Wednesday, June 30, 2004

 

Things Could Be Better II

This is interesting as well.

BRICKS, MORTAR AND MONEY
Reality Intrudes on Promises in Rebuilding of Iraq


----

More than a year into an aid effort that American officials likened to the Marshall Plan, occupation authorities acknowledge that fewer than 140 of 2,300 promised construction projects are under way. Only three months after L. Paul Bremer III, the American administrator who departed Monday, pledged that 50,000 Iraqis would find jobs at construction sites before the formal transfer of sovereignty, fewer than 20,000 local workers are employed.

----

From the start, refurbishing Iraq's dismal infrastructure and creating a thriving market economy were promoted by Bush administration officials as pillars of the American-led invasion — "the perfect complement to Iraq's political transformation," in the words of Mr. Bremer.

But more than a year later, supplies of electricity and water are no better for most Iraqis, and in some cases are worse, than they were before the invasion in the spring of 2003.

Repairs of three giant wastewater treatment plants in Baghdad, for example, are weeks or months behind, while water supply systems in the south of the country are months or even years away from functioning properly. Unrepaired bridges continue to create monstrous bottlenecks in many parts of the country.

For Iraqis, the delays have bred frustration and anger. Recent interviews in the upscale Baghdad neighborhood of Harethiya suggest that the electricity woes have, among other things, created a nation of insomniacs, sweltering in their apartments through oppressive nights.

James Glanz and Erik Eckholm, The New York Times

But we got the oil running!

From the same atricle....

In perhaps the greatest technical success, oil exports have been restored to their prewar levels, bringing in money that will pay the national budget.

Via Daily Kos.

After a year, you have to ask yourself, could this have been run better?

As is often the case in large projects, and not just those under Bush administration control, the answer is yes.

The next question you have to ask yourself is if you think the people in charge, in this case the Bush administration, deserve another term in office to continue what the've been doing.

I'll let you answer that on your own.

 

Things Could Be Better

Iraq's basic services worse now than before war, GAO says

WASHINGTON — In a few key areas — electricity, the judicial system and overall security — the Iraq that America handed back to its residents Monday is worse off than before the war began last year, according to calculations in a new General Accounting Office report released yesterday.

The 105-page report by Congress' investigative arm offers a bleak assessment of Iraq after 14 months of U.S. military occupation. Among its findings:

• In 13 of Iraq's 18 provinces, electricity was available fewer hours per day on average last month than before the war. Nearly 20 million of Iraq's 26 million people live in those provinces.

• Only $13.7 billion of the $58 billion pledged and allocated worldwide to rebuild Iraq has been spent, with $10 billion more about to be spent. The biggest chunk of that money has been used to run Iraq's ministry operations.

• The country's court system is more clogged than before the war, and judges are frequent targets of assassination attempts.

• The new Iraqi civil-defense, police and overall security units are suffering from mass desertions, are poorly trained and ill-equipped.

• The number of what the now-disbanded Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) called significant insurgent attacks skyrocketed from 411 in February to 1,169 in May.

The report was released the same day the CPA's inspector general issued three reports that highlighted serious management difficulties at the CPA. The reports found that the CPA wasted millions of dollars at a Hilton resort hotel in Kuwait because it didn't have guidelines for who could stay there, lost track of how many employees it had in Iraq and didn't track reconstruction projects funded by international donors to ensure they didn't duplicate U.S. projects.

Both the GAO report and the CPA report said the CPA was seriously understaffed for the gargantuan task of rebuilding Iraq. The GAO report suggested the agency needed three times more employees than it had. The CPA report said the agency believed it had 1,196 employees, when it was authorized to have 2,117. But the inspector general said CPA's records were so disorganized that it couldn't verify its actual number of employees.

Seth Borenstein, Knight Ridder Newspapers



Via Atrios

 

Fahrenheit 9/11

Saw the movie yesterday.

It suffers from it’s sledgehammer subtly. But it was a intentional polemic, so being subtle was not part of it’s mission.

Some of the cheap shots were funny and well deserved, some were not.

Still, in a time where political subtly is like whispering in a hurricane, Moore’s shout-at-the-top-of-his-lungs anti-Bush movie may be just what’s needed to jump-start conversations and mobilize voter turn out.

I was upset when I left, so I guess Mr. Moore accomplished something of his purpose with me.

