I could use a toon break...
(Hat-tip, BRAD BLOG toon sherpa Pokey Anderson!)
w/ Brad & Desi
w/ Brad & Desi
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning
"It will remain one of democracy's best jokes that it provided its deadly enemies with the means by which it was destroyed." - Joseph Goebbels
Gradually, as the veil of secrecy lifts, a growing number of Americans are beginning to comprehend the lawlessness of the cabal which seized control of the White House in 2000 in what amounted to a judicially-aided coup d'etat.[i] This lawlessness extended across the board. It included the packing of federal agencies with lobbyists from industries they were designed to regulate, deception to take this nation into a war of choice, fraudulent no-bid contracts, torture, extraordinary rendition, warrantless NSA eavesdropping on the entire stream of domestic electronic communications, and, if Seymour Hersh's recent allegations are accurate, the creation of a highly secretive "executive assassination ring" which reported only to Dick Cheney's office and which had "been going into countries, not talking to the ambassador or the CIA station chief, and finding people and executing them and leaving."[ii]
The reaction of leading Democratic politicians to these unprecedented high crimes has been ambivalent, at best. Even before she assumed the role of Speaker, Nancy Pelosi announced that impeachment was "off-the-table," thereby enabling two more years of executive lawlessness, not to mention the nation's economic demise. Pelosi evaded so much as mentioning their high crimes until February 2009. President Obama acknowledged that "no one is above the law," but added that the focus of his administration is to look forward, not back.
There are fundamental deficiencies in the President's formulation. First, it is impossible to observe the rule of law without looking back. It would make no sense, for example, for a man charged with armed robbery to come before a judge and say, "Well, the robbery was in the past. You've got to look forward. I have every intention of abiding by the law in the future. So why prosecute me?" Second, looking forward does not mean handling current events at the expense of the rule of law. The point is to look far enough into the future to appreciate that the same people who brought us the last eight years of executive lawlessness could one day return to power...
Broward County, FL, has dropped all charges against a local Election Integrity advocate whose arrest, described by an election official and other colleagues at the time as "outrageous," was captured on video tape late last year.
Ellen Brodsky, who had been a non-partisan candidate for Supervisor of Elections in last November's election, was arrested at the apparent behest of the office of the county's current Supervisor of Elections --- Brodsky's Democratic opponent in the race --- Dr. Brenda C. Snipes, while trying to view public, post-election counting and canvassing of ballots.
She was charged, at the time, with "disorderly conduct" and "trespassing," forced to spend the night in jail, and not released until nearly 6:00am the next morning, even though her son had posted the required $25 (twenty-five dollar) bail for her by 8:30pm on the evening of her arrest.
The "disorderly conduct" charges were dropped some time later, following the release of a video tape of the incident as posted by The BRAD BLOG in the days following the arrest. The tape, reposted again at the bottom of this article, revealed that Brodsky's conduct had been anything but disorderly when the county police were summoned by Fred Bellis, a deputy election official from Snipes' office, and Brodsky was thrown into handcuffs and hauled away.
While Brodsky's trial on a "trespassing" charge had been set to start today, a last-minute offer to drop all charges, in exchange for admissions by Brodsky that she would not be disruptive in the future, was sent to her last night from Snipes' attorney.
"There was no way I was gonna agree to such demands," Brodsky told The BRAD BLOG today, following the county's dismissal of the court case. "We offered our own compromise," she said. "We will accept a withdraw of all charges, and will, as I've always done, agree to follow Florida law regarding public meetings." It was an oral agreement.
Her attorney, Tanner Andrews, echoed her sentiment. "We agreed to do what we're already doing. We'll obey the law," he explained during a phone call this afternoon. "I could agree not to rob the bank next Sunday and it'd have the same legal effect," he added...
Guest Blogged by David Swanson of After Downing Street
Only in America can elected officials go on TV and confess to felonies (including torture and warrantless spying, not to mention aggressive war) and the resulting debate focus around the question of whether investigating the "possibility" of wrong-doing would be too radical. This week a coalition of dozens of human rights groups including the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and the Society of American Law Teachers released a statement, as drafted by The Robert Jackson Steering Committee, cutting to the chase.
