Obama and The Leap Of Faith

PresObamaAfter the Inauguration, I shared my thoughts on President Barack Obama’s address. I liked the speech but, as with many civil libertarians, I do not share the faith in his commitment to principle — at least not the principles behind civil liberties. Below is today’s print column that touches on some of the same themes with a few additional observations.



OBAMA AND THE LEAP OF FAITH

The theme of President Obama’s second inauguration speech was promoted as “Faith in America’s Future.” Indeed, speaking to a smaller crowd with polls showing his popularity at a low of 49 percent, Obama was clearly speaking to the faithful – a core who continued to rally around this iconic figure. For others, the theme seemed often seemed more “Hope Over Experience.”

Though the president spoke eloquently of fulfilling Martin Luther King’s dream, his first term was most notable for fulfilling Richard Nixon’s dream of an “Imperial Presidency.” From kill lists to warrantless surveillance to drone attacks to secret evidence, Obama eviscerated values that once defined liberals. Then, by sheer power of personality, he made them love him for it.
Notably, the inauguration speech spoke of civil rights rather than civil liberties. The references to gay rights were unprecedented and commendable. However, it also reflected the difference between equality and liberty in Obama’s vision.
Civil libertarians have long complained that Obama has lowered the baseline of rights for all citizens with eroding privacy protections, unilateral presidential powers and limits on due process. We can all be treated equally and have few rights. Equal denial of rights is nothing to celebrate.

While heralding America’s triumph over the “tyranny of a king,” Obama has acquired near authoritarian powers in some areas. Early in his first term, the president shocked many by going to the CIA and publicly assuring CIA officials that they would not be prosecuted for torture — despite Obama’s recognition that waterboarding used by the Bush administration is indeed torture.
Ultimately, Obama has not only embraced the controversial Bush policies on surveillance, secrecy and presidential powers, he has also expanded those policies. Most notorious was his assertion of the power to kill any U.S. citizen considered a threat to the nation’s security.

His administration also has moved to squelch lawsuits designed to protect citizens from warrantless surveillance and investigations. The White House has adopted the rejected Nuremberg defense of “just following orders” in blocking charges against government officials responsible for torture and other abuses. Further, the administration has embraced the military tribunal system and the use of secret evidence in prosecuting certain defendants.

Even on the very values of equality embraced in the speech, Obama was offering hope over experience. Politics rather than principle have long guided this president.

Obama’s passion for gay rights was notably missing in his first term. During much of the past four years, the Obama administration fought against gay rights in a variety of cases in federal court, from challenges to “don’t ask, don’t tell” to the Defense of Marriage Act.

Even today, after switching legal positions on issues like DOMA in court, Obama has been unwilling to support the claim that sexual orientation should be given the same constitutional protection as race or even gender. It was Vice President Biden who forced Obama to publicly embrace same-sex marriage toward the end of his first term — public statements that Obama admitted angered him.

Though some insist that the president was merely exercising political realism in avoiding such divisive issues before re-election, it meant that he repeatedly chose politics over civil rights in his first term. The test of principle is to support equality even when it is not to your advantage.

Obama’s repeated insistence that “we must act” may foreshadow even more unilateral action in the future. The president has already proclaimed in the immigration area that he will not enforce certain laws. He has asserted the right to unilaterally define what constitutes a congressional “recess” to allow him to appoint high officials without Senate confirmation. He has claimed the right to attack other nations with drones based solely on his view of national interest.

To put it simply, Obama is the president Nixon longed to be. It will take more than a lip-synched Beyoncé performance to quiet these concerns. What was once a system of checks and balances has been replaced by a leap of faith that these powers will be used by Obama and his successors wisely.

It is faith in Obama, not our future, that has lulled too many into silence in the face of an Imperial President.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University and a member of USA TODAY’s board of contributors.

January 23, 2013

109 thoughts on “Obama and The Leap Of Faith

  1. As Professor Mechtensheimer told me years ago, “The operative question in politics is always: Would you prefer victory by the losing side?”

  2. “The theme of President Obama’s second inauguration speech was promoted as “Faith in America’s Future.” (JT)

    “Faith” is the least reliable and most endorsed refuge of the politician and scoundrel (is there a difference) to sucker the populace. I’ll use my own eyes.

  3. AY:

    “Could you define losing side……”

    ********************************

    The guys being appointed to all those Boards of Directors and sunning in Cozumel about now.

  4. DonS:

    Say what you want to about “faith” but it’s the reason we get up every morning, have children, and take out mortgages. Rationality should control yet faith is still what motivates.

  5. Mespo, when used by politicians, “faith” is snake oil. If I want to address my faith I’ll look to a higher power. What I want from a politician is honesty and facts.

  6. DonS:

    I think it’s always about “faith” in ourselves. Everything else is typically manipulation. If that’s what Obama is talking about, count me it. if it’s about him, I’m hedging my bets.

  7. @ rafflaw “Would you be getting that honesty and facts from Mitt”

    He didn’t immediately spring to mind.

    ——————–

    @ Mespo “I think it’s always about “faith” in ourselves. Everything else is typically manipulation. If that’s what Obama is talking about, count me it. if it’s about him, I’m hedging my bets.”

    My bet’s are already hedged. I think Obama’s usage wasn’t quite so deep, but rather hinged on whatever meaning of faith would keep the masses slavering. Actually, the reading I would give is that the average American is being asked to have faith in the system and those who represent it (clearly not the 98%). That number keeps dwindling.

  8. Say what you want but just think of the things that 1- would have been left out of that speech 2- would have been put into that speech if Romney had won…..Love O or hate him we could have done worse…

  9. DonS,
    Once again, would Romney have represented the 98% better? It seems that a majority of the Americans that were allowed to vote disagree with you.

  10. “we could have done worse…” (metrocowboy)

    Can’t we please stop congratulating ourselves in our good fortune that we will be beaten with a smaller hammer, and move on to holding this president’s feet to the fire. What is JT’s column all about if not all the ways we are currently being screwed by our good fortune-in-chief.

  11. Hey rafflaw, you should know I’m not disagreeing with your assertion. But to use Mespo’s term, I have close to zero faith in the system, and settling for this “least bad” option. to me, distracts us from focusing on how all the options we are offered are suboptimized frauds. I am embarrassed and ashamed for my country that we take this delusion seriously.

  12. “The test of principle is to support equality even when it is not to your advantage.” (JT)

    That’s it in a nutshell.

    Man, I wish one of our Guest Bloggers would do a piece on the Monroe Doctrine, its creation by John Quincy Adams and the uses to which it has been put, for therein I believe we find the real foundation of the “Imperial Presidency” at home and abroad … the Manifest Destiny of the President over all our liberties … principle be damned.

  13. Obama’s Kentucky flyer comes to mind:

    FAITH. HOPE. CHANGE.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/05/14/obama-using-cross-flyer-i_n_101788.html

    My faith teaches me that I can sit in church and pray all I want. But I won’t be fulfilling God’s will unless I go out and do the Lord’s work.
    – Barack Obama

    “Ultimately, Obama has not only embraced the controversial Bush policies on surveillance, secrecy and presidential powers, he has also expanded those policies. Most notorious was his assertion of the power to kill any U.S. citizen considered a threat to the nation’s security.

    His administration also has moved to squelch lawsuits designed to protect citizens from warrantless surveillance and investigations. The White House has adopted the rejected Nuremberg defense of “just following orders” in blocking charges against government officials responsible for torture and other abuses. Further, the administration has embraced the military tribunal system and the use of secret evidence in prosecuting certain defendants.” -Jonathan Turley

    “The Lord’s work”, indeed.

  14. DonS,
    I understand, but every election is a choice between two or more candidates who have strengths and weaknesses. We have to choose the one that we believe comes closest to the ideal that we are looking for.