I wasn't too uspet with the cheap shots, or the general tone of the movie. One expects something of that from Mr. Moore, and being a avid blog reader, I'd heard about much, though not all, of what Mr. Moore flogs in the movie.

I was upset about:

  1. A short piece of film....

    I'd seen it before, so I don't think I'm giving away anything. In it, Mr. Bush is talking to a group at some sort of white tie function and he calls them the haves and the have mores. He continues and says that some folks call them the elite, but he calls them his base.

    It drove home the disparity of wealth in this country and how those running it do so more for the haves and the have mores than they do for the rest of us. Lest I rant too much, I'll just say that corporatism is something that we are going to have to deal with in the United States at some point.

  2. Iraq....

    I don't really think I need to go any more into the lies and the callous way this administration took the United States into the conflict.

    Still, I was reminded of those things, and it upset me all over again.

 

What Made You Think They Were Competent In The First Place?

Brad DeLong post this...

Michael Ignatieff admits that he has no place to hide:

The New York Times > Magazine > The Way We Live Now: Mirage in the Desert: ...the administration's arrogance. Gen. George C. Marshall began planning the postwar occupation of Germany two years before D-Day. This administration was fumbling for a plan two months before the invasion. Who can read Bob Woodward's ''Plan of Attack'' and not find his jaw dropping at the fact that from the very beginning, in late 2001, none of the civilian leadership, not Rice, not Powell, not Tenet, not the president, asked where the plan for the occupation phase was? Who can't feel that U.S. captains, majors and lieutenants were betrayed by the Beltway wars between State and Defense? Who can't feel rage that victorious armies stood by and watched for a month while Iraq was looted bare?

Someone like me who supported the war on human rights grounds has nowhere to hide: we didn't suppose the administration was particularly nice, but we did assume it would be competent. There isn't much excuse for its incompetence, but equally, there isn't much excuse for our naivete either....

For Ignatieff to say that there is "no excuse" for his assumption that the Bush administration was competent is not satisfactory: Ignatieff needs to tell us what chain of thought could possibly have led him to the assumption that the Bush administration was competent--or to the belief that a successful postwar reconstruction of Iraq was possible without 100,000 Arabic-speaking MPs



Tuesday, June 29, 2004

 

I Keep Going Back And Forth On This...

...But I think that in November, Mr. Bush is going to loose.

Huge.

 

Cat Blogging


Billie on the back of the chair.

Monday, June 28, 2004

 

Good Luck

Reuters is reporting this...

U.S. Formally Transfers Sovereignty to Iraqi Government

BAGHDAD, June 28 - Sovereignty was formally handed to an Iraqi interim government at a low-key ceremony in Baghdad on Monday morning, two days earlier than expected.

Reuters correspondent Alistair Lyon, who was at the ceremony, said it was attended by Paul Bremer, the outgoing U.S. governor of Iraq, and top Iraqi government officials.

I guess we get to see what Iraqi sovereignty means to the Bush administration.

But why did they take this action early you might ask as I did?

"[T]o try to thwart guerrilla attacks, officials said."

A real indicator of the Bush administration's success in bringing peace and stability to Iraq

 

Why Bother Testing It Really

If they are so sure it will work, what are they afraid of.

If it is so necessary, why not be sure it works?

Missile defense going up--and around testing law

In its effort to quickly build and deploy a missile defense system, the Bush administration has quietly sidestepped a federal law that requires "operational testing" for new weapons systems before they are deployed.

Instead, the Defense Department has argued that its ambitious $50 billion program to destroy missiles fired at the U.S. is still under development and not ready for such testing even though the first interceptors of the system are scheduled to be installed and switched on this fall.

Opponents say the Pentagon (news - web sites)'s explanation is doublespeak. The administration's missile defense program already is in production, they argue, and the development claim is a ruse to ward off scrutiny.

"I think it will be `in development' forever," said Sen. Jack Reed (news, bio, voting record) (D-R.I.), who wants flight tests before more money is spent. "We've offered several variations for saying, `Let's go ahead and do this testing.' . . . But there's a political impetus. This has been an icon for the conservatives since the Reagan years."

Stephen J. Hedges, Chicago Tribune

It must be physically impossible for this administration to do anything above board.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

 

More On The Interview

Here is the transcript of the interview.

His arguments are just so pathetic.

----

Interviewer - Mr. President, the Irish people are upset about the death toll in Iraq.

Answer - Americans are a compassionate people.

----

Interviewer - Mr. President, you didn't find any WMD?

