Thursday Night Open Thread

I watched Keith Olbermann's Special Comment and Jonathan Turley's appearance on Rachel Maddow's show and they both make a compelling case for prosecution on the torture issue.

And yet . . . I can't bring myself to condemn Obama on this. My stomach is churning about it and I want at least a Truth Commission but I am having a hard time blasting Obama on this. I am continuing to cogitate on the matter. For the record, my first post as a FPer at daily kos was about torture and Alberto Gonzales. So shouldn't I be outraged? Yes, and yet I can empathize with Obama here. Maybe I shouldn't, but I do.

You folks reach any conclusions? In any event, here is an Open Thread.

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    In the framework of my life, (5.00 / 6) (#5)
    by inclusiveheart on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:05:11 PM EST
    giving this one "a miss" just isn't an option.

    There are always tons of "good reasons" to avoid doing the right thing.  It is a wonder really that we as a society live in relative peace.

    Basically, I am falling into a place I never thought I'd be able to inhabit - a place of deep cynicism.  I feel alienated from my representatives (the few that I really have) and I am having a more and more difficult time believing in this country as I once knew it.  I certainly have no respect for our leadership anymore.  My faith in humanity is waning and I sure as hell don't believe Americans are anything more than a bunch of pathetic bullies who hide behind secret memos, secret deals and under KKK-like hoods doing "secret" destruction.

    Oh well.  It was good while it lasted I suppose.

    I believe (5.00 / 13) (#7)
    by NYShooter on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:20:40 PM EST
    Jonathan Turley's position is that it's not a "choice" for Obama to make. He cannot "choose" which laws to uphold, and which are simply suggestions to be observed, or not.. As the chief law enforcement official of the Land, and having sworn to protect and defend the constitution, he has a duty, not a choice. As personally painful as it may be for Obama, his unique and singular position demands that he prosecutes those charged with crimes. He further states, and this is most important, that by not holding responsible those that may have committed crimes, he tacitly condones those crimes, and effectively nullifies the criminal statutes for all those who may violate them in the future.

    For Turley, there is no debate, the answer is simple. Are we "a nation of laws," or is Obama a king, who by personal fiat can wipe criminal laws off the books? The message sent around the world would be that in the United States we have two sets of people, those who must obey the law, and those, who by Presidential decree, are above the law.

    He makes a powerful statement.

    Exactly. I don't understand (5.00 / 4) (#11)
    by Cream City on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:24:15 PM EST
    the dichotomy to be outraged at Obama or to prosecute.  I am sad for Obama at this watershed, and I am sad for this country if we let this go.

    Prosecute.  For God's sake, if we can prosecute and convict the lower-level grunts, prosecute those on high.


    Turley and I are in complete agreement (5.00 / 4) (#12)
    by MO Blue on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:26:43 PM EST
    As personally painful as it may be for Obama, his unique and singular position demands that he prosecutes those charged with crimes. He further states, and this is most important, that by not holding responsible those that may have committed crimes, he tacitly condones those crimes, and effectively nullifies the criminal statutes for all those who may violate them in the future.

    He states his position better than I ever could so I will let him speak for me on this issue.


    We can spend a lot of time arguing (5.00 / 6) (#18)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:32:30 PM EST
    about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but I would much prefer this country, through its people and by its leaders, decide once and for all what kind of country and people we are, and not just make pretty speeches about democracy and the rule of law, but live it - even if it's hard and even if it's painful.  It has to be worth it, or we just aren't worth nearly as much to ourselves, or to the rest of the world, as we have convinced ourselves we are.

    I simply no longer have the tolerance or the patience for pretty talk and excuses - I just want the people who have the power to do it to do the right thing; this country needs that more than it needs pretty much anything else.

    Pretending none of this ugliness ever happened in some misguided belief that somehow that makes it all go away is just wrong.

    I'm sick of wrong.


    Releasing the Memos (none / 0) (#101)
    by daring grace on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 09:51:41 AM EST
    relatively free of redacting is evidence we're not 'pretending none of this ugliness ever happened.' The gruesome details of the torture etch the reality of this indelibly in our memories.

    And even those of us who don't feel equal to reading those gruesome details--or those who don't have time or interest--can still feel the horror when we hear the discussions in the blogs and the media.

    Myself, I hope there is some kind of extensive public investigation of this, particularly of those who ordered and devised the torture program. Even without prosecutions, such intense public scrutiny of the people behind this will serve to chill the ambitions of the next batch of wanna be torturers if they think their little shadow inquisitions are going to be minutely examined in a brilliant 24/7 spotlight of televised, internet dissected hearings.


    Its not how the country or society works- (none / 0) (#107)
    by pluege on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 10:34:41 AM EST
    there is no permanence. And as we've seen over and over, there are no bounds to which republicans won't twist plain common language, norms, and common sense to suit their purpose. Hence, eternal vigilance is required. the republicans malfeasance of the last 30 years has been enabled by complacency. And while the extreme calamity of bush incited people to pay attention - mostly too late after extreme damage occurred - unfortunately, as soon as people sense a return to normalcy, the republicans will have their insidious way again.  

    Yes, of course (none / 0) (#113)
    by NYShooter on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 02:31:20 PM EST
    The American people like things simple. And that's o.k. In a dog-eat-dog, capitalistic society folks have all they can do to just keep their heads above water. That's why we have the death penalty; "you kill someone, we kill you." Simple.

    Politicians, of course know this, and that's why we get our information in sound bites. The Republicans know how to play this game; the Dems, most certainly, don't!

    Ronald Reagan, as damaging a President as we've ever had, but the American people loved him. Why? Because he "told it like it is."

    Bill Clinton, even after presiding over the best decade in a generation, is remembered for, "it depends what "is," "is."

    Barack Obama, as smart a President as we've ever had, shouldn't give two figs what the Republicans "think." He should just go on t.v. look into the camera and say, "if they did the crime, they'll do the time."

    Even Republicans will understand that.



