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27 June 2008

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sdnadh

these boys and their bosses are war criminals. does anyone have the balls to do anything about this? that may be rhetorical. we no longer stand for anything. I think Emerson said: The mind of this country, taught to aim at low objects, eats upon itself.

Duncan Kinder

The arrogance with which these nasties behaved before a committee of the peoples tribunes is appalling.


Their conduct has a touch of Shakespeare's Coriolanus about it.

Unfortunately for them, while they may share Coriolanus' demeanor, they lack his substance.


zanzibar

It could not be more obvious that these guys and their bosses - Cheney and Bush - have only contempt for the Constitution. After all they have operated on the basis that they are the law for close to 8 years.

They have shown future generations of "monarchists and fascists" that they can get away with anything since Congress will not use its constitutional powers to hold any of these radical traitors to account.

Under the rubric of "let bygones be bygones" or "boys will be boys" or whatever we have established that those holding the highest offices in the land can break the most sacrosanct laws with impunity since there will never be any penalty. This will naturally lead to some tragic consequences that we can all anticipate.

Peter C

Congress showed just how neutered they are. Congress should immediately cease to fund the VPs office. This is the only way that Congress can signal the Executive that they mean business. After the first insolent action by Addingtion, the hearing should have been suspended, and an emergency meeting of the Appropriations Committee convened. Congress is now officially a dead organ.

Neo

I've always wanted to see somebody give a Congressional committee a body slam .. and this is about as close as it will ever get.

Dave of Maryland

In seven months Addington's boss will be out of power & he himself once again subject to the whims of fortune.

So why wasn't he trying to cover his rear? Kiss up to people he might need in the near future? When he had the chance?

Fred

A true American has a choice: You can either support the lawlessness of the bush cabal, or you support the Constitution - you cannot do both. Thay are exact opposites within the moral spectrum. Which side are you on?

Cromwell's severed head

One of the more disturbing aspects about this, is that such events don't even make a ripple in the pond anymore. The News Hour last night, didn't even mention it in their news summary, let alone devote a segment to it in their coverage.
Never underestimate the power of denial. Sail on Titanic.

Charles I

"The arrogance with which these nasties behaved before a committee of the people's tribunes is appalling."

True enough.

But it is the irredeemable failure of the people's tribunes to behave as such that is crippling - enabling the arrogance of these wreckers. And far worse.

Cujo359

I was appalled at the implications of Yoo's answer to Conyer's question about whether he felt it was OK for the President to order someone buried alive. At first, I thought that was a hypothetical question, and Yoo's reluctance to answer seemed odd given his past behavior. It turns out that this wasn't such a hypothetical question.

It's a rare day when the Bush Administration still shocks me. Yesterday was one of them.

walrus

Nothing will be done. Your Members of Congress are dependent on political donations for their re-election.

Unless the donors want war crimes trials, there will be none.

That is the source of their spinelessness and shame.

Pity, that.

Warren Street

Was Addington trying to look strong? He looked like he believed his own press.

Was he trying to look like Admiral Poindexter up there, before the B-list of the US House? What would Mr. Addington do between a handful of informed Senators, besides appeal to the Republicans for someone to give him a few more softballs before resuming his childish behavior?

Had this man appeared with everything reversed, and been contemptuous to the Republicans in the House or Senate, he would now be in the process of being howled out of Washington, and perhaps your neighborhood as well.

Paul

I was not surprised by the antics of Addington and Yoo. Their performance only made them more hated by those with a concern for our form of government.

Despite their gains in the 2006 election cycle, democrats do not have an big enough majority to do any damage to these clowns.

What distubs me is the fact that most of the Republican members of the committee did not attend the hearings. What is wrong with the Republicans? Does George Bush have compromising photos of those absentee members? Are Bush/Cheney so sacred that they can do no wrong?

Sidney O. Smith III

The tragedy of this hearing is multifold but one is that the representatives missed a golden opportunity to cross-examine Addington and totally annihilate his view. The opportunity was there. It was a perfect setting.

In my opinion, all the representatives had to do was to yield their questions to one person -- an expert who is adept at the art of cross examination. Someone, say, on par with Patrick “Bulldawg” Fitzgerald. And this one person should have spent the last month preparing a “thorough and sifting” cross-examination.

You are not going to nail Addington with a few soft ball questions by a variety of people who simply want a sound bite on the telly. No, you need to go for the jugular with very incisive questions presented in a methodical yet relentless manner that slowly bring out the truth. Typically the more arrogant the witness, then the more beautiful the cross examination, as all those who are interested in the outcome see the character crack and fall in a series of questions that continually raise the tension of the experience.

As a sports analogy, the end of an extremely well prepared cross examination would have popped Addington as hard as, say, a hit by Ronnie Lott. Addington would have been knocked unconscious. He would have never gotten up.

