Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Are Congressional Democrats Rubber Stamps For The Obama Administration, The Same Way The Craven Repugs Were For Bush's Regime?


Short answer: well see. There is no valid, reasonable excuse-- none whatsoever-- for not holding perps accountable for breaking the laws regarding torture. If Obama wants to pardon them, that's his prerogative but these people must stand trial-- especially the ones who gave the orders and the ones who gave flimsy legalistic cover to the torturers. Rahm Emanuel has certainly shown himself to be one of the sleaziest and most disreputable operators in our political system. Not even a Newt Gingrich or Tom DeLay is worse. For him to go on TV and come down as squarely opposed to prosecuting even the order givers should make any decent person even more sure that those who participated in this kind of behavior must be brought before the bar of Justice.

Saturday we looked at this sordid mess and passed along the editorial suggestion of the NY Times that the first action should be the immediate impeachment of Jay Bybee, the disgraceful Mormon right wing fanatic (and vicious homophobe) Bush appointed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Yesterday I was delighted, though not surprised, to read a statement by Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), chair of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, explaining why Bybee should be impeached.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is the largest in the country and the Senate should have resisted his appointment with more vigor. After the nomination was turned down-- or at least not acted on-- Bush resubmitted it in 2003. All twelve Republican rubber stamps on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor and were joined by 2 Democratic collaborators, Schumer and Kohl. Schumer cited Bybee's "excellence, moderation, diversity" as the reason he gave Bush another frightening far right extremist maniac on the federal bench. (Six Democrats voted against confirming this dangerous extremist.) Less than a week later it went to the full Senate and was approved 74-19. The 19 Democrats who stood up against tyranny on that day were

Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Robert Byrd (D-WV)
Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
Jon Corzine (D-NJ)
Mark Dayton (D-MN)
Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Russ Feingold (D-WI)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Daniel Inouye (D-HI)
Ted Kennedy (D-MA)
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Carl Levin (D-MI)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)
Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Ron Wyden (D-OR)

It shouldn't surprise you that the Democrats who are currently members of Evan Bayh's anti-Obama bloc were delighted to skip across the aisle and vote for this murderous piece of human detritus, joining every single Republican. The Bayh Bloc's hall of shame members from March 13, 2003: Evan Bayh (IN), Tom Carper (DE), Herb Kohl (WI), Mary Landrieu (LA), Blanche Lincoln (AR), both Nelsons (FL & NE), and Mark Pryor (AR).

A couple of other Democrats' names who voted to confirm Bybee that I want to mention-- for those who like keeping names in their memories: Max Baucus (MT), Tom Daschle (SD), Chris Dodd (CT), Pat Leahy (VT), Harry Reid (NV), Jay Rockefeller (WV) and Chuck Schumer (NY).

Before his colleagues voted to confirm this war criminal as a federal judge, Russ Feingold made a speech opposing Bybee's elevation. He found Bybee's unwillingness to answer questions disturbing enough to vote against the nomination.
On more than 20 occasions, Mr. Bybee refused to answer a question, claiming over and over again that as an attorney in the Department of Justice he could not comment on any advice that he gave at any time. This is unfortunately becoming a very familiar refrain of nominees before the Judiciary Committee.

...There is an extensive body of legal work both written by or at least signed off on by this nominee, in this case unpublished Office of Legal Counsel opinions. The administration and the nominee are acting as if they are irrelevant to the confirmation process. A nominee cannot simply claim that he or she will follow Supreme Court precedent and ask us to take that assurance on faith, when there are written records that may help us evaluate that pledge, but the nominee refuses to make those records available.

Only three OLC opinions had been made publicly available since Mr. Bybee's confirmation to head that office. That is extraordinary, given that 1,187 OLC opinions dating back to 1996 are publicly available. This is a dramatic change in the Department's practice, a change that did not occur until this nominee was confirmed to be Assistant Attorney General for the office. While there may be some justification for releasing fewer opinions since 9/11, the wholesale refusal to share with the public and Congress important OLC decisions affecting a wide range of legal matters is, to say the least, troublesome.

