No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post
Andy Worthington posted a list of all Guantánamo prisoners a couple of months back and I didn’t notice. Good on him for what must have been a fairly large undertaking. Getting a list like that together is just the first step, of course, but just having a first pass is a big deal.
Say what you will about torture, actual death is even worse.
I’m not sure if there are Jerk Wheaties but if so Lindsey Graham had himself a big ol’ bowl every day for breakfast this week. First he and Joe Lieberman asked the president to ignore a FOIA lawsuit by the ACLU (W. ain’t president anymore, boys. Why do I think there is already great nostalgia for him in Washington?), then (via) he and John McCain teamed up to sing the praises of extra-constitutional detention and call for the continued trashing of habeas corpus.
A couple of reports implicated Nancy Pelosi in CIA torture briefings. Marcy and bmaz promptly went bananas dissecting the lies and half-truths. I like to think of the two of them living in something like the Bat Cave, and whenever a particularly terrible report gets released they see some kind of blogger version of the Bat Signal (maybe a blinking Cheeto) and they swing into action, grabbing their keyboards and methodically dismantling the story. I leave the costume designs for each to your imagination.
A big part of the debate seems to be whether or not Pelosi had been told torture had been used or was just approved to be used. Chris Matthews of all people hit the nail on the head Friday on MSNBC: That’s akin to someone who voted for the AUMF being shocked that it quickly led to war. When you approve the prospective use of something, you approve its use. If it doesn’t get used the way you want then you are either naive or disingenuous. I’m more receptive to the argument that she was constrained by classification requirements and an anemic briefing/oversight process. I definitely would like to see more attention to that. It still doesn’t get her entirely off the hook, mind you. For an issue as urgent as this maybe you go public even if it means breaking the law. But the idea that she is blameless because she was told it was on the table but not actually in use yet is deeply, deeply unpersuasive to me.
Where are you willing to draw the line Mr. Alexander/Mr. Shelby? Can we go all the way to Iran Contra as well or further? Or how about BCCI or even to Operation 40? Because I sure as hell don’t mind. Let’s rip it all open then, shall we? In fact, how about we keep going after the Jack Abramoff scandal which should have nabbed Mr. Shelby already, but for some reason did not (perhaps a Canary had something to do with it?).
My first impulse is, sure - let’s hear all of it. I don’t think Eric Holder should be above criticism for his role in renditions during the Clinton era. I’ve written before that I’m opposed to the Clinton-era rendition program, so if we’re going to revisit it that’s just fine with me. And I’ve never been satisfied with the Iran Contra investigation either, so I’m good with revisiting that as well. Let’s line them all up in reverse chronological order and go through them one at a time. Let’s throw open all the doors and windows.
I just love that Dick Cheney cannot shut up. Mr. Evil Genius is too dumb to realize that his mouth is a shovel these days, and every word is another little pile of dirt thrown out of the hole he’s dug for himself. He just keeps advancing the story, and the story gets ever more interesting.
Donald Rumsfeld isn’t really digging his hole any deeper, he’s just providing outstanding entertainment value by having his proxies say things like “Between the New York Times and the Pentagon’s inspector general office, it’s pretty clear which is a more credible and non-partisan source” exactly one day before the Pentagon withdraws its report because it “did not meet accepted quality standards for an Inspector General work product.” On a serious note, is that really where the story should end?
A cautionary tale for bloggers. A TV station reported that the FBI raided a North Carolina family’s house, arrested the sixteen year old son living there, whisked him away to South Bend, Indiana, and detained him on a terrorism charge - all with a lack of due process rights because of the USA Patriot Act. Then Kevin Poulsen reported that the Patriot act had nothing to do with it, and followed up with a post detailing allegations of the boy’s history of prank phone bomb threats. In other words, it very quickly went from Police State Horrors to a drama queen mother (Happy Mother’s Day!) overstating the reasons for her son - who has a suspicious history - being arrested. Now, it looks like the main problem is a reporter uncritically passing along the overwrought claims of a worked up source, but a number of sites I respect picked this up and ran with it as well. I can’t claim any special powers of discernment either; if I posted more often I probably would have jumped on it as well. It’s human nature to gravitate towards those stories that conform to our worldview. Sometimes that means they don’t get the skeptical treatment they deserve.
