Thursday, March 19, 2009

Two Important Notices

National Lawyers Guild Files Complaint With California State Bar Against William Haynes

(H/T David Swanson at

Former Department of Defense General Counsel Recommended Torture, Harsh Interrogation Techniques

San Francisco - The National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter (NLGSF) is filing a complaint with the California State Bar today against former Department of Defense General Counsel William Haynes. The complaint against Haynes, who now works for the Chevron Corporation in San Ramon, states that he "breached his duty as a lawyer and advocated for harsh tactics amounting to torture in violation of U.S. and international law .... advocacy that directly lead to detainee abuses at the Guantanamo Bay and Abu Grahib facilities."

A copy of the complaint is available upon request or can be accessed at:

The complaint will be mailed to the State Bar Los Angeles office and hand-delivered to the State Bar Office in San Francisco, where there will be a 12:30 press conference.

Press Conference
State Bar Office
180 Howard Street
Monday, March 16, 12:30 PM

"We believe Mr. Haynes must be held accountable, just as any other lawyer would be," said Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director of the NLGSF. "But we are filing this complaint today not out of motivation to harm Mr. Haynes, but to ensure that torture is again relegated to the status it had before the Bush Administration's tenure, and that the harmful, sometimes deadly, and completely ineffective policy of torture is truly deterred."

While working for the Department of Defense, Haynes ignored the serious concerns coming from all branches of the military and recommended in a memo to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, approval of certain harsh interrogation techniques, including removal of clothing, stress positions, and the use of dogs against detainees. The Senate Armed Services Committee has described the memo as “grossly deficient.”

"Powerful leaders can and do engage in illegal acts and inhumane treatment of others. These leaders often rely on lawyers and the legal system to give the appearance of legitimacy to an illegal agenda. Sadly, there always seems to be lawyers willing to do the bidding of powerful rulers," said Sharon Adams, attorney member of the NLGSF. "The State Bar must uphold ethics and the rule of law, and repudiate Mr. Haynes’ actions."

Haynes worked with other lawyers in the Bush administration who have yet to face consequences for their advocacy of torture and other wrongdoing, including former Justice Department lawyer and current UC Berkeley School of Law Professor John Yoo. "We are in a position where even members of the new administration are suggesting criminal charges against Bush officials for torture and other crimes are off the table since many of these officials relied on legal advice," said Jim Lafferty, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild Office in Los Angeles. "If the lawyers are not held accountable for their misdeeds, then essentially high crimes with serious consequences have been committed but nobody is to blame."

As a Registered in House Counsel for the Chevron Corporation, Haynes was not required to take the California Bar Exam but is also not able to appear in court or practice law beyond giving advice to Chevron. He is, however, required to "abide by all of the laws and rules that govern members of the State Bar of California," according to California Rules of Court.


Received via e-mail from Center for Constitutional Rights. For more on CCR campaigns against torture and indefinite detention and for prosecutions of Bush officials for war crimes, visit their website. Get involved! Contribute!
As the atrocities of the Bush administration continue to be exposed, it is critical now more than ever to keep up the pressure and demand accountability from the high-ranking officials responsible for torture and war crimes.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), a pan-American body dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights, is conducting a hearing at the request of CCR and the World Organization for Human Rights USA. On Friday, March 20, 2009 CCR President Michael Ratner will argue that U.S. officials must be held accountable for human rights violations, on live webcast on Friday, March 20, from 3:15 PM to 4:15 PM at, the website of the Organization of American States. It will be archived thereafter at the IACHR website,

CCR and HRUSA will argue that the Commission should:
  • Issue official recommendations to the United States to engage in criminal investigations and prosecutions for torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;
  • Reform laws that prevent the victims of U.S. policies from learning the truth about these abuses; and
  • Make reparations to victims of human rights abuses committed by the U.S. government.
By the way, kudos to Michael Ratner of CCR, who spoke out against the proposed Senate hearings or "Truth Commission" proposed by Senator Leahy as a "whitewash."
Speaking to Raw Story, Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and a human rights attorney, says he is opposing Senate Judiciary chairman Patrick Leahy’s proposed 'Truth Commission' because it doesn’t go far enough.

"We’re talking about a whitewash with Leahy. Are we some Latin American country where we don’t have a democracy robust enough to try people?" Ratner said. “[Leahy’s] essentially diffusing the issue so there’s not as much pressure on prosecution. It’s not really going to go far. [The commission is] going to divert us for a few years and we’re never going to see something come out of it.”

Ratner said he and the Center for Constitutional Rights want to see criminal prosecutions of officials at the highest level of the Bush administration, the so-called “principals” who were the architects of controversial polices and signed off on them.

“Cheney has openly said that he approved the water boarding memo and that he would do it again,” Ratner said, adding, “My view is you absolutely have to have prosecutions to have deterrents [for future executive power abuses].”
My own take on Leahy's whitewash hearings, including a detailed breakdown of the witnesses the House Judiciary Committee called on March 5 to examine the proposal, appears in my article, "Birth of a Whitewash: Who Testified at Leahy Commission Torture Hearings?" (which was picked up by both The Public Record and the Chicago Sun Times).

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