Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
A sharply divided federal appeals court on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit [PDF] involving the Central Intelligence Agency’s practice of seizing terrorism suspects and transferring them to other countries for imprisonment and interrogation. The ruling handed a major victory to the Obama administration in its effort to advance a sweeping view of executive secrecy power.
In any case, the heart of this matter is the Government's "alleged" right (the President of the United States' actually) to use the so-called "state secrets privilege" to keep victims of alleged torture from ever even having a day in court --- even when one of those victims, as in this case, charges that his torture included "cutting his penis and other body parts with a scalpel and then pouring stinging liquid on the wounds."
Good thing none of this was done by Iran. We'd be outraged...
Sorry, Mr. Gibbs, but your description of a "professional left" whose critiques of your boss, President Barack Obama, should be disregarded as the "crazy" musings of "people who ought to be drug tested" reflects that you are both authoritarian and out-of-touch.
The vast majority of citizens who supported the President in 2008 favor positions on policies that are far more progressive than anything which has emerged from either the corporate-controlled Democratic "leadership" in Congress or the Obama White House. The majority of Americans are by no means obligated to ignore the "democracy deficit" or the betrayal of the President's promise to bring "change we can believe in."
While one can readily agree that many of the Obama administration's policies are an improvement over those which are advanced by the reactionary fascist billionaires, and their mindless "Tea Party" followers, there are many instances in which the policies of the current administration threaten more harm than those of its predecessor. E.g,, those documented by a recent ACLU report (see Democracy Now video below) in which the current administration has created policies that may "enshrine permanently within the law policies and practices that were widely considered extreme and unlawful during the Bush administration."
Perhaps most disturbing is that the President's zeal to please his true constituency --- corporate America, Wall Street and the military-industrial complex --- comes from the same Presidential candidate whose soaring and lofty, yet deceptive campaign rhetoric gave rise to hope in so many that Election Day 2008 would mark a return to economic fairness, transparency, a restoration of the rule of law, an end to the fear-driven perpetual "war on terror," and a restoration of nature's ecological balance.
Even during the darkest days of the Bush/Cheney cabal, there was the hope that the foundering American ship of state could be righted by way of the electoral process. By raising the hopes of the American people during the course of the 2008 campaign, only to dash those hopes by betraying his own rhetoric, President Obama has, in some measure, caused more harm than the Bush/Cheney regime...
In a March 25, 2009 article, "Prosecute or Perish," in which I urged that "the survival of our Constitutional Democracy may hinge on factually justified criminal prosecutions of the Bush/Cheney cabal," and again in "Fixing the Facts and Legal Opinions Around the Torture Policy," I took dead aim at the sophistry employed by President Barack Obama to evade his constitutionally mandated obligation to see that the laws are faithfully executed. The same Harvard Law School-educated President who said that, in torture, America had lost its "moral bearings," suggested we must only look forward --- an "illogical formulation [that] was incompatible with the very essence of the rule of law."
I was naive. I thought the President was merely evading his constitutional obligation out of political expediency; that he actually intended to restore the rule of law and salvage what was left of our nation's honor.
A growing body of evidence, including confirmation contained in the recently exposed Afghan "Pentagon Papers," suggests the President did not look back at his predecessor's war crimes because he saw, in the failure to prosecute, the ground work for his own round of "Unitary Executive" lawlessness --- an expanded, illegal and increasingly covert "war on terror" in which hundreds, perhaps thousands of paramilitary assassins, operating in secret and beyond the rule of law, carry out targeted killings of "suspected" terrorists on a global scale --- a program that has already produced massive collateral casualties amongst innocent civilians who are in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Worse, as revealed by a newly filed lawsuit, the Obama administration has moved beyond the Bush/Cheney cabal's assertion of unchecked Executive lawlessness in the form of extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention and torture. The Obama administration has now not only asserted a right to assassinate anyone that the Executive branch labels a terrorist, including U.S. citizens, but has gone so far as to place lawyers in legal jeopardy should they seek a court order to block an extrajudicial execution unless the executive branch grants the lawyer permission to do so...
"Somehow this madness must cease."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Beyond Vietnam" April 4, 1967.
In Beyond Afghanistan, I utilized Dr King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech to deconstruct the empty words used by our Harvard-educated President during a December 1, 2009, address in which he sought to justify an escalation of the war in Afghanistan.
