Harvard’s Gitmo Kangaroo Law School — The School for Torturers

Not surprisingly, the January 2007 issue of the American Journal of Imperial Law–otherwise known as the self-styled American Journal of International Law but founded and still operated by U. S. State and War Departments’ apparatchiks and their professorial fellow-travelers — published an article by Harvard Law School’s recently retired Bemis Professor of International Law Detlev Vagts (who only taught me the required course on Legal Accounting) arguing in favor of the Pentagon’s Kangaroo Courts System on Guantanamo despite the fact that they have been soundly condemned by every human rights organization and every human rights official and leader in the entire world as well as by the United States Supreme Court itself in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006).

I am not going to bother to recite here all the grievous deficiencies of the Gitmo Kangaroo Courts under International Law and U.S. Constitutional Law. But suffice it to say that the Gitmo Kangaroo Courts constitute war crimes under the Laws of War, the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, and even the U. S. Army’s own Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare (1956). Field Manual 27-10 was drafted for the Pentagon by my Laws of War teacher the late, great Richard R. Baxter, who was generally recognized as the world’s leading expert on that subject, which is precisely why I voluntarily chose to study International Law with him and his long-time collaborator Louis B. Sohn, and not with the bean-counter Vagts. For the entire post-World War II generation of international law students at Harvard Law School, Louis Sohn shall always be our real Bemis Professor of International Law and never the False Pretender to that Throne known as Detlev Vagts.

Since those student days I have personally appeared pro bono publico in five U.S. military courts-martial proceedings involving warfare that were organized in accordance with the Pentagon’s Uniform Code of Military Justice (U.C.M.J.) — which still does not apply to the Gitmo Kangaroo Courts despite the ruling by the U. S. Supreme Court in Hamdan that the U.C.M.J. should be applied in Guantanamo — on behalf of five U. S. military personnel who each acted as matters of courage, integrity, principle, and conscience at great risk to their freedom:

U.S. Marine Corps Corporal Jeff Paterson, the first U.S. military resister to President Bush Sr.’s genocidal war against Iraq; Army Captain Doctor Yolanda Huet-Vaughn, the highest ranking U.S. commissioned officer to be court-martialed for refusing to participate in President Bush Sr.’s genocidal war against Iraq; Captain Lawrence Rockwood, who was court-martialed by the U.S. Army for trying to stop torture in Haiti after the Clinton administration had illegally invaded that country in 1994; Army Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia, the first U.S. military resister to be court-martialed for refusing to participate in President Bush Jr.’s war of aggression against Iraq; and Army First Lieutenant Ehren Watada, the first U.S. commissioned officer to be court-martialed for his refusal to participate in President Bush Jr.’s war of aggression against Iraq.

As I can attest from my direct personal involvement, each and every one of these five courts-martial under the U.C.M.J. were Stalinist show-trials produced and directed by the Pentagon that predictably and readily degenerated into travesties of justice. These five U.C.M.J. courts-martial involving warfare each proved correct the old adage attributed to Groucho Marx that military justice is to justice as military music is to music. By comparison, the Gitmo Kangaroo Courts will not even be run in accordance with the U.C.M.J. despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan that they should be.

Whenever they are up and running the Gitmo Courts will constitute Stalinist Show Trials as well as Kangaroo Courts, and their preliminary proceedings have already proven them to be Travesties of Justice. Even worse yet, fully-functioning Stalinist Gitmo Kangaroo Courts will quickly become conveyor-belts of death for alleged and already tortured terrorist suspects along the lines of the Texas execution chamber operated by George Bush Jr. when he was the “governor” of that state and tortured to death 152 victims by means of lethal injection. Gitmo will become America’s Death Camp. But today under the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, executing persons detained as a result of armed conflict without a fair trial before a regularly constituted court constitutes a grave war crime. To be sure, under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution Professor Vagts has the freedom to advocate war crimes so long as he does not participate in their commission, or incite them, or aid and abet them. But precisely where is that line to be drawn for law professors?

In this regard, the Harvard Law School Faculty currently has at least five professors who have advocated torture and war crimes:

Vagts himself, who supported abusing the then recently captured President of Iraq Saddam Hussein despite his being publicly acknowledged to be a Prisoner of War by the Bush Jr. administration itself and thus absolutely protected by the Third Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Convention against Torture; the infamous Alan Dershowitz, a self-incriminated war criminal in his own right. Dersh publicly acknowledged being a member of a Mossad Committee for approving the murder and assassination of Palestinians, which violates the Geneva Conventions and is thus a grave war crime; the Neo-Con Con Law non-entity known as Richard Parker;

Another one of my teachers, Waco Phil Heymann. Previously Waco Phil had been Deputy to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, the Butcheress of Waco. Reno ordered the Waco Massacre, while Heymann orchestrated its cover-up and thus earned his well-deserved sobriquet of Waco Phil. All those incinerated women and children!

