Eric Holder just told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the behavior of president Bush has been illegal, and that he, Eric Holder, will uphold the rule of law. It will be very hard to maintain those positions and not prosecute or appoint a Special Counsel to prosecute Bush's crimes.
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.
If he's confirmed, Attorney General nominee Eric Holder told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee during confirmation hearings today, he'll review the Bush U.S. Attorney's decision to not prosecute former DoJ Civil Rights attorney Bradley Schlozman for his grotesque bastardization and politicization of the department as we detailed earlier this week. Schlozman, the DoJ's Inspector General found, broke federal law and custom vis a vis his hiring practices of only fellow whack-a-doodle wingnuts, and further went on to lie to Congress about during hearings (which is also a federal crime).
Said Holder during questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein...
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...
During Monday's State Department press briefing, Associated Press State Department Correspondent Matthew Lee posed the most pointed question about the conflict in Gaza and the Bush administration's position: "What’s wrong with an immediate cease-fire that doesn’t have to be sustainable and durable if, during the pause that you get from an immediate cease-fire, something longer-term can be negotiated?" Lee didn't tread lightly either when Deputy Secretary of State Sean McCormack failed to provide a sufficient answer and continued to challenge McCormack on the same point in Tuesday's press briefing.
Yet a funny thing happened on the way to print: the substance of these exchanges never made it into Lee's corresponding articles...
[UPDATE 1/8/09: Oops! The article discussed below is indeed from Wednesday, but from a Wednesday in 2007! March 14th to be precise. I'll not out the colleague who sent it to me, who similarly thought it was published yesterday. But I'll thank the commenter who finally noticed the date on the Reuters article, re-remind myself of the the dangers of "road blogging" too quickly, and otherwise make myself feel better by noting that my originally expressed caution about getting too optimistic at this point was apparently well placed. As another commenter then noted, the original bill in question was later blocked in the Senate by an unknown, likely-Republican, Senator. Let's hope the Ds now have enough votes and control of the Senate to avoid the same fate for these bills that need to be passed now in the new Congress. And my apologies for the false-positive alarm. - BF]
So apparently Obama plans to appoint CNN’s Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General. I don’t have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications. But I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore “fudged his facts”, when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.
What bothered me about the incident was that it was what Digby would call Village behavior: Moore is an outsider, he’s uncouth, so he gets smeared as unreliable even though he actually got it right. It’s sort of a minor-league version of the way people who pointed out in real time that Bush was misleading us into war are to this day considered less “serious” than people who waited until it was fashionable to reach that conclusion. And appointing Gupta now, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.
Connell was allegedly a linchpin in the biggest maze of White House scandal this country's ever seen, yet the national news media is a no-show.
What caused Connell's crash is only one piece of this story. One that, as in many such stories, may or may never be confirmed. Pilot error? Aircraft malfunction? Weather conditions? Foul play? Suicide? Heart attack? A thorough investigation needs to take place. Part of what the media should be doing is making sure that happens.
But everything that has already been confirmed, having nothing to do with the crash, should also have the national media covering this with at least as much gusto as "BlaggoGate" or, say, Britney's comeback or Brangelina's pre-nup. So far, though, in a replay of journalistic fecklessness rife during the Bush years, mum's the word.
Nonetheless, it's still been fairly quiet in the bulk of the MSM, especially in the broadcast MSM, and especially given the high-ranks of Connell, who had been the chief IT consultant for Karl Rove, had received millions creating websites for the Bushes, McCain, the Swiftboaters, the state of OH and dozens of other GOP campaigns, as well as having created the network firewalls for top Congressional committees (for which his company reportedly received a sweetheart, no-bid contract) and the controversial alternate email server used by the White House and at the center of the US Attorney purge scandal.
Let's hope the AP/CBS report will now spur more MSM coverage...just in time to be lost in the XMas news hole, of course.
A few more odds and ends of note today on this matter, as we head into that news hole...
I'm not sure what, if any, light this video --- as shot by local eye and ear-witnesses in Akron, OH --- sheds on the plane crash and death of high-ranking GOP IT operative Mike Connell. But, as it may reveal something, to somebody, in the still-unexplained, and surprisingly-timed crash, I suppose it may useful to put it on the record here.