It reads in its entirety:
Our laws, and treaties that under Article VI of our Constitution are the supreme law of the land, require the prosecution of crimes that strong evidence suggests these individuals have committed. Both the former president and the former vice president have confessed to authorizing a torture procedure that is illegal under our law and treaty obligations. The former president has confessed to violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
We see no need for these prosecutions to be extraordinarily lengthy or costly, and no need to wait for the recommendations of a panel or "truth" commission when substantial evidence of the crimes is already in the public domain. We believe the most effective investigation can be conducted by a prosecutor, and we believe such an investigation should begin immediately.
I wrote this statement with some helpful tweaks from colleagues and have been screaming the same basic message for about three years, but I sense more than ever right now that more ears are open to it.
While actually enforcing laws and "getting tough on crime" is now considered the radical leftist position and a "truth" commission the reasonable compromise, it is clear that a bipartisan commission would create the bipartisan bickering our elected officials are so eager to avoid. It would also, in Senator Patrick Leahy's view, investigate the complicity of Democrats as well as Republicans in the crimes of the past 8 years, thus guaranteeing that neither Democrats nor Republicans will support it.
If Congress can't take the heat and won't even enforce its own subpoenas, it should leave well enough alone. Statutes of limitations are running out fast, and we don't have time for another commission. If President Obama wants to distance himself from enforcing the law, he can do what he is supposed to do and leave the matter in the hands of Eric Holder. And if Attorney General Holder wants distance he can do what is required and appoint a truly independent prosecutor. Doing so would please the following organizations. More are signing on every hour, and both organizations and individuals can sign on at ProsecuteBushCheney.org.
[Updated at end of article, with details on hearing announced for next week.]
The Senate Judiciary Committee could announce a hearing to consider various plans to probe allegations of torture as early as today, according to Salon's Mark Benjamin, citing Committee Chairman Pat Leahy and members of his staff.
Leahy's office told Raw Story Wednesday morning that a press release would be sent out shortly.
Sen. Whitehouse said he's "convinced" the investigation will move forward.
"Stay on this," he told Benjamin. "This is going to be big."
Whitehouse, Senator from Rhode Island, is "spearheading" the efforts, and as a member of both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, "is privy to information about interrogations he can't yet share," the magazine noted.
Neither Salon's nor RAW STORY's coverage made it completely clear whether the Senators are discussing an idea that is different from Leahy's previously-floated "Truth Commission" --- where immunity would be granted to many who testify, in questionable exchange for making "the truth" known --- though this investigation does seem to be distinct from that one. We'll try to keep our eye out for Leahy's press release today, in case it offers some clarity. [Update: See details of Leahy's announcement added at bottom of article.]
One point from Salon, also worth highlighting, is that the tenacious Sen. Whitehouse seems keen on using this investigation to help disprove the often asserted notion that the Bush, um, "enhanced interrogation" policies saved lives, despite the lack of evidence supporting that wishful thinking, and the growing body of evidence and testimony --- from those who actually know --- which plainly disputes it.
Retired Maj. Gen. Tony Taguba, who led the investigation of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, is quoted from a recent interview as disputing those who have claimed --- from the comfort of their keyboards --- that torture saved lives: "Some of those activities were actually not effective and those who thought so were in the academic or pristine settings of their offices," Taguba told Salon. "What would they know?"
Whitehouse adds: "It is important to prove the point, because they keep saying, 'We saved lives. We interrupted plans. We did this, that and the other.'...Well, when you drill down, there is never a fact there. It turns into fog and evasion."
Again, with Whitehouse on both the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, with access to much more information than has been made public to date, he oughta know. At least slightly more so than the Wingnuts who rule the public airwaves and, with it, the public "debate" on these issues to date.
UPDATE 1:34pm PT: On the Senate floor today, Leahy announced his plans for a hearing next Wednesday, March 4th at 10am ET (including a live webcast), called "Getting to the Truth Through a Nonpartisan Commission of Inquiry."
Might we suggest these Republicans get their lies straight before going public?