    Civilized people don't torture (5.00 / 12) (#8)
    by Bornagaindem on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:21:28 PM EST
    that is the only bottom line. It doesn't work. Under torture I will say anything my torturer wants me to say and I will make things up to stop the pain. When my government tortures I am responsible and if I don't prosecute at least the people who made it possible to do this in my name I become an enabler. THAT is why we must hold them accountable. Bush Jr was able to do the things he did because Bush senior and Reagan got away with Iran contra and Clinton in the name of moving forward did not go after them. What new atrocities will we enable if we don't hold them accountable.

    No Surprise (none / 0) (#19)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:38:12 PM EST
    t5hat I feel exactly the same way. I sent very strongly worded warnings to the campaign and transition about keeping Gates. He was complicit in extraordinary rendition and torture. Keeping him on made Obama an accessory after the fact. His failure to prosecute makes him an accessory after the fact (and when he has a duty to do so, as he does, it is also obstruction of justice). It all makes me very very sad. I had hoped our country had turned away from the darkness and embraced the light againa, but alas, alack, no.

    should be (none / 0) (#20)
    by NMvoiceofreason on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:45:02 PM EST
    That and again (no tShat and againa).

    If I continue to proofread that poorly I will quickly be out of a job. Sorry


    Extraordinary Rendition (none / 0) (#35)
    by Socraticsilence on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:01:35 PM EST
    is a can of worms that if opened will hurt us badly- the framework to allow rendition was laid out under Clinton. As for torture I'm not sure there's anything that directly implicates Gates- he certainly wasn't in the Admin when it was formulated, and according to the present evidence didn't enter DoD until after the worst excess had past (though he was there during the continued existence of Gitmo and the some of the tribunal framework (I believe- he started in 12-06), the case for him is the budget he released, so unless he signed off on anything its hard to call for him resign.

    This taints us all n/t (5.00 / 7) (#9)
    by Coral on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:23:43 PM EST

    The only rational reason (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:23:57 PM EST
    I could think of for not releasing these memos was because of how evil our government would look to the rest of the world.

    Now that the memos have been released, we have to prosecute, because of how evil we'll otherwise look to the rest of the world.

    Obama has taken over for Bush in defending questionable actions.  He has to take this prosecution on.

    As it stands, we have no leg to stand on when it comes to torture.

    The safety of our military around the world both now and in case of war depends on getting the high ground back.  

    Doing nothing condones the memos, condones the acts, both for our captives and for those who capture our people.

    Misdirection (5.00 / 3) (#13)
    by ricosuave on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:26:49 PM EST
    I heard some of Obama's and others' speeches today.  They made a somewhat logical and emotional plea that the frontline folks who committed these acts should not be prosecuted.  Let's leave aside my desire that there should have been more refusal to follow orders when it comes to beating or waterboarding prisoners...there is some merit to the following orders defense, but the more deplorable the act the less I think the defense has merit.

    If these memos really were a get-out-of-jail card for the people who followed them, that doesn't mean that nobody was responsible.  It makes it all the more important to determine who was responsible for creating this policy, whether the memos were generated in good faith, and a general airing of our dirty laundry.

    We don't need a truth commission.  If you want a non-prosecutorial body to investigate the executive branch, then we have that in the form of congress.  Every single person who wrote and researched these memos should be sitting in front of a Senate committee next week explaining under oath how they came to write these memos.  Was there a review process?  Was there anyone pressing for a particular outcome?  I have no doubt that the story which will emerge is that someone ordered them to produce a legal justification for torture just like someone ordered the CIA to produce some evidence for the existence of weapons of mass destruction.   Even if there is no legal culpability, the person (or people) who was pushing our country in this direction needs to be identified and needs to tell us why they were not honest enough to come forward and explain the direction they would like to take our country.

    Don't get caught up in the misdirection of "we gotta protect the frontline troops."  They are not the issue here, and are not in danger.  People at the highest levels of government made very big decisions and tried to keep it covered up.  We are a democratic republic and we deserve to know how our country is run so we have the information to choose the leaders who will make future decisions.

    Why should we leave aside... (none / 0) (#40)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:15:38 PM EST
    ...our belief that decent human beings, even in the heat of conflict, say: I refuse to torture a fellow human being regardless of "orders?"

    Why that? If we leave aside that there's not much left, is there?


    It was a Stanford Prison experiment (none / 0) (#68)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:31:55 AM EST
    I can live with the frontline people who got caught up in the evil system established by others. By from Bybee on up to Bush -- they're the perps, they should be held accountable, personally and in detail. I don't care if the Spanish do it or we have a Truth and Reconciliation Commisssion, but somebody needs to drain this pus from the body politic before the infection kills us. The people wanted to put a guy in a box and then dump cockroaches* in there with him, and they did that in our name. If we let it go, we say it's OK.

    * "Caterpillars." Yeah, right.


    There are sins of omission (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Cream City on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:31:45 PM EST
    and they are just as much as sins as are sins of commission.

    One of the earliest lessons from catechism class.    

    Oh, and inaction (5.00 / 3) (#17)
    by Cream City on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:32:15 PM EST
    is an action.

    BTD, that 2006 FP post is (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:56:57 PM EST
    extremely powerful.  Well done.  

    2004 (none / 0) (#26)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:29:46 PM EST
    The compliment stands. (5.00 / 2) (#37)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:12:35 PM EST
    Meanwhile, DK seems obsessed w/the teabaggers, not the torture memos.

    Yes, they do. (5.00 / 1) (#79)
    by Fabian on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 05:22:16 AM EST
    I don't want to believe it, but the proof was there on both the Rec List and Front Page.  Before I wrapped up my evening there was only one diary about the memos and it hadn't made the Rec List.  Tea Party diaries were everywhere, including the Front Page.

    Mock the opposition - Front Page.
    Hold the government, past and present, accountable?  Let Greenwald do it, we're busy!


    If Repubs of the Bush/Cheney/Gonzales ilk get back (5.00 / 7) (#22)
    by jawbone on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:08:37 PM EST
    into power, do we really want them to know that they can do anything they want and will have no charges to answer for, no actual investigations?

    We did that with Iran-Contra, other unconstitutional stuff from the Reagan crew, and what did we get? We got more and worse. From many of the same people involved in the Reagan stuff and Nixon illegalities.

