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Three Opinions On What to Do With the Bush Administration's Misdeeds
January 11, 2009 6:54 PM   Subscribe

Bringing Justice to the War on Terrorism. 3 views on how the incoming administration should deal with the legal legacy of Bush Administration policies like torture, surveillance, and extraordinary rendition. Charles Fried makes the case against criminal prosecutions, Dahlia Lithwick makes the case for investigations followed by prosecutions, and Jack Balkin argues for truth commissions. [Via]
posted by homunculus (80 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
See also Scott Horton's Justice after Bush: Prosecuting an outlaw administration
posted by homunculus at 6:57 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Sleeper Bill of the Month: Our Own Truth & Reconciliation Commission
posted by homunculus at 6:58 PM on January 11, 2009


I propose a policy of waking up next Tuesday to see Obama announcing that it is January 20th, 2001, that the towers still stand, that we're at (relative) peace and high standing with the world, and that the economy is strong. I wish for these things to be true.

I will also be eight years younger, which will be nice.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:14 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I had Charles Fried as a professor and I cannot say I agree with him on much. This piece is no different. Quite simply, I think he misses an important point: it is not for us to decide whether forgiveness is appropriate. No matter how personally some may have taken the Bush Administration, the victims of their torture policies were in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, and perhaps for victims of rendition, elsewhere. Let them decide.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:15 PM on January 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Quite simply, I think he misses an important point: it is not for us to decide whether forgiveness is appropriate. No matter how personally some may have taken the Bush Administration, the victims of their torture policies were in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo, and perhaps for victims of rendition, elsewhere. Let them decide.

There's nothing even remotely simple about what you just said. What are you suggesting?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:23 PM on January 11, 2009


As Dick Cheney, David Addision, and George Bush have incessantly demanded, the terrorists must be brought to justice!

Only soft-on-crime, soft-on-terror Democrats, like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, would disagree.
posted by orthogonality at 7:27 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's this much to the argument against prosecution: It will not give anyone the closure they seek. It would involve years of legal and political maneuvering, and all the noise that would accompany it. And at the end, the only people in jail for torturing would be some low and mid level functionaries taking the fall for the higher ups that can't be caught.

The impeachment of Bill Clinton is an excellent example: for all their certainty that real wrongdoing was being pursued, at the end of six years and tens of millions of dollars, the only people in jail were a few associates, and Clinton himself was impeached for crimes arising out of the investigation itself, not for anything that he was suspected of doing. No one seeking justice by impeaching and jailing Clinton got what they wanted, and Clinton left office with a high approval rating for having suffered through it.

No one who thinks Bush and Cheney belong in jail should harbor the illusion that investigations leading to prosecutions will give them what they want. A truth commission with subpoena and amnesty power will accomplish the same ends as far as history is concerned, probably better.

One of the best suggestions I saw was for Obama to pardon Bush and Cheney for torture, which would forever stamp upon them the judgment that they did organize a torture regime.
posted by fatbird at 7:29 PM on January 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


MPDSEA - Quite simply, it's entirely absurd to expect the enablers of the perpetrators to absolve them of any punishment. What Fried is asking us to do is akin to a claim that those who aid and abet should also be able to acquit. As far as any practical implementation, I think Balkin is only half right. The goal should be truth and deterrence. How we put that into motion is not my area of specialty, but at the very minimum it should involve the communities this administration affected. We're talking about war criminals and not dictators; TRCs are better for the latter and prosecution is better for the former. We need to hybridize in clever ways (perhaps asset forfeiture ahead and contingent liability ahead of imprisonment and execution).
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:33 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


fatbird - If my family was tortured, I'm not sure that I would accept an argument that it would be ineffective to prosecute those responsible because our justice system was flawed and the trial would be ugly. You know the old bumper sticker "when Clinton lied, nobody died?" Well, when Clinton broke the law, nobody had a strong argument for reparations. We've got victims here and I think they, and not those who put Bush into power, should be the people who make that decision.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:38 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


How we put that into motion is not my area of specialty, but at the very minimum it should involve the communities this administration affected...We need to hybridize in clever ways (perhaps asset forfeiture ahead and contingent liability ahead of imprisonment and execution).

Why do we need to do this? Before inventing some exotic new legal regime, it's worth reflecting on just what the exigency is.

When you say that the victims should should decide, who decides who the victims are? How do we determine what the victims want? That is, who decides who speaks for the victims? If future Presidents' foreign policy choices aggrieve foreigners, will such victims likewise be given the opportunity to punish the former President? What will the threshold be? If it's criminality under U.S. law, why not just prosecute in the U.S.? If it's not, what safeguards will be in place to prevent political abuse? (And why is this instance not political abuse?)
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:45 PM on January 11, 2009


That is, who decides who speaks for the victims?

Bush made such political theater about Iraqi's voting with their purple fingers, how fitting would it be for a referendum. Have a nationwide referendum and let that inform the Obama administration. Hell, this is far from my area of expertise, but this doesn't seem all that complicated. I'm not sure I (or anyone) can give you the precision you may want in choosing these scenarios, but when it comes to war crimes, there rarely is such clarity. As far as I can tell, we seem to have it here. As the Iraqi people if they think that some subset of the Bush Administration should be tried for crimes, let the DOJ run with it from there.
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:49 PM on January 11, 2009


oh God, While the whole world was watching an apostrophe invaded Iraqis in my last comment. Never again!
posted by allen.spaulding at 7:50 PM on January 11, 2009


Bush made such political theater about Iraqi's voting with their purple fingers, how fitting would it be for a referendum. Have a nationwide referendum and let that inform the Obama administration.

