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. 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.


    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.

  3. 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.

  4. “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.”

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. @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.

  8. 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.

  9. @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.

  10. 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…

  11. @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.

  12. 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. “

  13. 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.

  14. 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?

    1. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.
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  17. 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.

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