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Broad Coalition Of Groups Files Disciplinary Complaints Against Twelve Bush Administration Lawyers Who Advocated Torture Of Detainees

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, Texas and Pennsylvania, seek disciplinary action and disbarment.  Copies of the complaints and exhibits are available at http://www.disbartorturelawyers.com

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 States Criminal 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 uncontroverted 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.  

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.  

***

Torture is illegal under both United States and international law. The Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, and it states that treaties signed by the U.S. are the "supreme Law of the Land" under Article Six. The Geneva Convention and The Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment both prohibit torture and have been signed by the United States. These laws provide no exception for torture under any circumstances. Moreover, the United States Criminal Code prohibits both torture and war crimes, the latter which includes torture. The Army Field Manual prohibits the use of degrading treatment of detainees.

Despite this well-established law, under the Bush administration, torture was authorized by George Bush and kept secret using classified designations. The White House requested legal memoranda to support its use of torture and it received those authored by a host of attorneys, including John Yoo, Jay Bybee, and Stephen Bradbury. Attorneys who advised, counseled, consulted and supported those memoranda included Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, Alice Fisher, William Haynes II, Douglas Feith, Michael Mukasey, Timothy Flanigan, and David Addington.

Several of these memoranda have recently been released, and clearly demonstrate that these attorneys conspired to violate laws against torture and that their actions resulted in torture and death. Accordingly, these attorneys must be held accountable. We have asked the respective state bars to revoke the licenses of the foregoing attorneys for moral turpitude. They failed to show "respect for and obedience to the law, and respect for the rights of others," and intentionally or recklessly failed to act competently, all in violation of legal Rules of Professional Conduct. Several attorneys failed to adequately supervise the work of subordinate attorneys and forwarded shoddy legal memoranda regarding the definition of torture to the White House and Department of Defense. These lawyers further acted incompetently by advising superiors to approve interrogation techniques that were in violation of U.S. and international law. They failed to support or uphold the U.S. Constitution, and the laws of the United States, and to maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers, all in violation state bar rules.

***

We ask other organizations to sign on to this campaign by sending an email to DisbarTortureLawyers@velvetrevolution.us Individuals can sign on using the form at http://www.disbartorturelawyers.com . This campaign will include a broad public relations push so we urge everyone to spread the word and for the press to contact us for comment and interviews.

Torture Photos And Video For Media
Click here and here for dozens of torture photos and several anti-torture ads that we are making available to organizations and the media. Please give attribution to VelvetRevolution.us. High resolution versions and hours of torture and waterboarding footage are also available upon request.

This YouTube music video with waterboarding and torture footage is available for rebroadcast with attribution.

Our State Bar Complaints
Jay Bybee-District of Columbia Bar Microsoft Word (.doc) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
Douglas Feith-District of Columbia Bar Microsoft Word (.doc) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
David Addington-District of Columbia Bar Microsoft Word (.doc) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
Stephen Bradbury-District of Columbia Microsoft Word (.doc) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
Michael Chertoff-District of Columbia Microsoft Word (.doc) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
John Ashcroft-District of Columbia Microsoft Word (.doc) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
Timothy Flanigan-District of Columbia Microsoft Word (.doc) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
Alice Fisher-District of Columbia Bar Microsoft Word (.doc) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
Michael Haynes-California Bar Microsoft Word (.doc) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
John Yoo- Pennsylvania Bar Microsoft Word (.doc) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
Alberto Gonzales-Texas Bar Microsoft Word (.doc) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
Michael Mukasey-New York Bar Microsoft Word (.doc) Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)

Exhibits Attached To Each Complaint
ACLU List of Known Torture Documents
Army Field Manual On Detainee Treatment
Bradbury 20 Page Memo 5-10-05
Bradbury 46 Page Memo 5-10-05
Bradbury Memo 5-30-05
Bybee to Gonzales Memo 8-01-02
Bybee to Rizzo Memo 8-01-02
Geneva Convention Article 3
Haynes Memo  11-27-02
Red Cross Detainee Treatment Report
Senate Detainee Treatment Report
UN Convention on Torture
U.S. Criminal Code
Yoo Memo 8-01-02
Yoo Memo 3-14-03

Organizations
Republicans for Impeachment
Progressive Democrats of America
Democrats.com
Impeach Bybee
Prosecute Bush/Cheney
After Downing Street
Buzz FlashOp Ed News
Coalition Repair Project
Progressive Magazine
Global Network
Justice Through Music
Media With Conscience
Bend-C Friendship Project
Citizens for Legitimate Government
Center for Study of Democratic Societies
The World Can’t Wait
American Freedom Campaign
Liberty Tree
BFUU Social Justice Campaign
Peace for Justice Forums
WESPAC Foundation
PDA Marin County
Central Jersey Impeach Group
Chesapeake Citizens
Topple Bush
Stop Recruiters WWU
Whatcom Peacebuilders Club
Iraq Veterans for Justice
Longmont Citizens for Justice and Democracy
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
The Democratic Activists
The Solution Zone
Patrick Henry Democratic Club
Epluribus Media
Consumers for Peace
No Nukes North
Veterans for Peace
Florida Peace Action Network
Reclaim the GOP
Boston Anti-War League
Voters for Peace
Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics

Individuals
Bob Fertik
Ann Wright
Tim Carpenter
David Swanson
Benjamin David
William Crain
Phoebe Sorgen
Sphie de Vries
Bob Schecht
Susan Serpa
Peggy Love
Bruce Jones
Ben Maski
Andy Worlington
Mark Adams
William J. Cox
David Lindorff
Ann Wright
Steve Fox
Peggy Love
Pamela Selwyn
John H. Kennedy
Robley George
Bettejo Indelicato
Mike Woloshin
Bill Warick
Story Fitz
Nick Mattern
Dr. P. Thomas
Mark Hull-Richter
Laura Bonham
Amy Ferrer
Christiane Brown
Chris Borland
Chip Pitts
Ann Rick
Flux Rostrum
Evan Knapperberger
RJ Crane
Melinda Pillsbury Foster
David Wittner
David Slesinger
Mary Marino
Anita Fieldman
Nada Khader
Leslie Cagan
Kristina Borjesson
Debra Sweet
Lori Price
Timeteo Jeffries
Shahram Vahdany
Bruce Gagnon
Matthew Rothschild
David Robinson
Srena Crew
Lisa Boyd
Rob Kall
Peter Phillips
Mark Karlin
Doug Fuda

The Released Torture Memos

http://www.fas.org/...
http://www.aclu.org/...
http://www.propublica.org/...

Recent Articles About Accountability For Torture
Accountability for Torture, The Nation, John Nichols, 4/22/09
Accountability Does Not Stop At White House Door, Harvard Law Record, Andrew Kallock, 4/16/09
Pressure Grows For Accountability, Amnesty International, 4/17/09
Medically Assisted Torture, New York Times, Editorial, 4/9/09
The Torturer’s Manifesto, New York Times, Editorial, 4/18/09
The Second Bybee Memo, Jurist Legal News and Research, Jordan Paust, 4/22/09
Federal Prosecution of War Criminals, Lawrence Vevel, 1/9/09
Faithfully Executing The Laws, UCLA Law Review, Dawn Johnsen, 2007
The Torture Team, Harpers Magazine, Scott Horton, 3/28/08
Torture Isn’t Patriotic, The Boston Globe, Editorial, 5/16/09
Efforts to Halt Harsh Tactics Thwarted, Washington Post, Carrie Johnson, 5/14/09
Obama Can’t Turn The Page On Bush, New York Times, Frank Rich, 5/18/09

"There is a very exclusive club, whose membership is very few, the tormentors of the human race, history will not forget you."

UPDATE:

USING A LICENSE TO PRACTICE LAW TO FACILITATE TORTURE SHOULD RESULT IN DISBARMENT

Statement Made Upon the Filing of Complaints Seeking Disbarment of Bush-Cheney’s Cadre of Torture Lawyers

Kevin B. Zeese

Executive Director, VotersForPeace.US and

Board Member of Velvet Revolution

My name is Kevin Zeese, I am an attorney licensed to practice law in Washington, DC and before the U.S. Supreme Court.  I serve as the executive director of VotersForPeace.US and on the board of Velvet Revolution.  Today, we filed complaints with the District of Columbia Bar and with four other states seeking the disbarment of 12 Bush-Cheney torture lawyers.  These lawyers misused their license to practice law to provide legal cover for the war crime of torture.  This misuse of their license requires the bar association to disbar them or the bar will become complicit in torture.

Complaints have been filed against: John Yoo, Judge Jay Bybee, and Stephen Bradbury who authored the torture memoranda. As well as attorneys who advised, counseled, consulted and supported those memoranda including Alberto Gonzales, John Ashcroft, Michael Chertoff, Alice Fisher, William Haynes II, Douglas Feith, Michael Mukasey, Timothy Flanigan, and David Addington.  These detailed complaints, with over 500 pages of supporting exhibits, have been filed with the state bars in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Texas and Pennsylvania, and they seek disciplinary action and disbarment. Copies of the complaints and exhibits are available on-line at DisbarTortureLawyers.com and VotersForPeace.us.  

This cadre of torture lawyers colluded to facilitate the abuse and torture of prisoners (detainee) that included, evidence suggests, deaths at overseas U.S. military facilities.  Human Rights Watch reports 98 deaths of people in custody of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Making torture even worse in this case is that it was used to try and get information to tie Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda – a relationship that did not exist – as well as information about non-existent weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

We have asked the respective state bars to revoke the licenses of these attorneys for moral turpitude. They failed to show "respect for and obedience to the law, and respect for the rights of others," and intentionally or recklessly failed to act competently, all in violation of legal Rules of Professional Conduct. Several attorneys failed to adequately supervise the work of subordinate attorneys and forwarded shoddy legal memoranda regarding the definition of torture to the White House and Department of Defense. These lawyers further acted incompetently by advising superiors to approve interrogation techniques that were in violation of U.S. and international law. They failed to support or uphold the U.S. Constitution, and the laws of the United States, and to maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers, all in violation state bar rules.

