April 16, 2009 archive

Obama & Holder Trash Nuremberg Principles (updated)

A dark, dark day for America.

“They were only following orders.” This is the opinion of Eric Holder, as offered in his statement today, describing the decision to release four Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel memos. (The memos have just been posted, and link is here.)

And so the United States government, 64 years after the end of World War II, adopts the infamous slogan of “Befehl ist Befehl” (literally “orders are orders”), otherwise known as the Nuremberg Defense.

Furthermore, Holder pledges the U.S. government will defend any CIA torturers before any tribunal, domestic or international, pay any fines,  and make every effort to assert “any available immunities and other defenses”.

“It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department,” Holder said.

Four at Four

  1. All aboard! The NY Times reports President Obama Unveils High-Speed Rail Plan! Obama wants to develop “high-speed passenger rail lines in at least 10 regions, expressing confidence in the future of train travel even as he acknowledged that the American rail network, compared to the rest of the world’s, remains a caboose.” And cabooses haven’t regularly been used on U.S. railroads for more than 20 years.

    “Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination,” Mr. Obama said. “It is happening right now, it’s been happening for decades. The problem is, it’s been happening elsewhere, not here.”

    Obama explained the U.S. highways are clogged and airports are congested and the American economy is suffering as a result.

    “What we need, then, is a smart transportation system equal to the needs of the 21st century,” he said, “a system that reduces travel times and increases mobility, a system that reduces congestion and boosts productivity, a system that reduces destructive emissions and creates jobs… There’s no reason why we can’t do this.”

    The Obama administration’s highspeed rail plan (pdf) is available from the Department of Transporation.

Four at Four continues with War Secretary Gates warning Israel, piracy, and a suicide bombing in Iraq.

Iraq Moratorium #20: We Won’t Forget Or Turn Aside!

The US media may not be reporting it and the politicians may not want to talk about it, but the situation in Iraq is deteriorating. On Friday, 5 US soldiers were killed in a truck bomb attack near Mosul, and another died Saturday when an IED hit his convoy north of Baghdad.

Nor can we forget that life for ordinary Iraqis is still full of danger–last week six simultaneous car bombs across Baghdad killed 32 and wounded 120–and full of misery–on a good day Iraqis are lucky to get four hours of electricity. No wonder tens of thousands filled the rain-drenched streets of Baghdad a week ago, chanting “No, No To America! No, No To Occupation!”

That war in Afghanistan, where 21,000 additional troops are being shipped into harm’s way? It’s actually a war in Afghanistan AND Pakistan. Two articles that you did not see in your local newspaper last week provide a much clearer picture. It is not a pretty one.

The News, an Pakistani paper published in English, laid out what those miraculous pilotless drones used by the US military actually do:

Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qa’eda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians.

One result of American death raining out of a clear sky is a massive refugee crisis. A new UN report says that 600,000 Pakistanis have from fled their homes in border areas rendered deadly by the drones and US-backed Pakistan Army operations. These internal refugees join 1.7 million homeless Afghan men, women and children who have fled into Pakistan!

How much more misery will the expansion of this war cause? How many more mujahidin fighters will it produce? It’s got to stop! We’ve got to stop it!

This Friday and this weekend mark the 20th observance of the Iraq Moratorium. Please take some action by yourself or with others to stop this war!

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Newsflash 2! Liveblogging the memos.

The tv box just said that the released memos state that waterboarding is NOT torture.

Holder says it is.

Where does THAT put us!

Busy day, lol.

Rolling updates to follow.

Update: Placing insects into detainees confinement boxes was allowed.

Anything further I will post as comments.


Update: The ACLU now has Bush Administration’s Secret Legal Memos posted. — Magnifico

Newsflash: Obama, Holder Made Deal With The CIA?

No charges against CIA officials for waterboarding

WASHINGTON —  The Obama administration on Thursday informed CIA officials who used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects that they will not be prosecuted, senior administration officials told The Associated Press.

Even before President Barack Obama took office in January, aides signaled his administration was not likely to bring criminal charges against CIA employees for their roles in the secret, coercive terrorist interrogation program. It had been deemed legal at the time through opinions issued by the Justice Department under the Bush administration.

But the statement being issued Thursday by Attorney General Eric Holder, the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, is the first definitive assurance that those CIA officials are in the clear, as long as their actions were in line with the legal advice at the time.

The immediate implication is that this was a deal struck with the CIA in return for Obama’s decision to release the memos today.

