John Dean: Bush terror memos close to ‘unconstitutional dictator’

Raw Video:

Lawyers told President Bush that he could detain anyone in the country without a warrant or order a military raid on them if they were terrorists. Author John Dean talked to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann about how it was determined who was a terrorist.

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Glenn Greenwald, himself a Constitutional lawyer, writes extensively on these newly-released ‘torture memos’ today.

One of the central facts that we, collectively, have not yet come to terms with is how extremist and radical were the people running the country for the last eight years.  That condition, by itself, made it virtually inevitable that the resulting damage would be severe and fundamental, even irreversible in some sense.  It’s just not possible to have a rotting, bloated, deeply corrupt and completely insular political ruling class — operating behind impenetrable walls of secrecy — and avoid the devastation that is now becoming so manifest.  It’s just a matter of basic cause and effect.

Greenwald goes on later to say this:

The most vital point is that all of the documents released yesterday by the Obama DOJ comprise nothing less than a regime of secret laws under which we were governed.  Nothing was redacted when those documents yesterday were released because they don’t contain any national security secrets.  They’re nothing more than legal decrees, written by lawyers.  They’re just laws that were implemented with no acts of Congress, unilaterally by the Executive branch.  Yet even the very laws that governed us were kept secret for eight years.

This is factually true, with no hyperbole:  Over the last eight years, we had a system in place where we pretended that our “laws” were the things enacted out in the open by our Congress and that were set forth by the Constitution.  The reality, though, was that our Government secretly vested itself with the power to ignore those public laws, to declare them invalid, and instead, create a whole regimen of secret laws that vested tyrannical, monarchical power in the President.  Nobody knew what those secret laws were because even Congress, despite a few lame and meek requests, was denied access to them.  What kind of country lives under secret laws?

Don’t miss it.

UPDATE: Another good article on this is Extraordinary Measures by Michael Isikoff found at Truthout.

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Amy Goodman Free From Jail

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Glenn Greenwald had some MUST-READ reporting today on what is happening in St. Paul at the RNC Convention, and outside it:

“Scenes from St. Paul”

There are numerous updates (8 so far), photos, and videos (including this one). Don’t miss this post.

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Torture and the Rule of Law

by Glenn GreenwaldSalon and CommonDreams

The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, one of the country’s handful of truly excellent investigative journalists over the last seven years, has written a new book — “The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals” — which reveals several extraordinary (though unsurprising) facts regarding America’s torture regime. According to the New York Times and Washington Post, both of which received an advanced copy, Mayer’s book reports the following:

  • “Red Cross investigators concluded last year in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation methods for high-level Qaeda prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes.”
  • “A CIA analyst warned the Bush administration in 2002 that up to a third of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have been imprisoned by mistake, but White House officials ignored the finding and insisted that all were ‘enemy combatants’ subject to indefinite incarceration.”
  • “[A] top aide to Vice President Cheney shrugged off the report and squashed proposals for a quick review of the detainees’ cases . . .’There will be no review,’ the book quotes Cheney staff director David Addington as saying. ‘The president has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it.’”
  • “[T]he [CIA] analyst estimated that a full third of the camp’s detainees were there by mistake. When told of those findings, the top military commander at Guantanamo at the time, Major Gen. Michael Dunlavey, not only agreed with the assessment but suggested that an even higher percentage of detentions — up to half — were in error. Later, an academic study by Seton Hall University Law School concluded that 55 percent of detainees had never engaged in hostile acts against the United States, and only 8 percent had any association with al-Qaeda.”
  • [T]he International Committee of the Red Cross declared in the report, given to the C.I.A. last year, that the methods used on Abu Zubaydah, the first major Qaeda figure the United States captured, were ‘categorically’ torture, which is illegal under both American and international law“.
  • “[T]he Red Cross document ‘warned that the abuse constituted war crimes, placing the highest officials in the U.S. government in jeopardy of being prosecuted.’”

This is what a country becomes when it decides that it will not live under the rule of law, when it communicates to its political leaders that they are free to do whatever they want — including breaking our laws — and there will be no consequences. There are two choices and only two choices for every country — live under the rule of law or live under the rule of men. We’ve collectively decided that our most powerful political leaders are not bound by our laws — that when they break the law, there will be no consequences. We’ve thus become a country which lives under the proverbial “rule of men” — that is literally true, with no hyperbole needed — and Mayer’s revelations are nothing more than the inevitable by-product of that choice.

