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Member since: Fri Sep 17, 2004, 03:59 PM
Number of posts: 67,652

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It’s a pity that Kathryn Bigelow Didn't Read This: How Torture Prevented Convictions

Jane Mayer:
It’s a pity that Kathryn Bigelow, the director of the acclaimed war-on-terror thriller Zero Dark Thirty, didn’t have the opportunity to read Jess Bravin’s meticulously reported account of America’s trial practices for post-September 11 terror suspects, The Terror Courts. If she had, she might have grasped how self-defeating the Bush Administration’s embrace of torture has turned out to be and depicted it as an egregious mistake rather than a necessary evil.


How Torture Prevented Convictions
MAR 28 2013 @ 3:20PM

Jane Mayer reviews Jess Bravin’s The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay, which focuses on military prosecutor and Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Couch, “whose moral clarity and professional ethics are repeatedly assaulted by the unconstitutional process in which he finds himself participating” and who found that torture had undermined “his ability to try and convict all but the most low-level detainees.” Take the example of Mohamadou Ould Slahi, a detainee who Couch concluded had “the most blood on his hands”:

Slahi, Couch learned, was horribly mistreated. Effeminate and childless, he was subjected to bizarre sexual gambits involving photos of vaginas and fondling of his genitals. When these methods, death threats, and physical abuse didn’t produce results, the military interrogator told him that his mother would be shipped to Guantánamo and gang raped if he did not talk. He was also subjected to a false kidnapping and threatened with worse torture.

Eventually, Slahi confessed incriminating details to his interrogators, but because of the abusive methods through which they were learned, Couch believed the confession was unreliable and inadmissible. Indeed, he no longer believed he could press charges against Slahi at all.

As a Christian and a U.S. military officer, Couch underwent a crisis of conscience. He consulted with his most trusted advisers, read the Convention Against Torture, and then informed his superiors he couldn’t prosecute the case. “What makes you think you’re better than the rest of us around here?” his commander asked him, angrily. “That’s not the issue at all. That’s not the point,” Couch retorted. A week later he sent his boss a memo to be shared with higher-ups, suggesting that the interrogators ought to be prosecuted, and concluding, “I…refuse to participate in this prosecution in any manner.”

After Slahi, Couch was ordered to ask no more questions about detainee treatment. But he persisted, often despite complete obfuscation from both his superiors and other agencies, most particularly the CIA. Despite his superior’s effort to keep the interrogation file from him, Couch discovered that a second important detainee held by the military in Guantánamo, Mohammed al-Qahtani, believed to be the missing twentieth Al Qaeda hijacker, was also so shockingly abused that charges had to be dropped.



"Your Robe And Gavel, Justice Scalia..."

Top donors threaten Dems: Do the right thing on guns, or no more money

Source: Washington Post

Top donors threaten Dems: Do the right thing on guns, or no more money
Posted by Greg Sargent on March 28, 2013 at 12:54 pm

With red state Democratic Senators remaining skittish about embracing Obama’s gun proposals, at least two top Democratic donors are stepping forward and vowing to withhold any and all future financial contributions from any Democrats who don’t support the centerpiece of Obama’s plan: Expanded background checks.

Kenneth Lerer, a New York businessman who is chairman of Buzzfeed.com, and David Bohnett, a technology entrepreneur and philanthopist based in Los Angeles, are both major financial supporters of Democratic candidates, having each given scores of large contributions over the years. They are both key players in the political fundraising world and wield influence among other donors and fundraisers.

Neither will give another dime to any Senate Democrat who does not support expanded background checks, I’m told — and both will suggest to other donors that they do the same. The move underscores the rising importance of gun control as an issue in Democratic politics — and the rising frustration in some Democratic circles with elected officials who continue to regard gun politics as a third rail, at a moment that presents a real opportunity to achieve serious reform, with a policy that enjoys near universal public support.

“At some point you have to draw a line in the sand — for me that time is now,” Lerer told me in an interview. “If candidates or officeholders can’t support something like comprehensive and enforceable background checks, then I wouldn’t think of giving them any money going forward.”

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2013/03/28/top-donors-threaten-dems-do-the-right-thing-on-guns-or-no-more-money/

Mitt Romney: "I like the life of being an American citizen. It's good to live a normal life again."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"I have to admit, being able to go back to our own life and going to the grocery store and shopping on my own is kind of nice to be by myself without a bunch of people hanging around with me. I like the life of being an American citizen. It's good to live a normal life again."

-- Mitt Romney, interviewed on Dennis Miller's radio show.

just how significant are we?

need to remind myself much too often....