Answer - We found that Saddam Hussein had a capacity for him to make a weapon. Did I mention Saddam was a bad man?

----

Interviewer - Mr. President, the world is more dangerous today post-Iraq invasion tan before.

Answer - Don't you remember September 11, 2001? I needed to work that in there somewhere. And other post Iraq invasion bombings around the world have nothing to do with what I did in Iraq. Nothing at all.

----

Interviewer - Mr. President, are you satisfied with the level of support you're getting from Europe? We both know no one other than Tony Blair supported you.

Totally Delusional Answer - Most of Europe supported the decision to invade Iraq. Except the French. You’re talking about the French aren’t you?

----

Interviewer - Mr. President, doesn't a solution to the to the Middle East mean doing something to solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis and shouldn't you be doing something about it?

Totally Delusional Answer - There's a democracy in Turkey. And an emerging in Afghanistan. And a democracy in Pakistan. Democracy can emerge in the Palestinian state.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

 

Questions In Advance?

"The policy of the White House is that you submit your questions in advance, so they had my questions for about three days."
-Carol Coleman, RTE.

Via Atrios

So now their all upset that she didn't follow the script.

Angry White House pulls RTE interview

THE White House has lodged a complaint with the Irish Embassy in Washington over RTE journalist Carole Coleman's interview with US President George Bush.

And it is believed the President's staff have now withdrawn from an exclusive interview which was to have been given to RTE this morning by First Lady Laura Bush.

It is understood that both RTE and the Department of Foreign Affairs were aware of the exclusive arrangement, scheduled for 11am today. However, when RTE put Ms Coleman's name forward as interviewer, they were told Mrs Bush would no longer be available.

The Irish Independent learned last night that the White House told Ms Coleman that she interrupted the president unnecessarily and was disrespectful.

She also received a call from the White House in which she was admonished for her tone.

And it emerged last night that presidential staff suggested to Ms Coleman as she went into the interview that she ask him a question on the outfit that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern wore to the G8 summit.

Irish Independent

Also Via Atrios

If a reporter asks questions, all you have to do is get through the interview and then not let the reporter or the news agency come back.

The rest of the press will get the message loud and clear.

If only they would band together and not let the White House bully them, we might get someplace. What I mean by that is if a reporter asks tough, but fair questions, and then is shut out by the White House, the next reporter, from the same or from some other news agency, needs to ask the same kind of tough, but fair questions as well, because the White House can't shut out everyone.

The news agencies should also not back down if the reporter asks tough, but fair questions. If the White House shuts the reporter out, the news agencies should express confidence in that reporter and send he or she back the next time to show that they can not be intimidated.

Instead, what we get is the next reporter meekly coming to Mr. Bush as a suppliant, seeking what the White House gives out. In doing so, the let the White House control the process and act like they have all the power.

The press does this because reporters don't want to loose their position and they don't want to get in trouble with their news agency. But when they do this, they shirk their responsibility to ask tough, but fair questions of the administration to try and get the information the public needs, but which this administration try to hide.

Friday, June 25, 2004

 

Kabul For Kerry




Americans in Kabul Hold Kerry Fund-Raiser

KABUL, Afghanistan - With armed Afghan guards at the gate and a Democrat donkey mascot chewing leaves in the shade, dozens of American expatriates held a fund-raiser in Kabul on Friday for U.S. presidential hopeful John Kerry.

About 60 people, mostly nongovernment aid workers, gathered at a restaurant garden across town from the fortress-like American Embassy, declaring "Kabul for Kerry."

"It's important to show that there are Americans everywhere, even in Afghanistan (news - web sites), who want a change of leadership in the United States," said organizer Karen Hirschfeld, of Winchester, Mass., who is helping Afghans get ready for this year's national elections.

"For the future of Afghanistan, Iraq (news - web sites) and America, we need someone with a more rational foreign policy who will work with the international community. We think John Kerry will be a good leader."

Matthew Pennington, Associated Press


 

Mr. Vice President, I Have To Inform You Your Pants Are On Fire

Link

Via Michael Froomkin.

 

What Will We Tell The Children?

Cheney Defends Use Of Four-Letter Word

One of the things that gets me about this group is the outright hypocrisy.

And I can't stand hypocrisy.

 

Something For Your Outside The Bubble Pleasure

With apologies to Harry Shearer for borrowing his phrase.

I guess it takes an Irish reporter to get in the face of Mr. Bush, ask him the tough questions, and not back down when he gives evasive answers.

