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Hypocritical Prosecution for War-Crimes in Miami

From the Guardian...

The American-born son of former Liberian dictator Charles Taylor has been ordered to pay more than £14m in compensation to five people tortured during the West African country's civil war.

A judge in the US made the order a year after the same Miami court sentenced Charles McArthur Emmanuel Taylor, known as Chuckie, to 97 years in prison for his role in one of Africa's bloodiest chapters; he was the first person to be convicted by a federal court of committing offences outside the US.

The 32-year-old led the notorious Anti-Terrorist Unit, a band of pro-government paramilitaries nicknamed the Demon Forces who carried out murder and torture during his father's presidency from 1997 to 2003.

Witnesses at his criminal trial in 2008 spoke of hearing him laugh as prisoners were abused and how the Anti-Terrorist Unit "did things like beating people to death, burying them alive, rape - the most horrible kind of war crimes".

A spokesman for United States immigration and customs enforcement said that it was a "clear message the US would not be a safe haven for human rights violators."

The US isn't a safe haven for war-criminals?

B*llsh*t!

Remember these fine words from Barack Obama?

In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.

And Eric Holder...

In releasing these memos, it is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.

The torture memos from Bybee and Yoo cover everybody else, and Bybee and Yoo aren't guilty either! It was just a "bad judgement!"

Abracadabra!

Everybody walks! Nobody goes to jail!

So forget about the "clear message the US would not be a safe haven for human rights violators."

The real message for the torturers of tomorrow is...

Get some wh*re of lawyer (like John Yoo) in your local DOJ to opine that whatever you do is legal, and then you can chop up your victims with no more fear of prosecution than if you were chopping onions.

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Former Bush DOJ Officials Back Holder on Trial of 9/11 Suspects

James Comey and Jack Goldsmith, high-ranking Department of Justice officials under Bush, have an op-ed in the Washington Post defending Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to prosecute Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other detainees in federal criminal court instead of a military commission proceeding. The conclusion is fine:

But Holder's critics do not help their case by understating the criminal justice system's capacities, overstating the military system's virtues and bumper-stickering a reasonable decision.

In reaching that correct assessment, however, there's a few statements I take issue with. They posit that Holder made the decision to keep the U.S.S. Cole detainees in a military proceeding not for the reasons he said (that the attack happened outside the U.S.) but because the case against them is weak and the chance of conviction is greater in a military commission trial. In other words, Holder forum-shopped (as, they say, Bush's DOJ did before him) and there's nothing wrong with that. I think when it's done hoping to skirt the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt because you know you can't meet it, there's definitely something wrong with it.
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DOJ to Limit Criminal Investigations of CIA Abuses

Attorney General Eric Holder took months to decide on whether to investigate any cases of abuse of detainees overseas with an eye towards criminal prosecution. He got a lot of praise (and in some venues, criticism) when he announced he'd consider it. The Washington Post reports the number of cases the DOJ may prosecute is down from more than a dozen to just a few .

A senior official who took part in the review confirmed that of two dozen referrals, the Salt Pit episode was one of two or three cases close to being considered for criminal indictment.

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AG Holder: Prisons Not the Answer

Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech today at the American Bar Association convention. He acknowledged we cannot jail ourselves out of our crime problems.

“We will not focus exclusively on incarceration as the most effective means of protecting public safety,” Holder told the American Bar Association delegates meeting here for their annual convention. “Since 2003, spending on incarceration has continued to rise, but crime rates have flattened.”

“Today, one out of every 100 adults in America is incarcerated — the highest incarceration rate in the world,” he said. But the country has reached a point of diminishing returns at which putting even greater percentages of America’s citizens behind bars won’t cut the crime rate.

Prison terms result in increased recidivism. And, he said, drug treatment works: [More...]

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Newsweek: AG May Probe Bush Torture-Era Policies

Newsweek has a long feature article on Attorney General Eric Holder.

Four knowledgeable sources tell NEWSWEEK that he is now leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices, something the president has been reluctant to do. While no final decision has been made, an announcement could come in a matter of weeks, say these sources, who decline to be identified discussing a sensitive law-enforcement matter.

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Eric Holder Confirmed as Attorney General

It's official. Eric Holder is our Attorney General, having been confirmed by a vote of 75 to 21. All 21 were Republicans.

As I wrote earlier today, I'm not expecting much positive change in our criminal justice system. But, if there are any, I'll be glad to report on them and thank both President Obama and Attorney General Holder.

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Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Holder for AG

No surprise here. Attorney General nominee Eric Holder passed the Senate Judicary Committee by a vote of 17 to 2 with only Republican Senators John Cornyn and Tom Coburn voting no.

A vote by the full Senate should take place in a few days. Mukasey's term expired on Jan. 20 Bush Deputy AG Mark Filip is <a href="http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2009/01/21/bush-holdover-takes-the-reigns-awaiting-holder-confirmation/, serving as Acting Attorney General until Holder is confirmed.