Read the rest of this important post…

Brian Williams’ “Response” to the Military Analyst Story

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Paul Jamiol
, Jamiol’s World

Common Dreams

by Glenn Greenwald

It has now been more than ten days since the New York Times exposed the Pentagon’s domestic propaganda program involving retired generals and, still, not a single major news network has even mentioned the story to their viewers, let alone responded to the numerous questions surrounding their own behavior. This steadfast blackout occurs despite the fact that the Pentagon propaganda program almost certainly violates numerous federal laws; both Democratic presidential candidates sternly denounced the Pentagon’s conduct; and Congressional inquiries are already underway, all of which forced the Pentagon to announce that it suspended its program.

Still, there has not been a peep from the major news networks at the center of the storm, the integrity of whose reporting on the Iraq war is directly implicated by this story. Even establishment media defender Howard Kurtz called their ongoing failure to cover this storypathetic.”

Like Fox and CBS, NBC News outright refused to answer any questions about the allegations when asked by the NYT’s David Bartsow, and its prime time anchor, Brian Williams, has delivered seven broadcasts since the story was published and has not uttered a word to NBC’s viewers about any of it. Yesterday, I wrote about an entry on Williams’ blog — which he calls “The Daily Nightly” — in which Williams found the time to mock one frivolous cultural puff piece after the next in the Sunday edition of the NYT, even as he still had refused even to acknowledge the expose in last Sunday’s NYT that calls into serious question the truthfulness and reliability of his “journalism.”

After I wrote about Williams’ blog item yesterday, his blog was deluged with commenters angrily demanding to know why he has failed to address the NYT expose. In response, Williams wrote a new blog item last night in which he purports — finally — to respond to the story, and I can’t recommend highly enough that it be read by anyone wanting to understand how our establishment journalist class thinks and acts.

Read entire article…

This is a long article, but an important read. I hope Glenn stays on this.

Mitt Romney’s Pursuit of Tyrannical Power, Literally

by Glenn Greenwald of Salon
via: CommonDreams

In yet another superb piece of journalism, the peerless Charlie Savage of The Boston Globe submitted to the leading presidential candidates a questionnaire asking their views on 12 key questions regarding executive power. Savage’s article accompanying the candidates’ responses makes clear why these matters are so critical:

In 2000, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney were not asked about presidential power, and they volunteered nothing about their attitude toward the issue to voters. Yet once in office, they immediately began seeking out ways to concentrate more unchecked power in the White House — not just for themselves, but also for their successors. . . .

Legal specialists say decisions by the next president — either to keep using the expanded powers Bush and Cheney developed, or to abandon their legal and political precedents — will help determine whether a stronger presidency becomes permanent.

“The sleeper issue in this campaign involves the proper scope of executive power,” said Richard Epstein, a University of Chicago law professor.

All of the leading Democrats — Edwards, Dodd, Biden, Clinton, Richardson and Obama — submitted responses, as did Mitt Romney, John McCain and Ron Paul. Refusing to respond to the questions were — revealingly — Giuliani, Thompson and Huckabee. Significantly, if not surprisingly, all of the candidates who did respond, with the exception of Romney, repudiated most of the key doctrines of the Bush/Cheney/Addington/Yoo theories of executive omnipotence, at least for purposes of this questionnaire. I’ll undoubtedly write more about those responses shortly.

But by far the most extraordinary answers come from Mitt Romney. Romney’s responses — not to some of the questions but to every single one of them — are beyond disturbing. The powers he claims the President possesses are definitively — literally — tyrannical, unrecognizable in the pre-2001 American system of government and, in some meaningful ways, even beyond what the Bush/Cheney cadre of authoritarian legal theorists have claimed.
Continue reading….

Here is the article by Charlie Savage in The Boston Globe that Greenwald refers to: “Candidates on executive power: a full spectrum“.

All the sloth that’s fit to print

Among the Beltway pundits, the true heroes are Chicken “the-sky-is-falling” Little and the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Yes, the only way way you can have any credibility in American politics today is to have been completely wrong back then.

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A Party of Asses

I didn’t get to see the Democratic presidential debate last night, but I was delighted, delighted I tell you, to read this heartwarming recap:

The leading Democratic White House hopefuls conceded Wednesday night they cannot guarantee to pull all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of the next presidential term in 2013.

“I think it’s hard to project four years from now,” said Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in the opening moments of a campaign debate in the nation’s first primary state.

“It is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting,” added Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

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‘Beltway Establishment’ vs. ‘Cuckoo Land’

Glenn Greenwald sums up David Brooks’ latest fact-free diatribe:

Thus, this is what we hear: The Democratic controlled Congress has reached new depths of unpopularity, but what they are doing is politically smart. Most Americans really want us to stay in Iraq. Bloggers are espousing views that most Americans hate. Views held by most Americans are the province of the “radical angry Left.” Democrats can only win elections by supporting the popular President’s policies, avoiding any real differences, and scorning their own base. The only hope Democrats have is to adhere to prevailing Beltway orthodoxy.