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Turley: Spanish courts may be building case against Cheney

Raw Story- David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Tuesday March 31, 2009

According to constitutional law expert Jonathan Turley, the prosecution of Bush’s so-called “torture lawyers” might just give Spanish prosecutors the “low lying fruit” needed to bring a case against Vice President Cheney.

Appearing on Monday night’s edition of MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, George Washington University law professor Turley said that although President Obama is “protecting” the former administration from prosecution, the Spanish investigation could serve as a point of leverage.

By targeting attorneys who wrote legal justifications for torture, said Turley, prosecutors are going “for the first line of defendants.”

“And then if you have a case, you go for the higher ones,” he added.

Referencing Seymor Hersh’s allegation that an “executive assassination ring” reported directly to the former Vice President — and the apparent confirmation of the allegation’s veracity by a former Cheney aide — Olbermann wondered, “Should the Spanish prosecutors be taking notes?””

“It’s well known the Obama administration is protecting President Bush and Vice President Cheney from criminal investigation,” he concluded. “And if he went after the two of them, the U.S. government could move aggressively to shut down the inquiry.”

This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast Mar. 30, 2009.

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by Geezer Power


Mr. Obama mentions “The Department of Agriculture will close a loophole to prevent diseased cows from entering the food supply And, the government will invest in the FDA to substantially increase the number of food inspectors and modernize food safety labs”. He also mentions “Americans can trust that there is a strong system in place to ensure that the medications we give our children will help them get better, not make them sick; and that a family dinner won’t end in a trip to the doctor’s office”. Also worthy of mention is “In 2006, it was contaminated spinach. In 2008, it was salmonella in peppers and possibly tomatoes. And just this year, bad peanut products led to hundreds of illnesses and cost nine people their lives”.

In keeping with the open and transparent objectives of our new administration, “Change We Can Believe In”, we would be remiss if we didn’t question the viability of the large agricultural corportions and their detrimental effects on our food supply. The use of genetically engineered crops, the use of hormones in animal food supplies, along with the use of antibiotics is reaching proportions that will effectively put the worlds food supply in peril. Recent legislation that is now before congress will stifle any efforts to promote natural and organic methods of food production.

For you senior readers, out there on the tubes, you probably remember that the government promoted the Victory Garden” to help the war effort. We didn’t have any genes, hormones, or herbicides, at that time and home gardens produced one third of the food for the country at that time. I might mention that water didn’t cost much in those days, and was pretty much taken for granted, like…if you were thirsty you drank from the garden hose.

Keep in mind folks, that HR875, which if passed means that organic gardening methods and crops will be controlled by the Food Police. This legislation, now before congress, heavily influenced by lobbyists from huge food producers is so broad based that technically someone with a little backyard garden could get fined and have their property siezed.

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“While England Slept” was a phrase Churchill used to describe the state of somnambulence which existed in Britain while Hitler’s German made its preparations for wars of conquest in the east. JFK adapted this phrase to “Why England Slept” and used it as the title of his first book, based on a thesis he wrote during his senior year at Harvard. “While America Slept”  might well describe the state of somnambulance which existed in America during the Bush years. While America slept, Bush used the largely bogus threat of “terror” as a pretext to surreptitiously put in place a whole host of tyrranous legislation…and did anyone give a flying you know what? Benjamin Franklin said, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.” That means, amongst other things, staying awake! One wonders what became of the spirit of the original Patriots in the American Revolution. America, the one-time “city on a hill” and beacon of liberty, has been a major disappointment to me in the last eight years. Here are a couple of articles on the subject.

bushs_fascism_ben_heine

Turley: Bush terror memos are ‘very definition of tyranny’

David Edwards and Muriel Kane | Raw Story | Thursday, March 5, 2009

Since the release on Monday of nine previously-secret Bush administration legal memos claiming that the president has the power to ignore the Constitution when fighting terrorism, experts have almost unanimously denounced both their legal reasoning and their conclusions.

Read more…

Why Did So Few Americans Give a Damn?

William Pfaff | truthdig | March 5, 2009

The documents currently being released by the Justice Department that demonstrate the Bush administration’s view of the president’s constitutional power in a “state of war” tell us things we suspected but didn’t want to know.