  15. Woman Handcuffed, Detained & Strip-Searched on Tenth Anniversary of 9/11 Files Lawsuit Against Racial Profiling

    By: Kevin Gosztola Tuesday January 22, 2013 6:01 pm

    http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/01/22/woman-handcuffed-detained-strip-searched-on-tenth-anniversary-of-911-files-lawsuit-against-racial-profiling/

    Excerpt:

    Hebshi penned a blog post for the ACLU, where she describes how she was “scared and alone” in a “dirty cell” and “can’t begin to describe the humiliation” she experienced:

    …No one would tell me what was going on despite my repeated requests for information. No one told me of my rights or when I would be able to call my family who had no idea where I was. You can imagine this was very difficult for them as the last time they heard from me was when I hung up the phone with my husband in Ohio saying that stairs were coming and I thought I’d be home soon. I was in the dark about why I was being held until I was interrogated by an FBI agent. Though it still didn’t make sense, I deduced that it was because of my proximity to the men who apparently got up to go to the bathroom a few times during the flight…

    Right after the incident, she published a stirring and eloquent account of what happened to her, where she characterized what she was subjected to as “some real shock and awe.” Her post noted that an FBI agent had apologized to her, thanked her for “understanding and cooperating. He also said, “It’s 9/11 and people are seeing ghosts. They are seeing things that aren’t there.” And, “they had to act on a report of suspicious behavior, and this is what the reaction looks like.” In fact, “50 other similar incidents across the country” had occurred that day.

    Those who are victims of civil liberties violations—those who have their dignity trampled upon—must at least make the government go through the motions of having to defend its senseless acts. Hebshi understands that this case is not just about her but also about others who have experienced the horrors of racial profiling. If people like Hebshi do not attempt to show the agents and officers are wrong when incidents like this happen, this type of conduct becomes acceptable. They figure they have the power to violate whomever they choose and, if they make a mistake, they can just apologize and everything will be okay for them. They never have to think twice about dehumanizing people without any evidence or probable cause. And that is why lawsuits like Hebshi’s are critical, especially in the post-9/11 new normal of which all US citizens can be subjected at any time.

    (http://www.aclu.org/blog/racial-justice/some-real-shock-and-awe-racially-profiled-and-cuffed-detroit)

  16. Former CIA Officer John Kiriakou: Justice Department is Targeting Whistleblowers

    By: Kevin Gosztola Wednesday January 23, 2013 11:46 am

    http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/01/23/former-cia-officer-john-kiriakou-justice-department-is-targeting-whistleblowers/

    Excerpt:

    On the Citizen Radio program, Kiriakou described his evolution from an officer to a whistleblower. “I’ve learned so much about the psychology of whistleblowing,” he recounted. “I did not set out to be a whistleblower. I’ve learned that no whistleblower sets out to be a whistleblower.”

    What happened was while he was in the CIA he was asked if he wanted to be trained in the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”—torture. This he found out involved waterboarding, putting people in dog cages, sleep deprivation, etc. He had a “moral problem” with that and turned down the opportunity. He also said he was “uncomfortable with it as a policy.” Then, news broke that “videotaped instances of waterboarding” had been destroyed.

    He was contacted by ABC News. Someone with the network told him they had a source who says you waterboarded Abu Zubaydah.” Kiriakou thought that could not be true because he “was the only person kind to Abu Zubaydah.” He was invited to go on ABC News and defend himself and wound up doing two things that were ground-breaking.

    Kiriakou was the “first former or current CIA officer to confirm the CIA was torturing prisoners.” He also “said it was not a product of rogue officers but official policy that went all the way up to the president.” And, after that interview, the FBI never stopped investigating him, he said.

    Agents followed him wherever he went—when he was grocery shopping, when he was out to dinner and even when he was in church. They still follow him.

    It’s a “very emotional psychological tool they use against you,” he said.

    The result of being a government target has been losing his friends, having people push away from him because they don’t want to be involved and risk the possibility of the FBI coming after them. He also has racked up “legal fees approaching a million dollars.” It would take “multiple lifetimes” to pay his legal bills.

    Kiriakou is the only CIA officer involved in the agency’s torture program to be convicted of a crime. He used to think it was not a good idea to prosecute officers responsible for torture because he believed only “guys at the working level” would be prosecuted but he has changed his mind.

    “Now that we know more about who was involved and how many people were involved, it makes me sick to my stomach that this was a program that really was on quite a large scale with people at every level of the CIA and the National Security Council and in some cases in the Justice Department,” Kiriakou declared. “Nobody is facing the music for committing serious crimes. We even have al Qaeda prisoners or alleged Al Qaeda prisoners, who were killed during their interrogations, and nobody faced charges for that.”

    He reported that support for commutation or a pardon is growing. Ralph Nader, Bruce Fein and Joan Claybrook signed a letter to President Barack Obama. A Change.org petition has been circulating as well as one from the Greek-American community. Another letter has also been signed by “more than a dozen and a half CIA officers,” FBI agents who served with Kiriakou in Pakistan and “notable Americans like Pete Seeger, Oliver Stone and Daniel Ellsberg.”

    POLITICO obtained some of these letters. Gerstein reported:

    “Many years later after the capture of Abu Zubaydah, people at work would stop him in the hallway to thank him for his service to our country, and John would laugh and remark to me how amazing it was that strangers would stop to speak to him,” one former colleague at CIA, Elizabeth Reidel, recalled. “I recognize that he has pled guilty to a crime but staunchly believe that he remains a man of upright character, decency and integrity,” wrote Riedel, a veteran analyst. (Her husband, former CIA official Bruce Riedel, chaired the interagency review on Pakistan and Afghanistan policy President Barack Obama ordered as he took office in 2009.)

    “John is a highly ethical individual,” wrote former CIA officer Gene Coyle. “I actually use John as a positive example in my classes that I teach at Indiana University when discussing matters of consicence and ethical behavior by government employees, and where he has been a guest speaker….Hopefully, [his] time in prison will be as short as the law allows.”

    “I cannot condone the crime to which John has pleaded guilty, but John Kiriakou is a fundamentally decent, loyal, honorable, and patriotic man who has repeatedly risked his life for our country and who has already suffered economic ruin as a result of this case,” wrote Donald Roberts, a former foreign service officer who worked with Kiriakou in Bahrain.

    In conclusion, Kiriakou acknowledged the government’s prosecution has had a chilling effect with the New York Times reporting “many of their security sources have completely dried up.”

    “The Justice Dept can deny all they want that they’re targeting whistleblowers, but I think the evidence is clear that they are targeting whistleblowers,” he stated.

    If they’re not prosecuting whistleblowers or leakers that exposed official policy, then they are pursuing sports stars or Internet activists, especially those connected to WikiLeaks or Anonymous hacktivism. They are not prosecuting crimes, like fraud on Wall Street or torture by those who authorized it in the highest echelons of government during the administration of President George W. Bush. They are putting truth-tellers in prison and letting the ones who actually abused, hurt or devastated people roam free.

  17. Aaron Swartz Tip of Iceberg in Justice System Rife w/Intimidation & Prosecutorial Overreach? – YouTube

  18. The criminal justice is broken and NO politician is addressing it except for Senator Jim Webb. Prosecutorial misconduct is rife with abuse of power. T

    It’s time to end immunity for prosecutors. It’s time to criminalize prosecutorial misconduct. Then, these witch-hunts and “high-profile” targets-for-political-and-financial gain would evaporate, along with the obscene amounts of money being made in the “criminal justice industry” — a “War on America”!

  19. From the FDL article:

    http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/01/23/former-cia-officer-john-kiriakou-justice-department-is-targeting-whistleblowers/

    “Agents followed him wherever he went—when he was grocery shopping, when he was out to dinner and even when he was in church. They still follow him.

    It’s a “very emotional psychological tool they use against you,” he said.

    The result of being a government target has been losing his friends, having people push away from him because they don’t want to be involved and risk the possibility of the FBI coming after them. He also has racked up “legal fees approaching a million dollars.” It would take “multiple lifetimes” to pay his legal bills.”

    ========

    (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92207687
    FBI Surveillance Team Reveals Tricks Of The Trade by Dina Temple-Raston )

    Excerpt:

    “And, he says, you’d have a team dressed for the occasion. SSGs carry entire wardrobes in their cars — a business suit in case they need to go to Wall Street, gym shorts in case surveillance requires them to go for a jog through Central Park.

    Muldoon says he has some SSGs who travel with a bicycle in their trunk so that at a moment’s notice they could ride through the streets of New York pretending to be a messenger. “They are prepared for anything,” he says.”