Does this…

as long as their actions were in line with the legal advice at the time.

…mean that those who MADE torture “legal” and those who authorized the “legalizing” of illegal torture programs WILL be prosecuted?

If torture is illegal, and yet occurred, but the people who carried out that torture are immune, who performed the illegal actions that led to torture?

To put it another way…torture is illegal, so somebody performed illegal actions: torture. If it was not the legal fault of those who were “just following orders,” is it not the legal fault of those GAVE those illegal orders?

The crux: Will Holder go after Bush and Cheney for authorizing the illegal actions of the CIA? That, to me, is the logical implication.

Or does this mean that everyone is off the hook for these patently illegal acts?

Excerpts from Holder’s speech at the West Point Military Academy’s Center for the Rule of Law last night, which just makes this all more logically inconsistent… below the fold.

Obama Sits Down: CIA employees won’t be tried for waterboarding

Torturers go free:

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration on Thursday informed CIA officials who used waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics on terror suspects that they will not be prosecuted.


But the statement issued Thursday by Attorney General Eric Holder, the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, is the first definitive assurance that those CIA officials are in the clear, as long as their actions were in line with the legal advice at the time.


This is morally wrong.  They had a duty to disobey an illegal order.  It was not legal merely because the Bush admin said so.

Paul Krugman with Kitteh and BLAH-conomy

I opened my regular email from PDA this morning to find a very cogent statement, a kitteh (being cuddled by Paul Krugman) and a wonderful YouTube video song.

         We told you so.

Dear Sydney,

Many Americans have been disappointed that President Obama’s cabinet is filled up with corporate-oriented establishment types–while smart, progressive experts have been ignored for these powerful positions.

Check out this video by one disgruntled citizen singing his disappointment:

on this great you tube video

“blah blah blah” right here

Obama Stands Up! ‘Secret Prosecution Plan’ Now At Least Plausible


After a tense internal debate, the Obama administration this afternoon will make public a number of detailed memos describing the harsh interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency against al Qaeda suspects in secret overseas prisons.

The interrogation methods were among the Bush administration’s most closely guarded secrets, and today’s release will be the most comprehensive public accounting to date of the interrogation program that some senior Obama administration officials have said used illegal torture.


But the most immediate concern of C.I.A. officials is that the revelations could give new momentum to a full-blown congressional investigation into covert activities under the Bush Administration.

Other Obama administration officials, including Gregory B. Craig, the White House counsel, and Attorney General Eric H. Holder, argued that releasing the documents not only would satisfy the government’s obligation in the lawsuit, but would also put distance between President Obama and some of his predecessor’s most controversial policies.

Obama and Holder have passed a crucial test. They stood up to the CIA and the Republicans who were trying to get them to block the release of the memos. They have asserted control over the CIA instead of bowing to them.

There is still the possibility of heavy redaction, but after the controversy around this, they would look incredibly foolish to if they release three memos full of nothing but black lines. Andrea Mitchell on TV just said that it WILL be a ‘modified release.’

So YAY! Obama!

Rahm: Obama Insists On Two State Solution in First Term

If correct, this is important and good.

MJ Rosenberg, Director of Policy Analysis, Israel Policy Forum, is reporting that the Obama adminsitration will take a tough line on peace in the mideast.

Yedioth Achronoth, the largest circulation daily in Israel, reports today that President Obama intends to see the two-state solution signed, sealed and delivered during his first term.

Rahm Emanuel told an (unnamed) Jewish leader; “In the next four years there is going to be a permanent status arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians on the basis of two states for two peoples, and it doesn’t matter to us at all who is prime minister.”


He also said that the United States will exert pressure to see that deal is put into place. “Any treatment of the Iranian nuclear problem will be contingent upon progress in the negotiations and an Israeli withdrawal from West Bank territory,” the paper reports Emanuel as saying.  In other words, US sympathy for Israel’s position vis a vis Iran depends on Israel’s willingness to live up to its commitment to get out of the West Bank and permit the establishment of a Palestinian state there, in Gaza, and East Jerusalem.


I have criticized the Obama adminstration on a few things, but this is a big, big change and is essential for pulling back Ameircan Empire.

We need a secure and peaceful Israel and Palestine.  I expect a lot of Democratic Party blowback on this, as AIPAC and others start atacking.

On this one, President Obama is right.