Ah. You're daydreaming. Maybe we can have Superman throw Bush and his cronies into the sun.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:52 PM on January 11, 2009


For me the perfect solution would be for Bush and Co. to be "disappeared" into Guantanamo, and given the exact same treatment and rights that he condoned for those detained there.
Given that this will never ever happen, I vote for International War Crimes Tribunal.
posted by newpotato at 7:54 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Full investigation. No prosecutions. Most of all the country is in need of knowing what happened and the process required in criminal prosecutions (5th Amendment) will inhibit the public learning about what really happened.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:56 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


As in the Nuremberg Trials, there are probably no criteria that would satisfy parties who views a priori such trials as proposed here as political in nature. Thus, there seems little point in debating the issue with said individuals.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:01 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


BP - sure, but we could also just extradite Bush and let the Iraqis figure it out. What, you're telling me that you don't think that he'd receive procedural safeguards and a fair trial? That their justice system isn't up to the task? Well, whose fault is that? Oh right.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:08 PM on January 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don't think we'll know for sure if they've committed war crimes, led the country into war for criminal purposes, conspired, or committed treason. Why not apply the interrogation techniques they already decided were legal? If they're innocent, they'll be exonerated, after all, and their reputations will be cleansed. If they're guilty, their incarceration will likewise cleanse and cauterize the offices they held.

If they suddenly have a change of heart and decide that the interrogation techniques are illegal, then we'll know they were simply torturing detainees all along and they can be prosecuted for it. It's worth a shot regardless of the outcome.
posted by mullingitover at 8:29 PM on January 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Allen, which is worse for the victims: no trials, but the truth of what happened comes out, or a multi-year legal circus in which Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld are never convicted and probably not even tried for their crimes? And along the way, we get to reprise the last eight years of racist justifications for torturing them in the first place.

I suppose we could consider it a welfare program for neocons, now that they're out of a job.

"Let the victims decide" is a nice slogan, but it's not going to happen, and it's pretty obvious that that they wouldn't get what they want out of it anyway.
posted by fatbird at 8:39 PM on January 11, 2009


Full investigation. No prosecutions.

Truth commissions work by trading amnesty for honesty. Shame is the most effective tool we have to punish Bush et al, and a full accounting will ensure that history (what Bush repeatedly appealed to as the savior of his administration) will tell the whole story.
posted by fatbird at 8:41 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


fatbird - I'm not being facetious when I question what gives you the authority to make that determination. Commissions normally operate when the aggrieved and the perpetrators come from the same community. When that's not the case, I don't see why anyone would trust the later to make the decision for the former. If Americans prefer commissions and Iraqis prefer trials, I'm inclined towards the latter.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:55 PM on January 11, 2009


One of the best suggestions I saw was for Obama to pardon Bush and Cheney for torture, which would forever stamp upon them the judgment that they did organize a torture regime.

I read that too, I think it was Newsweek. Great idea.

"(Pardoned by President Obama for authorizing torture.)" should appear after their names forever.
posted by rokusan at 8:57 PM on January 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


> I'm not being facetious when I question what gives you the authority to make that determination.

It's not my determination to make; I'm expressing my opinion as to what should happen.

> Commissions normally operate when the aggrieved and the perpetrators come from the same community. When that's not the case, I don't see why anyone would trust the later to make the decision for the former.

If the latter can't be trusted to make the decision, how can they be trusted to run the trial?

> If Americans prefer commissions and Iraqis prefer trials, I'm inclined towards the latter.

My point is that, regardless of what's preferred by whom, prosecution will be obviously and publicly ineffective, while truth commissions have a demonstrated history of getting most of the truth on the record.

You didn't answer my question, allen: which is worse for the victims, truth commissions or seeing Bush and Cheney acquitted?
posted by fatbird at 9:18 PM on January 11, 2009


fatbird - I said that I endorsed a hybrid solution of truth/deterrence. We do the fact-finding. We let the Iraqis run the trials. I don't see why these are mutually exclusive positions. I never said who'd run the trial. Again, I think the best thing to do is for the Obama administration to administer a fact-finding operation and if sufficient evidence exists for a war crimes tribunal, extradite to Iraq.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:53 PM on January 11, 2009


Obama Signals His Reluctance to Look Into Bush Policies
posted by homunculus at 10:03 PM on January 11, 2009


I say we just give Bush over to the same anonymous black masked freedom fighters that he gave his enemy to.
posted by Balisong at 10:17 PM on January 11, 2009


> We do the fact-finding. We let the Iraqis run the trials. I don't see why these are mutually exclusive positions.

The U.S. will never extradite anyone to Iraq for any crime, let alone senior administration officials. It's a non-starter, a complete fantasy. Legally, it's not even clear that crimes were committed by the people who engineered the moral crimes of others. It's not even clear that anyone of importance could be tried and convicted in the U.S. That's part of the reason any attempt to prosecute would be a legal circus--years would be spent just getting the Troika of Evil into court.

We can talk about schemes to have the victims decide the fates of the torturers, but it's message board wanking at its finest. Truth commissions, otoh, have a bill in Congress right now. In terms of what might actually happen, they're a real possibility.
posted by fatbird at 11:28 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's funny, I never see these arguments against prosecuting criminals for someone who does something (comparatively) minor like rape a child or murder a couple of relatives (as opposed to war crimes involving a large number of deaths and torture).

Now why is this?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:57 PM on January 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


The USA has one foot over the shark. You Americans have to do something or no one will ever take you seriously again.
posted by mr. strange at 1:23 AM on January 12, 2009


The central thesis of the argument against prosecuting people:
It is a hallmark of a sane and moderate society that when it changes leaders and regimes, those left behind should be abandoned to the judgment of history. It is in savage societies that the defeat of a ruling faction entails its humiliation, exile and murder.
That much is true. But sane and moderate societies don't torture people, so it seems we've already jumped that shark.

Then there's this.
Then, we would have the trials themselves — protracted, interspersed with motions and delays, obsessively followed by cable channels filling in the many dull spots with endless commentary from teams of so-called experts, the whole spectacle stupefying rather than edifying the public and doing little to enhance respect for the law. A feast for lawyers and legal junkies, criminal prosecutions would be an embarrassment and distraction for the rest of the society that wants to get on with solving the great problems of the present and the future.
Oh god, you mean they might be embarrassing Heavens to Betsy! We can't have that.
And what about Nuremberg and the trial of the Japanese war criminals? Were those a mistake, too? Not at all. Those were crimes against whole populations in wars of aggression. An analogous point holds for the criminal leaders of Rwanda, Serbia and Sudan.
As opposed to torturing hundreds of people?
If you cannot see the difference between Hitler and Dick Cheney, between Stalin and Donald Rumsfeld, between Mao and Alberto Gonzales, there may be no point in our talking. It is not just a difference of scale, but our leaders were defending their country and people — albeit with an insufficient sense of moral restraint — against a terrifying threat by ruthless attackers with no sense of moral restraint at all.
I wonder what this guy thinks Stalin and Mao's motives actually were. It seems like what he said about Cheney and Rumsfield probably applied just as much to Stalin and Mao. I'm sure they believed they were acting in the best interests of their people too. It's just that they were wrong and so were Cheney and the rest.
posted by delmoi at 3:46 AM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


You didn't answer my question, allen: which is worse for the victims, truth commissions or seeing Bush and Cheney acquitted?