It's interesting to see Mr. Bush get testy when the interviewer does not follow the lap-dog way of American reporters.

He keeps giving stock answers and when the reporter tries to follow-up, he stops her and tells her to let him finish.

It's a classic.

www.rte.ie/news/2004/0624/primetime/primetime56_1c.smil

It appears you'll have to cut and paste it into the address box to watch.

On a related note, while watching some of former President Clinton's interview on Larry King, I turned to someone and mentioned that I wished that the current resident of the White House could extemporize as well as Mr. Clinton when answering Mr. King’s wide-ranging questions.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

 

He's Not Just A CEO President...

He's a bad CEO President.

I've posted on this before, but Mark Kleiman has some more thoughts.

About delegation
If, as his flatterers insist, George W. Bush's Presidential style is that of a corporate CEO, it seems to me that the firm is in desperate need of a shareholder revolt. Putting aside the moment my view that most of the things he wants to accomplish are evil, it's pretty clear that the place simply isn't being very well manged right now.

There's a book by an actual, and quite successful CEO -- High Output Management, by Andrew Grove of Intel's glory days -- that gives at least one hint of the cause of the massive incompetence that has led to such misterable failure. Grove discusses the central importance of delegation: letting other people actually make decisions. (That's the lesson that Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton never adequately learned.)

But Grove defines "delegation" to mean assignment of authority and monitoring of process and results. "Delegation without monitoring," says Grove, is abdication."

Abdication is delegation for the lazy. I know; I practice it myself. Sometimes the results are spectacular, and sometimes they're spectacu-lousy. That's one of the many reasons I wouldn't hire me to run a hot-dog stand.

So when the President tries to weasel out of responsibility for the torture of prisoners by saying he never read the memos, he's describing not delegation but abdication.

Hey, I hear there's a shareholder meeting coming up in November.


 

Bi-Weekly Columns Must Be Tough

Because this by Thomas Friedman is just plain silly.

I, by contrast, find myself wanting to say to my daughters: "Finish your homework — people in China and India are starving for your job."

Americans are loosing jobs overseas because we're not smart enough?

Please!

I applaud the fact that people in countries other than the United States are going to University and getting a good education. I believe strongly in education.

But we're not loosing jobs to overseas workers because we're not educated enough. No, I think we're loosing jobs to overseas workers because big corporations don't want to have to pay the workers in the United States the wages and benefits that they don't have to pay overseas workers.

Americans can have all the education they want, but until corporations beat domestic wages down to $90 a month, the jobs will go overseas where workers are cheaper at this point.

 

Once Again...

...We're told we don't matter in the governing process.

I guess there is a shred of hope in that the Court did not dismiss the case outright but sent it back to the lower court for review. A process I should imagine will take far too long to be helpful in the next national election.

But we're fed this line when growing up that this is a government of the people and for the people. It's getting harder and harder not to think that if that was ever once true, that it no longer seems be the case.

Yeah, that’s cynical, but when one reads things like this...

Court Won't Order Cheney Papers Released

...it's difficult not to become cynical.

Yes, the government has the right to create energy policy.

But, I have the right to know who they met with to create this policy so that I can decide if the process was fair and above board.

I have this right because I have to decide whether or not to give this administration a second term in office. As an American citizen I exercise oversite over the conduct of this administration with my vote and I need the information on policy they create to make that exercise that oversite.

But the Court has decided that I don't get that information. And this administration has decided to be as secretive as possible.

I guess I'll have to make my decision based solely on the fact that they are too secret to be open and honest with the American people about how they create policy. Energy or otherwise.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

 

On The 7 Minutes

It’s the duty of a president to move immediately to find out what's going on and to act accordingly. Those who say his inaction stems from confusion, his own and others, may be right, but it in no way lift the responsibility of the presidential mantle from him.

It seems no positive affirmation of the President to say he didn't move because he was confused. Being confused is one thing. Being confused and doing nothing about it is another.

Have we come to expect so little of Mr. Bush? Verbal gaffs may be expected and dispelled because of low expectations, but inaction in the face of being told of the second plane crash seems a bit much to dismiss by simply saying he was confused.

Which is worse, the president not acting because he was too busy projecting stalwart calm for the children and the nation or not acting because he was confused?

Neither of which seem the appropriate response to the events he'd been told about.

One plane hitting the WTC is a major event.

