Revolution #63, October 1, 2006


Protest Confronts Torture Professor

Yoo Protest

World Can't Wait demonstrates against torture outside John Yoo's classroom, UC Berkeley, September 19, 2006.

On September 19, as Bush was speaking to the United Nations, UC Berkeley students and activists from the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of World Can’t Wait demonstrated outside the classroom of John Yoo a professor of law at the University of California’s Boalt Hall School of Law.

While at the Justice Department, Yoo wrote a series of memos that developed the legal framework the Bush Regime used to commit torture and expand its use around the world. Yoo’s memos said that in order to be considered torture, acts “must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.” Anything less than that can be authorized by the President, according to Yoo. During a debate with human rights lawyer Doug Cassel in Chicago, Yoo insisted that the President’s right to torture includes the right to crush the testicles of a person’s child (see "John Yoo--Presidential Powers Extend to Ordering Torture of Suspect's Child" by Philip Watts, including link to audio file of the Yoo-Cassell exchange).

Protestors clad in dark hoods and orange jumpsuits reenacted the shocking scenes of torture at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay against a backdrop of 10 large images depicting torture. The action coincided with a weekly vigil/teach-in held on campus against torture and Professor Yoo, led by Buddhist monk Taigen Leighton.

“I kept getting students saying it’s only two more years,” one student who took part in the protest said. “But look at the last two years: at the attacks on women’s rights, the criminalization of youth and immigrants, what they are doing with the environment, war with Iran is looming. Our rights are being taken away. We don’t have due process. Now they’re at the point where they are legalizing torture. Where are we going to be in two more years? We can’t be complicit. We can’t keep on going to work and to class and acting like this is not happening, and walk to the other side of the sidewalk and not take the flyer because this is real! Its happening to real people and we can’t go along with this anymore.”

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