Events & Actions


Reckoning with Torture: Memos and Testimonies from the "War on Terror"
Friday October 15, 7 pm, Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall

Part of Berkeley Says "No" to Torture Week

Civil rights activists, attorneys, journalists, and artists reading from recently declassified documents—legal memos, FBI emails, and testimonials by detainees—in a public event to call attention to the abuse and torture of detainees in U.S. custody.  Reception following program.

With opening and closing remarks by Abdi Soltani, Executive Director, ACLU-Northern California

NOTE:  This powerful script originated by the ACLU and American PEN Center has been produced in New York and Washington, D.C., but never before on the West Coast.

Brought to you by the ACLU-Northern California, Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture, National Lawyers Guild - Boalt Chapter, CodePink, World Can't Wait, and Progressive Democrats of America.


Forum on Torture and the Law, Torture and Human Rights
Thursday October 14, 7 pm, room 105, Boalt Hall

Part of Berkeley Says "No" to Torture Week

Moderated by Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Brought to you by the Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture and National Lawyers Guild - Boalt Chapter.


"Intentional Professional Misconduct":  Analysis of the DOJ's internal investigation into
authorship of the torture memos
Wednesday March 31, 4:45 pm, Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall

Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU's National Security Program

What were the findings in the Office of Professional Responsibility's report?  What are the possible legal, legislative, and advocacy steps moving forward?

Followed by a reception with refreshments at 6 pm in Steinhart Courtyard.

Brought to you by the Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture, Boalt Hall Committee for Human Rights, California Law Review, and National Lawyers Guild - Boalt Chapter.


U.S. v. John Lindh: Implications of an Extraordinary Case
Monday March 1, 12:45 pm, room 105, Boalt Hall

Frank Lindh, Boalt lecturer, General Counsel for the California Public Utiliites Commission, and the father of John Walker Lindh.  Introduction by Amnesty International field organizer William Butkus.

Labeled the “American Taliban” by the media, 29-year-old John grew up here in the Bay Area, converted to Islam at age 16, studied overseas, and found his way to Afghanistan several months before the 9/11 attacks. One of few survivors a Fall 2001 prisoner massacre, John suffered torture and abuse by American forces, and was referred to by President Bush and other powerful officials as an “al Qaeda fighter” and a terrorist. John is now quietly serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison, after pleading guilty to providing “material services” to the Taliban government, in violation of economic sanctions President Clinton had imposed on the Taliban. As part of John’s plea bargain, the government agreed to drop all terrorism-related charges. 

Brought to you by the Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture, Amnesty International, Boalt Hall Committee for Human Rights, Boalt Muslim Students Association, Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Law, Middle Eastern Law Students Association, National Lawyers Guild - Boalt Chapter, and Native American Law Student Association.


December 15, 2009

Signatories: National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter joined by Alliance for Justice, Bay Area Association of Muslim Lawyers, Berkeley La Raza Law Students Association, Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture, East Bay La Raza Lawyers Association, Law Students for Justice in Palestine, National Lawyers Guild UC Berkeley School of Law Chapter, Carlos Villarreal, Executive Director National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter.

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 - November 24 - 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 accountability." 

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."

Read the full text of the letters here:  
Department of Justice Sign-On Letter (275 signatures)
Pennsylvania Bar Associate Sign-On Letter (245 signatures)
University of California Sign-On Letter (209 signatures)

Movie Screening and Pizza Party: Taxi to the Darkside
Monday November 23, 12:45 pm, room 12, Boalt Hall 

This month's BHCHR General Membership meeting has been transformed into a movie event with all the trimmings! We will screen the award-winning BBC documentary Taxi to the Darkside which presents an engaging and thoroughly researched look at the policies and practices of the "War on Terror."

In addition to the screening, BHCHR will explain the petition drive that the Committee has undertaken as a part of the Boalt Alliance to Abolish Torture! BHCHR members will present the Committee's stance on the issue as well outline the details of the individual petition letters so that participants can make an informed decision about this important call to action!