More so in light of previous terror attacks on the WTC and because of the PDB that said Osama Bin Laden wanted to use aircraft hit the U.S.

A second plane hitting the WTC makes an already major event much more serious because it greatly increases the chances that it is a terrorist attack.

A second plane implies coordination.

A second plane means there implies conspiracy.

A second plane means it wasn't an accident involving some wayward pilot.

A second plane hitting the WTC is an event clearly requiring immediate presidential attention.

When we are attacked by terrorists, the president must act quickly to assess the situation and make the decisions necessary to defend the nation, because the president, as Commander-In-Chief, is the only one in the national command authority who can issue shoot down orders of civilian aircraft.

And the 9-11 Commission indicates that by 8:37 the FAA was suggesting that might be necessary because when they contacted the military's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) the FAA suggested they "scramble some F-16s," which NEADS promptly did. These aircraft could have done nothing against civilian aircraft without presidential authority. And if the 9-11 Commission is correct, any possible shoot down of the hijacked aircraft could not have happened till almost an hour later. Mr. Bush has some responsiblity for approximately 25 minutes of that time.

The Commission indicates that no one in the administration was made aware of the situation at all until after 8:46.

When American 11 struck the World Trade Center at 8:46, no one in the White House or traveling with the President knew that it had been hijacked. Immediately afterward, duty officers at the White House and Pentagon began notifying senior officials what had happened.

Mr. Bush was informed about the first aircraft at 8:55. He ignored the information. But this is somewhat understandable, because it was just one plane. I don't agree with that assessment, considering the previous attacks and the PDB, but I see the point.

But from 9:05, when he was told of the second plane crash by Mr. Card, until 9:30, Mr. Bush apparently did nothing other than listen to the children read and work on remarks.

The President was seated in a classroom of second graders when, at approximately 9:05, Andrew Card whispered to him: "A second plane hit the second tower. America is under attack." The President told us his instinct was to project calm, not to have the country see an excited reaction at a moment of crisis. The national press corps was standing behind the children in the classroom; he saw their phones and pagers start to ring. The President felt he should project strength and calm until he could better understand what was happening.

The President remained in the classroom for another five to seven minutes, while the
children continued reading. He then returned to a holding room shortly before 9:15....

----

Between 9:15 and 9:30, the staff was busy arranging a return to Washington, while the President consulted his senior advisers about his remarks. No one in the traveling party had any information during this time that other aircraft were hijacked or missing. As far as we know, no one was in contact with the Pentagon. The focus was on the President's statement to the nation. No decisions were made during this time, other than the decision to return to Washington.

So, it's not 7 minutes. It's more like 25.

Who knows what would have happened if Mr. Bush had left the classroom immediately to find out what had happened. We'll never know, because he just sat there projecting what he says was an air of calm. Or was it confusion.

Friday, June 18, 2004

 

Thing Is, Mr. Bush Apparently Never Feels Embarrassment

Kevin Drum has some interesting thoughts on Mr. Bush and Abu Zarqawi.

If I were Bush I'd be embarrassed to mention his name.

Indeed.

He of course continues:

Would it have killed the press corps to follow up on Bush's answer? I'm thinking of something like this:

Mr. President, if Zarqawi really was the linchpin of Saddam's connection to al-Qaeda, why did you refuse three separate times to approve military plans to take out his camp?

Or, of course, they could have tried the more obvious followup and asked Bush why he continues to flog the Zarqawi connection when it's well known that Zarqawi's camp was in Kurdish territory in northern Iraq, territory that was part of the northern no-fly zone and outside of Saddam's control.

Instead, there was no followup at all. Nothing. You see, it was time for lunch.

Our feckless media, which has apparently developed a pathological fear of being called liberal or unpatriotic by the right-wing noise machine, has pretty much given up their role in holding this administration to account for the things they say and do.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

 

Once Again The Bush Administration Is Worse Than I Had Imagined

It's as Brad DeLong says:

Once again the Bush Administration is worse than I had imagined, even though I thought I had already taken account of the fact that the Bush administration is invariably worse than I can imagine.

Mr. Bush and company are now saying that Iraq met with Al Qaeda, once or twice, and Iraq then did nothing to help Al Qaeda.

And that, according to Mr. Bush, means that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda had a "relationship."

I've seen Burt Young at the Daily Grill in Studio City a couple of times though I've never spoken to him. Had I spoken to him, I guess that would mean, according to the logic of the Bush adminisration, that we have a relationship.