Next up after Holder's confirmation: The naming of 93 U.S. Attorneys. Will there be any holdovers? Patrick Fitzgerald is expected to stay as Obama previously said he would keep him. The rest will primarily be chosen through recommendations by the Senators in each district.

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Action Alert for Eric Holder's Confirmation Hearing

During the presidential campaign, President-elect Obama pledged numerous times to end DEA raids on individuals who use or provide medical cannabis in accordance with their state law. The U.S. Attorney General is the member of the cabinet who will implement Obama¹s criminal justice policies, including federal marijuana enforcement.

Confirmation hearings for Obama's nominee, Eric Holder, are scheduled to begin on January 15th before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Holder's past positions on drug law reform are outlined here.

Via NORML:

Please help NORML make sure the next Attorney General keeps the promises made by President-elect Obama! Call or write Senator Leahy's office at (202) 224-4242 and say:
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A Date With Eric Holder And Barack Obama

Crossposted from Docudharma


If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

"The Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendements to the Constitution of the United States prohibit cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment."

With that sentence begins the documentary film "Torturing Democracy", a documentary to be aired on PBS television stations nationwide on January 21st, 2009, one day after President Bush leaves office.

One day after President Bush leaves office will be the first day of President-Elect Barack Obama's new administration.

Between today and that day, we have a date with Attorney General-Designate Eric Holder and President-Elect Barack Obama. Everyday.

As netizens reading this at the founding site of the Citizens Petition for a Special Prosecutor to Investigate and Prosecute Bush War Crimes we have a date every day with those two men as we work to generate as many signatures to the petition that we can possibly generate to bring the war criminals in the Bush administration to justice. Principally Mr. Bush himself, Vice President Richard Cheney, and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. They were the leaders. The instigators. And the approvers. But there are many others as well, and they all deserve fair trials. it is the very least we can do for them, and for the world.

These crimes are being euphemistically referred to as "abusive interrogation techniques" by such respected figures as Senator John McCain. These are euphemisms for torture. Torture is a War Crime. Waterboarding is a War Crime. The CIA has admitted waterboarding detainees. Recently, Vice President Cheney has brazenly admitted authorizing the program that led to waterboarding, other forms of torture too numerous to list, and ultimately, the deaths by homicide of detainees.

As is often the case, we are because of our insatiable interest, curiosity and determination to be as well informed as we can be, much farther ahead of the millions of people who will see Torturing Democracy on January 21st, 2009.

Before the PBS broadcast the documentary in its entirety can be viewed at TorturingDemocracy.org

This short intro video is the first eight and a half minutes of the full documentary. You can watch the full program at the link above.

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Critiquing Holder for Attorney General

Looseheadprop, a former federal prosecutor who writes at Firedoglake, makes a last-ditch effort to derail the nomination of Eric Holder for Attorney General.

I agree Obama should have picked someone different, but for for much different reasons -- his position on drug offenses, his Biden-like endorsement of draconian crime bills and his closeness to Obama (a weaker but still troublesome comparison can be made to Bush and Alberto Gonzales) but I think Obama is so beholden to Holder for his work on his campaign, from the Veep Selection Committee on down, that it's hopeless. He sailed through his 1997 confirmation hearing for Deputy Attorney General. As I wrote here and here, [More...]

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Eric Holder : Wanted Return of Mandatory Minimums and Tougher Pot Penalties

As U.S. Attorney in Washington, D.C., Eric Holder sought to raise marijuana penalties and restore mandatory minimum penalties for drug crimes. From the Washington Times, December 5, 1996 (via Lexis.com):

Eric Holder yesterday said he will seek to make marijuana distribution in the District a felony and reinstate mandatory-minimum sentences for convicted drug dealers. Mr. Holder,...said the D.C. Council's vote a year ago to repeal mandatory minimums was "misguided," leading to a backlog in the court system. He also warned that the city is on the verge of an explosion in violence associated with the sale and use of marijuana.

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Eric Holder on Gun Control

Eric Holder has always been a strong supporter of gun control. From his Weekly Briefing on March 20, 2000 (available on Lexis.com):

I want to add my voice to those who are calling on Congress to finally -- to finally -- pass these very common-sense gun measures.

First, to require child safety locks for all handguns that are sold. Second, to ban violent juveniles from ever having the ability to own guns.

Third, to pass the president's handgun licensing proposal, which requires safety certification for all handgun purchasers.

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Eric Holder's 1997 Deputy A.G. Confirmation Hearing

On June 13, 1997, at age 46, Eric Holder was confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Attorney General under Janet Reno. His confirmation hearing lasted two hours, pretty smooth sailing. The transcript is here. Some snippets, in his own words:

On his objectives:

First, to work with the attorney general in making sure that federal law enforcement resources are used wisely to address the major crime problems confronting our nation -- drugs, violence, gangs, juvenile crime, and official and financial corruption.

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