Patterico's Pontifications

5/14/2009

Hope and Change: Obama keeps military commissions for detainees

Filed under: General — Karl @ 11:20 pm

[Posted by Karl]

 As Jim Geraghty would (and probably will) say, all of Obama’s statements come with an expiration date — all of them:

President Obama has decided to keep the military commission system that his predecessor created to try suspected terrorists but will ask Congress to expand the rights of defendants to contest the charges against them, officials briefed on the plan said Thursday.

Mr. Obama will ask for an additional 120-day delay in nine pending hearings before commissions so the administration can revamp the procedures to provide more due process to detainees, the officials said. The new system would limit the use of hearsay, ban evidence gained from cruel treatment, give defendants more latitude to pick their own lawyers and provide more protection if they do not testify.

The decision, to be announced Friday, could set off more criticism from civil libertarian and liberal groups that have increasingly complained that Mr. Obama has not made a sharper break from former President George W. Bush’s terrorism policies.

In fact, the ACLU was already on record against it (the Left is not always against pre-emptive strikes).

The “expanded rights” Obama provides are not much. For example, detainees already had the right to private counsel. Evidence obtained through cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment was already inadmissible if obtained after the passage of the December 2005 Detainee Treatment Act. The shifting of the burden on hearsay is unlikely to change many rulings, let alone outcomes. Obama’s flunkies are trying to defend him by noting that Obama never rejected the possibility of using military tribunals, pointing to legislation he supported as a senator in 2006 — but that legislation was far more radical than what is described now.

This looks to be the latest Obama Three-Step:

First: Denounce your presidential predecessor for a given policy, energizing your party’s base and capitalizing on his abiding unpopularity. Second: Pretend to have reversed that policy upon taking office with a symbolic act or high-profile statement. Third: Adopt a version of that same policy, knowing that it’s the only way to govern responsibly or believing that doing otherwise is too difficult. Repeat as necessary.

In February, the Obama administration ruled that some 600 enemy combatants at Bagram have no constitutional rights. In March, Obama dropped the term “enemy combatant,” but adopted almost the same standard the Bush administration used to detain people without charge. In April, the administration appealed a court ruling that granted some military prisoners in Afghanistan the right to file lawsuits seeking their release. It is beginning to look like “repeat as necessary” is a monthly event.

This particular three-step is interesting because Obama is asking for another 120-day delay of hearings at Guantanamo. Such a delay would be useful for an administration that still has no plan for delivering on Obama’s campaign promise to shut down the facility, wouldn’t it?

–Karl

Rossini Sentenced

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:46 pm

The New York Post reports:

A disgraced former FBI agent was sentenced today to just one year probation and a $5,000 fine for using the bureau’s computers to dig up information on Hollywood executives involved in a prominent wiretapping case for his actress girlfriend.

Former agent Mark Rossini, who was forced to quit the FBI, was not working on the wiretapping case against private eye Anthony Pellicano and was not authorized to look up the files for actress Linda Fiorentino.

Background here.

Recommendation: Anti-War Vandal to Have Legal License Suspended

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:34 pm

Remember Jay Grodner, the Chicago attorney who keyed a Marine’s car as an anti-war statement? An Illinois disciplinary board has recommended a one-year suspension of his license to practice law. (Thanks to R.E.)

Pelosi to the CIA: Bush Briefers Lied to Me (Updated x2)

Filed under: Politics — DRJ @ 12:54 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Nancy Pelosi doubles down:

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Bush administration intelligence officials “misled” her by saying they weren’t using waterboarding on terror detainees during a Sept. 2002 briefing — months after they had actually begun waterboarding Abu Zubaydah.

The San Francisco Democrat called on CIA director Leon Panetta to release full details on her briefing — and shook her head in the affirmative when asked if the administration had actually “lied” to her.”

There’s video at the link.

It should be an interesting summer.

— DRJ

UPDATE #1Powerline analyzes CIA Director Leon Panetta’s response, which includes this paragraph [emphasis supplied]:

“Let me be clear: It is not our policy or practice to mislead Congress. That is against our laws and our values. As the Agency indicated previously in response to Congressional inquiries, our contemporaneous records from September 2002 indicate that CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing “the enhanced techniques that had been employed.” Ultimately, it is up to Congress to evaluate all the evidence and reach its own conclusions about what happened.”

UPDATE #2Gateway Pundit says Pelosi now claims she was lied to by the Bush Administration, not the CIA.

