Saturday, April 4, 2009

Controversy In Print And On Film; Of Conscientious Courage: Kucinich And Cop-Out Cowardice: Leahy … Torture Won’t Go Away.

Controversy In Print And On Film; Of Conscientious Courage: Kucinich And Cop-Out Cowardice:  Leahy … Torture Won’t Go Away.






Spain Has No Right to Try U.S. Officials


A lawyer in Spain -- who did his legal studies while serving over seven years in prison for kidnapping and terrorism -- has engineered a complaint accusing the U.S. government of systematically torturing war-on-terrorism detainees. He filed this complaint with Baltasar Garzon, an activist magistrate famous for championing the "universal jurisdiction" of Spanish courts. That magistrate is now asking a Spanish prosecutor to bring criminal charges on this matter against former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, four other former Bush administration lawyers, and me.

The allegation is not that any of us tortured anyone. And it is not that any of us even directed anyone to commit torture. The allegation is that, when we advised President George W. Bush on the Geneva Conventions and detainee interrogations, our interpretations were wrong -- in the view of the disapproving Spaniards. According to the complaint, these wrong interpretations encouraged the president to make decisions that led to torture.

The Spanish magistrate apparently believes that it can be a crime for American officials to offer the wrong kind of advice to a president of the United States and, furthermore, it can be a crime punishable by a Spanish court. This is a national insult with harmful implications.

The general sloppiness of the complaint's factual assertions is clear from its discussion of my work. The entire case against me hinges on my alleged role in arguing that the detainees in Guantanamo Bay should not receive protection under Geneva Article 3 relating to humane treatment. I never made any such argument.

On the contrary, the most significant role I played in the debates about Geneva was in early 2002 when I -- together with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers -- helped persuade Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to take a strongly pro-Geneva position in the first National Security Council meeting on the subject on Feb. 4.

Noting in writing that Geneva is part of U.S. law, I argued it is a good treaty and it is "important that the President appreciate DOD's interest in the Convention." I wrote that "U.S. armed forces are trained to treat captured enemy forces according to the Convention," that Geneva is "morally important, crucial to U.S. morale," and that it is also "practically important, for it makes U.S. forces the gold standard in the world, facilitating our winning cooperation from other countries."

In conclusion, I urged "[h]umane treatment for all detainees" and recommended that the president explain that Geneva "does not squarely address circumstances that we are confronting in this new global war against terrorism, but while we work through the legal questions, we are upholding the principle of universal applicability of the Convention."

I briefed these arguments directly to the president at that Feb. 4 NSC meeting, and his decision on Geneva's applicability to the war against the Taliban was consistent with them.

The allegation that I argued against Article 3 protection was invented by a British lawyer named Philippe Sands and published in an angry, wildly inaccurate book called "Torture Team." Mr. Sands asserts that, in our interview, I admitted making the case against Article 3. He was eventually compelled to publish the interview transcript, however, and it shows that nothing I said supports his allegation, that he grossly misquoted me on a number of points, and that he never asked me a single question about Article 3. Mr. Sands has to this day never accounted for how he could charge me with opposing Article 3 based on an interview in which the term "Article 3" was never even mentioned by me or him. I dissected Mr. Sands's misrepresentations in detail in testimony I gave to the House Judiciary Committee last summer.

As bad as the Spanish complaint is for relying expressly on Mr. Sands's discredited book for facts, it is far worse for the principle it is trying to establish -- that a foreign court should punish former U.S. officials criminally if the judge thinks their official advice to the U.S. president violated international law. Whatever advice any of us offered the president on these debatable issues, it would be an unprecedented outrage to make our participation in government policy making a subject for second-guessing in a foreign criminal court.

From the Nuremburg trials of the Nazi leadership forward, none of the cases in which former government officials have been tried for international crimes are actually precedents for what the Spanish officials are now considering. In countries run by officials who rule by force, commit aggression, perpetrate humanitarian outrages and stand above and out of reach of any domestic law, leaders are sometimes tried by international tribunals. Such countries' sovereignty is not respected because their own domestic laws -- let alone their international legal obligations -- do not bind their leaders.

