For Immediate Release
Schuller (302) 354-5904
Gretchen Gordon (510) 387-5316
Berkeley Law Students and Staff Call for Investigation of “Torture Memo” Lawyers
Over 200 Sign Letters to Department of Justice, Pennsylvania Bar Association and University of California Faculty Senate
BERKELEY, CA - Students and staff at the Berkeley
School of Law today called on the Justice Department, the Pennsylvania Bar, and
the University of California "to conduct full and thorough investigations" of
former government lawyers who participated in the drafting of memoranda
authorizing torture, including John Yoo, currently a tenured member of the
Berkeley Law faculty.
The letter drive was organized by the Boalt Alliance to
Abolish Torture (BAAT), a coalition of student groups and individuals. The
letters call for investigations into potential violations of professional and
ethical duties, as well as possible criminal conduct.
"Abuse by government lawyers cannot be swept under the rug," said Liz
Jackson, Co-chair of the Boalt chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, a member
of BAAT. "The Berkeley Law community is making a statement that fundamental
human rights were violated, and the institutions that have authority over these
lawyers have a duty to investigate."
An inquiry by the Justice Department's Office of
Professional Responsibility has yet to be made public, and both the
Pennsylvania Bar Association where John Yoo is registered and the University of
California have thus far refused to open ethics investigations.
"Lawyers to the
government owe their client an honest appraisal of the law, as informed by
statutes, court cases and international treaties and norms-- not a tortured
interpretation that the ends justifies the means," said Stephen Rosenbaum,
a Berkeley Law lecturer. "I teach a
course in civil rights in which one of the take-away points is that actions by
government officials--whether voting on a budget or making policy-- demand
Cat Norris, Communications Coordinator for the Boalt Hall
Committee for Human Rights, a member of BAAT, stated that "by calling for investigations and accountability, students are taking
a stand for human rights. We have
a responsibility to restore U.S. respect for the prohibition against torture,
which is a core principle of international human rights law."
The full text of the letters can be found at:
The Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture (BAAT) is a coalition of student groups and individuals at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law whose mission is to restore respect for human rights, civil liberties, and the prohibition against torture.