Monday, February 09, 2009

Feet to the Fire Time, Everyone (With 2nd New Update)

OK, this is bothering me. I have let a few things slide but this is not looking good.

According to the NY Times, the current administration is taking the same position as the Bush administration in a rendition/torture case currently before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California.

"In the case, Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian native, and four other detainees filed suit against a subsidiary of Boeing for arranging flights for the Bush administration’s “extraordinary rendition” program, in which terrorism suspects were secretly taken to other countries, where they say they were tortured. The Bush administration argued that the case should be dismissed because even discussing it in court could threaten national security and relations with other nations.

During the campaign, Mr. Obama harshly criticized the Bush administration’s treatment of detainees, and he has broken with that administration on questions like whether to keep open the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But a government lawyer, Douglas N. Letter, made the same state-secrets argument on Monday, startling several judges on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

'Is there anything material that has happened' that might have caused the Justice Department to shift its views, asked Judge Mary M. Schroeder, an appointee of President Jimmy Carter, coyly referring to the recent election.

'No, your honor,' Mr. Letter replied.

Judge Schroeder asked, 'The change in administration has no bearing?'

Once more, he said, 'No, Your Honor.' The position he was taking in court on behalf of the government had been 'thoroughly vetted with the appropriate officials within the new administration,' and 'these are the authorized positions,' he said."


Adding this tidbit of information along with the fact that the executive order banning torture continued to allow rendition results in a very concerning situation.

Needless to say, the ACLU is very unhappy, according to the article. And so am I. We need to let President Obama know that this is unacceptable.

Although the administration's spokesperson says this defense won't be used a lot, it should not be used at all when it comes to criminal acts peformed by our own government.

"A Justice Department spokesman, Matt Miller, said the government did not comment on pending litigation, but he seemed to suggest that the Obama administration would invoke the privilege more sparingly than its predecessor.

'It is the policy of this administration to invoke the state secrets privilege only when necessary and in the most appropriate cases,' he said, adding that Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had asked for a review of pending cases in which the government had previously asserted a state secret privilege.

'The attorney general has directed that senior Justice Department officials review all assertions of the state secrets privilege to ensure that the privilege is being invoked only in legally appropriate situations,' he said. 'It is vital that we protect information that, if released, could jeopardize national security.'
"


The article goes on to describe treatment during the rendition of the plaintiffs that certainly qualifies as torture - with no if's, ands or buts. (How would you like to be cut all over your body, including your personal parts, and have a hot stinging liquid then poured over you? Personally, I call that torture. Oh yes, and there were the beatings and threats of death too).

I can't imagine that exposing these crimes to the light of day will violate any state secrets other than the not-so-secret fact that Bush and his cronies allowed our nation to torture prisoners. This case should not be dismissed and the culprits who perpetrated this crime should be brought to justice. And we all know who they are.

****

UPDATE:

Thanks to Annette for "talking me down," as Rachel Maddow would say. In the comments section, she points out that the attorney, Letter, is left over from the Bush administration and it's possible that the Obama administration is just a tad busy right now. So let's keep a close eye on what develops once everything is in place, Eric Holder is Attorney General, and the President and his new administration have more time to start undoing the damage done to our country by Bush and his henchmen.

****

UPDATE #2

Politics After 50 has a post about this same issue and it heightened my original concerns about it. Especially check out her links to other articles on this subject. We really do have to hold his feet to the fire on this one. The honeymoon has been very short and I guess it has to end. To the barricades!

32 comments:

JollyRoger said...

People just don't care, until it's THEIR turn. It's a sad, but very true, fact of life. And that's a damn shame.

Annette said...

First of all.. if you do a google on this Greg Letter... he is a hold over from the Bush Admin.. now I have been yelled at for saying that but I still think it is important. For one thing.. we can see that Pres. Obama is just a little busy, for another, AG Holder just got appointed and sworn in..why have these hearings not been delayed until he had a chance to review them...This is a travesty if you ask me...the fact that all these Bushies are still in the DOJ and are trying cases and speaking for the Obama Admin is just wrong... So, I think everyong is jumping just a little too quick on it.

Mauigirl said...

JR, I think some do care but not enough...

