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Key words: Bush Regime, Obama response to Bush Regime crimes, John Yoo, Westfall precedent, curious argument that Obama has "not granted immunity" for criminal activity by Bush-era officials.
In 2001, a regime came to power following a highly public electoral fraud. As the fraud began to unravel, a judicial fiat suspended the rule of law in determining the true results of the 2000 presidential election. The Court stepped in, stopped the constitutional process, and appointed the loser as the winner.
The cabal who had thus seized the United States executive branch prepared and launched a long-planned war of aggression, employing a fabricated and fabulated pretext. There followed the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and the destruction of more than one nation. The direct consequences remain with us today.
Among many constitutional violations, breaking of laws, obstructions, obfuscations, atrocities and war crimes, officials of the Bush Regime also ordered and oversaw the imprisonment without charges and in many cases the torture of an unspecified number of persons - dozens, hundreds, thousands - who were held at illegal and often secret sites in many countries around the world.
In creating a framework against future prosecution, the main conspirators of the Bush Regime circulated secret memoranda among themselves, deploying spurious legal arguments to justify their lawbreaking. In any serious criminal case against the cabal, the lawyers who issued these enabling memos would have been a prosecutor's first targets, because their role had been to provide legal cover for the entire criminal enterprise.
In 2008, a successor administration was elected legitimately under the terms of the U.S. constitution. The winning candidate had issued promises that charges of wrongdoing by the outgoing government would be investigated.
However, the personnel of the new government chose to ignore the overwhelming prima facie evidence of criminal conduct by their predecessors. The Obama team made a series of decisions not to investigate, not to prosecute, and not even to reveal the full extent of the Bush Regime's criminal activity. On the contrary, with regard to the national security and surveillance state, they oversaw an expansion of this activity and sought to render it retroactively legal.
It should be noted that while the majority of Democratic voters had not (or only rarely) supported Bush Regime actions, indispensable collaboration was given at key points by Democratic Party leaders and politicians.
In the most egregious example, one-half of the Democrats in the Senate - including Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Joe Biden - voted for the 2002 motion enabling the announced plans to invade Iraq. This granted invaluable political legitimacy to the subsequent war of aggression.
When the Democrats regained control of the Congress on a wave of antiwar sentiment in 2006, their leadership promptly announced that impeachment was "off the table," in Nancy Pelosi's words, and they accommodated the continuation of the Bush-initiated wars.
In 2008, key Democrats including the presidential candidate, Senator Obama, voted for the FISA amendments granting retroactive immunity from prosecution and civil liability to phone companies that had participated in the illegal Bush eavesdropping program - in effect, ending any chance that Bush officials would be held accountable for their massive expansion of domestic spying.
Now, starting in 2009, the new chief executive did not just fail to prosecute but morally exonerated the Bush-era perpetrators. Obama kept Bush's secretary of defense, Gates, in office for several years. He appointed the war criminal, Petraeus, to head the CIA. He bestowed medals on members of the Bush gang. Most recently, he trivialized torture as something "we" did to some "folks" out of understandable fear and patriotic over-reaction.
At the beginning of the Obama administration's public and legal efforts to exculpate the Bush regime - and thus, effectively, to cover up its crimes before history - use was made of a legal device known as the Westfall exception, which provides the government with the option of giving legal representation to former employees who are accused in criminal or civil cases.
Rather than bringing charges for legal misconduct against John Yoo - the former DOJ counsel who wrote memos to justify torture - the Obama government instead provided Yoo with a government lawyer when the latter was sued by one of the Bush Regime's many victims.
The practice of issuing Westfall certifications is based on a judicial precedent, not on legislated law. The Obama administration could have chosen to declare Yoo's Westfall certification null and void, because his actions had involved the witting commission of crimes - in fact, constitutional violations.
As I wrote here years ago:
Yoo's legal opinions served as the basis for clearing illegal actions by the executive. If your lawyer advises you that you may commit an illegal act because in his opinion it is actually legal, he makes himself liable to prosecution, and you are still subject to prosecution for your crime. Both of you may face an additional conspiracy charge for your collusion in justifying that crime.
The difficulty is in demonstrating any one individual’s witting intent, although as a group they obviously set out to break the law and then did so. (This is why lawmakers invented RICO for going after organized criminal activity in which a refined division of labor and code of silence helps to shield individual conspirators.)
