A good part of the reason I started blogging was because I went to a history conference at a UT branch up between Dallas and Fort Worth and found that, contrary to belief, many well known academic historians have found community history projects to be invaluable because of their focus and details. Photos rated high. Photos with details rate high. Interviews with participants in events rated high. Interviews with older people rated high if you cover their experience and perspective.
- Prairie Weather


“Protest works. Just look at the proof”


The last place you will hear about the new American labor movement is in big American outlets.

Via lambert, via susie. See them, their blogrolls, Twitter hash tag #1u and just about any other outlet where citizens can get the word out.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)

The CIW is a community-based organization of mainly Latino, Mayan Indian and Haitian immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout the state of Florida. Via.


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« American vs. Medieval Justice: Compare and Contrast | Main | From Discovery to Concealment »

This Week In Tyranny

No Associated Press content was harmed in the writing of this post


So the New York Times has broken the big story about the Bush administration contemplating the use of the military at home as well as abroad. I’m sorry, but this is just another example of something we already knew being repackaged as “news.” I mentioned Posse Comitatus in passing a while back, domestic deployment of the military before that, and it was being bounced around in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as well. Dick Cheney may not have been giving press conferences where he pounded the podium and demanded the repeal of Posse Comitatus but it seemed pretty obvious that the idea didn’t just materialize out of thin air. Someone was driving it, and under the circumstances where was it reasonable to look?


This isn’t executive power related but digby wrote the post of the year on Friday. It’s an exceptionally nuanced and comprehensive analysis of the Henry Louis Gates arrest and as I read through it I must have thought “God that’s good” about five times.


Prairie Weather pointed me to three items this week:

  • Jeremy Scahill has an interesting article on the legal maneuvers of Blackwater/Xe. I hadn’t been paying very close attention to the proceedings but Scahill shows how the company’s actions basically scream “WE HAVE A LOT TO HIDE!” They still might succeed in doing so but these guys are clearly amateurs when it comes to covering their tracks. Then again, they are mercenaries and not covert agents, and the company was only founded in 1997 (in a remote part of North Carolina to boot - not exactly wired for lobbying). Hired guns are probably not very subtle by nature.
  • Tom Engelhardt asks, “Aren’t we the people your mother warned you about?” He points out that for all the calls for fact finding, truth commissions etc. we already know about an abundance of illegal and immoral activity that our government has engaged in.
  • Then there is Scott Horton on the DOJ:
  • The Justice Department representations to the court suggest the basest possible purpose: to shield a public figure from public ridicule over his inappropriate, indeed possibly criminal, conduct in high office.
    Bush pushed out the boundaries and Obama is fortifying them. This is how tyranny creeps.

Prairie Weather is recommended reading and I don’t link there as often as I should.


Here’s another trio for you. File under “still,” as in:

  • Psychologists are STILL using their skills for dark purposes. Jeff Kaye does a Wheeleresque job digging through the Air Force Special Operations Command Instruction (48-101), whose title alone makes my eyes glaze over, and finding the damning evidence that the reverse engineered SERE program is still being used for interrogation.
  • The NSA is STILL listening to you.
  • The Obama administration STILL will not tell us how it plans to close Guantánamo. The problem with missed deadlines like this is that the promise to close it down by next January looks much less realistic every time a postponement occurs. I wonder if he wants to delay action until the special interests can kill it.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is fighting the good fight, filing a lawsuit against the CIA for “a trove of documentary evidence of actual and suspected wrongdoing under the Bush administration.” It sounds like a swing for the fences: Don’t sue for this meeting review or that interview, sue for the whole goddamn ball of wax. And speaking of audacity, Ron Paul has a great idea for funding health care: End both of our wars and use the savings from that. He couches it in terms of making the best of the inevitable, but it still is light years away from anything his more prominent colleagues are willing to embrace. The continued ostracism of Paul from leadership in the GOP is understandable on one level: Existing leaders won’t just lay down and let him ascend, some of what he proposes is far outside acceptable discourse in the party, and influential constituencies like business might well revolt over others (like auditing the Fed). On the other hand, they are in the wilderness now, and were led there by the very philosophy they still embrace. Why not give some new ideas a try and see if the public likes them? Popularity has been known to influence elections.


Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane have a great report on how Chiquita (yes the banana people) funded a terrorist group and got off with a slap on the wrist. US Attorney Jeffery Taylor arranged the plea agreement and assures us it was on the up-and-up:

Taylor insists there was absolutely no outside influence on how he handled the case. “There was no interference from the Department or the [Bush] White House,” he said during a phone interview. “I worked at the Department for 15 years. I would have resigned if any interference of this nature occurred.”

Alexandrovna and Kane document why he may be mistaken. Oh, and you’ll be happy to know Chiquita’s counsel in the case went on to better things.


The U.S. may have been more involved (via) in a war crime in Afghanistan than it currently wishes to acknowledge. Here’s the problem with killing hundreds and hundreds of people in shipping containers, though: It’s a large-scale operation that leaves plenty of evidence. At all phases of the operation there’s a lot going on, which makes it hard for anyone in the vicinity to not see or be willfully ignorant of. Tricky.


It’s a peculiarly American form of myopia that causes us to view North Korea’s actions strictly as the wacky, madcap antics of a totalitarian weirdo. Yes, North Korea is horribly repressive and its leaders are at times almost comically strange, but you know what? Their behavior might moderate a little if the most powerful country in the world wasn’t still officially in a state of war against it and if we didn’t have 30,000 troops massed at its border. That might make any country erratic, don’t you think? Maybe it would behave a little more rationally if we signed a peace treaty and brought those troops home. Compare also to how we tend to soft pedal our role in the Khmer Rouge’s rise to power and subsequent genocide. War, and destabilization generally, can lead to horrors far away from the battlefield. North Korea may be strange and paranoid, but we should not avoid acknowledging our role in making it so.


Executives receive one-third of all pay in the U.S. They won’t stop acting like this because a) they have no shame and b) there is no evidence that anyone can stop them. You buy influence precisely because you want to get away with actions that would otherwise provoke a near-revolt. They keep grabbing more and keep getting away with it. Until they are furnished with evidence that they no longer can, they will continue to take more. It is entirely logical and makes perfect sense. For more outages see here and here.


Two heh indeedys. bmaz:

The other note to be taken out of the Horn case is the complete evisceration of whatever gloss of credibility the CIA has left. They lie to Congress, they lie to courts (and remember Lamberth was the Chief FISA Court judge during this time as well) and they lie to the American people. And let us not forget the good folks at the Department of Justice who are knee deep here as well. How can any court rely on their tainted assertion and declarations on state secrets. Their pattern and practice is to lie. It really is that simple at this point.

And Glenn:

the idea that federal courts are ill-equipped to adjudicate charges against members of Al Qaeda and other Terrorist groups is, as this new Report documents, patently and empirically false.

UNPACKING JANE: In the summer of 2003 Jack Goldsmith was awaiting confirmation as head of the White House Office of Legal Counsel when he was asked to issue a decision on whether or not Iraqis could be flown to other countries for interrogation. He concluded that all Iraqis, including terror suspects, were entitled to Geneva protections. On pp. 265-6 Mayer writes:

Goldsmith’s opinion that Geneva’s rules covered all Iraqis also had the effect of heightening the legal peril for those involved in killing [Manadel_al-]Jamadi. His ruling was issued in mid-October. Jamadi was killed less than a month later, after the new ruling was in effect. Under the clear new legal order, anything short of “humane” treatment of Iraqi prisoners was unlawful. The killing was a serious war crime.

Perhaps the New York Times could break this news too.

Reader Comments (1)

Boy oh boy, not the first time I've agreed with Ron Paul. I'd also like to toss in the excess "earnings" of top insurance execs plus compound interest.

Speaking of "I already knew that" (but we shouldn't forget) check out the Greenwald quote that I'd forgotten about but "already knew":

"Though it received very little press attention, it is not hyperbole to observe that this October 23 Memo was one of the most significant events in American politics in the last several decades, because it explicitly declared the U.S. Constitution -- the Bill of Rights -- inoperative inside the U.S., as applied to U.S. citizens. Just read what it said in arguing that neither the Fourth Amendment -- nor even the First Amendment -- can constrain what the President can do when overseeing "domestic military operations" (I wrote about that Memo when it was released last March...)"

The steady stream of malfeasance over eight years tends to leave us with a slimy mudbank of half-buried-memories. We need constant reminders. In other words, don't worry about repeating the "already knews"!

July 26, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPW

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