January 9, 2012 was the 10th anniversary of the memo that gave President George Bush the right to ignore the Geneva Conventions and authorize torture. Authors of the memo were Robert Delahunty, now a St. Thomas Law School professor and John Yoo, now a University of California at Berkeley law professor. Local peace activists have demonstrated against Professor Delahunty ever since he joined St. Thomas in 2004.
Many believe that the Delahunty-Yoo memo led directly to the torturing of prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib prisons and many other human rights violations by American troops.
The “enhanced interrogation techniques” are reported to be continuing.
Dozens of books have been written about US torture practices. One recent book, None of Us Were Like This Before, describes the actions and consequences of these actions on one battalion.
Many national peace related groups have been arguing for a strict, explicit ban on torture. Examples: World Organisation Against Torture,Veterans For Peace, International Committee Against Torture and Amnesty International.
This year the demonstrators wore hooded orange jump suits, the attire of prisoners at Guantanamo, and marked silently through the Minneapolis Skyways from The Peoples Plaza to the second floor library at The University of St. Thomas Law School library asking to see the books authored by Delahunty. They were denied admission. The “prisoners” then joined a rally in front of the law school.
The objectives of this continued protest effort include closing Guantanamo, more public disclosure of the on-going Delahunty-Yoo writings and a forum at St. Thomas including Professor Delahunty and other lawyers with differing viewpoints.They accuse Delahunty of war crimes. They have also been picketing St. Thomas Law School commencements arguing that the students are not getting a complete picture of the torture issue.
Chato Hazelbaker, Director of Communications, University of St. Thomas Law School, met with the protesters on the sidewalk in front of the law school building as he has a number of times in the past. He listened carefully and argued that, “If you take the totality of what goes on in this law school, we would find far more that we agree about than we disagree about.” He went on to describe the commencement protests as a significant sticking point in any negotiations.
Coleen Rowley, FBI whistle blower and peace activists, replied, “If St. Thomas would hold an open forum for law students and get speakers on these issues, I would not come to the commencement any longer.”