Read more…

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Vanden Huevel rips Rove: ‘It’s laughable for you to talk about fiscal responsibility.’

Think Progress- By Satyam Khanna at 2:17 pm

Today on ABC’s This Week, Karl Rove slammed the cost of President Obama’s new budget. The Nation’s Katrina Vanden Heuvel quickly fired back at Rove’s newly-discovered sense of fiscal responsibility, observing that Rove and President Bush “helped plunge this nation into trillion dollars of debt”:

VANDEN HEUEVEL: But, Mr. Rove –

ROVE: Call me Karl.

VANDEN HEUVEL: It’s laughable for you to talk about fiscal responsibility from someone who helped plunge this nation into trillion dollars of debt, through tax cuts for the very rich and a war we never should have fought. And also starving the beast. Starving government has been a Republican role in terms of government. And, therefore, when George asks why government hasn’t functioned, people have not seen the role of government improving the conditions of their lives for decades.

Watch it:

Pollster Stan Greenberg also chided Rove. “It’s a remarkable lecture considering the performance,” he said.

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Phil McCarten / Reuters

Arnold Considered Party Switch

The Daily Beast- by Joe Mathews

Feb 23, 2009

How bad did things get between Der Governator and his fellow Republicans? Schwarzenegger’s biographer, Joe Mathews, reports that he recently considered dropping out of the party altogether. It’s the latest blast in a long-running war.

A few months ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger and a few close associates discussed whether he should leave the Republican Party, according to two people familiar with the conversation. His friend Mike Bloomberg, the New York mayor, had become an independent. Maybe Schwarzenegger should, too. But the governor and his people quickly concluded that Californians already saw him as independent of the Republican Party. So what would be the point of a switch? (A spokesman for the governor declined comment.)

To people outside the state, Schwarzenegger’s recent battles with Republican legislators over a budget and his criticism of GOP governors and congressmen for their opposition to President Obama’s stimulus package might sound jarring. Schwarzenegger once was “Conan the Republican” (the first President Bush’s nickname for him), a politician who declared in his 2004 convention speech, “I’m proud to belong to the party of Abraham Lincoln, the party of Teddy Roosevelt, the party of Ronald Reagan and the party of George W. Bush.” Now he is on ABC News saying that “it doesn’t really mater [matter] if you’re a Republican or a Democrat.”

MORE HERE

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Lawyer says Rove will cooperate with US Attorney firings probe

Raw Story- Stephen C. Webster
Published: Monday February 2, 2009

Rove’s lawyer says he’s speaking to investigators about Siegelman; Doesn’t indicate stance on executive privilege

Karl Rove, former President Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff and longtime political adviser, will cooperate with the Department of Justice in its investigation of the firing of nine US attorneys, according to an interview with Rove’s lawyer by Washington, D.C. investigative reporter Murray Waas.

Waas, who spoke with Robert Luskin, Rove’s attorney, was also told that Rove has already spoken with the Justice Department regarding an internal probe of prosecutor misconduct in the jailing of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Luskin asserted that Rove would not assert “personal privilege” regarding Siegelman’s case, saying, “At no time has he or will he assert personal privilege in that matter.”

The article, however, did not indicate the level of Rove’s potential cooperation. Though Luskin said Rove wouldn’t assert personal privlege, he did not indicate whether Rove will continue to seek protection under executive privilege. Several days before President Bush left office, the White House instructed Rove not to cooperate with subpoenas or produce documents to Congress relating to the US Attorney firings.

Luskin says Rove has deferred to the White House on such arguments. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) subpoenaed Rove last week to testify to Congress regarding the firings and the Siegelman case.

Luskin did not answer specific questions about what Rove told investigators about Siegelman. But he maintained that Rove had no involvement in his prosecution.

“What Karl has said [to investigators] is entirely consistent with what he has said publicly–that he absolutely nothing to do with this,” Luskin said.

MORE HERE

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15 Most Loathsome People of 2008

By Allan Uthman and Ian Murphy, Buffalo Beast. Posted January 31, 2009.