  20. The gov has a lot to hide. And when the feds decide to target you, your life will never be the same. They’re very good at destroying people.

  21. Lawmakers are responsible for the laws that put innocent people at risk for three felonies a day. Prosecutors have used draconian and poorly written laws as a weapon for plea bargains. We have become a nation of “plea bargain trials”, which is NO trial at all.

    This has resulted in the mass incarceration of America’s people — in “land of the free”. Prosecutors having the awesome power in the states and the DOJ should be doing their jobs as gatekeepers for fair justice, NOT convictions at all cost to become the next state Attorney General or next Governor. The pattern is well established. Informed citizens can see this and are not being heard by their lawmakers. Instead, the lawmakers are ignored the involved, informed citizen, sweeping the unbalanced justice system “under the rug” and moving on and up in their careers toward lucrative retirement and pensions. Time to stop this “scam” against our own people. Misdemeanors turned into felonies punishable with long draconian sentences — silencing voices until they move on and up.

    http://prisonlaw.wordpress.com/2011/07/18/new-study-prosecutors-not-police-have-driven-prison-population-growth/

    Prison Law Blog by Sara Mayeux

    New Study: Prosecutors, Not Police, Have Driven Prison Population Growth

    “The United States prison population has exploded over the past 40 years. But why? Have police been making more arrests? Have prosecutors been charging more people with crimes? Have judges been issuing longer sentences? Have parole boards become stricter? (All of the above?) Since many accounts of mass incarceration collapse “the criminal justice system” into a single monolith, it can be hard to know exactly what part of the system has driven the growth in the prison population.

    A new empirical study by Fordham law professor John Pfaff aims to provide a more granular explanation of the causes of mass incarceration. Pfaff concludes that only one other relevant number has changed as dramatically as the prison population has: the number of felony case filings per arrest. In other words, police haven’t been arresting more people:

    [B]etween 1982 and 1995, arrests rose by 26% (from 3,261,613 to 4,118,039) while mean [prison] admissions rose by 149% (from 212,415 to 530,642); between 1995 and 2007, arrests fell by 28.6% while admissions rose by another 31.9%. It is thus clear that arrests are not driving the growth in incarceration—and by extension neither are trends in crime levels, since their effect is wholly mediated by these arrest rates.

    Rather, prosecutors have become more likely to charge those arrested with crimes: …. (excerpt)”

  22. Yes, a young, gifted man with an outstanding recognition in his field and the world, would NEVER imagine he would go to prison in America much less have the great potential of dying there. Aaron Swartz suicide shines the harsh bright light on what America and its lawmakers are doing to the bright, young people in America.

  23. “Aaron Swartz suicide shines the harsh bright light on what America and its lawmakers are doing to the bright, young people in America.”

    Your scope is bit narrow. It’s not just the bright, young people in America being targeted. It’s anyone with the gumption to challenge the corporatists from any and all parties and their ever overreaching grab for absolute power.

  24. The Untouchables: How the Obama administration protected Wall Street from prosecutions

    A new PBS Frontline report examines a profound failure of justice that should be causing serious social unrest

    by Glenn Greenwald

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/23/untouchables-wall-street-prosecutions-obama

    Excerpt:

    PBS’ Frontline program on Tuesday night broadcast a new one-hour report on one of the greatest and most shameful failings of the Obama administration: the lack of even a single arrest or prosecution of any senior Wall Street banker for the systemic fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis: a crisis from which millions of people around the world are still suffering. What this program particularly demonstrated was that the Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable.

    What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality. Indeed, financial elites were not only vested with impunity for their fraud, but thrived as a result of it, even as ordinary Americans continue to suffer the effects of that crisis.

    Worst of all, Obama justice officials both shielded and feted these Wall Street oligarchs (who, just by the way, overwhelmingly supported Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign) as they simultaneously prosecuted and imprisoned powerless Americans for far more trivial transgressions. As Harvard law professor Larry Lessig put it two weeks ago when expressing anger over the DOJ’s persecution of Aaron Swartz: “we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House.” (Indeed, as “The Untouchables” put it: while no senior Wall Street executives have been prosecuted, “many small mortgage brokers, loan appraisers and even home buyers” have been).

    As I documented at length in my 2011 book on America’s two-tiered justice system, With Liberty and Justice for Some, the evidence that felonies were committed by Wall Street is overwhelming. That evidence directly negates the primary excuse by Breuer (previously offered by Obama himself) that the bad acts of Wall Street were not criminal. …continues

  25. Thanks, shano, for both of those links.

    Good riddance, Lanny.

    Here’s a portion of the twitter exchange:

    FRONTLINE: Marty – some viewers have wondered about whether or how the Justice Department or other government agencies have responded to the film. Any word?

    Martin Smith: Frontline – Well, the justice department called and said they thought it was a hit piece, that i came with an agenda and that they will never co-operate with us in the future.

    —–

    Ah, yes. Just another “hit piece.” Thanks again, shano.

  26. I didn’t see the Frontline piece. Did they really do a such a credible job exposing Breuer; can’t believe it’s so closely linked in time.

    —————————–
    From FDL:

    “Somehow Frontline was able to get multiple persons involved in fraud in the mortgage market to go on camera while Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, who was interviewed for the program, claimed he and the Justice Department could not make a case against Wall Street. Breuer was asked about a speech he gave to the New York City Bar Association in which he claimed to have been worried about the consequences of prosecuting big banks – a concern that seemed to trump his commitment to enforcing the law. Breuer’s FBI counterpart, also interviewed, expressed frustration at the inability to make criminal cases against bankers claiming to have argued continually with Breuer and divulging that on a personal level he felt there was criminal fraud.”

    http://news.firedoglake.com/2013/01/23/frontline-exposes-dojs-failure-to-prosecute-wall-street/

    ———————–

    Another sterling example of Obama justice, whistleblower prosecution (also FDLl ink)

    “Kiriakou appeared on an episode of “Citizen Radio” this morning. Interviewed by the show’s co-host Allison Kilkenny, he revealed that his attorneys have a document showing that he clearly was the victim of a selective prosecution.”

    http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/01/23/former-cia-officer-john-kiriakou-justice-department-is-targeting-whistleblowers/

  27. Who knows, with all these “hits” maybe the good guys will even score a run one of these days. If they don’t get indicted first . . . .

  28. Gene H, re: Concerned citizen: “Aaron Swartz suicide shines the harsh bright light on what America and its lawmakers are doing to the bright, young people in America.”

    GH: “Your scope is bit narrow. It’s not just the bright, young people in America being targeted. It’s anyone with the gumption to challenge the corporatists from any and all parties and their ever overreaching grab for absolute power.”

    GH, You ARE right. The point I was making is the tremendous fear, as a young man, that would drive him to commit suicide. He knew the reality of the full force of the government coming after him, seizing his assets and leaving him with nothing to fight with. We are all “Aaron Swartz”.

    When they can reach the bright young people and destroy them? Then what hope do any of us have? The lawmakers, with the help of the “prosecutor / lobbyists” who sit in the legislatures and Congress daily have brought us to this and so much more — #1 Jailer in the World — a shameful distinction. I don’t see them voting to “undo” the Patriot Act, Torture and address the broken criminal justice system, sentencing reform and prison reform.

  29. Concerned Citizen, in case you haven’t seen it:

    This is brilliant. I’ve been waiting for the transcript. (Watch the video — it’s worth it.)

    Edward Tufte’s defense of Aaron Swartz and the “marvelously different”

    http://danwin.com/2013/01/edward-tufte-aaron-swartz-marvelously-different/

    Well, during our experimentation, AT&T, on the second day it turned out, had tapped our phone. But it wasn’t until about six months later when I got a call from a gentleman, A.J. Dodge, a senior security person at AT&T. And I said, “I know what you’re calling about”.

    And so we met. And he said what we’re doing is a crime…But I knew it wasn’t serious because he actually cared about the kind of engineering stuff and complained that the tone signals we were generating were not up to standard. Because they recorded them and played them back into the network to see what numbers we were trying to reach and they couldn’t break through some of the noise of our signal.

    He asked why we went off the air after about three months…And I said, well, we regarded it as an engineering problem and we made the longest long-distance telephone call…and that was it.