Here is Mr. Bush's steel-trap logical argument:

The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda [is] because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

Well, there you go. That about does it, let's move on. Mr. Bush, of course, does move on, he moves on and sings a couple of choruses of 'Saddam Hussein Was A Bad Man.'

To shore up this implication, Mr. Bush makes mention of Abu Zarqawi:

Bush said Hussein had "provided safe haven for a terrorist like Zarqawi, who is still killing innocents inside of Iraq."

Considering this, that takes a certain amount of gall.

The insidious part is that by tossing Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda into the same sentence as many times as possible, Mr. Bush and company are clearly trying to lead the public to places where they can not honestly go in flat out statements. They parse, they cajole, they imply. And in doing so, they point the way through insinuation and hope the American people will make the next logical step unaided.

And that, apparently, has happened:

More than two-thirds of Americans expressed a belief last year that Iraq was behind the attacks, and Cheney said at the time, "It's not surprising people make that connection."

 

So, Why Are We There?

Mr. Bush had this to say:

"This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda".

So, since the War On Terror™ was predicated by the 9/11 attacks, why are we in Iraq?

Friday, June 11, 2004

 

A Reminder

Molly Ivins reminds me that when the United States puts out its report on human rights, "we will be a laughingstock."

Here is what the State Department says what we're supposed to be about:

Because the promotion of human rights is an important national interest, the United States seeks to:

  • Hold governments accountable to their obligations under universal human rights norms and international human rights instruments;
  • Promote greater respect for human rights, including freedom from torture, freedom of expression, press freedom, women's rights, children's rights, and the protection of minorities;
  • Promote the rule of law, seek accountability, and change cultures of impunity;
  • Assist efforts to reform and strengthen the institutional capacity of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Commission on Human Rights; and
  • Coordinate human rights activities with important allies, including the EU, and regional organizations.


Ask yourself how that matches up to what Mr. Bush and his administration is doing.

 

The 'We Can Do Whatever We Want To Do' Administration

I was wondering, while reading about John Ashcroft flat out saying he wasn't going to turn over the Torture Memo, because, well because he just didn't want to, where in the Constitution that is a justification to defy Congress?

I was also reading about how Mr. Bush is jumping through legalistic hoops to say what torture is, or we legally do what we legally can do...and I was thinking about how these folks were all over Mr. Clinton when he legalistically parsed the meaning of "is".

I can almost hear Mr. Bush saying, 'that depends on what the meaning of torture is' and the chorus of his supporter saying it’s just fine because he’s a War President™.

But Bill Clinton using lawyerly legalistic language to defend himself against spurious charges not only indicates that he is a liar, but also ingles the downfall of society. Mr. Bush parsing means and application of torture Is just fine.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

 

Flippity Floppity

This gives Mr. Bush a dose of his own 'flip-flopper' medicine.

Caught on Film: The Bush Credibility Gap

The Photographic History of the Bush Administration Putting Its Mouth Where Its Money Isn’t

Via TAPPED.

Onward and upward in the battle of political rhetoric.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

 

Not Bound by Laws?

Ah, those memo's that should have remained secret.

Here's one I bet the Bush Administration wishes was never made public.

From the aWall Street Journal.

Pentagon Report Set Framework For Use of Torture
Security or Legal Factors Could Trump Restrictions, Memo to Rumsfeld Argued


Bush administration lawyers contended last year that the president wasn't bound by laws prohibiting torture and that government agents who might torture prisoners at his direction couldn't be prosecuted by the Justice Department.

The advice was part of a classified report on interrogation methods prepared for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld after commanders at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, complained in late 2002 that with conventional methods they weren't getting enough information from prisoners.

Re-read that and marvel.

And wonder.

Wonder if those who once yelled about 'the rule of law' and 'we're a nation of laws' at the top of their lungs at Bill Clinton will now say that it is wrong for Mr. Bush not to be bound by laws prohibiting torture.

Continue reading.

The president, despite domestic and international laws constraining the use of torture, has the authority as commander in chief to approve almost any physical or psychological actions during interrogation, up to and including torture, the report argued. Civilian or military personnel accused of torture or other war crimes have several potential defenses, including the "necessity" of using such methods to extract information to head off an attack, or "superior orders," sometimes known as the Nuremberg defense: namely that the accused was acting pursuant to an order and, as the Nuremberg tribunal put it, no "moral choice was in fact possible."

Re-read that.

