Wednesday, April 29, 2009

consistent McCain

"But we are not asked to judge the President's character flaws. We are
asked to judge whether the President, who swore an oath to faithfully
execute his office, deliberately subverted--for whatever purpose--the
rule of law," - John McCain arguing for the impeachment of Bill
Clinton for perjury in a civil suit, February 1999.

"Anyone who knows what waterboarding is could not be unsure. It is a
horrible torture technique used by Pol Pot," - John McCain, October

"We've got to move on," - John McCain, April 26, 2009, reacting to
incontrovertible proof that George W. Bush ordered the waterboarding
of a prisoner 183 times, as well as broader treatment that the Red
Cross has called "unequivocally torture."

Monday, April 27, 2009

New York Times still won't call it "torture"

ANDREW SULLIVAN: "If waterboarding someone 183 times is not torture, then nothing is torture. The fact that the editors of the New York Times cannot reflect this core truth in its use of plain English is a scandal of journalistic cowardice, evasion and willful ignorance. It is entirely a function not of seeking the truth but of placating those in power and maintaining a fictitious illusion of "balance." The idea that the Bush administration's insistence for the first time in human history that waterboarding is legal and not torture - when it has itself used the torture technique - is to be weighed equally against the entire body of legal, historical and cultural evidence in deciding what to call torture is preposterous."


Friday, April 24, 2009

Harry Reid opposes impeachment of Bybee

9th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee is among the 6 Bush officials named in the Spanish criminal investigation of torture accusations. The investigating judge, Baltasar Garzon, is the same magistrate who went after Chile's ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet along with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger for war crimes. Kissinger complained about this attack to his pal Rumsfeld who, according to Phillippe Sands, "...was already worrying about 'lawfare' (the use of law to achieve operational objectives). Rumsfeld instructed the chief lawyer at the Pentagon, Jim Haynes, to address the problems posed by this 'judicialisation of international politics.' " William J. "Jim" Haynes, II is also a member of the indicted Bush officials in the Spanish case.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is opposing the call for Bybee's impeachment. Reid's office states,"Judge Bybee has a good professional reputation in Nevada... While the memos that have been released are disturbing to Sen. Reid, at this point in time, he doesn't think we should be making a rush to judgment. The Department of Justice's Office of Professional Responsibility is reviewing this matter and he will wait to see what they have to say before making a decision."

Pelosi & torture

From the New York Times:

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, who in 2002 was the ranking Democrat on the House committee, has said in public statements that she recalls being briefed on the methods, including waterboarding. She insists, however, that the lawmakers were told only that the C.I.A. believed the methods were legal - not that they were going to be used.

By contrast, the ranking Republican on the House committee at the time, Porter J. Goss of Florida, who later served as C.I.A. director, recalls a clear message that the methods would be used.

"We were briefed, and we certainly understood what C.I.A. was doing," Mr. Goss said in an interview. "Not only was there no objection, there was actually concern about whether the agency was doing enough."

Senator Bob Graham, Democrat of Florida, who was committee chairman in 2002, said in an interview that he did not recall ever being briefed on the methods, though government officials with access to records say all four committee leaders received multiple briefings.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Top 10 Enemies of Single-Payer

Russell Mokhiber, over at the CounterPunch site, has put together an instructive list. It includes AARP, AHIP, the AMA, Obama ("...he says single-payer is off the table. To get off the list, Obama needs to put single-payer back on the table."), the Business Roundtable, Families USA, HCAN, Kaiser Family Foundation, the Lewin Group, and PHRMA.


gallows humor

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

They Seek Power, Not Drugs by Andy K.

When Savana Redding was 13 years old, the principal at her junior
high school subjected her to a humiliating strip search to determine
whether or not she had smuggled ibuprofen onto school grounds. The
strip search was fruitless: no ibuprofen was found. Savana sued
the school district and, after 7 years of lawsuits and appeals, her
case was heard before the US Supreme Court yesterday.

The case has been widely covered in the media, but there's a detail
mentioned on page 42 of the Supreme Court transcript which hasn't
received much attention: the school officials never searched her
locker or her desk.

This detail completely undermines the school's argument. Shouldn't
her locker have been the FIRST place they searched? The assistant
principal had received a tip from another student that Savana was in
possession of ibuprofen, but the school district's lawyers admitted to
the Supreme Court justices that this other student had never specified
that the pills were hidden in Savana's undergarments. So the
principal had no reason to immediately make a beeline for Savana's

And if the scourge of ibuprofen is serious enough to justify a strip
search, why isn't a locker search also necessary?

These school administrators aren't serious. They're perverts.

Monday, April 20, 2009

"we've only waterboarded 3 detainees"

We've been told repeatedly that Bush waterboarded "only" 3 detainees
(which implies that a war crime is less of a crime if only 3 victims
are subjected to it). But here's the more relevant question: how
many times were each of these 3 victims waterboarded?

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times.


When the CIA was interrogating Abu Zubaydah at a
secret prison in Thailand, the CIA agents realized that
the prisoner had no more information to give. But the sadists at
CIA headquarters in Washington demanded that the agents torture him


And it looks like one of the memos Obama released last week inadvertently revealed the name of "ghost detainee," Hassan Ghul. The memo appears to include Ghul (spelled "Gul" in the redacted text) in the group of 28 CIA detainees subjected to our government's "enhanced interrogation techniques."


Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama and State Secrets

Obama's flip-flop last August on the issue of granting the telecom companies who were involved in warrantless surveillance immunity from lawsuits was clearly a sign of bad things to come.



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bill Black interviewed by Bill Moyers

[Bill Black is a professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. In the 1980s, he helped expose the S&L crisis, and the Keating Five.]

BILL MOYERS: Why are they firing the president of G.M. and not firing the head of all these banks that are involved?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: There are two reasons. One, they're much closer to the bankers. These are people from the banking industry. And they have a lot more sympathy. In fact, they're outright hostile to autoworkers, as you can see. They want to bash all of their contracts. But when they get to banking, they say, ‘contracts, sacred.' But the other element of your question is we don't want to change the bankers, because if we do, if we put honest people in, who didn't cause the problem, their first job would be to find the scope of the problem. And that would destroy the cover up.

BILL MOYERS: The cover up?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Sure. The cover up.

BILL MOYERS: That's a serious charge.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Of course.

BILL MOYERS: Who's covering up?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Geithner is charging, is covering up. Just like Paulson did before him. Geithner is publicly saying that it's going to take $2 trillion — a trillion is a thousand billion — $2 trillion taxpayer dollars to deal with this problem. But they're allowing all the banks to report that they're not only solvent, but fully capitalized. Both statements can't be true. It can't be that they need $2 trillion, because they have masses losses, and that they're fine.

These are all people who have failed. Paulson failed, Geithner failed. They were all promoted because they failed, not because...

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, Geithner has, was one of our nation's top regulators, during the entire subprime scandal, that I just described. He took absolutely no effective action. He gave no warning. He did nothing in response to the FBI warning that there was an epidemic of fraud. All this pig in the poke stuff happened under him. So, in his phrase about legacy assets. Well he's a failed legacy regulator.