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DAN ELLSBERG to speak Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2006, 12:30 pm; Weekly

Anti-Torture Teach-in/ Vigil at UC Berkeley Boalt Hall Law School

A message from Taigen Dan Leighton


DAN ELLSBERG will speak Tuesday, Sept. 26, 12:30 p.m. in front of UC Berkeley Law School.

In the past week, a so-called "compromise" with John McCain has given George W. Bush the right to torture freely and impunity for all his previous torture programs and war crimes, along with wiping out habeas corpus for detainees.  This is a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions.

And tomorrow, as we meet in front of Boalt Hall, congress will be considering giving Bush approval to continue his torture.

This is a terrible action our congress contemplates this week.

    Hentoff writes in his column in today's Washington Times: "Little
attention is being paid to Section 6 of this Warner-McCain-Graham bill
that denies the right to a habeas-corpus hearing not only to Guantanamo
Bay prisoners, but to any alien detainee outside the United States
designated by the president as an 'enemy combatant.' ...
    "Nine retired federal judges have tried to awaken Congress to this
constitutional crisis. Among them are such often-honored jurists as
Shirley Hufstedler, Nathaniel Jones, Patricia Wald, H. Lee Sarokin and
William Sessions (who was head of the CIA and the FBI). They write,
particularly with regard to Mr. McCain's concerns about torture, that
without habeas petitions, how will the judiciary ensure that 'Executive
detentions are not grounded on torture'?"

Meanwhile, at the U.C. Berkeley Law School, we are holding a weekly "Teach-In and Vigil Against American Torture and the Dictatorial Presidency." 

The event is Tuesdays, 12:30-1:30 pm, in front of Boalt Hall Law School on Bancroft Ave near the fountain at the end of College Ave., on the UC Berkeley campus.

Please join us and stand up against American torture and presidential rampant abuses of the law.

Past speakers, going back to last semester, have given clear evidence of the widespread use of torture by the Bush government, and the legal, political, and ethical violations it represents to people of conscience, and to the rest of the world, as well as the lack of reliability of torture as a tool of intelligence.

We meet at Boalt Hall Law School because its Professor, John Yoo, is a primary legal architect, through the infamous "torture memo" he wrote, of the Bush Torture program.  Yoo is also one of the designers of Bush's use of "signing statements," placing himself above the Law and in violation of the U.S. Constitution. 

It is only because of the highly controversial opinions of John Yoo, who defines "torture" as limited to death or destruction of major organs, that Pres. Bush can now claim that we do not torture.

Professor Yoo teaches at UC Berkeley without the University disassociating itself from his views, which include condoning the torture of children.  We do not seek to limit John Yoo's academic freedom, but to express our strong objection to the Torture and unlimited presidential powers he advocate.

Meanwhile, John Yoo continues to insert himself into the center of this issue, as he actively promotes wider Torture and the unlimited Imperial Bush presidency, as in his NY Times op-ed piece a week ago, in which he pleads for more, unlimited power for Bush.

According to NYU Prof. Greg Grandin, <>:

Bush needs to torture people, Yoo believes, not to extract
intelligence but to "reinvigorate the presidency." It takes a subtle
legal mind to understand what water-boarding or sleep-deprivation has

to do with Bush's other power grabs -- not just claiming the right to
imprison without bringing formal charges or to engage in warrantless
wiretaps, but to reclassify government documents made public by
previous administrations, refuse to tell Americans what advice Enron
and the oil industry gave to his energy task force, and issue hundreds
of signing statements that empowered him with the right not to enforce
laws that have absolutely nothing to do with national security. But
professor Yoo sees the bigger picture. They are all moves in a larger

fight to restore balance to the three branches of government, to roll
back the "supremacy" assumed by the Congress and the judiciary in the

wake of Vietnam and Watergate.

In  the first three weeks of the Teach-ins, the speakers were Dennis Bernstein, host of KPFA's Flashpoints, Carlos Mauricio, and Joanna Macy, Buddhist and systems theory scholar, author, and activist on behalf of Deep Ecology, Nuclear Guardianship, and Future Generations.

Carlos Mauricio, who will be speaking again, is a survivor of Torture by a Salvadoran death squad, a little bit of which he described in horrifying detail, proving that the techniques used at Abu Ghraib were not devised by a few bad apples in the middle of the night, but are part of systematic American Torture.  Carlos Mauricio also won a major Legal case against the El Salvador Minister of Defense.  (Carlos Mauricio will be attending the Teach-in regularly, and is available for interviews.)

Partial schedule of upcoming speakers:

September 26:  Dan Ellsberg - Pentagon Papers whistle-blower, anti-War activist, author of Secrets.

October 3:  Father Louis Vitale - peace and justice Catholic priest, long-time civil-disobedience practitioner against injustice.

October 10:  Rebecca Gordon -University of S.F. Ethics professor, Graduate Theological Union Doctoral candidate, co-founder of "War Times".

October 17:  Andres Conteris -Program Director for Latin America and the Caribbean for Nonviolence International, Democracy Now staff member.

November 7:  Larry Everest - journalist covering the Mideast; member of the International Commission On Crimes Against Humanity by the Bush Administration.

November 14:  David Sylvester - journalist, formerly of San Jose Mercury News; School of the Americas Watch activist and recent prisoner of conscience.

Among endorsing organizations for this Teach-in are:  The American Civil Liberties Union,

American Friends Service Committee, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Code Pink, Global Exchange, Northern California Interreligious Conference, St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church, [Berkeley] University Lutheran Chapel, World Can't Wait.

Feel free to contact me with questions.

Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton, Ph.D.
faculty, Berkeley Graduate Theological Union

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