From Republican State Representative Tom Emmer's press release today, on the defeat of his restrictive Photo ID voting bill in the MN legislature this morning:
Just now, from attorney James Langdon, arguing on behalf of former Republican Senator Norm Coleman, in the U.S. Senate election contest in MN:
But why quibble when we might be able to disenfranchise (Democratic-leaning) voters in a democracy? By the way, the RNC seems to agree with Langdon, not Emmer:
Not that any of that will stop any Republican anywhere from doing everything they can to keep legal (Democratic-leaning) voters from being able to cast their legal votes through Photo ID restrictions, or anything else they can think of.
Last December, following the passage of Prop 8 in California, Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr) filed a legal brief with the CA Supreme Court, on behalf of the so-called "Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund", seeking to nullify the legal marriages of 18,000 same-sex couples in the state.
Arguments will be heard beginning on March 5th, and the Courage Campaign is asking for you to send your opinion to the Supremes (deadline: Valentine's Day), in hopes that they will invalidate the civil rights abomination that is Prop 8, on Constitutional (if not moral) grounds.
When the Courage Campaign launched their "Don't Divorce..." campaign, they asked members to "send pictures with a simple message for Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund." Here's the resulting, and moving, 4-minute video...
It was nearly two years ago that the L.A. Police Department, in full riot regalia, fired rubber bullets and tear gas on an otherwise peaceful May Day immigration rally in MacArthur Park. We covered the stunning "May Day Melee" fairly extensively, as it was breaking here at the time. The story, which received a bit of national coverage at the time, also brought an ensuing spate of racist commenters over to The BRAD BLOG in response, many of whom blamed the victims in appalling screeds.
So a bit of good news on that front, today. On Wednesday, the LA City Council unanimously approved a settlement of nearly $13 million to those who were injured and mistreated by the LAPD that day. The agreement covers approximately 90% of the claims --- about 300 in total --- filed against the city and the LAPD alleging misconduct by the officers. There are still a few pending claims, two in federal court and 15 in state court, according to the LA Times, from some of the journalists and others who were also injured in the melee.
The Times reports that "Council President Eric Garcetti noted that the cost of the May Day agreement was enough to hire almost 130 police officers."
Councilman Ed Reyes, who represents the MacArthur Park area, recognized the importance of trying to set things right. "This was very, very critical," he's quoted in the Times. "Now we can say we acknowledge our mistakes; we are making every effort to address the weaknesses in our process, in our implementation as a Police Department, and more importantly recognizing that the community does matter."
Much of the shocking melee was caught on tape by both television stations and citizens at the rally. Among the most striking of the coverage from citizen journalists at the time was that of Jonathan Mann, whose terrifying video we ran at the time, and post again below as a reminder of what happened.
Below that, we also rerun his personal video response to the racist comments which came pouring in following coverage of the incident...back when fears of a massive immigrant invasion of the United States were being shamefully stoked by the GOP in hopes of political gain. Funny how the immigration "crisis" in America seems to have just disappeared at some point...
“The evidence is sitting on the table,” he stated. “There is no avoiding the fact that this was torture.” He pointed to the U.S. undertakings under the Convention Against Torture in which the country committed that it would criminally prosecute anyone who tortured, or extradite the person to a state that would prosecute him. “The government of the United States is required to take all necessary steps to bring George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld before a court,” Nowak said.
Law professor Dietmar Herz clarifies that under U.S. and international law, George W. Bush bears personal responsibility for the introduction of torture. From the point of his departure from office, head of state immunity terminates, and under clear principles of international law, the United States is obligated to commence a criminal investigation and then a prosecution.
In related news, top Congressional Democrats, including Senators Reid, Levin and Whitehouse, as well as Representatives Pelosi, Hoyer and Conyers have all indicated recently, in various forms, interest in investigations and/or accountability for various Bush crimes, which, reports Jason Leopold at Public Record, amounts to a growing consensus among Dems to approve a probe into torture allegations, and perhaps more.
