History Commons Groups

December 14, 2008

All hell’s breaking loose…

Filed under: community,Miscellanenous — Max @ 10:25 am
Tags: , ,

in the news. Economic meltdowns, Blagojevich going psycho in Illinois, torture revelations coming thick and fast, Bush sneaking new regulations in under the wire, and more. And I read that after Obama takes office in January, former Bush officials and confidantes are preparing to let loose with a mudslide of revelations that will bury us all. Are we ready to handle this? Aside from everything else on our plates, how are we going to try to keep up with some of this info? Contributors, users, just plain folks, your thoughts are very welcome.

I’m sticking this to the front page to keep it going.

7 Comments »

  1. I don’t think we need to keep up with everything. People don’t come here for new news, but for, how could I put it, an overview of the backstory.

    The “call me on inaugration day” stories are interesting, but presumably slightly inaccurate – there is no need for the interviewees to wait for inauguration day to tell Hersh (or whoever) what is going on. They can tell him in advance and then embargo the information until January 20 or whenever you have it.

    If there is a concept for the Commons, then it should be to predict a couple of topics that will be hot in a couple of years and write about them in advance. There’s no real need to be up with breaking news.

    In fact, IMHO there is too much breaking news on the internet and not enough analysis. The most important thing we do is to tell people stuff they don’t know, not repeat what everybody can find elsewhere (although, in time, we need to cover this too to get the full picture).

    So I guess we just keep ploughing on, although I am certainly interested to see what will come out.

    Comment by kevinfenton — December 14, 2008 @ 4:34 pm | Reply

  2. Oh, I definitely agree. We are not a breaking news site by any stretch. It’s not that we have to keep up with the headlines, but we can’t get so far behind that we’ll never get within shouting distance of current events.

    Your “overview of the backstory” characterization is quite apt.

    By the way: if this predicted tsunami of “dirt” comes out in late January and beyond, it will not just be current headlines, but material that will go back as much as eight years. We’ll have to not only include new info with the old, but in some cases revamp the old stuff to incorporate the new. For one, I anticipate a lot of new info that will impact the Prisoner Abuse and Civil Liberties timelines, as well as others.

    Comment by Max — December 14, 2008 @ 5:09 pm | Reply

  3. It seems some members of Congress are attempting early damage control. For example, Silvestre Reyes (the current Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee) has advised Obama to keep Hayden and McConnell and suggested that Obama should think twice about discontinuing the illegal CT programs. Reyes became a member of the House Intelligence Committee in 2001 and thus was a member of the 9/11 Joint Inquiry. He became Chairman after the Democrats regained the House in the 2006 mid-term elections. IMO, his initial participation in the JI coverup enabled the post 9/11 illegal CT programs. So it seems politicians like Reyes want continuity mainly for personal CYA reasons.

    Hayden is a key official as he was there in the beginning. Actually he was there when the withholding (of alHazmi/alMihdhar are in the US intel) first started in January 2000. IMO, this is extremely important to recognize because it spans Presidential administrations. We also have the Tenet and Clarke continuity from Clinton to Bush. The point being that the D vs. R paradigm is too simplistic. There is a bipartisan effort to keep things from the public regardless of which party controls the Executive Branch.

    Comment by Mike — December 15, 2008 @ 1:00 am | Reply

  4. I’ll be interested to see if Obama actually considers keeping either Hayden or McConnell.

    Comment by Max — December 15, 2008 @ 7:54 am | Reply

  5. Glenn Greenwald on Bill Moyers’ Journal:

    What we have, in the last eight years, is not merely a case of individual and isolated law breaking. It’s a declaration of war on the whole idea of a law itself, on the idea that our political leaders are constrained in any way by the limitations of the American people imposed through our Congress. The rule of law has essentially ceased to exist. And that I do think is quite new.

    [I]f you have a president who repeatedly and deliberately broke some of the nation’s most serious laws and the country decides that, just like ordinary Americans when they break the law, the president should be held accountable and subjected to investigation and prosecution, there probably is no way to do that without creating some divisiveness.

    I mean, it’s going to be a controversial thing to do. The problem is that if you decide that you’re not going to do it in order to pursue political harmony or bipartisanship, what you’re essentially announcing is what we’ve been announcing for decades. When we pardoned Richard Nixon for his crimes, when the Iran-Contra criminals were pardoned and now even continue to serve in government, which is that the rule of law is not for our highest political officials.

    Barack Obama could do several things. He could form a commission of the type that investigated 9/11 attacks that is endowed with absolute subpoena power to disclose all of the facts which, to this day, are still suppressed regarding how this government spied on American citizens, what it is that we did to detainees, all of the other programs that we don’t know about that are violative of the law so that all of those facts are disclosed and the American citizens can assess what ought to be done.

    He could appoint a prosecutor, someone like Patrick Fitzgerald, who’s renowned for independence and integrity, and tell him, “Investigate these accusations the way that all other criminal accusations are investigated. And wherever the chips may fall that’s what should happen,” because we don’t have a country where our political class has a license to break the law.

