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07.11 7,000+ Colleges and Universities Declare Climate Emergency and Unveil Three-Point Plan to Combat It [Fox News and Betsy DeVos never talk about this stuff so it must be Bull Shit, right?]

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07.16 US aid cuts to UN agency will hurt vulnerable women and children, critics say

07.16 Trump abortion restrictions in effect for taxpayer-funded clinics

07.15 The response to DRC’s Ebola crisis isn’t working. Here’s what we need to do

07.15 Extinction Rebellion protests block traffic in five UK cities [Non-corporate human animals make their annoying bleating sounds...]

07.14 A Glacier the Size of Florida Is Becoming Unstable. It Has Dire Implications for Global Sea Levels [The willfully ignorant needn't read more, Trump]

07.13 'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life [Willfully ignorant governments—having fired many of their best scientists—have made themselves too stupid to despair]

07.13 Trump administration to approve pesticide that may harm bees [The worst government money can buy!]

07.12 These solar panels don’t just generate power—they produce drinking water

07.12 David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery [1:34 video]

07.10 Plastic Has A Big Carbon Footprint — But That Isn't The Whole Story [Fixing our world begins by educating your consciousness with the best truth from trustworthy news sources—so you'll then insist truly bad things will get fixed. But if instead you are educated by untrustworthy news sources—then your consciousness could be warped to where you are hating and fighting with your best friends. Clue: untrustworthy news sources never seriously report news about the world's most critical emergency—Global warming.]

07.10 Molly Scott Cato: ‘It’s the wealthy who are causing climate change’

07.09 Judge reinstates Madrid's low emissions zone [Yeh!]

07.07 How Solar Panels Work (And Why They're Taking Over the World) [Hope they leave space between panels for wild flowers to grow so birds and butterflies can flourish!]

07.05 Tree planting 'has mind-blowing potential' to tackle climate crisis

07.04 On reflection: how the 'albedo effect' is melting the Antarctic

07.04 US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries [As expected—and made worse by Trump—the U.S. is best at being the worst]07.03 Booming LNG industry could be as bad for climate as coal, experts warn

07.03 Deep-sea mining to turn oceans into ‘new industrial frontier’

07.03 Caravan of Americans battling diabetes heads to Canada for affordable insulin [3:36 video; Like Central Americans flee for their lives from criminal drug gangs, Americans flee for their lives for affordable pharmaceutical drugs]

07.02 American Medical Association sues North Dakota over abortion laws

07.02 'Committed' CO2 emissions jeopardize international climate goals, study finds

07.01 New Solar + Battery Price Crushes Fossil Fuels, Buries Nuclear

07.01 Freak summer hailstorm buries cars in Mexico's Guadalajara [0:50 video]

07.01 Climate Change is Devastating India With Heat Waves and Water Shortages [13:48 video]

06.30 American farmers can't afford this administration's climate apathy

06.30 The US military is a bigger polluter than more than 140 countries combined [Could a world-wide moratorium of military activity dramatically slow the climate crises?]

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07.16 Describing 'Future We Want to Live In' Scores of Groups Unveil New Blueprint for Reproductive Rights

07.16 'Do not take the bait': congresswomen denounce racist Trump attack [3:50 video]

07.16 Money Laundering Scandal Forces Puerto Rico’s Governor to Cut His Vacation Short — Just in Time for Another Scandal

07.16 Turnstile teaching [The problem is NOT the color of students skin, as our fake President reflexively thinks. The problem is the lax attitude and deficient funding by government to always do a much better job for a better future.]

07.15 Finding the Future in Radical Rural America

07.15 Sanders Accuses Biden of Parroting Pharma and Insurance Industry Script With Attacks on Medicare for All [Like Trump, Biden explains why he's unelectable every day.]

07.15 If there is an 'immigrant' who has failed to integrate in America, it's Donald Trump

07.15 Trump tells Ocasio-Cortez and other female progressives to 'go back' to 'original' countries

07.15 Trump Takes Pelosi's Side Against AOC and The Squad as Intraparty Fight Over Immigration Continues [Its about much more than immigration, its about the Corporate Dominance—by many of the same companies, even—over both major Political Parties. With too few exceptions, neither party has represented The Public since Nixon generously raised the minimum wage (Part D Medicare and ACA both became Frankenstein legislation due to excessive corporate price-fixing influence), and that has to change!]

