Uh, congrats?
June 20, 2008

Despite their being in the majority, there’s nothing particularly weird about the Democrats surrendering to the Republicans on civil liberties. I mean, that’s what Democrats are good at. If Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer woke up one morning and realized that they were in the majority, it would throw everything out of whack.

You know what is weird, though? That Democratic leadership thinks that lying down and letting the White House bone the US Constitution once again is cause for a victory dance.
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Yay, compromise!
June 19, 2008

Compromise, paraphrased:

We want retroactive immunity and you don’t. So, as a compromise, how about telecom companies only receive retroactive immunity if we provide evidence that they thought they weren’t doing anything illegal? And by “evidence” we mean, “you taking our word for it.”

Once again, the glorious forces of capitulation have defeated the evil armies of partisan bickering. Huzzah!

Obama learns lessons of 2006, chooses to ignore them anyway
June 19, 2008

Hey, does anyone remember that anti-Lieberman primary challenge in the 2006 Connecticut Senate elections? The one with Ned something? Ned … Ned Lamont? I think I might have mentioned that race here before.

Obama was involved in that one somehow, wasn’t he? Oh yeah, that’s right – he endorsed Lieberman in the primary and then, when it came time to support the actual nominee in the general, kind of didn’t.

So how did that turn out? Well, Lieberman, Obama’s mentor, won. Yay! Then, to show his gratitude, he went on to actively campaign for Obama’s opponent, vocally oppose every single ideal that the Obama campaign stands for and merrily fuck over his former mentee at every available opportunity.

So, if you were Barack Obama, would you take the lesson of this experience to be that interfering in primaries on behalf of people who are actively undermining your agenda is a swell idea?

And for those keeping score, apparently in Obamaland, attaching yourself to someone who’s trying to undermine your civil liberties isn’t anywhere near as bad as being pictured next to someone in a khefiya. Good to know.

Retarded meme of the day
June 18, 2008

9/10 Democrats

Because 9/11 is THE DAY THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING.

Habeas corpus as a universal right? THAT’S A 9/10 ATTITUDE.

Translation: SHIT YOUR PANTS IN FEAR, YOU IGNORANT SHEEP. Daddy McCain will protect you.

As Atrios would say: This election is so awesome.

Zelliciousness
May 21, 2008

Check this shit out. Lieberman, who, remember is chair of the Senate Government Oversight Committee (making him the horribly stunted evil twin brother of Henry Waxman, I guess), apparently feels that his time is better spent exercising oversight over … YouTube videos.

As mcjoan points out, the letter that Lieberman’s writing to YouTube is officially being issued from the office of the Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, meaning that he’s trying to use a Senate committee to compel YouTube to censor free speech. Because that’s just the kind of swell dude he is.
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Respect my authoritah
April 24, 2008

Based on this exchange between the FBI Director Mueller and Reps. Wexler and Cohen, you would think that the FBI basically what authority it has to police other federal agencies. But that’s not true at all! They actually have a very simple process for investigating other federal agencies.

Step 1: A federal agency (let’s say, the CIA) commits a crime (let’s say, tortures the shit out of people).

Step 2: FBI immediately cuts of all ties with the activities of that other agency!

Step 3: Break for lunch. Tuna subs in the Hoover building cafeteria today. Yum!

Step 4: Go through the proper protocol. Nobody’s exactly sure what that means because the FBI keeps it classified, but trustworthy sources have said that it indicates a divining rod, a magic eight ball, a deck of cards and two cups connected by a lot of yarn.

Step 5: Conduct a series of sophisticated experiments to determine if torturing the shit out of people is illegal. Results: inconclusive!

Step 6: Smoke break.

Step 7: Consult the Justice Department. Results: inconclusive!

Step 8: Good job, everyone! Justice has been served. Go to a congressional hearing to collect your reward.

Pennsylvania Primary Day!
April 22, 2008

I totally forgot that was today until this morning’s newspaper kindly reminded me, giving me a strange mixture of relief and nausea. Relief, because it’s one more state I’m not going to have to read about for a solid month before their primary, and nausea because the Pennsylvania Primary is kind of like a bad hangover the morning after primary season would normally have ended. The whole “bitter” mess didn’t do a whole lot to detract from that perception.

In that spirit, here are two news items that you’re going to hear absolutely nothing about today:

The Bush administration has been engaged in a massive propaganda campaign to manipulate the American media for years. The DC press corp, perhaps unsurprisingly, doesn’t seem to give a shit.

Speaking of hangovers, Guantanamo detainees are alleging that they were drugged as part of their interrogation. I’m torn here – disgusting intrusion on their human rights, small step up from being waterboarded, or both?*

Check out the special cameo in that article!