I noted then that President Barack Obama deliberately conflated the Taliban with al Qaeda just as "President" George W. Bush conflated Saddam with al Qaeda to exploit the fear and anger engendered by 9/11. Robert Scheer revealed, in War of Absurdity that there were, at that time, less than 100 members of al Qaeda still inside Afghanistan, who, per General James Jones, did not retain the "ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies." I added:
To defeat the ignoble 100, the U.S. is rapidly building toward an in-country presence of 100,000 American troops at a cost of $100 billion per year. NATO will also add 7,000 more troops, bringing a combined total to 140,000 foreign occupiers to that impoverished nation. To this, add some 104,000 "private contractors" aka armed mercenaries, who are paid more than three times the amount received by American troops.
Earlier, I posted a five part series on the more than 50-year history of CIA torture. In Part III, citing Victor Marchetti's heavily redacted The CIA & The Cult of Intelligence, I reported on how the CIA's William Colby constructed interrogation centers whose [emphasis added] “operations…consisted of torture tactics against suspected Vietcong…usually carried out by Vietnamese nationals”; that this morphed into the infamous Phoenix torture, then kill and dump program, in which an estimated 46,000 Vietnamese lost their lives; that General Petreus suggested that the Phoenix Program be reinstated on a “global scale.”
Our current crop of military and political leaders inside the Bush and Obama administrations have erected an elaborate deception as they carry out wars of imperial conquest and war crimes, including targeted killings of suspected terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, just as our past military and political leaders in the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations erected an elaborate deception to justify the quagmire in Southeast Asia a generation ago...
While being interviewed by Ralph Nader, Napolitano says what Bush and Cheney did while in office was "blatantly unconstitutional, and in some cases criminal."
When asked by Nader what the consequences should be, the judge says, in no uncertain terms: "They should have been indicted! They absolutely should have been indicted! For torturing, for spying, for arresting without warrant."
Wow. Guess his contract on Fox must be up. If it wasn't, we suspect it is now. The text transcript and video --- with Napolitano explaining that the "evidence...is overwhelming" that Bush and Cheney "participated in criminal conspiracies to violate the federal law and the guaranteed civil liberties of hundreds, maybe thousands of human beings --- follows below. Take a look...
I just spoke with CODE PINK co-founder Jodie Evans who tried again --- as she did last month in Los Angeles --- to file a citizen's arrest against Karl Rove. This time Rove, whom she accuses of war crimes, was at a Barnes & Noble book signing event in Las Vegas. Last time, Rove was forced to cancel his plans to sign books after his speech in L.A.
Evans writes to say that she and several others from CODE PINK, including an army vet who is a member of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO), attempted to hand-cuff Rove at the table where he was signing copies of his new book, while unfurling a "Rove is a War Criminal" banner.
"We get to the table, he looks up to take my book and jumps back against the book shelves," Evans says. He then points to three security guards and says "it's her," before the guards "pile in," according to her account.
One member of the team then takes out the banner --- which had been hidden in her skirt, since purses were confiscated before citizens were allowed in line --- "while I pull out the handcuffs and try to reach for him and then pull the arrest complaint out of the book, trying to argue that he needs to be arrested and I have a right to be there. They argue private property and lead us out."
She went to add that he was "standing freaked against the books" before he was then handed the next book to sign "as we are ushered out. We were physically pushed out the door with our unsigned book."
"The women behind us tell us we are 'rude,' to which I answer not as rude as Rove who has killed over 4,000 of our US Soldiers and hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi," writes Evans.
She indicates there may be video available of the event later. We'll try to update this item with it, if so. [Update: A bit of video from the encounter is now posted at the bottom of this item.]
Evans and the "Pink Tank" crew will be protesting Rove again tonight at the Performing Arts Center at UNLV where he is scheduled to speak.
She'll also be joining me on the Mike Malloy Show, which I am guest hosting again tonight from 6p-9p PT (9p-Mid ET), just before the event begins. So please tune in! We'll have live listening links posted here before show time, or see Malloy's site above.
CNN's video report of Evans' attempt to arrest Rove last month --- during which Rove ironically (in more ways than we have the time to point out right now) declared "with all due respect, this goes to show the totalitarianism of the Left. They don't believe in dialogue. They don't believe in courtesy. They don't believe in First Amendment rights for anybody but themselves" --- is reposted below...
