Below is my column today in USA Today on the closure of the final torture investigation by the Obama Administration. Notably, in light of the rift with civil libertarians and his move to the right on national security matters, Obama is not running on civil liberties in this election or claiming to be champion for such rights. Likewise, liberal newspapers and commentators have criticized the Obama Administration and the Democratic Party for rolling back on strong language in the prior 2008 platform to civil liberties in the Democratic platform. The downgrading of civil liberties by the Democratic Party leaves civil libertarians without even a pretense of a party or candidate championing the cause in this election. In a prior column one year ago, I complained that President Obama had not just killed certain civil liberties but killed the civil liberties movement in the United States. That appears reflected in the tepid response to these issues in the party platform. Of course, while party platforms can be dismissed as meaningless statements, the final closure of the last torture investigations without a single criminal charge promises to have a more lasting impact on the law and our record on civil liberties and human rights. Here is today’s column:

Let it not be said that President Obama does not keep his promises.

As he prepared to accept his nomination for re-election last week, the president made good on a promise he made at the beginning of his term: No CIA officers will be prosecuted for torture. Attorney General Eric Holder quietly announced before the convention that the last two torture investigations would close (like all the prior investigations) without any charge. As a virtual afterthought, the Justice Department added that it would not address the “propriety of the examined conduct.” The “impropriety” involved two suspects who died under torture by CIA officials.
For those still infatuated with Obama, the announcement was the final triumph of “hope” over experience. Since Obama ran on a civil liberties platform, many expected an independent torture investigation as soon as he took office. After all, waterboarding is one of the oldest forms of torture, pre-dating the Spanish Inquisition (when it was called tortura del agua). It has long been defined as torture by both U.S. and international law, and by Obama himself. Torture, in turn, has long been defined as a war crime, and the United States is under treaty obligation to investigate and prosecute such crimes.

However, such a principle did not make for good politics. Accordingly, as soon as he was elected, Obama set out to dampen talk of prosecution. Various intelligence officials and politicians went public with accounts of the Obama administration making promises to protect Bush officials and CIA employees from prosecution.

‘Order is an order’

Though the White House denied the stories, Obama later gave his controversial speech at the CIA headquarters and did precisely that. In the speech, he effectively embraced the defense of befehl ist befehl (“an order is an order”) and, in so doing, eviscerated one of the most important of the Nuremburg principles. Obama assured the CIA that employees would not be prosecuted for carrying out orders by superiors. This was later affirmed by Holder’s Justice Department, which decided that employees carrying out torture were protected because they followed orders. The administration then decided that those who gave the orders were protected because they secured facially flawed legal opinions from the Justice Department. Finally, the Justice Department decided not to charge its own lawyers who gave those opinions because they were their . . . well . . . opinions.

This, of course, still left two inconvenient corpses in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2002, Gul Rahman was grabbed in Pakistan while seeing a doctor who is the son-in-law of an Afghanistan warlord. He was taken by the CIA to the infamous Salt Pit, a former brick factory north of Kabul. He was beaten by guards, stripped and shackled to a cement wall in near freezing temperatures. He froze to death overnight. The CIA officer in charge of the prison who ordered the lethal abuse has been promoted, according to the Associated Press and The Washington Post.

The second torture case was that of Manadel al-Jamadi, who died in 2003 in Iraq’s infamous Abu Ghraib prison. Al-Jamadi’s face was featured in pictures with smiling U.S. troops posed with his dead body — giving the thumbs up sign. A CIA official had interrogated al-Jamadi by suspending him from a barred window by his wrists, which were bound behind his back. The CIA interrogator, Mark Swanner, continued to demand answers even when al-Jamadi stopped responding. Swanner accused him of “playing possum” and ordered him to be repositioned for more interrogation, according to a New Yorker account. The guards finally convinced Swanner that the man was deceased. Al-Jamadi’s death was officially ruled a homicide.

CIA promotions

Not only have people like the commandant at the Salt Pit been promoted, but various CIA officials associated with the abuse of detainees have also been promoted under President Obama. Likewise, the lawyers responsible for those now rejected legal opinions have been promoted. One of the most notorious, Jay Bybee, was even given a lifetime appointment as a federal judge in California.

We have gone from prosecuting torture as a war crime after World War II to treating allegations of torture as a “question of propriety” under Obama. Hundreds of officials, including President Bush, were involved. People died in interrogation. High-ranking CIA officials admitted that they destroyed evidence of torture to keep it from being used in any later prosecutions. Yet, after a years-long investigation, not a single CIA official will be charged with a single crime connected to the program. Not even a misdemeanor or a single bar referral for an attorney. Well, no one except former CIA official John Kiriakou, who is awaiting trial on criminal charges for disclosing information on the torture.

After World War II, political philosopher Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe those who committed war crimes. The Obama administration now can add the “impropriety of torture” to our lexicon. The image of a man beaten, stripped and frozen to death in a CIA prison is not nearly as unnerving as a nation that stood by and did nothing about it. We have become a nation of dull-eyed pedestrians watching as our leaders strip away the very things that distinguish us from our enemies. With our principles gone, we are left with only politics and, of course, our sense of propriety.

Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors.

USA TODAY September 11, 2012


  1. Democratic civil libertarians can vote Green or refuse to vote. Or they can hold their nose and vote for Obama but they shouldn’t expect anyone to take their complaints seriously some day when a Republican Administration returns and does the same things that the Obama Administration has done. Unfortunately people in general really don’t care about civil liberties as much as they care about saying the other side is worse.

  2. And therein lies the problem. When neither the GOP nor the Dems see an advantage in expousing what is right on an issue an the nation has collectively lost its soul what is a decent human to do?

    Voting for a candidate with no chance to win may feel satisfying but in the end it changes nothing and is no better than not voting at all. I’m voting for the lesser evil in this case and continuing to write my elected officials and financially support organizations that work against these abuses. In real life I make the case against these policies whenever I can. Its going to be a slow road back to decency but changing the minds of Americans is the only way we can do that since leaders will only lead where the nation will follow

  3. I’m so disgusted with the way our presidents have so much power and nobody will do anything about it including congress.

  4. @Frankly: “Leaders will only lead where the nation will follow?”

    Then, logically, Dilbert, doesn’t that mean Obama is only leading you where you are willing to follow? After all, he has made these decisions, and he will still get your vote, right? Apparently you do not object strenuously enough to withhold your vote, apparently you feel all the other goodies you expect him to support are more important than whether or not he is a war criminal that supports torture and murder of innocent people.

    That is where Obama is leading you with your assent. And it is YOU he is leading, the Republicans aren’t putting him in office. Obama voters will put Obama into office, and specifically Obama voters that think four more years of safety net is more important than the Constitution.

    Do you think Democrats will simply rule forever? Do you think no Republican will ever again win the White House?

    This country is almost perfectly evenly divided, and Republicans will control it sooner or later, and they will do whatever harm to the social safety net they CAN do.

    Which means you are sacrificing the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the entire rule of law in this country for a temporary advantage, at best, because the next Republican in the White House will happily use their Imperial Powers to decimate those programs.

    (And if you think Democrats will stop them: Why don’t you think Democrats would stop Romney? They will have at least filibuster power.)

    You can call that a “holding action” if you want, but it isn’t, because it only attempts to hold ground that is bound to be lost sooner or later, and it does that by helter skelter retreat on the Constitutional grounds that should NEVER have been lost, as Turley outlines above.

  5. Congress is NO better. Until we start speaking up for these abuses of power and decency it will not change. We need to start marching, writing our congress people and blasting them for their non response to concerns. We the people need make our government represent our values as a nation. Torture is not acceptable ANY time. We have better ways to get information that is more reliable. GITMO should be closed. Prisoners SHOULD be tried in our court of law. It is absurb to say we cannot handle that kind of trial. We’ve done it before and we can do it again. Our officials who violate the law MUST be tried for their abuse of it. We do not let the military get away with violations even when they follow orders. Why should it be any different for other government or contract personnel working for the government?

  6. America has two major parties, one is right wing, and the other is even further right wing.

    It is a measure of how far right wing the far right is, that they consider the (merely) right wing as socialists and communists !

  7. A good article, one that should be taken to heart.

    Sadly, the only way I see President Obama to be held accountable for this is for him to lose the election. Congress does not have the will power, the supreme court is not willing to take on the issue, and the US has not signed the treaty providing for the jurisdiction of the international criminal court.

    But losing the election is just as unlinkely to happen. Many of those who would vote for him do not care about these issues, the other portion who does care, or at least formerly professed to, will rationalize the issue to irrelevance.

    I find it rather contemptable to see how some of the same groups of people who called for President GW Bush’s arrest for being a war criminal for essentially the same crimes as President Obama is alleged to have sanctioned are either silent on the issue now, or say he is the lesser of two evils declaring that Mitt Romney (who incidently was not involved in this) is worse, or blindly support him regardless of what he does.

    There is a lot of rationalization when it comes to President Obama. Many people support him because allegedly supports ordinary working people, yet he personally displays great amounts of arrogance and the spending habits of his first lady are more toward Imelda Marcos than most other first ladies. The same people who want open government and accountability seem to ignore much of the great efforts to hide his past, namely his college records and the present information with regard to Eric Holder’s and his agency’s actions through claims of executive priviledge.

    Many people become so wrapped up in a political cause they tend to overlook the shortcomings of a candidate, because he or she is more symbolic than substantive.

  8. Tony – one of the insidious things is its not ME, its the herd and no one cow is the entire herd. Both partys have to respond to the herd or they will be run over. We could certainly have a conversation about who used 9/11 to start the herd to stampede but until the herd calms down and regains its senses I don’t expect either party will be willing to stand in its way.

    We can pretend voting Green, or Libertarian or Communist or National Socialist will somehow absolve us of responsibility but unless those parties have an actual chance to win (and further to actually govern in the face of a House and Senate with no allies) we would only be fooling ourselves.

    A strong voice and a consistent message will break the fever eventually or the patient will die. Its really that simple. If America is going to die because of this disease it won’t be because I voted for Obama.

  9. If we can leave the little crimes alone because the victims of the little crimes are just little people, we will have the big crimes and the victims will even be the big people.

    In 1980 I began screaming about the little crimes. The result was that officials in all 3 branches of govt. kicked me for screaming. Now I am almost glad, ALMOST GLAD, that all three branches are utterly corrupt, and that the stench rises to the levels of the nostrils of some of the highest…


    My citizenship in a nation was taken away from me, tiny piece by tiny piece. Where do my compatriots think they live? I will die laughing.

  10. Frankly sez:

    Voting for a candidate with no chance to win may feel satisfying but in the end it changes nothing and is no better than not voting at all.

    The notion that voting one’s conscience is somehow useless and that voters should hold their noses and simply vote for the lesser of two evils is not only offensive, but in the case of presidential elections, it’s flat-out wrong.

    In my home state of Texas, all the electoral college votes are going to Romney. It was pretty much a given that none of the votes were going to Obama, no matter who got the GOP nomination.

    Should I stay home on election day and just accept this sad fact, or should I go to the polls and let both of the major parties know that in spite of all the rhetoric and millions of dollars spent, there is at least one person in the State of Texas who is fed up with the two-party system?

    Our election system is now so toxic that it’s probably going to take a constitutional amendment to fix it, and as long as Americans keep buying into the illusion that there’s a major difference between the two parties, it’s a safe bet that any future “reform” will be to the benefit of the two-party system.

  11. Frankly, This is shaping up to be the most racially polarized election ever. The comment by a poster comparing Michele Obama to Imelda Marcos is an example.. Michele’s shoes were from J Crew. They were not expensive nor was her dress. She has made a point of wearing stylish but not extremely expensive clothing. Some of us that do care deeply about torture will vote for Obama because we are unwilling to throw the elderly, women, minorities, and everyone else except the top 1% under the bus.

  12. Jack B, Except for the inner cities and the valley, we have a one party system in Texas. Republicans control everything currently.

  13. Jack, The attorney general in Texas, Gregg Abbot, has spent over two million dollars trying to keep Texas a one party state.

  14. My citizenship in a nation was taken away from me, tiny piece by tiny piece. Where do my compatriots think they live? I will die laughing.~Malisha
    no it wasn’t.
    Your Nation was undermined and disemboweled surreptitiously….so was mine. I have begun to ask myself “where shall I go now to find my free Country?” and then I realize….I never left it. My jaw still works. And the biggest mightiest word that has ever crossed it’s gates is the one that apparently so many who KNOW that torture is/was illegal did not use….that those who KNOW that stealing peoples retirements and homes and resources don’t have the cahonas to use…and those of like ilk who are so jellied up that they could never use it….NO.