Annette, I hope you're right that it's a matter of him being too busy right now. Thanks for pointing out that Letter is leftover from the Bush administration. I wonder if he really did vet it with the Obama officials as he said?

travelingman said...

I just recently watched rendition, with Reese Witherspoon and Jake Icantspellhislastname, it really hit me just how fucked up our administration has been for the last 8 years. Hold their feet to the fire? How about we hold their willy to the fire?

Annette said...

Call Sen. Leahy @ 202-224-4242 and tell him you support his efforts to investigate Bush and Cheney for war crimes and torture. He is wanting to start it. That was also one of the questions in the presser tonight...lol

Annette said...

This is what I found at DailyKos, and it makes more sense to me..

Attorney General Eric Holder has started a review of all state secret privilege matters. "The Attorney General has directed that senior Justice Department officials review all assertions of the State Secrets privilege to ensure that the privilege is being invoked only in legally appropriate situations. It is vital that we protect information that, if released, could jeopardize national security."

"The Justice Department will ensure the privilege is not invoked to hide from the American people information about their government's actions that they have a right to know. This administration will be transparent and open, consistent with our national security obligations," Miller said.

Even after that...there are some..that are still trying to say that Pres. Obama is saying he is doing this...but it is all this Letter...who like I said is a Bush holdover.. it is contradictory. Why would Holder say one thing then someone under him who worked for Bush, say something opposite.

And, Holder made it clear, and Pres. Obama made it clear that the Justice department was NOT part of the Executive Branch.. not like Bush made it..so why are we blaming Pres. Obama for anything that Holder might be doing?? If he is doing anything.

Christopher said...

We need to decide what kind of nation we want to be:

1. a nation of laws that behaves within the framework of the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Convention

or,

2. a nation that has within it, a series of micro nations that can behave lawlessly, while ignoring the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Convention

You know where I come down.

This is more true than ever after 8 years of Bush/Cheney and the horrors of Guantanamo Bay, the secret prisons in Eastern Europe and Abu Ghraib. The CIA doesn't need rendition to do its job and keep America safe.

libhom said...

Annette: The Justice Dept. most definitely is part of the Executive Branch.

Fran said...

I'm not buying it. This is NOT a grey zone.
I also hate the mincing of words around it 'Extraordinary Rendition' , or just regular rendition or rendition light?

Rendition is rendition.

It is not regulated.
Non regulated imprisonment only exists for one reason- to circumvent the rules of a formal jail or prison.

Yes Obama is busy, but how much time does it take to say NO to this hideous and unlawful practice?

No excuses. No talking us down, coming from me.

This should be easy, quick & clear. NO!

Mary Ellen said...

Mauigirl- If you notice, Obama has backed down from his promise to allow the media to photograph flag draped coffins coming back from war. He promised while campaigning that he would change Bush's order preventing it. Now, he says it's "being reviewed", just like the reversal of Don't Ask Don't Tell is being "reviewed"...by the military. Now, what do you think the outcomes of these "revues" are going to be?

These things don't take "time" to overturn, it only takes an order from Obama. Maybe Obama doesn't want anyone to notice the casualties from Afghanistan since he's ordering the so many more troops there, who knows.

You should be upset about the rendition thing....there is NO excuse for it, and there is never an excuse for torture since it's already been proved by the CIA that torture does not produce good results because they will say anything to make it stop. This is just common sense. Obama is taking advice from the wrong people.

I don't understand why so many people are making excuses at every turn for Obama when he is obviously turning away from so many of his campaign promises.

Christopher said...

I think some people need to get the fuck over the fact that Hillary isn't sitting in the White House and move on.

Wee Mousie said...

I feel confident that considering the quality of public servants Bush installed in the DOJ, they would have no hesitation promulgating self-serving opinions as though it was coming from the new administration.

I also believe that some promises made during President Obama’s campaign are being allowed to twist in the wind, in his doomed effort to attract bipartisan support for the various economic stimulus packages.

Having followed ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ ever since a Canadian friend made me aware of the Maher Arar case, early in 2004, this practice cannot end too soon.

Any country that permits ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ as an acceptable procedure of its government's agencies is in grave danger of being recognized as a rogue state.

Mary Ellen said...

