February 17, 2009 archive

Looking Backward: Justice at the DOJ (?)

Dan Froomkin usually has some interesting things to say about what’s going on in Washington.  Usually, his perspective his detailed enough to be interesting, but not so overly wonkish as to be aimed at insiders.

Absolute Power?

From RawStory Tuesday morning…

Obama, not Bush, now seeking delay of Rove deposition

John Byrne, Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Former Bush Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove has a new president urging Congress not to force him to testify next week.

President Barack Obama.

In a court brief quietly filed Monday, Michael Hertz, Obama’s acting assistant attorney general, said it was necessary to delay an effort to force Rove to be deposed in a congressional investigation into the firing of nine US Attorneys and the alleged political prosecution of a former Alabama governor.

Hertz said an effort was underway to find a “compromise” for Rove, and requested two weeks to broker a deal before proceeding in court.

“The inauguration of a new president has altered the dynamics of this case and created new opportunities for compromise rather than litigation,” Hertz wrote in the brief released late Monday by McClatchy’s Washington, D.C. bureau. “At the same time, there is now an additional interested party – the former president – whose views should be considered.”

The House Judiciary Committee sued the Bush Administration to force Rove to testify last year, saying that Rove shouldn’t be covered by executive privilege. They won. But their case has been held up by an appeal, and Hertz’s filing was the Obama administration’s first legal weighing-in on the matter. Obama’s Justice Department has supplanted the role of Bush’s Justice Department in the case, and their position will likely inform the terms under which Rove is questioned by Congress.

Hertz’s statement mirrors a statement from Obama White House Counsel Gregory Craig published Saturday.

The president is very sympathetic to those who want to find out what happened,”  Craig told The Washington Post. “But he is also mindful as president of the United States not to do anything that would undermine or weaken the institution of the presidency.

*emphasis added

Four at Four

  1. McClatchy reports the Stimulus is only beginning of Obama’s economic plan. “This week will be a pivotal one for President Barack Obama and the U.S. economy… Obama will hear from automakers Tuesday on how they’ll restructure to get more taxpayer bailout money. Then he’ll sign a $787 billion stimulus bill in Denver and fly to Phoenix, where on Wednesday he’ll unveil how his administration will spend at least $50 billion of Wall Street rescue money to begin halting mortgage foreclosures nationwide.” Also this week, the Treasury Department will provide more details on the $100 billion plan for the bank’s toxic assets.

    ProPublica is assembling a State-by-state breakdown of the economic stimulus plan. As of now, they have found breakdowns for school districts, transportation and infrastructure, and an estimate of jobs that will be created. States with high unemployment states are getting shafted.

    And Politico reports as part of the stimulus, Obama plots huge railroad expansion. The stimulus bill “dedicates $8 billion to high-speed rail, most of which was added in the final closed-door bargaining at the instigation of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.” And, “when Obama outlines his 2010 budget next week, it will ask for $1 billion more for high-speed rail in each of the next five years.”

    According to Emanuel: “The president wanted to have a signature issue in the bill, his commitment for the future.” (Hat tip Jerome a Paris.)

    While the Obama administration and Democrats’ plan to restart the U.S. economy is about to get rolling, the NY Times reports the Dow nears its lowest level in a decade. “Analysts said investors were still nervous about the Treasury Department’s plans to shore up the financial system and help remove billions of dollars in troubled mortgage-related assets from the balance sheets of major banks.”

Four at Four continues with Iraq corruption and stacks of cash, new constitutions in South America, and coal is death.

UK a Police State, ….what does that make us?

From TimesOnline

“Since I have retired I feel more at liberty to be against certain decisions of the Government, especially the attempt to pass laws which interfere with people’s privacy…” “….It would be better that the Government recognised that there are risks, rather than frightening people in order to be able to pass laws which restrict civil liberties, which is precisely one of the objects of terrorism: that we live in fear and under a police state.”

Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of MI5

Dame Stella said that America was even more to blame and had acted as a recruiting sergeant for extremists, through harsh anti-terror measures that have been accused of breaching human rights law.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) found that “many states have fallen into a trap set by terrorists”, by introducing anti-terrorism measures which undermined the very values they sought to protect. Many such measures were imposed on a temporary basis but ended up becoming permanent features of law and practice, it said. It condemned the use of torture, disappearances, and arbitrary and secret detention.

More from the ICJ

“The United States, one of the world’s leading democracies, has adopted measures to counter terrorism that are inconsistent with established principles of international humanitarian law and human rights law,” said the panel in its 199-page report.


The report said the U.S. government applies rules of war to situations without armed conflict and that in cases of real combat it “distorts, selectively applies and ignores otherwise binding rules” of international humanitarian law, which includes the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of warfare.

“The panel has no doubt that there is a real and substantial threat from terrorism in different parts of the world and that governments are under a duty to take effective measures to counter that threat,” the report said. “That does not mean that well-established principles of international law can or should be ignored.”

“It was particularly disturbing to learn in many hearings that governments in other parts of the world are relativizing or justifying their own wrongdoing by comparisons with the U.S.”

Yoo and Bybee are …finally…under fire. More people are speaking out as the fear of Bushco ends. The story of Gitmo guard Brandon Neely. still has the power to shock, even with all we know. And the American People are calling for investigations.

As the tyrants power fades, a great unraveling has begun. Perhaps, just perhaps, the great unraveling will lead to a full disclosure of all of the excesses of the Global War on Terra, and maybe even accountability. The first step in creating a sane world….especially as it would curtail…or perhaps even end, the power of the Right Wing to impose it’s own fantasy world over the grim realities we face. If they are revealed as the criminals that all of the evidence shows them to be….Maybe then we can finally make some Progress in addressing the challenges that face the human race in a non-insane fashion.

Cross yer fingers ….and Yell Louder!

Britain: Police will not be prosecuted for Jean Charles de Menezes killing

Original article, by Paul Bond, via World Socialist Web Site:

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced Friday that no police officer would face trial for the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. The CPS had reviewed the case following the open verdict given in December by an inquest jury, who rejected the police account of events. De Menezes’s family has announced that they will sue Scotland Yard for damages.

A New Voice Was Heard

On November 11, 2005, a new voice was heard by progressive bloggers.  Only four people heard that new voice, only four people were listening.  I don’t know why they were the only people who listened to that new voice, no one will ever know for sure, but perhaps they sensed that despite a spelling mistake or two, it was possible that maybe, just maybe, buhdydharma might have a bright future in blogging and make a difference someday . . .  

On Freedom…………………with beer

by buhdydharma

Fri Nov 11, 2005 at 04:09:24 PM PST

As the Republican war machine begins to disintegrate under the wieght of corruption and lies, (pardon the interuption for a moment, I, we have been waiting a long time for those words to be true. DEEP BREATH) I’m afraid the national paradigm has sunk so far that I feel compelled to ask this question of Kossaks.

What is Freedom?

It was and still is a very good question, it was the first of many other important questions Buhdy has sought answers for since then, through mutually respectful dialogue and debate with other progressives.  It was a very worthwhile question to ask, but unfortunately, Buhdy’s first response to a thread comment didn’t seem to inspire much confidence that he was worth talking to . . .  

I think you’re missing my point.

by TsisaGeya on Sat Nov 12, 2005 at 04:51:41 AM PST

But his next responses confirmed that he was well worth talking to . . .

Oh, Buhdy… You have made yourself a HERO in my eyes, my friend.

by TsisaGeya on Sat Nov 12, 2005 at 11:39:38 AM PST


Docudharma Times Tuesday February 17

Bipartisanship Is A Funny


In The Media’s Eyes  

Tuesday’s Headlines:

‘Made in the U.S.A.’ isn’t dead, just different

A child of Cairo’s streets, with a child of her own

After the surge, the splurge: Iraq spends $5bn rebuilding its forces

Hunt intensifies for Serbian war criminal Ratko Mladic

Will there be another Russian revolution?