    Here, take this bucket of water and almost drown that guy with it…..or I will hurt you.

    Here, take this ticket and pay a bunch of money or lift your shirt….or I will hurt you.

    Here, pay this bill for the ‘work’ I didn’t do and left you in a big pile of drecht……or I will hurt you.

    Here, do as I say or I will manipulate your ass right into jail….or I will hurt you.

    Here is a Country with a boatload of oil that I can make a profit on, send your child over to get shot up or killed so I can have it……or I will hurt you.

    Here is an election I want to win, go write a bunch of crap that hurts the other guy so I can steal it….or I will hurt you.

    My stable of lawyers want to do whatever they want and they want you to keep your mouth shut and just pay the bill…..quietly, or I will hurt you……

    I’ll give you a credit card but not at the rate you have earned (we make the rules as we go along…), I have to pay for a third home, my second yacht and a private jet, pay this usurious rate or get no credit and I’ll oppress the shit out of you…and oh yeah, don’t tell nobody or I will hurt you.

    When nobody knows what is really going on because our leaders have told so many lies, use my good faith tax dollars to fund their self serving and unjustified wars and and orcish invasions, and when the politicians have a seemless revolving door to/from the Corporations that are sucking the lifeblood from our Country and permanently befoulish the Earth we all live on, we will terrorize the populace with threats of removing any social safety net we used in an earlier equation to elicit their co-operation, for our new self serving agenda, we will point fingers and laugh at the ridiculous apparent stupidity we have created in the ‘little people’ and give ourselves a sense of unearned superiority….and if they complain we will hurt them by fiat………

    and for use by those with real live actual balls;

  15. “Many people become so wrapped up in a political cause they tend to overlook the shortcomings of a candidate, because he or she is more symbolic than substantive.” (Darren Smith)

    It’s a very common and ever-occurring human reaction. So much so that psychologist have a term for it … “motivated reasoning”. One sees it with Obama supporters, with Romney supporters and, let’s not forget, Ron Paul supporters.

    Remember the healthcare debate, especially the individual mandate which had been part of the Republican’s healthcare plan for over two decades … Democrats adopted it in the first place because they thought it would help them gain conservative support. For those of you who have forgotten, the mandate appeared in a 1989 Heritage Foundation brief titled “Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans”. It was a rebuttal to the single-payer system. But in December, ’09, every Senate Republican called the individual mandate “unconstitutional.” It was schizophrenic.

    But … we are descended from those who survived the challenges of the wild by organizing into groups. We are team players and tend to promote the interests of our team … right or wrong.

    That’s motivated reasoning.

  16. Swathmore mom;

    I am curious as to how you can logically link racism with my comment about how Michelle Obama spends like Imelda Marcos. So any question about the spending habits of a first lady is a racist issue? Are you one of those who subscribe to the belief that any criticism of the Obamas is racist?

    And as to your assertion that Mrs. Obama is a thrifty person as evidenced by her wearing of J Crew clothing, you are ignoring just about everything else out there. I invite you to do a google search of “Michelle Obama Spending” and others for “Hillary Clinton Spending” , “Laura Bush Spending” and other first ladies and see what you come up with.

    How about this as ONE example :

    Furthermore, your comment about how you care about torture but will vote for Obama because you care about the others who will be thrown under the bus. It seems that the torture issue is of lesser consequence than the other issues that are important to you. So should one person be given license to sanction the torture of others simply because you support other things they do? THis is one of the reasons as to why despots remain in power, because people allow them to get away with breaking the law or other illegal activities because they provide their supporters with something the supporters want so in turn the supporters will ignore the leadership’s improprieties.

    I just wonder how many MIddle Easterners you would accept being tortured before their suffering becomes more important than your political beliefs. Or, is that just being racist?

  17. Swarthmore mom, for that matter Democrats in Maryland have spent a lot of money trying to keep Maryland a one party state. Both parties do a lot of dirty things to keep their party in power. I’d have to be incredibly naive to think that gerrymandering would come to a halt in Texas if only the Democrats came to power.

    I live in South Texas, which has long been a stronghold of Democratic politicians. Box 13, the Parr Brothers… we could teach the Chicago Democrats a thing or two about corruption.

    But all that is nether here nor there. As professor Turley’s article indicates, we’re pretty much under a one-party rule when both major parties scratch each other’s backs and wash each other’s hands.

  18. Pres. Obama still is a amongst the greatest of presidents! Insstead of prattling about him, put pressure on him to do right! He is the center whilst the Repugs are the right and the ultra- right.
    We honor other presidents despite serious wrongs.
    Swarthmore Mom, that’s the fighting spirit for keeping our rights and liberties as Obama-Biden-Holder otherwise have and will fight for us.

  19. ” … yet he personally displays great amounts of arrogance and the spending habits of his first lady are more toward Imelda Marcos than most other first ladies. …” (Darren Smith)

    When candidate’s wives are criticized, it tends to be for frivolous matters employing lopsided animosity. Thus Michele Obama likened to Imelda Marcos on a thread about the impropriety of torture.

    Sigh … oh for the good ol’ days when Pat Nixon wore a good Republican cloth coat!

  20. Swathmore mom contributed:

    “Darren, Cmon, an “arrogant” black man and his Imelda Marcos like wife.

    It is obvious that the only person here that makes this a racist issue is YOU. And it further supports my assertion that you are one of those who believes that any criticism of the Obamas is racist by nature. And you still do not see this.

    Where did I make any reference to President Obama as being Black or Mrs. Marcos as being Asian. Would it have been preferable to you if instead I used Ivana Trump or Oprah Winfrey as example? How did I or anyone else who has questioned the Obamas strictly on their misdeeds import racism into the argument. Only you did. I don’t care what race the Obamas are. But since you prefer to only see these things along racial lines, I guess it is pointless to argue.

  21. @Frankly: The point of voting Green, or showing up to vote but not casting a ballot for President at all, is not to absolve you of guilt.

    The point of voting for somebody that cannot win is to send a message to BOTH parties that the actions of the party in power can cost them an election.

    No matter what they say, all they effectively care about is election outcomes, it is foolish to think otherwise. When you vote for Obama, you will send both parties the message that Obama’s actions, no matter how heinous, did not cost him your vote. If he wins, the country will have effectively sent the message to BOTH parties that being a war criminal, assassinating American citizens by executive order and trampling the Bill of Rights will not cost enough votes to matter.

    All they care about is the final decision, meaning whether or not their actions cost them the election. All of your letter writing is wasted if it does not translate into votes. All your petitions are wasted if it does not translate into votes. All your donations to Democratic Party candidates or liberal advocacy organizations are wasted if it does not translate into votes. All of your protests, rallies, and occupying means nothing if it does not translate into VOTES.

    Because all of that whining and thrashing and rending of clothes can be ignored if you show up to the polls and vote for them anyway, they really could not care less what mental anguish you have suffered or what painful road you followed as long as it results in your vote. By a hair or by a mile, under protest or with enthusiasm, your vote is just another check in another box to be tallied.

    Showing up and NOT voting for either major Party is the only thing that can frighten them or chasten them and convince them to change their ways. Losing an election, or the statistical prospect of losing one, is the only thing that will stop the destruction of civil liberties. Once those are gone the Republicans will inevitably take power and destroy the social safety net, and without your civil liberties that will finally be the irreversible triumph of the corporate state.

  22. I am so, so grateful that I found this blog and for Mr. Turley’s support for civil liberties. A liberal friend told me the other night that we need to get Obama re-elected and then the liberals can deal with the civil liberties issue. I held my tongue, but I believe that if Obama is elected, the liberals/democrats will go silent again on this issue except for the words: “At least he isn’t Romney.” And they will be complicit for another four years as the Bill of Rights continues to circle the drain.

    My respect for the Bill of Rights is soaring and, honestly, I never paid that much attention to it before. See what happens when you take such things for granted??

    Thanks to Turley, Hedges, Chomsky, Ellsberg and the few judges with guts for fighting for our Bill of Rights.

  23. Darren,

    You need to be very careful in stating your truth on here to some (one person in particilar)people. They have no use for the truth. Then there are three on here that have no need for the truth other than what they say it is! Then you will have the other two back them up,lies and all. You may be right, but they will play the “V” card. By the “V” card, I make reference to “victim” in which you become the aggressor, just face it!

    Then you have another bully that will eventually back them up, regardless of the lies and all regardless of the damage done. Got it?

  24. You Don’t have A right, Yes, you do have a right to flash sexist and racist signals, but is it wrong to if someone calls you out?

  25. Constitutional Crisis in Federal Court

    Another case of abuse of federal power in which a litigant is being denied his Constitutional Rights to counsel and threatened with death. we have actual court documents where the judge says this in open court.

    THE COURT: “I’m telling you don’t screw with me. You are a fool, a fool, a fool, a fool to screw with a federal judge, and if you don’t understand that, I can make you understand it. I have the force of the Navy, Army, Marines and Navy behind me.”

    THE COURT: “You realize that order is an order of the Court. So any failure to comply with that order is contempt, punishable by lots of dollars, punishable by possible jail, death”
    These are just some of the horrendous actions taken by
    this federal court. My wish is that you can post this to your channel for distribution.

    We need all US citizens to support this injustice and contact newspapers, the white House. President Obama must support our Liberties or we have nothing left.

  26. Torture should never be allowed or sanctioned and Obama’s biggest mistake was to not go after the torturers and those that authorized it. However, for everyone, including myself, who demands that the Obama administration prosecute the torturers, you do realize that would have included the former President, VP and Secretary of State? And you think we are polarized now?
    Darren, the alleged spending habits of the First Ladies? Really? Maybe we should dredge up the driving habits of the first ladies before they were First Ladies?
    Bruce, you do realize that waterboarding produced no usable intelligence don’t you? Ask Sen. McCain.

  27. See Darren,

    You got me called out, you do have the right. But, that right is limited. Remember it’s not really torture and not all people that have lived in Chicago are this thin skinned.

  28. “Maybe we should dredge up the driving habits of the first ladies before they were First Ladies?” (raff)

    At least that would be more in keeping with a thread on death and torture.

  29. It is telling that the first response of Obama supporters is about whether one should vote for him or let the “evil Romney” get in instead. The issue at hand is that Obama has absolutely failed to uphold his oath of office or the rule of law, something that most Obama supporters objected to when Bush did it. In fact, many people on this blog called for impeachment because of torture and the dismemberment of the rule of law.

    What has happened in this nation when so few people are able to simply state that torture is a heinous crime, that no matter the cost, it should be prosecuted? Where are the strong voices who called for impeachment over it?

    How did that become impossible to say?

  30. I think there are many people that live in Chicago. I think Obama was a senator from Illinois and claimed Chicago as his home! I think that someone here has made reference on this blog to having lived in Chicago. Oh, we’re playing the “V” card?

    Darren, as I warned you the neighborhood bullies are coming out to play, you’ll be for dinner.

  31. @rafflaw: Seriously, is avoiding polarization more important than the law and the Constitution?

    One of Obama’s choices would have been to simply pardon all those accused of torture, with the same rhetoric of wanting to put an ugly chapter behind us, move forward instead of backward, etc. Pardons are within his Constitutional power and do not require any justification whatsoever.

    The only reason I can fathom for not doing that is if he, personally, wants the power to do the same. Pardons may be distasteful but they are Constitutional; redefining the law and the meaning of “torture” is only necessary if Obama wants to continue the practice.

  32. The following bears repeating:

    “The image of a man beaten, stripped and frozen to death in a CIA prison is not nearly as unnerving as a nation that stood by and did nothing about it. We have become a nation of dull-eyed pedestrians watching as our leaders strip away the very things that distinguish us from our enemies. With our principles gone, we are left with only politics and, of course, our sense of propriety.” -Jonathan Turley

  33. Darren, I’ve been here a month or so. I read all the comments and have never picked up a hint of racism. You touched the third rail and you will be gang banged for it. One of the things I admire about Obama is he has NEVER used the race card. Unfortunately, many of his supporters love to shoot from the hip w/ it. You have my sympathy and support.

