No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post
The Obama administration announced it is supporting the Bush administration’s attempt to quash the restoration of tens of millions of lost emails. In addition to the previous link I looked at stories here, here and from the still-link-boycotted AP. The closest I saw to an explanation was from the CREW link: “The White House is arguing that because it has re-examined the problem and restored a limited number of emails, CREW’s claims should be dismissed.” No claims of national security issues or any other supposedly high minded reasons for it, just high handed obstinacy. The administration seems to be developing a somewhat schizophrenic character, being progressive on economic issues and repressive on civil rights, human rights and transparency. Maybe he thinks if he fixes the former we’ll ignore the latter.
I learned a new acronym this week - SAD, for the CIA’s Special Activities Division. As in, “This week the government acknowledged for the first time that some of SAD’s sensitive air operations were swept up in a fraud conspiracy that reached the highest levels of the CIA and cost the government $40 million.” There may be an unresolvable tension between covert operations and democracy. We can’t know if corruption (or worse) is being conducted in our names so we have to just take government at its word that everything is kosher. I increasingly wonder if that policy doesn’t do more harm than good. That is particularly true considering some of the actual incidents we know about show a disturbing trend of doing more harm than good to us. That could be a “you only hear about the planes that crash” phenomenon, but it doesn’t take many crashes that bad to call the whole enterprise into question, right?
A Marcy Wheeler hat trick:
- A detailed look at the Obama administration’s positions in the al-Haramain and EFF/Jewel cases. You know how both positions look bad on the face of it? Well they’re even worse once you dig in.
- A bracing call out of one of the more egregious claims in the EFF/Jewel case.
- Breaking news on a rebuke of the Obama administration’s state secrets claim in al-Haramain. The 9th Circuit is famously liberal and famously reversed on appeal frequently at the Supreme Court, so who knows if the ruling will hold.
A word on that last item. Marcy just links to a NY Times story, she didn’t actually break the news herself. On the other hand, I know she stays on top of issues like this so I check in regularly. With myriad outlets constantly putting out stories it’s impossible to stay on top of everything. A site with a narrower focus can in some way be said to “break” certain kinds of stories by being a trusted source for a particular issue, and giving it visibility by cutting through the clutter. It’s a new kind of way for news to be broken - not a primary source of content, but a primary source of distribution by virtue of specialization.
I continue to loathe the bailout:
It is time for our nation’s financial machine to drop the self-righteous arrogance they have cloaked themselves in for too long, for all of those paper-pushing money lords to release their false sense of entitlement, relinquish their ill-gotten wealth from the last 10 years, and to return to their proper place in the economic landscape as facilitators of capital creation, not the creators of capital.
Accountability in the largest disbursement of public funds in history is not only a good idea, it is essential to our democracy, as is ending the revolving door between corporate boardrooms and the regulatory offices of our government.
The nightmare ends for one man and intensifies for others. Digby noted before Obama was even inaugurated that he was using “very careful language” about torture, which is just a polite way of saying weasel words to keep him from being on the hook for investigating Bush-era crimes. I hope it now is obvious that he has two and only two options: Investigate and prosecute as appropriate or be implicated. It cannot be finessed.
The NSA tends to fly under the radar, which I’m sure is by design. It wants to expand its role in government cybersecurity efforts and that just seems like a bad, bad idea.
The next day, July 1, 1863, Stuart still couldn’t find Lee’s army. Seven days had passed since he had communicated with his general, and now Lee moved blindly toward disaster because Stuart had failed to warn him about Union troop numbers and locations. That same day, Lee’s forward units launched attacks near Gettysburg, with Confederate infantry driving Union soldiers back through the town and up onto formidable bulwarks, Cemetery Hill and adjacent Culp’s Hill.
Stuart reached Lee’s headquarters in the afternoon [of July 2nd] to find Lee fretting over how slowly Longstreet was moving his two divisions into position for attacks on the Union left. An aide who attended the meeting between Lee and Stuart said, “It was painful beyond description.”
Lee reddened when he saw Stuart, writes historian Burke Davis. Fighting to control his rage, Lee may even have lifted his hand as if to hit the cavalry chief, but stopped short of a blow.
“General Stuart, where have you been?” he demanded.
Stuart’s usual aggressive composure deserted him. He tried to explain his actions of the past week, but the general was unappeased.
“I have not heard a word from you for days,” Lee seethed.
Stuart countered that he and his force had captured 125 wagons.
“Yes, General, but they are an impediment to me now,” scolded Lee.
Thanks for nothing, folks.
UNPACKING JANE: From page 275:
“They were torturing people,” said a former CIA official with extensive knowledge of the CIA’s program. “No question. They did disgusting things to people. Their attitude was, ‘Laws? Like who the fuck cares?’” It was the simultaneous use of multiple forms of coercion for extended periods that made the treatment of [Kalid Sheikh] Mohammed and other detainees “especially abusive,” according to those who read the Red Cross report on it. Mohammed was subjected not just to waterboarding but to hundreds of different techniques in just a two-week period soon after his capture, according to one account. A former U.S. official, with access to details of the interrogation program, stressed that few outsiders truly understood the overwhelming power of the program. Critics have focused on specific techniques, such as waterboarding. But, he said, “What mattered was things done in combination. It can look antiseptic on a piece of paper, when it’s a legal checklist. It seems clinical. It doesn’t sound so much. You have to have the imagination to visualize it graphically, and in combinations, over time, to understand how this all would work in reality. The totality is just staggering.” Senator Carl Levin, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, came to a similar conclusion, arguing in an interview that “there’s a point where it’s torture. You can put someone in a refrigerator and it’s torture. Everything is a matter of degree.”
I wonder what the president thinks of all that.