Tag: petition for a special prosecutor

“One of the most frightening days of my life”

(h/t to parryander for the link to The Center for Victims of Torture from buhdydharma’s post, “What Do You Know About Torture? Updated”).

Back in June of 2007, Dave Johnson, Executive Director of The Center for Victims of Torture began the work that ultimately helped lead to President Obama’s executive order banning torture.  It’s an interesting story for activists everywhere on this issue, and can be found at  MinnPost.com.

As the article states:

Many Americans know the arc of the events leading up to Obama’s order. But few know the behind-the-scenes work it took to build support that would help the new president end a practice which had bitterly divided the nation.

* * *

With presidential elections coming up, the stage was set for Johnson and others at the dinner to thrust the issue into the political dialog. A proposed presidential order could be the vehicle.

“We had a good debate about the whole idea of an executive order,” Johnson said.

Johnson and his group were methodical.  The idea was begun by Marc Grossman “who had been Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs during the first term of former President George W. Bush.”  Clearly this group had contacts, and they used them.  The intial group of 15 people worked  hard and one of Johnson’s first actions was to go to Capitol Hill with Albert Mora, an anti-torture advocate and former general counsel of the US Navy.

Johnson called his Capitol Hill tour with Mora “one of the most frightening days of my life.”

Not Revenge, Senator Leahy — Love

(cross-posted from the orange)

Well Saturday is Valentine’s Day, so maybe this is appropriate — a Valentine to those revolutionaries who gave no quarter to tyranny.

In a comment to his diary, Senator Patrick Leahy described his view of prosecution of those in power who have committed crimes:

Would not rule out prosecution… A failed attempt to prosecute for this conduct is the worst result of all as it could be seen as justifying and exonerating abhorrent actions.  Given the steps Congress and the executive have already taken to shield this conduct from accountability, that is a likely result of an attempt to prosecute.

Of course, I would not rule out prosecution in appropriate cases, particularly for perjury.

Panetta: No Prosecution Of… CIA Interrogators

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will not prosecute CIA officers who participated in harsh interrogations that critics say crossed the line into torture, CIA Director-nominee Leon Panetta said Friday.

Asked by The Associated Press if that was official policy, Panetta said, “That is the case.”

It was the clearest statement yet on what Panetta and other Democratic officials had only strongly suggested: CIA officers who acted on legal orders from the Bush administration would not be held responsible for those policies. On Thursday, he told senators that the Obama administration had no intention of seeking prosecutions for that reason.

Panetta, in an interview with the AP after a second day of confirmation hearings with the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that he arrived at that conclusion even before he began meeting with CIA officials.

“It was my opinion we just can’t operate if people feel even if they are following the legal opinions of the Justice Department” they could be in danger of prosecution, he said.

Panetta demurred on saying whether the Obama administration would take legal action against those who authorized or wrote the legal opinions that, for a time, set an extremely high legal bar for an action to constitute torture.

“I’ll leave that for others,” Panetta said

There’s more…

Why Panetta? Since when does Panetta make the call for DOJ? Where is confirmation from Holder?

BREAKING: Obama OK’s ICC Arrests And War Crimes Prosecution

No, it isn’t what the title sounds like, and it’s dangerous to read things into it that may not be there, but what Obama did do on Thursday, February 05, 2009, according to a report in The Washington Times (yes, yes, I know…) was signal his support of the International Criminal Court indicting and arresting Sudanese President Omar Bashir for war crimes.

And an Obama national security spokesman used some very interesting language in the announcements.

“We support the ICC in its pursuit of those who’ve perpetrated war crimes. We see no reason to support deferral [of the indictment] at this time,” said Ben Chang, a spokesman for Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones.

The Obama administration has signaled awareness of potential blowback if a warrant is issued.


The Obama administration has a more favorable attitude toward the ICC [than the Bush administration did], although it is reviewing whether it should re-sign the treaty and seek Senate ratification.

It is in our country’s interest that the most heinous of criminals, like the perpetrators of the genocide in Darfur, are held accountable,” said Mr. Chang, the National Security Council spokesman.

At the same time, he said, Mr. Obama, as commander in chief, “wants to make sure that [U.S.] troops have maximum protection” against politically motivated indictments.