Why the conscience of Kenya came home

Darfur rebel group ‘reaches deal’

Shoichi Nakagawa to resign as Japanese Finance Minister over ‘drunken’ peformance at G7

In Japan, foster parents blaze an unpopular trail

Latin America’s Document-Driven Revolutions br>

G.M. Presses Union for Cuts in Health Care


Published: February 16, 2009

DETROIT – With its access to a government lifeline possibly at risk, General Motors executives were locked in intense negotiations Monday with leaders of the United Automobile Workers over ways to cut its vast bills for retiree health care.

G.M. will file what is expected to be the largest restructuring plan of its 100-year history on Tuesday, a step it must take to justify its use of a $13.4 billion loan package from the federal government.

The plan will outline in considerable detail, over as many as 900 pages, how G.M. will further cut its work force, shutter more factories in North America and reduce its lineup of brands to just four, from eight, according to executives knowledgeable about its contents. The remaining core brands will be Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick.

Whitehall devised torture policy for terror detainees

MI5 interrogations in Pakistan agreed by lawyers and government

an Cobain and Richard Norton-Taylor


A policy governing the interrogation of terrorism suspects in Pakistan that led to British citizens and residents being tortured was devised by MI5 lawyers and figures in government, according to evidence heard in court.

A number of British terrorism suspects who have been detained without trial in Pakistan say they were tortured by Pakistani intelligence agents before being questioned by MI5. In some cases their accusations are supported by medical evidence.

The existence of an official interrogation policy emerged during cross-examination in the high court in London of an MI5 officer who had questioned one of the detainees, Binyam Mohamed, the British resident currently held in Guantánamo Bay.



Late Change in Course Hobbled Rollout of Geithner’s Bank Plan

By Neil Irwin and Binyamin Appelbaum

Washington Post Staff Writers

Tuesday, February 17, 2009; Page D01

Just days before Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner was scheduled to lay out his much-anticipated plan to deal with the toxic assets imperiling the financial system, he and his team made a sudden about-face.

According to several sources involved in the deliberations, Geithner had come to the conclusion that the strategies he and his team had spent weeks working on were too expensive, too complex and too risky for taxpayers.

They needed an alternative and found it in a previously considered initiative to pair private investments and public loans to try to buy the risky assets and take them off the books of banks

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


Someday Soon


in the rocking chair

of old age

back bent

from the burden

Maybe today?


not today

not tomorrow

but someday soon

And the old

body creaks

as it stirs

racked by the pains

and scars

of years

of disappointment

The old person


and the chair squeaks

as it deteriorates

worn through

by the salty tears


through the long dark times

the painful years

the debilitating decades

of waiting

Maybe today?


not today

not tomorrow

but someday soon

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–November 7, 2008.

Under Oath, MI5 Officer Reveals Official British Torture Program

The UK Guardian, which has been right on top of the Binyam Mohamed drama unfolding in the British courts, delivered another bombshell article this morning in London. “Whitehall devised torture policy for terror detainees,” the headline reads, “MI5 interrogations in Pakistan agreed by lawyers and government.”

The British High Court resumed their hearing of Binyam’s request for documents to prove his torture, as part of the legal proceedings against him at Guantanamo. Previously, the British judges had ruled that what they called “powerful evidence” suppressed relating to the torture of Mohamed by the U.S. and their proxy torturers in Morocco, where Mohamed had been sent as part of the Bush Administration’s policy of “extraordinary rendition.” The judges then revealed that they had been told by the British Foreign Minister, David Milibrand, that the requested documents could not be released, or U.S.-UK intelligence relations would be affected.

Late Night Karaoke

Big Hair Welcome