April 17, 2009 archive

Torture: The Need To Prosecute

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

Yesterday, while I was driving to court, I heard on NPR that the “torture memos” had been redacted and released, and to my amazement, that Barack Obama had announced that the actual torturers would not be prosecuted.  I thought I misunderstood the radio.

This morning I have confirmed that I didn’t misunderstand anything.  The New York Times reports:

The Justice Department on Thursday made public detailed memos describing brutal interrogation techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency, as President Obama sought to reassure the agency that the C.I.A. operatives involved would not be prosecuted.

In dozens of pages of dispassionate legal prose, the methods approved by the Bush administration for extracting information from senior operatives of Al Qaeda are spelled out in careful detail – like keeping detainees awake for up to 11 straight days, placing them in a dark, cramped box or putting insects into the box to exploit their fears.

I hereby make a commitment

that, on the Third Friday and/or Third Weekend of every month, I will break my daily routine and take some action, by myself or with others, to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That’s the pledge that is at the heart of the Iraq Moratorium, whose 20th iteration is observed today (and tomorrow and Sunday). This no-budget, locally-based, grassroots-up initiative has had over 2000 listed organized events and tens of thousands of individual participants since it began on September 15, 2007.

Please do something today or over the weekend–call your congresscritter, wear a button or armband, put a sign in your window, join a vigil, pray.

We’d love you to check out the Iraq Moratorium website, newly revamped, and report what you did.

But do something!

After the Garden Is Gone


Obama’s Empty Call for Reflection, Insult to Justice

“This is a time for reflection, not retribution.”

This statement misleadingly substitutes the concept of retribution for accountability.  This statement, coming after seven years of brutal and illegal retribution for a heinous act, hypocritically calls for our crimes to be met with reflection only.  This statement implies that appropriate responses to war crimes are variable, dependent on time.  This statement calls for reflection, an impossibility in the face of unrelenting insistence that we not look back.   Finally, and most significantly, this phrase arrogantly implies the ability to choose when and if government officials are subject to the law of the land.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

An Opened Mind XVIII

Art Link

Garnet with Inlay


The Giant Leap of Mankind

promised but not delivered

when Man stepped on the Moon

cannot be consummated

’til socially conscious thoughts

ideas of peace and good will

of justice and honesty

of fair play and courtesy

have more value than gemstones

and other shiny baubles

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 14, 2006

Another Nobel-winning economist says it: we’re screwed

Joseph Stiglitz joins fellow Nobel-winner Paul Krugman in calling out the Obama administration. Both agree that the Obama plan will not work; Stiglitz is to be admired for stating in plain and unadorned language exactly why it won’t work.


April 17 (Bloomberg) — The Obama administration’s bank- rescue efforts will probably fail

because the programs have been designed to help Wall Street rather than create a viable financial system, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said.

“All the ingredients they have so far are weak, and there are several missing ingredients,” Stiglitz said in an interview yesterday. The people who designed the plans are “either in the pocket of the banks or they’re incompetent.”

The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 General Growth files largest U.S. real estate bankruptcy

By Ilaina Jonas and Emily Chasan, Reuters

Thu Apr 16, 7:23 pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – General Growth Properties Inc, the second-largest U.S. mall owner, declared bankruptcy on Thursday in the biggest real estate failure in U.S. history.

Ending months of speculation, General Growth, along with 158 of its 200-plus U.S. malls, filed Chapter 11 while it tries to refinance its debts.

But the ongoing global financial crisis made it impossible for General Growth to restructure outside of bankruptcy and could signal further troubles for other financial institutions who are General Growth creditors.

Mr. Bucksbaum’s wife’s company.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

What digby said

They are all war criminals, from the nice looking Mormon sadists who call themselves doctors, to the twisted bureaucrats in the Justice Department who call themselves lawyers, to the top leadership of the Bush administration who sat there and watched choreographed torture sessions in the White House and have the utter gall to call themselves human. They all knew that what they were doing was repulsive and immoral. That’s why went to such lengths to ensure that all of it was approved with all the is dotted and all the ts crossed all the way to the very top and back down again. They all implicated each other.

Apparently, they assumed that nobody would ever prosecute even one of these very important, upstanding members of their professions for horrific crimes such as these because if onw went down they would all go down. And apparently they were right.

