Daily Archive: 09/10/2010

Sep 10 2010

Jonathan Turley: Concealing Torture

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Johnathan Turley:

If torture is a national security secret it should be disclosed

Sep 10 2010

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Joseph E. Stiglitz: A Better Way to Fix the US Housing Crisis

A sure sign of a dysfunctional market economy is the persistence of unemployment. In the United States today, one out of six workers who would like a full-time job can’t find one. It is an economy with huge unmet needs and yet vast idle resources.

The housing market is another US anomaly: there are hundreds of thousands of homeless people (more than 1.5 million Americans spent at least one night in a shelter in 2009), while hundreds of thousands of houses sit vacant.

Indeed, the foreclosure rate is increasing. Two million Americans lost their homes in 2008, and 2.8 million more in 2009, but the numbers are expected to be even higher in 2010. Financial markets performed dismally – well-performing, “rational” markets do not lend to people who cannot or will not repay – and yet those running these markets were rewarded as if they were financial geniuses.

None of this is news. What is news is the Obama administration’s reluctant and belated recognition that its efforts to get the housing and mortgage markets working again have largely failed. Curiously, there is a growing consensus on both the left and the right that the government will have to continue propping up the housing market for the foreseeable future. This stance is perplexing and possibly dangerous.

Dean Baker: The Wholly Fallible Ben Bernanke

Many have noted the resemblance between the Federal Reserve Board and the Catholic church. Both have long traditions of secret convocations: meetings of the open market committee and the College of Cardinals. Both have a revered leader: the chairman of the board of governors and the pope. And both have claims to infallibility.

OK, it is only the pope who can explicitly claim infallibility. In the case of the Fed chair, infallibility is bestowed by the business reporters and politicians who treat every word from the reigning Fed chair as a priceless pearl of wisdom.

This aura of infallibility is especially painful in the current economic situation when error seems to be the new religion of the Fed. Just to remind everyone – since so much denial has dominated the debate – the only reason that we are facing near double-digit unemployment and the worst economic calamity in 70 years is that the Fed was out to lunch in combating the housing bubble.

Hey, President Obama, over here! There’s still a housing crisis. Yoo Hooo

Sep 10 2010

Torture Is A War Crime, So Is Covering It Up

Court Dismisses a Case Asserting Torture by C.I.A. by Charlie Savage

A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that former prisoners of the C.I.A.  could not sue over their alleged torture in overseas prisons because such a lawsuit might expose secret government information.

The sharply divided ruling was a major victory for the Obama administration’s efforts to advance a sweeping view of executive secrecy powers. It strengthens the White House’s hand as it has pushed an array of assertive counterterrorism policies, while raising an opportunity for the Supreme Court to rule for the first time in decades on the scope of the president’s power to restrict litigation that could reveal state secrets. . . . .

   The decision bolstered an array of ways in which the Obama administration has pressed forward with broad counter-terrorism policies after taking over from the Bush team, a degree of continuity that has departed from the expectations fostered by President Obama’s campaign rhetoric, which was often sharply critical of President Bush’s approach.

   Among other policies, the Obama team has also placed a United States citizen on a targeted-killings list without a trial, blocked efforts by detainees in Afghanistan to bring habeas-corpus lawsuits challenging their indefinite imprisonment, and continued the C.I.A. rendition program . . . .

   As a senator and candidate for the White House, President Obama had criticized the Bush administration’s frequent use of the state-secrets privilege. In February 2009, when his weeks-old administration reaffirmed the Bush administration’s view on the case, civil libertarian groups that had supported his campaign expressed shock and dismay.

Glen Greenwald points out how far we haven fallen:

here’s what The New York Times’ John Schwartz reported in February, 2009, when the Obama DOJ first told the 9th Circuit that they were going to assert the same “state secrets” arguments in this case which the Bush DOJ made:  

“In a closely watched case involving rendition and torture, a lawyer for the Obama administration seemed to surprise a panel of federal appeals judges on Monday by pressing ahead with an argument for preserving state secrets originally developed by the Bush administration.”