We welcome all Boalt students to join us for this event, learn more about the issues, and engage with your fellow students in a constructive dialogue around current U.S. policy and practice as regards torture. In the spirit of these goals, BHCHR will provide pizza, popcorn, soda and sweets! 

Organized by Boalt Hall Committee for Human Rights.  Cosponsored by BAAT.

Tour: The Abu Ghraib Series, by Fernando Botero
Thursday October 29, 4:00 pm, Berkeley Art Museum 

Organized by BAAT as part of "Ending Torture Month."  Cosponsored by: National Lawyers Guild - Boalt Chapter and the Boalt Hall Committee for Human Rights.

What Happened at the OLC During the Bush Administration?
Thursday, October 22, 12:45-1:45 pm, room 122, Boalt Hall

The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel has been called "the President's law firm". During the George W. Bush presidency, OLC staff members, including Prof. John Yoo, produced legal opinions justifying torture, warrantless wiretapping, sweeping executive powers, and indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without trial.

This panel will explore the role and culture of the OLC, examine whether Bush OLC staff fulfilled their ethical and professional responsibilities as attorneys—and discuss what we can expect from OLC during the Obama administration.
  • Kathleen Clark is a professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. Clark teaches in the law school’s Congressional and Administrative Law Clinic in Washington, D.C., and frequently writes about ethics and national security law. She authored Ethical Issues Raised by the OLC Torture Memorandum in the Journal of National Security Law & Policy.
Organized by BAAT as part of "Ending Torture Month."  Cosponsored by: National Lawyers Guild - Boalt Chapter and the Boalt Hall Committee for Human Rights.  Lunch provided by Morrison & Foerster.

SOLIDARITY! A Bar Review to Abolish Torture
Thursday, October 15, 9 pm, Shattuck Down Low, 2284 Shattuck Ave.

$5 donation at the door; half-price drink specials with student ID.

Organized by BAAT as part of "Ending Torture Month."  Cosponsored by: Women of Color Collective, National Lawyers Guild - Boalt Chapter, Law Students for Justice in Palestine, South Asian Law Students Association, Pilipino American Law Society, La Raza Law Students Association, Students for Environmental and Economic Justice, Boalt Hall Committee for Human Rights, Berkeley Law Queer Caucus, and the Native American Law Students Association.

Tortured Justice: Why the Torture Memos Were Illegal 
Tuesday, October 13, 4:30-6:00 pm, Booth Auditorium, Boalt Hall

Video from the Event:

Hear prominent lawyers and legal academics discuss the infamous "Torture Memos" written by the Bush Administration's Office of Legal Counsel, including Boalt Professor John Yoo.  Featuring:
  • Allen Weiner is co-director of the Stanford Program in International Law and the Stanford Center on International Conflict and Negotiation. Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty in 2003, he served as legal counselor to the U.S. Embassy in The Hague and attorney adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State.
  • Gowri Ramachandran is a visiting professor at Berkeley Law from Southwestern Law School for the Fall 2009 semester. She teaches, researches, and writes about constitutional law, human rights, employment law, and feminist and queer legal theory.
  • John Steele teaches legal ethics as a lecturer at Berkeley Law and has been a lecturer in legal ethics at the Stanford University School of Law.  In conjunction with five other professors, Mr. Steele publishes the Legal Ethics Forum. ( 
  • John Sims is a professor of law at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, in Sacramento, in the areas of Constitutional Law, National Security Law, International Protection of Human Rights, and Professional Responsibility. He spent 11 years with the Public Citizen Litigation Group in Washington, D.C., the public-interest law firm founded by Ralph Nader.
Organized by BAAT as part of "Ending Torture Month."  Cosponsored by: National Lawyers Guild - Boalt Chapter, Women of Color Collective, Boalt Muslim Students Association, South Asian Law Students Association, Students for Environmental and Economic Justice, Pilipino American Law Society, Law Students for Justice in Palestine, Native American Law Students Association, La Raza Law Students Association, Berkeley Law Queer Caucus, and the Boalt Hall Committee for Human Rights.