Thursday ReadsPosted: April 5, 2012
I think I have a few interesting links for you this morning, so let’s get right to it.
Those New Orleans cops who killed two people on the Danzinger Bridge after Hurricane Katrina got real prison time yesterday.
Four New Orleans police officers were sentenced to 38 to 65 years in prison for convictions including violating the civil rights of two people killed a week after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city in 2005.
U.S. District Judge Kurt D. Engelhardt in New Orleans sentenced a fifth officer today to six years in prison for covering up the crimes.
A federal jury in August convicted officers Kenneth Bowen, Robert Gisevius, Robert Faulcon and Anthony Villavaso of opening fire on unarmed black civilians on the city’s Danziger Bridge and conspiring with others to cover up their actions. The fifth, homicide detective Arthur “Archie” Kaufman, was convicted of conspiring to make the shootings appear justified.
“We hope that today’s sentences give a measure of peace and closure to the victims of this terrible shooting, who have suffered unspeakable pain and who have waited so patiently for justice to be done,” Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said in an e-mailed statement. “The officers who shot innocent people on the bridge and then went to great lengths to cover up their own crimes have finally been held accountable for their actions.”
Finally, some justice at a time when we are becoming aware of so many cases of African Americans being killed without any repercussions for the killers.
Last night I wrote about the judges of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordering the Justice Department to attend a hearing and be lectured about the President of the United States daring to make a few comments about his belief that the Supreme Court would not overturn the ACA. The hearing turned out to be even more ludicrous than I could have imagined. Jeffrey Toobin called it a “judicial hissy fit.”
An appeals court judge who claimed President Barack Obama was challenging the authority of federal courts was just throwing a “judicial hissy-fit,” according to CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
“Totally extraordinary and totally inappropriate,” Toobin said. “This was a judicial hissy-fit.”
U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith on Tuesday demanded a “three page, single spaced” letter from the Justice Department regarding the authority of the federal courts to strike down laws passed by Congress. Obama said Monday that the “unelected” Supreme Court should not to take the “extraordinary” and “unprecedented” step of striking down the Affordable Care Act.
“What the President said was entirely appropriate, entirely within his rights as an American citizen to express his opinions about this law,” Toobin continued.
“He wasn’t intimidating the Supreme Court. He couldn’t intimidate the Supreme Court if he wanted to. He was simply saying that he believes this law is constitutional, and this judge, doing this ridiculous patronizing act to the Department of Justice has simply made himself look ridiculous.”
A three-page, single spaced letter? Good grief! Of course the right wing nuts are overjoyed and crowing over this. Remember when they were so much against “judicial activism?” Remember just recently when Newt Gingrich talked about the dictatorship of the judges (or similar words)?
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday that the Justice Department will respond “appropriately” to a federal appellate judge in Texas who demanded a letter recognizing federal courts’ authority to strike down laws passed by Congress.
Holder spoke a day after 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jerry Smith questioned President Barack Obama’s remarks this week about an “unelected” court possibly striking down the president’s health care overhaul. Smith, during oral arguments in a separate challenge to the health law, asked the Justice Department for a three-page, single-spaced letter affirming the federal court’s authority.
When asked during a Wednesday news conference in Chicago what an appropriate response to Smith would be, Holder said, “I think what the president said a couple of days ago was appropriate. He indicated that we obviously respect the decisions that courts make.”
“Under our system of government … courts have the final say on the constitutionality of statutes,” Holder said. “The courts are also fairly deferential when it comes to overturning statutes that the duly elected representatives of the people, Congress, pass.”
Spencer Ackerman at the Danger Room got hold of a memo written by Philip Zelikow, who was an adviser to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in which he said that the torture techniques that had been supported by the Bush Justice Department amounted to war crimes.
Zelikow argued that the Geneva conventions applied to al-Qaida — a position neither the Justice Department nor the White House shared at the time. That made waterboarding and the like a violation of the War Crimes statute and a “felony,” Zelikow tells Danger Room. Asked explicitly if he believed the use of those interrogation techniques were a war crime, Zelikow replied, “Yes.”