 

Schwartz described how the judges on the appellate panel were so startled that they actually asked multiple times if the Obama DOJ was really sticking with the Bush position, as though they couldn’t believe what they were hearing.  What a quaint time that was, when people were surprised by Obama’s replicating Bush’s secrecy and Terrorism positions — the very ones he so vehemently condemned when running for President. After 18 months of seeing this over and over in multiple realms, nobody would react that way now.

The ACLU’s Ben Wizner on the decision:    

This is a sad day not only for the torture victims whose attempt to seek justice has been extinguished, but for all Americans who care about the rule of law and our nation’s reputation in the world. To date, not a single victim of the Bush administration’s torture program has had his day in court. If today’s decision is allowed to stand, the United States will have closed its courtroom doors to torture victims while providing complete immunity to their torturers. The torture architects and their enablers may have escaped the judgment of this court, but they will not escape the judgment of history.

h/t Marcy Wheeler @ FDL

My stand on torture, rendition, targeted assassinations, Guantanamo, Baghram, the two wars is pretty clear. These are war crimes. As per the Nuremberg Principles which the US signed and ratified, covering up the evidence is a war crime. There is already enough evidence to arrest and prosecute George W. Bush and Richard Cheney, along with their co-conspirators at the Hague. There is no statute of limitations, either.

Writing on Slate, the noted conservative constitutional scholar, Bruce Fein notes:

President Obama pledged to restore the rule of law. But the state-secrets-privilege wars with that promise.

I give you this from Paul Rosenberg at Open Left with regards to this case,

Obama Embraces Nazi Nurermberg Trials Logic: “They Were Only Following Orders”:

Sep 10 2010

On This Day in History: September 10

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

September 10 is the 253rd day of the year (254th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 112 days remaining until the end of the year

On this day in 1776, Nathan Hale volunteers to spy behind British lines

On this day in 1776, General George Washington asks for a volunteer for an extremely dangerous mission: to gather intelligence behind enemy lines before the coming Battle of Harlem Heights. Captain Nathan Hale of the 19th Regiment of the Continental Army stepped forward and subsequently become one of the first known American spies of the Revolutionary War.

the Battle of Long Island, which led to British victory and the capture of New York City, via a flanking move from Staten Island across Long Island, Hale volunteered on September 8, 1776, to go behind enemy lines and report on British troop movements. He was ferried across on September 12. It was an act of spying that was immediately punishable by death, and posed a great risk to Hale.

An account of Nathan Hale’s capture was written by Consider Tiffany, a Connecticut shopkeeper and Loyalist, and obtained by the Library of Congress. In Tiffany’s account, Major Robert Rogers of the Queen’s Rangers saw Hale in a tavern and recognized him despite his disguise. After luring Hale into betraying himself by pretending to be a patriot himself, Rogers and his Rangers apprehended Hale near Flushing Bay, in Queens, New York. Another story was that his Loyalist cousin, Samuel Hale, was the one who revealed his true identity.

British General William Howe had established his headquarters in the Beekman House in a rural part of Manhattan, on a rise between 50th and 51st Streets between First and Second Avenues Hale reportedly was questioned by Howe, and physical evidence was found on him. Rogers provided information about the case. According to tradition, Hale spent the night in a greenhouse at the mansion. He requested a Bible; his request was denied. Sometime later, he requested a clergyman. Again, the request was denied.

According to the standards of the time, spies were hanged as illegal combatants. On the morning of September 22, 1776, Hale was marched along Post Road to the Park of Artillery, which was next to a public house called the Dove Tavern (at modern day 66th Street and Third Avenue), and hanged. He was 21 years old. Bill Richmond, a 13-year-old former slave and Loyalist who later became famous as an African American boxer in Europe, was reportedly one of the hangmen, “his responsibility being that of fastening the rope to a strong tree branch and securing the knot and noose.”

By all accounts, Hale comported himself eloquently before the hanging. Over the years, there has been some speculation as to whether he specifically uttered the famous line:

I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.

But may be a revision of:

I am so satisfied with the cause in which I have engaged that my only regret is that I have not more lives than one to offer in its service.