The victims are fucked either way, but I doubt bush and Cheney would be acquitted in a fair trial. Most Americans hate those people.
posted by delmoi at 3:49 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of the best suggestions I saw was for Obama to pardon Bush and Cheney for torture, which would forever stamp upon them the judgment that they did organize a torture regime.

What a bunch of fucking nonsense. Everyone knows they organized a torture regime. They're fucking proud of it and giving them pardons would just be legitimizing it it in the future.

This isn't about Bush and Cheney's ego or how they feel about themselves. It's about preventing the same thing from happening in the future. If they go free, there will be no reason for future governments to worry about it. If it they don't get convicted, well, that's always a possibility in a fair trial, but I find it unlikely. "They might get acquitted" is never a valid reason not to prosecute someone -- unless the reason they might get acquitted is that they're actually innocent, and that's clearly not the case here.

We're talking about torture here people.
posted by delmoi at 3:57 AM on January 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ever since Ford pardoned Nixon, there has been a precedent that you can do as you please as President without any concern for prosecution. Ending that precedent- establishing that there are consequences for criminal behavior- is not only a worthy goal, but a necessary one.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:03 AM on January 12, 2009


War Crimes aside, there's a clear case for prosecution of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Powell, etc. for violations of 18 USC 1001 and 18 USC 371.

If federal prison was good enough for Martha Stewart, it's certainly good enough for Bush and Cheney!

And once again I ask, "Where is the SINGLE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY with honor and integrity enough to do his sworn duty and present this to a Grand Jury for possible indictment?"
posted by mikelieman at 4:32 AM on January 12, 2009


for violations of 18 USC 1001 and 18 USC 371.

Don't do this. Mention what those are.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:56 AM on January 12, 2009


Fried's piece was such an embarrassment.

First, he has the gall to compare the potential criminal prosecution of U.S. government officials to Stalinist show-trials and the Night of the Long Knives. Really? Hitler? HITLER? This man was Solicitor General for God's sake. Fried's punishment for this abomination should be to write a 10,000 word essay on the Rule of Law. A criminal trial is comparable to "humiliation, exile and murder"?

I'm literally boggling here, with my eyes rapidly vibrating in their sockets and my rich, fleshy jowls cascading from side to side.

Then he lets us know that "Administration officials were not thieves lining their own pockets." Which presumes the outcome of the trials we're not going to have. Fried should be on the frickin' Supreme Court, I tells ya.

*Maybe* Fried is right about the wisdom of using criminal trials rather than a non-criminal investigation (or another option, whatever that might be), in the final analysis. He's probably smart enough to make the right arguments. But for a former Executive Branch official and Harvard Professor to deploy such vile rhetoric while ignoring the obvious counters to his arguments shows a sad lack of scholarly evenhandedness and intellectual honesty. Yes, I expect better.
posted by facetious at 6:01 AM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Given that innocent people will continue to languish in Guantanamo for some months after Obama's inauguration, would it be appropriate to send Bush and his cronies there for a time, just while you guys figure out what's best to do with them?
;-)
posted by ceedee at 7:22 AM on January 12, 2009


If this all ever comes to trial, there is one thing that is hardly ever mentioned that I would love to know. Discounting his Vice Presidential salary, how much more is Cheney worth now than when he went into the office eight years ago.

I would really like to find out how much he made through Halliburton with the no-bid contracts and the other sketchy deals. I would also like it clarified if any of that could be considered profiteering, and if that still carries the up-to 20 year punishment.

Because, with everything else that they did, I think that this one will just slip through the cracks eventually.
posted by quin at 10:12 AM on January 12, 2009


The criminal prosecution idea is wankery. It's not going to happen.

The last thing the Obama administration wants is a protracted trial, where Bush gets a (really quite good) chance of defending himself to the public as a good-intentioned, if occasionally overenthusiastic -- perhaps even brutal, defender of America in a time of crisis, overshadowing everything they might try to do in the next few years. Because that's what a trial would be. It would be the Bush Administration free of all political restraints on what it could say in its own defense, playing the court of public opinion in a way that a sitting President or an attorney putting together a prosecution simply can't. (What a great position from which to undermine the new administration's foreign policy!)

There seems to be an assumption on the part of people calling for prosecutions that it would end up with Bush and Co. callow and humiliated, or perhaps with a sort of Frost/Nixon teardown on the stand; I'm not sure that's assured. I think there's a very real chance that they could end up -- almost regardless of the legal conclusion of such a trial -- in a better position with regards to public opinion than they are now.

In fact, short of actually being assassinated by a gen-u-ine Islamic Terr'ist, getting prosecuted and aggressively defending every action taken by his cabinet -- sticking to a straightforward "we did what we had to do" line and dropping 9/11 references at every opportunity -- is probably the best thing Bush could do for his "legacy."

The Obama administration will never allow even the remotest chance of that happening. They want Bush to crawl away to Texas, and Cheney to Maryland (or wherever he parks his coffin these days), as quickly and quietly as possible.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:50 AM on January 12, 2009


Kadin2048 writes "I think there's a very real chance that they could end up -- almost regardless of the legal conclusion of such a trial -- in a better position with regards to public opinion than they are now."

Like Bush, I don't really give a damn about public opinion. If he's a criminal he should be in prison.

Pope Guilty writes "Don't do this. Mention what those are."