    And so the the deal was, as I explained to my email to Bill Bowen, was that we wouldn’t try to sell this…we wouldn’t do any more of it, and that we would turn our equipment over to AT&T. And so they got a complete vacuum oscillator kit for making long distance phone calls.

    But I was grateful for A.J. Dodge and, I must say, even AT&T, that they decided not to wreck my life.

    And so I told Bill Bowen that he had a great opportunity here to not wreck somebody’s life. And of course he thankfully did the right thing.

    Aaron’s unique quality was that he was marvelously and vigorously different.

    There is a scarcity of that.

    Perhaps we can be all a little more different too.

  30. “I don’t see them voting to “undo” the Patriot Act, Torture and address the broken criminal justice system, sentencing reform and prison reform.” (CC)

    Just have faith. The pundits tell we’ll now see the real Obama unleashed; the actual progressive he’s kept so cleverly hidden.

    ————————–

    @ap – I heard that piece too. Strangely sad, and moving, when an act of basic decency is so unique anymore.

  31. Raff–“I understand, but every election is a choice between two or more candidates who have strengths and weaknesses. We have to choose the one that we believe comes closest to the ideal that we are looking for.”

    Which is why I sat this cycle out because neither one came close to the ideal or ideals I was looking for. Voting for what I perceive to be the lesser of two evils is still, in the end, voting for something or someone evil.

  32. Gotta love this:

    Artist Hasan Elahi meticulously documents life after FBI investigation
    University of Maryland professor to open exhibit in Baltimore

    University of Maryland professor to open exhibit in Baltimore

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/bs-md-um-professor-art-20130117,0,3085981.story

    Excerpts:

    “Rather than shy from government attention, Elahi embarked on a self-surveillance project. He maps his location on a website, along with photos of beds on which he has slept, lots where he has parked and meals he has eaten.

    “I’m telling you everything and nothing simultaneously,” said Elahi, who is opening an exhibit Thursday at Maryland Art Place in Baltimore. “It’s a code you have to crack. You really have to re-enact the role of the FBI. In the process, I’m hoping that the viewer realizes that he or she could just as easily be the subject.”

    ….

    Elahi’s website, trackingtransience.net, grew out of these meetings with and emails to FBI agents. He decided to flood them with information and, in the process, create art.

    Constellations of larger screens hang on the walls, including six that project images from the Baltimore Street police station across from the gallery.

    Amy Royce, executive director of Maryland Art Place, said the “idea of being watched and watching others” should resonate with viewers, particularly those who feel they have been unjustly accused.

    The exhibit, “Thousand Little Brothers,” examines what happens when people turn the camera on the many manifestations of “Big Brother” that mark 21st-century life.

    “Big Brother doesn’t like all these Little Brothers looking at it,” said Elahi, noting several incidents in which citizens have used hand-held cameras to document government abuse, beginning with the beating of Rodney King by Los Angeles police in 1991.”

  33. I took a few classes at the Art Institute in Baltimore. Charm City was a great art town way back then. Still is obviously.

  34. I think the choice of words, Leap of Faith, is inappropriate to a politifcal discussion. I lived in Missoura for a while. The phrase Leap of Faith is appropriate if you are a Baptist and cross yourself when you walk by a Catholic Church or when you are one of the Akin klan and vote Democrat. Only in that second context does the phrase have any context in politics. In politics a Leap of Faith would be to jump over the fiscal cliff and think that you will land in sand and all will be well when you hit bottom. A Leap of Faith is when Ronald Raygun left the Democrats and became a RepubliCon. Or when John Kennedy porked Marilyn right after Bobby did and neither used a condum. Or when he let the Cubans go into the Bay of Pigs without air support. Or when Bobby, scion of bootlegger Joe, prosecuted Hoffa.

  35. A Leap of Faith would be something dumber than putting your face or facts on FaceBook. I mean everyone knows that it is dumb to put your Face photo or arse photo on Facebook. Or any facts about yourself. I mean, no one who comments on this blog is dumb enough to use Facebook are they? Lets see a show of hands.

  36. Frontline:

    To wit from the transcript:

    MARTIN SMITH: You gave a speech before the New York Bar Association. And in that speech, you made a reference to losing sleep at night, worrying about what a lawsuit might result in at a large financial institution.

    LANNY BREUER: Right.

    MARTIN SMITH: Is that really the job of a prosecutor, to worry about anything other than simply pursuing justice?

    LANNY BREUER: Well, I think I am pursuing justice. And I think the entire responsibility of the department is to pursue justice. But in any given case, I think I and prosecutors around the country, being responsible, should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution A, and as a result of bringing that case, there’s some huge economic effect — if it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly, counterparties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly — it’s a factor we need to know and understand.
    In other words, no criminal charges can be levied against anyone who engaged in the crimes leading to the great financial crisis of 2008 because, get this, the implications of pursuing justice may have destabilizing implications!

    In other words, the banker threat of Mutual Assured Destruction has metastasized from the legislative, where in 2008 Hank Paulson demanded a blank check from Congress to spend it on whatever he wishes, “or else…”, and has fully taken over the Judicial, where there is Justice for all… and no “Justice” for those who are systemically important.

    Ted Kaufman summarizes:

    TED KAUFMAN: That was very disturbing to me, very disturbing. That was never raised at any time during any of our discussions. That is not the job of a prosecutor, to worry about the health of the banks, in my opinion. Job of the prosecutors is to prosecute criminal behavior. It’s not to lie awake at night and kind of decide the future of the banks.”

    Zerohedge

  37. I notice that JT is on the Board of USA Today. I dont follow the endorsements of newspapers when it comes to voting. But endorsements show where the newspaper might be coming from. Does the newspaper have a right or left field is a question. USA Today does not endorse candidates. Hmmm. I suppose I have a criticizm of that newspaper that JT has for President Obama. Dont take a stand, leap of faith.

    What is the stand of USA Today on the torture of Bradley Manning? Have they any editorials on this subject? I am going to go Google that question. I will bark back to ya.

  38. Well I did the Google search thing and I found some news articles about Bradley Manning in USA Today newspaper but no editorials. So, lets have an exercise in faith here and lobby USA Today to issue an Editorial seeking justice and civil rights for Bradley Manning and that includes a criminal investigation into the torture of Manning. We have a person to appeal to here and it is JT. He is on some Board with USA Today.
    Free Bradley Manning!

  39. Professor Turley-

    After well over a year of listening to the “lesser of two evils” rationalizations to ignore President Obama’s dismal record on civil liberties issues, I find your two recent articles to be very much like someone turning the lights on in a very dark and dirty place. I thank you for this, and hope you can find the time to write on civil liberties issues a bit more often here. After all, the name of this website is “Jonathan Turley”, not “A Bunch Of Old Guys And Gals With Too Much Time On Their Hands”.

    Regards,
    D.H. – (One of the Old Guys)

  40. “Its not faith based, daddy, its fried chicken.”

    “Faith based”. Quite a two word phrase. When you ask someone to explain some silly notion that warps out of their religion they respond: Ya gotta have faith. Well you can keep the faith.

  41. “A leap of faith” is when you tell us that Boehner or Boner is not going to jump off of a physical cliff. We pray that he does but he just wont do it. He wont even pronounce it right. He calls it “Fiscal” like he has some midwest accent that wont allow him to pronounce “physical”. He is looking bad too and might need a physical. Dont leap Boehner, down boy.

  42. When the RepubliCons tagged the Affordable Health Care Act as “ObamaCare” we here at the dogpac thought that they were commending our President because he “cared”. But when a RepubliCon speaks or barks the word “ObamaCare” is is always with derision.

    My half blind pal human whom I guide around when he is at the marina was reading USA Today about a month ago when he was in the outhouse. He said that the newspaper was rather neutral on the Bradley Manning case and was not calling for an investigation of his torture much less a criminal prosecution of the Commander of Quantico Prison.

    Get behind Bradley Manning, do it today in the USA. I know its a paly on words but so is the newspaper. It makes for fairly good wipe paper though. Thats not me barkin but the humanoids at the outhouse.