This is how it works: Yoo can issue a secret opinion that Cheney has the right to shoot you in the face. Gonzalez (or Ashcroft) then secretly but officially certifies that Yoo issued this opinion as part of his official duties at OLC. (This may later entitle Yoo to government defense under a precedent known as Westfall). Now Cheney can face-shoot you. Everyone's in the clear. Except you. As the face-shot victim, when you sue for damages (like Padilla has sued Yoo), Yoo's hope is that all future executive branches will not join the suit, but on the contrary must represent him in court thanks to his "Westfall certification." The Obama Justice Department, which should be hauling Yoo (and the rest) off in shackles, has in fact provided representation for Yoo. Cheney theoretically will get representation also, if his turn comes, thanks to Yoo's legal malpractice in issuing the memo that made a secret exception to the laws against face-shooting. Is Gonzalez in the clear? I'm sure somebody in the round-robin of preemptive exoneration issued a memo that covered his ass, too.
The latest argument therefore that the Obama administration has "not granted Bush immunity" is an example of completely irrelevant, legalistic hair-splitting. A cheap diversion. The administration paid for a lawyer to defend Yoo. Under these circumstances, what does it even mean to "grant immunity"?
Clearly, the Obama position is that nothing the Bush organization did even rises to the level of an offense actionable enough to bring immunity up as an option. To grant immunity would admit that something wrong may have been done. Obama administration officials instead chose to justify, to heroize, to valorize, and to follow in the footsteps of their criminal predecessors on many issues, including mass domestic surveillance and secret and unsanctioned military actions around the world.
Posted by JackRiddler | Sun Aug 31, 2014, 09:06 AM (84 replies)
This is an industry. It requires some level of actual warfare to keep itself going.
Besides, to its constituents it's not just a scam. They've built the goddamn hammer and they want to flatten some nails!
This is why there's always a next war starting before the last one winds down. The excuse is increasingly irrelevant. Last year we were supposed to bomb Syria to stop Assad, this year we will bomb the same country, in some cases the same targets (since ISIS has gained territory), so as to stop anti-Assad extremists. Long as we're bombing Syria, it's all good.
Nowadays it's always several wars at once, each tuned to different levels of media attention and public consciousness. If there's six going overtly, there's no doubt several covert (to be revealed) or fully deniable ones running at the same time.
These actions technically are built to advance the interests of various sponsors: resource-grabbers, debt peddlers, ethnic lobbies, drug profiteers, money launderers, mafias, etc. But not all of the schemes work out, and it doesn't matter. Blowing up a billion in ordnance is its own reward, especially to the contractor that replaces it.
If the wars can be fit into some faction's demented geostrategic "realist" imperialist vision, then it's gold, because, again: the militarists like to believe in themselves. They're not militarists, they're humanitarians. We're redrawing the borders of the Middle East for peace and freedom and prosperity and security and blah blah blah, ka-ching ka-ching.
Posted by JackRiddler | Sat Aug 30, 2014, 11:35 PM (0 replies)
How did I miss this?
What does the great man say? I'm dying to know!
Okay, so Gates gave four million dollars to American Enterprise Institute! So what? He's just buying the entire "legit" political spectrum, from "conservative" all the way to sort-of "liberal." So the money's raining down on everyone, long as they're part of the status quo. That's his god-given right as a rational maximizer of utilitarian benefit. And it will help create the consensus behind sensible policy we need so badly in this time of awful, awful polarization. (Cue shudders & eerie music.)
If you don't like that he has all this money, or how he's spending it, then it is because you are JEALOUS. And LAZY. And not smart like him, but STUPID. Or CRAZY.
But I know a lot of you here agree that our new Gilded Age's most successful robber baron and unconvicted antitrust violator is a great guy!
Billionaires are generally wonderful people, always saving the world, giving away their billions for philanthropy, making new billions to give away, feeding people... Except for the Kochs! Those are some very bad brothers. (Insert two minutes' hate here.)
But Gates? What a wonderful man! Bill Gates is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life!
His foundation is saving Our Children by waging war on the bad teachers in the Bad Teachers Union. They're saving the Africans by using just a small fraction of them in Big Pharm medical experiments. They're saving the Indian farmers by forcing them to use GMOs or get off their lands. That lets more productive entities produce the food we need to feed the whooooooole world.
