Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Well -- That Only Took 13-1/2 Years. . .

But I, for one, am glad it has finally happened.

Of course, I favor complete repeal of the Section 215 style bulk collection, as I've said for over a decade -- unless supported by full-on probable cause -- but a curtailment may be all that is politically achievable, even now.

Even with a sitting President who is a Constitutional Scholar. So, I'll take what I can get -- for now.

Here's the Gray Lady's opening, on it all:

. . .In a remarkable reversal of national security policy formed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Senate voted on Tuesday to curtail the federal government’s sweeping surveillance of American phone records, sending the legislation to President Obama’s desk for his signature. . . .
Nice. Onward. And take that, Mr. Cheney -- history is obliterating almost all of your wrong headed follies from the rule of law, here in our truer, bluer version of 21st Century America.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Blackwater Guards' Nisour Sentences: One -- Life In Prison, And 30 Years. . . For Three Others. Justice.

Here was the October 2014 verdict(s) -- yesterday was the sentencing. Deeply delayed, but plainly the right outcome.

The New York Times has it all:

. . .One by one, four former Blackwater security contractors wearing blue jumpsuits and leg irons stood before a federal judge on Monday and spoke publicly for the first time since a deadly 2007 shooting in Iraq. . . .

In Iraq (pre 2006), Blackwater was perceived as so powerful that its employees could kill anyone and get away with it, said Mohammed Hafedh Abdulrazzaq Kinani, whose 9-year-old son, Ali, was killed in Nisour Square. . . .

No longer. Good riddance, Mr. Prince. Once again -- all this blood is primarily on Dick Cheney's hands. But it is on W.'s, too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

ACLU's Take -- On Today's Five Year Torture Report

I too find this idea repugnant -- which is why the logic is. . . in fact. . . compelling.

Establish that crimes were committed by Cheney, by pardoning him. Perfect. Here's the Gray Lady's reprint of Mr. Romero's fine opinion -- do go read it all:

. . .Mr. Obama could pardon George J. Tenet for authorizing torture at the C.I.A.’s black sites overseas, Donald H. Rumsfeld for authorizing the use of torture at the Guantánamo Bay prison, David S. Addington, John C. Yoo and Jay S. Bybee for crafting the legal cover for torture, and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for overseeing it all.

While the idea of a pre-emptive pardon may seem novel, there is precedent. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson pardoned Confederate soldiers as a step toward unity and reconstruction after the Civil War. Gerald R. Ford pardoned Richard M. Nixon for the crimes of Watergate. Jimmy Carter pardoned Vietnam War draft resisters.

The spectacle of the president’s granting pardons to torturers still makes my stomach turn. But doing so may be the only way to ensure that the American government never tortures again. Pardons would make clear that crimes were committed; that the individuals who authorized and committed torture were indeed criminals; and that future architects and perpetrators of torture should beware. Prosecutions would be preferable, but pardons may be the only viable and lasting way to close the Pandora’s box of torture once and for all. . . .


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blackwater Outcome -- In Nisour Square? Murder.

Finally. Some form of rough justice -- via the NYT today:

. . .Jurors found one defendant guilty of murder and three others of manslaughter and weapons charges, roundly asserting that the shooting was criminal. . . .

Seventeen Iraqis died when gunfire erupted on Sept. 16, 2007 in the crowded Nisour Square in Baghdad. The shooting inflamed anti-American sentiment abroad and helped solidify the notion that Blackwater, America’s largest security contractor in Iraq, was reckless and unaccountable.

The former contractors said that they were ambushed by insurgents and that civilian deaths were the unfortunate, unintended consequences of urban warfare.

The defendants were Blackwater guards. One of them, Nicholas A. Slatten, who the government said fired the first shots, was convicted of murder. The others — Dustin L. Heard, Evan S. Liberty and Paul A. Slough — were convicted on manslaughter and firearms charges. . . .
Backgrounder here. Namaste -- one and all.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Sen. Feinstein Is Right. This Smells. Dick.

Just go read EmptyWheel.net on it -- timeline especially.

You may certainly trust that every word she writes is true -- and would channel my thoughts on the matter. Only she will lay it out far more artfully than I might ever hope to.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

So Leon Panetta -- And The Senators Agree -- About What We Were Concerned About, Post 9-11: Torture Is Purposeless And Immoral

So, almost a decade later, we are finally getting the wisps of confirmation that independent branches of our federal government were "scathingly critical" of the Bush-Cheney (but mostly Cheney) CIA led interrogation techniques.

Probably the single greatest piece of wisdom from it all is this: The. Torture. Yielded. Almost. No. Reliable. Information. Chambers v. Florida (1940). Brown v. Mississippi (1936). Those ignorant of history -- are doomed to repeat it.

