Monday, January 12, 2009

The Morning DC Red Meat Report: From Main Street To The Hill To The Middle East We Have Work To Do… And Quickly.

The Morning DC Red Meat Report: From Main Street To The Hill To The Middle East We Have Work To Do… And Quickly.


"The action I am taking is no more than a radical measure to hasten the explosion of truth and justice. I have but one passion: to enlighten those who have been kept in the dark, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My fiery protest is simply the cry of my very soul. Let them dare, then, to bring me before a court of law and let the enquiry take place in broad daylight!"

- Emile Zola, J'accuse! (1898) –

The chief prosecutor for the United States at the Nuremberg trials, Robert Jackson, warned: “Law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power.”


In CQ Politics today:

Feinstein's Actions on Blagojevich Appointee Could Help Her Later

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein seized a rare double-barreled opportunity to reach out to African Americans and bolster the strength of state executives in a single act by offering her support for Burris, whose appointment to the Senate has been held in limbo by Democratic leaders because it was made by Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich. Read More


Hill Braces for Round 2 of Bailout

The president-elect's team urges quick action as lawmakers get to work on another economic recovery bill just three months after struggling to pass a $700 billion bailout that they accuse the Treasury Department of mismanaging. Read More


Obama on What Lincoln Means to Him, and the Dog Decision: Aside from weighing in on the front-and-center issues -- like the economy and national security -- Barack Obama provided some personal insights on ABC's "This Week". Read more


With Top Spies in Place, Panetta Has More Options Than It Might Appear

By Jeff Stein

Democrats are eager to show a largely doubtful American public that they've got their national security act together. CIA Director-designate Leon Panetta has a chance to temper those doubts if he surrounds himself with former senior operations officials who departed the CIA in recent years, chased out by dreadful management and moral lapses at the top.


President George W. Bush Screw Up's (Partial)



Sic Semper Tyrannis

(A Committee of Correspondence)


GW Bush on "known killers"

I listened to Britt Hume interview the two Bushes on Fox News Sunday.  It was less than inspiring, but informative of the mentality of these three men.  At one point one of the bushes referred to the Oval Office (in which they were standing) as a "shrine of democracy."

Say what?

Having spent some time in that room, I must say that it never struck me as anything other than a working office for the person who runs the Executive Branch of the federal government.  This talk of "shrines" is more of the monarchical baloney that has tended to attach itself to the presidency over the course of the Republic's history.  "Shrine of Democracy?"  Through a connecting door is the pantry where Monica and Bill trysted and where she said she earned her "presidential kneepads."  A few feet farther away is the little room where Cheney explained to Bush at lunches what is that he (Bush) really thought about things.  Considering the rather limited scope of Cheney's world view, one must wonder which clever person had previously explained Cheney's opinion to Cheney.  "Shrine of democracy..."  Remarkable.

The BIG MOMENT for me in the interview was GW's assertion that torture a la Jack Bauer had been a good thing for the US government to employ because it had enabled the winkling out of information from "known killers," and at another point in his discourse "known criminals."

How were they "known?"

In the US scheme of things it has usually been thought that criminals and killers are "known" by virtue of having been convicted by a jury of the crimes for which they are accused.  I seem to remember that this notion starts back in the time of King John of evil memory.  You remember him, "Magna Carta" and all that.  Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham maybe?

It would seem that this is not a meaningful discussion for GW.  By that I mean a discussion of the epistemology of guilt.  If you follow his logic, then the accusation of police, bureaucrats or other enemies might well be sufficient cause for one's (anyone's) imprisonment and questioning under "enhanced procedures."

Is the man really that blind to the tyranny lying close to the surface of such a notion of "knowing."

On the other hand, I and others like me who have criticized him savagely are still walking around, perhaps a little the worse for wear, but still free to criticize.

For that, I salute him. Update




From Washington, DC to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Worldwide--
Hundreds of Thousands March to Let Gaza Live!


On Sat., Jan. 10, hundreds of cities, and hundreds of thousands of people, responded to the call for an International Day of Emergency Action to support the people of Gaza. Outside the United States, marches took place in London, Edinburgh, Cairo, Athens, Kuala Lumpur, Beirut, Seoul, Mexico City, Jakarta, Montreal, Paris, Barcelona, Marseilles, Lyon, Oslo, Berlin, Bern, Karachi, Nablus, New Delhi, Amman, Sarajevo, Ramallah, Stockholm, and Tokyo. The protests continue to grow -- today, another 250,000 took to the streets in Spain and more than 100,000 in Algeria….


U.S. Congress Overwhelmingly Backs Israeli Offensive


Delaware Watch: White House Can't Keep Identities of Visitors ...
By Delaware Watch
200 (1); 2008 presidential election (40); 2008 Presidential race (75); 2008 stimulus package (1); 9/11 (1); 9/11 conspiracy theories (1); abortion (2); abstinence (2); ACORN (2); adgate (1); affordable housing (3); Afghanistan (4) ...