The war criminal Jack Goldsmith who while working as a lawyer for the Bush Jr. administration at both the Pentagon and later its Department of In-Justice did much of the legal spade-work designing, justifying and approving the hideous human rights atrocities that the Bush Jr. administration has inflicted on everyone after 9/11. Goldsmith and his co-felon legal colleague from the Bush Jr. administration Professor John Yoo — now desecrating Berkeley’s Law School where my friend and colleague the late, great Dean Frank Newman had taught Human Rights–are functionally analogous to Nazi Law Professor Carl Schmitt, who justified every hideous atrocity that Hitler and the Nazis inflicted on anyone.

Despite my best efforts to prevent it, the Harvard Law School Faculty and Deans hired the war criminal Goldsmith right out of the Bush Jr. administration knowing full well that he was up to his eyeballs in the Gitmo Kangaroo Courts, torture, war crimes, enforced disappearances, murder, kidnapping, and crimes against humanity, at a minimum. And when Goldsmith’s proverbial “smoking-gun” Department of In-Justice Memorandum was published by the Washington Post, Harvard Law School’s Dean Elena Kagan contemptuously boasted in response about how “proud” she was to have hired this notorious war criminal. Previously Kagan had also publicly bragged that the future of International Legal Studies at Harvard Law School would be in the “good hands” of their resident war criminal Goldsmith. How tragically true! The Neo-Conservative Harvard Law School Faculty and Deans deliberately set out to hire this Neo-Nazi legal architect of the Bush Jr. administration’s bogus and nefarious “war against terrorism” because they fully support it together with all its essential accouterments of torture, kangaroo courts, war crimes, murder, kidnapping, enforced disappearances, crimes against humanity, and Nuremburg crimes against peace.

By contrast, after the terrorist bombing of the Murrah Federal Building by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols in alleged revenge for the Waco Massacre and Cover-up by Janet Reno and Waco Phil Heymann, to the best of my recollection I do not remember that the Neo-Conservative Harvard Law School Faculty and Deans advocated kangaroo courts, torture, war crimes, and racist profiling for America’s White Judeo-Christian Males. Yet after 9/11 the fundamentally White Racist Harvard Law School Faculty and Deans have no problem with inflicting torture, kangaroo courts, war crimes, and racist profiling upon Muslims/Arabs/Asians of Color, which is exactly why they hired the war criminal Goldsmith to teach such criminal practices to their own law students and thus someday turn them into racist U. S. governmental war criminals in their own right. This is because for the most part the Harvard Law School Faculty and Deans have always been viscerally bigoted and racist against Muslims/Arabs/Asians and other People of Color since at least when I first matriculated there in September of 1971.

The Harvard Law School Faculty and Deans are no longer fit to educate Lawyers, Members of the Bar, and Officers of the Court. They are a sick joke and a demented fraud. Groucho Marx would have had a field day with them: Harvard is to Law School as Torture is to Law. The Harvard Law School Faculty and Deans torture the Law. Do not send your children or students to Harvard Law School where they will grow up to become racist war criminals! Harvard Law School is a Neo-Con cesspool.

University of Illinois Law Professor Francis A. Boyle served as Legal Advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization on the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence; to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations from 1991 to 1993; and to H.E. Chairman and President Yasser Arafat. The story is told in his book Palestine, Palestinians and International Law (Clarity Press: 2003). He can be reached at: FBOYLE@LAW.UIUC.EDU. Read other articles by Francis A..

11 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Michael Kenny said on June 17th, 2008 at 1:43pm #

    A small lawyer’s aside on the recent US Supreme Court judgment. Since the US government argued that the US courts did not have jurisdiction because jurisdiction goes with de jure sovereignty and de jure sovereignty at Gitmo is vested in Cuba, does that not mean that if the Court had accepted the government’s argument, the Cuban courts would have had jurisdiction over Gitmo and its detainees and would therefore be entitled to order their release on the basis thay they had not violated any Cuban laws? The detainees could then have sought, not habeas corpus, but enforcement of a foreign judgment, in the US courts in accordance with the normal principles of private international law! That would have made a complete, worldwide laughing stock of the US legal system!

  2. Erik Rose said on June 17th, 2008 at 4:02pm #

    Francis, great article! I become prouder by the day that I graduated from Thomas Jefferson SOL, where Marjorie Cohn [author of Cowboy Republic, Six Ways the Bush Gang has Defied the Law] still teaches. Harvard and Berkeley should be ashamed to have a faculty of felons.

    Mr. Kenny: Great point and great analysis! GITMO exists for jurisdictional reasons only . . . it is a jurisdictional black hole by design!

  3. hp said on June 17th, 2008 at 5:17pm #

    And so is the seldom mentioned Camp Bondsteel. in Kosovo(a).
    Perhaps even more so.