For our childrens', and grandchildrens' sake -- let us keep repeating that inexorable truth. It is almost more important than the fact that both our founding documents, and our moral conscience, suggest that torture is wrong. If there is nearly naught -- in the way of reliable intel from torture -- the motivation to employ it will dissipate. In any event, here is the NYT version -- do go read it all:

. . . .The Senate report, totaling more than 6,000 pages, was completed last December but has yet to be declassified. According to people who have read the study, it is unsparing in its criticism of the now-defunct interrogation program and presents a chronicle of C.I.A. officials’ repeatedly misleading the White House, Congress and the public about the value of brutal methods that, in the end, produced little valuable intelligence.

Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado, disclosed the existence of the internal C.I.A. report during an Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday. He said he believed it was begun several years ago and “is consistent with the Intelligence’s Committee’s report” although it “conflicts with the official C.I.A. response to the committee’s report.”

“If this is true,” Mr. Udall said during a hearing on the nomination of Caroline D. Krass to be the C.I.A.’s top lawyer, “this raises fundamental questions about why a review the C.I.A. conducted internally years ago — and never provided to the committee — is so different from the C.I.A.’s formal response to the committee study. . . .”

As Mr. Cheney's LVAS whirs in his chest -- a steady, smooth hydro-mechanical sound -- with no reassuring thump, followed immediately by a returning echoed thump of a human pulse -- I would hope that the above sinks in.

He has certainly read it by now. Just like his missing pulse -- Mr. Cheney is, in my estimation, at least -- somehow less human for having demanded, directed and orchestrated the torture of perhaps into the high hundreds of mostly entirely innocent detainees. He has demeaned us all by turning his back on our founding documents.

Friday, October 11, 2013

NYT's Fabulous Post-Scriptum. . . Libby Edition!

Just go read it all -- Mr. Cheney, in full regalia, and full of all that made him perhaps the least likeable politician. . . Ever.

There is no doubt in my mind that the attempt to pardon Scooter was purely quid pro quo. I am thankful that Bush 43 didn't do so -- for what ever reason.

That may be the only good news in the whole murderously sad story. Do go read it all.

". . .George W. Bush’s refusal to pardon I. Lewis Libby at the end of his presidency caused Dick Cheney to lash out: ‘‘You are leaving a good man wounded on the field of battle. . . ."

I am truly glad to turn my back on this chapter of American Executive Branch history.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Wyoming's Republicans: "Daughter's A Cartpetbagger, Just Like Her Father". . . Hilarious!

It comes as scant surprise that Mr. Cheney's older daughter is as divisive -- even within her own party -- as Mr. Cheney was/is. It seems she's trying to out-muscle a well-liked, long serving Senator in Wyoming. A Cheney acting brashly, and against advice? "Well. . . I'm shocked. Simply shocked." Or not so much.

The only reason the long-standing, and well-liked Mr. Enzi would “be in any difficulty is if there’s a weird group of Republicans who think compromise is akin to communism,” said Alan Simpson, a legendary figure in Wyoming Republican politics. That sort of "difficulty" is of Mr. -- and Ms. -- Cheney's making, at the moment.

Here is a bit of the Times reporting on it, from Jackson Hole, on it -- do go read it all:

. . .What has startled some people here is not just the fact that Ms. Cheney is seemingly trying to nudge Mr. Enzi into retirement, but that she appears to be doing so with a hand from her father.

The former vice president and Mr. Enzi have been friends since the 1970s, when Mr. Cheney was Wyoming’s at-large congressman and Mr. Enzi was the mayor of Gillette. They became closer, Mr. Enzi recalled, over a shared passion: fly-fishing. The two were on the same team competing in a popular annual One Fly tournament — fishing with the same fly lure all day — in the Snake River.

But Mr. Enzi said he had not recently heard from the man he calls his “good friend.”

“I would expect that he’d call before she declares,” Mr. Enzi said of Mr. Cheney. . . .

If Ms. Cheney feels the need to blend in with the locals, it may be because of the carpetbagging charges her father faced when he moved back here from Washington in 1977 after working for President Gerald R. Ford. . . .

As I say -- hilarious! Good luck Ms. Cheney!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Jim Comey To Head FBI: Obama's Karmic Victory, For Five AUSAs

This is perfect -- per the NYT, tonight. Karma is a wheel, yes?

. . .Mr. Comey, 52, was chosen for the position over the other finalist for the job, Lisa O. Monaco, who has served as the White House’s top counterterrorism adviser since January. By choosing Mr. Comey, a Republican, Mr. Obama made a strong statement about bipartisanship at a time when he faces renewed criticism from Republicans in Congress and has had difficulty confirming some important nominees. . . .

As deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, Mr. Comey was a critical player in 2004 in the dramatic hospital room episode in which the White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales, and Mr. Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., tried to persuade Attorney General John Ashcroft — who was ill and disoriented — to reauthorize a warrantless eavesdropping program. . . .
Well done Mr. Obama! [2006 era background here.]