The president “will consult thoroughly across the whole government, including with the military, and also examine the full track record of the court, before reaching a decision on how to move forward,” Mr. Chang said.

Dangerous to read into it of course… but a rose or a president committing war crimes by any other name is still a rose or a president committing war crimes, no?

*emphasis added…

More than 39,000 people have signed this petition

Formal Petition to Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in War Crimes.

Add your signature to it today, if you haven’t yet.

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It was about 21,000 Wednesday morning.

Will prayers help?

Eric Holder Sworn In As Attorney General Tuesday

You may find VP Joe Biden’s remarks interesting here….

“Welcome back to the Justice Department. As we gather here to day it’s worth remembering the mission statement that guides this great department.”

To enforce the law and defend the interest of the United States according to the law. To ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic. To provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime. To seek just punishment for those guilt of unlawful behavior, and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”

“There’s no mention in that mission statement of politics. There’s no mention in that mission statement of ideology. And that’s how it should be, because there is no place for politics or ideology in this building.”

With the appointment of Eric Holder as Attorney General, we’re going to be returning to a standard that has governed this great department at it’s greatest moments in my view. No politics. No ideology.

Who Is This New Attorney General, Eric Holder?

This is a merging of two prior essays about Eric Holder

Eric Holder, Jr.
Photo: George Washington University

Barack Obama announced on December 1, 2008 his nomination of Eric H. Holder, Jr. to serve as Attorney General, to take over the running of The Department of Justice in Obama’s new administration from Bush appointee Michael Mukasey.

Eric Holder knows what Republican Senators Barrasso, Brownback, Burr, Coburn, Cochran, Cornyn, Crapo, Ensign, Kaybee, Hutchison, Inhofe, Johanns, McConnell, Risch, Shelby, Thune and Wicker, who voted against his confirmation by the Senate Monday, February 02, 2008, also know.

Eric Holder knows that Bush and Cheney deserve fair trials. Fair trials in courts of law, not crucifixion by media and bloggers.

One would hope that Mr. Holder will make a better and more honest Attorney General who will uphold the law than Michael Mukasey was, who like all representatives of Mr. Bush have done, has during his tenure waffled, spun, twisted in the wind, squirmed, sweated, excused, equivocated, and otherwise bullshitted America and the world as George Bush’s acolyte under hot lights and pointed interrogations from Congress over evidence of torture ordered at the highest levels of the Bush administration, the president and vice president, that the least informed people in the world all know is well defined, immoral, and illegal under international law, US law, and international treaties. (see addendum)

A war crime, in simpler terms. A war crime that Vice President Cheney has in recent days confessed publicly that the Bush administration intentionally engaged in.

Mr. Holder is the target of the Docudharma/Democrats.com sponsored Citizens Petition for a Special Prosecutor to Investigate Bush War Crimes. Don’t forget to sign the petition if you haven’t already.

Who is Eric Holder? What are his views and philosophy on the questions of torture, war crimes, secret prisons hidden away from the rule of law, and Bush’s “war on terror”?

What can we expect his reactions to be to the petition for a Special Prosecutor? We have only his own words and background to look to for clues.

Mr. Holder has been a partner with the law firm Covington & Burling LLP since 2001.

Now We Will Find Out…

RawStory this afternoon:

The United States Senate has confirmed Eric Holder, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, by a vote of 75-21, making him the first African-American to hold the office.

His Republican opponents in the Senate said they felt Holder is hostile to the rights of gun owners and questioned his support of President Bush’s terror war.

Reportedly, among the no votes were Senators Barrasso, Brownback, Burr, Coburn, Cochran, Cornyn, Crapo, Ensign, Kaybee, Hutchison, Inhofe, Johanns, McConnell, Risch, Shelby, Thune and Wicker.

During the confirmation hearing, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) scolded Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) after several Republicans demanded Holder pledge he would not prosecute US interrogators who followed the Bush administration’s orders to torture prisoners.

“No one should be seeking to trade a vote for such a pledge,” said the Vermont Democrat.

“When Cornyn rose to announce his vote against Holder, he did not make such a demand,” reports the AP. “However, he accused the nominee of changing his once-supportive position – on the need to detain terrorism suspects without all the rights of the Geneva Convention – to one of harshly criticizing Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies.”

During the hearing, Holder stated directly, “Waterboarding is torture.”

