Jan 31 2009
600 US born children have filed a lawsuit against Obama to stop the deportation of their undocumented immigrant parents, who mostly immigrated from Latin American countries. The children do not oppose President Obama, but rather are hopeful that he will exercise his authority to either adopt an Executive Order or promote immigration reform in Congress to cease this governmental policy of separating families. A similar lawsuit against Bush did not accomplish diddly-shit. This is another problem that Obama has inherited from Bush’s immigration policies and also from immigration “reform” enacted in 1996. One thing the children really need is public pressure. While children suing Obama should be an attention-getting story, so far the lawsuit has been reported “almost exclusively by Spanish-language media.”
Jan 30 2009
Politico reported yesterday that Obama’s lawyers are prepping to defend John Yoo next week by moving to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Jose Padilla. Padilla seeks a declaration that Yoo’s legal memos that purported to authorize torture were unconstitutional. Obama presumably does not plan to support torture or the torture memos. Instead, Obama may argue that the case should be dismissed in order to protect governmental prerogatives, like immunity for government officials acting within the scope of their employment or state secrets. While any of these defenses may have legal validity, what about protecting the public’s prerogative to the rule of law? And, does the US want to continue shielding our government officials from torture liability while prosecuting foreign officials to hold them individually accountable?
Jan 29 2009
What is our role in an Obama administration? If some diarists criticize or question Obama, some commenters will urge we remain silent and give Obama some breathing space because he is a very intelligent man.
However, that is NOT what President Obama wants from us. Quite the contrary, President Obama has stated repeatedly that he wants bottom-up politics to effect the real changes needed on issues facing our country. Having Obama in the WH is not enough, he needs our help to implement a progressive agenda that will not be greeted with open arms in Congress.
In order to determine how we can implement bottom-up politics, I checked out Obama’s community organizer background to look for some guiding principles. Some kossacks may be surprised to learn that President Obama is relying upon us to organize on issues with groups across the aisle where no core principles are removed from the table so that we can bring pressure on him and DC to take the right actions. In other words, he wants us to object when we disagree and he will listen.
Jan 27 2009
If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted. (Thanks Edger for coding!)
Bush thinks he can beat a torture prosecution because the law provides a defense of acting on legal counsel’s advice. So, Bush can whip out those infamous legal memos, which opined that torture lite is not torture.
However, two little jabs can knock down this defense. One poke should educate the public (and potential jurors) that torture lite is torture under the law. Bush is banking on people limiting torture to gruesome, physical mutilations even though seemingly harmless acts cause similar pain, injuries and death. Jurors believing this false distinction are more likely to find Bush had reasonable grounds to rely on legal advice that supported his view. The second poke ties in the reality that Bush ignored US findings that torture lite methods constitute torture, particularly when several techniques are combined together. This jab also includes the truth that prisoners killed by those innocuous stress positions renders it unreasonable for a President to claim good faith reliance on legal advice of his hired guns.
Jan 24 2009
Bush has instituted a torture regime that is comprised of ostensibly innocent sounding techniques that in reality can be as deadly, harmful and injurious as torture by horrendous physical acts. Some of the techniques have been sourced back to Chinese torture used for the purpose of extracting false confessions from captured US soldiers, and thus are not designed to obtain valid intelligence to protect our security. The coercive psychological torture technique, which is a package of multiple methods, was renounced by the US as torture years ago. However, it was used against prisoner 063, and then again renounced as torture by a senior Pentagon official recently. Another torture technique of sleep deprivation was also renounced by the US as torture in 2001, yet is apparently still used by the US. It’s no longer just left progressives: More and more people around the world and in our government are stating the obvious – Bush and Cheney et al must be prosecuted for war crimes.
Jan 23 2009
Bush thinks he can beat a torture prosecution because he has conned the public and DC into believing that his torture lite is not torture under US and international law. Bush has generally succeeded because he has relied upon the public’s perception of torture as limited to gruesome, excruciating and barbarous physical mutilations. However, torture has also historically included methods that superficially appeared not harmful, painful or injurious, but which can produce the same pain, suffering, death, and permanent injuries as the gruesome methods. This is the heart of Bush’s torture lite system: Inflict the pain, suffering, injuries or death by a method that is called an innocent-sounding euphemism, such as stress positions, and the public will not think that torture is being committed in our names.