  34. I do respect all of you that have held Obama to task for this. Hopefully, you do understand you’re a distinct minority.

  35. Bruce,
    If you have evidence that war crimes, torture, led to useful intelligence, let’s hear it. No one else is aware of it. Did you water-board someone, to get this info?
    Pakistan protected bin Laden while ‘we’ were stupidly tearing up Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t see any “intelligence” at all, sir.

  36. Darren,

    Tread carefully…. You’ll read things and not have a clue why someone posted what they did…. There are ardent Obama supporter and you will be castrated for hinting anything negative about Obama….. Then there’s the other side that is antiobama and you’ll be castigated for saying anything positive about Obama….

    I have enjoyed the dialogue…. I did not see you play the race card….. But it will be imputed to you from now on….. Why? Because you have an opinion and write what you think…..

  37. Tony C. 1, September 11, 2012 at 10:21 am

    @Frankly: The point of voting Green, or showing up to vote but not casting a ballot for President at all, is not to absolve you of guilt.

    The point of voting for somebody that cannot win is to send a message to BOTH parties that the actions of the party in power can cost them an election.


    If you continue to vote for them (R or D) you just encourage them to continue with what they have been doing.

    If you stay home. Who cares? The only votes that could are those cast, not those that aren’t. (And I’m not sure the votes cast care properly counted but that’s a different topic.)

    Votes for another party, now that’s a protest and is watched.

    Jill Stein is running for the Green Party. She is being carefully “ignored”. No chance of getting into the debates where a lot of people go to make up their minds. Her ads for cable tv are being refused.

    They do pay attention to the other parties so if you want to effect change, vote for someone other than a D or an R. If enough people do, they will start asking why.

    This is a good idea for local and state elections as well. For local elections you might actually be able to get someone other than a D or an R elected. For state elections you might get their attention enough that they will ask why.

    If you don’t vote for what you want, you’ll never get it.

  38. Last January, when a number of white conservatives used words like “arrogant” and “cocky” to refer to President Obama’s State of the Union speech, MSNBC host Keith Olbermann asserted that they really meant Obama was an “uppity” black man: “When racist white guys get together and they don’t want to be caught using any of the popular epithets in use every day in this country about black people – and there’s a chance one of them, or worse still a white guy who doesn’t get it might wander in and hear the conversation, when there’s a risk even in saying ‘uppity’ or ‘forgetting his place,’ the racist white guys revert to euphemisms and code words. And among the code words that they think they’re getting away with are ‘cocky,’ ‘flippant,’ ‘punk,’ and especially ‘arrogant.’”

    Read more:

  39. So, like shano, you’re calling me a liar. I’ve sworn I didn’t know that was a buzzword. I know people who eat, drink, and sleep politics can’t understand everyone is not like them. I follow politics but it does not consume me, I have a life. You know SWM, I’ve found over the years people who can’t accept someone is truly honorable is because honor is a foreign concept to them. They have no frame of reference.

  40. nick spinelli
    1, September 11, 2012 at 11:41 am
    I do respect all of you that have held Obama to task for this. Hopefully, you do understand you’re a distinct minority.


    That is the truth (distinct minority).

    In 2009 some 52 percent of people say torture could be sometimes justified to obtain information about terrorist activities from suspects, an increase from 38 percent in 2005 when the AP last asked the question.

    In other words, the number of people who approved of some form of torture rose 14% from 2005 to 2009.

    The latest poll I could find was a CBS poll on torture in Nov. 2011 where the number who approved had fallen to 45% but an additional 15% are depends/unsure … so little movement overall.

  41. Yes SWM, You’re a marvelous, patient, and empathetic teacher. An apology would have been forthcoming from someone who has honor.

    Blouise, The capricorn has replied.

  42. You Don’t Have a Right
    1, September 11, 2012 at 10:29 am
    hey rightless….whose pocket are you picking whilst fomenting such disease with your own personal hit list? Darren is apparently not intelligent enuff to know who the big bad is? (while you whisper poison in his ear…….)

  43. Nick,

    Imelda Marcos was a young beauty queen who married an old corrupt man. The two of them raped and plundered their country. Your comparison of Michelle Obama to Imelda Marcos is odious. I’ll give you a pass on racism.

  44. No problem, Eeyore. I believe Darren was just talking about shoes, but there are many unwritten rules.

    Blouise, I meant I responded on the Az. thread. I do plead guilty[not “no contest”..guilty, just ask my kids.] to being an old goat and throw myself on the mercy of the court.

  45. Nick,

    I’m gonna take a leap here. I don’t think Darren knows the difference between a manolo blahnik and j crew. And if he does, then his comparison between Michelle and Imelda is even more odious.

  46. Democratic National Convention 2012: Where to Buy Michelle Obama’s J.Crew Pumps
    Sep 5, 2012 @ 10:20 am

    Michelle Obama made her first appearance at the Democratic National Convention last night in Charlotte, North Carolina wearing a pink-and-gold printed frock that immediately lit up the Twitterverse with compliments and applause. The dress is a custom design by Tracy Reese, a Detroit-born African-American designer, who told the Wall Street Journal she was “moved to tears” by the First Lady’s speech. To finish the look, Obama paired the dress with rhubarb-hued heels by J.Crew—the Everly suede pumps, available for $245 at (they also come in azure, burnt sienna, and vivid lime

  47. Woosty, I was off line for a while and just got back on, and don’t understand your post, although I have tried — maybe I’m too tired.

    Are you suggesting that I could have retained my rights at any point along the line if I had said NO to those who were taking them?

    Are you suggesting that I could NOW defend myself from torture or anything else if I chose right NOW to say NO to whatever is threatened or done to me?

    If not, please help me understand what you’re telling me because I want to show you that I said NO a thousand times, a hundred ways, and most recently, got so tired I couldn’t say anything for several months, but that I have used every avenue and made every effort. The fact that I have not been tortured (about which I am really very glad!) has been, IMO, luck alone. If I were really significant to the people I oppose and they had no method to dominate me other than torture, I’d be tortured. If I was really dangerous to them in any way and they had no method to get rid of me other than to kill me, I’d be dead. I can’t escape; I have no passport.

    I did, believe me, say NO. On my own behalf, on my kid’s behalf, on behalf of 257 other mothers, on behalf of dozens of death sentence inmates, on behalf of all and sundry victims our powers were victimizing, whether or not female, whether or not Jewish, whether or not American, whether or not convicts, I have been doing it.

    People just don’t realize what is actually going on here.

    I don’t mean to be dense; tell me what you mean, I’ll try to understand. :mrgreen:

  48. Well it seems the gloves have come off and we might as well flush out everything and get over it.

    I used the comparison of Michelle Obama’s spending habits to bring attention to the amount of blind eyes that are turned by people who would otherwise object to this type of behavior because it involves the Obamas. And that type of blind eye mentality empowers people such as Our President to continue tsome actions which violate the principles of our constitution and other misdeeds.

    So many of the same people make much criticism of, for example, Mitt Romney’s lifestyle, wealthy people, royalty or whatever. But these same people often cast this blind eye toward the Obamas in the same manner that they also forego their beliefs in civil rights because they allow President Obama to get away with the same violations they criticize the previous administrations and the leaders of other countries for.

    And yes I take great exception to the hypocracy of anyone who one day shows up to serve people food in a soup kitchen, proffering he/she truly cares about the fate of the unfortunate and later spends millions of dollars on a lavish and regal lifestyle for themselves. But what is more unsettling is when these people waste this money so flagrantly and most of it is derived from money obtained by taxation of the public. That harks just as equally with the abuses of royalty upon the citizenry.

    And yes Michelle Obama is one who spends as this goes. Yet she is not an elected offiial. She is not in charge of the Air Force. So how is it that she can fly in Air Force 2 costing $400,000 a trip on her own accord? The office of her husband permits it. He could put the brakes on this kind of abuse of tax payer dollars but he does not choose to. Why? Because he has no reason to because there are not enough people who object so they get away with it. That is what it boils down to. He could set a better example but he again chooses not to.

    Now let’s look at a historical context. Most anyone who has a civil rights leaning will agree that Dr King had a vision and a determination to liberate millions of people from discrimination and repression. I ask this. Did Dr. King espouse a regal lifestyle? Did he stay in expensive luxury hotels and wear expensive jewelry? He did not. He stayed in modest venues because he did not believe in such things and I am certain he did not want to detract from his message by blowing through money at the expense of those he was trying to liberate.

    And to say that the Obamas are off limits from criticism I ask what do you really support. Responsible governance and fiscal responsibility or promoting a celebrity lifestyle that is beyond reproach. One that we dare not criticize even when some of their actions violate our own morals.

    So feel free to use the old and tired retorts such as that I am a racist, I am stupid, or whatever methods you choose to poison the well of this debate. After all, in doing so it seems that it is better to criticize and censor those who challenge a particular issue because like President Obama’s trashing of the rights of certain persons, it is all done to uphold the freedoms of our constitution.

  49. Now if that’s not an antiobama political statement, then I’ve never heard one so pure today. I will not be surprised when you get taken down a notch by the bully system. Darren, you must tread carefully or soon you’ll be whimpering off in a corner. This will be your own fault, you have been warned. Nothing negative about Obama, got it?

  50. So I got a friend who’s a die hard Obama supporter who responded to the above article by Turley with this:

    “Torture was legal under Bush. How do you prosecute someone for abiding by the law?”

    What do you say to that? It’s like FOX news propaganda but on the left.

  51. Sununu questions the $350.00 dress. This criticism of Michele over nothing has been going on since the 2008 campaign. It is nothing more than right wing propaganda. I think it originated with Sean Hannity. Michele Obama did such an excellent job at the convention that these old wingers had to find something to discredit her with.

  52. Bob, Esq,
    Love your first name.
    “Torture was legal under Bush. How do you prosecute someone for abiding by the law?”
    Torture has never been legal. It has been, and is now, a war crime.

  53. Judicial Watch Obtains Documents Detailing the Cost to Taxpayers for Michelle Obama’s Family Trip to Africa.
    Charges for the Aircraft and Crew Alone Amount to $424,142

    Michelle Obama’s August 2010 Vacation in Spain Cost American Taxpayers $467,585

  54. @Darren: I do not criticize Romney for spending his money, I criticize him for how he made it, by fraudulent and ruthless means. Obama has made his money by publishing memoirs, and he didn’t twist anybody’s arm to buy them.

    As for using government aircraft, surely you can comprehend the concept of assassination or kidnap of the wife or children of the most powerful person in the country (and the world) posing a problem. Using government aircraft for the first family is really the cheapest way of providing security (and I sincerely doubt it costs $400K a trip).

    I do not criticize any such use, regardless of party. The same thing goes for her duties as First Lady; all such presidential wives have acted as public figures and advocates for their chosen causes, rich or not, and ended up influencing the expenditure of public funding. Like the “just say no to drugs” campaign, reading literacy programs, etc. They have all flown on government aircraft with tight security.

    MLK was a private citizen, not an elected official. The fact that he was the de facto leader of millions and was assassinated because of that proves the necessity of Air Force 2, it does nothing to prove it was not necessary.

  55. Bruce where is your evidence that “without water boarding Bin Ladin would still be running..”? According to what I’ve seen it was a physician doing a door to door that found him. If I’m wrong and you’re right does tah make tourture right or less od a war crime?

    We have become the people we used to fight against.

  56. >Bruce

    “Without waterboarding Bin Ladin would still be roaming the hills of Pakistan. Obama can’t have it both ways.”<

    So, therefore, the use of torture to obtain this 'information' is justified? Even if I accept your premise (and I most assuredly DO NOT), the ONLY imprimatur for the actions that we have taken as a nation was that we held a moral imperative; that what we did was in defense of our country and that because of the righteousness of our cause, we could show everyone else how to act (last verse of the Star Spangled Banner). When we as a nation sanctioned torture, we completely lost that moral high-ground. 'We' have become 'them'. How many innocent people must we torture and kill to assuage the horrors of 9/11 (because that is what is at the root of this whole issue)? 'An eye for an eye' (one for one)? We passed THAT number a long time ago. 2 for 1? We also passed THAT number a long time ago. I DO agree that "Obama can't have it both ways", and the fact that this administration has done nothing to mitigate the horrors of the Bush administration is among my greatest disappointment with the present administration. It will be hard for me to vote for Obama in November. Once again I feel that we are faced with the lesser of two evils (however the thought of Romney as president is too horrible to even contemplate). Nate had it right when he wrote:"The evil we created has come full circle".