For example, despite scattered reports that bad weather may have contributed to the cause of the crash, the weather seems to have been clear, at least on the ground, at least by the time the witnesses arrived, as seen in the video. Reports of "mist" seem to be belied in the early part of the video, shot through the front window of the car which does not appear to have its windshield wipers on. [UPDATE: RAW STORY also reports weather data during the hour of the crash, noting visibility was clear, and temperatures just above freezing.] Also, several descriptions of what was heard by the "ear-witnesses" as the crash occurred, may be of value as well.
The video, and an audio interview with OH attorney Cliff Arnebeck, who had sought Connell's protection after reported threats from Karl Rove, follow below...
The lead attorney in the widening 2004 federal election fraud conspiracy case which began in Ohio --- but is rapidly growing to other states and other elections --- says that the stunning death of a key witness last Friday is a blow to the case, but not the end of it by a long shot.
"Michael Connell was a critically important witness. His loss hurts our case," Cliff Arnebeck, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the King-Lincoln Bronzeville v. OH Sec. of State lawsuit, told The BRAD BLOG in an email responding to questions about Connell's death. The Republican 'IT guru,' a top IT consultant to Karl Rove, George W. Bush, John McCain, and a bevy of congressional Republicans, had been in the nation's capital on still-unknown business before his single engine plane crashed Friday night on the way home, just three miles short of the runway in Akron, Ohio. The cause of the crash remains similarly unknown as of today.
"We will have to adjust," Arnebeck told us in response to queries about where the case may necessarily need to go from here. "The kind of organized criminal enterprise we are addressing requires the resources of the very best that the investigative press corps and law enforcement, at all levels, can muster."
However, despite Connell's elite status as a top-rung Republican consultant for years --- he reportedly received some $800,000 from the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2004 alone --- the NYTimes, the nation's paper of record, has yet to run anything else on the death of the man who, Arnebeck notes, he had intended to both further depose, as well as call to testify as a key trial witness in the federal conspiracy case. Coverage from the UK's Telegraph, however, is published here.
Connell had been compelled by the federal district judge in the case, on the Friday prior to last month's Presidential Election, to give a deposition to plaintiff attorneys on the Monday before the general election. The order for that deposition came after the OH attorneys had sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, seeking protection for Connell and his wife. While Connell had expressed a willingness to testify about what he knew concerning the '04 election, and the election website network he had created for Ohio's then-Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell, he had become reticent after Rove had sent threats to Connell and his wife, according to tipsters...
Guest blogged by Emily Levy of Velvet Revolution
[Additional material added on 12/20/08 by Brad Friedman]
The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that the private plane of the GOP's highly-placed "IT guru" Mike Connell's went down in Lake Township, Ohio on Friday evening. Connell was killed in the crash and is reported to have been the only person on board. There are no reports of anyone on the ground being hurt, though his plane crashed in a residential neighborhood.
Connell is a familiar name to readers of The BRAD BLOG as a key witness in the King-Lincoln v. Blackwell lawsuit regarding fraud in the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio. That recently revived, long-standing lawsuit led to Connell's recent deposition on November 3, 2008, the day before this year's general election. According to plaintiff's lead attorney Cliff Arnebeck in July, a tipster had warned that Connell had been threatened by Karl Rove, as The BRAD BLOG reported at the time, in an attempt to intimidate him into "taking the fall" for Ohio election fraud not long after a motion was filed to lift the stay in that case.
Connell had been memorably described as a "high IQ Forrest Gump", by the attorneys for the plaintiffs in the Ohio fraud case, for his apparent penchant at the scene of "every single crime" from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 to the network firewall on a number of key Congressional committees to the case of the missing White House emails. (Video and text transcript of the interview with the attorneys here.)
Connell had been served with a subpoena to appear in the federal courtroom in Ohio at the same College Park, MD airport where his single engine plane reportedly took off from last night, on his final solo flight...
