Patterico's Pontifications

7/15/2008

Its Stuff Like This That Makes Me Proud To Work For This Guy

Filed under: General — WLS @ 8:50 pm

Posted by WLS:

John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee has requested that Attorney General Mukasey appoint a Special Counsel to look into the allegations that Administration Officials, beginning with the President and Vice President, authorized illegal torture of detainees at Gitmo.

Below is a portion of General Mukasey’s response:

I understand that you and some of your colleagues disagree with the interrogation policies that the Executive Branch has chosen to use in defending our Nation fiom another terrorist attack in the six and one-half years following September 11,2001. I also appreciate the public interest in, and debate over, the wisdom and value of these policies, as well as the fidelity of those policies to our Nation’s laws; indeed, I believe that such debate reflects the strength of our Constitution. But I strongly disagree with your suggestion that such debate should be resolved through a criminal investigation into the actions of government officials who formulated and carried out those policies. I believe such a request is unfair to those who have been charged with making the difficult decisions in protecting our Nation in the War on Terror, and to those who will be so charged in the future, and therefore is seriously short-sighted.

Your letter requests the appointment of a special counsel to launch a criminal investigation into the actions of the President, members of his cabinet, and other national security lawyers and intelligence professionals in the approval and employment by the CIA of interrogation techniques against captured members of a1 Qaeda. However, you offer no evidence that these government officials acted pursuant to any motive other than a good-faith desire to protect the citizens of our Nation from a future terrorist attack. Nor have you provided any evidence or indication that these government officials believed they were authorizing any policy contrary to the laws of the United States. Quite the contrary: Before the CIA employed these interrogation techniques, government officials sought advice from the Department of Justice as to the lawfulness of the proposed course of conduct. The Department of Justice attorneys, in turn, provided that legal advice. I am aware of no evidence that in providing advice concerning the CIA program those attorneys acted in anything other than good faith based on their best judgment of what the law required.

Your request for a criminal investigation into the actions Executive Branch policymakers and national security lawyers undertook to defend the Nation reflects a broader trend whose institutional effects may outlast the present Administration and harm our national security well into the future. I spoke in more detail about this problematic trend in a speech at Boston College Law School on May 23, 2008, which in turn drew substantially from former Assistant Attorney General Jack Goldsmith’s recent book, The Terror Presidency. In his book, Professor Goldsmith describes what he calls “cycles of timidity and aggression” among political leaders and commentators in their attitudes towards the intelligence community. As I pointed out in my speech, the message sent to our national security policymakers and lawyers in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks was clear, it was bipartisan, and it was all but unanimous. As Professor Goldsmith explains, “The consistent refrain from the [9/11] Commission, Congress, and pundits of all stripes was that the government must be more forward-leaning against the terrorist threat: more imaginative, more aggressive, less risk-averse.”

We have gone six and one-half years without another terrorist attack within the United States, and now our intelligence professionals and national security lawyers are hearing a rather different message. Your letter, which urges me to subject those involved in developing or implementing our counterterrorism policies to criminal investigation, reflects that message. Taking such a step would not only be, in my judgment, unjust, but would also have potentially grave national security consequences. There could be no more certain way to usher in a new “cycle of timidity” in the intelligence community than to tell the government’s national security policymakers and lawyers that, if they support an aggressive counterterrorism policy based on their good-faith belief that such a policy is lawful, they may nevertheless one day be prosecuted for so doing.

The competing imperatives to protect the Nation and to safeguard our civil liberties are worthy of public debate and discussion, and congressional oversight and review of our intelligence activities are also important. But it is equally important that such scrutiny be conducted responsibly, with appreciation of its institutional implications. We cannot afford to invite another “cycle of timidity” among those who devote their lives to keeping us safe. The stakes are simply too high.

Anyone imagine Alberto writing something like this to Conyers?  This is one of those moments where the President should recognize that loyalty is no substitute for competence in a Cabinet Officer.

H/T The Corner at NRO

Outcomes like this sometimes cause me to doubt the wisdom of juries

Filed under: General — WLS @ 5:56 pm

Posted by WLS:

I’m a committed defender of the criminal justice system of this country, and I believe it is the best criminal justice system in theory and practice to have ever existed in the history of mankind. 

But decisions such as this cause me to shake my head in disgust.

Here’s a summary of what happened:

Kaliah Harper was a police officer in the City of Richmond, in the East Bay of Northern California near Oakland.  After attending a church memorial service for her two young cousins who had died a week earlier in a car accident, she was approached in the church’s parking lot by her killer — ex-boyfriend Quartus Hinton.  Hinton pulled out a stolen .45 caliber handgun and proceeded to shoot Harper numerous times — including several shots while standing over her body as she lay on the ground.

After being arrested, Hinton made several comments to the police about what he had done, including the following:

“there’s no excuse for what I did. I was at my wit’s end.”