  57. Nate had it right when he wrote:”The evil we created has come full circle”. -Kraaken

    Yes, he did. And it’s come full circle in ways that many don’t yet realize.

  58. I agree totally about DOJ under Obama not being committed to Rule of Law. I have continued to slog along pro se against DOJ. Some of you may remember that I am a U.S. Citizen with no criminal record at all and DOJ imprisoned me three times for 5 months. Last summer the FBI released records showing that the USMS entered non-existent criminal charges for felony obstruction and bail jumping into the NCIC. The USMS sent an email to state law enforcement saying that I should be arrested for bail jumping and that is why I was arrested and held for 22 days. However, I never had a bail hearing and there weren’t any of the special orders that judges are supposed to issue after a bail hearing per 18 USC section 1346. The first time when I was held for 124 days I was told in Court that I didn’t have a right to an attorney or to witnesses because I wasn’t accused of a crime. But it turns out that 18 USC section 1346 just refers to federal detention of more than 5 days so even if you aren’t criminally charged you still have a right to an attorney and witnesses because that is part of the Bail Reform Act. I had to figure this out all by myself. US Courts has a special form an AO472 that is supposed to be use for pretrial detention but DOJ didn’t get one of those even though they entered into the Prisoner Tracking System Form 129 that I was being held for civil contempt only and that I was “W-T Trial”.

    Obama’s employee filed in Court that the purpose of the Prisoner Tracking System is to manage the detention of Federal prisoners held pursuant to a judicial proceeding. (see pacer DDC 09-0562 doc 8-1 p. 23). Actually, DOJ’s Notice in the FR Vol 69 p. 23214 uses the words “Federal prisoners who are in custody pending criminal proceedings” so DOJ misrepresented its own Notice in the F.R. in order that a judgment in my favor shouldn’t issue. They violated Rule 3.3 Duty of Candor Toward the Tribunal so now I am arguing that I have an extension of the statute of limitations under 5 USC section 552a (g)(5). In 2009, DOJ claimed that they only had records re me in the PTS and the Warrant Information Network but in 2010 they released records from JABS. DOJ published in the FR Vol 66 p 20478 that the “categories of individuals covered by the system” are “alleged criminal offenders” and no one else. However Obama’s man, with or without Obama’s knowledge, filed in Court “JABS [the Joint Automated Booking System] is not limited to inclusion of records that were created incident to arrest for a ‘criminal charge’” (see PACER DDC 11-01032 doc 16-1 p. 10) and “Nothing in that Federal Register Notice states, as Plaintiffs erroneously claim, that the JABS must be used only to process individuals arrested for criminal offenses”. (see PACER DDC 11-01032 doc 31 p 3).

    I really thought things would be different for me after Obama was elected. I mean I donated to his campaign, I wore his button, I recruited voters for him, and I made a real effort to defend him on the conservative websites where I was blogging. I also went out of my way to defend and praise Michelle on various blogs. But I don’t see how anything would have been any worse for me personally if he hadn’t been elected.

    As you can see from my blogspot, I complained to USMS and they said that they did an internal investigation but nothing happened even though I now have proof, courtesy of the FBI, that the USMS entered the non-existent criminal charges against me into their systems. They also filled in a “charge validation form” which turned out to be a very minimal form. For charge validation someone entered the number of a civil docket and he or she didn’t fill in their name where they were supposed to.

    Another DOJ problem is that there isn’t supposed to be a search fee for records about self under the Privacy Act. They claim I owe them $140 for searches about myself. They never sent me an invoice. Now they say that they don’t have to do more records searches. But they published in the Federal Register Vol 52 p 10019 and also in a General Services Administration on line brochure called “Your Right to Federal Records” that there aren’t any search fees for records searches about oneself. The GSA brochure says that there isn’t any procedure for Privacy Act searches for records about self at all — no 20 day waiting and no administrative appeal — but another lawyer working at DOJ claimed in Court that an administrative appeal is required before a court can adjudicate a Privacy Act search request for records about self.

    Another DOJ problem is that they sent me a form letter. Then they filed copies of the form letter in Court. But behind it they stuck a second page as if it were a part of the form letter. They did this multiple times. The form letter is coded as a form letter in the corner. The second page isn’t coded and it has a different phone number. In fact, the phone number on the second page is disconnected. This just happened in July.

  59. “The same Department of Justice that is hunting down the one man who spoke against torture from the inside still maintains a special unit, 60 years after the end of WWII, dedicated to hunting down the last few at-large Nazis. They do that under the rubric of “never again.” The truth is that same team needs to be turned loose on our national security state. Otherwise, until we have a full accounting of what was done in our names by our government, the pieces are all in place for it to happen again. There, if you want to know, is the real horror.” -excerpt from a piece by Peter Van Buren (“Our 9/11 Torturers”, TomDispatch)

    (The entire article is worth reading, but I can’t get the link to post.)

  60. The problem with civil liberties in this country is that civil libertarians largely abandoned politics several decades ago and instead relied on the judiciary and elite opinion to safeguard our rights. Know why the right to bear arms is more protected than the right not to be tortured? Because the NRA got down in the trenches and did the dirty, boring, unglamorous and often icky work necessary to protect it.


  61. Here’s what has happened in our nation. Both the majority if Republicans and Democrats have decided they will not hold the powerful to account. Republicans didn’t do it under bush and Democrats now join with their cause under Obama.

    The failure of the population to hold to account the most powerful people is what prevents anything from getting better. Without people who will stand up and say, No, you may not do this, to the most powerful people, there is no brake no their behavior, no limit to their depravity.

    What will stop the crimes of the powerful is criminal prosecution and a strong population. What will bring about criminal prosecution is a strong population willing to take on the powerful and demand they account for their crimes in a court of law.

    As of now, most of our population cowers before the powerful, terrified to say the truth and to demand they be held accountable. We have replaced courage with servitude to the powerful. Servitude and cowardice are the hallmarks of legacy party members. If you want to leave a legacy, then change, for real. Be courageous. Stop mincing around the powerful. They can hide behind you only as long as you allow it.

  62. Tony C.,
    I don’t disagree that it would have been better to have made the call to prosecute the torture crowd, but it would have been an unprecedented bombshell politically. I have argued for years that Ford should never have pardoned Nixon and should have allowed the process to proceed. I believe the same here.

  63. @rafflaw: But Ford pardoning Nixon was Constitutional, I think.

    My point is that Obama had an obvious Constitutional route to follow that he certainly KNEW about, and therefore he refused to follow it. Why? I think because that route would set a precedent, it would require he acknowledge that torture was illegal, and therefore would not protect HIM and HIS administration. In other words, he did not want to prohibit himself from doing the same thing, so the precedent he chose instead is the Nixon/Bush/Cheney law, “If the President does it, it isn’t illegal.”

  64. Tony C.,
    The pardon was constitutional, but it was still the wrong thing to do. Just as not prosecuting the Bush Administration and CIA officials who knew and approved and performed the torture was a mistake.

  65. Woostys’ still a cat,

    My chimpanzee has more ability to do the right thing, you, not as far as I have read. I am no more of a bot than you. However, I may be a butt, but at least I am not an ass.

  66. Dear Jill

    18 U.S.C. § 1506 – Theft or alteration of record or process; false bail makes it a felony to falsify or otherwise avoid any record in any Court in the United States whereby any judgment does not take effect. 18 U.S.C. § 1506 – Theft or alteration of record or process; false bail reads“Whoever feloniously steals, takes away, alters, falsifies, or otherwise avoids any record, writ, process, or other proceeding, in any court of the United States, whereby any judgment is reversed, made void, or does not take effect; or Whoever acknowledges, or procures to be acknowledged in any such court, any recognizance, bail, or judgment, in the name of any other person not privy or consenting to the same—Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both”

    Blacks Law Dictionary 1077 (6th ed. 1990) defines obstruction of justice as:
    “[i]mpeding or obstructing those who seek justice in a court, or those who have duties or powers of administering justice therein. The act by which one or more persons attempt to prevent, or do prevent, the execution of lawful process.”

    A diligent search of the DOJ website produced no evidence that DOJ ever prosecuted anyone for 18 U.S.C. § 1506 – Theft or alteration of record or process; false bail.

  67. It’s amazing that no one has yet brought the purity charge down on the heads of commenters who don’t agree that Romney is far more horrifying than any conceivable abuse of our constitution including warrentless executions. So far, criticism of Obama is only proof of racism or it doesn’t properly acknowledge how much worse X would be than Y where Y is “our boy” on “our team” and can do any illegal thing X ever did, and then some, as long as he does it better.

    BTW, has anyone asked themselves why the Republicans are following the exact same strategy as last time? Does anyone seriously imagine Republicans are not aware of the pattern? Sarah Palin guaranteed a loss and so does Paul Ryan and pretty much for the same reason. Palin and Ryan are both simply too far out, too patently caricatures of party extremes for the average voter and the Republicans know it. They know it perfectly. Romney knows it. Republicans are perhaps evil, and Romney may be sick with lust for fame and wealth, but none of them are stupid. Ryan’s position on woman’s rights alone is not only horrifying, it is so horrifying that it begs a question. It’s like saying, “I simply don’t care about 50% or more of the vote.” So, it begs the question of whether or not Romney or the RNC or both are not doing this on purpose; taking a dive. And why not? Republicans are getting exactly what they want and so are Democrats; they are getting paid handsomely and they will continue to get paid long after they have been forced to give up the drug of power. They will literally have generational wealth; something just as good as aristocracy and functionally almost identical. And all they have to do is move the posts further to the right. And then further still. The golden rings; the fabulous wealth of the social saftey net; the staggering re-definition of ownership and stripping of property wealth from the middle class, the power, death lust, and spoils of perpetual war; they will all go to the same people regardless of which “team” is designated to skewer the ring with the stick and which team is chosen to push the ring closer..

    And how does one get away with this in plain sight? Well, partly, and no small part at that, by convincing a lot of people that the two political parties are identical to that froth inducing, emotionally explosive notion of two team – winner take all – sports, only where “sportsmanship” is constantly re-defined by the winner and winning is defined by who is willing to be more corrupt (which is exactly how banks are now “winning” in the competition we jokingly refer to as “capitalism”).

  68. Brooklyn Bridge,

    Please do not say “boy” in the same context of presidential election. That sounds very racist, don’t you agree? It’s not permissible to say liar, cheat, promise breaker or I’ve made more money than you since I have become president. These will bring the wrath of those folks that are for whatever you’re against. Got it boy!

  69. “A detainee at Guantánamo was found dead in his cell on Saturday, according to camp officials. He is the ninth person to die at the camp since it was opened more than ten years ago. As former Gitmo guard Brandon Neely pointed out Monday, more detainees have died at the camp (nine) than have been convicted of wrongdoing by its military commissions (six). This is the fourth detainee who has died at the camp since Obama’s inauguration.

    Although the detainee’s identity has not been disclosed, a camp spokesman acknowledged that he “had not been charged and had not been designated for prosecution”. In other words, he has been kept by the US government in a cage for many years without any opportunity to contest the accusations against him, and had no hope of leaving the camp except by death.

    Indeed, dying in due process-free captivity now appears to be the only way for many of these detainees to leave.”

  70. From Greenwald’s article:

    “General Michael Hayden, spoke this week at the University of Michigan and, as he (yet again) heaped praise on Obama for continuing the crux of the Bush/Cheney approach to terrorism, he made this precise point, as reported by Wired [my emphasis]:

    “President Barack Obama has closely followed the policy of his predecessor, President George W Bush, when it comes to tactics used in the ‘war on terror’ – from rendition, targeted killings, state secrets, Guantánamo Bay to domestic spying, according to Michael Hayden, Bush’s former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency.

    “‘But let me repeat my hypothesis: Despite the frequent drama at the political level, America and Americans have found a comfortable center line in what it is they want their government to do and what it is they accept their government doing. It is that practical consensus that has fostered such powerful continuity between two vastly different presidents, George W Bush and Barack Obama, when it comes, when it comes to this conflict,’ Hayden said Friday while speaking at the University of Michigan …

    “‘And so, we’ve seen all of these continuities between two very different human beings, President Bush and President Obama. We are at war, targeted killings have continued; in fact, if you look at the statistics, targeted killings have increased under Obama.’