Limbaugh, Palin, Warren, and more. They’re the worst people in America, and unfortunately they dominated last year’s headlines.

The Buffalo Beast has released its 50 Most Loathsome People in America list for 2008. We here at AlterNet rounded up 15 people from their list that we thought most deserved the insulting honor. Read through our top picks from their list, go check out the Beast’s full list, and then drop some of the folks you think are the most loathsome people in America in the comments below. Happy hunting.

15. Michele Bachmann

Charges: Exemplifies the simmering, all-American fascism lurking behind the forced smiles of uptight church ladies throughout “real America.” Echoing Sarah Palin’s alarming hints about “helping” the media do its job, Bachmann’s casual call for a “penetrating” press investigation into “anti-Americanism” in congress was so fucking dumb it made Chris Matthews seem smart. Once it occurred to the Oral Roberts University graduate that calling for witchhunts against Democrats might be a tad extreme for election season, she decided to just pretend she didn’t say it, and then she blamed Chris Matthews. Then she just blamed words. Then she denied it again. Then she won. Way to go, Minnesota’s 6th.

Exhibit A: BACHMANN: Actually, that’s not what I said at all. COLMES: Well, I’m just — I’m reading your exact quote. BACHMANN: Actually that’s not I said. It’s an urban legend that was created. That isn’t what I said at all. COLMES: We have — it’s on tape.

Sentence: Assigned to conduct her own “expose” on anti-American views, in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

14. Bernie Madoff

Charges: Normally, the idea of a bunch of billionaires getting robbed blind for believing in a free lunch would amuse the hell out of us, but Bernie Madoff stole a lot of money from charity endowments, and is responsible for two suicides so far. Here’s a tip, Bernie: If you’re running the biggest scam since the Catholic church, handling billions of dollars, and all it takes to get busted is that some of your marks ask for their money back, you really should take some of that money and set up an escape plan. Still, he gets some credit for making Mort Zuckerman look like a jackass. The real villains here are Christopher Cox and the SEC, who investigated Madoff eight times, the last time specifically on suspicion of  running a Ponzi scheme, each time “finding” no wrongdoing, which begs the all-too-familiar question of the last eight years: Satanically corrupt or grossly incompetent? Either way, Madoff was finally brought to justice… by his kids.

Exhibit A: “In today’s regulatory environment, it’s virtually impossible to violate rules … but it’s impossible for a violation to go undetected, certainly not for a considerable period of time.”

Sentence: Sold into slavery.

13. Mark Penn

Charges: The most overpriced gravedigger in the world. As Clinton’s Chief Strategist, this too-creepy-for-TV pollster steered what was initially considered a cinch presidential campaign with all the talent of Joseph Hazelwood at the helm of the Exxon Valdez. His laziness was explained by his strategy: Inevitability. Penn’s cheap, backfiring smears of Obama as a coke-snorting Islamic radical teenager, coupled with pathetic whining about the mean old press, gave Clinton’s campaign an odor as repugnant as his own playground-flasher looks. Like most reptiles, Penn was slow to adjust to environmental changes, racking up millions in direct mail fees while Obama plundered the internet, which Penn predicted wouldn’t have any impact in 2008. His very employment signaled a total abdication on the corruption/lobbying issue. But it gets worse: Mark Penn didn’t understand basic electoral arithmetic, announcing to colleagues that Hillary would win easily by gaining California’s 370 delegates, assuming, wrongly, a winner-take all vote tally. Despite the revelation of his woeful lack of elementary knowledge, Penn did not adjust his big-state strategy, ignoring the caucus states that Obama rode to victory, and to the end, seemed utterly baffled that a candidate could win without “any of the significant states.”

MORE HERE

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Bush officials authorized torture of US citizen, lawyers say

Raw Story- John Byrne
Published: Friday January 30, 2009

Attorneys for US citizen Jose Padilla — who was convicted of material support for terrorist activities in 2007 — say that high-level Bush Administration officials knew their client was being tortured during the time he was held an enemy combatant in a South Carolina brig, because of the command structure and that then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld employed in approving harsh interrogation tactics.