    So, what's the message? What do we want? What kind of government will we accept?


    Obama lacks moral courage (5.00 / 9) (#23)
    by Mitch Guthman on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:23:28 PM EST
    I wrote a very long, detailed post about President Obama's statement and his lack of moral courage but I trashed it.  I find myself unable to form the words to properly express my tremendous sense of disappointment.  This is clearly not a proud moment for our country or our party. I am disappointed in our president.  I am disappointed in my party and its leaders who have endorsed "moving forward".  I am disappointed in many who were so eloquent condemnation of President Bush but seem willing to go Obama a pass on one of the most profound moral questions our country has faced since the Civil War.

    Lacking the eloquence to truly express the sadness I feel, I turn to a man who set the moral tone regarding the evil of torturing our captives and who helped set our nation on the path to the moral heights we once occupied.  At this time, I believe we should all reflect upon the words of our first president:

    "Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause... for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country."

    -- George Washington, charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775.  

    The contrast between our first president and our current one is disheartening.

    You make a good point... (none / 0) (#33)
    by NYShooter on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:58:33 PM EST
    .....linking Obama with the Civil War.
    After Appomattox, we also didn't want to "look backward," and chose to "look to the future." And it took "only" 100 years for our black brothers and sister to begin feeling that maybe, just maybe, they were citizens of these great United States too.

    A great, old philosopher once told me, " You can sh*t your underpants and then put on a tuxedo; you may look great, but you still stink."


    Since the Obama adminstration (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:15:08 PM EST
    decided not to prosecute, who else has jurisdicction?  

    Can you differentiate from Nuremberg (5.00 / 4) (#48)
    by jerry on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:39:48 PM EST
    I always found it hard to completely agree with Nuremberg's lesson, that "I was just obeying orders" was not a defense.  And yet, that's what we have been taught and teach others.

    How is a decision not to prosecute today not a repudiation of Nuremberg?

    I would feel much better about not prosecuting the people who did obey these orders if the DOJ announced it was going after lawyers and going after the law licenses of the lawyers who enabled this.

    Future administrations should know they cannot just hide behind any lawyer they hire who gives them the legal opinion they seek.

    We should honor the resignations of Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus and spit on Robert Bork and the Bush attorneys that claimed torture was legal.  And move to disbar them.

    Was today a repudiation of Nuremberg? (5.00 / 4) (#53)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:51:28 PM EST
    I think it's hard not to conclude that, to some degree, it was.



    Don't need a prosecutor to file a (none / 0) (#57)
    by oculus on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:00:55 AM EST
    complaint with a state bar association.  

    Peter G informs that Bybee is (5.00 / 3) (#59)
    by andgarden on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:05:16 AM EST
    Licensed in DC.

    Any members of the DC bar want to step up?


    Excellent idea (none / 0) (#67)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:28:11 AM EST
    +100, +10,000

    Watch the news carefully tomorrow (5.00 / 1) (#49)
    by TeresaInSnow2 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:41:42 PM EST
    What craziness will the banksters or others slip by when we're all focused on the torture memos.

    At BankUnited (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by CoralGables on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:54:36 PM EST
    the largest Florida based bank, the opening line on their website reads:

    "At BankUnited, we understand that your financial life doesn't end when the bank doors swing closed."

    And that's a very good thing because:

    The clock is ticking on BankUnited's future.

    Federal regulators are giving the Coral Gables-based bank 20 days to strike a deal to merge or sell the company in order to raise its capital.

    BankUnited's rating from Bauer Financial is currently Zero Stars.


    This should be a no-brainer (5.00 / 4) (#55)
    by caseyOR on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:57:28 PM EST
    Either Obama will uphold his oath of office (protect, defend the constitution) or he will not. He has no good excuse for not directing Holder to begin criminal proceedings against the lawyers and the administration officials, at the very least.

    I cannot believe that in the United States of America we are even discussing the reasons to not prosecute. If we do not forcefully address this it will happen again.

    People are rabid about the debt they think we will leave our children, but when it comes to whether or not we leave them a country with any moral compass, we get crickets. WTF!

    I am sick about what was done in the name of our country.

    failure to prosecute (5.00 / 3) (#74)
    by pluege on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 04:38:25 AM EST
    guarantees that future republican administrations will engage in even worse criminality. Forget restoring faith in the US' adherence to the rule of law, forget the small justice that the bush criminal victims deserve by prosecuting the bush war criminals, it is the future, more than anything that must be protected.

    Well (5.00 / 2) (#85)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 06:20:04 AM EST
    I guess LBJ shouldn't have stood up to the KKK is what I'm hearing here. Or maybe they shouldn't have been prosecuted because it would've distracted the country from his agenda.

    I'm sure that Obama isn't going to do anything about this because Obama couldn't even do anything about FISA. You have to realize that Obama really doesn't have a firm belief on any issue no matter what he says. In the end, he always finds an excuse to cave.

    Hold Bybee and Bradbury directly responsible (5.00 / 1) (#94)
    by BobTinKY on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 08:39:23 AM EST
    for torture.  They seem to fall outside the protected class Obama and Holder defined yesterday.

    Their memos would not withstand the scrutiny of a 1L.  Bybee rewrites statutory language "pain or suffering" to read "pain and suffering" in order to conclude suffering without pain is OK. Ridiculous and clearly erroneous legal reasoning and a federal circuit court judge should know that.

    Bybee also knew with substantial certainty that once distributed his knowingly faulty analysis would result in others actually torturing human beings.  

    He's no different than Iago.  He did not have his his hands invovled in the atual deed, but he intended to and did set in motion the entire chain of events.  And so did whoever ordered up the memos.   Does anyone think the order was not something like "get me some legal cover so our folks can engage in these acts."

    Mixed feelings (5.00 / 1) (#95)
    by DancingOpossum on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 08:43:43 AM EST
    I am glad Obama released the memos and glad that he has stated unequivocally that we will end these practices...But, OTOH, I did not like his remark that these torture techniques violated "our morals and our traditions," or something to that effect -- I kept waiting for the next shoe to drop, for him to say, "And our laws," which is really the crux of the matter. He never went there, and that is troubling. It's like he still he doesn't get it. He's done half the right thing here -- now he needs to get out of the way of the justice system and let matters go to where they must if we truly are a nation of laws.