My promise to "Tea Partiers" (the phony ones, not the real Ron Paul ones who were legitimately Tea Partying long before you Tea Baggers even began to completely misunderstand what the Boston Tea Party was about):
When you start calling for accountability for those in the Bush/Cheney Torture Operation who directly and indirectly violated both the U.S. Constitution and the Rule of Law, I'll start taking you and your claims about defending the Constitution seriously.
Until then, you are phony patriots and easily-played partisan stooges, who don't give a damn about our Constitution and the values that this country actually stands for.
* * *
A few reminders --- among many more --- about the real Tea Parties, and the man who inspired them, while being utterly marginalized by the GOP --- and who, ironically enough, was the runaway winner of this weekend's CPAC straw poll for the GOP's 2012 Presidential nomination --- are below for those clueless Tea Bagging pretenders referenced above...
While I've always had the utmost respect for Australian journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger, I must admit that the first time I watched his video, "Obama is a corporate marketing creation," I thought that, in implying that the President was some type of CIA-connected Manchurian Candidate, Pilger was a bit over the top.
In 1983 Obama went to work for "Business International Corporation," which, according to Pilger, had "a long history of providing cover for the CIA and infiltrating unions on the left." Though Pilger conceded that there "might be nothing sinister" in that, he cited Obama's failure to identify Business International by name or what he did there in Dreams of My Father. The President simply said he worked at “a consulting house to multinational corporations.” Coupling this with a litany of examples which place Obama on the wrong side of Empire and the corporate divide, Pilger implied the connection was not coincidental, then concluded his remarks by quoting Chris Hedges:
President Obama does one thing and brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertiser wants because of how they make you feel.
Perhaps it's an accumulation of all that has transpired this past year; perhaps it's the striking revelations that emerged during an extraordinary Feb. 2, 2010, broadcast of Democracy Now, especially as it pertains to torture (video below), but I now can't help feeling like Claire Kubik, the sharp attorney played by Ashley Judd in High Crimes who starts out vigorously defending her husband Tom (Jim Cazviel) against charges he murdered innocent civilians in a covert military operation. She's convinced the man she married has been wrongfully accused; convinced of his innocence until, almost when it's too late, she learns the man she thought she knew so well was a murderous sociopath.
Who is this guy whose election so many so happily celebrated on a brisk November evening that now seems so long ago?...
John Michael Farren, who served as deputy counsel to President George W. Bush, has been charged with strangulation and attempted murder after allegedly choking his wife and beating her with a flashlight.
Police told the Associated Press that Farren attacked his wife at their New Canaan home Wednesday night, two days after she served him with divorce papers.
Remember, we must protect traditional marriage at all costs! Even for attempted Republican murderers and the recently twice-divorced Karl Rove, to whom we must give credit for at least having had the decency of not trying to murder either of his former wives (that we know of).
Furthermore, we hope they don't try to disbar Farren over this policy difference between him and his wife. Politicizing his belief that she should no longer be alive would just be wrong, set a very bad precedent for future administration attorneys, and put our nation at even greater danger from terrorism.
The Obama administration has asked the Department of Justice to dismiss a lawsuit brought by convicted terrorist Jose Padilla against torture memo author John Yoo, asserting that Yoo cannot be sued for legal opinions he offered in the course of advising then-President Bush on national security matters.
Constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley finds ths decision inexplicable. "The president literally has gotten onto a plane this evening to go to Norway," he told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday, "to accept the Nobel Prize, while his Justice Department is effectively gutting a major part of Nuremberg."
"The Obama administration is arguing not only that they shouldn't be prosecuted," Turley emphasized, "but it's now saying that you shouldn't even be able to sue them civilly. ... It's an international disgrace."
Turley pointed out that several legal advisors to Germany's Ministry of Justice were convicted during the Nuremberg trials held after World War II for providing the legal advice that justified Nazi war crimes. Now the Obama administration, in its desire to uphold executive privilege at any cost, is willing to toss that principle aside.
... "The Justice Department's prosecuted lawyers who give advice to mobsters," Turley concluded, "but apparently if you give advice to advance a war crime, that's just 'full and frank advice.'"