I'll spare you the letmegooglethatforyou treatment :P

18 USC 1001
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully—
(1) falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact;
(2) makes any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation; or
(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;
shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 5 years or, if the offense involves international or domestic terrorism (as defined in section 2331), imprisoned not more than 8 years, or both.
...
18 USC 371
§ 371. Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud United States
If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
If, however, the offense, the commission of which is the object of the conspiracy, is a misdemeanor only, the punishment for such conspiracy shall not exceed the maximum punishment provided for such misdemeanor.
Of course there should be an investigation, and of course we should keep all options on the table. These aren't capital offenses, just some fines and jail time as appropriate. If we're willing to jail a homeless person for shoplifting, why aren't we willing to consider investigating and punishing crimes which led to the deaths of thousands? Failing to follow through on this is practically a crime in itself.
posted by mullingitover at 11:11 AM on January 12, 2009


Hah. It would certainly be nice if that USC 1001 code was enforced, but I don't see that happening, after all, pretty much every politician lies all the time, including Obama. Just today they said that including a gay preacher in the inauguration had nothing to do with the Rick Warren controversy. That's laughable.
The criminal prosecution idea is wankery. It's not going to happen.

The last thing the Obama administration wants is a protracted trial, where Bush gets a (really quite good) chance of defending himself to the public as a good-intentioned bla bla bla
Your entire argument hinges on stuff you just imagined in your head. You don't even present any evidence why it might be true, since there are no antecedents to compare it with. Bush has been "free of any political constraints" for the past four years, and the results have not been compelling. Being able to "say whatever you want" doesn't matter much when most people think you're a liar and you're a defendant in a criminal case.

But what's even more absurd about your claim is that not only are you certain your fantasy would come to pass, but that Obama has had the exact same fantasy as you, and is as sure as you that it will come to pass as well. And furthermore, you can divine what it is Obama actually wants based not anything he's ever said, but based on the assumption that he thinks exactly the same as you, and has the same goals for himself that you imagine you would have if you were in his position.

But the most absurd part is this:

There seems to be an assumption on the part of people calling for prosecutions that it would end up with Bush and Co. callow and humiliated, or perhaps with a sort of Frost/Nixon teardown on the stand; I'm not sure that's assured.
There is very weird assumption going around that people who want to see Bush prosecuted give a damn about how he feels. Wheter or not he's "humiliated" or some nonsense. The motherfucker had people tortured. And because of that he needs to go to jail. He is a criminal and that's what happens to criminals. If not him, then certainly his fucked up underlings like Addington, Yoo, etc.
I think there's a very real chance that they could end up -- almost regardless of the legal conclusion of such a trial -- in a better position with regards to public opinion than they are now.
At least you're willing to qualify this with "I think", but look, what difference does it make if Bush's approval ratings go up from the current 27%. This isn't about how people "look" to the country, this is about making sure these abuses don't ever happen again.
posted by delmoi at 11:31 AM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe, Going Forward, We Should Just Let Bernie Madoff Off?
posted by homunculus at 11:32 AM on January 12, 2009


Wow, Charles Fried makes a strong point. I disagree, but very strong argument. Given one accepts his ideal, the preservation of U.S. justice, society, all that, it’s almost ironclad.

I of course am of the opinion that we should take the hit - exactly because we elected them. It’s our mess, we should clean it up.

My rebuttle then would be that the problem with not prosecuting Bushco is that it is too often the otherwise decent men who allow themselves to be held to account.
People with some measure of conscience will, ultimately, succumb to the constant, albiet slow, grinding wheels of justice.
If we chase these people, because we know we can get them, we know we can ultimately win without extreme sacrifice, what then does that say about our system of justice?

Don’t have a conscience and fight a scorched earth battle until the bitter end where you ultimately, perhaps, commit suicide instead of allowing the justice system to suborn you and grant closure?

Even at that - catharsis is not enough.

Anything worth doing is hard to do. If the load of prosecuting powerful people in former leadership positions is too much to bear for our system of justice, I would submit that it’s because it hasn’t gotten enough exercise.

He, and others, are thinking of the state. The U.S. And perhaps this is the right thing to think, perhaps this kind of sacrifice is necessary to the health of the state.

However, I hold certain values as higher than the health or even the existence of the United States of America.

I do not wish to prosecute Bush and Cheney, et.al. merely because I wish to prosecute Bush and Cheney, et.al.
I wish the prosecution to take place as a matter of future expected course. Perhaps this prosecution will be done poorly, but it will lay the groundwork for the next one. And from there they will get easier, more refined, better, until true justice is done.

This is a matter that it is important for mankind to pursue. It is important for us to do this, now, in our lifetimes so that we can - perhaps a thousand years from now - point to it as a place where the bar was again raised in the interests of justice and human rights.
Just as we point to the Magna Carta or the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 as fundimental changes in how states recognize rights and how leaders are constrained in their governance.

If this causes pain, so be it. If it even spells the end for the American state, so be it. It would be a worthy sacrifice to the cause of justice.

There is a difference between Cheney and Bush and Mao and Stalin - but it’s what’s the same that makes them dangerous.
They all relied on people to accept the expediency of the now.
And that’s what worked out for them didn’t it?

So we should probably take the time and make the effort. Because if not us - if not the richest, strongest, most powerful country in human history (to date) - then who?
I don’t see how we’ve got any excuses. “Too hard” isn’t something anyone should accept if they love their kids or even have an interest in mankind beyond their own generation.

“Full investigation. No prosecutions.”

I can see that. But that only satisfies the now. Still, probably the best shot.

But again - maybe it’s not practical to prosecute them. Maybe we will blow it.
But y’know - we should f’ing *try*. We should at least do that much.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:18 PM on January 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I say from now on we just let everybody who's accused of a criminal offense go free unless they're poor or are accused of marijuana related offenses. Better yet: The less harm caused to others by the alleged crime, the more serious the criminal investigation and the more severe the punishment. Homeless guy spits on the sidewalk? Throw him in a pit of snakes. CEO of Fortune 500 company kills and eats children on live webcam? Medal of freedom. Repeated application of this general principle of law enforcement can't help but set the world to rights, nicht wahr?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:34 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


It would certainly be nice if that USC 1001 code was enforced, but I don't see that happening,

Scooter went to jail. I see it enforced all of the time.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:37 PM on January 12, 2009


Scooter went to jail.

