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Archive for November, 2010

Bush’s Waterboarding Admission Prompts Calls For Criminal Probe

Huff Post- Dan Froomkin-  First Posted: 11-11-10 03:49 PM   |   Updated: 11-11-10 04:01 PM

WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday joined a growing chorus in the human rights community calling for a special prosecutor to investigate whether former president George W. Bush violated federal statutes prohibiting torture.

In his new memoir and ensuing book tour, Bush has repeatedly admitted that he directly authorized the waterboarding of three terror suspects. Use of the waterboard, which creates the sensation of drowning, has been an iconic and almost universally condemned form of torture since the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

Except for a brief period during which a handful of Bush administration lawyers insisted that the exigencies of interrogating terror suspects justified its use, waterboarding has always been considered illegal by the Justice Department. It is also a clear violation of international torture conventions.

The ACLU is urging Attorney General Eric Holder to ask Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate Bush. For nearly three years now, Durham has been acting as a special prosecutor investigating a variety of torture-related matters involving government officials considerably lower on the food chain. Just this Tuesday, it was widely reported that Durham had cleared the CIA’s former top clandestine officer and others in the destruction of agency videotapes showing waterboarding of terror suspects — but that he would continue pursuing other aspects of his investigation.

“The ACLU acknowledges the significance of this request, but it bears emphasis that the former President’s acknowledgment that he authorized torture is absolutely without parallel in American history,” the group wrote in its letter to Holder.

“The admission cannot be ignored. In our system, no one is above the law or beyond its reach, not even a former president. That founding principle of our democracy would mean little if it were ignored with respect to those in whom the public most invests its trust. It would also be profoundly unfair for Mr. Durham to focus his inquiry on low-level officials charged with implementing official policy but to ignore the role of those who authorized or ordered the use of torture.”

In his new memoir, “Decision Points,” Bush recalls his thought process after CIA director George Tenet asked for permission to waterboard alleged al Qaeda mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in early 2003. Bush’s response: “Damn right.”

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What Role Did Comcast Play in Keith Olbermann’s Suspension?–UPDATED

Crooks and Liars- By karoli
November 05, 2010 12:14 PM

There is a double standard at work with regard to Keith Olbermann’s suspension, not only between other personalities appearing on MSNBC as commentators, but also at the very top level of the food chain.

Comcast now owns is about MSNBC after their acquisition was completed earlier this year is approved (and it will be, I’m sure), despite protestations from many of us. A look at campaign finance disclosures for several organizations shows that Phil Anschutz, chairman of Comcast major shareholder and content partner with Comcast, donated large sums of money to the First Amendment Alliance, one of the largest outside groups targeting Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections.

The Anschutz Corporation, wholly owned by Phil Anschutz, gave $50,000 on 9/24/2010 to the First Amendment Alliance. The two candidates targeted by the First Amendment Alliance? Jack Conway and Michael Bennet.

Keith Olbermann gave to Jack Conway’s campaign along with Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords.

In addition, the Anschutz family donated $169,900 to Republican candidates and committees during the 2010 election cycle, according to Open Secrets.

Additionally, Comcast Corporation has contributed $125,000 to the Republican Governors’ Association in the 2010 cycle (as of 9/30/2010).

There’s been a lot of chatter about MSNBC policy, and whether Olbermann should have gotten advance approval for his donations to Jack Conway, Raul Grijalva and Gabrielle Giffords on October 28th. The policy I’ve seen reads like this:

NBC and MSNBC TV require permission of the president of NBC News. (MSNBC.com is a joint venture of NBC Universal and Microsoft.)

“Anyone working for NBC News who takes part in civic or other outside activities may find that these activities jeopardize his or her standing as an impartial journalist because they may create the appearance of a conflict of interest. Such activities may include participation in or contributions to political campaigns or groups that espouse controversial positions. You should report any such potential conflicts in advance to, and obtain prior approval of, the President of NBC News or his designee.

That language clearly says “should” and not “must”. Further, anyone who thinks Keith Olbermann is an impartial journalist should have their head examined. He’s not, never has been, never will be, and is not presented as one.

But it leaves this question lingering for me: How is it that the parent corporation of NBC and chairman of that corporation, Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough are accorded First Amendment rights to political speech and Keith Olbermann is not?

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There are a variety of explanations for the frustratingly backwards outcome of yesterday’s election.

Clearly Americans were dissatisfied with the objective reality that the Obama administration and the congressional Democrats actually made things better by cutting the deficit by an historic $122 billion; creating upwards of three million new jobs; ending the war in Iraq; passing the largest middle class tax cut in history; and rescuing the economy from the brink of collapse. Not good enough, obviously.

Or did voters simply not know about these accomplishments? That’s entirely possible given the Democratic Party’s uncanny penchant for running away from its successes, while also fumbling very basic add-water-and-serve marketing chores. (And, by the way, adding to the party’s failures to ballyhoo its accomplishments, the progressive movement was systematically out-hustled, out-gunned and outmaneuvered for much of the last two years.)

Of course there’s also the Flailing Rage Factor, which I tend to favor as a reason for yesterday’s outcome more than ignorance or lack of Democratic marketing chops. For two years now, Americans have been incited by fakery and horror stories to the point of being pumped up into a ‘roid raging mob chanting shallow platitudes and bumper sticker zingers — incoherently attacking Speaker Pelosi’s face, and bent out of shape by the fact that there’s not a doddering old white guy stumbling through the West Wing spinning grandfatherly yarns about American mornings and saintly cowboys.

Ultimately, what Americans voted for yesterday was divided government, which admittedly isn’t new in American politics. We typically like the idea of two sides, Congress and the White House, locking horns and ultimately compromising on the important matters of the day.

Unfortunately, this is a “pre-01/20/09” mindset. It’s a mass delusion based on antiquated political attitudes.

The era when Republicans would, at least reluctantly, compromise with a Democratic president is long gone.

What voters unknowingly asked for yesterday was gridlock: immovable, unprecedented, insufferable gridlock of the worst kind, and at the worst time imaginable.

The Republicans have no intention of handing the president any successes. They’ll never in a million years compromise with this White House, or the Senate Democrats for that matter, because any move in that direction will bring down the loud, screechy tweet wrath of Sarah Palin and the Tea Party who will neither accept nor support anyone who appears to be leaning in the direction of the Obama agenda.

(more…)

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election results, it’s a normal day, world war three blues, Wall Street, Rupert Murdoch

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