17 Years Since the Notorious Yoo-Bybee “Torture Memos,” the US Still Finds Itself Unable to Successfully Prosecute the Men It Tortured

Andy Worthington | August 5, 2019

yoo-bybee-torture-planeAugust 1 was the 17th anniversary of a particularly grotesque and dispiriting event in modern US history, one that has ramifications that are still being felt today, even though it was completely unnoticed — or ignored — by the US media. 

On August 1, 2002, Jay S. Bybee, then the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), the branch of the Justice Department responsible for advising the executive branch on what is, and what is not legal, signed off on two blatantly unlawful memos written by OLC lawyer John Yoo, which attempted to re-define torture, and approved its use on Abu Zubaydah, a prisoner of the “war on terror” that the US declared after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, who was being held in a secret prison — a “black site” — run by the CIA.


Invite: World Can't Wait National Meeting Nov 22-23 Chicago IL

You might be surprised to know that I don't read the Wall Street Journal regularly.  A friend just sent me Peggy Noonan's column for Friday,"Playing Frisbee on a Precipice."  The WSJ generally presents the views of those who run the empire, and clearly they are worried:


What Matters Now? The Bush/Cheney Legacy

By Dennis Loo

Ex-Treasury Secretary Paul O"Neill, one of many disaffected former Bush White House officials, recounts Vice-President Dick Cheney saying in a 2002 White House meeting: "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter." [1]

The Bush/Cheney years prove that the rule of law and truth don't matter.

This has assumed many different expressions: losing elections and getting the most votes don't matter, torture doesn't matter, committing war crimes as policy and getting caught don't matter, separation of powers doesn't matter, attacking countries that have not attacked you first doesn't matter, international law, Nuremberg, the Geneva Convention, and the UN Charter don't matter, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights don't matter, being repeatedly caught red-handed lying and committing felonies don't matter, having the Democrats holding the majority in Congress doesn't matter, science, evolution, and global warming don't matter, being an American in the face of a Category 4 hurricane doesn't matter, running up unbelievable deficits, carrying out policies that show themselves to be disasters doesn't matter, being more unpopular for a longer time than any White House in at least polling history doesn't matter "the list goes on and on. In fact, just listing the items in this manner could go on for 10,000 words or more without any elaboration attempted.


The "Electoral Remedy"

by Dennis Loo, published at Counterpunch on October 31, 2008 under the title: "What to do with Bush and Cheney?"

It's been eight years - almost to the day - that Bush and Cheney lost the election but seized the White House anyway.

It's been four years - almost to the day - that Bush and Cheney lost the election again, but took the White House anyway.

Now we are on the verge of yet another election, the third in a row dubbed by many "the most important in our lifetime." Bush and Cheney aren't on the ballot, but those who would carry on their policies are. And once again the Democratic Party, the loyal opposition, puts forth their alternative.

What has not been broached in this election contest? What has most conspicuously been avoided?

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This Election & Our Responsibility

by Debra Sweet

All of us living in this country will confront change after tomorrow's election, but not the change most people think they are getting. If Obama wins, he will preside over changes we don't want and shouldn't get sucked into supporting.

I'm calling on you to keep resisting the crimes being done by your government. Tuesday, let's go out among the people at the polls, and in the evening, be among those celebrating a presumed Obama win to challenge them on the facts, and on their consciences, and raise these questions:

What are people even getting to vote about after this two year long campaign? Did you get to vote on whether the U.S. should occupy Iraq? Or whether the CIA, the private contractors, or the military should use torture and secret detentions?

And what is there to celebrate in an Obama presidency? Making us feel good about the country again when Obama is trying to unite us to fight the "good war" in Afghanistan? Happy that some combat troops will be removed from Iraq, while air strikes kill more civilians in Pakistan and Syria? How could we celebrate "national unity" when Obama's vote for the FISA law opens the way for unprecedented political repression and spying on the people?


As Votes Were Cast and Counted, The Horrors Continued

By Larry Jones

A seemingly interminable election season has finally drawn to a close. As people trooped to cast their ballots for the future head of an empire of war and torture, millions were hoping for relief from the nightmare of the Bush years.

But beyond the long voting lines and the polling booths, the horrors continued


A Reply to the New York Times on Obama's Victory

by Dennis Loo

The day after Obama's victory, the New York Times ran the following editorial. After their essay is my response. 