In the Senate, I think Feingold could have pulled off such a cross examination like a work of art. Hagel probably could as well, as long as he gave it the prep time. At least right now, I do not have much confidence in ol’ born fighting himself, Sen. Webb. Can’t quite figure out his m.o. But maybe I am wrong and he could pull it off too.

William R. Cumming

Enough of these asides. Reform of the DOJ in long overdue. Created in 1933 despite what some may believe, DOJ should be returned solely to the organization which coordinates and conducts the litigation position of the Executive Branch before the federal judiciary. No Bomb squads (AT&F), no DEA, etc. And of course no FBI! These could be in DHS or independent. Congress in the form of the Judiciary Committees for years failed to conduct effective oversight of DOJ. For almost 30 years its funding has increased much more on average than any other civil agency. Watching the trial divisions relate to each other is like herding cats. The Office of Solictor General has maintained its respectability but only barely. The barons and chiefs in DOJ make pre-Magna Carta Earls and Dukes look like children. Let's start with DOJ being outgunned whenever real meat is on the table in litigation. As to arguments like the unitary executive, these float around for years waiting for the fertile but impaired mind to flower. The President does have two hats. Commander-In_Chief and Chief Executive. Almost NO legal analysis of the conflicts inherent in this dual hatted system exist. Any why the deference on foreign policy well partly ignorance of all concerned. An understaffed, poorly funded STATE Dept. has no chance when competing with the proconsuls of DOD in the various regions of the world. Theft of US weaponary, not gifts, is one of the world's largest business enterprises! Why? Send a few flag rank officers to jail for thefts occurring under their commands and document their failure to protect armories and other logistic systems and perhaps there would be improvement. And by the way, ever wonder how the DOD energy operation works? Addington and Yoo are typical of gun-for-hires that some law schools produce. There needs to be a FEDERAL Unitary BAR not state by state. Reform is possible as long as it is desired. Tough but can be done. Robert Bork learned to his dismay that just because he argued academic freedom did not mean some of tortured writings would not be held against him in confirmation. A lifetime of experience is different than the OJT that started when Ed Meese followed William French Smith and ran DOJ with 35 Special Assistants. Again no one home in the Senate or House Judiciary Committees while DOJ trampled Justice. Review the INSLAW case if in doubt. Individuals do make a difference. Who confirmed Addington and Yoo? Having personally been a shock absorber in many DOJ/DOD meetings watching a pro like Mary Lawton (long deceased) uphold the Constitution compared to some of the wretches sent forth by both organizations was instructive as to how real democratic principles in our Republic can be upheld and provide guidance. But the legal profession is derelict also. It was not until Professor's Raven-Hansen and Dycus started a National Security casebook that law schools started to delve into the national security state warned about by many including Presidents. Then with treatises by Professor John Norton Moore and others national security started to be closely examined. By the way National Security Courses are now one of the most popular electives in law schools. Why? Small time, middle-time- and even big time lawyers get bored after practicing law for 20 or 30 years and may decide to run for Mayor, Congress or even the Senate. Which reminds me did Senator Obama take any national security law courses at Harvard? In his long but forshortened Naval Career did Senator McCain take Law of the Sea courses? What was he taught about military/civil issues?

Stephen Calhoun

...the most Kafka-esque moment so far. (And, we've had a lot of 'em.)

Addington probably immensely enjoys the natterings of the (to him) little people. I wonder if instead of contempt for the Constitution (etc.) he merely is contemptuous of anybody who takes words on paper seriously.

There's a certain character often encountered in prep school who enjoys such large legacy advantages, that they understand they need not make any effort, develop any skill, strive to be popular. They are smug bastards. Yet they know that soon enough they'll be able to ignore opponents where they can't simply squish them. So "morality" and "principal" is something other people obsess about while they live where the will to power is the only rule.

It is patently obvious that a country that can elevate an Addington to any power whatsoever has become unmoored from essential decencies. But, I doubt Addington cares much what other people think. He knows he's got the power and that congresspersons only believe they have power.

Cynical? Nihilistic? Sure, and why should he, or any immoralist, care what other people think?

Spider Rider

No one unilaterally decides to take apart the American legal code, given real and true opposition, in the manner Addington and co did, without some greater indications of psychotic grandiosity.

Personally, I think the man is mentally ill.

And you can't reason with a man who is mentally ill.

Steve

If nothing else came out of the hearing yesterday, at least this exchange between Steve Cohen of Memphis and Addington had this amusing exchange:

"WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., questioning Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee, sought to clarify whether Cheney is part of the executive or legislative branch of the federal government.