He Is the NRA

The prosecutor released some documents in the Newtown mass shooting case, including a list of items recovered from the shooter’s home:

Also recovered were a National Rifle Association certificate, seven of Lanza’s journals, drawings that he made and books, including an NRA guide to the basics of pistol shooting, authorities said. The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Also in the report: Lanza fired 155 bullets at Sandy Hook in less than five minutes. If you think about it, that feat really is a tribute to the NRA’s lobbying efforts and training program: Thanks to that organization’s hysterical response to any effort to restrict magazine capacity because FREEDOM, Lanza had nine 30-round mags, of which he expended nearly six at Sandy Hook, leaving three full.

Lanza managed to squeeze off a round every couple of seconds with the semiautomatic rifle, and as far as we know, he maintained a 100% personal safety record with the Bushmaster, registering kills only among intended targets. And when he finally pulled out the Glock 10mm, he hit his intended target with the pistol too. It would be churlish to deny credit for this stellar marksmanship to his NRA training.



The Culture War Was Never a Fair Fight: Liberty is murdering virtue. (& Its About Time!!!)

The Culture War Was Never a Fair Fight

Matt Lewis: "Social conservatives are greatly outnumbered (a byproduct of having lost the culture war argument). We hear a lot about the supposed 'three-legged-stool' of the conservative movement, but in fighting the culture war, social conservatives are on their own. In fact, it's wrong to think of this in terms of a left versus right paradigm. It would be better understood as part of the continuing struggle between virtue (as social conservatives define it) and liberty (defined by our modern secular society to mean the freedom to do whatever we want). In that light, liberty is murdering virtue.

Love THIS, much more:

Supreme Court Arguments We'd Like to See

Supreme Court Arguments We'd Like to See


JUSTICE SCALIA: You -- you've led me right into a question I was going to ask. . . . I'm curious, when -when did -- when did it become unconstitutional to exclude homosexual couples from marriage? 1791? 1868, when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted? . . .

MR. OLSON: Well, according to your dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, the Court decided that issue in 2003.

Posted 8:30 PM by JB
Scalia’s dissent in Lawrence v. Texas, nine years later


If you’re looking for an excellent, analytical response to Justice Scalia’s question, see Elizabeth Wydra’s piece on Huffington Post in which she explains:

The simple answer to Justice Scalia is that laws banning same-sex couples from marrying were unconstitutional the moment when the American people, in 1868, wrote the guarantee of equality for all persons into the Constitution. As the exchange this morning demonstrates, Justice Scalia seems to accept this proposition with respect to laws prohibiting couples from different races from marrying one another, which the Supreme Court found unconstitutional in the late 1960s. He should acknowledge the same constitutional truth in the Prop. 8 case. The text of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment makes clear that the freedom to marry should be equally available to all, whether black or white, heterosexual or gay, rich or poor.


Gabrielle Giffords to give Bard College commencement

Source: Politico

Gabrielle Giffords to give Bard College commencement

Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly will give the Bard College commencement address in New York on May 25, it was announced.
The university said in a release Wednesday that Giffords will also receive an “honorary doctorate of humane letters.”

In January 2011, Giffords — then a Democratic congresswoman in Arizona — was shot in the head in Tucson during a rally, in which others were injured and killed. She and her husband went on to become advocates for gun-control reform.

There are about 2,000 students enrolled at Bard College, located in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/03/gabby-giffords-commencement-address-89420.html#ixzz2OqR3H4QI

Elena Kagan proves that DOMA's original intent was BIGOTRY

WED MAR 27, 2013 AT 12:30 PM PDT
Elena Kagan proves that DOMA's original intent was bigotry, not tradition

....it's kinda hard to deny that the intent of passing DOMA was less about a misty appeal to tradition and more about bigotry.

by Laura Clawson

The Defense of Marriage Act's defenders have been trying to claim that the law isn't about bigotry and denying people the right to equality. No, no, see, it's about supporting traditional marriage, and doesn't that just sound a lot nicer? But when Paul Clement, the pro-DOMA lawyer hired by House Republicans, tried to soft-pedal thusly, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan wasn't letting it go by unchallenged.

“All these federal statutes were passed with the traditional definition of marriage in mind,” Clement said. “What Congress says is, ‘Let’s take a time out. This is a redefinition of an age-old tradition.’”

Kagan responded that, first of all, DOMA violated another tradition, saying, “The only uniformity that the federal government has pursued is that it’s uniformly recognized the marriages that are recognized by the state.” And, uh, also this:

A short time later, Kagan read aloud from the House Judiciary Committee report on DOMA. “Congress decided to reflect and honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality,” she said, quoting the report.

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