Now that he has been confirmed, it is within his authority to reverse President Bush’s order granting his former advisers blanket immunity against testimony before Congress. Three of President Bush’s close advisers — Karl Rove, Harriet Miers and Josh Bolton — are facing congressional contempt citations.

“The confirmation of Eric Holder as our new Attorney General is a momentous day for the rule of law,” said Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI). “During his confirmation hearings, Eric Holder clearly and unequivocally stated that no one, including the president, is above the law. Those were welcome words after eight years of Bush Administration policies that undermined our Constitution and damaged the integrity of the Department of Justice.”

Will prayers help?

Our Noble Professions

(crossposted from DKos)

I’ve been working on the project Petition for a Special Prosecutor which for me has entailed writing a lot about justice, the intersection of justice and politics and justice and the practice of law.

Of course, due to the excellent work of blogger Valtin, the profession of psychology has also come under scrutiny, as the American Psychological Association did not protest when some of their members validated torture by participating in it at Gitmo and elsewhere.

The profession of law has been soiled by the work of folks like John Yoo, yet he has not been disbarred and I haven’t heard any official protest by the American Bar Association when it comes to lawyers writing legal papers justifying torture.

Ethics.  It is to laugh.

Our noble professions.  Doctor.  Lawyer.  Journalist.  All professions with ethical codes of conduct and a certain level of social privilege conferred upon their practitioners.

Oh, and let’s not forget accountants, shall we?  They have principles to adhere to as well.  I think they didn’t do a good job when it came to oh, say, Enron.  Just to name one example.

Here’s something about the code of conduct for lawyers in New York State (all emphasis mine):

The Code of Professional Responsibility consists of three separate but interrelated parts: Canons, Ethical Considerations, and Disciplinary Rules. The Code is designed to be both an inspirational guide to the members of the profession and a basis for disciplinary action when the conduct of a lawyer falls below the required minimum standards stated in the Disciplinary Rules.

Forget About Prosecuting Bush War Crimes?

Why don’t we just forget about prosecution of Bush, Cheney, et al, let them ride off into the fading sunset off the hook having tortured and killed their way to a nice comfortable retirement as long as they just go away, and instead just change things so there is no more torture and war crimes being committed by the President in future?

That is fundamentally the “move forward” argument. Is it a legitimate argument, or is it an excusing of war crimes? It’s not a legal question, it’s a political one.

On Tuesday we saw the first of a multipart video discussion between Progressive Democrats of America board member David Swanson and Yellow Dog Democrat and Chair of The National Congress of Black Women Dr. Fay Williams, talking with Paul Jay of The Real News on the question of whether or not to prosecute Bush and Cheney, and heard Dr. Williams state that if we want prosecution to happen people are going to have to make Obama and Holder do it. People have to move the window of political possibility far enough to make them do it, in other words.

The question has moved far beyond our Petition For A Special Prosecutor since we began it though more signatures can only help it to become reality, is now in the media to a degree that impeachment never came close to, and is becoming a national if not worldwide debate, and Republicans are obviously terrified that it might happen, as we saw highlighted so clearly Wednesday with the Kit Bond Republican comedy of lies and fiasco.

In this second part of the discussion between Swanson, Williams and Paul Jay their conversation continues as they address and debate directly whether the “move forward” argument is legitimate, and about many of the ramifications and complexities involved in the question, with Swanson arguing the pros and Williams arguing some of the cons.

Real News: January 28, 2009 – 12 min 55 sec

Should Obama prosecute Bush and Cheney?


Knocking Down Bush’s Legal Advice Torture Defense

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.

War Crimes Prosecution In The Media Now In A Way Impeachment Never Was

Progressive Democrats of America board member David Swanson and Yellow Dog Democrat and Chair of The National Congress of Black Women Dr. Fay Williams, who worked for two years to help get Obama elected, talk to Real News CEO Paul Jay about prosecuting George Bush and Dick Cheney for war crimes, and about how Obama is pretty much backed into a corner now and will have a very difficult time avoiding doing so.

Real News: January 27, 2009 – 10 min 51 sec

Should Obama prosecute Bush and Cheney


Swanson: Reversing the policies does not provide a deterrent

Dr. Fay Williams: “People have to make him do it“.

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