Help protesters in Iran remain anonymous online and circumvent internet censorship systems.

Though hardly a novel tactic, the Myanmar government systematically shut down access to the internet in order to prevent news and pictures of the brutal military crackdown of the 2007 Buddhist monk protests from reaching the outside world. Currently, both Iran and China are doing the same to prevent the publication of news and pictures of the Iranian government’s response to the election protests and the Chinese government’s response to the protests by Uighers, a Muslim ethnic group that periodically attempts to form an independent nation.

In addition to its work on issues like warrantless wiretapping, state secrets and abuse of national security letters, the Electronic Frontier Foundation produces the Tor anonymizing software, which I’ve been using, with (apparent) success, in order to blog anonymously.  As much as I appreciate the Tor software, EFF doesn’t produce it so an irritated attorney can write cathartic missives.  Richard Esguerra of EFF explains how Tor is helping the Iranian protesters:

As turmoil over the disputed election in Iran continues, many techs are trying to find ways to help Iranian citizens safely communicate and receive information despite the barriers being established by Iranian authorities. One tactic that even moderately tech-savvy Internet users can employ is to set up a Tor relay or a Tor bridge.

More sophisticated users can skip this paragraph, but for the rest, here’s the basic outline. Tor (an acronym of “The Onion Router”) is free and open source software that helps users remain anonymous on the Internet. Normally, when accessing websites, your computer asks for and receives a webpage out in the open, a process that exposes your IP address, the URL of the website, and the contents of the site, among other information to third parties. When accessing websites while using Tor, your computer essentially whispers its requests for a website, to another computer, which passes the request on to another computer, which passes it on to another computer, which passes it onto the computer where the website is hosted; the reply returns in the same, chain-message manner. The whispers are encrypted, so that neither outside authorities, nor the computers in the middle of the chain, can tell what is being said, and to whom. And the website itself does not have your IP address either.

Internet users in Iran are using Tor to both (a) circumvent censorship systems and (b) remain anonymous while reading and writing on the Internet. Both are critically important to the safety of protesters, many of whom fear retaliation from the government. Preliminary reports indicate that use of the Tor client in Iran has increased in the days after the contested election.

Mr. Esguerra then explains how you can help Tor help the protesters:

However, Tor’s design relies on a robust network of “volunteer computers” (a.k.a. relays) to pass messages back and forth. This means that the speed and quality of a Tor users’ browsing experience relies extensively on the number of volunteer computers there are to pass messages along. This is where volunteers can make a difference — setting up additional relays improves access for dissident Iranians and other users of the Tor network. The more people who help out, the better and more quickly the network runs. If you’re interested in helping out, find and follow instructions for configuring a Tor relay on the Tor website.

Those looking to help fight censorship should also consider providing a Tor bridge. Bridges come into play when an ISP decides to try blocking users’ access to the Tor network. (For now, there seems to only be anecdotal evidence of Iran attempting to block the use of Tor. However, Iran has recntly [sic] been practicing reactive and centralized blocking, which makes any effective block of Tor far more likely.) The Tor bridge configuration differs from a relay in that your computer does not appear in the public Tor network. Instead, users looking for access to the Internet through Tor can receive your Tor routing information through more private channels, then configure their Tor client to transmit requests through your computer. By not appearing in the public Tor network, your Tor routing information is less likely to end up on an ISP filter and can provide help for a longer period of time — but recognize that the network needs both relays and bridges.

The remainder of Mr. Esquerra’s post addresses some of the technical aspects of the Tor software, which can downloaded here.