    “He said that was the case because, in one differing path between the two presidents, Obama in 2009 closed CIA ‘black sites’ and ratcheted down on torturing detainees. But instead of capturing so-called ‘enemy combatants’, President Obama kills them instead, Hayden said.

    “‘We have made it so politically dangerous and so legally difficult that we don’t capture anyone anymore,’ Hayden said. ‘We take another option, we kill them. Now. I don’t morally oppose that'”.”

  71. There has been some discussion in earlier threads about how closely politicians follow voting trends, that for instance, Vichy-Democrats would understand voters withholding votes and wouldn’t confuse it with an increase in conservative values. Indeed, one of the most persuasive arguments that not voting for someone is effective depends on politicians craving the vote and reelection above all else, so much so that they will use sophisticated tools and statistical analysis to measure voter intent. But this may be changing just as the two party system is in reality becoming just a big one party orgy of the rich that has co-opted and re-fashioned our political system partly out of intent and partly by the way things evolve in systems where the greatest corruption is always rewarded.

    There is a growing sense that politicians, particularly Democrats, are barely even attempting to hide their intentions these days. Obama and his administration are not even pretending to come out on behalf of the striking teachers in Chicago. His cut-throat, Rahm, is explicitly pitted against the teacher’s union. Obama has stated publicly that he was frustrated at not getting credit for being willing to gut and cut a la Simson-Bowles cat food commission. Ruthless behavior abroad and jingoism have become a point of pride. One wonders if such behavior isn’t in effect also thumbing one’s nose at one’s traditional base of voters. It’s quite conceivable that politicians across party lines are beginning to feel that they can generate the votes they need by propaganda and handling the media far more cost effectively than by pandering to voters by keeping campaign promises. After all, the Republicans pander to voters only insofar as they have convinced them to vote in the interests of the 1%. This isn’t representing one’s constituency or its interests; it’s a re-definition of voting as mass hypnosis. And Democrats are drooling to copy the model.

    But even if this is an accurate reflection of what’s going on in both parties, it is still an excellent reason to pit one party against the other; that is to use strategy, rather than to continue the winner take all sports model that we are being sold as absolutely critical to our continued existence. If X party has a majority in the Senate, put a Y in the Oval office, and visa versa. This is the one place where they are convinced they must continue the script. That not doing so would be so obvious that people would start dropping out of the system; stop paying taxes and mortgages and credit cards, and so on.

  72. Raff and Tony C.

    From what I understand, and I wish I could remember what book this was in so I could cite it, at the time the order to torture came down, the CIA didn’t have a designated interrogation department and was relying on the FBI to handle most of the interrogations of suspected terrorists. The FBI refused to use torture claiming it was unproductive and legally outside their charter so the CIA kicked them out of the interrogation rooms and took over.

    In my opinion, that is why Obama didn’t pursue the prosecution route. Too many FBI agents would be called upon to testify and too much ineptness would be revealed about the CIA thus endangering national Security and destroying the morale within the CIA which is still trying to forget the Iran/Contra debacle and the Ames scandal. Further, because the friction between the FBI and CIA was so intense, a great deal was documented by the FBI. Prosecutions would not end with the CIA but travel up the line where at some point I see the Ford precedent of pardoning Nixon coming into play.

    Now, in my opinion, Obama should have proceeded with prosecutions just as Ford should have allowed the justice system to have its way with Nixon. But, and herein lies the ticket … the majority of Americans aren’t bothered by the torture order and could care less about prosecuting either those who did or those who gave the orders to do.

    Obama saw no cost to himself, politically, in letting it all go. I’m personally ashamed at his failure to proceed with integrity but I accept a minority placement in feeling that way. The majority of Americans still support Ford’s pardoning of Nixon so I’m used to being the odd man out.

  73. That’s what I’ve been thinking — that basically all the politicians are in it for the money and other pleasures of office and none of them care at all about the party plank except as to what it brings them.

  74. I seem to recall campaign promises that were made and not kept. I stand to be misinformed or confused as the rest of the Obamanaughts about what he really said to get elected.

    I am not surprisingly skeptic of any promises that are made. It pains my heart to think that we are stuck between two honest to god crooks to vote for.

    As much as I hate to remember the Nixon pardon, the crook would not even consider pardoning his own vice president. What goes around in time comes around.

  75. Well like I said above, DOJ has what is called a booking system that it uses to arrest people. According to the audit for the Joint Automated Booking System by the Office of Inspector General, JABS contains an offender tracking system as well as physical records regarding people — their photos fingerprints tattoos etc. Just last summer DOJ filed in my lawsuit in DDC 11-cv-01032 “JABS [the Joint Automated Booking System] is not limited to inclusion of records that were created incident to arrest for a ‘criminal charge’”. (document 16-1, p 10). “Nothing in that Federal Register Notice states, as Plaintiffs erroneously claim, that the JABS must be used only to process individuals arrested for criminal offenses”. (document 31, p 3)

    So there are a limited number of possibilities: 1) Obama isn’t in control at DOJ and lower lever attorneys file what ever they think will win cases 2) Obama is in control at DOJ and instructed lower level attorneys to file what will win or 3) DOJ is really planning to start forcibly taking the fingerprints and other records of people who aren’t criminally accused. DOJ also claimed in my lawsuit that there is no obligation to tell people why they are asking for someone’s social security number, how it will be used, and what the statutory authority is for getting it. And DOJ claimed that the purpose of the Prisoner Tracking System doesn’t require a criminal charge. That’s not what their 2004 Notice in the Federal Register said. And they implied that people can be held by DOJ for long periods of time without a bail hearing.

    I know this is supposed to be a lawyer’s blog but that doesn’t mean that what I say didn’t happen. I feel like I am writing warnings on box cars.

    Plus they lied about records — what records they have, the records that were released, and how you get records. I can prove this because I just kept on and now there are DOJ contradictions. For instance the U.S. Attorney’s office said they didn’t have a record, and then the FB or the USMS released it.

  76. @Brooklin: I believe both parties cater to the highest bidder (wealthy persons or corporations). So, it would make sense to run a losing Republican campaign (McCain / Pailn, Romney / Ryan) against a Democratic Party shill willing to implement their agenda.

    As long as the Democrats are willing to vote for the lesser of two evils, making the Republican as cartoonishly evil as possible (Palin, Ryan) allows Obama to be as conservative as they want him to be, and still be the lesser of two evils.

    As for the Republicans, they are sure to be showered with campaign cash, and the controls on that are so loosely defined and enforced (it is politicians charged with that duty) they can, with very little effort, launder it and pocket it, that is much of the allure of Super Pacs that Colbert was exposing.

    Besides, once Romney loses he is a private citizen again, he can be rewarded after the fact with no-cost-to-him partnerships that prove wildly lucrative. On the off-chance he wins, all the better for the wealthy. If he loses as expected, there is no bar on how far right the President can go, and Democrats will still be saying, “at least he isn’t Romney.”

  77. We have a choice and its kind of an echo. Back in 1933 President Von Hindenburg passed the Reichstag Fire Decree after the German Parliament, called the Reichstag, was burned to the ground by persons alleged by the President to be Communists.
    The Decree eliminated civil liberties. It ushered in the Hitler regime and the Holocaust.
    Romney sits out there kind of like Hitler, waiting to be made Reichs
    Chancellor. Any liberals in office look like cupcakes compared to tough guy Romney. In fact one in seven Ohio Conservatives think that Romney was responsible for killing Bin Laden.

    Now we responsible persons in Amerika can deride our President for his policy on dealing with terrorists held at Gitmo. Oh, that Bama, dont know nuthin bout birthin babies. Hitler is down in Hell laughing at you schmucks who want to put this Koch Brothers clone, clown, into the
    White House.

    Today is 9/11 Day in Amerika. Someday we might know if it was the Russians who killed the Poles in the Katyn Forest and we might also know if the Blackwater guys were behind 9/11. That we live in this parallel of 1933 and the Reichstag Fire and the Patriot Act which the Germans enacted, seems to be unacknowledged by all of Amerika. Those who have no knowledge of history are destined to repeat it.

    Those of you who believe in civil liberties have one way to go in the election and that is to vote for Obama and every Democrat on your ballot. Beware of the motives of those who besmirch this fine President.

  78. Great article, Prof. Turley.

    reading the comments I sometimes start to agree with ‘conservatives’ until they wreck my brain with infotainment from the wing nut email chains- false charges against the First Lady who is the first one in her capacity to wear clothes from the Gap.

  79. I just keep hoping that one of his advisors will read Prof Turley’s article and the comments and then Obama will affirm his commitment to civil rights. One way to do that would be for the DOJ Data Integrity Committee to have meetings about making sure that the Privacy Act is fully implemented. It is a great law. The government runs on computers; keep the computer systems in line and you will keep government in line. If a committee has meetings then it is subject to the Open Meetings Act; replace a committee with a Privacy Officer and there is less transparency and less accountability. I haven’t been able to find any documentation that the DOJ Data Integrity Committee ever had a meeting under any president. See 5 U.S.C. section 552a (u).

    “(1) Every agency conducting or participating in a matching program shall establish a Data Integrity Board to oversee and coordinate among the various components of such agency the agency’s implementation of this section.(2) Each Data Integrity Board shall consist of senior officials designated by the head of the agency, and shall include any senior official designated by the head of the agency as responsible for implementation of this section, and the inspector general of the agency, if any. The inspector general shall not serve as chairman of the Data Integrity Board.”

    Here’s where the White House is supposed to come in. 5 U.S.C. section 552a (v)

    “The Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall–
    (1) develop and, after notice and opportunity for public comment, prescribe guidelines and regulations for the use of agencies in implementing the provisions of this section; and
    (2) provide continuing assistance to and oversight of the implementation of this section by agencies.”

    The law as published by the Cornell Legal Institute says

    “The following section originally was part of the Privacy Act but was not codified; it may be found at § 552a (note)….

    “b) Any Federal, State or local government agency which requests an individual to disclose his social security account number shall inform that individual whether that disclosure is mandatory or voluntary, by what statutory or other authority such number is solicited, and what uses will be made of it.”

    DOJ wrote “Plaintiffs argue that the USMS violated the Act because Mrs. Sieverding was “not informed of the authority under which DOJ had requested her social security number” and included it on Joint Automated Booking System (“JABS”) and Prisoner Tracking System (“PTS”) records. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 35-36. In support of this allegation, they cite Section 7(b) of the Act, which is not codified and appears only in the “Historical and Statutory Note” section following 5 U.S.C. § 552a. See Pub. L. No. 93-579 § 7(a)(1), 88 Stat. 1895, 1909. …

    “[t]o prevail on a damages claim under the Privacy Act, plaintiff must establish that (1) the agency’s record is inaccurate,” In support they cited one district case and that is all, no appellate decision. In fact the Privacy Act has 27 subsections and only some of them deal with accuracy. Yes, they had my social security number accurately recorded.

    DOJ wrote “Third, Plaintiff’s barebones conspiracy theories that DOJ willfully violated the Act to deny them unspecified “statutory right[s]” are unsupported by any facts and are typical of the delusional accusations Plaintiffs have been raising for years. See, e.g., Am. Compl. ¶¶ 97-98, 100, 104. These allegations fall well short of the Iqbal standard and should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6). See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S. Ct. 1937 (2009)”

    Huh, the documents show my social security number, they gave no statutory authority for collecting it, and I argued that that required them to tell me their statutory authority for detaining me using my social security number. In july they admitted in Federal Court that they don’t have a record of their statutory authority for detaining me and I guess they are now claiming that they don’t need one. The non detention Act, 18 USC section 4001, requires a statutory basis for detention but DOJ claims that they can ignore that law because it doesn’t authorize a lawsuit. Last year there was an article on the Internet about the limits on collection of social security numbers that was written by DHS and DOJ officials. I think it was Janet Napolitano who was one of the authors. But I didn’t save it. Now the article is missing from the Internet. Maybe I can get Napolitano’s writings on social security number usage through the FOIA.

    Other huge issues are why DOJ ignored OIG’s recommendations to fix the PTS, WIN and JABS to verify the completeness and accuracy of source documents and to prevent unauthorized use.

