as it applies to the Executive branch), and then, in 2002, wrote two blatantly subjective, unprofessional and politically motivated memos — forever known as the “torture memos” — which purported to redefine torture and told the government and the CIA that it was OK to torture Abu Zubaydah (the “high-value detainee” who turned out to be no such thing, despite being waterboarded 83 times), and any other Muslim that the President regarded as a terrorist.
And when a four-year internal investigation caught up with John Yoo, and he and his boss, Jay S. Bybee (now a judge in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals), were confirmed to have been responsible for “professional misconduct” in writing and approving the “torture memos,” both men were fortunate that Attorney General Eric Holder had taken on board President Obama’s promise to look forward and not back, and allowed David Margolis, a Justice Department expert in the dark art of the whitewash, to write a memo refuting the conclusions of the investigation, which only reprimanded them for having exercised “poor judgment.”
 
Although much of America has been brainwashed into thinking that torture is fine, or that resistance is futile, others remain dedicated toholding accountable their former leaders and their advisors — including Yoo and Bybee, and, of course, former President George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, former defense Donald Rumsfeld and many others — for their illegal and unconstitutional activities in the so-called “War on Terror.”

Some of these activists live in Berkeley, California, where John Yoo is a professor of law at UC Berkeley (Boalt Hall), and over the last few monthsthe World Can’t Wait, the National Lawyers Guild (San Francisco),Progressive Democrats of AmericaMeiklejohn Civil Liberties Institute, National Accountability Action Network, Code PinkFireJohnYoo.org, Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee and the Rev. Kurt Kuhwald came together to plan a week of events — “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week — which was approved by Berkeley City Council on September 21, when the Council adopted a Resolution to hold a week of public educational events to educate the community about torture.
 
I’m delighted to announce that, with the invaluable support of the World Can’t Wait, I’ll be taking part in this important week of events. A list of events is below, but please visit the official website for updates, and for further information. Also see the Facebook page here.

“Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week: Events List

Sunday October 10, 2010, 7 pm: Author Readings and Discussion with Andy Worthington and Justine Sharrock.
Revolution Books, 2425 Channing Way, Berkeley.
Andy Worthington, author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison and Justine Sharrock, author of Tortured: When Good Soldiers Do Bad Things, read from their books and discuss Guantánamo, the “War on Terror” and the corrosive effect of torture on US soldiers as well as the Bush administration’s victims. Also see the Facebook page here.

Monday October 11, 7 pm: Screening of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo.” Followed by Q&A with Andy Worthington.
Fellowship Hall, 1924 Cedar Street (at Bonita Avenue), Berkeley.
Andy Worthington, the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo,” described by Time Out as “a strong movie examining the imprisonment and subsequent torture of those falsely accused of anti-American conspiracy,” attends the screening, and will talk and answer questions afterwards.
This event is sponsored by Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists Social Justice Committee.

Tuesday October 12, daytime, time tba: Protest action against John Yoo.
UC Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall), on Bancroft at College Avenue.
Protest at the location where John Yoo teaches constitutional law and a second class every Tuesday.

Tuesday October 12, evening, time tba: The Giant John Yoo Debate.
UC Berkeley campus.
Join the World Can’t Wait, lawyers, law students, and other surprise guests for a real debate about John Yoo’s theories and legal work defending torture.

Wednesday October 13, 2010, 4:30 pm: Defying Torture: The Art of Dissent.
UC Berkeley Art Museum Theater, 2621 Durant Avenue, Berkeley.
A conversation with Peter Selz, art historian and Professor Emeritus of Art History at UC Berkeley, and political artist Clinton Fein, famous for his series, “Torture,” based on the Abu Ghraib photos.

Wednesday October 13, 2010, evening, time tba: Roundtable – Writers on Torture: Barry Eisler,Andy Worthington, Justine Sharrock.
University Lutheran Church, 2425 College Ave., Berkeley.
Barry Eisler, best-selling thriller writer and author of the new rendition- and torture-based novel Inside Outjoins Andy Worthington and Justine Sharrock to discuss fact, fiction, the crimes of the “War on Terror,” and approaches to writing about these topics and disseminating them to the public. Moderated by Shahid Buttar (Bill of Rights Defense Committee).

Thursday October 14, 2010, evening, time tba: Forum on Torture and the Law, Torture and Human Rights, with Marjorie Cohn, Andy Worthington, Shahid Buttar and Debra Sweet.
Location tba.
Marjorie Cohn (author and past President of the National Lawyers Guild), Andy Worthington (journalist, author and filmmaker), Shahid Buttar (Bill of Rights Defense Committee), and Debra Sweet (National Director, the World Can’t Wait) discuss torture, human rights and the law.

Friday October 15, 2010, daytime, time tba: CLE credit class for attorneys.
Location tba.
Taught by Marjorie Cohn and other special guest lecturers. Registration information tba.

Friday October 15, 2010, afternoon, time tba: Panel: Psychologists and Torture.
UC Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall) campus, Booth Auditorium.
With anti-torture psychologists Adrianne Aron, Ruth FallenbaumJeffrey Kaye and others tba. SeePsychologists for an Ethical APA for more information on psychologists’ opposition to the torture program implemented by the Bush administration.

Friday October 15, 2010, evening, time tba: Reckoning with Torture: An Evening of Conscience with Andy Worthington, Marjorie Cohn, Ray McGovern, Ann Wright, Mimi Kennedy, devorah major, Jeffrey Kaye, Fr. Louis Vitale, Renee Saucedo, Jason Leopold, Kathy Roberts, Abdi Soltani and more.
UC Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall) campus, Booth Auditorium.
“Reckoning with Torture: An Evening of Conscience” contains a powerful script, originated by the ACLU and American PEN Center, based on memos and testimonies from the “War on Terror,” which has been produced in New York and Washington, D.C., but has never before been performed on the West Coast. Guests including peace activists Ray McGovern and Ann WrightMimi Kennedydevorah major, Jeffrey Kaye andJason Leopold of Truthout will be joining “Berkeley Says No to Torture” Week regulars Andy Worthington and Marjorie Cohn to read these powerful texts.
This event is sponsored by the Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture (BAAT) and the National Lawyers Guild, Boalt Chapter (NLG-Boalt), and the performance will be followed by a reception with the readers and audience. For ticket sales/reservations please  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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.

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.