America’s Human Rights Abusers: John Yoo, David Addington, and Bout’s Prosecution Team

In retaliation for the Magnitsky sanctions — in which the US placed sanctions on those deemed to have had a role in retaliating against Sergei Magnitsky’s whistleblowing — Russia just issued a list of 18 Americans who will be prohibited from traveling to Russia.

The list released by the Foreign Ministry includes John Yoo, a former U.S. Justice Department official who wrote legal memos authorizing harsh interrogation techniques; David Addington, the chief of staff for former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney; and two former commanders of the Guantánamo Bay detention center: retired Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller and Navy Rear Adm. Jeffrey Harbeson.


Also on Russia’s list are 14 Americans whom Russia says violated the rights of Russians abroad. It does not give specifics of the alleged violations, but includes several current or former federal prosecutors in the case of Viktor Bout, the Russian arms merchant sentenced in 2012 to 25 years in prison for selling weapons to a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist group. One FBI agent and four U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agents also are on the list.

In addition, there’s a closed list of Americans who are, according to Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, personally responsible for legalizing torture and indefinite detention. So maybe Dick Cheney is on that list.

I’m actually more interested Russia sanctioned Bout’s prosecutors than Yoo (it doesn’t take much creativity, after all, to call Yoo a human rights violator). After all, Bout only ever did the same kinds of things Erik Prince does for us, and our claim that we had jurisdiction over his sales stretched traditional jurisdiction beyond belief.

In any case, it sure seemed pretty easy for Russia to accuse us of violating human rights just like it does.

14 replies
  1. harpie says:

    b at Moon of Alabama:

    […] The current Russian measure is exactly the right one. Dear U.S., do your really think you have any credibility when it comes to human rights? Here is the mirror. Just take a look. […]

  2. harpie says:

    Glenn Greenwald tweets:

    ‏@ggreenwald 33m
    Funniest/best foreign relations move of the decade: Russia has already locked up the prize [links to NYT story]


  3. What Constitution? says:

    @egregious: You could replace “Addington” with “anyone” and still be right, unfortunately. I wonder if the US will pressure Russia like the US pressured Spain.

  4. scribe says:

    Russia going to bat for Bout is no different than Cheney going to the mat for Libby’s pardon.

    And likely to be about as successful.

  5. The Big Pineapple says:

    N.B., It’s not just nyah nyah nyah. Charges of USG official crime are gaining increasingly broad international consensus. That sort of concerted condemnation doesn’t stop at the water’s edge.

    The Paquete Habana makes international law an integral part of federal law. Customary international law is part of federal common law and the common law of every state, and conventions and treaties are equivalent to federal statutes under Article VI of the Constitution.

    Let’s say John Brennan is acting in full and ever-so-scrupulous compliance with domestic law but in disregard of international law – by, I dunno, by “declaring abolished, suspended or inadmissible in a court of law the rights and actions of the nationals of the hostile party;” or by torture or disappearance; or by “the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all judicial guarantees which are generally recognized as indispensable;” or by failing to distinguish between combatants and noncombatants.

    Then the Nuremberg Judgment makes John Brennan a war criminal under 18 USC § 2441, since the Nuremberg Judgement is incorporated in the supreme law of the land as Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.

    That means, for every US government employee, compliance with John Brennan’s criminal orders becomes a crime under US law and universal jurisdiction. Furthermore, to stop John Brennan’s crimes, all US citizens are privileged to act in a measured but effective way. If I as a US citizen commit what might otherwise be crimes, my actions must be interpreted in light of common law, statutory, procedural, or constitutional principles including but not limited to defense of others, duress, choice of evils, prevention of a crime, reliance upon governmental authority, prevention of a public catastrphe, or citizen’s arrest. Whistleblowing, sabotage, rebellion, forcible overthrow, it’s all on the table now!

    One minute you’re a big shot government official and the next you’re like any other tinhorn strongman. Your authority is gone, all you’ve got is violent repression and that just digs you in deeper.

    This is how you knock over a criminal state.

  6. Peterr says:


    I fully expect Addington to return to the White House in a future GOP administration — probably when a future GOP nominee asks him to chair a Veep search committee. “Well, boss, we looked at a bunch of candidates, but none of them measured up. You’d be better off with me as your veep. And you know, there’s good precedent for that . . . ”

    [OT: Egregious! *waving*]

  7. orionATL says:

    this seems an important development.

    when it comes to human rights violations and hypocrisy on human rights issues, the u.s. has gotten away with murder for very nearly 15 years.

  8. Greg Bean (@GregLBean) says:

    @The Big Pineapple: I find what you’re saying really interesting but isn’t the trouble with criminal states primarily that they don’t recognise laws, especially those of other states and also not international laws, until they have lost the war.

    Is this the start of a new cold war?

  9. Th Big Pineapple says:

    Yeah, it’s been a while since the US was in such bad odor. Maybe we stunk up the place as bad in 1974. The problem then seemed to be the little matter of bombardment amounting to genocide in neutral Cambodia – we in the US called it “secret bombing” but it was no secret to anybody else in the world. That year the international community adopted UNGA Res. 3314 XXIX by universal acclamation. Hair-raising. A pointed reminder, in a collective-security context, that you guys aren’t only ones with nukes. While the resolution was being drafted, PravdaImean the NY Times ran derisive articles about how nobody went to the meetings, but I seem to remember some heads rolled that year, maybe even before the resolution was adopted… can’t quite put my finger on it, damn.

    Oh right. They scrubbed the secret bombing from the draft counts of impeachment but the backchannel point was made, Oops, sorry, we’ll take care of that right away. Nosirree, we don’t tolerate aggression. Bad apples, etc. etc. See Russ Baker on precisely how the fall guy got set up for domestic consumption.

    If we need another sacrificial lamb this time, I wonder who it might be… The man who ripped holes my retirement security? Sure, Why not?

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