Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Who's The Bigger Villain In The Bybee Case So Far-- Rahm Emanuel Or Dick Cheney?


All the best civil libertarians and progressives went off the rails this weekend when Obama's incredibly sleazy and untrustworthy chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, went on ABC-TV to announce that the Obama administration would not only let CIA hands-on torturers off the hook, but wouldn't even prosecute those who ordered the torture nor the slimy lawyers who gave them the flimsy legalistic cover to do it. (Watch Emanuel espousing what now looks like his own opinion, rather than Obama's.) The president has been on cleanup duty over the mess Obama made ever since.

A report in today's NY Times contradicts Emanuel and points out that Obama is leaving the door open "to creating a bipartisan commission that would investigate the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects, and he did not rule out taking action against the lawyers who fashioned the legal guidelines for the interrogations."
Mr. Obama said once again that he does not favor prosecuting C.I.A. operatives who used interrogation techniques that he has since banned. But as for lawyers or others who drew up the former policies allowing such techniques, he said it would be up to his attorney general to decide what to do, adding, “I don’t want to prejudge that.”

...On Sunday, Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, said on the ABC News program “This Week” that “those who devised policy” also “should not be prosecuted.” But administration officials said Monday that Mr. Emanuel had meant the officials who ordered the policies carried out, not the lawyers who provided the legal rationale.

Three Bush administration lawyers who signed memos, John C. Yoo, Jay S. Bybee and Steven G. Bradbury, are the subjects of a coming report by the Justice Department’s ethics office that officials say is sharply critical of their work. The ethics office has the power to recommend disbarment or other professional penalties or, less likely, to refer cases for criminal prosecution.

Senator Russ Feingold, who first warned the nation about Bybee when Bush was shoving him onto the 9th Circuit court of Appeals, was one of Emanuel's targets with his rogue comments on Sunday. Today Feingold must have been gratified to see Obama slap Emanuel down a little. “I am pleased that the president made clear that he has not ruled out investigations or prosecutions of those who authorized torture, or provided the legal justification for it. Horrible abuses were committed in the name of the American people, and we cannot look the other way, or just ‘move on.’ The final decision will be up to the attorney general and the president, but I urge the Justice Department to take this matter very seriously... The just released OLC memos, including the 2002 memo authored by Jay Bybee, are a disgrace. The idea that one of the architects of this perversion of the law is now sitting on the federal bench is very troubling. The memos offer some of the most explicit evidence yet
that Mr. Bybee and others authorized torture and they suggest that grounds for impeachment can be made. Clearly, the Justice Department has the responsibility to investigate this matter further. As a Senator, I would be a juror in any impeachment trial so I don't want to reach a conclusion until all the evidence is before me."

Today I was on a conference call with the leading candidate to replace Hilda Solis in CA-32, Judy Chu. In response to a question about accountability, she was unhesitating that she supports impeaching Bybee.

Andrew Sullivan wonders if Dick Cheney is starting to panic and Chris Cillizza seems shocked in today's Washington Post that Cheney (approval rating in the teens-- but less than Paris Hilton's) is continuing his one-man assault on President Obama. Cheney is screaming about "the handshake" and going off the deep end in regard to the torture memos. Although it may be good for ratings on Fox, Republicans are appalled.
"He is a face of the past," said one Republican consultant who spoke on the condition he not be named. "A face of conflict and too polarizing. So, not a good face of the party."

Cheney is largely unpopular among voters generally and particularly independent voters that proved so critical to Obama's across-the-board victory last fall. A late March Gallup poll showed that just three in ten voters had a favorable opinion of Cheney while 63 percent felt unfavorably toward him. Those numbers are consistent with where Gallup has shown Cheney for the last three years-- a period long enough to demonstrate a hardening of opinion toward the former vice president.

Crooks and Liars has clips of him running his crazy mouth on Hannity's show yesterday. What a disgrace to America!

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At 5:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emanuel's middle name is corruption. Got in on the investment bank robbery walking away with millions. Here is a guy who would sell out his own mother.

What does he care about breaking the law. He's backed more Republicans than Cheney.

These guys are two of kind.

At 9:12 PM, Anonymous lizzie said...

The President releases torture memos, then Emanuel, Axelrod and Gibbs all say essentially the same thing: must move forward, too many things to we need to do to get bogged down in the past, and so forth and so on. Media firestorm, grassroots gets riled up, then the President issues his own statement saying he wants to move forward, but he's leaving the door open because the decision is up to Holder.

Do you think it was an accident that Rahm, Axelrod and Gibbs all "misspoke"? I don't. They knew they would need all the support they could get, and the grassroots and media came through.

The President leaving it up to Holder is genius for a few reasons, not the least of which is that it's the right thing to do. But it also serves to highlight the difference between himself and his predecessor's use and abuse of the Atty. General's office. And Holder recently pardoned Republican Senator Ted Stevens because of ethics violations on the prosecutorial team, so he's seen as a pillar of integrity even among Republicans.


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