"The Next President" by the New York Times Editors


This is one of those moments in history when it is worth pausing to reflect on the basic facts. An American with the name Barack Hussein Obama, the son of a white woman and a black man he barely knew, raised by his grandparents far outside the stream of American power and wealth, has been elected the 44th president of the United States.

Showing extraordinary focus and quiet certainty, Mr. Obama swept away one political presumption after another to defeat first Hillary Clinton, who wanted to be president so badly that she lost her bearings, and then John McCain, who forsook his principles for a campaign built on anger and fear. His triumph was decisive and sweeping, because he saw what is wrong with this country: the utter failure of government to protect its citizens. He offered a government that does not try to solve every problem but will do those things beyond the power of individual citizens: to regulate the economy fairly, keep the air clean and the food safe, ensure that the sick have access to health care, and educate children to compete in a globalized world.


The New Normalcy Established During the Bush Regime

By Kenneth J. Theisen

Will this election result in significant change? Don't count on it!

Obama has won the election and tens of millions of people in the U.S. now expect significant change in the political trajectory initiated by George W. Bush. But the reality is that they will be deeply disappointed if they expect Obama and the Democrats to deliver on the promise of change.



By Larry Jones

While Barack Obama was racking up what pundits are calling a decisive mandate on Election Day, the rights of women, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgendered persons were hanging in the balance. For women there were some significant victories while for LGBT persons there were a number of defeats. However, even the victories came with warnings for the future. The defeated hoped Obama would be their savior, a hope which may well not be realized due to the president-elect's political limitations and the ongoing strength of the religious right.

Let's take a look at the whole picture.


Oh America, So Much to Answer For

By Jill McLaughlin, World Can't Wait Steering Committee Member

I woke Tuesday morning having had seven hours of sleep the night before. I was happy I turned in early the night before. There was a reason why I had done so, but I had forgotten why. I got my shoes and jacket and got my dog on the leash for the early morning walk. As we walked along something was fighting to make its way into my consciousness, but I couldn't think of what it might be. It was making me anxious. I ran into a neighbor whom I barely know. We said our hellos and my dog greeted him and as he pet her he informed her he was on his way to vote. Voootttee. That was it. Vote. Election. Obama. McCain. Election Day.


Going Forward in Stopping the Crimes of Your Government

By Debra Sweet

I was on 125th Street in Harlem Tuesday night, and down through Manhattan until late, among people dancing in the streets, honking horns, blocking streets with joy at the election of Barack Obama.

As we promised, World Can't Wait was at Grant Park (left, with banner reading, "No More Wars for Empire") and other locations around the country, talking with people, experiencing the moment, and yes...arguing with and learning from people on what they think Obama will change. My favorite moment was an exchange with an African American woman, age 75. I was wearing the orange "no attack on Iran" t-shirt. She pointed to it and said, "I see you haven't drunk the kool-aid...You know, that's what Obama wants to do!"




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  • Debra Sweet

     Debra SweetDebra Sweet is the Director of World Can’t Wait, initiated in 2005 to “drive out the Bush regime” by repudiating its program, forcing it from office through a mass, independent movement and reversing the direction it had launched.  Based in New York City, she leads World Can’t Wait in its continuing efforts to stop the crimes of our government, including the unjust occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and the torture and detention codes, as well as reversing the fascist direction of U.S. society, from the surveillance state to the criminalization of abortion and immigrants.  She has worked with abortion providers for twenty-five years, organizing community support and helping them withstand anti-abortion violence.  Since the age of 19, when she confronted Richard Nixon during a face-to-face meeting and told him to stop the war in Vietnam, she has been a leader in the opposition to U.S. wars and invasions.  Debra says, “Stop thinking like an American, and start thinking about humanity!”

    She can be reached at debrasweet (at) You can read her writings at

    Debra's Regular E-Newsletter

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  • Dennis Loo
     Dennis Loo is an award-winning sociologist, co-editor of Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney, Associate Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona and an honors graduate in Government from Harvard. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He is a former journalist and his research specialties include polling, public policy-making, social movements, and criminology.He can be reached via his blog:
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  • Jamilah Hoffman
    Jamilah Hoffman is a young World Can't Wait organizer in Houston, who is "determined to leave this world a better place than she found it".
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  • Jill McLaughlin

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World Can't Wait mobilizes people living in the United States to stand up and stop war on the world, repression and torture carried out by the US government. We take action, regardless of which political party holds power, to expose the crimes of our government, from war crimes to systematic mass incarceration, and to put humanity and the planet first.