  43. Glenn Greenwald: live Q&A – share your questions

    Between 2 and 4pm ET I’ll be taking your questions about my column over the past month. I hope you’ll be able to join me

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/24/glenn-greenwald-live-q-a

    Excerpt:

    I’m hoping to hear questions about individual liberties, the last month’s news (like Chuck Hagel, Bradley Manning, Aaron Swartz updates) and international issues like the ongoing situation in Mali and the ‘war on terror’.
    Leave your questions in the comments and check back around 2pm. If you can’t make it, feel free to leave your question on Twitter using #Glennchat

  44. UN Launches Drone Investigation Into Legality Of U.S. Program

    by Joshua Hersh

    Posted: 01/24/2013 12:56 pm EST

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/24/un-drone-investigation_n_2542809.html

    Article:

    WASHINGTON — The United Nations opened a major new investigation on Thursday into the United States’ use of drones and targeted assassinations.

    The U.N. investigation, led by special rapporteur on counterterrorism and human rights Ben Emmerson, is expected to focus on the legal justification for America’s expansive drone program, which has largely remained secretive and unexamined.

    “The exponential rise in the use of drone technology in a variety of military and non-military contexts represents a real challenge to the framework of established international law,” Emmerson said in a statement released by his office.

    “It is therefore imperative that appropriate legal and operational structures are urgently put in place to regulate its use in a manner that complies with the requirements of international law, including international human rights law, international humanitarian law (or the law of war as it used to be called), and international refugee law.”

    Human rights observers have long objected to the use of drones to target suspected terrorists because they often result in wider civilian deaths than administration officials have acknowledged.

    But more practical concerns — about the legality and efficacy of the program, as well as the White House’s lack of transparency — have also been growing.

    The United States is by far the leading user of drones and unmanned vehicles for targeted assassinations, but it is not the only one. Drone use is expected to expand widely around the world — China and Iran already are known to have the capability — and there have been growing calls for the U.S. to clarify its own internal rules for the appropriate use of the technology.

    In a recent conference call organized by the Council on Foreign Relations this week, Dennis Blair, the former director of national intelligence under President Barack Obama, urged the administration to make more of its drone policies public.

    “There’s been far too little debate” about the tactic, Blair said in the call. “The United States is a democracy, we want our people to know how we use military force and that we use it in ways the United States is proud of.”

    The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been waging a years-long effort to compel the Obama administration to release its internal legal considerations, welcomed the U.N. investigation, and urged the U.S. to participate in it.

    “Virtually no other country agrees with the U.S.’s claimed authority to secretly declare people enemies of the state and kill them and civilian bystanders far from any recognized battlefield,” said Hina Shamsi, the director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, in a statement. “To date, there has been an abysmal lack of transparency and no accountability for the U.S. government’s ever-expanding targeted killing program.”

    Also on Thursday, the American Security Project released a new report examining the efficacy of drone strikes and raising questions about the strategy of using unmanned aerial vehicles for counterterrorism.

    The report argues that the apparent tactical success of drones — their ability to kill suspected terrorists without significant risk to American forces — does not answer important questions about the strategic benefits of the program, or the broader strategic thinking behind it.

  45. Richard Faust:

    “A warning to all readers: do not respond to Mespo.”

    ************************

    A small P.S. that Richard forgot to write was to also ask you to place both hands over your ears and run around the room exclaiming, “If I don’t respond he isn’t there! If I don’t respond, he isn’t there.”

  46. Obama’s Failure to Punish Banks Should Be Causing Serious Social Unrest

    A new PBS Frontline report examines outrageous steps Obama’s administration took to protect Wall St. Wall Street from prosecutions.

    by Glenn Greenwald

    January 23, 2013 |

    http://www.alternet.org/economy/obamas-failure-punish-banks-should-be-causing-serious-social-unrest

    PBS’ Frontline program on Tuesday night broadcast a new one-hour report on one of the greatest and most shameful failings of the Obama administration: the lack of even a single arrest or prosecution of any senior Wall Street banker for the systemic fraud that precipitated the 2008 financial crisis: a crisis from which millions of people around the world are still suffering. What this program particularly demonstrated was that the Obama justice department, in particular the Chief of its Criminal Division, Lanny Breuer, never even tried to hold the high-level criminals accountable.

    What Obama justice officials did instead is exactly what they did in the face of high-level Bush era crimes of torture and warrantless eavesdropping: namely, acted to protect the most powerful factions in the society in the face of overwhelming evidence of serious criminality. Indeed, financial elites were not only vested with impunity for their fraud, but thrived as a result of it, even as ordinary Americans continue to suffer the effects of that crisis.

    Worst of all, Obama justice officials both shielded and feted these Wall Street oligarchs (who, just by the way, overwhelmingly supported Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign) as they simultaneously prosecuted and imprisoned powerless Americans for far more trivial transgressions. As Harvard law professor Larry Lessig put it two weeks ago when expressing anger over the DOJ’s persecution of Aaron Swartz: “we live in a world where the architects of the financial crisis regularly dine at the White House.” (Indeed, as “The Untouchables” put it: while no senior Wall Street executives have been prosecuted, “many small mortgage brokers, loan appraisers and even home buyers” have been).

    As I documented at length in my 2011 book on America’s two-tiered justice system, With Liberty and Justice for Some, the evidence that felonies were committed by Wall Street is overwhelming. That evidence directly negates the primary excuse by Breuer (previously offered by Obama himself) that the bad acts of Wall Street were not criminal.

    Numerous documents prove that executives at leading banks, credit agencies, and mortgage brokers were falsely touting assets as sound that knew were junk: the very definition of fraud. As former Wall Street analyst Yves Smith wrote in her book ECONned: “What went on at Lehman and AIG, as well as the chicanery in the CDO [collateralized debt obligation] business, by any sensible standard is criminal.” Even lifelong Wall Street defender Alan Greenspan, the former Federal Reserve Chair, said in Congressional testimony that “a lot of that stuff was just plain fraud.”

    A New York Times editorial in August explained that the DOJ’s excuse for failing to prosecute Wall Street executives – that it was too hard to obtain convictions – “has always defied common sense – and all the more so now that a fuller picture is emerging of the range of banks’ reckless and lawless activities, including interest-rate rigging, money laundering, securities fraud and excessive speculation.” The Frontline program interviewed former prosecutors, Senate staffers and regulators who unequivocally said the same: it is inconceivable that the DOJ could not have successfully prosecuted at least some high-level Wall Street executives – had they tried.

  47. That’s just an excerpt of Glenn Greenwald’s posting (refer to previous comment. ) The entire article is excellent as is worth reading, IMO.

  48. Obama sends tough prosecutor to police Wall Street
    2:22 PM ET, 01/24/2013 –

    SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Sorry, Sallie.

    After weeks of vetting, courting and grappling, it appears that President Obama finally found his top cop for Wall Street. And no, it wasn’t someone who can easily be identified with the industry — unless you consider organized crime and terrorism branches of modern finance.

    There will be no Sallie Krawcheck, the former brokerage chief at Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. . It won’t be Mary Miller, the official in a Treasury Department considered cozy with bank interests. It wont be the internal candidate, enforcement chief Robert Khuzami — who has surprised Securities and Exchange Commission critics by tackling the chronic insider-trading problem. Read full story on Mary Jo White’s nomination.

    President Obama, perhaps trying to assuage critics who argue he’s been to lenient on the Street, will nominate Mary Jo White, a former prosecutor. You think Steve Cohen is intimidating? White took on mob boss John Gotti and al Qaeda.

    White’s reputation and career is a stark contrast to predecessor Mary Schapiro, a career bureaucrat who was viewed generously as a pragmatist. The critical view was that she may have been decent manager, but as a leader was ineffective and too easily pushed around — as her losing fight to regulate money market funds this summer revealed.

    White won’t be and shouldn’t be taken lightly. A 2002 interview with PBS revealed White to have an excellent relationship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. And she spoke in terms of getting bad guys, not working with them: “We know who to look for, how they operated, where they operated,” she said of the terrorists. Read transcript of White’s interview on terrorism.

    In some ways, her task taking on the bad guys of finance will be tougher. Unlike gangsters and terrorists, insider traders and fraudsters will argue that they’re doing things the American way — through their high-priced attorneys. Big institutions will lobby against her dictums the way Fidelity Investments did this summer.

    But you can bet the public and investors will be better served by White than Krawcheck.