Zelikow first revealed the existence of his secret memo, dated Feb. 15, 2006, in an April 2009 blog post, shortly after the Obama administration disclosed many of its predecessor’s legal opinions blessing torture. He briefly described it (.pdf) in a contentious Senate hearing shortly thereafter, revealing then that “I later heard the memo was not considered appropriate for further discussion and that copies of my memo should be collected and destroyed.” [….]
Zelikow’s memo was an internal bureaucratic push against an attempt by the Justice Department to flout long-standing legal restrictions against torture. In 2005, he wrote, both the Justice and State Departments had decided that international prohibitions against “acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture” do not “apply to CIA interrogations in foreign countries.” Those techniques included contorting a detainee’s body in painful positions, slamming a detainee’s head against a wall, restricting a detainee’s caloric intake, and waterboarding.
Zelikow wrote that a law passed that year by Congress, restricting interrogation techniques, meant the “situation has now changed.” Both legally and as a matter of policy, he advised, administration officials were endangering both CIA interrogators and the reputation of the United States by engaging in extreme interrogations — even those that stop short of torture.
Of course Zelikow couldn’t know back then that the next President, supposedly a Democrat would defend the war criminals in court and refuse to release videos and photos that would reveal the horrors of what the CIA had done.
Former Senator and 1972 presidential candidate George McGovern, who is 89, has been hospitalized in Florida. His daughter Ann McGovern told the AP that her dad
was admitted to Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, Fla., on Tuesday evening for tests to figure out why he occasionally passes out and loses his ability to speak, she said.
“He’s comfortable. The tests are continuing to see if they can determine what’s causing this,” Ann McGovern said.
Hospital officials said the elder McGovern is in stable condition. McGovern splits his time between Florida and South Dakota, where he was a South Dakota congressman from 1957 to 1961 and a U.S. senator from 1963 to 1981. He has been hospitalized several times in recent months, including for exhaustion.
South Dakota Democratic Party Chairman Ben Nesselhuf said McGovern looked great and was in good spirits when he attended the party’s annual fundraiser, named in his honor, last weekend in Sioux Falls. Nesselhuf said the former senator, who gave a 20-minute speech at the affair, resists efforts to schedule rest periods during such events because “he wants to do everything.”
Yesterday on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough came out and said what most people who have been watching the Republican clown show are thinking: Mitt Romney has no chance to win the presidency in 2012. In fact, Republicans are already looking ahead to 2016.
Joe Scarborough: Nobody thinks Romney is going to win. Can we just say this for everybody at home? I have yet to meet a person in the Republican establishment that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the general election this year. They won’t say it on TV because they’ve got to go on TV, and they don’t want people writing them nasty emails. I obviously don’t care. I have yet to meet anybody in the Republican establishment that worked for George W. Bush, that works in the Republican Congress, that worked for Ronald Reagan that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the general election.
Duh! Who wants to vote for a man who has made himself into a laughing stock?
Have you heard about the giant feathered dinosaur fossils that have been found in China? They were as big as a bus and had fuzzy feathers all over them.
The discovery of a giant meat-eating dinosaur sporting a downy coat has some scientists reimagining the look of Tyrannosaurus rex.
With a killer jaw and sharp claws, T. rex has long been depicted in movies and popular culture as having scaly skin. But the discovery of an earlier relative suggests the king of dinosaurs may have had a softer side.
The evidence comes from the unearthing of a new tyrannosaur species in northeastern China that lived 60 million years before T. rex. The fossil record preserved remains of fluffy down, making it the largest feathered dinosaur ever found.
If a T. rex relative had feathers, why not T. rex? Scientists said the evidence is trending in that direction.
“People need to start changing their image of T. rex,” said Luis Chiappe, director of the Dinosaur Institute at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, who was not part of the discovery team.
Those are my picks for today. What are you reading and blogging about?