    Olbermann and Maddow aren't my touchstones (4.66 / 6) (#4)
    by lambert on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:55:11 PM EST
    (give us this day our Daily Howler...)

    That said, I feel, in some ways, the same -- just because it could have been so much, much worse.

    And that said, I think that Obama did the something that was more right than wrong, but in a rather narrowly construed (if that's the word) case. This is certainly miles better than Bush's bad applies, where he just throws the losers over the side. And I can believe that some did get caught up in the moment (there but for the grace of [your higher power] go I) -- trapped in the evil, Stanford Experiment that the criminal Bush regime deliberately created. (see the New Yorker's heartbreaking Exposure. Yes, that soldier was wrong, but she was made to go wrong by people who were much colder than she ever became.)

    But I'm with andgarden. "Someone needs to be held responsible for this, or we all will be." And whoever does that accounting would be right. Bybee has to go as a judge. All of them who have tenure need to lose it. All of the generals who knew should be cashiered. And if Versailles can't prosecute the ringleaders, then they should let the Spanish do it.

    When I read about these guys wanting to put insects into a box with a prisoner... Well, if that's not Room 101 in 1984, what is it?

    Amazing... (5.00 / 2) (#61)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:18:17 AM EST
    ... the throwaway line at the beginning takes everything. I never knew people cared so much about KM and OL -- as opposed to the  real point of the post. I think Somerby's on to something...

    Seriously, (none / 0) (#36)
    by Socraticsilence on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:05:49 PM EST
    I don't really get Somerby on that, in the past he's shown he gets humor, so why is what Maddow did with the Teabaggers worthy of his ire?

    Can't speak for Somerby (5.00 / 3) (#47)
    by Upstart Crow on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:37:12 PM EST
    but it is inappropriate for newscasters to be mocking anyone. They have lost the interest and ability to report the news, and have given up any attempt to do so impartially.

    In the old days, it was the measure of a good reporter that you couldn't tell whose side they were on when reporting, or who they had voted for.

    This is one of many reasons why the MSM is circling the drain. For the most part, I prefer getting my news from you guys and the blogs.

    I prefer taking opinions without water, without the mantle of professed "objectivity."  


    Inappropriate For Newscasters to Mock (none / 0) (#102)
    by daring grace on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 09:58:40 AM EST
    True, but Maddow is no 'newscaster'.

    Indeed, her show is dedicated to her having and expressing opinions, mocking or not.


    Because Somerby is all about the content (5.00 / 1) (#89)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 07:38:44 AM EST
    Not the Jerseys.

    Probably because Maddow's show has (1.00 / 0) (#50)
    by Anne on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:41:44 PM EST
    become reminiscent of Dana Carvey and Mike Meyer doing "Wayne's World," losing its grip on any semblance of maturity and credibility.  I like a good joke as much as anyone, but the amount of time and energy that has gone into the double entendres and puns and plays on words on MSNBC is embarrassing. For them.  Middle-school humor seems to be the best they can do - that's just sad.

    I haven't watched Turley to the Special Comment (4.20 / 5) (#1)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:38:58 PM EST
    but I did read what I could of the memos. At the very least,  Bybee and Bradbury need to be disbarred.

    Someone needs to be held responsible for this, or we all will be (maybe the 2004 election makes that unavoidable, actually).

    *or (none / 0) (#2)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:40:09 PM EST
    What would the basis of disbarring be? (none / 0) (#104)
    by Green26 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 10:03:13 AM EST
    Bad analysis? Bad advice?

    Iran-Contra was one of the first (2.00 / 0) (#41)
    by Green26 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:18:50 PM EST
    big criminal prosections of political stuff. It should not have occured, in my view.

    I'm glad those convicted were pardoned, as they shouldn't have been prosecuted in the first place.

    Hopefully, the country and the leaders of our country have learned something since Iran-Contra.

    Yeah, like if we thrown all those f*ckheads... (5.00 / 8) (#66)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:27:09 AM EST
    ... in jail under Reagan, they wouldn't have all shown up under Bush to complete their demolition job. Hey, wouldn't it be great to leave under a Constitutional government and the rule of law again?  I wa really looking forward to it.

    Conveniently, you forget Watergate (5.00 / 4) (#70)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:38:19 AM EST
    It too was a "political" prosecution. No doubt you believe that it, too, was a "distraction"?

    Watergate... Iran-Contra... the entire Bush administration. A continuum, with each "scandal" increasing the power of the executive to act without the constraint of law.


    Watergate was not a political prosecution. (2.00 / 0) (#75)
    by Green26 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 04:47:20 AM EST
    I was fine with what occurred after Watergate. On the other hand, the impeachment and Congressional Hearings were more important than the criminal prosecutions, in my view.

    Hey, do know the difference between accounting manipulation and accounting fraud?


    Then it's the same issue (5.00 / 0) (#88)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 07:37:45 AM EST
    Executive lawbreaking. Same thing under Nixon, Reagan, and Bush. The only difference is the scale and scope. By the time Bush came along, the cancer spread to the entire executive branch.

    To your loaded question: No. And I'm not the guy who thinks Krugman and Stiglitz are conspiracy theorists either.

    But do continue with your defense of replacing Constitutional government with authoritarian rule!


    Do you ever provide any support or (none / 0) (#103)
    by Green26 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 10:00:23 AM EST
    analysis for your broadbrush statements?

    Executive law breaking. Cancer. Too funny.


    Cute tactic, not non-responsive. Of course. (none / 0) (#108)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 10:54:54 AM EST
    Saying that a common factor between Nixon (Watergate), Reagan (Iran-Contra), and Bush (numerous examples)  is "painting with a broad brush"? Feh. I can only assume that you throw out the "broad" brush trope because you have no real response.

    You may think  the destruction of Constitutional government is a laughing matter. I don't. Greenwald today:

     Demanding that political leaders be subjected to the rule of law -- and finding ways to force the appointment of a Special Prosecutor -- is what citizens ought to be doing.  Either we care about the rule of law or we don't -- and if we do, we'll find the ways to demand its application to the politically powerful criminals who broke multiple laws over the last eight years.  