07.14 Trump: People like Paul Ryan almost killed the Republican Party [Then it's too bad he didn't stay to finish the job!]

07.13 Trump's POS Labor Secretary, Acosta, Out. POS Number 2, Linked to Abramoff, to Fill Role [A willingness to perform criminal behavior seems the only competency required...]

Justice Matters

07.15 Australia 'deeply concerned' about China's treatment of Uighur people [What are the reasons, exactly, that justify harsh imprisonment of a million people?]

07.15 Zuma tells South Africa corruption inquiry he is victim of foreign plot [Unaccountable corrupt governments are so in fashion these days...]

07.14 Warren vows to probe U.S. crimes on immigrants if elected [Can you imagine living in a nation with a working Justice System? How far we've fallen!]

High Crimes
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

07.15 China’s Economic Growth Hits 27-Year Low as Trade War Stings

International & Futurism

07.16 Trump’s race fantasy is clear: the US as home for whites fleeing Europe [1:09 video]

07.15 India’s Terrifying Water Crisis

07.15 Australia now has the highest minimum wage in the world [From 1960 to 2018 – the U.S. has fallen from 1st place to below the tenth place and off the chart]

07.14 Kasich: The chilling effect of British ambassador's leaked memos

07.14 'Just a matter of when': the $20bn plan to power Singapore with Australian solar

07.14 At least 24 Yellow Vests lost eyes in violent protests. Now they're more determined than ever [Protests of all kinds will continue until systemic inequality loses political dominance]

07.13 New Zealand Begins Gun Buyback Prompted by Mosque Attacks

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning [Since so-called modern humans evolved there have been 10,000 generations of people. It is extremely far-fetched to think anyone is racially pure. SO ALL THIS HATE IS INCREDIBLY STUPID.]

07.13 After a Police Shooting, Ethiopian Israelis Seek a ‘Black Lives Matter’ Reckoning

07.13 Brazil’s President May Appoint Son, Friend to the Trumps, as Ambassador to U.S. [Friend of the Trumps, so we know they're all brain-dead except about near-term profits. They are clear-cutting the Amazon Rain Forest to feed-then-butcher millions of methane farting cows, over and over. Yep, that's there business plan. So therefore the rest of the world will hopefully plant billions of trees elsewhere to sequester CO2 to offset what the Bolsonaro family and investors are destroying. What's wrong with this picture?]

07.13 Trump’s Cruelty and Mexico’s Duty [Our president is immoral to his core and reacts to things like a child, not understanding that his actions are often crueler than they should be. And that cruelty will never completely be excused or forgotten—the people's hatred of Trump is growing, like the Texan's hatred when President General Santa Anna laid seige to the Alamo, which was Mexico's territory at the time...]

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  First, Jail All Bush's Lawyers
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ON ENFORCING THE CONSTITUTION AND OBEYING THE LAW:

First, Jail All Bush's Lawyers

by Robert Parry
4 February 2009

If new Attorney General Eric Holder really means what he said in his oath – that he will “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” – then he must give serious consideration to prosecuting crimes committed by the Bush administration, including its torturing of detainees.

And Holder might be advised to begin the process at his own agency, the Department of Justice. To paraphrase Shakespeare, Holder might start by first jailing all of George W. Bush’s lawyers.

The logic of targeting former Justice Department lawyers – the likes of John Yoo and Jay Bybee – is that they were the linchpin for justifying acts that were clearly illegal; they provided the paper cover for both the interrogators in the field and the senior officials back in Washington.

Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have repeatedly cited this legal guidance when insisting that the harsh interrogation of "war on terror" detainees – as well as other prisoners from the Iraq and Afghan wars – did not cross the line into torture.

In essence, the Bush-Cheney defense is that independent lawyers at the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and elsewhere gave honest opinions – and that everyone from the President and Vice President, who approved specific interrogation techniques, to the interrogators, who carried out these acts, operated in good faith.