And no reflection or retribution is not the answer. Prosecution is the answer. If these aren’t criminal acts, nothing is. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

Glenn Greenwald

The more one reads of this, the harder it is to credit Obama’s statement today that “this is a time for reflection, not retribution.”  At least when it comes to the orders of our highest government leaders and the DOJ lawyers who authorized them, these are pure war crimes, justified in the most disgustingly clinical language and with clear intent of wrongdoing.  FDL has a petition urging Eric Holder to immediately appoint a Special Prosecutor to determine if criminal proceedings should commence.  

Obama did the right thing by releasing these memos, providing all the information and impetus the citizenry should need to demand investigations and prosecutions.  But it is up to citizens to demand that the rule of law be applied.

Needless to say, I vehemently disagree with anyone — including Obama — who believes that prosecutions are unwarranted.  These memos describe grotesque war crimes — legalized by classic banality-of-evil criminals and ordered by pure criminals — that must be prosecuted if the rule of law is to have any meaning.  But the decision of whether to prosecute is not Obama’s to make; ultimately, it is Holder’s and/or a Special Prosectuor’s.  More importantly, Obama can only do so much by himself.  The Obama administration should, on its own, initiate criminal proceedings, but the citizenry also has responsibilities here.  These acts were carried out by our Government, and if we are really as repulsed by them as we claim, then the burden is on us to demand that something be done.  

Keith Olbermann

Mr. President, when you say we must “come together on behalf of our common future” you are entirely correct. We must focus on getting things right in the future, as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past.

That means prosecuting all those involved in the Bush administration’s torture of prisoners, even if the results are nominal punishments, or merely new laws. Your only other option is to let this set and fester indefinitely. Because, Sir, some day there will be another Republican president, or even a Democrat just as blind as Mr. Bush to ethics and this country’s moral force. And he will look back to what you did about Mr. Bush. Or what you did not do.

This must not be. “It is our intention,” you said today, “to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.” Mr. President, you are making history’s easiest, most often made, most dangerous mistake – you are accepting the defense that somebody was “just following orders.” At the end of his first year in office, Mr. Lincoln tried to contextualize the Civil War for those who still wanted to compromise with evils of secession and slavery. “The struggle of today,” Lincoln wrote, “is not altogether for today. It is for a vast future also.”

Mr. President, you have now been handed the beginning of that future. Use it to protect our children and our distant descendants from anything like this ever happening again – by showing them that those who did this, were neither unfairly scapegoated nor absolved. It is good to say “we won’t do it again.” It is not, however…enough.

A Lead Role in a Cage

Sam Stein weighs in on Obama’s pre-approved, bipartisan-tested, generic excuse for not enforcing the law against BushCo criminals . . .

Asked for the first time to respond to the likelihood that Spanish prosecutors will target officials in the Bush administration for sanctioning torture at Guantanamo Bay, Barack Obama stressed, once again, that he prefers to look forward, not backward.  “I’m a strong believer that it’s important to look forward and not backwards, and to remind ourselves that we do have very real security threats out there,” said Obama.

I think it’s important to remind ourselves, Mr. President, that war criminals are still running around loose all over Washington D.C.  Their smug faces can still be seen on national television, they’re writing op-eds in the fucking Wall Street Journal, they’re getting million dollar book deals and are still wined and dined at Georgetown cocktail parties, while the victims of their war crimes can’t look forward to anything ever again because they’re dead, or are still in Gitmo, or have been shattered physically and psychologically by American torturers acting upon the orders of an American president and vice president, who paid American lawyers to tell them it was legal to violate the law, the Constitution, and the Geneva Conventions.

“Legal cover”, bought and paid for . . .

John Yoo Pictures, Images and Photos

with 30 pieces of silver.

You want to focus on the very real threats “out there”, Mr. President?   I’m just a nobody who worked his ass off to help get you elected, but I think you need to focus on the very real threats to the Constitution and American democracy that are staring us all in the face right here in the United States.  Those very real threats are not “out there” in Afghanistan or Pakistan, they’re right here in America, entrenched in the CIA, the NSA and the Pentagon, they’re in those Wall Street banks you keep bailing out, they’re in the leadership and rank and file of that mindless cult of subversion, racism, and corporate fraud that used to be the Republican Party.

America has Fallen

Below is the letter I have sent to every newspaper, every cable show host, every politician, that I can…

Good News

Now that it has been established that Freedom Tower is just too much of an embarrassment.


Maybe they (Scumbag Silverstein) won’t redevelop ground zero at all.  I can only hope.


Scroll down and see Germany bans farming of Frankencorn!  I love it!

Barack Obama

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