  4. Bob said on June 18th, 2008 at 5:39am #

    Military justice. In 1965 I was in basic training, and several other “trainee duds” and myself were doing a very important job, on our hands and knees stripping the black streaks and scuffs off the floor. We would clean, some “sir” or other person of importance would simply walk through and undo what we had just done. Then, we would be screamed at for our inefficiency.

    Court martials were in session at the end of the hall, and there was a line of people sitting and waiting their turn in front of the board, and occassionaly a major would stick his head out of the board and shout, “Bring in the next guilty bastard!”

    And it turned out they were, in fact, all guilty.

    Later, this same major gave us our “training” on the UCMJ, telling us that it was even fairer and better than anything you would see in a civilian court. And I think he was actually serious.

    That mindset is still very much alive, and couple that with the statement made by an admiral, that the suicides of certain Guantanamo prisoners was actual an act of ‘asymetric warfare’ and you can see what it’s really all about.

  5. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 18th, 2008 at 6:53am #

    Thanks for this, Francis Boyle. I was turned down by Harvard Law School when I applied in 1963, and came out to Stanford Law from Harvard College. My most recent contact with one of our Harvard brothers was at my 40th reunion, in the rather eventful year of 2003. My college classmate’s name was Bob Gordon, and when I suggested he use his influence at Harvard Law in 2003 to start some HLS students doing an internet site concerning international law and the Iraq War, he demurred. Or maybe he didn’t understand what I was suggesting. anyhow, that was then, and now is now.

    If I recall, you put up an article at Dissident Voice some months back. Keep up the most excellent work. When I took International Law at SLS in 1965, the prof told us the United Nations was helpful because it promoted international dialogs. 🙂 Hopefully, international law’s time is now.

  6. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 18th, 2008 at 4:08pm #

    Bob Gordon was probably at Yale Law School in 2003. (And I guess if I didn’t value personal reminisences so highly, I never would have commented in the first place.)

    And thank you for the personal emails, Francis Boyle, in reply to the above post.

  7. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 18th, 2008 at 4:11pm #

    And to pull a triple. My best friend from childhood was in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps during Vietnam. And I’ll never forget visiting him sometime in the late 60’s, at his home in San Antonio, and him telling me that there were so many concrete airbases in South Vietnam, “we’re never going to leave.”

  8. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 18th, 2008 at 5:56pm #

    I won’t preface this with “finally” because I almost can’t believe that DV readers are so parochial that they don’t understand the import of what Professor Boyle has written. No, maybe I’ll just keep posting until evening comes, and some of our regulars, at least, rejoin me. How about the name of a soldier now prominently displayed at the Iraq Veterans Against the War’s website as a war resister: Matthis Chiroux.


  9. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 18th, 2008 at 7:01pm #

    Thanks, Michael, for more “Life of the Law.” I truly think, however, that Americans just love to judge — a la Judge Judy — and have Reality-TV’d themselves into believing they not only can judge defendants themselves, they’re the best judges in the world. That should have long ago “…made a complete, worldwide laughing stock of the US legal system!” (And largely has.) But then, most Americans also think the jury-system was created in heaven, and they’re the angels god had in mind.

    Consequently, it doesn’t matter a twig what the wide world’s opinion of American justice is.

  10. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 18th, 2008 at 7:24pm #

    Actually, Michael. I’m astounded the US attorneys argued Cuba was sovereign over anything. Isn’t that argument invalid ab initio, since the US doesn’t recognize the sovereignty of Cuba? (Leaving aside for the moment the question of what or who the United States believes IS sovereign over the island.)

    Moreover, didn’t or couldn’t the US attorneys argue that the rest of the island notwithstanding, Guantanamo was and always has been sovereign United States territory?

    These are not idle questions to me, a fervid Castro-supporter and understander of the fact that laws made by the United Nations are laws of the land in America, according to the American Constitution.

    Which reminds me of another law school story. Gerald Gunther taught us Constitutional Law at Stanford in the sixties, and he was not a big fan of Earl Warren. Accordingly, Professor Gunther was very amused when one of my co-students remarked that the quotation should not be “Let us remember: it is a Constitution we are expounding,” but that it should be “Let us remember: it is a Constitution we are expanding.”

  11. Lloyd Rowsey said on June 18th, 2008 at 8:28pm #

    Evidently, Dissident Voices’ readers combined awe about Harvard and sympathies with America’s international activites (or is it, mindless deference to those activites) means we can put Professor Boyle’s piece to sleep for tonite.

    But tomorrow! Is another day. In fact it’s Juneteenth, a celebration of the abolition of slavery in Texas, celebrated oficially in 26 states according to Wikepedia. But I forgot to look…is one of theose 26 states the hip and all-African-American-supporting state of California?