"It's class warfare and my class is winning." Warren Buffett
Delaware Watch -


Baltimore Nonviolence Center: U.S. Rejected Aid for Israeli Raid ...
By Max Obuszewski
What Mr. Bush authorized, and informed a narrow group of
Congressional leaders about, was a far broader effort, aimed at the entire industrial infrastructure that supports the Iranian nuclear program. Some of the efforts focused on ways ...
Baltimore Nonviolence Center -


Forgive Not
New York Times - United States
And America tends to survive the ugliness of public reckonings, from Nixon to Whitewater to the
impeachment hearings, because for all our cheerful optimism, ...
See all stories on this topic

“INSTEAD of looking closely at what high-level officeholders in the Bush administration have done over the past eight years, and recognizing what we have tacitly permitted, we would rather turn our faces forward toward a better future, promising that 2009 and the inauguration of Barack Obama will mean ringing out Guantánamo Bay and ringing in due process; it will bring the end of waterboarding and the reinstatement of the Geneva Conventions.

Indeed, the almost universal response to the recent bipartisan report issued by the Senate Armed Services Committee — finding former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and other high-ranking officials directly responsible for detainee abuse that clearly rose to the level of torture — has been a collective agreement that no one need be punished so long as we solemnly vow that such atrocities never happen again.

This hope that the election represents some kind of legal self-cleansing, a constitutional “rebooting” of the rule of law, is of course not the language of the law. It is the language of recovery, of religion, of political pragmatism.

Those who say that there should be no investigation or prosecution of senior officials who authorized torture and warrant-less surveillance rarely even bother offering legal justifications. They argue that the Obama administration has more urgent problems to contend with. They insist that any such process would devolve into partisan backbiting from which this country could never recover. And they insist, as did Attorney General Michael Mukasey in early December, that there is no basis on which to prosecute the architects of torture and wiretapping policies because each was acting to “protect the security in the country and in the belief that he or she was doing something lawful.”

Others — including unnamed officials on the Obama transition team — have already claimed that there is simply no political will for criminal prosecutions, or even a truth commission.

Of course all this is not the language of the law either. It is the language of self-fulfilling prophecy. With each successive recitation that there is no political will, the political will dissipates. With each repetition of the mantra that Americans just want to turn the page on the past eight years, Americans feel ever better about turning the page.” And why wouldn’t we?

We aren’t merely forgiving Mr. Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney (who admitted in December to approving torture techniques) and others for their actions. We are also forgiving ourselves. We are telling ourselves that what happened at Abu Ghraib is behind us, and that what happened at C.I.A. black sites is over. We are telling ourselves that bad people did bad things under bad circumstances, but that it’s better to forgive and forget, that we are really truly sorry and it won’t happen again. We sound like a nation of drunks after a bender. We are full of good intentions, but unwilling to hold ourselves to account.

Nobody is looking for a series of public floggings. The blueprints for government accountability look nothing like witch hunts. They look like legal processes that have served us for centuries. And, as the Armed Services Committee report makes clear, we already know an enormous amount about what happened to take us down the road to torture and eavesdropping. The military has commissioned at least three investigative reports about the descent into abusive interrogation. Michael Ratner, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, has compiled what he believes to be sufficient evidence to try senior Bush administration officials for war crimes. More previously secret memos from the Office of Legal Counsel were released just last week.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that the first step will be a thorough determination of what has occurred. To that end, this week the House Judiciary Committee chairman, John Conyers Jr., introduced legislation for a panel to investigate the “broad range” of policies pursued by the Bush administration. Such a commission would not constitute a criminal investigation, but it would not preclude one either.

Some commentators have suggested that any such truth commission should promise immunity or a pardon in exchange for truthful testimony, but I believe that if it becomes clear that laws were broken, or that war crimes were committed, a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate further. The Bush administration made its worst errors in judgment when it determined that the laws simply don’t apply to certain people. If we declare presumptively that there can be no justice for high-level government officials who acted illegally then we exhibit the same contempt for the rule of law.

It’s not a witch hunt simply because political actors are under investigation. The process of investigating and prosecuting crimes makes up the bricks and mortar of our prosecutorial system. We don’t immunize drug dealers, pickpockets or car thieves because holding them to account is uncomfortable, difficult or divisive. We don’t protest that “it’s all behind us now” when a bank robber is brought to trial.

And America tends to survive the ugliness of public reckonings, from Nixon to Whitewater to the impeachment hearings, because for all our cheerful optimism, Americans fundamentally understand that nobody should be above the law. As the chief prosecutor for the United States at the Nuremberg trials, Robert Jackson, warned: “Law shall not stop with the punishment of petty crimes by little people. It must also reach men who possess themselves of great power.”

Dahlia Lithwick is a senior editor at Slate.



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