    [W]hat happens if you allow serious law breaking to go unpunished is you’re telling political leaders, current and future, that there’s no need for you to abide by the law. There’s no reason for you to consider yourself constrained or limited in what you do. Because even if you commit crimes while in office, we’re going to be too afraid of creating divisiveness, that’s we’re going to allow you to do that. And you incentivize the political class, as they’ve been doing, to break the law at will. And the damage that comes from that is infinitely worse than whatever this divisiveness is that so many people are afraid of when citing why we should let these criminals go free.

    [W]hat you’re getting at is the reason why the political class on a bipartisan basis is coming together to say, “Oh, no, we don’t want to investigate these crimes. We think it’s best to let it go.” It’s not because they’re being magnanimous. It’s not because they think it’s important that Barack Obama be able to fix the economy undistracted by the controversies that would be created.

    It’s because [t]op Democrats were complicit in these crimes and assented to them. I mean, it wasn’t just the warrantless eavesdropping.

    In 2002, as the WASHINGTON POST documented, Nancy Pelosi was brought to the CIA and along with Jane Harman and Bob Graham and Jay Rockefeller, the key Intelligence Committee Senators, were told about the torture program that the CIA had implemented, that we were going to water board and had water boarded certain suspects, that we were going to do things like hypothermia and stress positions and forced nudity and sleep deprivation.

    All of the tactics that we’ve always said characterized tyrannies that used torture. That we were going to start using them ourselves, even though they clearly violate both international and domestic law. And according to all public reports, and they’re not denied by the participants, every single Democrat in that session either quietly assented to it or actively approved of it.

    And so the question then becomes, well, as a matter of political reality, how is Barack Obama going to encourage investigations of crimes to be undertaken when the leading members of his own party were, if not participants, certainly complicit? And there are things that he could do. He could appoint, as I said, an independent prosecutor and say take this road to wherever it leads. And if it leads to leading Democrats who you think have criminal liability, so be it.

    BILL MOYERS: So would you be prepared as a lawyer to narrow this down to just the perpetrators, if they can be identified, who authorized, knowingly authorized torture and a violation of the Geneva Accords? Would you begin there? And if so, whom would you indict?

    GLENN GREENWALD: I would absolutely start at the top. We know from public reports that interrogation techniques, specify interrogation techniques, that every civilized country regards as torture were choreographed and approved of at the highest levels of the Bush administration inside the White House at the so-called principles meeting.

    We know that the president himself ordered illegal surveillance on the American people even after his own Justice Department told him that doing that was illegal and even after they threatened to resign if it didn’t stop. So this is the kind of criminal intent, deliberate law breaking that we punish on a daily basis in this country.

    BILL MOYERS: So would you be prepared as a lawyer to narrow this down to just the perpetrators, if they can be identified, who authorized, knowingly authorized torture and a violation of the Geneva Accords? Would you begin there? And if so, whom would you indict?

    GLENN GREENWALD: I would absolutely start at the top. We know from public reports that interrogation techniques, specify interrogation techniques, that every civilized country regards as torture were choreographed and approved of at the highest levels of the Bush administration inside the White House at the so-called principals meeting.

    We know that the president himself ordered illegal surveillance on the American people even after his own Justice Department told him that doing that was illegal and even after they threatened to resign if it didn’t stop. So this is the kind of criminal intent, deliberate law breaking that we punish on a daily basis in this country.

    I think it’s imperative that the inaugural address be an expression of the political values that he intends to have guide him during his presidency from the first day on. And so I think it’s vital that he renounce the core theories that have made the Bush presidency so lawless.

    And so, for instance, I think he needs to say that he doesn’t intend to view himself as being above the rule of law, that he intends to be faithful to the vision and design of the founders that the president, like everybody else, is subjected to the rule of law and to the laws that the American people enact through their representatives in Congress. I think that’s vital.

    BILL MOYERS: I’ve never known a president – it’s not in the nature of political men to give away the powers inherited in their office.

    GLENN GREENWALD: Well, there are real difficulties for him to fulfill the agenda that he committed to as he spent the last two years running for president. He renounced the core theories of the Bush administration that vested the president with the powers that we’ve been describing and vowed that he would renounce them almost immediately upon taking office.

    The idea that Article Two allows the president to disregard congressional statutes or to interrogate prisoners. There are certain things that he could do by executive order such as closing Guantanamo – ordering the enhanced interrogation technique, the so-called torture program, to cease immediately.

    But what really is necessary beyond those specific measures that he can do unilaterally is to have a restoration of the separation of powers and the checks and balances in our government. I mean, Congress has become virtually invisible, impotent, powerless, by its own accord, almost voluntarily. And so until Congress reasserts itself and insists that the president’s powers be constrained by what the Constitution prescribes Obama can take steps that are positive unilaterally.

    But it won’t really be a true restoration of our constitutional form of government. It’ll almost be as though we have a benevolent dictator, somebody who exercises unilateral power in ways that are good or ways that are better. But we need Congress to reassert itself in terms of how the government functions.

    Comment by Yvonne/99PercentPure — December 15, 2008 @ 10:12 pm | Reply

  6. Can’t beleive he’ll keep Hayden. McConnell is just a confused old man. What good is a DNI anyway?

    Comment by kevinfenton — December 16, 2008 @ 11:16 am | Reply

  7. Okay, let’s unsticky this post and move on.

    Comment by Max — December 22, 2008 @ 1:47 am | Reply


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