— DRJ

Andrew Sullivan giving himself whiplash on Obama

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:10 am

[Posted by Karl]

Is the thrill is gone for Excitable Andy?  Yesterday, he turned on Our President with a lengthy screed on the issue of — wait for it — gay rights:

Here we are, in the summer of 2009, with gay servicemembers still being fired for the fact of their orientation. Here we are, with marriage rights spreading through the country and world and a president who cannot bring himself even to acknowledge these breakthroughs in civil rights, and having no plan in any distant future to do anything about it at a federal level. Here I am, facing a looming deadline to be forced to leave my American husband for good, and relocate abroad because the HIV travel and immigration ban remains in force and I have slowly run out of options (unlike most non-Americans with HIV who have no options at all). (Emphasis mine.)

(Apparently, someone left the “for better or worse” out of his gay marriage vows.  But I digress.)

Anyway, that was posted on May 13, 2009, at 12:07 p.m.  Approximately one hour later, Sully was ripping Obama’s decision to fight the release of detainee photos, summarily dismissing the notion that their release would endanger the troops.  A half-hour later, he was calling Obama the “Neocon In Chief.” An hour and a half later, he was attacking Obama’s decision to curtail intelligence-sharing if the British High Court discloses new details of the treatment of a former Guantanamo detainee, writing “those of us who have tried to give Obama the benefit of the doubt must concede that there is no longer any benefit or any doubt.”

Just a day before his deportation diatribe, he was defending Obama’s decision to curtail intelligence-sharing.  What a difference a day makes.

When Sullivan turned on the Bush Administration with a vengeance, many said it was due to Pres. Bush deciding to publicly support a Constitutional amendment which would have limited marriage in the US to unions of one man and one woman.  Sullivan denied this, claiming that Abu Ghraib was what turned him.  Yet we now see him turn on Pres. Obama less than four months into his presidency, and it is just sheer coincidence that Sullivan is filled with personal pique over Obama’s failure to save Sullivan’s gay marriage. 

Sullivan likely realized how bad this looked (or got one of his famed e-mails tipping him to it), as he has since suggested that “it’s too early to write Obama off” on gay rights and that a “real judgment will be possible as his first term comes to an end.”  But considering that Obama is unlikely to be impeached over any of Sullivan’s hobby horses, what option does Sullivan really have?  It’s a non-concession concession. 

Meanwhile, Sullivan is spending one day warning Obama that “covering up war crimes, refusing to proscute them, promoting those associated with them, and suppressing evidence of them are themselves violations of Geneva and the UN Convention,” while the next day defending Obama, arguing that our “soldiers deserve a chance to do their astonishingly difficult job without inflaming those who might be inspired to kill and attack them.” He sees “no reason to suspect that Obama is not genuine” about someday divulging all info on the interrogations, though there is every reason to suspect Obama and Sullivan are not genuine about it, given that Sullivan excuses Obama’s renditions policy.  Apparently, it has not occurred to Sullivan that Obama may simply be caving to the CIA to protect himself and his party from damaging releases of information about their complicity in the interrogations.

I recognize that posts about the unhinged Sullivan usually prompt a smattering of comments wondering why anyone should care about his little rants.  Thus, it is worth noting that he has one of the biggest blogs on the Internet.  He accounts for well over half the traffic to The Atlantic’s website, which implies that he has hundreds of thousands of readers daily.  He is still taken seriously by the establishment media, despite trafficking in bizarre conspiracy theories for years.  And Pres. Obama reads his blog — and gets misinformed by it.  Indeed, for all we know, Sullivan may be desperately bidding for attention in the hopes that Obama or one of his flunkies will exert influence regarding his immigration status.  Regardless, it is worth noting the enabling of the Internet’s version of a sandwich board-wearing lunatic, spewing nonsense at random pedestrians.

–Karl

If the Feds Had to Play By Their Own Rules

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:50 am

At “Not the L.A. Times,” funnyman Roy Rivenburg reports:

Beleaguered General Motors took revenge on the Obama Administration today, surprising White House officials with a legal maneuver that forced the entire U.S. government into bankruptcy court.

“Nobody is too big to fail,” GM boss Fritz Henderson said, citing the nation’s trillion-dollar deficit, pork barrel spending and bloated Social Security retirement system. “We can’t ask taxpayers to continue bailing out such a mismanaged bureaucracy.”

You think Rivenburg is joking? Well, he is . . . but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Sometimes he’s eerily prescient. Last July, Rivenburg posted this satirical item discussing Gov. Schwarzenegger’s plans to sell San Diego as part of a plan to address the state’s deficit. Yesterday, the real L.A. Times reported that the Governor is proposing to sell a group of California real estate holdings, including the L.A. Coliseum, San Quentin, and the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego County. For reals.

What Makes America Great?

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 1:14 am

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

The answer is in your pocket or purse. Radio host Dennis Prager explains.


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