Thursday ReadsPosted: April 5, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, Civil Rights, George W. Bush, Mitt Romney, morning reads, torture, U.S. Politics | Tags: Condoleezza Rice, Eric Holder, George McGovern, giant feathered dinosaurs, hurricane katrina, Joe Scarborough, New Orleans police, Philip Zelikow, State Department, US Justice Department 21 Comments
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)?
Eric Holder also defended the President’s remarks:
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?
Bush Still Confused About Why Intelligence Agencies Didn’t Predict a Terrorist Attack on the U.S.Posted: August 29, 2011 Filed under: A My Pet Goat Moment, Psychopaths in charge, U.S. Politics | Tags: Aug. 6 pdb, Cofer Black, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, George W. Bush, Harriet Miers, National Geographic, Peter Schnall, terrorist attacks 19 Comments
Last night George W. Bush was interviewed Peter Schnall on a National Geographic Channel special leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Bush said to Schnall:
“At some point in time in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, I thought about why didn’t we know this?” Bush recalled.
“I knew we needed to figure out what went wrong to prevent other attacks but I didn’t want start the finger pointing and say to our intelligence communities, ‘You fouled up. You should have caught this. Why didn’t you know?’”
On Aug. 6, 2001, President Bush received a presidential daily briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” Here is the redacted text of the CIA briefing:
Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Laden since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S. Bin Laden implied in U.S. television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and “bring the fighting to America.”:
After U.S. missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Laden told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to a [deleted text] service.
An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told [deleted text] service at the same time that Bin Laden was planning to exploit the operative success to the U.S. to mount a terrorist strike.
The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Laden’s first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the U.S. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that BinLaden lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own U.S. attack.
Ressam says Bin Laden was aware of the Los Angeles operation.
Although Bin Laden has not succeeded, his attacks against the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Laden associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.
Al Qaeda members — including some who are U.S. citizens — have resided in and traveled to the U.S. for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks.
Two Al Qaeda members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our embassies in East Africa were U.S. citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.
A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Laden cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.
We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a [deleted text] service in 1998 saying that Bin Laden wanted to hijack a U.S. aircraft to gain the release of “Blind Shaykh” ‘Umar’ Abd aI-Rahman and other U.S.-held extremists.
Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns ofsuspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations forhijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.
The FBI is conducting approximately 70 investigations throughout the U.S. that it considers Bin Laden-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our embassy in the UAE in May saying that a group or Bin Laden supporters was in the U.S. planning attacks with explosives.
From the Washington Post, October 1, 2006:
On July 10, 2001, two months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, then-CIA Director George J. Tenet met with his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, at CIA headquarters to review the latest on Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist organization. Black laid out the case, consisting of communications intercepts and other top-secret intelligence showing the increasing likelihood that al-Qaeda would soon attack the United States. It was a mass of fragments and dots that nonetheless made a compelling case, so compelling to Tenet that he decided he and Black should go to the White House immediately.
Tenet called National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, and insisted on meeting with her right away. For months, Tenet had been worried about a terrorist attack in the U.S.
Tenet hoped his abrupt request for an immediate meeting would shake Rice. He and Black, a veteran covert operator, had two main points when they met with her. First, al-Qaeda was going to attack American interests, possibly in the United States itself. Black emphasized that this amounted to a strategic warning, meaning the problem was so serious that it required an overall plan and strategy. Second, this was a major foreign policy problem that needed to be addressed immediately. They needed to take action that moment — covert, military, whatever — to thwart bin Laden.
The United States had human and technical sources, and all the intelligence was consistent, the two men told Rice. Black acknowledged that some of it was uncertain “voodoo” but said it was often this voodoo that was the best indicator.
Tenet and Black felt they were not getting through to Rice. She was polite, but they felt the brush-off. President Bush had said he didn’t want to swat at flies.
Rice later claimed she did not recall this meeting at all, but White House records showed that it indeed happened.
A review of White House records has determined that George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, did brief Condoleezza Rice and other top officials on July 10, 2001, about the looming threat from Al Qaeda, a State Department spokesman said Monday.
The account by Sean McCormack came hours after Ms. Rice, the secretary of state, told reporters aboard her airplane that she did not recall the specific meeting on July 10, 2001, noting that she had met repeatedly with Mr. Tenet that summer about terrorist threats. Ms. Rice, the national security adviser at the time, said it was “incomprehensible” she ignored dire terrorist threats two months before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mr. McCormack also said records show that the Sept. 11 commission was informed about the meeting, a fact that former intelligence officials and members of the commission confirmed on Monday.
Then on Aug. 6, while he was on vacation, Bush received the pdb, and did nothing about it. He didn’t even contact Tenet or Rice, who were also on vacation. According to Dana Millbank and Mike Allen at the Washington Post, Bush didn’t seem worried after he received the pdb.
President Bush was in an expansive mood on Aug. 7, 2001, when he ran into reporters while playing golf at the Ridgewood Country Club in Waco, Tex.
The day before, the president had received an intelligence briefing — the contents of which were declassified by the White House Saturday night — warning “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US.” But Bush seemed carefree as he spoke about the books he was reading, the work he was doing on his nearby ranch, his love of hot-weather jogging, his golf game and his 55th birthday.
“No mulligans, except on the first tee,” he said to laughter. “That’s just to loosen up. You see, most people get to hit practice balls, but as you know, I’m walking out here, I’m fixing to go hit. Tight back, older guy — I hit the speed limit on July 6th.”
Bush spent most of August 2001 on his ranch here. His staff said at the time that by far the biggest issue on his agenda was his decision on federal funding of stem cell research, followed by education, immigration and the Social Security “lockbox.”
Why is Bush permitted to continue lying about 9/11 without being challenged? Why didn’t National Geographic ask him why he didn’t do anything after receiving the Aug. 6 pdb?
Late Night Open Thread: Thank Goodness We have a Different Madame Secretary NowPosted: May 8, 2011 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, Hillary Clinton, Iraq, Media, The Media SUCKS, U.S. Military, U.S. Politics | Tags: 9/11 Commission, August 6 PDB, Bob Woodward, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, George W. Bush, Iraq War, Lawrence O'Donnell, Osama bin Laden 9 Comments
Suddenly, in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the media is trotting out all the Bush administration war criminals to claim the credit. The most obnoxious of these has been Condoleezza Rice. Can you imagine being one of Condi’s students and having to sit through one this lying liar’s lectures?
Let’s flash back for a few moments to those heady days when Condi was in charge of U.S. foreign policy.
And this from Bob Woodward’s State of Denial?
Woodward writes that on July 10, 2001, then-CIA director George Tenet became so concerned about the communication intelligence agencies were receiving indicating that a terrorist attack was imminent that he went to the White House with counterterrorism chief J. Cofer Black — without an appointment — to meet with Rice, then the national security adviser. He and Black hoped the meeting would alert Rice to the urgency they felt.
But Tenet and Black felt that Rice gave them “the brush-off,” according to Woodward, telling them that a plan for coherent action against bin Laden was already in the works. Woodward writes that both Tenet and Black felt the meeting was the starkest warning the White House was given about bin Laden.
Please, Condi, just STFU. If we had a true leader as President, you’d be on trial for war crimes.