Archive for November 5th, 2007
What can one add to this? And what does it tell us that the story has been met with a collective yawn from the rest of the media? We have become so accustomed, so inured, to what would once have been unthinkable, that a story such as this, right out of a bad B-movie, is seen as business-as-usual, dog-bites-man.
I have been reluctant to say such things before now, but those stubborn facts keep adding up, and, if the Greenburg story is accurate, it’s hard to resist the simple conclusion that Gonzales and others were engaged, not only in an effort to completely distort the proper function of OLC (see generally Jack Goldsmith’s book), but also in a conspiracy to violate the Torture Act and the War Crimes Act (which at the time prohibited such conduct). When responsible, thoughtful lawyers — loyal conservative, Republican lawyers, mind you — told them that what they had approved was unlawful, they got rid of the lawyers, and concocted alternative, and patently ridiculous, legal advice (and rewarded the lawyer who was willing to sign his name to that advice).
I’m trying to avoid hyperbole, honest. But how is this not a huge scandal, in form (but certainly not in degree) directly analogous to what we, at Nuremburg, prosecuted German Justice Department lawyers for having done? (And no, I am am not saying that the crimes committed here are analogous to those approved by German lawyers, so please don’t go there in the comments thread.)
When future generations look back on this era of American history, I’m increasingly convinced that the harshest verdicts will be saved for the lawyers, people like David Addington, John Yoo, and Alberto Gonzales. These were the people who were supposed to be the brakes, not the gas. They’re the people who were supposed to speak up for the law and for the Constitution, the people whose job it was to ensure that we are governed by laws and not men. And not only did they abdicate this responsibility, they chose to use their power of interpretation to make a mockery of the law. That’s the worse kind of betrayal. It’s like a doctor who uses his knowledge to harm instead of heal. Such will be the legacy of the torture lawyers.
UPDATE: Then again, maybe we’ve already gone too far down this road.
From Larry Johnson’s Web site (LJ is a former CIA official). Look at who signed this (at the end).
A group of distinguished intelligence and military officers, diplomats, and law enforcement professionals delivered an urgent message this morning to the chairman and the ranking minority member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling on them to hold the nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey until he takes a clear position on the legality of waterboarding.
Their message strongly endorses the view of former judge advocates general that waterboarding “is inhumane, is torture, is illegal.” The intelligence veterans added it is also a notoriously unreliable way to acquire accurate information.
They noted that the factors cited by the president and Mukasey as obstacles to his giving an opinion on waterboarding can be easily solved by briefing Mukasey on waterboarding and on C.I.A. interrogation methods.
The intelligence veterans noted that during their careers they frequently had to walk a thin line between morality and expediency, all the while doing their best to abide by the values the majority of Americans have held in common over the years. They appealed to Senators Pat Leahy and Arlen Specter to rise to the occasion and discharge their responsibility to defend those same values.
THE MEMORANDUM FOLLOWS. OF NOTE: YOU MAY REPRINT THIS MEMORANDUM AT ANY BLOG OR SITE, IN FULL, AND WITH PROPER ATTRIBUTION AND A LINK BACK TO No Quarter.
MEMORANDUM FOR: Chairman and Ranking Member Senate Committee on the Judiciary
FROM: Former U.S. Intelligence Officers
SUBJECT: Nomination of Michael Mukasey for Attorney General
Dear Senators Leahy and Specter,
Values that are extremely important to us as former intelligence officers are at stake in your committee’s confirmation deliberations on Judge Michael Mukasey. With hundreds of years of service in sensitive national security activities behind us, we are deeply concerned that your committee may move his nomination to the full Senate without insisting that Mukasey declare himself on whether he believes the practice of waterboarding is legal.
We feel this more acutely than most others, for…
I am a believer in the joy and benefits of reading classic (“great”) books. Here’s an interesting post on how to read them (given that you already accept the “why”).
BTW, I clicked the link for The Well Educated Mind to get the Amazon.com page, then clicked my little bookmarklet that checked my local library. Yep, they had it, so I put a hold on it.
If you haven’t really tried reading great books for a while, and if you’re over 40, try reading Madame Bovary. I don’t think under-40’s can really grasp and appreciate the book so well as those of a certain age. I read it in high school and was bored to tears—I don’t think I finished it. In my junior year of college, I read it again, and though it had some interest, I didn’t quite see what the fuss was about. I read it again when I was 40 and I couldn’t put it down.
Or, as recently posted on the blog, perhaps it’s time to try War and Peace, with the new translation and all.
Let me know what you think of it so far: beginning of cooking compendium.
The Wife suggests that I warn people about my perennial editing fixation—though I prefer to think of it as “iterative refinement.” But in fact I do go back over what I’m writing and tinker a lot—adding things I forgot to mention, deleting unnecessary words, making verbs transitive when possible, and so on. So I welcome your suggestions, and note that what you see now in the download is definitely not what the final product will be.
In what he described as “an emergency mission to help a key ally in the war on terror,” President George W. Bush flew to Islamabad today to give General Pervez Musharraf tips on how to eliminate democracy.
Mr. Bush said he scheduled the trip just hours after General Musharraf declared a state of emergency in Pakistan and suspended elections “because when it comes to eliminating democracy, I thought my friend Pervez could benefit from my experience.”
Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One, Mr. Bush said that while he commended General Musharraf’s impulse to eliminate democratic institutions, he felt that the military strongman was going about it the wrong way: “When you’re getting rid of democracy, the last thing you want to do is tell people you’re doing it.”
Mr. Bush said that eliminating such things as privacy, freedom of speech and the constitution had to be done “very quietly and stealthy-like.”
“If I had gone on TV one day and just ended democracy like Pervez did, I would have caught holy hell from Maureen Dowd,” Mr. Bush chuckled. “You’ve got to be crafty about these things.”
Mr. Bush chalked up Mr. Musharraf’s decision to disclose the elimination of democracy as a “beginner’s mistake,” adding, “I’ve had six-plus years of practice at this.”
He also criticized the Pakistani dictator’s firing of the chief justice of the Supreme Court: “Trust me, if you’re going to get rid of elections, a Supreme Court could come in handy.”
Elsewhere, astronauts spent Saturday morning repairing a solar panel on the International Space Station, then spent the rest of the day drinking and stalking ex-lovers.
EcoGeek has this info on the Helix wind turbine for home use:
Home-based wind power solutions are, as of now, not extremely practical. A lot of them require significant height, a big initial investment, and some unfortunate regulatory hoops that must be jumped through.
But Helix Wind is attempting to overcome some of those obstacles with their 2-kilowatt rated wind turbine. First, the turbine spins no matter what direction the wind comes from (including vertically) so it can be mounted lower, and generates more energy in turbulent (urban) environments. The turbine can be mounted lower, so installation costs will be lower, and regulations less significant.
Lots of information at the Helix Wind link—especially see the FAQs.
Finally, after a years-long wait, I have been able to get the wonderful Century Plaza album by the World’s Greatest Jazz Band: Yank Lawson, trumpet; Billy Butterfield, trumpet & flugelhorn; Bob Wilber, clarinet & soprano sax; Vic Dickenson, trombone; Eddie Hubble, trombone; Ralph Sutton, piano; Bob Haggart, bass; and Gus Johnson, Jr., drums. I’m listening to it now—how great it is to hear it again.