    Maybe you'd be more comfortable sticking to your (claimed) expertise in book-keeping?

    Oops! (none / 0) (#109)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 11:01:16 AM EST
    sb "a common factor between .... is executive lawbreaking"



    Iran-Contra was more political than (none / 0) (#112)
    by Green26 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 01:54:15 PM EST
    criminal. Even the Obama administration does not want to pursue criminal matters in the torture situation. Like I said, broadbrush, as well as no substance and largely wrong.

    I am gnerally against special prosecutors. I have had direct experience with them. They are given a virtually unlimited budget and reources, and ask to (overly) investigate situations and people. There is considerable discretion in prosecution. They tend to end up chasing people for completely unrelated "crimes", as well as obstruction-type things. They usually don't indict over the heart of the matter.

    I don't agree with Greenwald. It's not as simple as: "Either we care about the rule of law or we don't." As I said above, prosecutors have considerable discretion. Prosecutors make decisions not to pursue certain types of criminal activity all the time, in my experience. They also make (bad) decisions to pursue things that they shouldn't pursue. In addition, in many situations, supposed criminal activity is not black and white.


    Oh, and in other news (none / 0) (#3)
    by andgarden on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 08:42:32 PM EST
    There was some suggestion in the comments a few days ago that Amy Klobuchar was in some kind of political trouble. I think that's clearly false.

    Personally (none / 0) (#6)
    by Steve M on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:08:59 PM EST
    I find it incredibly soul-numbing to debate the issue of whether a given technique is or isn't "torture."  I'm not saying all these things discussed in the memo are torture, or that reasonable people can't disagree or whatever, but it feels awful to even discuss such topics in calm and rational tones.  We shouldn't even be in this place today.

    I also think that if the things said about Zubaydah in these memos were true (and I think we now know that many of them were not true, although there seems to be some controversy), it would take a very strong person to say no to the idea of crossing the line in hopes of getting information about future attacks.  I'm not making excuses, I'm just saying it seems like a very difficult place to be even if the moral choices seem clear-cut.

    Saying no (5.00 / 3) (#15)
    by Bluerall on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:28:16 PM EST
    takes guts
    Back when I went into the army as a legal clerk
    we had classes on saying no to illegal orders
    Then over the years you sit back and watch soldiers prosecuted for saying no
    Whitewashing the illegal orders with the guilty officers getting immunity
    Enough is enough
    Prosecutions are mandatory and failure to do so
    makes Obama and his administration just as guilty

    You sound conflicted, Steve (none / 0) (#43)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:31:05 PM EST
    Steve: I clearly think it's despicable that US lawyers were legalizing torture. Don't you?

    Let's prosecute and convict some bad lawyers, CIA agents, and (please, god) elected officials, and sentence them appropriately. Relativists notwithstanding, who'd have a problem with that?


    Yes, of course I do (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by Steve M on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 02:57:52 AM EST
    I don't think "conflicted" is the right word to use.  I'm just trying to talk through my reaction and maybe I should have kept my mouth shut if people are going to interpret it like maybe I'm ok with torture, maybe I'm not ok.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#58)
    by Socraticsilence on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:02:57 AM EST
    I mean I see your point, and frankly I get not prosectuing the CIA personnel- but I feel differently about Bybee and the others responsible for writing the memo's- they had deliberation there is no acceptable "heat of the moment" excuse they can use- Zubaydah is obviously evil- this isn't one of the Gitmo or Abu Gharib cases where we grabbed some random guy off the street- that said I think the recent example of Peru and Fujimori is illuminating- he was convicted for actions that resulted in deaths- despite the fact that he too was fighting an dangerous, and evil foe- (and in both cases I use the term deliberately- intentionally murdering those with no direct connection to your greivance simply to get attention and send a message is objectively wrong) and yet because he was supposed to be the responsible one separated by distance and time- he was the one who was tried and convicted.

    IMO its don't rock the boat (none / 0) (#14)
    by Saul on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 09:27:22 PM EST
    I personally think that due to the big picture Obama has especially on all the items he wants passed he feels that at this moment to shoot for prosecution would just sabotage his big picture.  

    I think Obama really wants to prosecute but weighs the possibility that he could loose any progress he thinks he has made.

    I also feel he will not go for  the renewal of the restriction on the gun bill that expired under the Bush administration for the same reasons.

    Feh (5.00 / 3) (#63)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:19:54 AM EST
    Why not deal with the Republicans once and for all by treating them as the criminals they are?

    Shouldn't that be an easy question to answer? And if not, why not?


    Thankfully... (none / 0) (#24)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:25:14 PM EST
    ...Olberman clarifies: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/30254996#30254996.

    I know a lot of us dislike Olberman on style sometimes; Armando especially. But I think even Armando could listen to Olberman's comment and appreciate its simplicity. Torture is wrong. We all know it. Obama should act to prosecute those suspected of doing it.

    My disagreements with Olberman are (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by tigercourse on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:34:41 PM EST
    on substance as well.

    "Torture" (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by NYShooter on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:00:05 PM EST
    has nothing to do with it.

    A "crime" was committed. Do we bring to the bar of justice those who commit crimes, or do we issue blanket grants of immunity when the political climate makes upholding the law "inconvenient?"


    DADT (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by Fabian on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 05:25:11 AM EST
    Don't Ask
    Don't Tell

    If it weren't for the ACLU doing the Asking, the Obama administration may have never Told us anything.


    What crime was committed? (none / 0) (#105)
    by Green26 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 10:04:34 AM EST
    My view (none / 0) (#25)
    by bocajeff on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:29:39 PM EST
    I think this situation is a lot like Iran-Contra in the "gut" factor. I think a majority of people were in favor of Iran-Contra even if they didn't like it and I think the same thing would happen here. How would you like to be the prosecutor in the case saying that we were bombed, 3,000 people were killed, and these guys were responsible for it and any future terrorist acts and we are worried about if we went to far (such as holding a face, pushing shoulders) against a few of the people who did it.