Since I’m issuing warnings I should also point out (to me as much as anyone) that Jay Bybee and John Yoo are presumed innocent unless a conviction is returned against them. Paul at Power Line points out that the leaking of the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) report on wrongdoing at OPR. He claims “the draft was leaked before Bybee, Yoo, or their lawyers had an opportunity to comment and before the Department of Justice determined that the preliminary report should become final,” which may or may not be true - both may have already happened, just not publicly - but it’s definitely a legitimate issue. There may well be enough smoke to warrant an investigation of whether the Privacy Act was violated.
The GOP established that it is still fully committed to scaring the hell out of the country this week, but the ground has (stop me if you’ve head this before) shifted beneath them. From the halls of Congress to Hardin, Montana folks are deciding to confront the fear being thrown at them by neoconservatives and their supporters instead of shrinking away from it. It won’t take too many examples of people standing up, squaring their shoulders and saying “let’s deal with this already” for the Republicans’ bedwetting hysterics to become universally scorned, ridiculed and despised.
Linda Sanchez, please stop the demagoguery.
Avedon pointed me to this by Rude Pundit: “Here’s where we stand as a nation: Right now, it is more likely that someone or some entity will be punished for the split-second exposure of Janet Jackson’s naked titty during the 2004 Super Bowl than for authorizing the torture of detainees at our prison in Guantanamo Bay.” Mark Kernes then followed up with “it’s more likely that Ninth Circuit Chief Judge Alex Kozinski will be punished for having a website with (mostly softcore) porn on it than will Ninth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Jay Bybee be punished for writing legal opinions detailing how to torture prisoners without (supposedly) violating the Geneva Conventions.” We have curious standards for obscenity, don’t you think? I know which I’d rather have my kids exposed to.
This really pissed me off:
But executives at the Big Four broadcast networks are seething behind the scenes that President Obama has cost them about $30 million in cumulative ad revenue this year with his three primetime news conference pre-emptions. Now top network execs quietly are hoping that Fox’s well-publicized rejection of the president’s April 29 presser will serve as precedent for denying future White House requests for prime airtime.
Those are public airwaves. Show the press conferences. The shows getting pre-empted suck anyway. While there’s no formal requirement for the president to hold prime time press conferences it seems to be a useful way to get him answering questions before the public. Folks can decide whether they think he’s full of crap for themselves, but just showing the damned thing helps to create a more informed and engaged electorate. Get over your precious selves already, and by the way you’ve lost orders of magnitude more money from illegal and unethical behavior on Wall Street. If you really want to protect your stock price start a continuous drumbeat for the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act
UNPACKING JANE: On page 223 (and also here) Mayer describes this scene between general counsel of the Department of Defense William J. Haynes II and his subordinate, Navy general counsel Alberto Mora. On December 2nd, 2002 Donald Rumsfeld issued a memo approving tactics forbidden by the Army Field Manual.
Mora drew Haynes’s attention to a comment that Rumsfeld had added to the bottom of his December 2nd memo, in which he asked why detainees could be forced to stand for only four hours a day, when he himself often stood “for 8-10 hours a day.” Mora said that he understood that the comment was meant to be jocular. But he feared that it could become an argument for the defense in any prosecution of terror suspects. It also could be read as encouragement to disregard the limits established in the memo. (Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired military officer who was a chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, had a similar reaction when he saw Rumsfeld’s scrawled aside. “It said, ‘Carte blanche, guys,’ ” Wilkerson told me. “That’s what started them down the slope. You’ll have My Lais then. Once you pull this thread, the whole fabric unravels.”)
Rumsfeld is a terribly clever man, isn’t he?