Um, no he didn't...

I see it enforced all of the time.

Huh. The excerpt quoted above doesn't make any reference to making false statements to investigators, just making false statements. As far as I know, the bush administration (ex Scooter Libby) hasn't made any false statements to actual investigators.
posted by delmoi at 12:57 PM on January 12, 2009


I think it's time to start working on a new project: we should turn "Bush" into an expression for failure. Regardless of whether or not he is ever brought to justice for his misdeeds, I'd like to know that his legacy was ensured by people forever using his name as a slur:

"Wow, you really bushed that up"

Basically any place you would typically used "fucked" but here you have the added weight of incompetence.

He's said that he only cares about how history will view him. I say let it be this.
posted by quin at 12:58 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Setting aside the massively justified anger at what these people did, we have to decide what the needs of the people are and what the ability of the state to bring prosecutions are. This has to be a realistic assessment.

First, we need to look at how many people were tortured by (1) U.S. actors; and (2) Non-U.S. actors where U.S. actors knowingly participated in sending those persons off to places where it was known or highly probable that such torture would occur in that specific place.

Second, we need to look at any immunities or defenses to criminal prosecution which may exist which make it impossible to prosecute (1) and (2) above.

Third, we need to look at what statutes are available to prosecutors in bringing charges in such cases.

Looking at the first question, it is impossible to truly know. I suspect strongly that the number of persons who were "officialy" tortured by U.S. actors is far lower than the number dispatched to hell holes around the globe where they were aware that torture would occur.

The second question is the hardest for those advocating prosecutions. First, the government and actors working under it have immunity from prosecution. This goes back to the beginning of the law, where the king and his servants had immunity. The immunity is qualified these days--a criminal or civil defendant must show that their actions were (1) constitutional; (2) currently unclear on whether or not the action was constitutional; or (3) an act which a reasonable person would consider constitutional, even if in actuality it was not consitutional. Here is where the nut will need to be cracked, because each and every act was backed up with numerous, if secret, declarations of the legality of the actions. It will be very, very hard for prosecutors to go after people under the third prong of the above analysis, because they were indeed ensured their acts were legal.

More importantly, how would Cheney and Bush fare under such analysis. The question would, of course, go to the Supreme Court. Supreme Court precedent regarding the wartime powers of the Presidency would not be good for the prosecution. It would take a long, long slog to get the cases to the Supreme Court and then back down to the lower courts for implementation, probably about 7 years.

I'm totally in the dark regarding what statutes could be used, however, I suspect most would be simple assaults, but would come under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The other question is, may state law reach actions taken outside the country? The answer is likely no, when it comes to individual assualts committed in far away countries.

The other thing is that each and every one of these trials would slow the process of the families to receive civil justice and repayment for injuries and deaths suffered. They would probably not see any restitution for 12 years (7 years for criminal prosecutions, 5 years for civil trials, appeals and the general delay in payment).

These are the factors to be weighed.
posted by Ironmouth at 12:59 PM on January 12, 2009


Huh. The excerpt quoted above doesn't make any reference to making false statements to investigators, just making false statements. As far as I know, the bush administration (ex Scooter Libby) hasn't made any false statements to actual investigators.

Sorry, forgot about the commutation. I suspect the persons indicating that 18 U.S.C. 1001 would be used assume some lying by suspects to federal investigators. I agree that there is no evidence of lying to federal investigators up to this point.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:01 PM on January 12, 2009


I say from now on we just let everybody who's accused of a criminal offense go free unless they're poor or are accused of marijuana related offenses. Better yet: The less harm caused to others by the alleged crime, the more serious the criminal investigation and the more severe the punishment. Homeless guy spits on the sidewalk? Throw him in a pit of snakes. CEO of Fortune 500 company kills and eats children on live webcam? Medal of freedom. Repeated application of this general principle of law enforcement can't help but set the world to rights, nicht wahr?

Emotional, yes. Helpful to Obama figuring out what to do? Not so much.

Criminal prosecution is an imperfect tool wielded by humans. We have real questions to answer and real answers to send to our elected officials regarding what we think we should do.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:04 PM on January 12, 2009


Hah. It would certainly be nice if that USC 1001 code was enforced, but I don't see that happening, after all, pretty much every politician lies all the time, including Obama. Just today they said that including a gay preacher in the inauguration had nothing to do with the Rick Warren controversy. That's laughable.

To follow up on what delmoi said, 18 U.S.C. 1001 applies only to circumstances when a person is under investigation, either administratively or criminally, by Federal agents. Obama's statements on anything don't apply.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:07 PM on January 12, 2009


For everyone pushing for prosecution: Say that Obama decides to go all out for them. What do you think the odds are that any of the key players will actually see the inside of a jail?

I'm in total agreement that they should be in jail for what they've done. I just see no realistic possibility of it happening, even if the Obama administration decided it was willing to go all out to do so.
posted by fatbird at 1:39 PM on January 12, 2009


Setting aside the massively justified anger at what these people did

Ironmouth: My earlier comment was just meant to inject a little levity into the discussion, but in hindsight, it does come across a bit glib. There is a serious point at the heart of that comment though. And it has nothing to do with anger, for my part. It has to do with maintaining the rule of law and restoring the justice system to at least a reasonable semblance of fairness and, well, justice.

If the justice system's aim isn't to pursue justice to the exclusion of all other considerations, then let's just eliminate it, do away with all empty gestures toward an ideal we no longer consider a part of our shared culture. We already have plenty of other byzantine political institutions that can make decisions informed by political calculations and popular opinion. The sole raison d'etre of the justice system is to impartially enforce laws. And criminal trials themselves are only mechanisms for determining whether or not laws have been broken. Trials are not pronouncements of wrong-doing: they're opportunities for the wrongfully accused to vindicate themselves. If that's not how the justice system is understood by those charged with the responsibility of preserving it, we have a big problem.