But the failure to make OLC opinions available to the Judiciary Committee during the consideration of a nominee for a seat on a circuit court is unacceptable... The administration should be able to agree to an acceptable procedure to allow the Judiciary Committee to review Mr. Bybee's OLC opinions. Given the recent history of many OLC opinions being made public, it is hard to believe that there are no opinions authored by Mr. Bybee that could be disclosed without damaging the deliberative process. Indeed, it is very hard to give credence to the idea that OLC's independence would be compromised by the release of some selection of the opinions of interest to members of the Judiciary Committee or the Senate.

And now we know exactly what the Bush Regime was hiding and what Senator Feingold and the other 18 Democrats who voted against confirmation sensed in their bones. Back to Congressman Nadler's statement:
“While I applaud the Obama administration for releasing these torture memos in the spirit of openness and transparency, the memos' alarming content requires further action. These memos, without a shadow of a doubt, authorized torture and gave explicit instruction on how to carry it out, all the while carefully attempting to maintain a legal fig leaf.

“These memos make it abundantly clear that the Bush administration engaged in torture. Because torture is illegal under American law-- as the U.S. is a signatory to the Convention Against Torture-- we are legally required to investigate and, when appropriate, to prosecute those responsible for these crimes.

“I commend President Obama for his unequivocal rejection of torture and for his resolve to move forward. The President's intentions are honorable, but don't go far enough. All history teaches us that simply shining a light on criminal acts without holding the responsible people accountable will not prevent repetition of those acts.

“I have previously urged Attorneys General Gonzalez and Mukasey to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the torture abuses of the Bush administration, and now I will convey that same necessity to President Obama and Attorney General Holder. We sorely need an independent investigation that will provide accountability for these terrible crimes. This investigation should not be a witch-hunt to punish those rank-and-file C.I.A. operatives who acted in good faith on Justice Department instructions. At the very least, those who wrote and authorized the memos knowing full well that they were instructing others to torture must be held accountable to the law.

“We must have a criminal investigation if the U.S. is to reclaim its moral authority and prevent repetition of these crimes.

“As Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights said yesterday, ‘Whether or not to prosecute law breakers is not a political decision. Laws were broken and crimes were committed. If we are truly a nation of laws... a prosecutor needs to be appointed and the decisions regarding the guilt of those involved in the torture program should be decided in a court of law.’

“Furthermore, the revelations contained in these memos make it abundantly clear that we need additional Congressional oversight hearings on this matter. We intend to hold such hearings.

“Finally, I particularly want to thank the American Civil Liberties Union for their role in bringing these memos to light and for their vigilant efforts to ensure that the United States government does not engage in torture.”

Now we need to watch and see which members of Congress are willing to stand up for the Constitution and for the honor and integrity of our nation-- even if it means going against the political stratagems of their party's president. The Republicans were unwilling to do it for the last 8 years and they dug us a hole that looks remarkably like a grave. Let's see how many Democrats have the guts that Jerrold Nadler just demonstrated. I'll be especially interested to see how the Democrats who voted to confirm Bybee-- particularly Schumer, Dodd, Leahy and Reid-- handle the move to impeach Bybee and correct the really bad judgment they made on that faitful day in 2003. [UPDATE: Leahy just called for Bybee to resign.]

Last night it was revealed on Rachel Maddow's show that Attorney General Holder may not go along with Obama and Emanuel on giving out "Get Out Of Jail Free" cards to all the torturers, let alone the masterminds of the torture policy. And then there was this commitment to Justice from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). And this morning the NY Times is reporting that pressure is mounting to at least let Holder do his job. And who will stand up for Obama-- the obstructionist Republicans who oppose him on everything else? Interestingly, the Times story contradicts Emanuel's proclamation on TV yesterday that no one would be prosecuted no matter how heinous their crimes:
And while Mr. Obama vowed not to prosecute C.I.A. officers for acting on legal advice, on Monday aides did not rule out legal sanctions for the Bush lawyers who developed the legal basis for the use of the techniques.

So was Emanuel lying when he told the media that Obama would oppose prosecutions? Obama says this is being left up to professionals at the Department of Justice-- as it should be.

Waves Of Fear from Howie Klein on Vimeo

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At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Bil said...

AMAZING Video as usual Howie. Thanks.


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