UPDATE 1/26/09: In an interview with CNN, Nowak said he believes there is already enough evidence to prosecute fomer SecDef Don Rumsfeld:
RAW STORY has the video of the CNN interview with Nowak...
The lawyer, David Kris, served as a senior Justice Department official in both the Clinton and Bush administrations from 2000 to 2003, and is widely respected in Washington for his knowledge of intelligence law.
In late 2005, following the public disclosure of the N.S.A. wiretapping program approved by President Bush, Mr. Kris wrote a 23-page legal analysis that described as “weak’’ and likely unsupportable some of the Bush administration’s key legal arguments in justifying the program.
And when he was still at the Justice Department, he advised his boss, who was at the time Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, not to sign a mysterious batch of wiretapping warrants — which grew out of the program — because intelligence officials would not reveal how the information in the wiretaps was obtained.
As we've been predicting for some weeks ago, the flood of revelations that would be flowing forth after Obama was sworn in would likely make what we currently know about Bush Era illegalities and incompetence seem like barely the tip of the iceberg.
Just one day after the Inauguration, Russell Tice, the NSA whistleblower who originally participated in that agency's illegal warrantless wiretapping program, and revealed details of same to the New York Times' back in late 2005, has now come forward with more details that he had been disinclined to release previously (he had been, after all, hounded by the FBI, subpoenaed by a grand jury, etc. after his original, heroic revelations.)
He spoke yesterday on MSNBC, revealing that American journalists were targeted by Bush's program which "had access to all Americans' communications." Please watch the remarkable video interview at right. Both that, and the text below, is from RAW STORY's coverage last night...
When Olbermann pressed him for specifics, Tice offered, "An organization that was collected on were US news organizations and reporters and journalists."
"To what purpose?" Olbermann asked. "I mean, is there a file somewhere full of every email sent by all the reporters at the New York Times? Is there a recording somewhere of every conversation I had with my little nephew in upstate New York?"
Tice did not answer directly, but simply stated, "If it was involved in this specific avenue of collection, it would be everything."
At the end of the MSNBC interview, Olbermann asked Tice to appear again this evening (Thursday) for more discussion on this issue.
We're happy to post it in full again today, of all days --- on Martin Luther King Day, and the day before the first African-American finally takes the oath as President of the United States --- as more relevant than ever, including the now-familiar phrase: "the fierce urgency of now".
If you've never seen or heard it in full, or even if you have, we hope you'll enjoy it. Let freedom ring...
Last week, President-elect Barack Obama said he was open to "good ideas" from anyone, even from the New York Times' Paul Krugman. (Video here.)
"If Paul Krugman has a good idea...then we're gonna do it," said Obama. He was speaking about "good ideas" for his economic stimulus package at the time, but we'd written that we hoped the sentiments might extend to good ideas on any important issue that his administration might face, including some good ideas of our own that we'd offered to his transition team, who had consulted with us, as they are working on review of the dreadfully-failed U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).
Well, as it turns out, the New York Times' Paul Krugman does have some very good ideas, as noted in an op-ed yesterday, this time on why the Obama administration must bring accountability for the crimes of the Bush Era. The must-read column, headlined "Forgive and Forget?" begins this way...
Okay. Holder gets our vote. Courtesy of David Swanson:
Here's roughly what was said:
10:29 a.m. Leahy: is "waterboarding" torture and illegal?
Holder: yes, it is torture.
Leahy: Can other nations legally torture Americans?
Leahy: Can President of the United States immunize acts of torture?
Holder: Nobody is above the law. President has Constitutional obligation to enforce the laws. We have laws and treaties. The president acts most forcefully and has the greatest power when consistent with Congressional intent and directives. The president does NOT have the power that you have indicated.
Leahy: Washington Post yesterday reported that the top Bush Admin. official on military commissions says we tortured a detainee.
I've had this picture in my mind lately, an editorial cartoon-like drawing, of a dam about to break and someone (Obama?) leaning hard up against it in futile hopes of keeping it from bursting forth. The dam and its contents, in my mind's eye, are labeled "Bush Administration Crimes and Failures." I've been pondering, over the last several days, how we're soon likely to learn that everything we think we already know about the historically-unparalleled failures, crimes and cover-ups of the Bush administration, will likely prove to be barely the tip of the iceberg as the Bushies lose their power, and "the files" are finally opened for all to see.