Jan 16 2009
How comfortable would you feel knowing that “planned subsidence” mining was being conducted 600-1,000 feet underneath your home? It all starts with a letter notifying you that the mining will commence anytime in the next 5 years. Next come the contractors with bulldozers to knock down your trees and clear your fields. Then you hear the underground mining noises that are not as freightening as the continual earthquake rumblings and the above-ground noises of your house falling apart while the streams explode before they vanish. After a year-long investigation, The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) revealed how homeowners feel violated, anxious and stressed out as their dream home and real property are legally destroyed.
Jan 12 2009
Cheers to the US for convicting Charles Emmanuel for torture he committed in Liberia. It’s a no-brainer that the US prosecuting Emmanuel while not seriously considering prosecuting US officials for torture under any law is hypocritical. However, some progressives cite the Emmanuel case as evidence of US hypocrisy and legal precedent to prosecute Bush. But, in the legal context of torture prosecutions, hypocrisy arises only if the law used to prosecute Emmanuel is applicable to Bush but the US decides against prosecution.
While Emmanuel used different means of torture than the US, torture is torture…unless the law is the one used to prosecute Emmanuel. Emmanuel was prosecuted under a US law that creates a bifurcated torture system that distinguishes between Bush’s permissible “torture lite” and criminal “severe torture.” In fact, Bush created his “torture lite” system based on the law used to prosecute Emmanuel and likely decided to prosecute precisely because it creates legal precedent that Bush can cite to either prevent a prosecution or provide a defense creating reasonable doubt in one juror’s mind to set him free. Thus, progressives spotlighting this Emmanuel case may increase the odds against prosecution of US officials.
Jan 02 2009
Government investigations found that officials responsible for protecting endangered species have violated the law, censored scientists and manipulated data to limit recovery of species facing extinction in order to protect financial interests of industries instead. Many oppose Bush’s rampant violations of our rule of law governing human rights and civil rights but say we should move on. But, the lack of any accountability has caused illegal conduct to be silently accepted and spread like a virus infecting most substantive issues, including the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We face a catastrophic loss of species globally, the inability to provide the beauty of sustained biodiversity for future generations as well as financial repercussions. Taxpayers will pay for the investigations and the “unnecessary expenditure of hundreds of thousands of dollars to re-issue decisions” as well as the expensive costs of litigation filed to compel the government to comply with the rule of law.
Dec 29 2008
Obama promised that he would investigate and prosecute Bush team for “genuine crimes” because no one is above the law, but he would not prosecute “really dumb policies.” Obama plans to have his AG review the available information to determine if investigations are needed. Well, AG nominee Eric Holder knows that many crimes have been committed:
Our government authorized the use of torture, approved of secret electronic surveillance against American citizens, secretly detained American citizens without due process of law, denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of accused enemy combatants and authorized the use of procedures that violate both international law and the United States Constitution…. We owe the American people a reckoning.
Dec 17 2008
You know the saying that if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, did it really make a sound? Well, some governments and companies are banking that the public needs to hear or see uncontacted tribes before we care that they are being killed or relocated in the name of oil and mahogany. Companies are invading indigenous lands of uncontacted tribes causing their deaths, yet officials claim that unseen tribes are nonexistent mythical creations of anti oil and logging developments. The tribes are then forcibly relocated or members killed sufficient to terminate the tribe’s continuity with future generations. Yet, some would like the public to believe that no one was harmed because the tribes are mythical.
Oct 24 2008
Bush has used a Machiavellian strategy to destroy our Endangered Species Act (ESA), leaving President Obama with another mess to clean up. Similar to the wars, global warming, Guantánamo and economic crisis, unscrupulous deception and political expediency were used to pump up corporate profits. This is no surprise. Bush had a track record before assuming office of baseball teams and businesses that he ruined and then passed off to others to fix his messes.
The maddening part is the failure of Congress to hold the culprits even a little bit accountable for their messes. Impeachment is taken off the table and the likelihood of criminal prosecutions is slim. But, what about just good ole financial restitution? The government insiders and corporations that profited should be required to return those monies over to the government to pay for fixing this mess.