The Teabaggin’ Parties Are Already Working

I love the smell of People Power in the morning!  The overwhelmin’ tide of grassroots anger came to a climax yesterday with the Teabaggin’ protests all over this great country of ours.  Millions and millions of patriots were out there makin’ their voices heard and scarin’ the socialists silly with their message of “Stop Governing!” and by the way “Stop the Gays From Gettin’ Married!”  And don’t think this is just talk — we’re forcin’ action to be taken at the very highest levels of the liberal governing elite.

For example, you may remember the total sham from a few weeks ago when Docudharma took away my trusted user status under the laughable excuse of performin’ “software enhancements.”  Well, I am happy to report that the Teabaggin’ protests have so frightened our liberal Docudharma overlords that they have restored my trusted user status!  We DO have the power to stand up to oppression!

And there is an even bigger victory as a result of the Teabaggin’ protests.  Ron Paul is takin’ advantage of this populist anger and wants to heavily arm it.  Paul’s idea is to hire ordinary citizens and send ’em into international waters to fight pirates:

In Honor of Poetry Month

Another one from the archives….

The Wisdom of the Afflicted

How do I not be

A veteran?

My identity defined by my life’s shame?

Unremittingly blamed

By myself

For being the sum of my experience

Ignorant of events

Until survival made knowledge irrelevant

I feel like a brittle leaf

Pinned on a twig by the wind

Rustling helplessly to be freed

Before I crumble in the breeze

It is a tender spot

Healed and cushioned by time

‘Til it becomes a mere plot

In some dope-induced war story

But it smarts at the touch

Of rough-skinned rhetoric

And it aches a warning

Of impending storms

I am a prophet by pain

I have the wisdom of the afflicted

Docudharma Times Thursday April 16

The Tea Party

Of Disappointment  


Thursday’s Headlines:

Maersk Alabama crew has a joyous homecoming

In the Indian election, 700m voters, 28 days, 250,000 police: world’s biggest democratic poll begins

The casualties of Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war

‘Twitter revolution’ Moldovan activist goes into hiding

Fishermen’s blockades bring chaos to land and sea

Iraq air raids hit mostly women and children

Egyptians hope to find Cleopatra’s tomb

Kenya cabinet fresh crisis talks

Mexico, awaiting Obama, hopes for change

Deals Help China Expand Its Sway in Latin America


Published: April 15, 2009

CARACAS, Venezuela – As Washington tries to rebuild its strained relationships in Latin America, China is stepping in vigorously, offering countries across the region large amounts of money while they struggle with sharply slowing economies, a plunge in commodity prices and restricted access to credit.

In recent weeks, China has been negotiating deals to double a development fund in Venezuela to $12 billion, lend Ecuador at least $1 billion to build a hydroelectric plant, provide Argentina with access to more than $10 billion in Chinese currency and lend Brazil’s national oil company $10 billion. The deals largely focus on China locking in natural resources like oil for years to come.

The pain from Hillsborough tragedy remains

A crowd of 30,000 gathers at Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium on the 20th anniversary of the disaster that killed 96 and injured hundreds.

By Chuck Culpepper

April 16, 2009

Reporting from Liverpool, England — Even 7,305 days on, city buses stilled. Trains paused. Subways rested. Taxis pulled over and idled. Ferries shut off and let the river nudge them. Pubs held two-minute silences. Radio stations hushed.

At precisely 3:06 p.m. on Wednesday, a metropolitan area of 800,000 strived to sound like a small town, even inside a stadium renowned as one of the loudest on Earth, where organizers of a memorial for the 20th anniversary of the Hillsborough soccer tragedy expected about 10,000 for tribute.

An astonishing 30,000 filed from long, snaking queues into Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium in a bracing wind that rippled the organist’s sheet music, and they continued to file in at 3:06 when they, too, forged a vast quiet broken only by babies and toddlers and church bells ringing 96 times in the distance.


Bank Test Results May Strain Limits Of Bailout Funding

Much Rides on Size of Capital Needs

 By David Cho

Washington Post Staff Writer

Thursday, April 16, 2009

As the Obama administration works to complete its stress tests for gauging the health of major banks, it could confront another problem: how to pay for shoring up any weaknesses the tests reveal.

No one yet knows the extent of the banks’ needs. But a senior administration official said yesterday this will be clear once tests on the nation’s 19 major banks are done and the results are released early next month.

The administration would be hard-pressed to ask Congress for more rescue funds to plug the holes. Anger on Capitol Hill is high, especially after the furor over bonuses paid to employees at American International Group. The troubled insurer had earlier received more than $170 billion in bailout funds.

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