Quoting a 1961 opinion from the Justice Department, David Addington said that the vice president "belongs neither to the executive nor to the legislative branch, but is attached by the Constitution to the latter…"

Cohen: "But he's attached to the legislative branch?…So he's kind of a barnacle…

Addington: "I don't consider the Constitution as a barnacle, Mr. Cohen."

Cohen: "No, the vice president. Since he's really not fish nor fowl, he's just attached to something…"


http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/jun/27/cohen-calls-cheney-barnacle/

Warren Street

How I hate to cite the Moonie Times, but here's a partial answer to the question--Did John McCain take Law of the Sea Courses:

Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Sen. John McCain has quietly been piling up flip-flops, including ditching his long-held support for the Law of the Sea convention and telling bloggers he now opposes the DREAM Act to legalize illegal alien students.

The sea treaty has become the latest litmus test for the 2008 Republican presidential field, and after a decade-long record of public support for it, Mr. McCain has pivoted to bring himself in line with the rest of the candidates.

"I would probably vote against it in its present form," he told bloggers last week during a conference call.

Republican primary voters tilt to the right, and the sea treaty is another example of Mr. McCain veering to try to align himself with them, recanting positions along the way on immigration, tax cuts and campaign-finance reform.

Mr. McCain's support for the sea treaty stretched back to the 1990s, when he signed a letter with three other senators urging its passage, and continued through 2003, when he was scheduled to testify on its behalf before a Senate committee.

But after the rest of the Republican presidential field took a stand against the treaty this month, Mr. McCain had little choice but to change, conservatives said.

He was for it before he was against it, link here:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2007/oct/31/mccain-caters-32to-gop-voters/

TomB

Sidney Smith wrote:

"As a sports analogy, the end of an extremely well prepared cross examination would have popped Addington as hard as, say, a hit by Ronnie Lott. Addington would have been knocked unconscious. He would have never gotten up."

Ah Sidney, were that it was so, but (almost ) only in Perry Mason movies I'm afraid. Remember how Arthur Liman was gonna rip Ollie North a new fundamental orifice? Ollie walked out on sunbeams of public respect and with the Dems looking like pygmies.

Almost invariably it's only with really really dumb or inarticulate witnesses that you get the kind of "breaking down in abject humiliation/guilt/or etc." thing you're thinking of. And even that's only if they have really bad lawyers themselves, and you have a strong judge who backs up your right of cross-exam and requires answers and etc. Neither of which is exactly Congressional Committee conditions....

Plus, I think it's worth recalling that these so-called "oversight" hearings are really kind of a misnomer. (A misnomer consciously pushed awhile ago by those with partisan purposes, with their central implication—perhaps not unfortunately however—just being somewhat unconsciously accepted by many now.)

Congress has no more right to generally "oversee" the Presidency than the Presidency has the right to do so over Congress. They are co-equal branches. Congress can hold hearings and subpoena witnesses, but technically their only purpose is research to inform the passing of future legislation.

Of course esp. recently they've been shamelessly used for PR purposes by both parties. (Sometimes anyway and again with salutary effects in my view.)

On the other hand the fact that they aren't really "overseeing/vindicating" anything at all is shown by the number of times they've actually hindered later prosecutions by promiscuously giving immunity so as to get jucier television out of their extravaganzas and etc.

But esp. since the Ollie North thing I think Congresspeople know they ain't likely to score any knockout punches against the other side in these things, and that they can in fact backfire. (And indeed should more often given their demonstration of what idiotic, unprepared cross-examiners the congresspeople almost invariably are). And they are also aware of how the worm turns, realizing, as the Dems did with Clinton I suspect, that the other side can play at the "hearings" game too.

... All of which leads to my wondering why so many people so often seem to let Congress off the hook. Started bad with Vietnam it seems to me, with the same congresspeople who were on the 5:00 news blasting "the war" going in and not only voting for the Tonkin Gulf Reso. but then right up until '73 funding every jot and tittle of it.

Same ever since and now. Are the Congressional Bush-bashers sincere? Then rescind the War On Terror Reso and pass a different one. Or rescind the authorization for use of force in Iraq. Or pass the Reso (pulled by Pelosi) requiring Cong. approval for an attack on Iran. Or cut off funding for any and all non-FISA compliant wiretapping. Or cutting off the funding for ... whatever, which is what the great professor Louis Henkin I think called "the complete answer" to phoney congressional complaints of helplessness in the face of alleged Executive overreaching.

It's a sham, kabuki, colluded in by both parties, and a self-reinforcing one given that it feeds off precisely what it pretends which is ever more and angrier conventional partisanship

The answer to me is a different, real partisanship. That is, the country realizing that the fundamental division isn't "us vs them/Dems vs Republicans," but "us vs. them/the citizenry vs. our political overlords."

That's the fundamental divide I think the Framers saw and expected us to be vigilant against and I think we've failed.