    You may be right and justified to abhor the actions but in the "gut" you aren't too upset with it under the circumstances.

    That would only be true... (none / 0) (#64)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:21:20 AM EST
    ... if Obama had no political capital.

    In terms of political capital, the Dem congress critters pursuing North et al had a lot less than Reagan did.


    Bush must be remembered as a war criminal (none / 0) (#27)
    by Xclusionary Rule 4ever on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:31:01 PM EST
    I feel for the President, and am not comfortable playing armchair QB; however, these memos are smoking gun  evidence of war crimes. And remember, bush is actually guilty of a lot worse. If we let bush take a benign place in history, or put an asterisk by his name because of 9-11, we run the risk of a future president again trying to dismantle the constitution. After the budget fight and health care, the president needs to let justice be done. As a lawyer, I want Bybee defrocked and Gonzales disbarred. We suck if we don't get that done asap.  

    Actually (none / 0) (#38)
    by Socraticsilence on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:12:46 PM EST
    I think that might be the most politically palatable solution but I could be greatly misreading this- Obama could let it be known (unofficially) that we wont stand in the way of the ICC (which I realize we are not a signatory to) prosecuting Bush Admin officials over this- Bybee needs to go though.

    I hope deep down that widespread dissemination of the contents of these memo's is enough to push public opion into allowing American Prosectution but hell the AG photo's were a joke to something like 30-40% of Americans and the single emost horrific act- the "Taxi to the Dark Side, etc. stuff at Bagram still isn't widely known despite a brutal death that's reasonably well covered, and an Oscar winning documentary.


    Investigation or prosectution is not (none / 0) (#29)
    by Green26 on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:49:13 PM EST
    a good idea and would be a huge distraction for the country and Obama.

    I have spoken with several senior US Senators on this issue, and each has said the same thing. Two are Dems.

    Too much of politics and running our country has already become too criminalized. Generally speaking, criminal laws should not be used in matters that are mostly policy or politics, in my view.

    In this situation, lawyers provided their opinions, and others, including rank and file, relied on the opinions. How could we possibly go after rank and file people who followed the orders of superiors and the opinions of lawyers.

    Even if the administration pushed or encouraged the lawyers to come to the conclusions they came to, this is and should not be a criminal offense--for either the non-lawyers or the lawyers. Clients and companies, as well as policy makers, push lawyers on their opinions, and press them to re-consider, re-think or move their opinions, all the time. Good lawyers consider the views of clients and re-consider or re-think, but they won't move beyond what they believe is reasonable or supportable. While I don't know, I'm assuming that this is probably all that was done in this situation, if even this was done.

    Some of the other legal memos on this subject, or portions of them, have been out previously. From having glanced at them previously, I thought they were relatively credible on their face. That is not to say that the criticism coming from experts and professors on the subject was not justified or correct. That is not to say I have any expertise in this area.

    However, unless some of the people stepped way way over the line, I don't believe it's right to even consider prosecution. These people were doing what they thought was right and best for our country in the circumstances. Even if some analysis was not good, or some mistakes were made, these things should not be prosecuted.

    Who defines "distraction"? (5.00 / 4) (#44)
    by Upstart Crow on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:31:07 PM EST
    Who says torture and human rights are "distractions," and if so distractions from what?

    In this administration, "distraction" has become a synonym for anything BHO doesn't have a good answer for.


    Like restoring Constitutional government? (5.00 / 3) (#69)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:35:31 AM EST
    Yeah, that's a distraction.

    Who's saying torture or human rights (none / 0) (#76)
    by Green26 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 04:51:58 AM EST
    are disractions?

    The criminal prosecution of US agents involved with the harsh interrogation techniques would be the "distraction". Many conservative or Repub groups would rally in support of those prosecuted, and some in Congress would hammer at Obama and the administration. It would be vindictive, in my view.


    Another distraction would be (none / 0) (#78)
    by Green26 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 05:10:38 AM EST
    the huge distraction at the CIA, where some of these agents still work.

    Personally, I'd rather have the CIA focusing on protecting our country, than on being concerned about and fighting criminal prosecutions and preparing interviews and testimony.


    CIA? Protect the country? (none / 0) (#86)
    by kdog on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 06:46:35 AM EST
    Seems to me that criinal outfit puts our country in jeapordy...the organization that delivered us Osama protecting the country, that's a laugh.

    "Politics and the English Language" (none / 0) (#98)
    by Upstart Crow on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 09:24:27 AM EST
    Green, you've questioned below whether this qualifies as torture.

    As a fan of Orwell's essay, however, I would like to flag the use of terms like "harsh interrogation techniques" to mask unpalatable realities.

    It could catch on. In fact, it has.


    You're saying that there's no difference... (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by lambert on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:24:35 AM EST
    ... between "criminalized" and "criminal." That's bogus -- it leads to the conclusion that no high official can ever be convicted of crimes.

    Last I checked, the Geneva Convention was a treaty. Treaties are the law of the land. The administration broke the law. If we don't have the rule of law, if elites are free to break the law with impunity, we really are a banana republic. I understand that would be good for  a few at the top and their apologists, but that's not the kind of country I grew up in.


    No, if laws are clearly broken, and (none / 0) (#77)
    by Green26 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 04:57:04 AM EST
    the prosecution is not based on disagreement over policy and politics, then that's a different story.

    You seem to believe that all of the "torture" stuff was black and white. I don't. I don't believe any of this, including water boarding, was clearly defined as something that couldn't be done under US law. In fact, to the contrary, the legal memos and opinions concluded that it was legal under the particular circumstances.

    Have you even looked at the memos? Feel free to point out something that you believe is so clear and so wrong that it should lead to criminal prosecution of US agents.


    Well look (5.00 / 5) (#81)
    by Steve M on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 05:25:20 AM EST
    if you don't believe the law was "clearly broken" in the case of Iran-Contra, when would you ever believe it?

    Someone should have told that US soldier we court-martialed for waterboarding a POW in Vietnam that he didn't do anything illega.