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The DoJ Office of Professional Responsibility is a real Roach Motel

John Gibeaut reports at the ABA Journal that the role of the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility has descended to a level equivalent to that of a ‘Roach Motel’ and how, as a result, judges are beginning to take the discipline of unethical attorneys into their own hands.  In his lengthy article, Mr. Gibeaut details the ‘dismal history of intentional and inadvertent violations’ by federal prosecutors and the complaints to DoJ OPR made by Judge Mark L. Wolf, Chief Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, that yielded woefully inadequate DoJ OPR investigations and slap-on-the-wrist ‘punishments.’  The article begins with the following summary:

The government’s evidence link­ing reputed mob figures Vincent “the Animal” Ferrara and Pasquale “Patsy” Barone to a 1985 murder was pretty thin—an accomplice who escaped prosecution in exchange for testimony against the pair.

But a little over a year after the 1990 racketeering indictments of Ferrara, Barone and six other members of New England’s Patriarca crime family, a federal prosecutor in Boston learned his putative star witness had recanted.

Yet the prosecutor never told defense about the recantation, which he and a detective recorded in writing. Indeed, the defendants didn’t learn of the memos until 2003, when the detective spilled the beans at a hearing on habeas corpus petitions they filed seeking their release from long prison sentences.

Ultimately both went free, Barone in 2003 from a life sentence and Fer­rara in ’05 from a 22-year term. Chief U.S. District Judge Mark L. Wolf, who had imposed both sentences, was forced to cut them short.

The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Auerhahn, was investigated by Massachusetts state bar authorities. Wolf dropped a dime on him after learning that Auerhahn’s boss had simply reprimanded him be­hind closed doors. That just wasn’t good enough for Wolf, considering he had to release two defendants re­garded as especially dangerous. Auerhahn still works at the U.S. attor­ney’s office in Boston, pros­ecuting terrorism cases.

But, going where few judges would, Wolf also penned an extraordi­nary series of letters—first to Attor­ney General Alberto R. Gonzales and then to his successor, Michael B. Mukasey—stating his case for stiffer punishment and voicing his frustration with the Justice Department’s secretive Office of Professional Re­spon­sibility, which is supposed to investigate complaints of mis­con­duct by prosecutors and law enforcement officials who work for the department.

“The department’s performance in the Auerhahn matter raises serious questions about whether judges should continue to rely upon the department to investigate and sanction misconduct by federal prosecutors,” Wolf wrote in a January 2008 letter to Mukasey.

Wolf, appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, warned Mukasey that more jurists would begin punishing prosecutors behaving badly if the OPR didn’t.

“I anticipate this will become much more common unless the department’s performance in disciplinary matters improves significantly,” the judge cautioned.

Wolf’s stinging rebuke came not only from a veteran jurist, but from someone who as a young prosecutor helped set in motion the department’s disciplinary machinery in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.

“As one who took pride in assisting Attorney General Edward Levi in establishing OPR more than 30 years ago,” Wolf told Mukasey, “I sadly doubt it is now capable of serving its intended purpose.”

Critics historically have regarded the OPR as inept at policing its own. Wolf’s exchanges with the attorney general also come amid calls for more transparency.

“I used to call it the Roach Motel of the Justice Department,” says Fordham University law professor Bruce A. Green, a former federal prosecutor and ethics committee co-chair for the ABA Criminal Justice Section. “Cases check in, but they don’t check out.”

The entire article is well worth reading.

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Alberto Gonzales finally lands a job.

It took nearly two years, but Alberto Gonzales finally found a job teaching at Texas Tech:

Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that Gonzales will start Aug. 1, and that his salary will be around $100,000.

“Anytime I can get a former cabinet member to work for the university, I will,” Hance said. “He can teach (students) about government, about goals, about diversity. Here’s a guy whose parents were migrant workers, and he went on to one of the highest offices in the land.”

Fortunately, Mr. Gonzales will be kept away from the Texas Tech School of Law since he’s only been hired to teach political science.

It took nearly two years, but Alberto Gonzales finally found a job teaching at Texas Tech:
Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that Gonzales will start Aug. 1, and that his salary will be around $100,000.

“Anytime I can get a former cabinet member to work for the university, I will,” Hance said. “He can teach (students) about government, about goals, about diversity. Here’s a guy whose parents were migrant workers, and he went on to one of the highest offices in the land.”