Why is it whenever it comes to elected officials or the wealthy, suddenly criminal justice becomes such a gray area? Suddenly, it's not a matter of criminal law, but a matter of what's in the best interest of the public good (which, paradoxically, is somehow best served by treating large-scale fraudsters and the criminally negligent as if they were living saints, and as if their private shame were somehow an embarrassment to the rest of us, too).

We've entered an era in which a blatant double-standard exists: Small-scale crime is prosecuted under zero-tolerance guidelines; large-scale, institutionalized crime is viewed as too complex and politically messy to prosecute at all, with public officials and the press instantly rushing to the defense of the accused for "the good of the country."
posted by saulgoodman at 2:04 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


“These are the factors to be weighed.”

Pretty solid thinking there Ironmouth.

I think it’s worth the time and effort. As a citizen, I’m happy to pay for this. The downside is the snail pace of the process, but I feel better if something is in place.

I mean these matters seem to keep getting tabled. We can’t keep making those kinds of undecisions. At some point we’re going to have to do the work, and it’s better to hash through it methodically and with a cold eye than it is to rush it to serve the families and perhaps victims as well.

To my mind, it gives at least some comfort knowing that you weren’t tortured in vain. That while perhaps your torturers get off or delay justice for many years, eventually, the matter will be resolved and torture will be reviled and seen to be a prosecutable act even for world leaders.

At least we’d have the ground work.
It seems as though Bushco (et.al. in the past) have depended on these ambiguities and loopholes and necessities of the moment, etc.
I’d have to ask - if not now - when?
Must we wait for a more egregious example?
It’s been my experience that true villians don’t go around in black capes kicking puppies and biting children.
They always rely on those concessions - whether to time, practicality, economic hardship, whatever.

If we do go through this, and if we find there are immunities, if we find there are legal issues that protect the president and his cohorts - to my mind it would be time well spent.
If only that we address these issues, define them and perhaps create the law we wish to see, even if it lets these people slide.

Last thing we want is a bigger monster in office making use of the same tricks when we knew we could have done something about it when we saw it going on the first time.

Far as I’m concerned one tortured individual is enough. The enormity of the task now will seem like a poor excuse 20 years down the road when we’ve got the camps going day and night.
(not that you’re of the position that it’s a good excuse of course, I recognize your delineation vs. championing a position)

If we don’t have the tools now we should create them. If the law on this is too vague, we should define it.

There are no circumstances under which torture is ever a legitimate tool of governance or warfare. Whether it’s used in practice or not.

Reminds me of something that happened a bit back. Some guys were intercepting television signals from a certain country (one of our allies). Well, the signals weren’t scrambled or anything so they didn’t feel they were doing anything wrong. But, y’know, those intel hardware guys love their pro-wrestling and the pro-wrestling was on pay per view. Childs play, for the equipment and knowlege they had, to decrypt it. But that was skirting close enough to the ‘wrong’ side of the equation that they felt they should ask before they did it, or rather, before they piped it out (naturally they’d done it already, you can’t show those guys an encrypted signal and not expect them to crack it - even just for the exercise).
So, long story short (I’m omitting the broadcasting company guy’s utter astonishment that we had not only intercepted a signal that wasn’t broadcast outside the country’s borders, that we had a crystal clear picture from what was essentially just snow, but that we’d descrambled the signal easy as pie) they asked permission and the answer of course was ‘no.’
The X.O. had to speak to everyone and explain that the U.S. military doesn’t ‘steal cable’ or pay per view, etc. even though we can and so forth.

As a matter of practice we can torture and get away with it. Demonstrably.

But, just as we do not do things merely because we can, just as there are guidelines to be followed in governance and warfare that may not be binding in the sense they’re enforcable in any way, they must be made explicit and they must be followed and it must be visibly seen to be so.

If it takes a long, drawn out dogfight to make such a thing a matter of course, so be it.

I don’t take Piso’s (or whoever’s) position that justice should be done though the heavens fall (fiat justitia, ruat coelum) but that the heavens are only supported by the pillars of justice and they must be patched with mortar from time to time or wholly erected anew (huh huh huh ‘erect’).
And that I do agree with Aristotle that morality in action comes by habit - we are brave by acting bravely, we become compassionate by performing acts of compassion, we become just by doing justice.

So, y’know, use it or lose it. If we hash this out ourselves, it’s not going to get done.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:05 PM on January 12, 2009


First, we need to look at how many people were tortured by (1) U.S. actors; and (2) Non-U.S. actors where U.S. actors knowingly participated in sending those persons off to places where it was known or highly probable that such torture would occur in that specific place.

We can start here. I predict a mad rush of FedGov employees spilling their guts to reporters in about...8 days.
posted by ryoshu at 2:10 PM on January 12, 2009


Or rather - if we don’t hash this out ourselves, it’s not going to get done.

Sad state of affairs really. I’d actually rather have “Yes, we can torture” on the books than this ambiguous: “Uh, torture? What? Uh. y’know, some people, overseas, bad. President needs tool. Y’know. Whatever. *cough*”
At least we’d have some direction in opposition.
And I can’t think this ambiguity wasn’t by design. Hell, just looking at Gitmo.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:11 PM on January 12, 2009


Bush's Torture Confession
posted by chunking express at 2:12 PM on January 12, 2009


So, in short, investigate and prosecute if there are grounds, but don't feed into the media spectacle any more than necessary: Discourage Democrats from using any investigations as an opportunity to smear other Republicans by association; do most of the work quietly and deliberately with as few dramatic announcements and public hearings as possible, until the evidence has been evaluated. Have an airtight case that makes even the staunchest current and former-Bush supporters cringe, if one can be made, then prosecute it with the same vigor used to prosecute low-level street pushers and cable signal thieves.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:15 PM on January 12, 2009


what difference does it make if Bush's approval ratings go up from the current 27%. This isn't about how people "look" to the country, this is about making sure these abuses don't ever happen again.

It would matter a lot if you were a newly-elected President, Senator, or Representative, hoping to keep the recently-defeated party marginalized and out of the spotlight long enough to win some political victories and solidify your lead with the public.

There's a huge amount of political risk involved in prosecuting Bush, versus just letting him disappear into obscurity (which is basically zero risk); given everything else that the incoming administration has on its plate, it seems completely implausible that they'd choose to voluntarily open that can of worms.