As Jon Ponder noted here on Tuesday, a bi-partisan U.S. Senate panel has found [PDF] that George W. Bush was responsible for approving War Crimes (torture and abuse) at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Dick Cheney admitted in a recent interview to helping to approve War Crimes (torture and abuse) in interrogations, and the corporate media --- with the lone exception of MSNBC --- have been virtually as silent on what may be the most offensive crimes ever committed by an Executive Branch in the U.S. as they were during the lead-up to and follow-through on the War on Iraq, when those same officials sent our nation into war on the basis of demonstrable lies.
George Washington University's highly-respected constitutional law professor Jonathon Turley, noting the War Crimes now known and admitted to by Bush and Cheney, asked Keith Olbermann Tuesday night, "If someone commits a crime and everyone's around to see it and does nothing, is it still a crime?"
(Please watch the video at right, or read the text transcript at the end of this article.)
During the discussion, Turley mentioned --- no less than three different times --- that it'll be up to the citizens whether or not any action is actually taken to prosecute those who committed these crimes.
But is there any real basis --- in 2008 --- for his well-meaning argument? Not bloody likely...
Despite Overnight Detention in County Jail for 'Disorderly Conduct', as Orchestrated by Broward's Election Chief, a Candidate for That Same Office, Ellen Brodsky, Remains Uncharged a Month Later and Still Seeking Discovery Documents...
Counter Charges for 'False Arrest' Still to Come...
It's been more than a full month since the November 13th arrest of Broward County, FL's election integrity advocate Ellen Brodsky and the state has still failed to file formal charges or supply her with discovery documents.
As The BRAD BLOG reported in detail following the arrest, Brodsky was taken into custody, seemingly at the behest of her opponent in the election, after attempting to oversee the public counting of ballots for the election in which she ran as a candidate for Supervisor of Elections.
The arrest for "disorderly conduct" (according to police records) was caught on tape and posted here last week. The tape shows fairly clearly that there was no such disorderly conduct by Brodsky, despite the order for the arrest having apparently been issued by the office of the current Broward Supervisor of Elections, Dr. Brenda Snipes.
Today's South Florida Sun-Sentinel picks up the story with an update noting that Brodsky, a month since her arrest, has been forced to seek a judge's order demanding that prosecutors explain why she was arrested in the first place.
The BRAD BLOG has also obtained a copy of a motion to compel discovery exhibits, which have similarly not been given to her, as filed by Brodksy's attorney earlier this month.
Ellen Brodsky has asked a judge to order prosecutors to explain why she was arrested at the election office warehouse.
The case is open but no charges have been filed, State Attorney's Office spokesman Ron Ishoy said Tuesday.
Her lawyer, Tanner Andrews, denies wrongdoing. He wants to know what exactly his client is accused of doing and who made the accusation on Nov. 13.
"Why they arrested her would be a really good start," he said.
Journalist Muntadar al-Zeidi, the new hero in Iraq, much of the Muslim world, and even among many in this country, is facing less than friendly treatment from the Iraqi military and, according to some news reports, the U.S. forces overseeing his custody...
The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at US President George W. Bush has a broken arm and ribs after being struck by Iraqi security agents, his brother told AFP on Tuesday.
Durgham Zaidi was unable to say whether his brother Muntazer had sustained the injuries while being overpowered during Sunday's protest against Bush's visit to Baghdad or while in custody later.
He said he had been told that his brother was being held by Iraqi forces in the heavily fortified Green Zone compound in central Baghdad where the US embassy and most government offices are housed.
"He has got a broken arm and ribs, and cuts to his eye and arm," said Durgham.
And yes, as we noted in our coverage on Sunday, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino did, in fact, receive both a literal and symbolic black eye during the melee following the shoe toss. In what would be dismissed as ridiculous heavy-handed Hollywood symbolism, had it been featured in a movie, Perino actually received a black-eye when she was hit during the fracas, in the eye, with a microphone...
In other shoe-throwing news, you can now throw virtual shoes at Bush in a number of online games, or you can send him some actual shoes via a new online campaign promising to give Bush the boot. They all sound like good ideas to us!