But ours is a country of laws, and no reasonable person doubts that the American legal system has integrity. If President Barack Obama and the prosecutors see a crime to be prosecuted, they can act. It would be hostile for a foreign official to decide that U.S. sovereignty on this matter should not be respected because the U.S. is like Nazi Germany or Serbia under Slobodan Milosevic.

What if a Spanish magistrate doesn't like the legal analyses prepared by U.S. officials on other subjects, such as nuclear weapons, or the death penalty, or atmospheric pollution, or border security with Mexico? Any of these matters could be the basis for a claim by a creative European jurist that a U.S. official is taking a position contrary to international law as interpreted by right-thinking Europeans.

It seems clear that the goal of this judicial exercise is to carry a political disagreement into criminal courts and thereby to intimidate U.S. officials. If Spanish officials decide to carry the prosecution forward, then Americans who know that their views run contrary to those of various Spanish or other European activists would have to think twice about voicing those views -- or stay out of U.S. government service altogether -- if they want to avoid being threatened with arrest in Europe.

The American people can tolerate this only if they are willing to forfeit the right to make their own laws and policies. This is not a left-versus-right political issue. It is a question of preserving the American constitutional system of government in which U.S. officials are answerable for their opinions and advice to the American people -- but not to foreign criminal courts.

Mr. Feith, a former under secretary of defense for policy (2001-05), is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. He is the author of "War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism" (HarperCollins, 2008).

Aaarrrggghhh!!! We Must Have A National Confession Day And Start With A Clean Slate! I Wish I Had An Easy Button!

* I can't take it any more. I am sick of the friggen lying. Enough of the lying already! I am listening to both party's right now belittling each other for not being honest. None of them are honest. They are all liars. They are all guilty as sin! I propose a National Confession Day! Not just Politicians but across the top to bottom. President Obama should announce this and give people a week to think about it and then with no repercussions total freedom from any legal action murder or not Fess up!

* Everyone has one day to come clean free from retribution and we can start over with a clean slate! This lying and childishness is not funny. This is just not right! No Government or country can operate and succeed this way on a good day forget about under these this still developing crises environment! Everyone is dirty and playing games! This is really sickening! Everyone knows everything yet admits to nothing. Everyone seems to be lying. Everyone is playing games while we just sink, they don't seem to care. Only they and the party matters.

** Everyone is guilty and claims innocence until found guilty. We can not afford to play this asinine game anymore. I am sick of feigned indignation at others by those who knew of the corruption often for years enabling it, did nothing and are now screaming "how Dare you" How dare they? I am sick of it, Sick of the lying, sick of the game playing, sick!! It was bad under Bush real bad but now with him gone the truth is coming out! It gets worse in a myriad of ways every day.

It is overwhelming, we are under attack! We need a National Repentance Day for everyone except Bush and Cheney who should be tried and convicted for setting the foundation for all this and much worse! Obama and Biden would be the only two exceptions. One day free to confess of anything and everything! If it comes out after you are toast! What do you think?


 OpEdNews » Feith Dares Obama to Enforce the Law

Doug Feith is bluffing big time, and he\'s lifted Dick Cheney and George Bush onto the table as his bet. Now if only he could stop visibly sweating. ... David Swanson is the author of the upcoming book "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union" by Seven Stories Press and of the introduction to "The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. (more...) The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of ...
OpEdNews - OpEdNews.Com Progressive,... -

Seymour Hersh: Secret U.S. Forces Carried Out Assassinations in 'a ...
By Chip 
George W. Bush versus the U.S. Constitution: The Downing Street Memos and Deception, Manipulation, Torture, Retribution, and Cover-ups in the Iraq War and Illegal Domestic Spying," by the U.S. House
 Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff, .... Seymour Hersh: Well, it was sort of stupid of me to start talking about stuff I haven't written. I always kick myself when I do it. But I was with Walter Mondale, the former vice president, who was being amazingly open and sort of, ... - Bush-Cheney... -


'Torture Memo' May Finally Go Public
Despite protests from George W. Bush's last CIA director, the Justice Department appears headed toward releasing the infamous August 2002 "torture memo," reports Jason Leopold. April 3, 2009


Bush Aides Changed Watchdog Report
Before leaving office, Attorney General Michael Mukasey and other Bush administration lawyers engineered changes in a watchdog report slamming legal opinions that allowed torture, reports Jason Leopold. April 1, 2009