Some sort of truth committee or Congressional hearing -- enough to mollify those in the netroots calling for blood without making a huge spectacle that will overshadow anything else Obama might do in the next few years -- seems much more likely.

I'm not suggesting that any of this is right in any moral (or even legal) sense, just that it seems likely given political reality.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:09 PM on January 12, 2009


For everyone pushing for prosecution: Say that Obama decides to go all out for them. What do you think the odds are that any of the key players will actually see the inside of a jail?

Well that depends on the actual evidence, as well as what legal experts have to say about it -- which neither one of us has actually seen, so having an opinion about the likelihood of a conviction is kind of ridiculous.

I would say that if the evidence matches up with what we precive to be the case I think convictions are likely, if not for bush for people like Addington, Yoo and Cheney.
posted by delmoi at 4:14 PM on January 12, 2009


Meanwhile, The DOJ pursues the "real criminal" in the NSA spying scandal
posted by homunculus at 5:37 PM on January 12, 2009


A passage from homunculus' Greenwald link that bears reproducing here:
Indeed, that's the core function of the Congressional Intelligence Committees, the reason why they were created in the first place in the wake of the Church Commission. As the Senate Committee's Charter itself says, the Committee is "to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States."
I agree Kadin2048 that the actual, even-handed application of the rule of law is unlikely in this case. But look at it this way: statistically, most cases of rape are never reported, let alone prosecuted, but I'm not prepared to argue that it's reasonable or morally acceptable to allow a reported rape to go without a formal criminal investigation, even if the accuser's credibility is in doubt.

Now, you might argue that I'm drawing a false moral equivalence here between rape and the Bush administration's various abuses of power, but that's not the point at all.

The point is that one broken law is as good as any other and the proportionality needed to account for the relative degrees of moral depravity /social harm attached to a criminal act is already designed into sentencing. There doesn't have to be a moral equivalence for the analogy to hold: Even if Bush was truly convinced he was saving the world when he broke the law, just like the lowliest radical anti-corporate activist who sabotages the equipment on a Super Wal-Mart construction site and gets charged with domestic terrorism, if Bush broke the law, he should be charged and sentenced in accordance with appropriate sentencing guidelines.

Without demanding at least an investigation into possible criminal acts by the Bush administration, we're not just allowing a miscarriage of justice--we're allowing lawlessness, the complete suspension of the uniform rule of law on the basis of extra-legal considerations.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:23 PM on January 12, 2009


here's hilzoy's take and obama's fwiw...
posted by kliuless at 7:14 AM on January 13, 2009


"Other Priorities"
posted by homunculus at 9:14 AM on January 13, 2009


just letting him disappear into obscurity (which is basically zero risk)

Allowing a mass murderer and plunderer of the national treasury to go free is "zero risk"? Really?
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:00 AM on January 13, 2009


“Now, you might argue that I'm drawing a false moral equivalence here between rape and the Bush administration's various abuses of power...”

On the one hand, maybe. On the other, I think it’s pretty apt.

“Allowing a mass murderer and plunderer of the national treasury to go free is "zero risk"? Really?”

Politically? For purposes of expediency? Yeah. It’s a far more practical decision (albiet short-term) to let it go. I mean, you haven’t noticed the right wing persecution complex? They’re just looking to be persecuted. Last thing you want is to give them something to rally ‘round the flag.

Less opposition you have generally, the more you can get done to heal the country.
It’s a trade off. I see the angle.

If you want to broaden the scope of the statement, than sure - any extremely wealthy megalomaniacal murdering theiving bastard is a threat.
Osama bin Laden f’rinstance.
But since Bush & co are in our own back yard, yeah, who knows what they’d cook up.

The catch-22 is - once you’re president, once you’re in command, you have to fufill that role. You can’t lose your head. You can’t be seen to be less than superhuman. You can’t come on t.v., say and go “Oh, crap! I’m really scared!”
You have to be ‘The Man.’
Been there myself to a lesser degree.

What I’d *like* to do here is create a small team to assassinate members of the former administration in a variety of innocuous ways (emphasis on innocuous - a car accident here, plane crash there, choke on a sandwich, food poisoning, heart attack - Cheney would be SOOO easy).

The threat - beyond being found out through some sort of foul up - is that your team gets tricky ideas of their own.
Putting that aside, let’s say these are people who would eat their own guts for you.
You can’t do it as president.

We don’t feel this in our bones anymore because we’ve had Bush and several other self-serving scumbags in office. I’d add Clinton there, I wouldn’t grant a lot of latitude for his success in office, but a guy who doesn’t have the self-control to keep his wick dry doesn’t make the cut.

Bush is worse of course. He strikes me as the type of top kick who would walk out of the mess past the starving enlisted men standing in the wind with half a sandwich in his mouth.

But point being - you can’t succumb to your visceral reaction as a leader. So death squads are off the table (as expedient as they may be here).
As is retributive prosecution.

You’re talking not only about going head to head with very powerful well connected people - but putting them in a corner so they’re desperate and willing to do just about anything.
That’s gonna be the fight of your life and everything else is going to be put on hold.

As it is - maybe weaken them politically, take time to undermine their positions, etc.
Plenty of ways to get this done.
Most practical though, IMHO, is - as said above - just do an investigation and take prosecution off the table.

I mean, that’s what I think, but my heart isn’t in that. I’d like to see a prosecution. Again - if only as exercise. If it goes down, at least we go down swinging.
It doesn’t have to be right away though. Maybe we could seize their assets. Something. Change the landscape.

If you want to kill a tiger, it takes a lot of hunting, tracking, it’s a lot of work and you have to watch your back.

If you want to eliminate tigers as a threat however, you destroy its habitat. Change the environment so they can’t prey on anything, can’t hide in the tall grass, etc. and eradicate the species.

It’s the latter that I’m more interested in. A group of tigers is less of a threat than a tiger friendly environment.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:41 AM on January 13, 2009


Re: Clinton - I WOULD grant a lot of latitude for his successes in office. I mean, as far as lapses in self-control go I’d rather someone get blown, cheat on their wife, etc. than murder, torture and plunder the country.