I was so overwhelmed by jealousy. I was out of my mind. Jealousy threw me over the edge.”

he was remorseful for what he called a “foolish mistake.”

But his defense was buttressed on the claim that SHE was threatening him — right there in the church parking lot where she had just attended a memorial service, where he had come to confront her with a stolen .45. 

Hinton also told police that Harper had threatened him, saying, “I could put you away for life,” and that he “got fed up with it…”

Hinton’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Michael Ogul, said the verdict supported Hinton’s assertion that Harper had been trying to kill him that day and had reached into her purse for what he thought was a gun

Now the jury, in an unbeliveable display of collective wisdom, deliberated for 3 days over this uncomplicated set of facts, before finally convicting the defendant of ….. did I call him a “killer”??  I misspoke, he’s not a killer, he’s only a “Manslaughterer”.  

So, to recap — steal .45, go to church where ex is grieving the death of two cousins, wait in parking lot for her to exit, confront her in parking lot, shoot her many times, including standing over her to make sure she’s dead, tell the police it was all a “foolish mistake”, and wait for a jury of your fellow Solano County residents to give you a break.

Word of advice, from a prosecutor to all you prospective jurors — DO NOT COMPROMISE for a verdict.

If you have a strong belief in the guilty or innocence of the defendant, hold to your belief.  Listen respectfully to the views of your fellow jurors, but vote your own conscience.  If I could give advice to one of the jurors who wanted to convict this guy for first degree murder, I would have said “Hold out and hang the jury.  I’ll retry the case without three knuckleheads who wanted to acquit the guy altogether.”

I don’t know how these 12 jurors are going to be able to sleep at night with this verdict. 

Did I mention that Officer Harper had 12 letters of commendation for her work? 

Did I mention that Quartus Hinton was a parolee with a long criminal record?

She’s dead, he killed her, but hey, it was a foolish mistake.

Brit Hume to Retire

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:29 pm

Jeez. First Tony Snow dies, now this.

Hume will be giving up his position as anchor of Special Report, one of two decent programs on the cable channel (the other is Fox News Sunday, which used to be anchored by Snow). He will pop up from time to time in a “senior statesman” role.

There goes any reason to watch Fox News.

Chuck Philips Out at L.A. Times

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 5:07 pm

The rumors have been confirmed: Chuck Philips has been asked to leave the L.A. Times.

Really, it would be surprising if it were otherwise, under the circumstances.

UPDATE: TellZell.com has a list of names of other people who got the axe.

Limbaugh was on fire today giving the Lefties Exactly What they Seemed to Be asking for.

Filed under: General — WLS @ 2:44 pm

[Posted by WLS]

I caught just a little bit of Limbaugh on the way to work this morning. Normally I’m on the road earlier than the time he’s on, but I managed to listen briefly today.

He spent some time going over how various components of the MSNBC stable of programs yesterday were dealing with the New Yorker cover cartoon, and calling on Democrat operatives and lefty journalists to explain why The New Yorker had missed the mark with this particular piece of political satire. Limbaugh played soundbites from several of them commenting on the fact that the satire — with the right wing as its target, not the Obamas — would have been more clear and understood had the cartoonist made the caricature of the Obama’s a painting being done by Limbaugh, thereby making a claim that it was Limbaugh leading the parade to paint Obama as a Muslim and his wife as a left-wing revolutionary.

So, what does Limbaugh say — beyond soaking up all this adulation and attention from MSNBC?? — he mentions as an aside that the whole episode reminded him of the famous Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, an the outrage they engendered.

Outrage that came from …… MUSLIMS.

Obama and his campaign are complaining over this cartoon by the New Yorker just like the Muslims complained about the Danish cartoonist.

He left it to the audience to connect those two dots.

Brilliant and hysterical.

— WLS

Public Divided on Iraq Withdrawal

Filed under: 2008 Election,General — Patterico @ 6:32 am

The Washington Post reports:

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds the country split down the middle between those backing Sen. Barack Obama’s 16-month timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and those agreeing with Sen. John McCain’s position that events, not timetables, should dictate when forces come home.

72% say McCain would be a good commander-in-chief. Only 48% say Obama would.

I think I’m starting to see why Obama is avoiding the military. I couldn’t figure it out before, but it’s starting to make sense.

Meanwhile, John Hinderaker attacks Obama’s op-ed on his plan for Iraq, and pulls out some choice Obama quotes from the past, like this one:

I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.

It’s obviously too early to say what the final result will be in Iraq. But Obama’s judgment was clearly wrong that the surge would inflame sectarian violence and make the situation worse — at least in the near term.

Obama is going to be facing the military in Iraq, though not with John McCain at his side. Ed Morrissey reports that, in preparation, the Obama camp is scrubbing criticism of the surge from Obama’s site.


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