Editorial: Congress Passes Obama Budget, Struggle Starts Today
Political Affairs Magazine - New York,NY,USA
Labor-led coalitions along with national groups like and Democracy for America have jumped into the political battle to pass the substantive ...
See all stories on this topic


MoveOn To Reid And Van Hollen: Sorry, We’re Not Backing Off | The ...
By Greg Sargent 
As long as keeps going after these so-called moderate Democrats, they will continue to have my active support. This is exactly what we need in these times. Now is the best chance for - dare I say it - real ‘change’ in this ...
The Plum Line -




Bachmann Amendment Against Non-Existent Plot To Replace Dollar ...
By Eric Kleefeld 
referred to the 
Judiciary Committee which handles amendments. Should they vote it out (they won't), it has to pass House and Senate by 3/5 vote, then 38 states would have to ratify it. So don't worry too much -- even if this idiocy were to ... I think it's going to be up to constituents like you to keep him on his toes. I'm just grateful that so far the two dittoheads from UT (Chaffetz, UT-3 and Bishop, UT-1) haven't backed this. My rep, Matheson, DINO UT-2, has actually ...
TPM Election Central -


Gingrich Warns of Conservative 3rd Party in 2012



Dennis Kucinich And George Voinovich: 'No' To Obama Budget, But For Very Different Reasons

"I will not vote for a budget that ties military spending to the operational funding of our government," Kucinich said in a statement last night. "This year, the budget includes $130 billion for war funding."

Noting a news report that 10,000 more troops may be sent to Afghanistan by 2010, Kucinich said, "This budget is a plan that authorizes the expansion of the war. I simply cannot endorse a budget or a plan that sends more of our brave men and women to Afghanistan, a conflict which has the potential to become this generation's Vietnam."


OpEdNews » Leahy Faults GOP Partisanship on Bush
"In the months and years following 9/11, driven by an inflated view of executive power, the Bush-Cheney administration compromised many of the very laws and protections that are the heart of our democracy," Leahy said. .... How about as Speaker of the House, representing all democrats, TELLING me, impeachment was off the table? Our system of representation sucks. There is no representation except to the lobbyists and a Higher Power, not to the People as deemed by the ...
OpEdNews - OpEdNews.Com Progressive,... -



Book Review: Troy Jollimore on the God Debate : Posted on Apr 2, 2009

By Troy Jollimore


“Ever since the Enlightenment,” write John Micklethwaitand Adrian Wooldridge in “God Is Back,” “there has been a schism in Western thought over the relationship between religion and modernity. Europeans, on the whole, have assumed that modernity would marginalize religion; Americans, in the main, have assumed that the two things can thrive together.”

“God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World” is, in large part, an extended argument that the Americans were right: right to think that religion and modernity were compatible and could flourish together, and right to think that the way to encourage this double flourishing was by instituting a church-state separation in order to encourage religious pluralism and diversity. The American accomplishment, as they see it, is the achievement of a robust spiritual marketplace in which free individuals can choose and pursue whatever vision of God suits them best—or, if they so prefer, choose none at all. (The book’s heavy use of the consumerist language of markets and the free choice is, incidentally, no accident; Micklethwait is editor in chief of The Economist, and Wooldridge is its Washington bureau chief.)


God Is Back | By John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge | Penguin Press, 416 pages


One might well sympathize with many aspects of this. (I certainly have nothing bad to say about the separation of church and state, although I wish the authors had acknowledged that many religious Americans are not nearly as appreciative of it as they are.) The problem with “God Is Back,” though, is that the convincing arguments run in only one direction. The authors make a fairly persuasive case that modern technology and expanded individual freedoms have encouraged the spread and vibrancy of religious belief, not only in America but also in many other parts of the world—China, Latin America, South Korea and so forth. But if modernity has indeed been good for religion, it is far less obvious that religion has been good for modernity.

In the U.S., progressive movements in favor of civil rights and social justice once had deep and pervasive religious roots, but these days the dominant religions in America are nearly always associated with counter-progressive forces that frequently take their inspiration from (and frequently try to return society to) some set of pre-modern traditions or values. The same is true today in various other parts of the world; most saliently, perhaps, in the Middle East. Religion, in all too many cases, seems to encourage parochialism and hatred of the other, as well as superstition and scientific ignorance—all human flaws that the spread of modernism and universal reason was supposed to help us overcome.