    — David Weidner

  49. Thanks for the links and info, Swarthmore mom.

    “Maybe not so good, after all.” Swarthmore mom

    It’s hard to know sometimes, isn’t it.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324039504578261590608782544.html

    Jan. 24, 2013

    Excerpt:

    “Ms. White could face questions from Wall Street critics in Congress over her defense of Kenneth Lewis, Bank of America Corp.’s BAC +1.23% former chief executive, in a civil-fraud case.

    Other clients include the independent directors of News Corp NWSA -0.84% ., who hired Ms. White in 2011 during the company’s U.K. phone-hacking scandal. News Corp. owns Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal.”

  50. AP:

    “That’s just an excerpt of Glenn Greenwald’s posting (refer to previous comment. ) The entire article is excellent as is worth reading, IMO.”

    *************************

    Any particular reason anybody should trust or accept anything Greenwald says or writes? He writes well and his view is appealing to some though he is a tad one-sided for my tastes. And after all is said and done, he’s an ex-pat lawyer with just over ten years of real law practice and who, when the kitchen got really hot, beat a hasty retreat to the beaches of Rio’ to enjoy Carnival.

  51. From the Sirota piece that you posted, Swarthmore mom:

    “Now, sure, I guess there’s a chance that after constructing a career like she has, White will suddenly become a tough-on-Wall-Street law enforcer. Anything’s possible, right? But clearly, after reviewing her record, Obama’s SEC nomination looks a lot different than how it is being portrayed. It is not an obviously “tough on crime” move, especially when you consider the fact that there were other well-qualified, truly tough-on-crime regulators for him to nominate. Instead, the White nomination looks like something Wall Street executives will love. They know the average voter will view her prosecutor résumé as proof that she’s tough on crime, but they also know she’s been a huge help to those executives.

    In that context, her nomination isn’t some get-tough-on-Wall-Street move by a newly emboldened president. Shrouded in a prosecutor’s tough-on-crime costume, she seems to represent a second-term payback to that president’s Wall Street campaign contributors.

    UPDATE: The Huffington Post reports that less than a year ago, White gave a speech at NYU suggesting that banks may not have committed prosecutable crimes in the lead up to the financial meltdown. That’s not exactly encouraging for those who believe the next SEC chief should get tough on Wall Street crime.”

  52. AP:

    Here’s a gem of a conclusion from a lawyer sworn to uphold the rule of law and the Constitution of the US (where he resides — rarely) from the article you cite:

    The real mystery from all of this is that it has not led to greater social unrest. To some extent, both the early version of the Tea Party and the Occupy movements were spurred by the government’s protection of Wall Street at the expense of everyone else. Still, Americans continue to be plagued by massive unemployment, foreclosures, the threat of austerity and economic insecurity while those who caused those problems have more power and profit than ever. And they watch millions of their fellow citizens be put in cages for relatively minor offenses while the most powerful are free to commit far more serious crimes with complete impunity. Far less injustice than this has spurred serious unrest in other societies.

    “Excellent” and “worth reading” did you say?

    Well, maybe, but personally I like the original version from Abbie Hoffman which, if equally insidious, was more honest, “The only way to support a revolution is to make your own.”

    “Revolution for the Hell of It,” you say? Seems Greenwald needs a tie-dye kit and some “love beads.”

  53. Mespo, IMO (though no one asked) Greenwald articulates a lot of what many feel. If his is a brand of civil liberties advocacy is one-sideded, so must be emptywheel, much of FDL, and indeed JT’s own take on many of these issues. I understand you’re not alone in sticking up for the system rather than — horror of horrors — imagine we may fall into anarchy or something worse (fat chance). But many of us find our creeping right wing progression far more scary. If being a ‘radical’ on civil liberties is one-sided I’ll take it, while it’s still permitted. I for one choose not to leave the field to the corporatists, facists, the muddy middle, or the unconcerned sleepers, or the American Dream perps.

    Greenwald’s a danger because he is fearlessly unrelenting in his critique. I understand your critique, though it smacks a bit of ad homnem, is one shared by some, that he is a self-promoter. Well, even if so, he’s working pretty hard on it, and, as I see it, on the right side. I doubt he’s spending too much time on the beach. I also find it pretty hard to disparage decamping the US of A and it’s glorious exceptionalist self-congratulation. I spend several months of the year in Canada (not allowed to be there more than 6) and, while I am still beset by reminders of the doings of the Great Satan, gain a slight relief from being directly out of the pot. (I also take a big break from reading blogs, which is a mixed bag)

  54. DonS:

    “But many of us find our creeping right wing progression far more scary.”

    ***************************

    That’s precisely my point. Greenwald make a false equivalency between the radical Republicans and the less-than-courageous Democrats. He detests both parties — and most everyone else he disagrees with. In doing so he blurs the right-wing radicalization of the Republican Party. When he says many progressives would stand with the President if he “raped a nun,” he does us all a big disservice. He’s thin-skinned, lauded far above his accomplishments, and the kind of guy who can’t keep it out of the personal.

  55. For context:

    mespo727272 on January 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    “Excellent” and “worth reading” did you say? (directed at me)

    Well, maybe, but personally I like the original version from Abbie Hoffman which, if equally insidious, was more honest, “The only way to support a revolution is to make your own.”

    “Revolution for the Hell of It,” you say? Seems Greenwald needs a tie-dye kit and some “love beads.”

    ———

    mespo727272:

    “Revolution for the Hell of It,” you say?” No, actually I didn’t. Abbie Hoffman did.

  56. I get Greenwald’s tweets. and think he is a very needed voice, but after I read that he supported the Iraq and Afghanistan wars I became somewhat skeptical. When he started advocating for Ron Paul, I became more skeptical. The other day he said something favorable about Rand Paul. I hope he doesn’t start pushing a presidential run for him.

  57. As I said, excellent and worth the read, IMOSHO:

    It is an injustice in its own right to allow those with power and wealth to commit destructive crimes with impunity. It subverts democracy and warps the justice system when a person’s treatment under the law is determined not by their acts but by their power, position, and prestige. And it exposes just how shameful is the American penal state by contrasting the immunity given to the nation’s most powerful with the merciless and brutal punishment meted out to its most marginalized. -Glenn Greenwald

    “Obama’s Failure to Punish Banks Should Be Causing Serious Social Unrest”

    “A new PBS Frontline report examines outrageous steps Obama’s administration took to protect Wall St. Wall Street from prosecutions.”

    by Glenn Greenwald

    January 23, 2013 |

    http://www.alternet.org/economy/obamas-failure-punish-banks-should-be-causing-serious-social-unrest

    Excerpt:

    “Obama DOJ refused even to try to find criminal culprits on Wall Street. In the book, this career-Democratic-aide-turned-whistleblower details how the levers of Washington power are used to shield and protect high-level Wall Street executives, many of whom have close ties to the leaders of both parties and themselves are former high-level government officials. This is a system, he makes clear, that is constituted to ensure that those executives never face real accountability even for their most egregious and destructive crimes.

    The reason there have been no efforts made to criminally investigate is obvious. Former banking regulator and current securities Professor Bill Black told Bill Moyers in 2009 that “Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, and others in the administration, with the banks, are engaged in a cover up to keep us from knowing what went wrong.” In the documentary “Inside Job”, the economist Nouriel Roubini, when asked why there have been no such investigations, replied: “Because then you’d find the culprits.” Underlying all of that is what the Senate’s second-highest ranking Democrat, Dick Durbin, admitted in 2009: the banks “frankly own the place”.

    The harms from this refusal to hold Wall Street accountable are the same generated by the general legal immunity the US political culture has vested in its elites. Just as was true for the protection of torturers and illegal eavesdroppers, it ensures that there are no incentives to avoid similar crimes in the future. It is an injustice in its own right to allow those with power and wealth to commit destructive crimes with impunity. It subverts democracy and warps the justice system when a person’s treatment under the law is determined not by their acts but by their power, position, and prestige. And it exposes just how shameful is the American penal state by contrasting the immunity given to the nation’s most powerful with the merciless and brutal punishment meted out to its most marginalized.”

  58. Swarthmore mom 1, January 24, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    ap, He is tweeting from Brazil’s finest beaches. :)

    Swarthmore mom,
    :-)

    (I’d like to be sitting on one of Brazil’s finest beaches right now.)