Thursday, March 21, 2013

This Letter To Cheney (And Bush) Must Be Read. Today.

I'll simply note that the mistakes that led to these lessons ought not be consigned to the dustin of history.

They were avoidable -- and most of all, they were foreseeable.

I am sorry so many had to die to make them plain.

I am sorry Mr. Cheney failed us all. Now go read the letter, in full -- but here's a bit:

. . . .I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love.

I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire. . . . .

On the other hand, perhaps we failed one another, by re-electing him.

Here endeth the sermon.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Irony Alert! -- John Yoo, "Torture-Enabler" -- On Administration's Drone Strikes(!)

Let's refresh, shall we? The book on John Yoo: this is the man who thinks that the morality/immorality of torturing a man's child, in gruesome fashion, while the man watches, turns on why the President might want to do that -- not on any absolute moral principles:

I'll quote only a bit of John Yoo (Bush 43's former resident torture freak lawyer/enabler!), from this morning's Wall Street Journal opinion page, but it is truly putrid -- and immensely unaware -- of even Yoo's own prior pronouncements [he finds fault with Mr. Obama having cited Thomas Aquinas as an influence -- I kid you not!]:
. . . .Some information about these strikes comes from the disclosure of national secrets that appear designed to help the president's re-election. Recent leaks have blown the cover of the Pakistani doctor who sought to confirm bin Laden's presence in Abbottabad; revealed a British asset who penetrated al Qaeda and stopped another bombing of a U.S.-bound airliner; and assigned credit to the administration for the Stuxnet computer virus that damaged Iran's nuclear program (even identifying the government lab that designed it). [Ed. Note: Each of these statements is demonstrably false, by the way.]

. . . .American intelligence will have a steep hill to climb when it asks for the future cooperation of agent-assets and foreign governments. Notably silent are the Democrats and media figures who demanded the scalp of a Bush White House aide, Scooter Libby, for leaks by another government official of the cover of a CIA operative who had left the field years earlier. . . .

Really?! So Mr. Yoo feels it appropriate to out older CIA assets? Moreover, this off-hand nonsense (even if accepted as accurate -- which it is not) serves to undercut his thesis -- such as it is. If he is truly worried about protecting assets, does he not see drones as preferable to live bodies, on the ground, doing the killing? What is it he thinks those covert assets do, exactly? I mean afterall, Mr. Yoo -- you've told us repeatedly (2003 to 2008) that when we are at war with an unconventional enemy (one that doesn't fight under a flag, or a uniform -- and hides among civilians), we will lose many more good people (many of them assets!) than when we fight uniformed armies. Sheesh. It takes "a few broken eggs to make an omelet," remember that bit of high-handed sophistry, Mr. Yoo (you, Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney all parrotted that line, repeatedly -- 2004 to 2007)?

On the other hand, I suppose I shouldn't care, as his views are generally considered irrelevant, except inside the unblinking, unthinking far right echo chambers of tanks like the Claremont Institute -- but it is entertaining, nonetheless. What a transparently partisan hack-job he is.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Secret Service Agents Have Qualified Immunity: SCOTUS, In Howards

Here is a pdf of the full opinion (just handed down), but I will quote from Ginsberg's concurring opinion -- as it will be useful in any future such cases:

. . .Thus, the “causal connection [a plaintiff must establish in a retaliatory-prosecution case] is not merely between the retaliatory animus of one person and that person’sown injurious action, but between the retaliatory animusof one person and the action of another.” Hartman, 547 U. S., at 262. This “distinct problem of causation” justified the absence-of-probable-cause requirement we recognized in Hartman. Id., at 263 (Proof of an absence of probable cause to prosecute is needed “to bridge the gap between the non prosecuting government agent’s motive and the prosecutor’s action.”). See also id., at 259 (“[T]he need toprove a chain of causation from animus to injury, with details specific to retaliatory-prosecution cases, . . . provides the strongest justification for the no-probable-cause requirement.” (emphasis added)).

A similar causation problem will not arise in the typical retaliatory-arrest case. Unlike prosecutors, arresting officers are not wholly immune from suit. As a result, a plaintiff can sue the arresting officer directly and need only show that the officer (not some other official) acted with a retaliatory motive. Because, in the usual retaliatory-arrest case, there is no gap to bridge between one government official’s animus and a second government official’s action, Hartman’s no-probable-cause requirement is inapplicable.

Nevertheless, I concur in the Court’s judgment. Officers assigned to protect public officials must make singularly swift, on the spot, decisions whether the safety of the person they are guarding is in jeopardy. . . .

Disappointing -- but not unexpected -- after hearing the tenacity of the questioning, in favor of the agents, by the majority of the SCOTUS, and hinting that there was -- at the time of the incident (2006) no "clearly established right" of which the Secret Service agents should have been aware. . . all of which was seen as likely to doom Mr. Howards' claim.

This may be the last entry -- the likely end of this particular blog.