Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Lawyers Decided Bans on Torture Didn't Bind Bush

Lawyers Decided Bans on Torture Didn't Bind Bush

This is a powerful piece. It shows that administration lawyers made a conscious decision to allow Bush and his administration to get away with open-ended definitions of torture and escape international legal scrutiny. A March memo view is in direct conflict with the position the administration has taken in U.S. Supreme Court regarding Constitutional protections for prisoners.

When too much power is afforded to people who can easily abuse it, we shouldn't be surprised if and when we find ourselves well outside the realm of the rule of law.

A team of administration lawyers concluded in a March 2003 legal memorandum that President Bush was not bound by either an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal antitorture law because he had the authority as commander in chief to approve any technique needed to protect the nation's security.

The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, also said that any executive branch officials, including those in the military, could be immune from domestic and international prohibitions against torture for a variety of reasons...

The March memorandum...is the latest internal legal study to be disclosed that shows that after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks the administration's lawyers were set to work to find legal arguments to avoid restrictions imposed by international and American law.

...lawyers who drafted the torture memo in March could face professional sanctions.


Today, Attorney General John Ashcroft, without offering sound reason, said he would not discuss the contents of the Justice and Pentagon memos, and would not turn over the Justice memo to the committee.

I believe it is essential to the operation of the executive branch that the president have the opportunity to get information from the attorney general that is confidential," he said.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) and Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) warned Ashcroft that his refusal might place him in contempt of Congress.


UPDATE-June 9:

Washington Post Editorial- LEGALIZING TORTURE

Perhaps the president's lawyers have no interest in the global impact of their policies -- but they should be concerned about the treatment of American servicemen and civilians in foreign countries.

Washington Post-Memo on Torture Draws Focus to Bush ; Aide Says President Set Guidelines for Interrogations, Not Specific Techniques

Josh Marshall Commentary (Josh is an intuitive pundit; consistently ahead of the curve.)

Now, we know that presidents sometimes break laws and they frequently bend them, if only in cases where the laws don't seem to anticipate a situation the president finds himself confronting. There is even an argument that the president can refuse to enforce laws he deems unconstitutional.

But there is no power inherent in the president simply to set aside the law.

General Batiste Visits Baquba

General Batiste Visits Baquba

Baquba and Col. Dana Pittard, for me, have become the symbol of the best model of possible success in Iraq. May the men and women of the Third Brigade see continued positivity from the hopeful people of that city. God knows- it isn't going to be a cakewalk. A suicide bomb near Baquba killed at least one U.S. soldier today. I credit no small part of any acheived success in Baquba (which is about 30 miles north of Baghdad)to Col. Pittard, a true gentleman in a war of twisted motives where gentleman hardly count.

Mostly, I hope these troops will soon be able to leave Iraq..a place they never should have and never needed to have been sent to begin with.

The general said that of all the cities under his watch, Baquba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, was the most willing to work with the Americans. Col. Dana J. H. Pittard, the brigade commander, said he expanded the provincial council last week to 40 members from 29 to make it more inclusive.

But Baquba still has a strong Sunni guerrilla movement, and insurgents have killed some local leaders, including a communist member of the provincial council and a district police chief. Insurgents have tried twice to kill the governor, Colonel Pittard said.


AlJazeera Spreads Propaganda About U.S.

AlJazeera Spreads Propaganda About U.S.

Oh, man..just look at this propaganda....

{LINK-A Letter From Baghdad - US Soldier "Media dont tell the whole story"]

Iraq -U.N. and CPA Updates

Iraq -U.N. and CPA Updates

It's good to see the United Nations getting involved again. John Negroponte says Iraq's sovereignty will be "undiluted" (whatever the hell that means when it comes to the big picture).

There has been no commitment (or discussions) for troops from other U.N. countries right now, but I think they'd have to be insane to want to commit troops at this juncture. Security has been so badly bungled by Rumsfeld and Co...if anyone expects instantaneous stability, they need their heads examined. The coalition needs at least 500,000 troops to bring peace to Iraq, according to military analysts including Christopher Langton of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, a London-based defense consultant.

There's still a problem of legitimacy with the Iraqi people themselves. While Bush can claim a victory with the U.N. resolution, the resolution will have little effect on the ground, as Simon Kitchen, Middle East analyst for the Eurasia Group has said. This new interim government can sign contracts and discuss debt, but still have a lot of problems because most Iraqis don't see it as legitimate. [LINK-Bloomberg News]

It doesn't help that Paul Bremer has signed an order banning Muqtada al-Sadr and his lieutenants from running for elective office for 3 years because of their membership in an illegal militia. al-Sadr and his supporters have rejected this decree, saying that the CPA and the interim government have no right to make such decisions. [LINK-Guardian]

Juan Cole says:

Bremer's action in excluding the Sadrists from parliament is one final piece of stupidity to cap all the other moronic things he has done in Iraq. The whole beauty of parliamentary governance is that it can hope to draw off the energies of groups like the Sadrists. Look at how parliamentary bargaining moderated the Shiite AMAL party in Lebanon, which had a phase as a terrorist group in the 1980s but gradually outgrew it...

The only hope for dealing with the Sadrists nonviolently was to entice them into civil politics.. Now that they have been excluded from the political process and made outlaws in the near to medium term, we may expect them to act like outlaws and to be spoilers in the new Iraq.

[LINK-Informed Comment]

Dems, GOP give each other the 'Dutch' rub

Dems, GOP Give Each Other the 'Dutch' rub

Republican aides dredged up comments by [John] Kerry which were unflattering to Mr Reagan in the '80s...

Democrats retaliated with statements by [George] Bush Sr. in 1980, when he ran against Mr Reagan for the Republican nomination.


In House bill: Churches to be freed to preach Word of Bush?

In House bill: Churches to be freed to preach Word of Bush?

Not only is the House trying to free the churches to put politics in their pulpits, they're doing it in a downright sneaky manner.

Representative Bill Thomas(the same cordial gent who called the fuzz on his fellow House reps last summer) has snuck the measure into a larger bill introduced to Committee last Friday.

Rev. Barry Lynn (of Americans United for Separation of Church and State) says 'no way'.

Paul Weyrich (of the Free Congress Foundation) imagines it's the best way..perhaps the only way.. to ensure a Bush re-election.

The House, in true partisan form, is going with Weyrich's idea.

Push the Federal Marriage Amendment--fire up the Christian fundamentalists. Get the fire and damnation mouths a-rumblin' and a-roarin'. Get all those millions of missing evangelicals to show up at the polls…along with untold millions of "traditional" Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, Missouri and Wisconsin synod Lutherans... and, oh.. those Episcopalians!

Vote for Bush or go to Hell and all other venues of vaguely related tarnation.