Christopher

There is no excuse to make personal attacks against me. By and large, I was agreeing with Mauigirl and others on this blog about the renditions. If you can't handle the news of your messiah backtracking on his campaign promises, that's your problem not mine.

and btw, I never even mentioned Hillary Clinton and I can't even remember the last time I wrote a post about her. You need to get over your Hillary hatred, it's not healthy. Grow up, Christopher, don't you think it's about time?

Chris Dashiell said...

If Obama keeps buying into the bogus "war on terror," he will sabotage his own chances to effect change. So far I'm not happy with what I'm seeing. There's an obvious desire to sweep things under the rugs and avoid the confrontations with the truth that we are duty-bound to have.

Mauigirl said...

Everyone is making very good points. I don't want to make excuses at all for Obama, and I'm also concerned about things being put under review when I would rather just see him take bold action. However, that is not how he operates, he's cautious and analytical.

I just hope he comes out on the right side of these issues after the so-called reviews take place. I agree with all of you who have concerns about these issues and I hope the new president will learn quickly that bipartisan support is not worth what it costs. Especially since the other side isn't willing to give an inch.

I do not want to make excuses for him but sometimes we forget he's only been in office for 3 weeks and not even all of his cabinet has been appointed yet. I just hope he moves ahead with the changes he has promised as the dust continues to settle.

Glenn Palmer said...

Rendition is a really important issue, but it isn't the most important right now. I don't think its fair to even try to judge Obama's performance within the first six months or so.

One thing that is definitely going to have an impact and hasnt been mentioned is outright resistance by underlings and department. Case in point is the DEA position that it is going to continue its actions against medical marijuana, regardless of what the president says. There will be a lot more of that kind of thing waiting below the surface for him.

Reamus said...

The Justice Departrment BETTER be part of the Executtive Branch....

Mauigirl said...

Glenn, thanks for making this point. I remember reading about how Bush was installing all these lower level people throughout the government that would be a problem for years to come and this may be an example of this.

Reamus said...

What Gleen desvribes is a thing called "burrowing." At the end of every administration some of the "Schedule C" appointments--political, no merit appointees--deceide they either like it where they are or can't find anything else to do so they are "converted" to full civil service appointment. They can be hell to get rid of and often stay in the system for years.
It is not a new phenonema. Happens after every administration and actually populates the federal work force with some good people EXCEPT when some half wit and his hench persons have been there for eight years. These people now may be there for years and will take time to move to places where they can do less harm.

It isn't fair, just the way it is.

Thanks for coming by the blog Mauigirl, hope you get back.

I do enjoy this one.

Dorothy said...

I always enjoy reading what you think is going on and time will tell us if we should be concerned however as mentioned change will take time.

I hope we can all be patient..

Dorothy from grammology
grammology.com

Kuanyin Moi said...

Very interesting commentary on your post. I learned a lot both from your post and comments!

Mary Ellen said...

Hidden within this stimulus bill...a bill that eliminates the amount of terms a President can serve. Really...would we have accepted such a bill from a Republican majority while a Republican president is in office? Think about it...changing our Constitution on the sly, with no one noticing. How can this be acceptable to anyone, let alone Democrats?

Reamus said...

Mary Ellen,

Okay, give me the page number, section and subsection.

It takes a Constitutional Amendment to change the term of the President, just as it took one to limit the terms he/she could serve. Please, I have had about enough of what is "hidden' in the stimulus bill. Yesterday iit was some whacko on CNN claiming they creatred a "new" health Czar when the position already exists (Thank you 109th Congress and President Bush). This "new" regulator was going to be able to allow the insurance companies to know about your health from the chart at your bedside. Not true either and this one is less so.

Read the final Conference Agreement on line at the website and tell me WHERE you get the belief you just expressed, please.

The Constitiution cannot be amended "on the sly." By anyone. Read it once and you will find out why.

Mauigirl said...

Reamus, yes, burrowing, that was the word I remember. I'm sure it does always happen but the idea of them being appointed by Bush is what makes it scary, you're right! I'll definitely be back to read your blog, and I'm glad you enjoy mine too.

Dorothy, I know, I hope we can be patient too; I keep having to remind myself it hasn't even been a month yet.

Kuanyin, thanks, and I agree - I learned a lot from the comments as well!

