Saturday, January 31, 2009

The People vs. Dick Cheney et als

Illustration by Roberto Parada

Will Obama bring the Bushies to account? Will Congress? Some local DA? A judge in Europe? Anyone...?

Largely Excerpted from articles by Karen Greenberg and Jonathan Schwarz
From Mother Jones, January/February 2009 Issue

"…Will there be redress for the crimes of the Bush administration—and if so, what form should it take? The list of potential legal breaches is, of course, enormous; by one count, the administration has broken 269 laws, both domestic and international. It begins with illegal wiretapping and surveillance (which in the view of many experts violated the Fourth Amendment, the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, for starters), the politicization of the Justice Department and the firing of nine US attorneys, and numerous instances of obstruction of justice—from the destruction of cia interrogation tapes to the willful misleading of Congress and the public.

Perhaps the paramount charge that legal experts have zeroed in on is the state-approved torture that violated not just the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention Against Torture but also the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the 1996 War Crimes Act, which prohibits humiliating and degrading treatment and other "outrages upon personal dignity."

"… Human rights organizations, notably the Center for Constitutional Rights, have teamed up with partners in Germany and France to pursue charges against Rumsfeld for violating the Convention Against Torture, though so far to little effect. The possibility of other cases has been raised, most recently in British barrister Philippe Sands' warning that Congress should investigate the torture question, for "if the United States doesn't address this, other countries will."

...More significantly, there have also been rumblings about prosecution here at home…

….As Walter Lippmann once wrote, congressional commissions can turn into a free-for-all as politicians, "starved of their legitimate food for thought, go on a wild and feverish manhunt, and do not stop at cannibalism." Accordingly, some favor the idea of an independent commission, run by someone of the stature of Plamegate prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald or former New York US Attorney Mary Jo White, in the hope that this format would be less politically charged. The goal would be to prove Lippmann wrong and establish the facts in a reliable, nonpartisan fashion—to create an authoritative narrative that the nation could share.

But what kind of commission makes all the difference. Truth and reconciliation commissions, which the United States has never had at the federal level, are for healing. Watergate-style commissions bear the prospect of condemnation, exposure, and punishment. Then there is the question of just what is to be found: Much of what happened in the run-up to the war, the torture scandal, or the National Security Agency wiretaps has already been documented in news articles, books, and congressional probes; what is missing, though, is the full story about who knew what and when. Perhaps a commission could get members of the Bush administration to reveal these details. Perhaps there are other skeletons to be unearthed. The best hope, Meintjes ruefully acknowledges, is for a "negotiated truth" along the lines of the 9/11 Commission. As attorney Scott Horton has pointed out in Harper's, "Investigative commissions can provide truth...but they cannot provide justice."

…who else could throw the book at the Bush/Cheney crew? A few possibilities:
A Rogue district attorney--- In his recent book, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi lays out a creative argument that state or local prosecutors could indict Bush for murder if a soldier from their jurisdiction was killed in Iraq. It's a far-fetched premise, but with 2,700 DAs out there, Bugliosi—famous for putting Charles Manson away—says, "I just need one." (Last fall, the Vermont Progressive Party's candidate for attorney general said that if elected, she would appoint Bugliosi to implement his plan.) This unusual strategy is not unprecedented; witness New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison's investigation into John F. Kennedy's assassination (as dramatized in JFK). Garrison successfully subpoenaed evidence like the Zapruder film, which had not been seen publicly before the trial. Potential upshot: major embarrassment for Bush. Likelihood: low.

Ticked-Off Lawyers---Most of what happened under Bush was "legal" in the sense that the Justice Department issued opinions—such as the so-called torture memos—that said as much. The new administration, if only to placate the military and intelligence agencies, will be loath to go after Bush officials who can claim legal cover, no matter how flawed the reasoning behind it. But the lawyers who actually drafted the legal justifications for torture—particularly Dick Cheney's chief of staff David Addington, Alberto Gonzales, and Justice Department lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee—may be vulnerable. They could be indicted in federal court if they knowingly issued faulty legal opinions that led to criminal acts. However, that would be an extremely difficult case to make unless one of the defendants turned against the others. More plausible is that, like Bill Clinton and Scooter Libby, they could face disbarment, limiting their employment prospects.