Continue reading:

To protect subordinates should they be charged with torture, the memo advised that Mr. Bush issue a "presidential directive or other writing" that could serve as evidence, since authority to set aside the laws is "inherent in the president."

What they are arguing, in cased you missed it, is that the president is above the law in the name of The War On Terror™.

That is a scary proposition.

Phillip Carter has this to say.

Analysis: Normally, I would say that there is a fine line separating legal advice on how to stay within the law, and legal advice on how to avoid prosecution for breaking the law. DoD and DoJ lawyers often provide this first kind of sensitive legal advice to top decisionmakers in the Executive Branch (regardless of administration) who want to affirm the legality of their actions. Often times, memoranda on these topics can be seen both ways, depending on your perspective. I tend to think that the Yoo memorandum and Gonzales memorandum leaned more heavily towards providing advice about how to stay (barely) within the bounds of the law — not how to break the law and get away with it. But this DoD memo appears to be quite the opposite. It is, quite literally, a cookbook approach for illegal government conduct. This memorandum lays out the substantive law on torture and how to avoid it. It then goes on to discuss the procedural mechanisms with which torture is normally prosecuted, and techniques for avoiding those traps. I have not seen the text of the memo, but from this report, it does not appear that it advises American personnel to comply with international or domestic law. It merely tells them how to avoid it. That is dangerous legal advice.

*Emphasis added.

He also has a Constitutional problem with the memo as reported.

Second, I'd like to counterpose one other key point from the memo against an excerpt from the U.S. Constitution. Compare the following line from the WSJ story:

To protect subordinates should they be charged with torture, the memo advised that Mr. Bush issue a "presidential directive or other writing" that could serve as evidence, since authority to set aside the laws is "inherent in the president."
with this passage from Art. II, Sec. 3 of the U.S. Constitution, regarding Presidential power:

Section 3.

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information on the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

The italicized passage is commonly called the "take care" clause by Constitutional Law scholars. It is not a permissive grant of power — it is an affirmative duty to enforce the laws and ensure that subordinate officers of the government do the same. It is the basis for Presidential command and control over the executive branch, and it has been invoked on many occasions to justify prosecution of law violation within the branch. President Truman tried to invoke this clause, in conjunction with his broader power as Commander-in-Chief, to justify the emergency seizure of steel mills during a labor stoppage during the Korean War. The Supreme Court sharply rebuked him, saying that he lacked the Constitutional authority to do so. (See Youngstown v. Sawyer, aka The Steel Seizure Case). I have read a fair amount on this particular area of Constitutional Law, and think the DoD memo gets it wrong. I am not aware of any legal authority which supports the proposition that the President has inherent power to set aside the laws when he deems it necessary. If anything, the opposite is true, according to Supreme Court precedent and treatises on Constitutional Law by scholars such as Joseph Story. Even in wartime, the President's authority to act is limited by the Constitution. There is no general Presidential power to nullify the laws of the United States, nor the laws of war which have been codified in treaties. Advice to the contrary is wrong, and any actions which follow this advice are probably unlawful as well.

Kevin Drum adds:

But put aside the technical analysis and ask yourself: Why has torture been such a hot topic since 9/11? The United States has fought many wars over the past half century, and in each of them our causes were just as important as today's, information from prisoners would have been just as helpful, and we were every bit as determined to win as we are now. But we still didn't authorize torture of prisoners. FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, LBJ, Reagan — all of them knew it wasn't right, and the rest of us knew it as well.

So what's different this time? Only one thing: the name of the man in the White House. Under this administration, we seem to have lost the simple level of moral clarity that allowed our predecessors to tell right from wrong. It's time to reclaim it.

I wonder if Mr. Bush will pay any sort of real political price this.

He never seems to.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

 

Remembering

I want to stop for a minute and remember those gallant men who charged into the German guns on the beaches of France on D-Day, 6 June 1944.

It must have taken courage beyond measure and many sacrificed all in the name of duty.

Even a liberals like me understand that.

 

Statement Of Purpose

Working hard on re-writing the one I had, because, as it turns out, it wasn't good.

Anyway, no posting till that is done. Then again, this is a post, but no serious posting.

Like anyone is reading anyway.

Here are a couple of pictures of one of our cats, that might generate some interest among a certain calss of people.

Her name is Bille....for Billie Holiday.






Thursday, June 03, 2004

 

Is The Constitution For Alleged Dirty Bombers Too?