Now yes, he's saving a lot in taxes by transferring a portion of his wealth to the foundation, which of course he still controls. And yeah, the main action of this foundation is to use its awesome endowment as a hedge fund, investing in corporations that generally benefit from the research that the charitable side funds.
But this is also good for everyone, because it means Gates will have even more money to save the world even more!
The charitable side, meanwhile, does not just fund R&D for applications that the endowment side can later invest in. As the 400-pound gorilla in any room, the Gates Foundation sets the agenda for policymaking and philanthropy. For example, Gates decides that deficient schools are the cause of inequality and the economy isn't, and its money is enough to determine how these issues are covered. By offering to finance shares in projects, Gates determines how other charitable as well as public money is spent in the United States, Africa and India. Its reach thus goes far beyond the already considerable funds that it commands. It can control how your own taxes are spent.
The Gates Foundation is so fabulously charitable that under its charter it is required to give away all of its money within a mere fifty years after Bill and Melinda have both died.
Really that makes me sad. I hope the successors can find a way to roll that endowment over into another foundation, so that they can keep giving away their always-growing fortune - forever!
Hopefully some of that medical research can bring us closer to the day when the rich can really start dreaming of immortality. With some luck, Bill and Melinda may still be blessing the young of the future with their kindly presence and beneficient influence in person, in 2100!
There is a really great comic in Truthout now about the Gates war on the schools. Excellent research tool as well:
And to think how you hated this guy for being a wealth creator - Gates could buy out his whole fortune about 400 times, I think?
(Sadly I couldn't find one of Romey speaking with an AEI backdrop!)
Posted by JackRiddler | Sat Aug 30, 2014, 08:52 PM (10 replies)
The question must always be what the total required material resources and energy for manufacture are. How does this thing work?
The TLSC consists of organic salts that absorb specific non-visible wavelengths of ultraviolet and infrared light, which they then luminesce (glow) as another wavelength of infrared light (also non-visible). This emitted infrared light is guided to the edge of plastic, where thin strips of conventional photovoltaic solar cell convert it into electricity.
It sounds promising, but these salts: are they rare? What kind of process are they put through? How much energy does making the final product require? Installing it as windows? At what point has it produced enough energy to replace the energy of resource extraction, manufacture, delivery, installation? How long does it last, how disposable is it, etc. etc. Once all that spells feasible, it's still a big question where on the efficiency range the actual mass product will land (they mention anything from 1 to 7 percent), which is a huge difference in how much it actually produces and thus whether the results are going to make a significant difference or amount to little more than 2-3 minutes extra on your cell phone power. (Things like the latter could encourage people to be more wasteful and have a net effect of zero in saving on non-renewable forms of energy.)
But yeah it's totally cool!
Posted by JackRiddler | Sat Aug 30, 2014, 12:53 AM (0 replies)
This isn't the place for a full chronology but I'll remind that yes, right after the coup, on the first day, the new government initiated a political attack on Russian-speaking populations, prompting the secession of Crimea a couple of weeks later. They also started a street terror in Kiev against political opponents and media who weren't on their line. And then, as the separatists organized in the east, the supporters and militias of the Kiev parties (and eventually the Ukrainian regular army) initiated the violence against eastern Ukraine. They have used awful rhetoric about "subhumans" and "terrorists" and refused opportunities for a negotiated solution at a time when the separatists had weak popular support and Putin was urging them not to hold their referendum (May 11).
Most of the people dying in this conflict so far are civilian non-combatants in eastern Ukraine, killed by the Kiev forces. Why don't they matter?
Posted by JackRiddler | Fri Aug 29, 2014, 09:23 AM (1 replies)
Even if your history were uncontestable, 95% or more of the ethnic Russians in Crimea were born after any ethnic cleansing. Should they be deported for the historic sins of the long-dead? This kind of thinking keeps refreshing a lot of pointless ethnic bloodshed, in the Balkans, in the Middle East, hell in Thailand. (By the way, do you live on land that was ethnically cleansed of its Indian peoples?)
Fact is, people living today need to get over their imagined affiliations with imagined forerunners, and learn to live with each other. Today.