In the American context, the issue of religious resistance to science is especially troublesome. Micklethwait and Wooldridge, though, spend little of “God Is Back” on the conflict between science and religion. Perhaps they felt that the topic has been talked nearly to death—a feeling for which I have some sympathy. Or perhaps the explanation lies in their rather simplistic understanding of what would constitute “compatibility” between religion and science. In their view, to show that two beliefs, or belief systems, are compatible, it is enough to show that there are significant numbers of people who adhere to both. The mere existence of religious believers in the modern world, then—the fact that modernity did not simply wipe religion off the map—is enough for Micklethwait and Wooldridge to conclude that religion and modernity (including science) are in their sense compatible.

But this establishes nothing of any real interest; after all, people often think inconsistent and incoherent things. The interesting question is whether it makes sense, in the modern world, for a person to be religious. The correct explanation of religion’s persistence in the modern world, then, might be not that religion and modernity are actually compatible, but rather that humans are irrational enough, and capable of sufficient degrees of cognitive dissonance, to simultaneously hold incompatible beliefs. (As the biologist Jerry Coyne, writing in The New Republic, recently put it, saying that religion and modern science are compatible because some people fail to grasp their mutual exclusivity “is like saying that marriage and adultery are compatible because some married people are adulterers.”)

The question of whether religion has survived modernism is therefore distinct from the question of whether, rationally speaking, it ought to have done so. But this second question is one in which Micklethwait and Wooldridge very rarely display any interest. One consequence of this is that the authors’ standards for what constitutes a vindication of the legitimacy of religious belief are often startlingly low. Scientists, they write, “are demonstrating that religious experiences are ‘real’—in the sense that they are associated with changes in brain patterns.” But whoever claimed that religious experiences were not real in this sense? Every experience is associated with some sort of change in the subject’s brain patterns. (When people cast horoscopes or go to séances and play with Ouija boards, things happen in their brains too.) Yet the argument strikes the authors as impressive enough that they return to it at the end of the chapter: “It seems that religious experiences can be ‘real’ to the people who enjoy or endure them: they are connected with changes in the activities of the brain.” What a revelation!

Equally unconvincing is the authors’ claim that evidence showing an apparent link between religiosity and dopamine levels “makes it harder to dismiss religion as a mere ‘illusion,’ as Freud once put it.” I suppose what they must mean is that, if such evidence pans out, religion is no mere illusion; it is, rather, an extraordinarily useful illusion. What puzzles, though, is that their inability to provide any evidence that religious belief is actually true, and not some sort of illusion, doesn’t seem to bother them at all.  1         Next Page >>>


Don't Go There Mr. President! by TOM HAYDEN

17,000 or 21,000 more US troops will not protect Americans against Al Qaeda attacks.

The Obama plan instead will accelerate any plans Al Qaeda commanders have for attacking targets in the United States or Europe. The alternative for Al Qaeda is to risk complete destruction, an American objective that has not been achieved for eight years. A terrorist attack need not be planned or set in motion from a cave in Waziristan. The cadre could already be underground in Washington or London. The real alternative for President Obama should be to maintain a deterrent posture while immediately accelerating diplomacy to meet legitimate Muslim goals, from a Palestinian state to genuine progress on Kashmir.

President Obama is right, at least politically, to take very seriously the threat of another 9/11 from any source. Besides the suffering inflicted, it would derail his agenda and perhaps his presidency. This is all the more reason he must understand that by repeatedly threatening to "kill Al Qaeda" he is provoking a hornets' nest without protection against a devastating sting….


PETRAEUS: ISRAEL MAY STRIKE IRAN 02 Apr 2009 A top US military official warned Wednesday that Israel may conduct a preemptive strike on Iran over concerns about its development of nuclear weapons. Gen. David Petraeus [Betrayus], the top US commander in the Middle East, told Congress that when it comes to its nuclear activity, Teheran's "obstinacy and obfuscation have forced Iran's neighbors and the international community to conclude the worst about the regime's intentions." He said that could cause Israel to take matters into its own hands.