  80. Kay,

    It’s time to see the truth. Obama has told you where he stands on civil liberties. It isn’t that he doesn’t understand what he’s doing, he’s fine with it. The people who need to recommit themselves to civil rights are Democrats. Democrats are no different than Republicans under Bush. Each legacy party is intimately involved in the destruction of civil rights. Both legacy parties will keep destroying the rule of law for as long as each of its followers says nothing, does nothing to stop it. It is really that simple.

  81. Minimal Support for Third-Party Candidates in the 2012 Election

    Although 46% of Americans support the idea of a third party, there is little apparent support for the third-party candidates who are now running for president.

    In the current survey, Gallup tested the support for three third-party candidates identified by name and party — Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party), Jill Stein (Green Party), and Virgil Goode (Constitution Party) — and found 1% support for each, with another 1% volunteering another third-party candidate’s name. Gallup

  82. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a president in one of the major political parties that were capable of doing the right thing……for all of the people rather than just some of the people….

  83. S.M.,]

    Make certain to prevent either yourself or anyone else from considering that things should be objected to whether during or after an election.

    You really should apologize to Bush supporters, tea party members and all other Republicans. They were/are only supporting their leader when he tortured/will torture. After all, they might disagree with him on torture and killing American citizens, even other nation’s citizens, but still, it was O.K. to vote for Bush and it’s O.K. to vote for Romney because they’re just having a few disagreements about killing and torture and all. Right?

    If it works for Democrats to say these things you have no reason to complain when Republicans say the same arguments.

  84. Jill,Thanks for reminding me that I need to make some contributions to Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown and Tammy Baldwin. I hope for a sweep but I don’t think it will happen. It would be great if Pelosi could become speaker again. I am not apologizing to any tea party member as you suggest. It should be the other way around as one tore up my healthcare sign and was quite threatening.

  85. SwM,

    “Although 46% of Americans support the idea of a third party, there is little apparent support for the third-party candidates who are now running for president.”

    That’s the void to which I was referring on another thread. The percentage of registered voters willing to identify themselves as Independents is steadily increasing even in a Presidential election year when the % increase is usually seen in increasing Dem or Rep numbers.

    Independents are not necessarily looking for a party. There is something else going on.

  86. S.M.,

    Please make your apology first! I have no reason to believe you have any sincerity about any issues because you say that every problem only matters as an election issue and 2. you say that even things like killing civilians, starting wars of empire, torture and NAFTA on steroids are no problem for you, just minor disagreements with your leader. Well, if you can have small “disagreements” with your leader on such matters, you have no ethical reason to discourage anyone who wants to vote any other way than you. They are just having minor disagreements with their leader, so big deal.

    No Democrat has any moral standing to discourage anyone from voting Romney. I can see why you don’t want us voting third party because that would boot you out of power. That I can see would matter to you.

    USA-Love the leader!!!! Go Democrat. or…think and feel and have a conscience, vote third party.

  87. Jill, I want you to vote third party but please don’t support the republican voter suppression of poor and minority democrats. Obama’s a little ahead in the polls so desperation is setting in.

  88. Blouise, I thinking the younger women are more involved the democratic party because of the republican attempts to take away their healthcare and reproductive freedom. Look at Sandra Fluke. This is what I observe with my children and their friends.

  89. S.M.,

    You want me and everyone else to support Obama. Can you not even be honest about that?

    Failing to support Obama does not equal the desire for voter suppression. I notice that most supporters try very hard to put all kinds of false associations onto those of us who will vote our conscience.

    It is very sad that those of you who support Obama cannot even say it is wrong to torture, or that it’s only at most a “disagreement” with your leader. It will be your failure to stand for justice that will be what ultimately causes this nation to fail. If it were just Obama and those he fronts for, we would have a chance. But you stand with the power mongers when you should be standing up for the powerless.

    I have learned that Obama supporters do not care for justice, for peace, for economic justice, not for any good thing–only power. You are the good Americans.

  90. JIll,
    Swarthmore can answer on her own, but your comment that those who support Obama cannot even say it is wrong to torture is not only untrue, it is has been repeated over and over again. My latest postings on 9/11 on this thread repudiated torture and I have stated that during the Bush administration and during the Obama administration. Whether you agree with our decision to back Obama, you could at least tell the truth. And my decision to back Obama will not be the cause for this nation to fail. This nation will be better off under Obama than Romney.

  91. SwM,

    Yes indeed, many young females are supporting the Democratic ticket due to Dems support of female issues but many of those same females are declaring themselves as Independents which is what the percentages tell us.

    I have no idea where this is going but it is happening all over the country at a steadily growing pace as more and more young voters enter the political market.

    It’s terribly interesting from a political science point of view but somewhat frustrating from a political party point of view and is probably why we see so much movement towards the middle from candidates we know to be very liberal. The Republicans have just given up and moved to the far right

  92. Jill

    Well if the election is so close then the civil rights coalition could swing it. But I guess people just assume that the Republicans don’t care about civil rights.

    Or maybe old friends, colleagues, professors of Obama need to speak to him.

    Or maybe after the election….

  93. The war on women provides talking points for both parties that keep everyone distracted from the real issues of war, torture, the wealth gap and all the really important issues.

    Are women’s issues important? Absolutely, but they are being used as distractions imo. The two parties play us off against one another while they both plow ahead for the corporations. The insurance companies got the health plan, one that provides them with an entire country of dependent clients. The Bush wars continued and are now Obama wars which have gone into several more countries. Bush or McCain couldn’t have gotten away with invading Pakistan or Libya or Syria or using drones to the extent that Obama has.

    Another Bush will be electable in 2016 and the neo-con agenda will continue as it has with Obama.

  94. @Blouise: I think it means people are becoming issue voters, litmus voters, and do not want to identify themselves with a party (or support one) that holds positions with which they disagree. That is what “Independent” means, I think.

    Part of it is the fallout of the information age, and knowing more about the party positions and antics and bone-headed statements. That makes it harder to be proud of your affiliation. Why adopt a whole platform when you don’t agree with the whole platform? Why be guilty-by-association with crooks and liars when you don’t have to? Just claim you are independent. You can still vote for the candidates you like, and narrow your claim from “I am a Democrat” to “I like what s/he stands for.”

  95. Tony C.,

    I read another interesting study … again, I’m reading poli-sci blogs where studies and polls are analyzed from that discipline’s viewpoint … at any rate, it was a paper about registered voters who answered the question, “Are you likely to vote in this next election?” with “No.”

    Followup discovers that roughly 55% of those deemed “unlikely” actually voted. Now one would expect a certain percentage to vote but over half?!

    This is the sort of behavior that is giving those charged with forecasting voter turnout such headaches in both parties.

    Independents and “unlikelies” are totally screwing with the old guard.

    Given our herding or group-forming instincts, this sort of thing is a real indication of basic change within the culture overall … in my opinion.

  96. What should we expect from a government that embraces the torture of Americans by police with the use of tazers? Electrocution is a form of torture that has been used for a very long time. This is an indisputable fact. If they allow the torture of people in the name of law enforcement you should expect them to allow torture in the name of national security. Torture is always wrong in any circumstance. If you think torture is OK, then you should allow someone to truly torture you, otherwise your a hypocrite.

  97. bettykath, It is a lot more than a distraction if you live in one of the states that require a woman to have a sonogram with a probe before an abortion. It is humiliating and physically painful. That is what the republican legislature and Gov Perry did to the women of Texas. They also have cut out Planned Parenthood funding. Many women receive their healthcare from Planned Parenthood and Romney has promised to eliminate it.

  98. @Blouise: Yeah, questions of intent are tricky to the point of being close to useless. A person’s intent three months from now could be the opposite of their intent today; fear creeps in, new information comes out, and MANY people will reject a voluntary action they dislike when it is in the distant future, but change their mind when the deadline and the hint of guilt for self-indulgence are upon them. About 55%, I would guess!

    Better questions are factual and specific with fast clear answers.

    “Did you vote in the Clinton v. Dole election?”
    “Did you vote in the Bush v. Gore election?”
    “Did you vote in the Bush v. Kerry election?”
    “Did you vote in the Obama v. McCain election?”

    Anybody that voted in all four is a likely voter. You could gather information if 1 and 3 were omitted; they are less likely to vote in 2nd term elections.

  99. There is justice and then there is justice. There is not Justice For All. Why? Because there are uniforms and folks who wear them and they are designated as lawful comabants who engage in war under the laws of war. If I am on the high seas off of Somalia and a fast boat comes up with some guys with machine guns and try to take over my boat, I have the right to bloow these pirates out of the water with whatever means that I have. If I catch them swimming around after I sink their boat I can still shoot them or let them drown. The law of the high seas!
    If I am on land in Somalia and the government is as absent as the Somalian navy out on the sea off their shore, and I run into some schmuck in a turbin who hates westerners except when they are actors in western movies, and he tries to kill me, rob me, kidnap me, then this person is like his brother out on the water, a pirate. A land pirate or a terrorist. Because the self described solder for Islam is out of uniform he sets himself outside the boundaries of the law of war. He does not deserve a prisoner of war camp and proper internment. He can be killed for acting out of uniform and without the government of any bumfuk country behind him.

    The present situation with these terrorists and land pirates started with Jimmy Carter. When the Ayatollah whatshisname sent his terrorists which he denominated as “students” into the American Embassy and took the Embassy folks hostage for over a year, our peanut farmer President treated the incident as if the terrorists or land pirates were really just students.
    Maybe a guy like Neville Chamberlin would have been a weenie like Carter. But Americans wanted a President more like Winston Churchill or Harry Truman.

    So there are civil libertarians among us who wish to treat these terrorists and pirates like they are captured troops just this side of the Maginot Line back in WWI or WWII.

    I personally do not believe that Gitmo is a viable way to deal with these pirates. If you repatriate them to Somalia they come back in six months on a Pan Am Flight with a box cutter. Give them a trial on the evidence that you have. Were they conducting war out of uniform? Then, lock them up for a long time. Until the war is over. What war? Good question. Err on the side of locking them up.

    I was in a boat on the high seas when approached by pirates who after it was all over did not make it to shore. Put yourself in my shoes on my deck and then declaim what to do with pirates. You are not dealing with some nice guy like Sean Penn in some Hollywood movie when those punks come roaring up in their speed boat blasting their machine gun. You must live by some rules. One shot if they come by land, and twenty-two if by sea.

  100. Gary Johnson – Another Pesky Incidental for Romney
    Category: GOP Presidential Candidates
    Posted: 09/12/12 17:37

    by Dave Mindeman

    There are a number of incidental factors that could play a role in the 2012 Election. One of those factors could actually put Montana in play for Democrats.

    A PPP poll released today regarding Montana still gives the state to Romney by a 50-45 margin. Fairly close but that margin has been pretty consistent over the summer.

    However, they also polled, this time, with Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. Johnson gets 7% of the vote in that poll. And that brings the Romney-Obama spread down to 46-43.

    Gary Johnson is not going to be President. But he can be a real thorn in the side of Mitt Romney. He is now on the ballot in 47 states (only missing in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma).

    He is on the ballot in Minnesota as well and conveniently gives the Ron Paul supporters another place to go if so inclined.

    Johnson is a former governor of New Mexico and his strength is in the Mountain West — Nevada and Colorado especially.

    You don’t see many national polls that include Johnson but given his strength in some key states, maybe they should.
    comments (0) permalink

  101. Captain Ratty

    I think there needs to be “justice for all”. The U.S. should take the high road all the time. We’ve lost our position as leader of the free world because we didn’t have justice for all. It’s back to do onto others as you would have them do unto you. We treat prisoners lousy then we can expect our citizens to be treated lousy when they are prisoners.

    Dung Ho

    Look to history. Were the Jews terrified in 1920? Were they terrified in 1925?

    Personally, I wasn’t afraid at all. It never crossed my mind that I would be criminally prosecuted without a statement of probable cause. I never thought I would have any problems in federal court as long as I told the truth and then I was ordered to pay $102 K even though no one said that I misrepresented anything. I was first imprisoned by DOJ for 124 days without a criminal charge or a bail hearing on 9/2/05. My husband and I drove from Wisconsin to Colorado to that hearing and on the way my husband kept saying I don’t think we should be going. I kept saying, “Don’t worry. I went to the law library and looked it up. As long as we are polite nothing will happen, it will just be talk. We haven’t been charged with a crime. Before we are imprisoned they would have to charge us with something and we would be allowed a lawyer and there would be a trial.” I was imprisoned within 20 minutes of when we walked in the door. Judge Nottingham said “You’re going to be allowed to make a presentation but it’s not the presentation that you have in mind because I’m not going to listen to any more of the things that are in your papers….You answer whether you’re going to dismiss the lawsuits….You have 5 more minutes to make any presentation that you want to make….”