Torture is illegal under United States and international law. It is illegal under the U.S. Constitution, domestic law and international treaties to which the United States is a party.

This includes:

  1. The United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), Articles 1, 2, 3 and 16 (ratified in October 1994). Article 2(2) of the Convention states that:

"No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

                                                     

  1. The Geneva Conventions, Article 3, (ratified in August 1955). Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006), held that the Geneva Conventions are applicable to accused members of al-Qaeda. Thus, due process protections apply to all detainees in U.S. custody, including those in military prisons.

  3. The Eighth Amendment against "cruel and unusual punishment."
  4. The United States Criminal Code, Title 18, Prohibitions Against Torture (18 USC 2340A) and War Crimes (18 USC 2441).

Torture is a clearly defined term under international and U.S. law.   The Convention Against Torture defines torture as any act by which: "severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental; is intentionally inflicted on a person . . ."

The torture memoranda did not provide objective legal advice to government decision-makers, but instead twisted the state of the law so that it was unrecognizable.  They were so inaccurate that these memoranda are more justifications about what the authors and the intended recipients wanted the law to be, rather than assessments of what the law actually is.

These laws provide no exception for torture under any circumstances. Moreover, the United States Criminal Code prohibits both torture and war crimes, the latter which includes torture. The Army Field Manual prohibits the use of degrading treatment of detainees.  The individually tailored complaints allege that the named attorneys violated the rules of professional responsibility by advocating torture.

We decided to take action today because the federal government seems unable and unwilling to act.  The Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility has taken nearly five years to complete its report, as some of the memoranda at issue became public in June 2004.  Further, this OPR investigation is focused only on two lawyers, John Yoo and Jay Bybee rather than all those involved.  This inexcusable delay is unfair to the public because the consequences of any wrongdoing are diminished. The delay has already benefited the two men under investigation, John Yoo now has tenure at Berkeley law school and Jay Bybee now has a lifetime appointment as a federal court of appeals judge.  If OPR had completed its duties in a timely manner it is unlikely that either appointment would have been made.

In addition to inaction by OPR, the Congress where select Members were briefed 40 times by the CIA, seems unable to take action because of fear of its own complicity being exposed.  And, Attorney General Eric Holder, has now testified that he approved renditions – which results in prisoners being tortured by other countries at the behest of the United States – during the Clinton administration.  And, sadly, the President of the United States has now decided to hide evidence of war crimes by refusing to release photographic and video evidence despite a court order to do so.  Finally, the administration is appointing General McChrystal to be the head of operations in Afghanistan despite being responsible for commanding Fort Nama in Iraq as well as special forces involved in torture:

"An interrogator at Camp Nama described locking prisoners in shipping containers for 24 hours at a time in extreme heat; exposing them to extreme cold with periodic soaking in cold water; bombardment with bright lights and loud music; sleep deprivation; and severe beatings. When he and other interrogators went to the colonel in charge and expressed concern that this kind of treatment was not legal, and that they might be investigated by the military’s Criminal Investigation Division or the International Committee of the Red Cross, the colonel told them he had "this directly from General McChrystal and the Pentagon that there’s no way that the Red Cross could get in."

Nicolas J S Davies, "Suspected War Criminal, General McChrystal, to Lead U.S. Forces in Afghanistan " http://votersforpeace.us/...

The unit's slogan, which set the tone for its practices, was "If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it." Reportedly prisoners died in the custody of troops in General McChrystal’s command and five officers were convicted of prisoner abuse.

Therefore, the people must act to face up to this issue and restore morality and Rule of Law to the United States.  In addition to filing these complaints we are starting a campaign for disbarment, public torture hearings and for the appointment of an Independent Prosecutor.  People who want to get involved are urged to go to DisbarTortureLawyers.com and VotersForPeace.us.

Only by taking torture out of politics and allowing an independent prosecutor to pursue the facts and apply the law will the United States recover from these war crimes.  Application of the rule of law, beginning with disbarment, is a necessary part of the process of healing the nation.

Kevin Zeese is the executive director of the Campaign for Fresh Air & Clean Politics (www.FreshAirCleanPolitics.net) whose projects include VotersForPeace.US, ProsperityAgenda.US, GlobalClimateSecurity.org and TrueVote.US.  He is also a member of the board of Velvet Revolution (www.VelevetRevolution.org).

UPDATE 2:

From a colleague:

The Gods were with us, everything went perfect.  Dana Milbank was there and is doing a big story for tomorrow Post, when he tried to enter the Bar Counsel’s office, they tried to throw him out, he wouldn’t budge, standoff occurred, finally they let him stay, so the article should be good.  Will get you a YT vid and some pics shortly as soon as we can edit the footage.  Working on it now.

UPDATE 3:

I've posted a more inclusive list of top war criminals, lawyers and non-lawyers alike, and how to make a citizen's arrest.

UPDATE 4:

CNN coverage linked by Phil in Denver in comments below.  Plus New York Times and Associated Press.  Lots more if you google.

Originally posted to David Swanson on Mon May 18, 2009 at 05:41 AM PDT.

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