The United Nations--A range of observers, from former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to überhawk Richard Perle, has acknowledged that the invasion of Iraq violated the UN Charter. In theory, the Security Council could sanction the United States or even authorize the use of force to expel our troops. But that's a nonstarter, not least because the Security Council signed off on the occupation of Iraq. Likewise, the United States could be tried in the UN's International Court of Justice and forced to pay reparations to Iraq. That's also doubtful, since the Security Council enforces Court rulings; the US could use its veto power as it did in 1986, when the icj found we had violated international law by supporting the Nicaraguan Contras. If the UN wanted to go after American officials for torture, it could set up a special tribunal like those for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. But such courts are the creation of—you guessed it—the Security Council.
The International Criminal Court--- The Third Geneva Conventions, which the United States signed in 1949, as well as the UN Convention Against Torture, which Congress ratified in 1988, forbid torture. The International Criminal Court (not to be confused with the icj) was convened in the Netherlands in 2002 as a permanent venue to try crimes including violations of Geneva. But the United States hasn't ratified the icc treaty and has pressured 100 countries to agree never to extradite American citizens to the court, so Dick Cheney's unlikely to wind up in the dock at The Hague.

The Garzón Factor---Not that George W. Bush & Co. shouldn't be worried about international laws that they once sneered at. There are hints that they already are: A 2002 State Department memo cautioned officials about the "risk of future criminal prosecution," and the Pentagon's 2005 National Defense Strategy warned of enemies who might "employ a strategy of the weak using international fora and judicial processes."
The biggest threat comes from European magistrates like Baltasar Garzón, the Spanish "superjudge" who nearly brought Augusto Pinochet to justice. In 1998, Garzón issued an arrest warrant for the former Chilean dictator for the deaths of Spanish citizens who'd been tortured by his regime. Days later, the unsuspecting 82-year-old was picked up while visiting England. Pinochet died while incarcerated awaiting trial.

In many European countries, most notably Spain and Italy, judges can initiate prosecutions and—as in the case of Pinochet—may do so independently of the executive branch. Peter Weiss, vice president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says such a court might be the most plausible venue for a case against Bush. "The prime minister of Spain was completely against going after Pinochet," he points out, "but a judge lower down was able to do it." The approach might prove especially effective in pursuing torture cases. As signatories to the Convention Against Torture, most European nations are obligated, theoretically, to investigate violations by other signatories, such as the United States. Sure enough, human rights advocates have filed complaints in Germany, France, and Sweden against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for authorizing the torture of Iraqi and Saudi citizens in Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. The ccr claims a pending case convinced Rumsfeld to alter his travel plans to Germany.

"Believe me, people from the top of the administration will be consulting with lawyers for the rest of their lives," says Christopher Simpson, a professor at American University and an expert on international law. "They will have to coordinate very, very closely with the State Department's specialists whenever they leave America. This is something they cannot take lightly." Larry Wilkerson, who served as former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff, has warned that former Bush officials like Gonzales, Yoo, and Addington "should never travel outside the US, except perhaps to Saudi Arabia and Israel."


Friday, January 30, 2009

Lawn Jockey Alert !

From The Field Negro:

"Steel might be "charismatic", but he strikes me as one of those Negroes who will say whatever is necessary to fit in. I see the guy on FOX NEWS and he is killing Obama and calling him every kind of name in the book. Then I see him on one of those late night talk shows and he is saying what a great guy Obama is and how the repubs have a lot of work to do blah blah blah. Yeah, Michael is somewhat of a fraud, he should fit in well with the folks over at the RNC.

But he will be right at home with the repubs, and this is just what the Doctor ordered for them in the age of Obama. They were losing their minds while trying to come up with an answer for his O ness, and now they think they have it. Damn that Obama sure is popular. He is smart, articulate, and very telegenic. Where can we get a Negro like that? Hey, how about that Steele guy, he speaks really well....

Hissy Fit Republican “Bipartisanship”

Sick and Tired of Obstructionist Republicons

Webster defines bi·par·ti·san: adjective “of, relating to, or involving members of two parties ; specifically : marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties”

Webster, conversely defines par-ti-san: noun or adjective “a firm adherent to a party, faction, cause, or person ; especially : one exhibiting blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance

Crapaud can't describe the current state

of the minority in Congress any more succinctly than

John Amato recently did in his Blog, Crooks and Liars:

No matter what harm has been caused by the Republican party to our country and applies especially when they have been voted out of office because of that harm, any piece of Democratic legislation being discussed may be attacked with the intent of watering it down or destroying it completely (voided) at any time as long as one conservative in Congress has a hissy fit.

The traditional media must immediately validate their hissy fit by repeating said hissy fit talking points over and over again in print, on the Internets, on radio and on TV as many times as necessary to accomplish said goal of compromising the legislation that the hissy fit is applicable to.

False information is also allowed to be transmitted by the hissy fitter and the media in an effort to implement the Conservative Hissy Fit exception. An alternative name that may be used is the Republican Hissy Fit exception. “

Well, while we Crapauds are not known for being succinct, we are rather direct. So let's try this: Obstreperous obstructionist Republicans in the House are so uncannily unprincipled, they fawn publicly over the President's bipartisan outreach, then unilaterally and unanimously vote against the very concessions they extorted from him. Crapaud says take off the gloves, exercise your mandate and save this country. Well, that's why no Crapaud will ever be elected president.

