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Archive for April 17th, 2009

Obama’s Immunity For CIA Agents Still Leaves Prosecutions Of Senior Bushies On The Table

Think Progress- By Ali Frick at 1:42 pm

Yesterday, as he released four Bush-era legal memos authorizing the torture of terrorist suspects, President Obama made it clear he would not support any prosecutions of low-level interrogators who actually carried out Bush’s policies. “[I]t is our intention to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution.”

Obama also added, “This is a time for reflection, not retribution,” and said “nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past.” Some progressive commentators were outraged; Keith Olbermann pleaded, “Prosecute, Mr. President.” CBS’s Andrew Cohen interpreted this to mean Obama would not support any prosecutions for torture:

One by one, the hammer blows fell upon civil libertarians and millions of other Americans who believe that the people who legally sanctioned and then implemented torturous “enhanced interrogation tactics” should have had to defend their conduct in our courts of law. One by one, those enthusiastic supporters of the Obama administration’s legal values and policies realized that they had just lost a battle (been wiped out, in fact) that they had every reason to believe they would win. There will be no torture trials. Period.

However, Obama’s statement was carefully worded to include only “those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice” — not the Bush officials who actually gave out that advice. ACLU lead counsel Jameel Jaffer told Glenn Greenwald that Obama did not shut the door to all prosecutions:

I think it’s a mistake to read the grant of immunity too broadly. I don’t think that President Obama’s statement should be taken as a sign that there’s no chance that the architects of torture program will be prosecuted. And even with respect to the interrogators, it’s only the interrogators who relied “in good faith” on legal advice who are protected.

MORE HERE

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Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls – (Live @ Glastonbury 2000)

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Robert Parry | Consortiumnews.com, April 17, 2009

Almost as disturbing as reading the Bush administration’s approved menu of brutal interrogation techniques is recognizing how President George W. Bush successfully shopped for government attorneys willing to render American laws meaningless by turning words inside out.

The four “torture” memos, released Thursday, revealed not just that the stomach-turning reports about CIA interrogators abusing “war on terror” suspects were true, but that the United States had gone from a “nation of laws” to a “nation of legal sophistry” – where conclusions on law are politically preordained and the legal analysis is made to fit.

You have passages like this in the May 10, 2005, memo by Steven Bradbury, then acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel:

“Another question is whether the requirement of ‘prolonged mental harm’ caused by or resulting from one of the enumerated predicate acts is a separate requirement, or whether such ‘prolonged mental harm’ is to be presumed any time one of the predicate acts occurs.”

As each phrase in the Convention Against Torture was held up to such narrow examination, the forest of criminal torture was lost in the trees of arcane legal jargon. Collectively, the memos leave a disorienting sense that any ambiguity in words can be twisted to justify almost anything.

Continued >>

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Pat Robertson, on The 700 Club yesterday, got in on the collective right-wing teeth-gnashing over that Department of Homeland Security bulletin on the threat posed by right-wing extremists in America.

You know, the controversy that’s been demonstrated to be a lot of hot air — not to mention a terribly revealing one about how mainstream right-wingers see themselves.

Not that such mere trifles would ever deter Pat Robertson. His attack on the DHS yesterday, alongside his coanchor Terry Meeuwsen, featured an unending stream of flatly false information and mischaracterizations. Plus, of course, the requisite gay-bashing and liberal bashing, all wrapped up in a neat little ball:

Robertson: If that had been a Republican, there would be outrage and screams for Janet Napolitano to resign immediately. That — Terry, you’re somebody who favors life, wants to keep little babies alive. Somebody who has been a veteran and served our country as a proud member of the military. Somebody who is opposed to the left-wing policies of the administration and who wants to express his or her views as they are entitled to under our Constitution, these people are now being stigmatized as terrorists! This is an outrage!

Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to do something about it. If that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what would. And I want you to call a number. This is the Department of Homeland Security.

[Reads number]

… And just say you protest. This is an outrage!

And Janet Napolitano has got a lot of explaining to do. And that lame excuse she was giving — ‘Oh, I’m sorry they characterized all veterans that way’ — I mean, come off it!

Meeuwsen: The report was the report. I mean, it is astonishing that it was allowed to leave under that —

Robertson: It — it shows somebody down in the bowels of that organization is either a convinced left-winger or somebody whose sexual orientation is somewhat in question.

But it’s that kind of thing, somebody who doesn’t think that we should have abortion on demand, is labeled a terrorist! It’s outrageous!

VIDEO And MORE HERE

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