It's likely to take years, after President Obama is sworn in next week, to unearth the entire breadth of the degradation, filth, corruption and dismantling of federal law and U.S. Constitution under the current administration, and to piece together all of the unshredded and likely-shredded evidence both, and to take in the information likely to pour forth from officials and former officials who finally find the courage to tell the world just how bad it all really was and is (even if many of them would now be doing so only to salvage their own hide.)
One hint of what will be found beyond the tip of that iceberg, or inside that near-to-bursting dam (take your metaphorical pick) comes in today's remarkable report [PDF] from the DoJ Inspector General on the illegal politicization of the hiring practices at the DoJ's Civil Rights Division and "other improper personnel actions" in the division.
It's remarkable on several fronts. Not only because it describes the politicization of the department under the Bushies, their strictly illegal hiring practices; their determined dismantling of a core of career attorneys devoted to years of legal-processes in the fight for civil rights; as well as perjury and out-and-out lying to Congress, but also because the report itself --- in one last classic stroke of corrupt Bush Administration gaming of the system --- was completed last July, prior to the election, but held for release until today, just 7 days before the criminals (or at least those who won't be still-embedded like cancer cells within the federal buearocracy for years to come) take their leave.
And, as if all of that isn't bad enough, with the out-and-out finding of criminal wrongdoing in the report (such as illegal hiring practices and lying about them to Congress), the Bush Administration's own DoJ has decided that no prosecutions should be brought against the Bush Administration's own DoJ for the Bush Administration's own DoJ's now-well-documented actions in breaking federal law.
The bastardization of the DoJ Civil Rights division is a topic which we've covered closely over the years here at The BRAD BLOG, and even played a part in helping to expose, for example, when the head of the Voting Section in that division, John Tanner, was forced to resign from his post, not long after we'd video-taped and published controversial (and inaccurate) comments he made at a 2007 conference in Los Angeles declaring that disenfranchising Photo ID restrictions at the polling place were more of a concern for the elderly than for African-Americans because "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."
(See our now-infamous video, shot by our own Alan Breslauer, at right.)
As today's (actually July's) report reveals, that wouldn't be the only unfortunate --- and one might say, "ironic", given his position --- derogatory remark made about African-Americans by Tanner. But the bulk of the report, it seems, is devoted to one Bradley Schlozman, who insidiously twisted the mission of the Civil Rights division, brought political prosecutions in order to try and affect the outcome of elections, in violation of written DoJ policy, and attempted (and arguably succeeded) in helping to engineer an outright illegal, and ideological purge --- an ethical cleansing, if you will --- at the department, in an attempt to stack it with far rightwing brethren from the Federalist Society, or "right thinking Americans" (RTAs), as he referred to them among friends...
A Few Great Blogs
· Baghdad Burning
· Brilliant at Breakfast
· Crooks and Liars
· Dan Froomkin
· Fired Up! Missouri
· Freedom's Phoenix
· Freeway Blogger
· Glenn Greenwald
· Huffington Post
· Jesus' General
· Juan Cole
· Washington Monthly
· Media Matters
· Nashua Advocate
· Oliver Willis
· RAW STORY
· Sanoma State's
Project Censored Sites:
· Daily Censored
· Media Freedom
· Project Censored
· Scholars & Rogues
· Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
· Talking Points Memo
· Think Progress
· Tom Tomorrow
· TV Newser
· Ben Sargent
· Bill Deore
· Bob Gorrell
· Cagle's Index
· Chan Lowe
· Don Wright
· Doug Marlette
· Glenn McCoy
· Jeff Danziger
· Joel Pett
· Mike Luckovich
· Non Sequitur
· Not Banned Yet
· Pat Oliphant
· Paul Conrad
· Ted Rall
· This Modern World
· Thomas Burns
· Tom Toles
· Tony Auth
· Stuart Carlson
Or by Snail Mail
Make check out to...
7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594
Los Angeles, CA 90028