Posted by JackRiddler | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 07:56 PM (0 replies)
Source: New York Times
By NEIL MacFARQUHARAUG. 28, 2014
MOSCOW — Asserting that Russian soldiers and armaments had crossed into Ukraine to support the separatists, President Petro O. Poroshenko of Ukraine canceled a trip to Turkey on Thursday, and his national security council ordered mandatory conscription for the armed forces.
“Columns of heavy artillery, huge loads of arms and regular Russian servicemen came to the territory of Ukraine from Russia through the uncontrolled border area,” Mr. Poroshenko said at the beginning of an emergency meeting of the Ukrainian Nation Security and Defense Council in Kiev.
Nonetheless, the deputy head of the council, Mykhailo Koval, announced after the meeting had concluded that mandatory conscription, which was suspended last year, would be restarted this fall, news services reported.
Col. Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the national security council, said that the Ukrainian military was planning a counteroffensive against the separatists and what he called “more and more Russians” in the country, but declined to provide details about military plans. He also accused Russia of sending new antiaircraft defense systems into eastern Ukraine.
Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/29/world/europe/ukraine-conflict.html
NOTE: The LBN in this case is that the president has ordered a military draft.
COMMENT: Possibly the beginning of the end for the current Kiev regime. Until now they have deputized existing fascist and ethno-nationalist militias and relied on volunteers (including some from international fascist networks abroad) as much as on Ukrainian army regulars on the ground. Kiev saw a genuine popular uprising at the Maidan, no matter that it was hijacked by a junta of bankers with fascists as their junior partner. It's a big risk to start drafting people in the west to go kill people in the east (not to mention their friends from Russia). The Donetsk hostilities were initiated by the Kiev government, and not many young men in Kiev are going to enthusiastically fight and die for this bullshit.
Posted by JackRiddler | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 07:26 PM (22 replies)
I think this character is pretty clear in what he says. What you say often applies, but in this case, his meaning is this:
It's his kind of "Christians" versus everyone else. Everyone else is equally enemy. No distinction is drawn between "Muslims," ISIS, homosexuals, liberals, Democrats, feminists, atheists, non-fundamentalist Christians, secularists, any kind of foreigners who aren't in his sect, communists, etc. etc. In fact, to make distinctions is to open the door for the enemy. They are all not "Christian," therefore all equally demon. (Even if ISIS and this guy think structurally in the same vein.) Everyone who is not him and obeying him is Other and Enemy, implacably, to the Death.
Posted by JackRiddler | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 07:12 PM (0 replies)
Not the people now suffering the consequences of NATO's actions in Libya, certainly. But I guess that's old news, even to you with your daily reports on the "Libyan revolution." How come you're not doing that for Hifter and the Brotherhood types? Did this history end in 2011?
Exactly no one "in the past 5 years" has credibly advanced the absurd thesis that NATO is obsolete. (Has there been talk of disbanding it? Like from whom? Go back to 199x or even 195x, you'll always find "talk of disbanding it.")
It's also incredible how reliably you'll decide that any NATO or US-UK violence is R2P, at least as long as the party labels on the chief execs ordering the strikes are acceptable. But Russian support for the Ukrainian Russians who are under attack from Kiev can only be a long-planned imperialist intervention.
Poroshenko had his chance not to escalate the civil war that Yatsenyuk initiated. He blew it, and now the propaganda about Kiev's victories has been exposed. They're losing, which isn't a very surprising performance in the majority Russian regions for a Ukrainian ethno-nationalist neoliberal regime that's in power because of a coup d'etat and that includes Bandera fascists in its cabinet. And you really think the Russians in Ukraine aren't going to turn to Russia for help, and Russians won't respond whether or not it's official Moscow policy?
Kiev's insane endgame has been to try to bring NATO in, and fuck the risk of World War III. He doesn't seem to think it's obsolete either. But maybe it will prove to be. By the way, has Obama deployed drones and special forces to kill all the MH17 shooters yet, like you predicted?
Posted by JackRiddler | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 05:48 PM (1 replies)
Started bombing and shelling and killing civilian non-combatants in eastern Ukraine?
Kiev had options. A government with fascists in the cabinet chose to start a civil war against the Russian population. Now everyone's shocked, shocked that the Ukrainian Russians turned to Russia for support.
Whatever the Kiev line of the day is, it's reported as news.
Posted by JackRiddler | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 05:37 PM (1 replies)