    You don’t have to take my word for it. You can open a PACER account and the first $15 are free. You can download the transcript for $2.50. It is document 884 in the Federal Court District of Colorado case 02-1950. You will see the entire Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rules of Civil Procedure, Rules of Evidence, Bail Reform Act, NonDetention Act, all of them are totally ineffective in protecting your rights. The judge can just decide that they don’t matter. Then you should be able to fall back on the Privacy Act, i.e. that the categories of persons whose records are put into the Joint Automated Booking System are only supposed to be “alleged criminal offenders” (see FR Vol 66 P 20478) and the purpose of the Prisoner Tracking System is to manage the detention of Federal Prisoners who are are “in custody pending criminal proceedings”. (see FR Vol 69 p 23213). This time you are talking about an agency not an individual. But DOJ already filed that it is DOJ policy to hold people without a criminal charge in order to control their First Amendment activities of petitioning the Courts. (see DDC 09-0562 doc 8-1).

    So yes be afraid, all you have to do is be in the wrong place at the wrong time and you can end up a federal prisoner or at least with a choice of will you choose to give up your cause of action, your reputation and $100 K or do you choose indefinite detention?

    It’s not like DOJ even had a reason to care about my lawsuit either. They claim that they don’t have even a record of investigating me for perjury. I verified every sentence of every document I filed in Court under penalty of perjury and they have no record that anyone complained that I perjured myself. To the best of my knowledge I was imprisoned because some USMS staff were blackmailed with photos of them getting lap dances.

  102. Tony C.,

    To your point mentioned either on this thread or another one … sorry, can’t remember and don’t feel like going back through everything. At any rate, you mentioned the influence of the internet on voters etc. which got me to thinking.

    Bear with me as I build the foundation. Gutenberg’s printing press was invented sometime in the mid 1400’s. The Catholic Church relied on pieces of paper called Indulgences and sold to peasants and gentry alike, usually during religious festivals, to raise funds. Want to get a loved one’s soul out of purgatory? Buy an Indulgence etc. Monks/Priests/Scribes would travel from festival to festival, set up a booth and write out an Indulgence for said sum of money. Along comes the printing press and the Church discovers that they can now produce 3.000 Indulgences in the same amount of time it took a scribe to do 20 handwritten ones.

    Indulgence sales skyrocketed and the Church was making money right and left. Martin Luther was incensed at this and at other practices but the Indulgence sales really ticked him off. In an effort to reform his church and stop the sale of Indulgences he did the Ninety-Five Theses thing.

    Note … he was not trying to start a new religion or even break with Rome … he wanted to reform. Thanks to the printing press thousands of copies of his Ninety-Five Theses went out all through Europe and the Reformation was born. The printing press changed the world because it allowed the spread of information everywhere.

    Is something along the same lines happening thanks to the internet and are the changes we see right now just the tip of the iceberg that is forming?

  103. Blouise

    Yes. The Internet is changing the world.Whole industries have been transformed by the Internet — news reporting, music, movies, publishing, advertising, accounting, probably audiology, probably senior care, probably medicine. It is not just Internet browsing it is also cheap international phone calls over the net and one to one sales thru EBAY. Individuals are empowered.

    There is a huge effect on the practice of law too. The public approval of the Supreme Court and the legal system in general is way down because of bloggers like me and websites like NFOJA, Lawless America, Know Your Courts. Inevitably there will be some response from the Courts probably an improvement in due process as they try to make themselves appear legitimate and try to avoid violence. I think the country is headed towards more pro se representation but that the pro ses will have budgets and pay for unbundled legal services.

  104. The lesser of evil argument is persuasive. It makes perfect sense at face value (cancer is worse than measles, a quarter is less than a buck) and on an intuitive and gut level as well.

    Indeed, it’s even persuasive as logic; if(x < y) vote for x, where x and y represent some level of evil, or pathology for those less prone to mixing affairs of church and state.

    Problems, however, start to arise when people begin to confuse x and y with allegiances, such family tribes or sports teams (isn’t it amazing that we root so violently for teams representing once city/state/area or another when not one of the players was born within a thousand miles of that location?), or when fear and other highly charged emotions starts to influence the assessment of degree such that the above logic gets bent to: since(x < y) instead of if(x < y).

    And there is another more insidious issue even than forgetting that x and y are variables and therefore always subject to change. Namely that the pertinent question might shift from, if(x < y), to something altogether different while people are still trying to sift through the problems they are having with the suspect logic of x always being smaller than y. So suddenly, the pertinent question isn’t if(x n) then do something completely different. Screw either one, or pit one against the other. Here, x and y remain levels of bad/destructive behavior, but n represents some totally unacceptable level of destructiveness such as warrentless assassination. Since the question changes, the answer also likely changes. Let’s say n represents murder. The muddiness described above is that there is the tendency to assume that if x is greater than n, murder, then y must be horrible indeed (because y is ALWAYS greater than x). Well, for one, that is not automatically true, but more importantly, the context has shifted. If x has done something worse than murder, we MUST now deal with x, irrespective of y. So the question has shifted.

    One of the biggest issues Professor Turley has raised recently has been pivotal to this. There comes a point at which comparison is no longer the pertinent question. On issues of civil rights alone, Obama has clearly and provably passed that point and entered the context of our having to deal with his behavior irrespective of anyone elses. In this context, clinging to the lesser of evil paradigm is functionally equivalent to condoning Obama’s behavior and has already had far reaching consequences for our democracy. Now one can disagree with anything. One can say, for instance, I do not condone murder even though I vote for a murderer, but that doesn’t really make a lot of sense even when you add, “because I am sure the alternative is worse.” Such an argument has effectively cornered you into condoning murder as long as it is less than some other perceived murder. Next election cycle, the other murder, the one that is too horrible to face right now, will be fine (we can vote for it even though we don’t condone it) because we will have moved the goal posts just far enough to include it as also being less than the next perceived monster.

    Moreover, just because it is horribly difficult to face the prospect of Romney being elected, doesn’t mitigate or change what Obama represents and therefore what voting for him represents. Our whole Bill of Rights and Constitution is based on the notion that there comes a time when by their nature, grievances surpass normal means of resolution. Choosing the lesser evil is the normal means of resolving who to put on our throne for a few years. But these are not normal times and warrantless assassinations, rampant spying on citizens, total break down of the rule of law as witnessed by elite immunity to the crimes of murder and torture , coercion in our relationships to profligate private enterprise, imprisonment of those that bring these crimes to our attention, abuse of citizens making normal protest, and on and on are NOT NORMAL grievances.

  105. Somehow, my comment got garbled, “So Suddenly…” should have continued,

    “So suddenly, the pertinent question isn’t if(x n) then do something completely different. Screw either one, or pit one against the other. Here, x and y remain levels of bad/destructive behavior, but n represents some totally unacceptable level of destructiveness such as warrentless assassination. “

  106. @Blouise: Yes. Note that the printing press, posters, booklets, newspapers, books, radio and television (and audio tapes, records, movies, CDs) are all mass broadcast media. In musical terms, they are the symphony, and the symphony has an audience; the only feedback really is cheers and jeers (which can be quantified as sales, listeners, ratings, donations, etc).

    Thus it has been for 700 years, and that is what the Internet is changing.

    What the Internet has introduced is Interaction, cost-free publishing, mostly cost-free access to its content, and instant referral. Other technologies have allowed cost-free photography, audio and video recording.

    (Effectively cost free, equipment costs money, access cost money, phones cost money, electricity costs money. But, like electricity, you seldom think about the cost of the electricity and blender when making a smoothie. The Internet feels free.)

    Publishing used to cost a lot of time and money, it took ink and paper and expertise. It was the domain of professionals: writers, editors, layout artists, type setters, press operators, not to mention the more generic professionalism of purchasing, bookkeeping, warehouse management, sales and marketing.

    Likewise, mail used to cost money, and take a lot of time. Both mail and telephone calls used to be linked to specific geographic locations; that is under wholesale change now: People now think of e-mail as going to a person, or a phone call going to a person, no matter where they may be.

    Publishing video was once the domain of multi-million dollar enterprises alone; now minimum wage workers can publish videos taken with a cell phone.

    It is this combination of features in the Internet (and technology) that are making this much more of a small world. Connections are stronger and faster. Publishing has been wrested from the hands of professionals.

    A very important new emergent phenomenon is that of “viral information.” A single non-professional can record something on a cell phone and change the world, without having any boss or organization or layers of management deciding whether that recording “should” be published.

    I think part of the strong move to “infotainment” in the last decade is due to virality, broadcast news organizations no longer broadcast what is “new,” if something important happens then by 6pm they have already been scooped by a viral storm, twitter, the Internet, text messages and cell phone calls. Newspapers and magazines have the same problem, they have very little to report that is New, and their editorial positions have already been made by others, and for free.

    What is left for them? To survive they have to move to something the common man can’t do, and most have chosen to exploit their privileged access to the rich and powerful; but of course that requires treating the rich and powerful with extreme deference to the point of lying to the public to preserve their access: Hence we see the rich and powerful have not just restrained the broadcast media, but have turned them to their bidding.

    What I think is that the Internet is the dawn of friction-free information. For good, evil, or entertainment, it has become effortless to share information, pictures, videos, recordings and opinion, for a critical mass of people on the planet.

    Identifying what is important is no longer in the hands of an elite, but the masses: Links do not go viral because any one person with veto power over dissemination decided they should be viral, they are an emergent phenomenon.

    One result of this friction free environment is concentration. The actions of the digital crowd help distill for us what is important. We are all like CEOs in that respect; the CEO has many filters below him that hide unimportant information. only important issues rise to his attention. Our circle is much wider; I am pointed to information by Elaine, by you, by Gene and Rafferty I might never have seen. My information is more accurate and refined, even without argumentation I learn from reading others, and because of interaction (point queries or full blown arguments) I can be driven to formulate broader principles, better metaphors, and more compelling arguments.

    I think the iceberg you are talking about is the dawn of widespread intellectual independence. I think that will be a good thing, eventually, even if it is messy now. Much of the turmoil is the elite, worldwide, struggling to regain control of an apparatus that is out of their control. The Arab Spring is a manifestation, not just of technology, but of the intellectual independence and organization it fostered. Obedient people that defer to authority do not Twitter-organize revolts.

  107. My correction also got garbled. I think because I am using the smaller than symbol which is also an html directive. Anyway, the sentence should have continued,

    . So suddenly, the pertinent question isn’t if(x is smaller than y) at all. It might instead be something like, if(x OR y is greater than n) then do something completely different. Screw either one, or pit one against the other. Here, x and y remain levels of bad/destructive behavior, but n represents some totally unacceptable level of destructiveness such as warrentless assassination…

  108. @Brooklin: I have work to get done today, but just a note before I leave: Part of the problem of the lesser of two evils is when X and Y are correlated by collusion. If X and Y are both taking their marching orders from W, it makes no difference whether we choose X or Y at all. W can engineer X=Y+1, so X < Y on purpose. Then, when X is chosen but fails to deliver, W can engineer Y=X+1, find a candidate for Y that promises to reverse the failures of X, and Y is chosen. And fails to keep their promises too, and moves the ball a little closer to the goal of W.

    Ad infinitum.

  109. Tony C.,

    ” … widespread intellectual independence … messy now. Much of the turmoil is the elite, worldwide, struggling to regain control of an apparatus that is out of their control.”

    And totally unpredictable which is most uncomfortable for those who prefer a controlled environment, be they rich or poor … peasant or king.

    For those who don’t fear chaos, who are stimulated by the uncertainty of change, this is one of those rare point in times to flourish.

    I have no idea where the change will take us just as Luther had no idea his urge to reform would change the face of Christianity or James Watt had no idea that in improving the Newcomen steam engine he would completely alter the workforce thus ushering in the Industrial Revolution.

    Right now I’m looking at the changes to our political system but there is so much more.

  110. @Blouise: Look at the effect it is having on organized religion (in the techno-gifted world).