Rumsfeld approved the harsh interrogation techniques early in Bush’s presidency. In Iraq, a cheat sheet titled “Interrogation Rules of Engagement,” revealed that some of them required the Iraq commanding general’s approval.

Among those requiring approval are tactics Padilla’s mother and lawyer say he was the victim of: “Sleep adjustment,” “Sleep management, “Sensory deprivation,” “isolation lasting longer than thirty days” and “stress” positions.” It wouldn’t be a shock if military guards went beyond the traditional treatment of a US prisoner, given Rumsfeld’s approved techniques and that Padilla was is legal limbo as an enemy combatant and eligible to be held for years without charge.

Padilla and his mother filed suit against the US government last year alleging a litany of harsh interrogation practices they said were tantamount to torture. His lawyer also says he was held in isolation for years while held at the South Carolina brig.

“They knew what was going on at the brig and they permitted it to continue,” Tahlia Townsend, an attorney representing Padilla, told the Associated Press Thursday. “Defendants Rumsfeld and [Deputy Paul] Wolfowitz were routinely consulted on these kinds of questions.”

The Justice Department is attempting to get the case dismissed. Padilla’s suit alleges mistreatment and that Padilla’s being held as an enemy combat was unconstitutional.

MORE HERE

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Torture Lover John Yoo Excoriates Obama For Banning Torture»

Think Progress- By Ali Frick at 12:04 pm

John Yoo, infamous author of the Bush administration legal memos authorizing the use of torture on suspected terrorists, slams President Obama for banning torture in a Wall Street Journal op-ed today, gravely warning that Obama “may have opened the door to further terrorist acts on U.S. soil.”

Throughout the article, Yoo insists that torture is America’s most effective weapon against terrorists and warns that without it, the U.S. will be incapable of intelligence-gathering:

Eliminating the Bush system will mean that we will get no more information from captured al Qaeda terrorists. Every prisoner will have the right to a lawyer (which they will surely demand), the right to remain silent, and the right to a speedy trial. […]

Relying on the civilian justice system not only robs us of the most effective intelligence tool to avert future attacks, it provides an opportunity for our enemies to obtain intelligence on us.

Considering the Bush administration repeatedly insisted its use of coercive techniques was “limited,” it would be a far stretch even for loyal Bushies to suggest that torture is not the one and only method to obtaining information. And as ThinkProgress has made clear again and again, numerous intelligence experts and real interrogators agree that, far from being “the most effective intelligence tool,” torture simply doesn’t work.

Yoo continues his screed by making up facts about Obama’s ban:

The CIA must now conduct interrogations according to the rules of the Army Field Manual, which prohibits coercive techniques, threats and promises, and the good-cop bad-cop routines used in police stations throughout America. … His new order amounts to requiring — on penalty of prosecution — that CIA interrogators be polite.

Yoo has no idea what he’s talking about. Nothing requires anyone to “be polite” — although the rapport building method has often proved to be interrogators’ most effective technique. And the notion that good-cop/bad-cop would be banned is simply false, Media Matters pointed out earlier this week:

In fact, the Army Field Manual explicitly permits good cop-bad cop interrogations under the name of “Mutt and Jeff” interrogations, which involve two interrogators “display[ing] opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source.” The Field Manual says the “goal of this technique is to make the source identify with one of the interrogators and thereby establish[ing] rapport and cooperation.”

It’s no secret that Yoo is an ardent torture enthusiast: He famously said that only those techniques that inflict pain equivalent to “death, organ failure or permanent damage resulting in a loss of significant body functions” constitute torture, and last year refused to agree that the president could not order a detainee buried alive. With Obama signaling a clean break from the Bush administration’s terrorism policies, it’s no wonder Yoo is desperate to restore his crumbling torture regime.

Update- Yoo also makes it perfectly clear that Bush himself directly and explicitly ordered torture, including the waterboarding of at least three detainees:

What is needed are the tools to gain vital intelligence, which is why, under President George W. Bush, the CIA could hold and interrogate high-value al Qaeda leaders. On the advice of his intelligence advisers, the president could have authorized coercive interrogation methods like those used by Israel and Great Britain in their antiterrorism campaigns. (He could even authorize waterboarding, which he did three times in the years after 9/11.)

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