Mary Ellen, Reamus is right - the Constitution can't be changed without everyone knowing about it pretty widely - it needs to be approved by a 2/3 majority in both the House and Senate and then ratified by 3/4 of the states. It can't be hidden in another bill.

Mary Ellen said...

Mauigirl- All the information is in the link I gave. Read the link and follow it instead of shooting it down before doing any type of investigation. To get it started it can be hidden in a bill, it only clears the way to continue further. It may not pass, but the fact is, it's in there.

I'm sorry, but if you can't see what a messed up bill this is, and are willing to shrug your shoulders and trust our Congress and President with blind faith,that's fine. I just hope there are no complaints when it's all over with. This is what you want, this is what you will get and deserve. You own it.

I just think it's very odd that Progressives are fine with the same tactics that you complained about when Bush and the Republican party was using them. Ii used to think the Democrats were better than that.

Think about it, Mauigirl and Reamus, when Obama told you he would filibuster the FISA Bill, the so-called "loony" PUMA's wrote post after post about why he would support it and that he was lying to you. They were right. When Obama said that he would get rid of rendition and torture, the so-called "loony" PUMA's said that he would keep it..and they were right. When Obama said that the first thing he would do is abolish DADT, PUMA's laughed and said he wouldn't because he had already shown what disdain he had for the gay community...and what do you know, they were right. I can go on an on with all the lies that he told you and yet....you keep saying you're going to hold his feet to the fire.

When exactly are you going to do that? How many more times are you going to be "talked down" before it clicks that you've been had? It looks to me that the PUMA's had him figured out a long time ago, not bad for a bunch of "loons", as Christopher calls them.

I never joined the PUMA group, I stayed independent of all the groups...I just made sure I did my homework. If you recall, I knew what Obama was about because he was my Senator, I had a lot more exposure to his dirty politics than most of you did. He never did fool me.

Start holding his feet to the fire, because the warm foot massage he's getting from you guys will not be to your benefit in the future, believe me.

I don't mean that in a nasty way, just pointing out the facts, that's all.

Mauigirl said...

Hi Mary Ellen, it may be possible to include that provision in the bill but it will never get anywhere. And while I'm not letting Obama off the hook, I'm sure a lot of the junk that got stuffed in that bill (and yes I agree there is a lot of junk) was stuck there by the Dems in the House - I have never been happy with them.

This president never said he was some kind of left wing liberal. Never. He always said he would try to work with the other side and that means compromise. I'm not saying it's good, but there it is.

I don't think after 3-1/2 weeks that we can tell one way or the other whether he has truly gone back on all his promises. He has to address the economy first. It is spiraling into total disaster. He IS a politician - and perhaps plays dirty sometimes, I have to take your word for it - but how the heck would he have been able to win otherwise?

Would you rather have Sarah Palin a heartbeat away from the Presidency? Would you rather have senile John McCain as President? Come on, Mary Ellen, you have to understand the difference! NO one is going to be perfect if they manage to win the presidency - it just takes so much money, which means they will never have completely clean hands or undivided loyalties. But it's the way it is. Without a revolution of some kind, the USA will not be any different in our lifetimes.

I still think it is totally refreshing to have an intelligent President for the first time in 8 years. And yes, he may compromise but I think his intentions are right. Let's see if he has learned his lesson the compromising and starts standing up more strongly for the progressive side of the aisle.

Mauigirl said...

Oops, "on" the compromising.

Reamus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Ellen said...

Obama said in many of his speeches while running for office that he would wait five days before signing any bill into law. He said that he would have it on the Internet for everyone to see for that five days. So, what do you think the chances are that he will wait until Wednesday to sign that bill and will it be on the Internet for five days first?

Obama also said there would be full transparency, no bills being formed behind closed doors. But that's exactly what the Dems did.

I can go on and on when it comes to his lies and you think that it's ok to lie to the American people because the ends justify the means?

Obama was lying well before he was the nominee for Prez and I guess it was ok for him to lie then, too?

And it's obvious that, from reading the post above,that you continue to believe his lies and call it "caution" in order to protect Americans. Honestly, how is he ANY different from Bush, Mauigirl?