Fortunately for Texas Tech’s law students, he’ll be teaching a political science course.

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Happy Fourth of July

I sent an email earlier today wishing a fun and safe Independence Day to various members of the blogging community who have given their time and encouragement to me since I started TGP.  Bob Bennett, whose firm sponsors Bad Prosecutors, replied with the following essay from his newsletter about the fate of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence.

Because, as John Adams wrote in a July 3, 1776, letter to his wife, the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence “ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations [i.e., fireworks] from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more[,]” I added some amazing photographs of fireworks that I found here.  Though not exhaustive, search AmericanTowns’ list of local 2009 Fourth of July firework shows, events and parades to find a live event near you.

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Fireworks Celebration Over The Space Needle
(
Fireworks Celebration Over The Space Needle © Kevin N. McNeal)

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor.

Fourth of July
(
Fourth of July © Josh Anon)

Happy 10th Anniversary BP
(Happy 10th Anniversary BP © KHAWLA Haddad)

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. [This alone makes me proud to be a lawyer.] Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners: men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured. [Emphasis mine.]

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts and died in rags.

Forever free
(Forever free © Dale Gast)

Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Flowers of Fire
(Flowers of Fire © The  Italian  Eye )

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton. At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Hanabi
(Hanabi © Tracey Taylor)

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months. John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.

MS-2503
(MS-2503 © Jim Zuckerman)

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall and straight, and unwavering, they pledged: “For the support of the declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books told you a lot of what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn’t fight just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government!

Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn’t. So take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It’s not much to ask for the price they paid.

New Year at Seattle Center (#1)
(New Year at Seattle Center (#1) © Inge Johnsson)

Remember: Freedom is never free! It’s time we get the word out that Patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer, picnics, and baseball games.

~Author Unknown~
Contributed by: Harry Updegraff, Jr.

Tags: Independence Day, Fourth of July

Harriet Miers’ testimony in US Attorney firings spotlights again why she is unfit to practice law.

It took two (2) years and a judicial scolding by United States District Judge John D. Bates, but Harriet Miers’ has finally testified in the U.S. Attorney firing investigations:

In a low-key session on Capitol Hill, former White House Counsel Harriet Miers was deposed Monday by House Judiciary Committee staffers probing the alleged politicization of the Bush Justice Department.

Miers testified, behind closed doors, after months of wrangling between Congress and former members of the Bush administration.

But just as the thief is not absolved from the crime of theft even if he returns the stolen property, Harriet Miers is not absolved of her prior unethical conduct just because she has now testified.  To the contrary, her testimony this week serves to again expose her unethical conduct which demonstrates that she is unfit to practice law.

These excerpts from the Memorandum to the Members of the Committee on the Judiciary from Rep. John C. Conyers, Jr., Chairman, dated July 24, 2007, are just as true today as they were when I first wrote about Harriet Miers back in October of 2007:

Even more extraordinary than the executive privilege claims in this matter is the assertion that Ms. Miers, a former White House official not currently employed by the federal government, is absolutely immune from even appearing before the Subcommittee as directed by subpoena. The Supreme Court has specifically held that even a President, while serving in that capacity, can be subpoena by a court and can be required to participate in a civil lawsuit for damages by a private party. [FN 281] The Court’s holding in Jones flies in the face of the claim that a former White House official is somehow immune from even appearing in response to a Congressional subpoena. As with Sara Taylor, who received a subpoena similar to Ms. Miers’ but chose to appear and answer some questions before the Senate Judiciary Committee, no one can doubt that Ms. Miers would have been asked some questions that would not have fallen within even the broadest assertion of executive privilege, but Ms. Miers simply refused to attend her hearing altogether. Id.