If, however, that narrative is false – if the lawyers colluded with policymakers in creating legal excuses for criminal acts – then the Bush-Cheney defense collapses. Rather than diligent lawyers providing professional advice, the picture is of consiglieres counseling crime bosses how to skirt the law.

The evidence supports the conspiratorial interpretation. For instance, in his 2006 book War by Other Means, Yoo describes his involvement in frequent White House meetings regarding what “other means” should receive a legal stamp of approval.

Yoo, who was a deputy assistant attorney general assigned to the powerful Office of Legal Counsel, wrote:

“As the White House held its procession of Christmas parties and receptions in December 2001, senior lawyers from the Attorney General’s office, the White House counsel’s office, the Departments of State and Defense and the NSC [National Security Council] met a few floors away to discuss the work on our opinion.

“We sat at a large round table in a room in the ornate, Empire-style Old Executive Office Building where secretaries of state once conducted business. ... This group of lawyers would meet repeatedly over the next months to develop policy on the war on terrorism. We certainly did not all agree, nor did we always get along, but we all believed that we were doing what was best for the nation and its citizens.

“Meetings were usually chaired by Alberto Gonzales,” who was then White House counsel and later became Bush’s second Attorney General.

Yoo identified other key players as Timothy Flanigan, Gonzales’s deputy; William Howard Taft IV from State; John Bellinger from the NSC; William “Jim” Haynes from the Pentagon; and David Addington, counsel to Cheney.

Yoo’s Account

In his book, Yoo describes a give-and-take among participants at the meeting with the State Department’s Taft challenging Yoo’s OLC view that Bush could waive the Geneva Conventions regarding the invasion of Afghanistan (by labeling it a “failed state”). Taft noted that the Taliban was the recognized government of the country.

“We thought Taft’s memo represented the typically conservative thinking of foreign ministries, which places a priority on stabilizing relations with other states – even if it means creating or maintaining fictions – rather than adapting to new circumstances,” Yoo wrote.

Regarding objections from the Pentagon’s judge advocate generals – who feared that waiving the Geneva Conventions would endanger American soldiers – Yoo again stressed policy concerns, not legal logic.

“It was far from obvious that following the Geneva Conventions in the war against al-Qaeda would be wise,” Yoo wrote. “Our policy makers had to ask whether [compliance] would yield any benefit or act as a hindrance.”

What Yoo’s book and other evidence make clear is that the lawyers from the Justice Department’s OLC weren’t just legal scholars handing down opinions from an ivory tower; they were participants in how to make Bush’s desired actions “legal.”

They were the lawyerly equivalents of those U.S. intelligence analysts, who – in the words of the British “Downing Street Memo” – “fixed” the facts around Bush’s desire to justify invading Iraq.

Yoo and other OLC lawyers looked to be Bush’s consiglieres on both brutal interrogation and aggressive war. They floated novel legal theories, looked for loopholes or – in Yoo’s phrase – they were “adapting to new circumstances.”

Congressional Probe

The importance of this question – whether the OLC lawyers were honest brokers or criminal conspirators – has not been missed by some of the congressional leaders pressing for a serious investigation of Bush’s use of torture and other war crimes.

A year ago, Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, wrote a letter to the Justice Department’s watchdog agencies requesting an investigation into the role that “Justice Department officials [played] in authorizing and/or overseeing the use of waterboarding by the Central Intelligence Agency... and whether those who authorized it violated the law.”

In the Feb. 12, 2008, letter, the senators questioned whether the OLC lawyers were “insulated from outside pressure to reach a particular conclusion” and whether Bush’s White House and the CIA played any role in influencing “deliberations about the lawfulness of waterboarding,” a technique that creates the sensation of drowning and has been deemed torture since the Inquisition.

Whitehouse, a former federal prosecutor, said those questions were designed to get to the point that having in-house lawyers dream up a legal argument doesn’t make an action legal, especially if the lawyers were somehow induced to produce the opinion.

In the case of waterboarding and other abusive interrogation tactics, Yoo and his OLC boss Jay Bybee generated a memo, dated Aug. 1, 2002, that came up with a novel and narrow definition of torture, essentially lifting the language from an unrelated law regarding health benefits.

