News Release

Is Kavanaugh a War Criminal?

Amnesty International USA just issued a “Rare Call for a Halt on Kavanaugh Nomination.”

The group states: “Amnesty International believes that the vetting of Brett Kavanaugh’s record on human rights has been insufficient and calls for the vote on his nomination for Supreme Court of the United States to be further postponed unless and until any information relevant to Kavanaugh’s possible involvement in human rights violations — including in relation to the U.S. government’s use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment, such as during the CIA detention program — is declassified and made public.”

Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA said: “Amnesty International takes no position on the appointment of particular individuals to government positions, unless they are reasonably suspected of crimes under international law and could use their appointment to the position in question to either prevent accountability for these crimes or to continue perpetration.”

See report from earlier this month on “Confidential Emails Reveal Kavanaugh Wanted to Make Author of Bush-era Torture Memo a Judge” about just some of Kavanaugh’s documents highlighted by Sen. Cory Booker.

FRANCIS BOYLE, fboyle at illinois.edu
Boyle is professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. He was an elected member of the Board of Directors of Amnesty International USA from 1988 to 1992.

He said today: “Contrary to the mantra that the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have it in for Kavanaugh, they’ve largely let him off the hook on a number of critical issues, instead favoring theatrics.

“While there’s substantial attention being paid to the serious charges of sexual assault by Kavanaugh, there’s been very little note that he is a putative war criminal. Specifically, recently released documents show that while Kavanaugh worked for the George W. Bush administration, one of the people he attempted to put on the judiciary was John Yoo, who authored many of the justifications for torture that came out of the Bush administration.

“I’ve had very serious problems with others placed on the Supreme Court, but I’ve never thought of them as putative war criminals. And while other parts of Kavanaugh’s professional record are unseemly, including his lying under oath, his work for Ken Starr and for Bush’s election during the Florida standoff in 2000, this stands out even in such a record.

“And while some of the current members of the Supreme Court have been members of the Federalist Society, none have been of this ilk of members like John Yoo and Bush Attorney General/White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez — as Kavanaugh, who worked for Gonzalez at the White House. The U.S. Senate must not place a putative war criminal on the U.S. Supreme Court.” See Boyle’s analysis in The Guardian

The following exchange is from a debate between Yoo and Doug Cassel, director of Notre Dame Law School’s Center for Civil and Human Rights held on Dec. 1, 2005:

Cassel: “If the president deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?”
Yoo: “No treaty.”
Cassel: “Also no law by Congress — that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.”
Yoo: “I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that.”

Listen to audio here.