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.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What If Dick Cheney Received Trayvon Martin's Heart?


Following up on my thoughts immediately below -- I wonder whether Mr. Cheney would feel/experience anything, differently, at some visceral level -- a level he couldn't really put into words -- if it were to turn out that his new heart came from an entirely innocent, unarmed and harmless teenager, one who happened to be black in the wrong neighborhood. [Would he be kinder. . . gentler, to the African American nurses doubtlessly tending to him -- compassionately, and selflessly -- right now?]

In short, what if Mr. Cheney's new heart. . . came from young Trayvon Martin's body?

What a novel that would make. Truly, though, recipients not all that infrequently report craving the some of the same foods, and even thinking similar thoughts, to those their donors were reported to have/hold. What a world that would be, now?

Mr. Cheney's "Change" Of Heart -- Insert Your Own Joke Here


Actually. . . please don't.

First -- I won't joke about this one (and here is how I have genuinely, and consistently, felt about it, in the past). I do wish him continued health. I do want him to see the longer shadows of his legacy -- and read, within that Roman light -- how history (with more temperance) will ultimately mark him down. I don't expect it will be gentle -- but I do expect he should have to know it, before he goes.

And even so, I cannot help but wonder whether -- as many such transplant patients self-report -- Mr. Cheney will now begin to feel the echo of his donor's emotions (and the sort of emotions many transplant patients report feeling), simply for having the DNA and thus the stored chemical memories of another's emotional experiences, coursing through his blood-stream, and reaching his brain-stem, synapses, and cerebral cortex, some 87,000 times a day, every day, for the rest of his existence here.

Will those chemicals change his perspective at all? That is an interesting, if somewhat unscientific question. We will look for evidence of it, and we hope anyone granted the right to interview him would plumb him for reactions along these lines -- it would be a fascinating human interest story.

In any event, unfortunately, from the New York Times article, this morning -- even with this very intensive intervention, the longer-term survival statistics, for people over 55 (Mr. Cheney will be 72 this year) undergoing a heart transplant, are not particularly encouraging:




. . .A 2008 study in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery found that outcomes were significantly worse for older patients. For patients over 55, the study found, 63 percent were still alive five years after their transplant, 48 percent survived a decade and 35 percent were living 15 years later. . . .

[And, as to his legacy -- in what reads as the Times' foretelling of how it will deliver his eventual obituary:]

. . .In a government career with few parallels, Mr. Cheney, who was vice president for all eight years of Mr. Bush’s presidency, has been chief of staff to President Gerald R. Ford, represented Wyoming in Congress and served as defense secretary under the first President George Bush. He is widely considered to have been among the most powerful vice presidents in American history. . . advocating an aggressive assertion of presidential power.

He was a lightning rod for critics of the Bush administration, and his influence as vice president during Mr. Bush’s second term was considerably diminished. . . .

We will genuinely wish for his full recovery -- but we have been down this very same path with older patients, and know that his odds are lower than 50-50, for a full recovery.

He may well live long enough, however, to read -- from a hospital bed, somewhere in Virginia -- that his long-time hunting buddy, Justice Scalia, has penned an opinion freeing him from the possibilty of a deposition in the 2006 Beaver Creek, Colorado retaliatory arrest for protected free expression case, captioned as Howards. My bet is that the Supreme Court's opinion on that matter will be handed down before the end of June 2012. I wonder whether he'll feel any empathy for Mr. Howards, with his new heart (from an ordinary donor -- a part of the 99% -- like Mr. Howards), when that day comes. We shall see.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Thre Best Of David Lane -- Mr. Howards' Layer -- Sparring With Chief Justice Roberts


The dialogue runs thus, toward the end of the argument, before the Supreme Court -- perhaps Mr. Lane's strongest exchange "the governement here presents us a solution, in search of a problem. . .":

. . .Mr. Lane: -- Well, what I say about that is that -- and again, I know this is not an answer that you are probably going to like, because this means a trial is involved, but this is what juries do on a daily basis throughout this country, in every criminal case.

What is the subjective intent of the defendant?

In every civil case, is this an intentional act, a knowing act, a reckless act, a negligent act?

That's what juries do.

And if there is enough evidence to get this case to trial -- and I -- I would posit it that in this case, where you have agent after agent after agent who saw the encounter up close and personal with the Vice President and Mr. Howards, none of whom saw any evidence of any criminal activity by Mr. Howards, all of whom let Mr. Howards walk away from the scene, that's good evidence that--

Chief Justice John G. Roberts: One reason that I in fact don't like the answer is be -- because what the agent is now going to have to factor, in addition to the hostility of the -- the views, the touching of the Vice President, the lying about it, the wandering around with the bag -- is in the back of his mind -- you know, if I'm wrong, I may be held personally liable in damages for taking some action that some jury somewhere is going to say is based on retaliation rather than my obligation to protect the Vice President.

Mr. Lane: Well, I mean, theoretically yes, that -- that could be a problem.

And -- and I am quite certain that certain civil litigants, just as in criminal cases, people are wrongly accused of things that they didn't do, they end up in a trial, and sometimes juries get the wrong results and an injustice occurs.

We can't fix all those problems when it's not really a significant problem.

There are no run on the courtrooms
around the land of these kinds of cases arising.

We don't need to have any rules that specifically pertain to the Secret Service when to my knowledge, this Court has had one Secret Service case in its entire history, and there are 15 appellate-reported Federal decisions regarding retaliatory arrests, period. . .

Now we wait for an opinion. Sadly, I think it 6 to 2 [Justice Kagan recused -- prior involvement in the case, as a government lawyer] that there is no cognizable claim here, under the first amendment, even with Mr. Lane's skillful advocacy.

Listen To Howards' Supreme Court Oral Argument, Now -- as an .mp3 Stream


Here is the argument transcript page, and the downloadable mp3 audio-stream, itself, from Chicago-Kent College of Law. This is nearly a month earlier than the Court's usual website releases, itself. [Cite this stream as: The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 23 March 2012.]

Sadly for Mr. Howards, my personal take is that there aren't five votes to send the case to trial on the merits. Which means there likely aren't five votes to depose Mr. Cheney about his orders, and whether he felt threatened by Mr. Howards that day in 2006 in Pitkin County, Colorado.

There are probably five votes saying we should not force Secret Service agents to make instant decisions as to whether Mr. Cheney's orders were intended to protect the office, or punish a speaker for his point of view. I am not sure that five votes feel that probable cause allowed everything that followed -- as the government's lawyers urged.