[…]

[T]here is an additional reason that Ms. Miers’ claims concerning executive privilege were and should be rejected. When a private party like Ms. Miers is subject to a subpoena, it is improper for the subpoenaed person simply to refuse to … testify based on an assertion of privilege by a third party, in this case, the White House. … To the extent that the White House objected to the subpoena to Ms. Miers as a private citizen, therefore, its proper recourse – which would have been more than adequate to protect its own asserted rights – would have been to seek a court order, rather than unilaterally “directing” Ms. Miers to disobey a lawful subpoena herself. Id. at page 46.

[…]

[M]s. Miers was not being misled by a government entity into thinking she was acting lawfully, but instead she chose, with full knowledge of the possible consequences, to follow the White House’s flawed “directive.” As the entity which issued the subpoena to Ms. Miers, only the Committee was in a position to give her “reasonable reliance” that she could lawfully refuse to comply, but in fact the Committee did precisely the opposite and made clear that she was required to obey her subpoena. Id. at page 48. (emphasis in original)

[…]

As explained in the July 12 and July 19 rulings upheld by the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, the refusal … of Ms. Miers to testify or even appear pursuant to subpoena [has] no proper legal basis. Id. at page 52. FN 281 See Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 703-06 (1997). As the Court noted in United States v. Bryan, 339 U.S. 323-331 (1950), “persons summoned as witnesses have certain minimum duties and obligations which as necessary concessions to the public interest in the orderly operation of legislative and judicial machinery. …We have often iterated the importance of this public duty, which every person within the jurisdiction of the Government is bound to perform when properly summoned.”

In the ensuing litigation, United States District Judge John D. Bates was was also not impressed with Harriet Miers’ excuses for defying lawful, Congressional subpoenas.  [I have adapted the following discussion of Judge Bates’ Opinion from this post I wrote in July of 2008.]  In this Memorandum Opinion issued in COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES v. HARRIET MIERS, et al., Civil Action No. 08-0409 (JDB), Judge Bates introduced Ms. Miers’ legal position by stating that it was unprecedented, was without any support in the case law and was fallacious:

Indeed, the aspect of this lawsuit that is unprecedented is the notion that Ms. Miers is absolutely immune from compelled congressional process. The Supreme Court has reserved absolute immunity for very narrow circumstances, involving the President’s personal exposure to suits for money damages based on his official conduct or concerning matters of national security or foreign affairs. The Executive’s current claim of absolute immunity from compelled congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law. The fallacy of that claim was presaged in United States v. Nixon itself (id. at 706):

neither the doctrine of separation of powers, nor the need for confidentiality of highlevel communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified Presidential privilege of immunity from judicial [or congressional] process under all circumstances.

Id. at p. 3.

Because Ms. Miers presented no legitimate claim for absolute immunity, Judge Bates ruled that Ms. Miers must, in fact, appear pursuant to the validly issued subpoenas of the United States House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary:

Clear precedent and persuasive policy reasons confirm that the Executive cannot be the judge of its own privilege and hence Ms. Miers is not entitled to absolute immunity from compelled congressional process. Ms. Miers is not excused from compliance with the Committee’s subpoena by virtue of a claim of executive privilege that may ultimately be  made.

Instead, she must appear before the Committee to provide testimony, and invoke executive privilege where appropriate. [Footnote] 38 [is not included herein] And as the Supreme Court has directed, the judiciary remains the ultimate arbiter of an executive privilege claim, since it is the duty of the courts to declare what the law is. See United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. at 703-05; see also Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) at 177.

Id. at p. 91.