Dahlia Lithwick over at Slate has a good article about the Constitutional implications of Jose Padilla's incarceration.

"Proof, Negative: The Justice Department's triumphant victory over the Constitution."

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

 

Chalabi Who?

It's like the 'Who is Ken Lay?' thing all over again.

Only now it's 'Who is this Chalabi guy? I think I met him once when he brushed passed me in the hallway.'

The effort to brush Mr. Chalabi under the rug is yet another fine example of Mr. Bush's mendacity.

What Mr. Bush is now saying:

George W. Bush yesterday , Rose Garden press conference:


Q Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. Chalabi is an Iraqi leader that's fallen out of favor within your administration. I'm wondering if you feel that he provided any false information, or are you particularly --

THE PRESIDENT: Chalabi?

Q Yes, with Chalabi.

THE PRESIDENT: My meetings with him were very brief. I mean, I think I met with him at the State of the Union and just kind of working through the rope line, and he might have come with a group of leaders. But I haven't had any extensive conversations with him.
...

Q I guess I'm asking, do you feel like he misled your administration, in terms of what the expectations were going to be going into Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: I don't remember anybody walking into my office saying, Chalabi says this is the way it's going to be in Iraq.

Via Atrios at Eschaton.

But let's look back shall we?

On "Meet the Press":

Russert: If the Iraqis choose, however, an Islamic extremist regime, would you accept that, and would that be better for the United States than Saddam Hussein?

President Bush: They're not going to develop that. And the reason I can say that is because I'm very aware of this basic law they're writing. They're not going to develop that because right here in the Oval Office I sat down with Mr. Pachachi and Chalabi and al Hakim, people from different parts of the country that have made the firm commitment, that they want a constitution eventually written that recognizes minority rights and freedom of religion.

There's a rope line in the Oval Office?

Atrios also links to this story

TRANSCRIPT
Bush Describes Baghdad Meeting with Members of Iraq Council
Says he assured Council that U.S. will "stay the course" in Iraq


President Bush says he had a "good talk" for about 30 minutes November 27 with four members of Iraq's Governing Council at Baghdad International Airport, following his surprise meeting with U.S. troops there.

Briefing the White House press pool accompanying him on Air Force One as he returned to the United States after the two-and-one-half-hour stop in Baghdad, Bush said he and L. Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, met with Jalal Talibani, the current president of the council, Raja Habib Khuzaii, Ahmed Chalabi, and Mowaffak Rubaie.

----

Q: Mr. President, we were told you got to see Mr. Chalabi today?

THE PRESIDENT: I did see Chalabi. I met with -- well, let's see, I had the dinner, you saw that. I wasn't sure how long you were there, you probably timed it, but an hour or so -- are these the times? Oh, these are the people there.

I shook a lot of hands, saw a lot of kids, took a lot of pictures, served a lot of food and we moved on to see four members of the Governing Council -- the names are here. Talibani is the head of it right now, so he was the main spokesman. But Chalabi was there, as was Dr. Khuzaii, who had come to the Oval Office, I don't know if you all were in the pool that day, but she was there -- she was there with him, and one other fellow, and I had a good talk with them.

We were there for about maybe a little less than 30 minutes. I was able to assure them that we were going to stay the course and get the job done, but I also reminded them what I said publicly, that it's up to them to seize the moment, to have a government that recognizes all rights, the rights of the majority and the rights of the minority, to speak to the aspirations and hopes of the Iraqi people. I assured them that I believe in the future of Iraq, because I believe in the capacity of the people to govern -- as I said, govern wisely and justly. I meant what I said. I told them that privately. I told them I back Jerry Bremer a hundred percent. He's got my full confidence. He was sitting right there, as well. We had a nice visit.

They assured me that they were making good progress, that the Iraqi people are overwhelmingly pleased that Saddam is gone, that they do see a bright future, and they want us to -- they want to work with us.

The question is not "do they think we're stupid?" because they clearly think we are.

The question is whether or not we let them get away with them treating us like we're stupid.

 

From The "Yeah, I Really Want To Find Out Who Did It" File

Bush May Hire Lawyer in Probe Over CIA Leak

WASHINGTON - President Bush has sought a lawyer to represent him in the criminal probe into who was responsible for a leak that was seen as retaliation against a critic of the Iraq war, the White House said on Wednesday.

Reuters

How many more months till Noveber?

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

 

Michael Moore Isn’t The Problem

Here is the problem as I see it:

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