Velvet Revolution's DisbarTortureLawyers.com campaign is right here. Please sign on to join the call for accountability and disbarment of the many attorneys who violated the Rule of Law and the U.S. Constitution by justifying illegal torture through twisted and factually unsound "legal findings," and the conspiracy to carry out that torture during the Bush Administration. [The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VelvetRevolution.us]
"Somehow this madness must cease."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Beyond Vietnam" April 4, 1967.
On Jan. 18, 2010 our nation will observe Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, commemorating the extraordinary life of an intellectual and moral giant. The corporate media will fill the airwaves with excerpts of his uplifting August 28, 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech in which Dr. King called upon us to judge one another by the content of our character and not by the color of our skin. And, during that same holiday, the corporate media can be counted upon to ignore his April 4, 1967 "Beyond Vietnam" speech just as they have every year since the first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in 1986.
Why? Because the egalitarian principles enunciated in "I Have a Dream" challenged only the now (largely) defunct Jim Crow regime.
While de facto, race-based economic inequality stubbornly remains as a vestige of slavery and Jim Crow, the elimination of de jure segregation posed no threat to the stark economic inequality created by an increasingly brutal form of U.S. capitalism and imperialism. It was the brutal reality of corporate Empire which led Dr. King, in "Beyond Vietnam," to describe his own government as "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today" --- a point which exposes the hypocrisy in that same government's celebration of the life of a man singularly devoted to non-violence.
If you have not read "Beyond Vietnam" in its entirety, you should. If you have, you should read it again, for Dr. King's message is as applicable today as it was then.
Particularly, as we deconstruct the empty words used by our Harvard-educated President to justify an escalation of what Robert Scheer aptly describes as a "War of Absurdity," and as we look "Beyond Afghanistan"...
Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the corporate "mainstream" media make quite a pair. We're hearing a very "balanced" debate over whether KSM should be tried in New York City, and whether the most insane objections to that proposal are really insane or not. But what are we not hearing?
We're not hearing that trying criminals for the crime of 9/11 ought to have been what we did years ago, rather than waging wars in response to a crime. We're not discussing the possibility that had alleged 9/11 criminals been tried years ago rather than being imprisoned and tortured together with hundreds of innocents depicted as subhuman monsters, the "war on terror" might have been replaced with simply the wars on Iraqis and Afghans and Pakistanis. What effect might that have had on Americans' willingness to surrender their Bill of Rights? We aren't hearing about that.
And that's only the tip of the iceberg about what we're not hearing...
I grew up in a fundamentalist missionary family that in the 1970s and 80s morphed into my father's activity as one of the founders of the Religious Right. We would hobnob with Republican leaders from Ronald Reagan to Gerald Ford and the Bush family, Jack Kemp and many others. One day it dawned on me that the far right of the Republican Party --- in other words its base --- actually hates America.
The Religious Right reveled in rising crime statistics, "family breakdown" statistics, failing public schools and so forth. As I explain in my book Patience with God: Faith for People Who Don't Like Religion (or Atheism), if crime started going down, or public school test results started going up --- without the country "turning back to Jesus" --- then that would prove that somehow "we" were wrong.
We wanted our country to fail because it had "turned away" from what we believed to be true.
Combined with the fact that we began to lose parts of the culture war, when it came to other Americans beginning to recognize gay rights, expanding women's rights, abortion rights and such, the Religious Right and the Republican Party infected gun-toting America with a chip on its shoulder about a mile wide. This led to the myth that "they" (fill in the blank, gays, Jews, blacks, liberals --- whatever) are "taking away our country from 'us'"...
During my interview last night with 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern on the Mike Malloy Show (which I've been guest hosting all this week), the man who used to personally deliver the CIA's Presidential Daily Briefings to George Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan, among other Presidents, offered an extraordinarily chilling thought --- particularly coming from someone with his background.
In a conversation at the end of the hour (audio and transcript below), as I was trying to pin him down for an opinion on whether or not he felt it was appropriate for CIA Director Leon Panetta to have reportedly attempted to block a lawful investigation into torture and other war crimes committed by the CIA, McGovern alluded to a book about the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and noted he felt it likely that both Panetta and President Obama may have reason to fear certain elements of the CIA.
"Let me just leave you with this thought," he said, "and that is that I think Panetta, and to a degree President Obama, are afraid --- I never thought I'd hear myself saying this --- I think they're afraid of the CIA."...