Yet the allegations have resurfaced because of the release this month of a 2003 Justice Department memo that explicitly condoned the use of drugs on detainees.

Written to provide legal justification for interrogation practices, the memo by then-Justice Department lawyer John C. Yoo rejected a decades-old U.S. ban on the use of “mind-altering substances” on prisoners. Instead, he argued that drugs could be used as long as they did not inflict permanent or “profound” psychological damage. U.S. law “does not preclude any and all use of drugs,” Yoo wrote in the memo. He declined to comment for this article.

Well that’s okay. Maybe the Pentagon has another marionette WaPo could interview about this.

*Unless they were being drugged and waterboarded, which is likely. But think about how depressing it is that when this news broke, a reasonable reaction was, “Well, it’s not quite as bad as some of the other shit they’ve been doing over there.”

Unalienable rights: The deluxe package!
April 14, 2008

Founding fathers:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

John McCain:

“I’ve made it very clear, I’ve made it very clear in my statements and in my support of the Detainee Treatment Act, the Geneva Conventions, etc., that there may be some additional techniques to be used, but none of those would violate the Geneva Conventions, the Detainee Treatment Act…. And we cannot ever, in my view, torture any American, that includes waterboarding.”

As an American, I think it’s totally awesome that we have access to certain bonus rights that people in other countries don’t get. We must be on the gold plan!

Interesting here that McCain’s at least admitting waterboarding is torture – but we can still do it to non-citizens because they’re, I don’t know, subhuman or something.

FISA is responsible for 9/11
April 3, 2008

At least according to AG Mukasey.

Last week, during a question-and-answer session following a speech he delivered San Francisco, Attorney General Michael Mukasey revealed a startling and extremely newsworthy fact. As I wrote last Saturday, Mukasey claimed that, prior to 9/11, the Bush administration was aware of a telephone call being made by an Al Qaeda Terrorist from what he called a “safe house in Afghanistan” into the U.S., but failed to eavesdrop on that call. Some help is needed from readers here to generate the attention for this story that it requires.

Whoa! I don’t know how I missed that the first time around, but this is huge. Mukasey’s letting us catch a glimpse of an extremely complicated plot involving people at some of the highest levels of government. For instance:

Critically, the 9/11 Commission Report — intended to be a comprehensive account of all relevant pre-9/11 activities — makes no mention whatsoever of the episode Mukasey described. What has been long publicly reported in great detail are multiple calls that were made between a global communications hub in Yemen and the U.S. — calls which the NSA did intercept without warrants (because, contrary to Mukasey’s lie, FISA does not and never did require a warrant for eavesdropping on foreign targets) but which, for some unknown reason, the NSA failed to share with the FBI and other agencies.

There’s only one logical explanation for this: Not only was the 9/11 Commission infiltrated by terrorists (who covered up Mukasey’s story so that people wouldn’t realize how great having FISA around is for them) but so has the NSA, which decided to withhold crucial information from the FBI.

Now you may ask: If the NSA was performing warantless wiretapping and ignoring FISA in the first place, how could it be filled with terrorists who want to keep FISA in place so as to further embolden their jihadist allies?

It’s called reverse psychology.

Think about it.

Yoo don’t know shit
April 2, 2008

Kevin Drum on the recently declassified torture memo:

Basically, it says that criminal law doesn’t prohibit torture because it doesn’t apply to the military. Treaties don’t prohibit torture because they only apply to uniformed enemy soldiers. Ditto for the War Crimes Act. And federal statutes prohibiting torture don’t prohibit torture because they don’t apply to conduct on military bases.

I’ve got to hand it to Yoo, this does get pretty clever. There are some many legal prohibitions on torture worked into US federal law, the US Constitution and international law that you would need to be an Olympic-level mental gymnast in order to figure out any way to argue that somehow what the United States has been doing to enemy combatants is a-okay. Fortunately, the White House was blessed with John Yoo, esquire, who appears to have had the perfect solution: The presidency is magic!

Basically, the president can authorize any action at all as commander-in-chief in wartime. Congress can’t bind him, treaties can’t bind him, and the courts can’t bind him. The scope of power the memos suggest is, almost literally, absolute.

Nothing that we didn’t already know about the legal theory of the unitary executive (which is a real legal theory in the same way that phrenology is a real medical theory). But it bears repeating: the very existence of this memo is evidence of the Bush administration’s pathological aversion to separation of powers, civil liberties, the rule of law and pretty much everything that a functioning democracy is supposed to be built on.

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