    While I don't know the circumstances of (none / 0) (#83)
    by Green26 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 05:33:27 AM EST
    the soldier in Viet Nam, I will note that situation/technique in Viet Nam would not have been permitted under the recent CIA rules (and US legal memos). The person waterboarded would not have been a high value detainee, there would not have been an imminent threat of an attack on US soil, the detainee would not have been thought to have information that would help prevent the attack, the interrogation would not have been designed to obtain information to prevent the attack, etc.

    That neatly sidesteps (5.00 / 2) (#84)
    by Steve M on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 06:03:54 AM EST
    the question of whether it is torture.

    Not to mention the question of how you could possibly deny that the law was "clearly broken" in Iran-Contra, another prosecution you say should never have happened.


    Steve, (none / 0) (#115)
    by NYShooter on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 02:49:33 PM EST
    I'm surprised at you.

    Did you ever see the film clip of one of the conspirators of the "kill Hitler" plot pleading his case before one of Hitler's "judges?" The poor fellow gave his hopeless explanation that he had no choice; what he did was his duty as an officer, and a patriot..

    Logical, sound, and sincere explanation.

    In response, the judge's first sentence began, "You filthy swine...!!!!"

    I don't know why, but your response to the fellow above just triggered that flashback.


    I don't believe the Boland amendment was (none / 0) (#106)
    by Green26 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 10:29:05 AM EST
    criminally violated in the Iran-Contra matter.

    The Boland amendment was an unclear and watered-down amendment barely passed by Congress. It outlawed the use of certain appropriated funds to fund the Contras in the overthrow of the government. It was clearly a political and controversial amendment--as shown by its narrow passage and compromised language, as well as its subject matter.

    The argument by those involved was that they had used non-appropriated funds, and thus did not violate the Boland amendment. No court ever held that the amendment covered the non-appropriated funds.

    As is typical of independent counsel and other investigations/prosecutions of this type, many of the charges related to peripheral things, like obstruction of justice and lying to Congress and not the heart of the alleged violation. (This is one of my big gripes about independent counsel and other prosections.)

    Several of the more prominent convictions, like Oliver North, were overturned on appeal. All of the convicted people were pardoned by Bush-I. At least one of those pardoned served in Bush's administration.

    This matter was very much political, and not very criminal, in my view. I assume most of you were too young to have been following the matter in real time.


    How do you respond to the conclusion (1.00 / 1) (#82)
    by Green26 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 05:26:20 AM EST
    that Article 16 of the UN treaty, by its terms, applies only to territory under US jurisdiction? I believe what was authorized was all outside US jurisdiction.

    How do you view the US Senate's reservation, when the US undertook obligations under Article 16, that the US was signing on only to the extent of violations of the 5th amendment of the US constitution (which, by the way, has a different standard and does not apply to non-US citizens outside of the US)?

    What's your view of the ability of the US to protect vital interests, i.e. protect the US from future 9/11's?

    Did you know the CIA told the authors of the memos that the interrogation program had been largely responsible for preventing another attack on US soil?

    Did you note that waterboarding was limited to high value detainees in very limited situations, like when another attack on the US was expected, it was thought the detainee may have informaton that would help prevent the attack, and other methods were believed to be unlikely to obtain the information on a timely basis?

    I don't see how criminal prosecutions of CIA agents following orders and relying on these legal conclusions from the upper levels of government, could even been seriously considered. And how could you ever convict someone? Where's the criminal intent?


    From a legal standpoint (none / 0) (#42)
    by befuddledvoter on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:27:26 PM EST
    I agree with most of what you have posted.  Clearly, rank and file, if prosecuted, could raise the defense of reasonable reliance upon authority and it would be a powerful defense given the authority.  

    I also agree that we are somewhat of a select group here.  Most of the ordinary citizenry (Joe the plumber) would not be so sensitive to the nuances of what is torture and what is not, what is necessary what is not.  So many people are now just worrying about keeping their homes; saving their retirements and their jobs.  I am not so sure most people would welcome a lengthy involved prosecution, no matter how meritorious it may be.        


    Let me ask . . . . (5.00 / 3) (#62)
    by nycstray on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:19:00 AM EST
    what would stop the President/Congress from doing their jobs while courts and lawyers prosecute? Why can't people who are worried about jobs, economy etc be able to hear these problems are being handled at the same time that justice is being served?

    An example (none / 0) (#90)
    by star on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 08:16:37 AM EST
    Reading these memos, the initial reaction is total disgust. But ..
    It is very difficult to ignore the fact that NOT ANOTHER LIFE has been lost in american homeland to a terrorist attack since then. Under the circumstances after 9/11 the fear felt by people was real and am sure the guilt felt by CIA and other intelligence agencies must have been so huge for NOT having stopped 9/11. Please read the book 'Looming Tower' by Lawrence Wright. It allows a peak into the mentality of intelligence community before and immediatly after 9/11 and the kind of scrifices they do to keep me and you safe and prosecuting them for it is just not right.

    Not true (none / 0) (#111)
    by cenobite on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:01:52 PM EST
    Please don't forget the anthrax attacks.

    What part of the following do you not understand? (none / 0) (#110)
    by cenobite on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:00:06 PM EST

        Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law (Article 4) . . . . The State Party in territory under whose jurisdiction a person alleged to have committed any offence referred to in article 4 is found, shall in the cases contemplated in article 5, if it does not extradite him, submit the case to its competent authorities for the purpose of prosecution.

        No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. . . . An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

    Convention Against Torture, ratified by the US Senate in 1994.

    It does not matter whether torturers were told by their superiors that it was okay. Such a defense is explicitly forbidden.

    It does not matter that pols (even Democrats!) think it is inconvenient to prosecute. This is also explicitly forbidden.

    If we don't want to punish the CIA thugs who did the actual torturing because they were acting in good faith, the president has the power to pardon them. He does not, however, have the discretion to not prosecute them.


    Blast Obama Especially (none / 0) (#32)
    by NealB on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 10:58:09 PM EST
    His hesitation and equivocation already have shamed us. From this day forward, anyone who is abused by authority does it with Mr. Obama's blessing. Damning him, as he deserves, doesn't lessen their pain. All those tortured from now on are tortured with Obama's sanction.