  59. SM:

    “after I read that he supported the Iraq and Afghanistan wars I became somewhat skeptical. When he started advocating for Ron Paul, I became more skeptical. The other day he said something favorable about Rand Paul. I hope he doesn’t start pushing a presidential run for him.”

    *********************

    That’s my take on the guy,too. Contrarianism is good business for him or so it seems.

  60. the reason Greenwald lives in Brazil is because he couldn’t marry his boyfriend in order to obtain a green card.

    They both decided it would be better to live together in Brazil than to be continually fighting for some solution to American citizenship for his significant other.

  61. SwM,

    Don’t know where to put this …

    I see Dianne Feinstein introduced her gun bill today. This is a battle well worth fighting and I am 100% on-board for the fight.

    (I would suggest they keep Obama out of it as he always tends to give away the store to anyone who waves a dollar bill in his face.)

  62. Glenn Greenwald on security and liberty

    Glenn Greenwald’s reader Q&A:
    the highlights

    On Thursday, Glenn Greenwald took questions from his readers in a live Q&A. Here are some of the highlights

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/24/glenn-greenwald-reader-q-and-a

    Q: You write a lot about our loss of liberties, the growing surveillance state, and our perpetual warfare. Given the nature of this conflict, and the increasing abilities of technology, where do you see this leading in the next few decades?

    A: I really believe at this point that the most important trend in civil liberties assault is the importation of War on Terror tactics onto US soil and their application domestically (indefinite detention, ciitzen assassinations, massive surveillance expansions, para-militarization of police forces, drones, etc). I think government planners expect unrest in the future due to economic distress and these measures are mostly about keeping the domestic population pacified, as we saw with the Occupy movement.

  63. I feel the same way about Greenwald that I feel about Christopher Hitchens. Disagreed with both of them about the wars… Greenwald has recanted, i suppose, but Hitchens never did- and I still love him.

    Great doc on banksters, income inequality, the corrupt American political system, et al:

  64. As a non-lawyer, I have to ask this question: Has the lack of prosecution of the peddlers of fraudulent mortgages and the other financial industry criminals allowed the statute of limitations to run out on their crimes? Perhaps this is the reason for the lack of priority given to these crimes by the White House and Department of “Justice”.

  65. Breuer’s out. How about bring in Sptizer? Surely he’s done nothing that could possibly disgrace an administration that’s bombed civilians, persecuted whistleblowers, coddled torturers, and rewarded fraudsters.

  66. On the Need to Continue Pointing Out That Nobody Has Gone to Jail for the Financial Crisis

    By: David Dayen Monday October 22, 2012 11:33 am

    http://news.firedoglake.com/2012/10/22/on-the-need-to-continue-pointing-out-that-nobody-has-gone-to-jail-for-the-financial-crisis/

    “I would say that William Cohan has had enough. The author of several books about the financial sector cannot believe that nobody on Wall Street has been held to account for the crisis that caused the Great Recession. And though it pains him to end up on the same side as Elizabeth Warren, to whom he delivers a sneering aside, and though the op-ed as a whole gives far too much respect to the idea that “these things happen” in capitalism, overall Cohan summons a good deal of moral force here.

    At the moment, the message we are broadcasting far and wide is: There will be no justice; there will be no accountability; let’s return to the status quo as quickly as possible […]

    No one — no one — on Wall Street has paid a serious price. The one criminal prosecution — of the Bear Stearns hedge-fund managers Ralph Cioffi and Matthew Tannin — failed miserably. Every bank has received its slap on the wrist, has had its insurance carrier or its shareholders cough up a few hundred million dollars — the cost of doing business, don’t you know — and moved on. And governments, most recently New York State, have decided to milk the banks for badly needed cash rather than charge the miscreants themselves.

    Once upon a time, prosecutors were vigilant about prosecuting bad financial behavior on Wall Street. According to the Financial Times, during the savings-and-loan crisis of the mid 1980s, some 3,500 bankers were jailed for their transgressions. I still haven’t heard a good reason why the number of successful prosecutions in the wake of our most recent financial crisis remains at zero.

    This has become old news. The world-weary cynics among us say that you can’t fight City Hall, or in this case the corporate executive suites (there’s increasingly no difference), and they scoff at anyone who would dare to think differently. But there’s a fine line between having the awareness to see a fix in the making, and failing to be outraged by it. I don’t really care that “nobody has been prosecuted for the financial crisis” is an old and tired refrain; what matters is that it’s an appropriate refrain, and that the fact of it still must shock the conscience of anyone who didn’t benefit from the transaction.

    Hamilton Nolan gets at this point in a discussion over Greg Smith, the former Goldman Sachs banker whose new book details the ways in which the vampire squid screwed over its own clients. I haven’t read the book, but this seems very right to me:

    What bothers most Wall Street-savvy critics about Greg Smith is this: he got a lot of attention for complaining about a situation that all of these Wall Street-savvy people already know exists. Smith’s charges were, for them, old news—and worse, they smacked of a naivete about what banks like Goldman Sachs do. These Smith-haters resent the attention he reaped, and charge him with being either stupid, or dishonest about what he was doing for those 12 years he worked at Goldman […]

    I would simply like to assert that, no matter whether or not you believe Greg Smith is a hero or an opportunist, he did what we would all hope that our own banker would do: he spoke out publicly about something that was wrong. The fact that his charges are old news to the Wall Street people, the bankers, the financially savvy, and the media figures that cover them is not an indictment of Greg Smith. It is an indictment of everyone who accepted rapacious amorality as the natural order of things. It is not important whether or not Greg Smith is a hero. What is important is the principle that people in positions of power should not grow so inured to corruption or unfairness or the rotten nature of their particular institution that they accept that state of affairs without question. To understand how something works does not mean that we must lackadaisically assume that it should work that way. And we should never become so cynical that we create an environment in which whistleblowers receive more criticism than the institutions they blow the whistle on.

    Old news can still have news value, in other words. Until the fraud and abuse actually stops, it’s incumbent upon those who know the system for what it is to speak out. Silence because of fear of repetition makes no sense at all. Nor does the cynical response of boredom at well-worn facts. The financial oligopoly at this point profits from the expectation of dealing in bad faith. It assures that nobody will do the work to reverse the trend, that fraud is endemic to banking and people just have to deal with it. We lose quite a lot when we give up that rhetorical ground.”

  67. “This stands in stark contrast to the failure of many savings and loan institutions in the late 1980s. In the wake of that debacle, special government task forces referred 1,100 cases to prosecutors, resulting in more than 800 bank officials going to jail.” -from the following article

    In Financial Crisis, No Prosecutions of Top Figures

    By GRETCHEN MORGENSON and LOUISE STORY

    Published: April 14, 2011

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/business/14prosecute.html?pagewanted=all

    Excerpt:

    “But several years after the financial crisis, which was caused in large part by reckless lending and excessive risk taking by major financial institutions, no senior executives have been charged or imprisoned, and a collective government effort has not emerged. This stands in stark contrast to the failure of many savings and loan institutions in the late 1980s. In the wake of that debacle, special government task forces referred 1,100 cases to prosecutors, resulting in more than 800 bank officials going to jail. Among the best-known: Charles H. Keating Jr., of Lincoln Savings and Loan in Arizona, and David Paul, of Centrust Bank in Florida.”

  68. AP.
    The savings and loan association crisis in the 80’s had it share of sacred cows. Cong. Henry Hyde was spared even though he was alleged to have been knee deep in the scandal as a board member of a local S&L.

  69. 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

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/25/cia-whistleblower-john-kiriakou-prison

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

    —–

    From the “contrarian”, Glenn Greenwald:

    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

    http://www.salon.com/2010/01/19/guantanamo_12/

    Excerpt:

    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.

  70. rafflaw 1, January 25, 2013 at 11:49 am

    AP.
    The savings and loan association crisis in the 80′s had it share of sacred cows. Cong. Henry Hyde was spared even though he was alleged to have been knee deep in the scandal as a board member of a local S&L.

    =====

    Regarding the “sacred cows” of the S&L crisis :

    Some will inevitably “get a pass”, of course, but better that there is some measure of “justice”, than none at all.