Obama has alread proved himself to be cut from the same cloth as Bush. For example, when Bush enacted the States Secrets privilege which allowed him the ability to avoid judicial review and skirt accountablity by ending cases without consideration of the merits, you and the rest of the Democrats (especially the Progressives who are supporting Obama) were up in arms and blogging your hearts out about how we are losing our rights as citizens and the Constitution was being shredded.

Bush's states secrets order was used to stymie litigation at its very inception in cases alleging egregious Government misconduct, such as extraordinary rendition and warrantless eavesdropping on the communications of Americans.

Now...when it came time for Obama to vote against the telecommunication's immunity, he walked out and didn't vote on those amendments of the FISA bill...this was AFTER he voted yes on the FISA Bill.

Now...in the last week, instead of overturning the states secrets privilege, Obama and the DOJ embraced them.

So, you say you want to hold his feet to the fire and then you write a post and say that it's ok? Suddenly the outrage that was pointed at Bush has disappeared? Tell me, how do you justify that?

I'm sorry, Mauigirl, but this hypocrisy coming from the Obama supporters and so-called Progressives is mind boggling.

Here is a video of Obama making promises during his campaign and he has already broken every single one of them. Let's see if he waits five days to sign that stimulus bill and that he will have that stimulus bill on the Internet for five days first. I heard he will be signing it on Monday. You look at that bill and show me the names of the corporations who will be getting that money as he said he would give us. You tell me that NO lobbyists had anything to do with the writing of that bill. You tell me that the bill was written in open and not behind closed doors between only a few people. You tell me that there is no pork in that bill.

You keep telling yourself that Obama is nothing like Bush. Keep enabling the guy instead of calling him on his lies and back peddling. The Bush supporters did the same thing for eight years and look where it's brought out country. His mess will be on your hands, not on the hands of those like me who tried to warn you.

Mary Ellen said...

Oh...and I forgot to add, you asked if I thought we would be better off with McCain than Obama...I would say yes because if McCain were President, we WOULD be holding his feet to the fire and he would never have gotten away with putting together a so-called stimulus bill that is full of pork, and he never would have been able to get away with ramming this sham of a bill down our throats without it being read and dissected, and argued on the Senate floor. You and others would have been screaming bloody murder if he continued the renditions or said he had to "think" about it. You would not call him cautious, you would have called him another George Bush.

Again, I think the Democrats need to wake up and start acting like Democrats instead of a bunch of love-sick puppies. It's time to start acting like Americans who give a shit about our Constitutional rights and our country.

That's my last word on this, I'm tired of talking to a bunch of zombies.

Fran said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fran said...

I sure as HELL would not want McCain/Palin running the country. McCain would only perpetuate the bush policies and serve the interests of the wealthy, while killing the planet with the Drill Baby Drill plan.

Obama was handed the worst mess ever- this country is bankrupt and in ruins.
Every major topic is wrought with problems that the Obama admin needs to fix.
His first move is to get this stimulus bill passed- a bill that is designed to help both the country and the people... not the wealthy war profiteer people- the ones who are suffering and struggling.
Is it perfect in every way?
Does it fix every problem?
No & it is unreasonable to think it would.
But I join you & other progressives in sighing a huge sigh of relief that our new president is pushing for things like infrastructure repairs that create jobs, increasing Medicaid to help the poor, COBRA health insurance financial assistance to the 5 million unemployed, and helping people with money & Pell grants for College.
Do I think McCain woud do that? Not a chance.

The previous president called himself "a war president", he dedicated all resources and attention to war.

Obama is helping people. Big difference.
The fact that there is a focus on the needs of people who are struggling is a huge ray of hope and a giant step in the right direction.
If you want to see the bill, it is there to view.
If you want to comment there are avenues to give input.
All the items in the bill really do help average people.
Because while John McCain can't keep track of just how many houses he owns, the little people appreciate a $1500 energy efficient household
rebate money.

This is not to say I agree with rendition or war in Afghanistan, I am not a blind follower- but the changes being made are in line with his campaign promises. He has 8 years of gross mismanagement to undo, lets not expect him to do so in 3 weeks.

WHO started the rendition & war in Afghanistan?
These are messes Bush started & someone else has to fix.

One closing thought- for those who insist they know better or can do better.... why aren't you?
It's easy to be an armchair critic.
If you think you can do a better job... by all means, do so.
Run for president, win the election & wow us with your superior talents.