But it’s still rarer than it should be for people to get that they’re supposed to be “The President.” (Or they use that as a sort of dodge to get away with more crap - e.g. Nixon)
Is it too much to ask to set aside your personal flaws for a few years in exchange for being trusted with one of the most powerful positions on Earth?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:53 AM on January 13, 2009


Will Obama Be Culpable If He Ignores Bush Torture War Crimes?
posted by homunculus at 12:21 PM on January 13, 2009


Politically? For purposes of expediency? Yeah. It’s a far more practical decision (albiet short-term) to let it go. I mean, you haven’t noticed the right wing persecution complex? They’re just looking to be persecuted. Last thing you want is to give them something to rally ‘round the flag.

This is the problem, people are only measuring "political expediency" by measuring how upset the right will be at things, while ignoring the left. That's why it's important for the left to put up a big show about things that upset us. I can think of four things that Obama has done so far that appear to be the result of left-wing pressure
1) Inviting a gay preacher to give one of the invocations at the inaugural, which came about because of people being upset with Rick Warren

2) Dumping John Brennan as a potential CIA chief because of positive statements about torture, and replacing him with someone strongly anti-torture.

3) After coming out with a 700 billion dollar stimulus plan, with lots of tax cuts, being willing to up that after meeting with senate democrats. This one is a little weak because before he came out with the concrete plan he had said it would be between $700 billion and $1.5 trillion

4) After saying he wouldn't close Gitmo in the first 100 days on Stephanopolous's show, he came out the next day and said he would issue an executive order on his first day as president to begin the process of closing it.
We need to keep the pressure up. No politician should imagine that simply caving to the right is more expedient then caving to the left. If they did, they would never do anything but cave to the right. And that's what's been happening over the past few years. That perception is the only power the republicans have, except for a filibuster if they can manage to keep every single senator on board.

I swear, even though the republicans have been absolutely destroyed some people continue to believe they have some kind of magical power and must be appeased at all costs. They lost. we're the ones who have to be appeased now.
posted by delmoi at 12:54 PM on January 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


delmoi: if i could favorite your comment 1.5 trillion times, i would
posted by saulgoodman at 1:16 PM on January 13, 2009


"No politician should imagine that simply caving to the right is more expedient then caving to the left. If they did, they would never do anything but cave to the right. And that's what's been happening over the past few years. That perception is the only power the republicans have..."

I agree, with the Machiavelli caveat that folks have power only because people think they have power, they stop thinking it, you stop having it.
Problem is, as you've said, in adjusting that perception.
I'm just outlining it as it lays though. Seems to be what they're thinking. As I've said, I'm of the position this should be pursued simply because it's the right thing to do.

I wouldn't count Obama out on this though.
Not the least of reasons that a House Democratic report today is saying he should.
So, there's your pressure from the left (all 'left' and 'right' terms common social meaning of course).
I don't believe Bushco putting the boot into the winkies of U.S. Atty's is the least weighty of motivations behind all this.

Hmm...could put them on the defensive and distract them from meddling in other affairs.
Given Obama's style, it's quite possible he'll take the lead on the economy and other matters and delegate the rest of this.

Which would mean there would be more than this single forced perspective thing we've had for the past eight years with everything run through the white house.

Perhaps I'm an optimist.

I do disagree on the 'we're the one's who have to be appeased' - I mean, I'm not disputing you're assessment of the possible new political reality, but I don't like the Dane style of governance. Never did. S'why I'm a conservative (not a 'conservative'). Just seems to get in the way of getting useful things done. Which should be the objective of governance despite any ideological disagreements.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:22 PM on January 13, 2009


Which would mean there would be more than this single forced perspective thing we've had for the past eight years with everything run through the white house.

That's what I'm most excited about with the incoming new administration, too. The Bush Whitehouse had far more in common with the Soviet style of governance than any of the administration's supporters would ever admit.

So, there's your pressure from the left (all 'left' and 'right' terms common social meaning of course).

Well, in it's all-too-frequently neglected original sense, "left" is less a term describing a particular ideological view than a relativistic term for anyone who opposes the political status quo or for the masses of ordinary people who don't hold political power. So, in a sense, it's the Republicans who supported Bush all along--at least, those who dogmatically continue to hold out in their opposition to Obama--that should now properly be called the political left.

So now they get to put on the clown hat and sit in the corner for a while.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:00 AM on January 14, 2009


“it's the Republicans who supported Bush all along--at least, those who dogmatically continue to hold out in their opposition to Obama--that should now properly be called the political left.”

Fair point. But I’d augment that, in that, before consideration of your argument, I’d’ve considered ‘left’ more ‘liberal’ although indeed, relative.

If you’re going to cast it as opposition to the status quo and place Bushco and the neocons as that kind of opposition, I’d have to say they should do more than sit in the corner.

Given your framing - they’re the most radical bunch I’ve ever seen (that have been successful). There has been major change and opposition to fundimental rules of governance in America during their rule.
They’re just shy of bomb throwing anarchists and terrorists in terms of social position. Hell, at least manic radicals like the Unibomber weren’t successfully seated in the halls of power.

They shouldn’t be gone for a while, they should be relegated to the dustbin of history forever.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:21 PM on January 14, 2009


Obama to Defend Telco Spy Immunity
posted by homunculus at 4:15 PM on January 15, 2009


Establishment Washington unifies against prosecutions
posted by homunculus at 4:23 PM on January 15, 2009


Surveillance court rules US could compel telecom to assist wiretapping
posted by homunculus at 3:00 PM on January 16, 2009


Paul Krugman: If we don’t have an inquest into what happened during the Bush years, this means that those who hold power are above the law and can abuse their power.
posted by homunculus at 6:46 PM on January 16, 2009


Glenn Greenwald: Binding U.S. law requires prosecutions for those who authorize torture
posted by homunculus at 11:50 PM on January 18, 2009


What To Do About The Bush Administration's Use of Torture
posted by homunculus at 11:49 AM on January 26, 2009


Obama lawyers set to defend Yoo
posted by homunculus at 2:16 PM on January 28, 2009


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