Friday, February 6, 2009

Dangerous Waters you're swimming in...

A question for our Republican friends...

Even though the new President has bent over backwards to be bipartisan, even at the risk of pissing off his own base, he's done so...and you've slapped him in the face for it.

He caved to some of your demands on putting tax cuts into the Stimulus, even though it may be a bad idea.

He's open to trimming some of (but not all) of the size of the Stimulus (it still has to be in the $800 Billion dollar range, though).

And now he's even caved to your (well, Kit Bond's) self-important demand that the CIA Interrogators won't be prosecuted.

Here's my question. What if the Stimulus goes down?

What if it takes Bipartisanship with it?

What's going to save your CIA Interrogators then?

If Stimulus goes down, what incentive is there for the Obama Administration not to declare all out war on the Bush Administration? What's to stop the Justice Department? More importantly (and constitutionally, since its their Stimulus Bill you're pissing on) what's to stop the House?

It's the old Washington saying, the enemy isn't the other party, it's the Senate.

If I were my Republican friends, I'd think long and hard about this.

UPDATE: (3:02pm, Pacific):
Maybe, maybe...never mind...

Originally posted at Fort McHenry...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A matter of emphasis...

I love the Mainstream Media because you can always go there to get such straight answers.

Can you detect the sarcasm in my voice? It's a blog, it's hard to tell.

For example, in Reuters today, you see the following headline: Obama CIA pick may back "limited" abuse prosecution.

President Barack Obama's choice to head the CIA said on Thursday he would support "limited" prosecution of any agents who deliberately violated the law in interrogating terrorism suspects.

Former White House chief of staff Leon Panetta, in Senate confirmation hearings on his nomination, broke with outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden to support a congressional inquiry into the agency's detention and interrogation program launched after the September 11 attacks.

He said the Senate Intelligence Committee would be an appropriate place for an inquiry "to learn lessons from what happened" in the program, and said he would do everything he could to cooperate.

Ahhh, wonderful to hear.

But wait a minute Reuters is European. (Damn you, old Europe!!) Time Magazine, a fine American publication, on the other hand, has a different take entirely called: Panetta: Don't Punish Waterboarding.

CIA Director nominee Leon Panetta says the CIA interrogators who used waterboarding or other harsh techniques against prisoners on the authority of the White House should not be prosecuted.

Panetta told a Senate panel on Thursday that those individuals should not be prosecuted or investigated if they acted pursuant to the law as presented by the attorney general.

See, America the trick gotta keep reading, because Time Magazine eventually says the same thing, despite its headline; which as you know is written by someone else.

However, Panetta says that if interrogators went beyond the methods that they were told were legal, they should be investigated and prosecuted.

The Bush White House approved CIA waterboarding of three prisoners in 2002 and 2003. The CIA banned the practice internally in 2006.

President Barack Obama has prohibited harsh interrogation techniques.

For the record, that's whole Time article.

But before we go cheering Reuters, they loop back as well:

Panetta said he considered "waterboarding" to be torture, but did not support prosecuting agents who relied on high-level legal guidance allowing such techniques.

But at the same time...

However, "if there were those who deliberately violated the law, and deliberately took actions which were above and beyond the standards presented to them, then obviously in those limited cases there should be prosecution," he said.

This is all good, but the truth of what's going to happen probably lies somewhere in between Reuters and Time. I bet Panetta wouldn't mind prosecuting some of his guys, if for no other reason than to get them to squeal on the big fish: Rummy, Cheney and the unemployable Gonzalez. But remember, he's not a prosecutor. He also doesn't want to start a rebellion on his first day at Langley.

The best strategy is to punt the thing to Congress, and let them do the dirty (and constitutionally mandated) work.

But if there's one thing to bear in mind, that did put me in a bit of a cold sweat, it's this paragraph from the Reuters article:

Panetta said he would if necessary ask Obama to allow harsher interrogations than those covered by the Army Field Manual, which the president last month set as the government standard. The manual bans techniques such as waterboarding.

"I would not hesitate," to seek broader interrogation authority, Panetta said, adding "I think that this president would do nothing that would violate the laws that are in place."

He promised to tell Congress if Obama were to authorize a departure from standards the president imposed last month.

So...the President might go back to torture, but he'll warn us first?

I don't see how that stands with "this president would do nothing that would violate the laws that are in place." Methinks (mehopes) this is a way to placate the Republicans on the panel.

Originally posted on Fort McHenry.

All Aboard!

The Powers-that-Be at SEI have entrusted me with the mission of formally welcoming the newest members of the team: Jasper Palmer and admiralmpj. Suckers! But they've signed all the contracts and have agreed to the minimal stipend amount, so they're bound for life.

Hailing from intriguing and exotic Prince George's County, Maryland (rumoured to be in the greater Washington D.C. area) both men bring refreshing voices of progressive dissent and unique perspectives.

That sounded good, didn't it? Truth is, I haven't seen or spoken to these two since the mid 80s when we all attended the same high school so, whatever. Remember: we provide nothing but the best here at S.E.I., me. Yea. Seriously.

Gentlemen, go to it!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The "New Face of G.O.P." Brings Same Old Shit Rhetoric and Bully Tactics


Photo: The New York Times
Last Friday the Republican National Committee elected as its chairman Michael Steele---the first African American to hold the position in the party's 155-year history.

While Steele, a former lieutenant governor from Maryland who lost a bid for the Senate in 2006, represents a break from the whitey-white Republican past, he brings to the table an even brasher and brawnier (and dumber?) style to politic-ing than the Elephants have been known for historically.

With Steele at the helm, the "new face" of the Republican Party has thrown its contempt at the bipartisanship that President Obama has made one of the stylistic touchstones of his first weeks in office. That became clear from the moment Steele took the job on Friday, as he invited Obama to join him in the muddy ring of politics.

“It’s going to be an honor to spar with him,” Steele said, before throwing down the gauntlet to Obama with: “How ya like me now?” Great, what we really need, as the nation is in the throes of a devastating depression, is some maverick mo-mo showboating as Kool Moe Dee.

On Saturday, Steele appeared at a retreat for House Republicans where he celebrated their refusal to give Obama a single vote for his economic recovery plan in language that was at the very least eyebrow-raising, given the country's economic problems and the valid concern of some Republicans for the future of the G.O.P.

“The goose egg you laid on the president’s desk was just beautiful,” he said. For those whose memories need jogging, this is the same bozo who, if he didn’t invent what became the signature chant of the Republican presidential campaign, certainly popularized it when he spoke at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota. “Drill, baby, drill,” he said, grinning broadly as the crowd picked up the slogan and repeated it for nearly 30 seconds.

Sometimes there is nothing one can do but shake his head in amazement at the stupidity of this...grand old party, which seems to have sabotaged and derailed itself so far off the tracks of reality that it's become the laughingstock of civilized people around the world.