    In politics, consider Paul Ryan’s speech at the RNC, Obama’s 2008 gaffe on guns and faith (he did not know he was being recorded), the DNC vote screw up on God and Jerusalem. Before the frictionless information era, such embarrassments died quietly, they were just hearsay and rumor. Now they cannot, and even FOX scrambles to point out lies they know will be outed anyway.

    The result is a (deserved) loss of respect, a realization of the role that lies and corruption are playing, and a rejection of deferring to authority. It is a loss of faith, both literally (in terms of religion) and figuratively (in terms of faith in politicians and business leaders).

    But faith can be hard to break, drip-by-drip, sometimes it takes a shattering blow.

  111. Poem by mr. Latif, guilty of nothing, tortured at Gitmo. His life’s value verses the reelection of Obama? Nothing.

    “Despairing of ever being released, Latif had sent a number of poems in his letters to me and other lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees. The Pentagon refuses to allow most of them to be made public, but it did clear “Hunger Strike Poem,” which contains the lines:

    They are artists of torture,
    They are artists of pain and fatigue,
    They are artists of insults
    and humiliation.
    Where is the world to save us
    from torture?
    Where is the world to save us
    from the fire and sadness?
    Where is the world to save
    the hunger strikers?”

    The world is busy, pushing hard for Obama’s reelection and his supporters cannot be bothered to condemn Mr. Latif’s treatment or death as they are busy expanding the alter of war and death.

  112. Tony C.,

    In my opinion organized religion is all but dead except for the backward cultures. More and more empty churches dotting the landscape or in use for other purposes.

    I am afraid that my imagination fails me when I try to envision where/when all this change will take us. Thus I look back in history and find that most all the big changes were accidental. Planned for one thing but due to timing, place, culture, and the idea itself, becoming something much more and often very different than originally intended.

    It will be an idea or a set of ideas (remember your objections to those who would shut down discussion of an idea ;) ) and the drip-by-drip will have already taken place … I wonder what it will be.

  113. “Over a period of four years 14,000 people were systematically tortured and killed there. It is now a genocide museum. And right there, in the middle of the central torturing room, is the apparatus used by Pol Pot’s security officials for waterboarding.” -Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent,

    UN to investigate civilian deaths from US drone strikes

    Special rapporteur on counter-terror operations condemns Barack Obama’s failure to establish effective monitoring process

    Owen Bowcott, legal affairs correspondent, Thursday 25 October 2012 13.07 EDT

    The United Nations is to set up a dedicated investigations unit in Geneva to examine the legality of drone attacks in cases where civilians are killed in so-called ‘targeted’ counter-terrorism operations.

    The announcement was made by Ben Emmerson QC, a UN special rapporteur, in a speech to Harvard law school in which he condemned secret rendition and waterboarding as crimes under international law.

    His forthright comments, directed at both US presidential candidates, will be seen as an explicit challenge to the prevailing US ideology of the global war on terror.

    Earlier this summer, Emmerson, who monitors counter-terrorism for the UN, called for effective investigations into drone attacks. Some US drone strikes in Pakistan – where those helping victims of earlier attacks or attending funerals were killed – may amount to war crimes, Emmerson warned.

    In his Harvard speech, he revealed: “If the relevant states are not willing to establish effective independent monitoring mechanisms … then it may in the last resort be necessary for the UN to act.

    “Together with my colleague Christof Heyns, [the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings], I will be launching an investigation unit within the special procedures of the [UN] Human Rights Council to inquire into individual drone attacks.”

    The unit will also look at “other forms of targeted killing conducted in counter-terrorism operations, in which it is alleged that civilian casualties have been inflicted, and to seek explanations from the states using this technology and the states on whose territory it is used. [It] will begin its work early next year and will be based in Geneva.”

    Security officials who took part in waterboarding interrogations or secret rendition removals should be made accountable for their actions and justice, Emmerson added.

    “The time has come,” he said, “for the international community to agree minimum standard principles for investigating such allegations and holding those responsible to account.

    “Let us be clear on this: secret detention is unlawful as a matter of international law. Waterboarding is always torture. Torture is an international crime of universal jurisdiction. The torturer, like the pirate before him, is regarded in international law as the enemy of all mankind. There is therefore a duty on states to investigate and to prosecute acts of torture.”

    The US stance of conducting counter-terrorism operations against al-Qaida or other groups anywhere in the world because it is deemed to be an international conflict was indefensible, he maintained.

    “The global war paradigm has done immense damage to a previously shared international consensus on the legal framework underlying both international human rights law and international humanitarian law,” Emmerson said. “It has also given a spurious justification to a range of serious human rights and humanitarian law violations.

    “The [global] war paradigm was always based on the flimsiest of reasoning, and was not supported even by close allies of the US. The first-term Obama administration initially retreated from this approach, but over the past 18 months it has begun to rear its head once again, in briefings by administration officials seeking to provide a legal justification for the drone programme of targeted killing in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia …

    “[It is] alleged that since President Obama took office at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners. Christof Heyns … has described such attacks, if they prove to have happened, as war crimes. I would endorse that view.”

    Emmerson singled out both President Obama and the Republican challenger Mitt Romney for criticism. “It is perhaps surprising that the position of the two candidates on this issue has not even featured during their presidential elections campaigns, and got no mention at all in Monday night’s foreign policy debate.

    “We now know that the two candidates are in agreement on the use of drones. But the issue of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques is an one which, according to the record, continues to divide them.

    “I should make it absolutely clear that my mandate does not see to eye to eye with the Obama administration on a range of issues – not least the lack of transparency over the drone programme. But on this issue the president has been clear since he took office that water-boarding is torture that it is contrary to American values and that it would stop.

    “… But Governor Romney has said that he does not believe that waterboarding is torture. He has said that he would allow enhanced interrogation techniques that go beyond those now permitted by the army field manual, and his security advisers have recommended that he rescind the existing restrictions.”

    The Cambodian dictator Pol Pot, he pointed out, used the technique. “Anyone who is in doubt about whether waterboarding is torture should visit Tuol Sleng, the infamous S-21 detention facility operated by the Khymer Rouge in Phnom Penh.

    “Over a period of four years 14,000 people were systematically tortured and killed there. It is now a genocide museum. And right there, in the middle of the central torturing room, is the apparatus used by Pol Pot’s security officials for waterboarding.”

  114. I think most of us know what the situation is. It’s the 90/10 rule. If you’re in the 10%, that isn’t necessarily a good thing.


    Documentary examines physician involvement in detainee torture
    ‘Doctors of the Dark Side’ screening and panel hosted by UMass Health Professionals for Human Rights

    November 1, 2012

    The new documentary Doctors of the Dark Side examines the role of physicians and psychologists in torture at U.S. military prisons. The student group Health Professionals for Human Rights (HPHR) will host a screening and panel discussion of the film at UMass Medical School on Thursday, Nov. 8.

    According to the producers, the documentary exposes how psychologists and physicians implemented and covered up the torture of detainees in U.S.-controlled military prisons. Director Martha Davis spent four years investigating the controversy and produced the documentary with an award-winning team.

    Guest panelists will be Ellen Lubell, JD, a lawyer who represented a former Guantanamo detainee, and J. Wesley Boyd, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, who teaches medical ethics in military settings.

    Event organizer Amos Lichtman, SOM ’15, co-leads HPHR, which is a student branch of the national organization Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), co-winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize. Along with co-leaders Geoffrey Buckle and Elise Sullivan, SOM ’15, Lichtman is active in the coalition spearheaded by PHR and the Massachusetts Campaign Against Torture group (MACAT) in support of state legislation that would subject health care professionals licensed in Massachusetts to sanctions if they participated in torture of prisoners. “Advocacy for the legislative campaign is hugely helpful, and hosting a screening of this documentary seemed like the best way to provide support as a student,” Lichtman said.

    Screenings of Doctors on the Dark Side are being presented nationwide with support from PHR, with local support for the UMMS event provided by MACAT. Free and open to the public, the screening will be held in the Arthur and Martha Pappas Amphitheatre (Amphitheatre I, S2-102) at 6 p.m., with dinner available at 5:30 p.m.

  116. Sen. Snowe can stand for truth and decency, vote to make results of torture investigation public

    By The Rev. Jill Saxby, Special to the BDN
    Posted Nov. 14, 2012, at 12:36 p.m.

    Most kindergartners know that telling the truth is the “right thing to do.” For adults, telling the truth to ourselves, about ourselves, is one of the marks of moral maturity. In the political realm, with few incentives to admit mistakes and fix them, the chance to learn from history gets lost in a blur of good media strategy and the self-serving memoirs of retired policymakers.

    Perhaps only something even more precious than good public relations must be at stake to force us to take a hard look in the mirror, to view our own history honestly and to learn from it.

    One such case rests before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee right now. Maine’s retiring Sen. Olympia Snowe, a member of that committee, is in a unique position not only to do the right thing but also to seal her reputation in history as one of those invaluable Mainers who stood up at the right time and insisted that the truth be told and decency restored, at long last.

    For the past three years, the intelligence committee has thoroughly investigated CIA interrogation practices from 2001 to 2008. They have collected the truth about what was done to prisoners in the war on terror in America’s name – in our names.

    The truth now resides in a 6,000-page report. The executive summary, alone, is rumored to run to 500 pages. It will take the CIA a year or more to redact the report to protect legitimate interests, such as references to agents in the field and other sources. But first, this month, the committee must vote on whether to adopt the report and – crucially — whether to submit it for declassification and public release.

    The mirror we, as a nation, need to look in is now held in very few hands. It is still cloudy with conjecture. It is marred by partial evidence that human beings were tortured by the United States, a signer of the 1994 United Nations Convention Against Torture, which states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.” It’s time to clear the fog and look into the mirror directly.

    Torture is illegal. Torture, by the testimony of many interrogation experts, is ineffectual. Torture is against the founding values of our nation and against the common standards of morality of every major world religion. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture and groups like the Maine Council of Churches have been calling for an investigation into U.S. interrogation practices for many years, since shortly after the world first saw the photos of the Abu Ghraib atrocities.

    That thorough investigation is now complete, but it has no value to citizens, future policymakers or history unless the report sees the light of day. Snowe can make that happen as her long service as an independent-minded leader in the Senate draws to a close.

    A strong, mature person accepts responsibility for mistakes and takes action to fix them. So does a strong, mature nation, one that other nations look to for leadership in peacemaking and human rights. Telling the truth to ourselves and others is a basic moral good. It is vital for accountable, democratic government. If we fail in this, we have nothing to help us see the way forward but the dim and failing light of wishful thinking, hoping that some unseen “they” must know what they’re doing, and we can just look away.

    “We the people” are ultimately responsible for what is done in our name. Our job as citizens doesn’t end with voting. It continues by holding our government up to the scrutiny of open, public judgment. And that begins with getting our own story straight, with ourselves and with history.

    With one vote to adopt and release the intelligence committee report, Snowe can help us all to do just that.

    The Rev. Jill Saxby is executive director of the Maine Council of Churches.

  117. “Well, no one except former CIA official John Kiriakou, who is awaiting trial on criminal charges for disclosing information on the torture.” -Jonathan Turley

    CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou given more than two years in prison

    Judge says former intelligence officer who exposed aspects of use of torture should have been jailed for longer

    And, yet, those who tortured are “free.”


    The crime of not “Looking Backward”

    A new article casts serious doubt on the Government’s claim that three Guantanamo detainees committed suicide

    By Glenn Greenwald


    “Every Obama-justifying excuse for Looking Forward, Not Backwards has been exposed as a sham (recall, for instance, the claim that we couldn’t prosecute Bush war crimes because it would ruin bipartisanship and Republicans wouldn’t support health care reform). But even if those excuses had been factually accurate, it wouldn’t have mattered. There are no legitimate excuses for averting one’s eyes from crimes of this magnitude and permitting them to go unexamined and unpunished. The real reason why “Looking Forward, Not Backwards” is so attractive to our political and media elites is precisely because they don’t want to face what they enabled and supported. They want to continue to believe that it just involved the quick and necessary waterboarding of three detainees and a few slaps to a handful of the Worst of the Worst. Only a refusal to “Look Backwards” will enable the lies they have been telling (to the world and to themselves) to be sustained. But as Horton’s story illustrates, there are real victims and genuine American criminals — many of them — and anyone who wants to keep that concealed and protected is, by definition, complicit in those crimes, not only the ones that were committed in the past, but similar ones that almost certainly, as a result of Not Looking Backwards, will be committed in the future.”

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