Senator Admits the Truth: Time Spent Fundraising "Nothing Short of Amazing"
By Lagan Sebert, American News Project
On Tuesday, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL.) introduced campaign finance legislation intended to ease the rising fund-raising burden on politicians. 
Read more 



Much Ado About Amy Goodman, Glenn Greenwald, and the Importance of Independent Media
By Jeff Cohen, Huffington Post
I.F. Stone's son talks about the Izzy Awards, Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald. 
Read more »


News Flash: Number of Morons Who Think Obama's a Muslim Unchanged!
By Joshua Holland, AlterNet
And this is a surprise? 
Read more »


Bill O'Reilly Is on the Ropes: Tries to Defend His Harassment Machine
By Amanda Terkel, Think Progress
What O'Reilly does is nothing more than "fake journalism." 
Read more »


Silence on Afghanistan: If Only It Were a Joke
By Laura Flanders, Firedoglake
I wish I could say APRIL FOOLS. But sadly no. Looking at the history of Afghanistan, I'd have to say, the joke, such as it is, is on us. 
Read more 


21,000-Troop Surge Apparently Not Enough; Military Brass Want 10,000 More in Afghanistan
By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
Gen. David Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday that a "sustained, substantial commitment" is needed in Afghanistan. 
Read more 


f David Brooks Thinks He Knows So Much About Afghanistan, He Should Debate Robert Greenwald
By ZP Heller, Brave New Films
Is the NY Times columnist trying to downplay the crisis in Afghanistan?
Read more 


Federal Judge to Obama DOJ: You're Wrong, Bagram Prisoners Do Have Rights
By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
Issuing a stern warning on executive power, Judge John D. Bates has granted three prisoners in Afghanistan the right to challenge their detention. 
Read more 


Dear ACLU Supporter, 

You’re invited to an exclusive, advance screening of a movie that the District Attorney of Robertson County, Texas doesn’t want you to see1
Presented by Samuel Goldwyn Films and Uncommon Productions, the film 
American Violet is a fictional account of real injustice. Injustice the ACLU fought and won. 
As an ACLU supporter, you’re invited to a special screening of
American Violet on Tuesday, April 7th - before it opens in theaters to the public. And if you can’t make it to this advance screening, make sure to see American Violet in a theater near you Friday, April 17. 


When: Tuesday, April 7th at 7 p.m.
Where: E Street’s Landmark Cinema, 555 11th St. NW, Washington, D.C.
Additional details: post-screening discussion with filmmaker Tim Disney, ACLU attorney Graham Boyd, ACLU client Regina Kelly and WilmerHale attorney Ronald Machen.

Seating is limited, so please RSVP to Anjuli Verma at
At the heart of the story in 
American Violet is a working-class African American woman who gets swept up in a drug bust conducted by an out-of-control narcotics task force. The officers, at the behest of the Robertson County, TX District Attorney, target low-income African-Americans, and the authorities rely on the word of one drug-addicted, mentally ill informant to make their cases. 

But the heroine prevails. With the help of a team of committed civil-liberties lawyers, she takes on the drug task force, the District Attorney and the criminal justice system and wins.
The real story is not far off the film: Excessive paramilitary drug "sweeps” led to the arrest of almost 15 percent of the African American men between the ages of 18 and 34 in the small town of Hearne, TX. The busts were undertaken based solely on the uncorroborated word of a single unreliable confidential informant coerced by police. 
The real world heroine, Regina Kelly, prevails in this story thanks to the help of the ACLU, yet many are not so lucky. Facing trumped-up charges designed to illicit guilty pleas, many innocent individuals pled to lesser charges rather than face decades behind bars. Far from fiction, the tactics of threatening excessive charges while dangling plea-bargains and relying on the uncorroborated word of unreliable informants are hallmarks of the “war on drugs.”

Please join us next week for a special screening of this powerful movie, followed by a discussion with 
American Violet filmmaker Tim Disney of Uncommon Productions, ACLU attorney Graham Boyd and Wilmer Hale attorney Ronald Machen, as well as ACLU client Regina Kelly.

Don’t forget, if you can’t make it this advance screening, see 
American Violet in theaters on Friday, April 17th.



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