The Yoo-Bybee legal opinion stated that unless the amount of pain administered to a detainee led to injuries that might result in "death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions" then the interrogation technique could not be defined as torture.

Since waterboarding is not intended to cause death or organ failure – only the panicked gag reflex associated with drowning – it was deemed not to be torture.

The “torture memo” and related legal opinions were considered so sloppy and unprofessional that Bybee’s replacement to head the OLC, Jack Goldsmith, himself a conservative Republican, took the extraordinary step of withdrawing them after he was appointed in October 2003.

Whitehouse said the Bybee-Yoo memo was “beyond malpractice” and “raises the specter that these things were overlooked” just to advance policy. [For more on Whitehouse’s recent comments, see Consortiumnews.com’s “More Pressure for Bush Torture Probe.”]

Pending Probe

In response to the Durbin-Whitehouse letter, H. Marshall Jarrett, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility, disclosed that OPR was examining the genesis of the Aug. 1, 2002, legal opinion, an inquiry that might be completed within the next month or two.

OPR’s findings could give Attorney General Holder an opening to question Bybee, Yoo and other lawyers in the torture debate about whether they were pressured to come up with a legal opinion that would justify the abusive tactics that Bush and Cheney already wanted to use against detainees.

Did Bush and Cheney, in effect, lawyer-shop for the answers they wanted?

By concentrating on the lawyers first, Holder could likely build a stronger case than he could against CIA and other interrogators who executed the orders from above to abuse and torture detainees.

While the interrogators might reasonably be able to claim uncertainty about the legality (because they had orders from the Attorney General or the White House), Yoo, Bybee and other lawyers who crafted the legal arguments could make no such claim.

Bybee is now a federal appeals court judge in San Francisco. Yoo is a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley

Yoo also has shown no remorse over his role in putting the United States on the path to torture. Yoo even took to the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 29 to chastise President Barack Obama for ordering the phased close-down of the Guantanamo Bay prison and for ending the CIA’s authority to harshly interrogate detainees.

“While these actions will certainly please his base -- gone are the cries of an ‘imperial presidency’ -- they will also seriously handicap our intelligence agencies from preventing future terrorist attacks,” Yoo wrote.

“Eliminating the Bush system will mean that we will get no more information from captured al-Qaeda terrorists,” Yoo wrote. “In his decisions taken so precipitously just two days after the Inauguration, Mr. Obama may have opened the door to further terrorist acts on U.S. soil by shattering some of the nation's most critical defenses.”

While Yoo’s rhetoric is typical of what came out of the Bush administration for eight years, it glosses over the basic fact that this approach leaves to one person – the U.S. President – the power to determine who is an “enemy combatant” and to subject that human being to barbaric practices.

It assumes that the President and his intelligence agencies are infallible in making those judgments even for a person apprehended far from any battlefield and with no apparent capacity to wage war, even U.S. citizens or legal residents pulled from their homes or off the street by government agents. [For details, see our book, Neck Deep.]

For many Americans, the question during Bush’s presidency was whether his imperial theories and their defenders represented a greater threat to the American constitutional Republic than did a scattered band of terrorists halfway around the world.

Yoo’s Wall Street Journal column also is further evidence of his criminal intent. He is stating clearly that he is all about achieving an outcome (i.e. extracting information from suspected terrorists by any means that the President orders), rather than about protecting the sanctity of the law.

It is the ends, not the means, that matter to John Yoo.

If Holder takes seriously his sworn commitment to protect the U.S. Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, he has little choice but to examine how political and ideological operatives, like Yoo, twisted the law to fit a President’s criminal proclivities.

If the rule of law means anything, it can’t be that simply making a legal argument – no matter how baseless and absurd – permits the nation’s top executive to break any law and commit any crime.

Possibly after some time behind bars or at least before a grand jury, lawyers, who put their ambitions and policy interests first, might have some heartfelt second thoughts – and might be willing to point the finger at which of their higher-ups got them to write these disreputable legal opinions.


Robert ParryRobert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at neckdeepbook.com. His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth' are also available there. Or go to Amazon.com.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



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This story was published on February 4, 2009.

 

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