The story of Hale’s famous speech began with John Montresor, a British soldier who witnessed the hanging. Soon after the execution, Montresor spoke with the American officer William Hull about Hale’s death. Later, it was Hull who widely publicized Hale’s use of the phrase. Because Hull was not an eyewitness to Hale’s speech, some historians have questioned the reliability of the account

Sep 10 2010

Morning Shinbun Friday September 10




Friday’s Headlines:

Qur’an burning: Nato troops shoot at Afghan protesters

USA

Florida pastor says he’s reconsidering plan to burn Korans

Marine Corps seeks to use buddy ethic to stem rise in suicides

Europe

The Germans who want the Wall back

The UN calls for direct talks between Serbia and Kosovo

Middle East

Iran to release one of three captured US hikers

Asia

China-Japan sea dispute escalates as Beijing demands fisherman’s release

Blind activist freed from jail – but China is still watching

Africa

Clinton: Sudan a ticking time bomb

Sep 10 2010

Goolsbee: Chair Council of Economic Advisors

Obama to Tap Goolsbee as Chair of Council of Economic Advisers

Administration sources tell ABC News that at the start of his press conference Friday morning, President Obama will formally announced that he is appointing University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee to be chair of his Council of Economic Advisers.

Goolsbee, 41, has already been confirmed by the Senate to serve as one of the three economists on the CEA; President Obama has the prerogative to appoint the chair. The former chair, Christina Romer, departed last week, returning to teach at the University of California at Berkeley. Goolsbee is also chief economist for the Presidential Economic Recovery Advisory Board. . . .

Goolsbee’s appointment will mean that all of the president’s top economic advisers — Goolsbee, National Economic Council director Larry Summers, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner — are white men who graduated from Ivy League schools. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

(no, not sexist, elist at all)

Once called “Elliott Ness meets Milton Friedman” by comedian Jon Stewart, Goolsbee considers himself a data driven economist known for his expertise in tax policy and high-tech industries.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Exclusive – Austan Goolsbee Extended Interview Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Exclusive – Austan Goolsbee Extended Interview Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Sep 10 2010

Goolsbee to Chair Council of Economic Advisors

Obama to Tap Goolsbee as Chair of Council of Economic Advisers

Administration sources tell ABC News that at the start of his press conference Friday morning, President Obama will formally announced that he is appointing University of Chicago economist Austan Goolsbee to be chair of his Council of Economic Advisers.

Goolsbee, 41, has already been confirmed by the Senate to serve as one of the three economists on the CEA; President Obama has the prerogative to appoint the chair. The former chair, Christina Romer, departed last week, returning to teach at the University of California at Berkeley. Goolsbee is also chief economist for the Presidential Economic Recovery Advisory Board. . . .

Goolsbee’s appointment will mean that all of the president’s top economic advisers — Goolsbee, National Economic Council director Larry Summers, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner — are white men who graduated from Ivy League schools. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

(no, not sexist, elist at all)

Once called “Elliott Ness meets Milton Friedman” by comedian Jon Stewart, Goolsbee considers himself a data driven economist known for his expertise in tax policy and high-tech industries.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Exclusive – Austan Goolsbee Extended Interview Pt. 1
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Exclusive – Austan Goolsbee Extended Interview Pt. 2
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Sep 10 2010

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? Unconstitutional!

Umm… breaking.

This is a Federal Court ruling in the 9th Circuit on an injunction sought by the Log Cabin Republicans, but it applies nationwide.

Judge Virginia Phillips ruled on First Amendment grounds (Free Speech and Assembly) and cited a “direct and deleterious effect” on the military.

So Barack- put up or shut up about your “fierce advocacy”.

Sep 10 2010

Prime Time

Thursday night Throwball, Favres @ Saints.  bmaz thinks this is the second coming of the apocalypse, I think the Mets have the day off which is almost as good as rain.  Last chance for Dave and the Boys this week, ditto Keith and Rachel all night long.

It’s hard to believe that “Go ahead, make my day” scores higher with the AFI than this-

I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Later-

Dave hosts Jack Hanna and Jamey Johnson.  Jon has Meghan McCain, Stephen Jim Webb, Joshua Bleill, Lt. Col. Brent Cummings (???, you should click this link), and John Legend as the conclusion of his tribute to the Troops.  Alton does tinned Tuna.

Adult Swim has a repeat of the Delocated Season Premier and my second favorite episode of Boondocks Season 3- The Red Ball.