Judge Bates also addressed Ms. Miers’ claim of absolute immunity, which provided the basis for her refusal to even appear before the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary:

The Executive maintains that absolute immunity shields Ms. Miers from compelled testimony before Congress. Although the exact reach of this proposed doctrine is not clear, the Executive insists that it applies only to “a very small cadre of senior advisors.” See Tr. at 96. The argument starts with the assertion that the President himself is absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony. There is no case that stands for that exact proposition, but the Executive maintains that the conclusion flows logically from Nixon v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 731 (1982), where the Supreme Court held that the President “is entitled to absolute immunity from damages liability predicated on his official acts.” Id. at 749. “Any such [congressional] power of compulsion over the President,” the Executive asserts, “would obviously threaten his independence and autonomy from Congress in violation of separation of powers principles.” See Defs.’ Reply at 40. The Executive then contends that “[those] same principles apply just as clearly to the President’s closest advisers.” Id. Because senior White House advisers “have no operational authority over government agencies . . . [t]heir sole function is to advise and assist the President in the exercise of his duties.” Id. at 41. Therefore, they must be regarded as the President’s “alter ego.” In a similar context, the Supreme Court has extended Speech or Debate Clause immunity to legislative aides who work closely with Members of Congress. See Gravel v. United States, 408 U.S. 606, 616-17 (1972). Accordingly, forcing close presidential advisors to testify before Congress would be tantamount to compelling the President himself to do so, a plainly untenable result in the Executive’s view. Indeed, as the Executive would have it, “[w]ere the President’s closest advisers subject to compelled testimony there would be no end to the demands that effectively could be placed upon the President himself.” See Defs.’ Reply at 43.

Unfortunately for the Executive, this line of argument has been virtually foreclosed by the Supreme Court. In Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982), the plaintiff sued “senior White House aides” for civil damages arising out of the defendants’ official actions. Id. at 802. The defendants argued that they were “entitled to a blanket protection of absolute immunity as an incident of their offices as Presidential aides.” Id. at 808. The Supreme Court rejected that
position. Notwithstanding the absolute immunity extended to legislators, judges, prosecutors, and the President himself, the Court emphasized that “[f]or executive officials in general, however, our cases make plain that qualified immunity represents the norm.” Id. at 807. Although there can be no doubt regarding “the importance to the President of loyal and efficient subordinates in executing his duties of office, . . . these factors, alone, [are] insufficient to justify absolute immunity.” Id. at 808-09 (discussing Butz v. Economou, 438 U.S. 478 (1978)).

Id. at pp. 79-80.

Judge Bates continued to decimate Ms. Miers’ claim of absolute immunity:

There is nothing left to the Executive’s primary argument in light of Harlow. This case, of course, does not involve national security or foreign policy, and the Executive does not invoke that mantra. The derivative, “alter ego” immunity that the Executive requests here due to Ms. Miers’s and Mr. Bolten’s close proximity to and association with the President has been explicitly and definitively rejected, and there is no basis for reaching a different conclusion here. Indeed, the Executive asks this Court to recognize precisely the type of blanket derivative absolute immunity that the Supreme Court declined to acknowledge in Harlow.

Id. at pp. 81-82.

Judge Bates also expressly pointed out that there is NO judicial precedent for Ms. Miers’ claims:

Thus, it would hardly be unprecedented for Ms. Miers to appear before Congress to testify and assert executive privilege where appropriate. Still, it is noteworthy that in an environment where there is no judicial support whatsoever for the Executive’s claim of absolute immunity, the historical record also does not reflect the wholesale compulsion by Congress of testimony from senior presidential advisors that the Executive fears. [Emphasis in original.]

Id. at pp. 83-84.

And that Ms. Miers’ claims are based solely on two (2) legal opinions issued by the Executive Branch itself:

Tellingly, the only authority that the Executive can muster in support of its absolute immunity assertion are two OLC opinions authored by Attorney General Janet Reno and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Steven Bradbury, respectively.

[…]

[T]he Court is not at all persuaded by the Reno and Bradbury opinions.

Id. at pp. 85-86.

As noted by both Chairman Conyers and Judge Bates, Ms. Miers’ failure to appear pursuant to validly issued subpoenas was not supported by any colorable basis in law.  Accordingly, her failure to appear is in violation of the Texas Rules of Professional Conduct and her conduct calls into question her fitness to practice law.