Crapaud also recommends what Mother Jones

says on the current state of "unilateral" bipartisanship.

And Stephen Colbert's Take--PRICELESS


Thursday, January 29, 2009

///////////Even Faux News\\\\\\\\\\ \\\Gives Obama Some Decent Marks///

Even Fox News SOMETIMES shows
a Fair and Balanced Approach
Or Was Roger Ailes napping last week when this ran?

"Obama clearly has made the transition to governing.

"It's as if Superman stepped out of a phone booth and became Clark Kent," said Fred Greenstein, a Princeton University professor emeritus of politics. "He's beginning to put aside the rhetoric in favor of listing the policies and doing the checklist. He's not going out of his way to show a lot of flash. It's much more lets-get-down-to-work."

That said, there's a limit to what he can do right away, Greenstein said, and "the really big things can't be done on Day One, particularly if they are going to be done well."

In a mix of symbolism and substance, Obama used a host of executive tools to put his stamp on the White House without having to go through Congress, making statements from the bully pulpit and signing White House directives.

He pledged to take bold steps to reverse the recession while meeting with his economic team, and told top military officials summoned to the White House to do whatever planning necessary to "execute a responsible military drawdown from Iraq." He issued new ethics rules for his administration and pledged to preside over a transparent government.

He ordered the Guantanamo detention center shut within a year, required the closure of any remaining secret CIA "black site" prisons abroad and barred CIA interrogators from using harsh techniques already banned for military questioners. He also assigned veteran troubleshooters to the Middle East, and Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Throughout it all, Obama demonstrated noticeable stylistic differences with his predecessor.

The high-tech Obama chose to keep his cherished BlackBerry, becoming the first sitting president to use e-mail. He made an impromptu visit to the White House's cramped media quarters just "to say hello" and took a tour of the two floors. He also was spotted at one point ducking into the White House press office to consult with an aide. Bush avoided both areas at all costs.

In one Oval Office ceremony, Obama went through each executive order as he signed them, reading parts of each and methodically explaining them. He even halted a few times to ask for clarifying details from his White House counsel. That sort of deferral to someone else in a public setting and admission of a less-than-perfect command of the facts was never Bush's style."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Republicons rebuff BIPARTISANSHIP

David Neiwert's Post At Crooks and Liars

Obama BiPartisan Outreach Shunned by Republicans

Obama-GOP Meet
icon Download | Play icon Download | Play

President Obama has created a lot of talk with his bipartisan outreach, but so far the results have been predictable: nada.

These kinds of huddles are clearly not going to do any good in the short run. The Republican Party has been in the thrall of rigid ideologues -- men who would rather see the nation's economy go down in flames than either admit they were wrong or even let themselves be proven so -- for so long it will take eons to cure them of the habit.

In the long term, though, they will serve the very useful function of giving Obama cover when he finally gives up on his outreach and just pushes a progressive agenda through.

At some point he's going to realize that all the compromises made in the spirit of "bipartisanship" haven't yielded any results at all, particularly not in winning Republican votes. So at that point it won't make sense to keep making any compromises and just proceed without them.

When that happens, he may actually find Republicans finally willing to shed their ideological blinkers. But he shouldn't count on it before then.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Let America Be America Again

The more things CHANGE.....

Let America Be America Again A POEM BY


Lincoln said, "We must disenthrall ourselves,
and then we shall save our country."

Meaning, snap to, pay attention

Lest you lose your moment to act.

But of all the days of my life

This might be the one to enthrall.

To stand for an hour, transfixed, awed, engaged

By a movement to greatness.

Where we can feel the transcendence

Of the past toward the mature moment

Of finding in ourselves the capacity to create,

To make new, to be brilliant.

Today let us stop and consider

How we didn't stop growing,

How we thought and acted anew,

How we challenged ourselves,

And, unlead, WE lead

And found a way forward,

To bring a young man

To the Capitol steps

This electric and enthralling morning,

And seek in him a reflection

Of the greatness in us.

So, 71 years later, a new young man brings hope
to the capitol steps, and once again, we can be enthralled!


Monday, January 26, 2009

Tribute to Brother Outsider Bayard Rustin

One of the most overlooked and shunned aside leaders of the modern Civil Rights era in the second half of the 20th Century was a gay man. Today Crapaud takes a break from caviling to pay tribute to Bayard Rustin. Here's a peek or two at his relevance for today's domestic human rights issues

Learn more Here