And that failure is even reflected in the very limited thinking that has gone on as to how to remedy things. Such as ... how come people haven't risen up and demanded better recall election rights over our politicians? Or insisting on more referendum rights? Or that Congress and the Prez. take some time out from passing all their laws dictating to us to pass some laws imposing some liabilities for lying and etc. on themselves? Or limiting campaign contributions of donors to those living in the districts or states of the representatives or Senators they are donating to?

And if the Constitution has to be amended to achieve same, well that's why the Framers provided for how to amend it. It isn't a freaking suicide pact.

But of course this kind of stuff is just boring and so it's easier to just fall into the trap and get ever more conventionally partisan. Which I will admit however can feel damn good on occasion, even if it almost always ultimately disappoints.

Cheers,


Jose

"You have been well trained, my young apprentice. They will be no match for you." - Darth Sidious Star Wars Ep 1)

different clue

During the campaign season
for Election 2006, I convinced several people not
to give up on elections but to vote Democratic instead; at least for their Representative. I thought that with a Democratic Majority, Speaker Pelosi would passively allow the Judiciary Committee under Conyers' Chairmanship to begin hearings on articles of impeachment. The hearings would bring out so much putrid and purulent information as to make an impeachment inevitable.
Little did I imagine that
Pelosi would immediately take impeachment "off the table". She then went on to
threaten Conyers with loss of Chairmanship of Judiciary if he were to even
allow Judiciary to hold such
hearings. Apparently even Decent Democrats have a misplaced loyalty to "their"
Speaker. Such misplaced and
undeserved loyalty prevents the House Democrats from voting to remove Pelosi from
the Speakership and Hoyer from the Majority Leadership.
The only thing I could think of which might change the Decent Democrats' minds about that would be if enough constituents were to let enough Decent Democrats know that if Pelosi and Hoyer are not removed and if
articles-of-impeachment hearings do not commence forthwith in the Judiciary Committee...that said constituents will not vote at all in the "Representatives" part of the election. If the House chooses to ratify illegitimate governance by the Executive; doesn't the House thereby share in the illegitimacy? In which case, why even have a House?
And why vote in "its" part of the elections?
I really think Pelosi, and to a lesser extent Hoyer, are the logjam. They
will have to be dynamited and removed if hearings on articles of impeachment are to be permitted.

condfusedponderer

William R. Cumming,

Enough of these asides. Reform of the DOJ in long overdue. Created in 1933 despite what some may believe, DOJ should be returned solely to the organization which coordinates and conducts the litigation position of the Executive Branch before the federal judiciary. No Bomb squads (AT&F), no DEA, etc. And of course no FBI! These could be in DHS or independent.
In my state here in Germany, three or four years back, an incoming conservative administration wanted to save money by joining the ministry of interior with the ministry of justice. It was struck down by our state's constitutional court - and here it gets interesting - because it would violate the separation of powers and mix the judicial branch with the executive branch in one ministry; they didn't believe in two hats at the same time. These concerns carry weight.

William R. Cumming

Post-script for Tom B. Is it NO or Kabuki? Also William Grieder's book "Who Will Tell the People" did a nice job of analysis of why it is all really one party inside the belt-way. Interesting living in tidewater VA almost 150 miles from beltway how little real info about Washington political decisions affecting US filters to these areas. Public libraries have a lot of it but often reading room empty or filled with people reading "People Magazine." Yet they are smart and could get it if they wanted to. Perhaps just completley turned off by the choices made for them and available candidates. Well, history does not stop and does not end. If you really want an indepth analysis of frittering away real power read David Rothkop's new book "Superclass." These people don't seem to get the fact that democracy and sytems that support democracy need constant tending, not posturing by know-it-alls. As Franklin said when leaving the Constituional Convention (held in secret)when asked what kind of government had been created stated "Its a Republica, if you can keep it." Well guess what due in part to SCOTUS deciding that the fictionaly legal form designed to limit liability known as the Corporation was entitled to Free Speech (menaing money) in Buckley v Valero we no longer have a republic where the public gets the facts it needs to know to elect able representatives. Now elections are all about staying in office. I once opposed term limits but life-time sinecures due to money and gerrymandering have destroyed our system. Can we get it back? Question for the ages!

David W.

The current process of govt has been set up for the benefit and convenience of our elected officials (FISA uproar? It can wait until after vacation!). Here is a simple suggestion that would greatly increase transparency and accountability; put all prospective bills on the Internet for public review prior to being voted on. Nothing more democratic than the public being informed about what laws are being passed in their name right?

Predictably, many/most legislators would fight tooth and nail against this--even though they usually don't have time to read bills thoroughly, and (my favorite) need lobbyists' help to write the bills in the first place!

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