H/t to Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker for Miers Testifies in US Attorneys Probe — When Will Rove?

Crossposted at Oxdown Gazette.

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John Yoo advises Senate on the ‘faithful application’ of the Constitution.

John Yoo interrupts his defense of torture and (presumably) himself, to weigh in on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, concluding with this:

But conservatives should not be pleased simply because Sotomayor is not a threat to the conservative revolution in constitutional law begun under the Reagan administration. Conservatives should defend the Supreme Court as a place where cases are decided by a faithful application of the Constitution, not personal politics, backgrounds, and feelings. Republican senators will have to conduct thorough questioning in the confirmation hearings to make sure that she will not be a results-oriented voter, voting her emotions and politics rather than the law. One worrying sign is Sotomayor’s vote to uphold the affirmative action program in New Haven, CT, where the city threw out a written test for firefighter promotions when it did not pass the right number of blacks and Hispanics. Senators should ask her whether her vote in that case, which is under challenge right now in the Supreme Court (where I signed an amicus brief for the Claremont Center on Constitutional Jurisprudence), was the product of her “empathy” rather than the correct reading of the Constitution. [My emphasis.]

Since comments aren’t permitted on his post, I emailed Mr. Yoo this afternoon asking for a response to the following questions:

  • What are the criteria you use to determine if some is faithfully applying the Constitution?
  • What are the criteria you use to determine if someone is a “results-oriented voter?” Why do you use the term “vote” at all? Is this the term you normally use to refer to decisions rendered by appellate judges? Other than the case you cite, are there additional bases of which you’re aware to indicate that she will be a “results-oriented voter?”
  • When considering your advice, should Senators consider whether your authorship of the OLC ‘torture’ memoranda was the product of some emotion of yours rather than the correct reading of the Constitution? If so, which emotion of yours should they consider?

Don’t hold your breath but I’ll post any reply I receive from Mr. Yoo.

Crossposted at Oxdown Gazette.

H/t Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo.

Bar complaints filed against Yoo, Bybee, Addington, Ashcroft, Gonzales, Mukasey, 6 others

Justin Blum at Bloomberg (h/t Zachary Roth at TPMMuckraker) reports that state bar complaints have been filed against twelve Bush administration lawyers involved in the authorization and sanctioning of torture by the United States of America, including two attorneys, Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo, whose disbarments I have long been advocating. [A complete list of the grieved attorneys – with links to the complaints – is included at the end of this post]. See also these reports by UPI, CNN and Scott Shane at NYT. Upon signing and filing the complaints on behalf of VotersForPeace (donate here ) and a coalition of organizations led by Velvet Revolution, attorney Kevin Zeese, Executive Director of VotersForPeace, stated in part:

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. …

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.

* * *

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.

* * *

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[.]

* * *

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.

The Velvet Revolution statement regarding the filing of the complaints adds, in part, that:

The individually tailored complaints allege that the named attorneys violated the rules of professional responsibility by advocating torture. 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. We have also sent a letter to House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, asking that he initiate impeachment proceeding against Jay Bybee, who is now a sitting federal judge. The evidence is clear that, during his confirmation hearings, Mr. Bybee misused the classified status of his torture memos to portray a false picture of his legal history. Several Senators have stated publicly that Mr. Bybee would not have been confirmed if they had been aware of his torture memos. The bar complaints have been signed by our board attorney, Kevin Zeese, who also directs the Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics, and Voters for Peace.

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 below. 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.

You can make targeted donations to this campaign at with an earmark comment in the box at http://www.velvetrevolution.us/donate.php.

The complaints were filed against the following attorneys:

Links to the complaints can also be found at Velvet Revolution here, where you will find a Sign On Form to add your name to the campaign as well as links to the exhibits attached to the complaints, the released torture memos and other information.

Updated 05-19-09 to correctly identify William James Haynes II (instead of Michael Haynes) as one of the dirty dozen torture lawyers.  (h/t earlofhuntingdon)

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