    I don't think that's what he meant. I can't believe any of us, Armando and Jeralyn included, would defend it.

    Obama has made a big mistake. Either he's threatened, or he doesn't know the difference between right and wrong. Either way, Obama prosecutes the Bush, Clinton, and Reagan torturers; or he's a torturer too.

    In Election News From NY-20 (none / 0) (#45)
    by CoralGables on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:31:52 PM EST
    In Dutchess County, things have come to a halt. In order for the recount to proceed, elections officials from both sides must be present.

    ... they couldn't complete the recount because Republican elections Commissioner David Gamache was attending a Yankees game this afternoon.

    Which was a rout by Cleveland. (none / 0) (#46)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:33:34 PM EST
    Serves him right, but it was, afterall, the opening of the new Yankee Stadium.

    It should make tomorrow (none / 0) (#52)
    by CoralGables on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:42:53 PM EST
    less than enjoyable for the Republican Commissioner since his county went for Murphy on election day. Murphy's lead should widen just like the Indians over the Yanks.

    Then there are the phenom Marlins! (none / 0) (#56)
    by oculus on Thu Apr 16, 2009 at 11:59:27 PM EST
    I dare not speak (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by CoralGables on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 12:06:34 AM EST
    of their record again lest I jinx the Mighty Marlins.

    Vamos Pescado!!!


    The Gravitas of Shame (none / 0) (#72)
    by joze46 on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 03:57:02 AM EST
    As the Obama administration digs into the top secret memos likely all would have to be revealed. For me many on the Senate Intelligence will go through the same severe decisions in letting out even more ugly memos out in the open that tie the whole Republican Party "at the top"  to a Criminal War and a Criminal Economy putting an immoral way of leadership  to an end.

    There is a whole host of guilty perpetrators at the top and to quote Obama from his message to the world "Words Must Mean Something". Its simple, Those Republicans at the top are in disarray and running scared. Exampled by Governor Perry suggesting succession, a huge mistake from him that reveals guilt and complicity likely in both war supplies and economics. It is suggested two thirds of the military support for the war effort went through the ports Texas. Shame like this torture stuff has the gravitas in a way to drift to it originator, we know Cheney and Bush are loaded with this gravitas.

    US standing in the world (none / 0) (#87)
    by Coral on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 06:50:26 AM EST
    has been immeasurably diminished. A prosecution for torture, and disbarring of Bybee (and Yoo) would help. How can we preach morality and human rights after what we've done?

    On the other hand, getting tangled right now in an extremely divisive legal battle, would make it difficult for Obama to pass his ambitious health care, education, environment/energy program.

    I can understand his dilemma, and I'm not sure if I were him I'd proceed with prosecution at this time.

    Why would (5.00 / 1) (#92)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 08:34:18 AM EST
    it stop his agenda? It seems he's the one stopping his agenda by saying ridiculous things like he needs 60 votes.

    He can hand it over to the courts to prosecute then move onto whatever else needs to be done. This is the type of excuse the GOP used during Watergate. We can't do X or Y because of Vietnam or whatever.


    Car Czar in trouble (none / 0) (#91)
    by jbindc on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 08:27:34 AM EST

    And this is the guy we're supposed to trust to help the auto companies?

    In March, Steven Rattner, the leader of the Obama Administration's auto task force, was the man who sat face to face with General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner at a Treasury Department meeting, and fired him.

    Now it's Rattner's turn on the hot seat.

    The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday night that Rattner was involved with payments at the center of an investigation into an alleged kickback scheme at New York state's pension fund. Sourcing their information to a "person familiar with the matter," Journal reporters Craig Karmin and Peter Lattman reported that Rattner, who was then an executive at Quadrangle Group, an investment firm he co-founded, met with a "politically connected" consultant to discuss a finder's fee. Quadrangle later paid a $1.1 million fee, and received a $100 million investment from the New York State Common Retirement Fund.

    New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been investigating whether payments to middle men by private equity firms including Quadrangle constituted improper kickbacks in exchange for investments from the pension fudn, which is worth $122 billion.

    I also empathize (none / 0) (#96)
    by pcpablo on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 08:47:55 AM EST
    with Obama, he has a lot of other things right now on his plate rather than doing things that should have been done in the past (as long as he stopped them from happening in the present).
    But I have no love for Congress!  The ball is in their court, and has been for years. This is 100% their responsibility, and shirking it is a stain on them, and in extention, all of us.

    The (none / 0) (#99)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 09:25:27 AM EST
    balls in Obama's court too. He can instruct the justice department to go ahead with prosecutions. It looks like he's punting and being avoidant. He could use this as a chance to lead but he isn't.

    I find myself in complete agreement (none / 0) (#97)
    by Capt Howdy on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 09:04:51 AM EST
    with you BTD.

    except that I thought Olberman was his usual obnoxious self righteous bloviating self.
    I am no longer impressed with his comments.  special or otherwise.  the man makes me laugh sometimes but he is still a craven fool.

    Thank you, (none / 0) (#100)
    by bocajeff on Fri Apr 17, 2009 at 09:35:58 AM EST
    You didn't respond to my post. If the majority of people were truly sickened by Iran Contra then Bush 41 would not have been elected. Deep down the majority of people were fine with it.

    So take your personal attack and try to rebut what I said...

    How would they prosecute Plame? (none / 0) (#116)
    by jr on Sun Apr 19, 2009 at 04:12:26 AM EST
    Hypothetically speaking: suppose Valerie Plame was never outed as a CIA agent, and maintained all her foreign contacts and sources, as well as her cover identity with Brewster-Jennings.  Then say, for whatever reason, she was put on trial for something work-related.  How would that trial be conducted without revealing her identity to a global audience and putting every asset she's ever come into contact with at risk?

    Part of the problem I'm having is I can't figure out how they could conduct a non-secret trial for any of the operator-level interrogators without sacrificing our intelligence capacity (I'm guessing these interrogators all have significant field records and overseas contacts that would be jeopardized or lost--or even killed--in the event of an open prosecution).

    Of course, if we prosecuted Gonzales, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Cheney and Bush, we wouldn't have to worry so much about national security, and the ones who really need to be held accountable would be.