  71. For those who may not remember:

    Monday, Jun 7, 1999 12:00 PM EDT

    The real Henry Hyde scandal

    A new book lays out his role in a failed S&L, and it wasn’t just a youthful indiscretion.

    By David Moberg

    http://www.salon.com/1999/06/07/hyde/

    “All this might have crippled another politician, but Hyde has so far managed to hold the press at bay with a smile and the appearance of thoughtfulness, and his ideological opponents have failed to seriously confront him over the years. The result, as Bernstein and Kean argue, has been not only hypocrisy, but a persistent abuse of power that has led to the loss of lives and freedoms both at home and abroad. That’s more serious than a youthful indiscretion, but sadly, it won’t get the same attention.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Hyde

    Savings and Loan scandal

    In 1981, after leaving the House Banking Committee, Hyde went on the board of directors of Clyde Federal Savings and Loan, whose chairman was one of Hyde’s political contributors. According to Salon.com, from 1982 until he left the board in 1984, Hyde used his position on the board of directors to promote the savings and loan’s investment in risky financial options. In 1990, the federal government put Clyde in receivership, and paid $67 million to cover insured deposits. In 1993, the Resolution Trust Corporation sued Hyde and other directors for $17.2 million. Four years later, before pretrial investigation and depositions, the government settled with the defendants for $850,000 and made an arrangement exempting Hyde from paying anything. According to Salon.com, Hyde was the only member of the congress sued for “gross negligence” in an S&L failure.[4]

  72. Washington Journal for Monday, January 28

    http://www.c-span.org/Events/Washington-Journal-for-Monday-January-28/10737437619-1/

    Jonathan Turley, George Washington University Law School Law Professor

    Topic: Guest will discuss his views on President Obama’s use of executive power, arguing that the President’s unilateral actions have shown a pattern that undermines the constitutional system of checks and balances. Instances include privacy protections and surveillance; due process; the use of drones; government secrecy; assurances to CIA officials that they would not be prosecuted for torture; recess appointments, among others.

  73. http://www.economist.com/mediadirectory/peter-collins

    PBC News & Comment: Alarming New Case of Torture and Rendition

    by Peter B. Collins on January 25, 2013

    British man reports torture in Djibouti, CIA interrogation, followed by rendition to US on unreported terrorism charge, jailed in NYC…..As reported by London’s Daily Mail on January 19, 23-year-old Mahdi Hashi is being held in New York, facing terrorism charges. He was reported missing last summer while traveling in Somalia, and reports he was held in Djibouti where he was tortured, and interrogated by CIA agents who coerced him into signing a confession.

    The Daily Mail’s First Exclusive Interview With Mahdi Hashi in The New York Jail: The Torture in Djibouti Ordeal In the Hands of CIA (with British Government ”Acquiescence”)

    http://highfieldsoffice.wordpress.com/2013/01/20/the-daily-mails-first-exclusive-interview-with-mahdi-hashi-in-the-new-york-jail-the-torture-in-djibouti-ordeal-in-the-hands-of-cia-with-british-government-acquiescence/

  74. Hey Rafflaw, I know all my relatives in Ressurection Cemetary in Chicago voted for obama and all the wino’s on 12th street did as well. Now add all those illegals the dems allowed to vote and those extra ballots they handed out to college kids in Florida.

  75. Frequently told lies (FTLs)

    by Glenn Greenwald

    http://ggsidedocs.blogspot.com.br/2013/01/frequently-told-lies-ftls.html

    Anyone who develops any sort of platform in US political debates becomes a target of hostility and attack. That’s just the nature of politics everywhere. Those attacks often are advanced with falsehoods, fabrications and lies about the person. In general, the point of these falsehoods is to attack and discredit the messenger in lieu of engaging the substance of the critiques.

    There are a series of common lies frequently told about me which I’m addressing here. During the Bush years, when I was criticizing George Bush and the GOP in my daily writing and books, there was a set of lies about me personally that came from the hardest-core Bush followers that I finally addressed. The new set comes largely from the hardest-core Obama followers.

    The following lies are addressed here:

    1. I work/worked for the Cato Institute
    2. I’m a right-wing libertarian
    3. I supported the Iraq War and/or George Bush
    4. I moved to Brazil to protest US laws on gay marriage
    5. Because I live in Brazil, I have no “skin in the game” for US politics
    6. I was sanctioned or otherwise punished for ethical violations in my law practice

    http://ggsidedocs.blogspot.com.br/2013/01/frequently-told-lies-ftls.html

  76. More About Intelligence Agencies (CIA/DNI) Spying

    January 18, 2013

    http://www.aclu.org/spy-files/more-about-intelligence-agencies-ciadni-spying

    “Central Intelligence Agency. Because of the excessive secrecy surrounding CIA operations, little is known about its domestic activities. In its 1947 charter, the CIA was prohibited from spying against Americans, in part because President Truman was afraid that the agency would engage in political abuse. But the law didn’t stop the CIA from spying on Americans. During the 1960s, in clear violation of its statutory mission to co-ordinate foreign intelligence operations only, the CIA ventured into the domestic spying business through “Operation Chaos,” in which it spied on as many as 7,000 Americans involved in the peace movement.

    Unfortunately, the exposure of intelligence failings before the 9/11 attacks caused policy makers to promote “information sharing” among intelligence and law enforcement agencies as a cure-all, creating the likelihood that the CIA would increasingly operate domestically. Today we know that the CIA is a participant in FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which engage in both foreign and domestic terrorism investigations. And the USA Patriot Act eased restrictions on the sharing of information the FBI collects in grand jury investigations and law enforcement wiretaps with the CIA. An ACLU lawsuit revealed that the CIA has also used National Security Letters to demand Americans’ personal financial records without prior court approval. The CIA has acknowledged using National Security Letters “on a limited basis” to obtain financial information from U.S. companies. The history of the CIA’s abuse of power and the continuing lack of public accountability over CIA operations make such revelations concerning to civil liberties advocates. The CIA’s involvement in the NYPD intelligence activities targeting innocent Muslim communities in the Northeast reveal the CIA is once again treating Americans as suspected enemies.

    Director of National Intelligence. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), a new agency created in 2004 and tasked with coordinating, tasking and overseeing intelligence operations across the Intelligence Community, now has broad access to information collected domestically by the FBI and DHS. And the DNI’s Information Sharing Environment (ISE) has become a platform for what may become the largest domestic intelligence collection ever developed: the “suspicious activity reporting” (SAR) program. SAR leverages collection efforts by federal agencies like the FBI and DHS, the U.S. military, and state and local law enforcement. The SAR program is expanding to encourage the public to report the suspicious activities of their neighbors, reminiscent of the TIPS program promoted by former Attorney General John Ashcroft but blocked by Congress in 2002.

    National Counterterrorism Center. The National Counterterrorism Center is yet another component of the DNI that increasingly engages in collecting intelligence. Under its original guidelines, written in 2008, the NCTC was barred from collecting information about ordinary Americans unless the person was a terror suspect or part of an actual investigation. When the NCTC gobbled up huge data sets it had to search for and identify any innocent US person information inadvertently collected, and discard it within 180 days. This crucial check meant that NCTC was dissuaded from collecting large databases filled with information on innocent Americans, because the data had to then be carefully screened. But in 2012, the Obama administration amended the NCTC guidelines to eliminate this check, allowing NCTC to collect and “continually assess” information on innocent Americans for up to five years.

    Once information is acquired, the new guidelines authorize broad new search powers. As long NCTC says its search is aimed at identifying terrorism information, it may conduct queries that involve non-terrorism data points and pattern-based searches and analysis (data mining), a technique which has been thoroughly discredited as a useful tool for identifying terrorists. As far back as 2008, the National Academy of Sciences found that data mining for terrorism was scientifically “not feasible” as a methodology, and likely to have significant negative impacts on privacy and civil liberties. The guidelines allow the NCTC to broadly share this “non-terrorism” information on US persons with “a federal, state, local, tribal, or foreign or international entity, or to an individual or entity not part of a government” – literally anyone, even for non-terrorism related purposes. The ACLU has filed Freedom of Information Act requests to get further information about this broad new authority the NCTC claims.”

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