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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Thought for the Day, Graduation Day

We push our kids to go to college, to achieve and become educated, to learn how to think, even if you cannot instill the courage to do it.

But, they look around and see our politics dominated by mediocrity and something called Rush Limbaugh.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Radical Doubt?

I don't think so.

Andrew is wrong about this, in my estimation. We won't know without a proper inquiry.

I don't believe there's much evidence that the intent of the torture program was sadism, .... And I see no evidence that those who waterboarded Zubaydah were doing it for the evil joy of it...

In pursuit of other arguments, both Hitchens and now Sullivan appear to ignore by omission the (fundamentalist?) retributive mindset that may well have existed. Why?

From Mukasey on back, the fact that so many involved continue to use in public statements the (exculpatory?) proposition that "only" the perpetrator of 9/11 was waterboarded is ... evidence, n'est pas?

From AS's own quote of the Convention:

intentionally inflicted on a person...punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed...

On some reckonings, gathering evidence of 'specific intent' is one clear reason why AG Eric Holder should not have let this play out in the press, but immediately declared an official investigation.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tribunal Tribulations

I have to say that this is the first clear-cut time that the Obama Administration is falling down on communications.

Why isn't "the Press" asking why Bush-Cheney haven't already completed trials for everyone, after 'these eight years of keeping us safe', as Cheney says? Isn't it true that they just wanted to dump the problems onto the next guy?

Doesn't taking people to trial imply there is a chance that the court will let them go? All the posturing about letting terrorists free in our backyard - doesn't it almost make a mockery out of the very system of justice, tribunals, that Congress put in place, by implying that none of the 'hardened terrorists' could ever be let go?

Quote for the Day

Obama's calculations are not calibrated. The Left has nothing on the Right when it comes to blowing up a "storyline":

From Atrios:

The ease Republicans have in shifting the conversation from "torture is/was totally legal" to "NANCY KNEW!!!," ...

They kick the soccer ball, and the press follows. After all these years I'm not entirely sure why that is, but there you are. [I blame "liberal guilt", among other things.]

And, you know, disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has precisely zero power but his every pronouncement is treated as Incredibly Important News. Any journalists want to explain why?

Leon Pannetta

He's totally off-base to knee-jerk defend Bush's CIA...

There is no public confidence in the CIA and Panetta is making a fool of the Administration by asserting some exists.
He has no idea whether lies of omission were made in the September, 2002, briefing.

Obama ought to have him shut up*. There is no public confidence in the CIA and Panetta is making a fool of the Administration by asserting some exists.

Update: *turns out that it was an e-mail that the media blew-up to "released a statement"! Anything for a he-said, she-said story. Anything! You know today's media standards and what is accepted from them...

Today's Factoids


Senator Lindsey Graham probably lied, the day before yesterday, when he said at the torture hearings that waterboarding was now illegal in America, implying it is not forward-looking to discuss it. I do not believe that is the current state of the law. Still checking, but so far, ...

Also, it is worth remembering:

  • Obama voted against the Military Commissions Act, with its retroactive immunity.
  • Obama voted against retroactive immunity for the Telcos.

What the Obama team may need is a clearer vision of what they want to transition to, which could take some more time, frankly, and, afterwards, a program to cast the clean-up of the Bush-era as a (a) a clean-up and (b) not a costless clean-up.

Pelosi, not part of the conspiracy to torture in America ...


Whatever they briefed, she was briefed after the fact. So no conspiracy.

There is no evidence that she knew or should have known how to pick "waterboarding" from a CIA briefing list, in 2002. (I know that I would not have been able to. You?).

Until 2002, I cannot think of any time in memory in which a Congressman should have been expected to question the CIA's golden sheild, the Office of Legal Council opinion, to see if it was deliberately contrived or not. What's more, the CIA did not provide the legal memos until much, much later on down the road.


Here's the real breach of public trust and abuse of power (wait for the clips of the Bush Administration, if you want to "remember the urgency of the times", David Gregory!):

Even if one got wrongly persuaded of a "neo-con view" that Saddam was worth lying to the electorate over, to 'get action', there is NO WAY that argument can be expanded to include a conspiracy to torture.

Obama-Biden Wimping Out


Judging by Rahm Emmanuel's Sunday talk-show performance a few weeks ago compared to subsequent events, it's plain that the W-House misjudged the impact of ... well, the truth.

Why? Partly because no one asked them what they would do, during the primaries, if it turned out that American torture was done.


It's simple.

Do justice. Don't seek convictions.

Got it?

Please Remain Seated as $93 Billion in Bush Legacy Costs Leaves the House

The supplemental is coming in around a staggering $90 Billion for this year. Although, in these times, $90 billion isn't sticker shock - can you believe it?

Facts of the day, from the Bill:

(5) Since 2001, the United States has contributed more than $33,000,000,000 to Afghanistan and $12,000,000,000 to Pakistan to strengthen each country's governance, economy, education system, healthcare services, and military.

The Regional Republicans will vote for it.

Missing: American Secrecy PLUS American Accountability

We ought to be able to have secrets and still do justice, without demanding that all the secrets be made known.

Seems simple.

Yet, the struggle over the latest batch of photos illustrates that secrecy continues to mean absence of ... a vigorous prosecutor, who can bring Justice among those who operate in secret.

Anyway, I disagree with Glenn Greenwald. "Information" of this kind has a price, large enough not to be ignored. We've paid it already. No need to pay again. The air war will likely be attenuated. Indefinite detention is unsupportable (administrative detention for limited periods is okay). The Hamas are not occupied - Israel withdrew from Gaza, gratis.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

More Reports of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld Political Use of the Torture Room


We all have to be careful not to seize on nuggets that may be part of a rightwing dis-information campaign that could later dent the credibility of an inquiry, but the Right blogosphere has the torture news of the day.

The office of the Vice President - whoever that turns out to be - is implicated in a communications chain in which "suggestions" of torture were passed down the chain, during the early interrogation of a captured, high-level Iraqi intelligence officer, Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi in April, 2003.

Robert Windrem, writing exclusively at the DailyBeast:

*Two U.S. intelligence officers confirm that Vice President Cheney’s office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner, a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.

*The former chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, in charge of interrogations, tells The Daily Beast that he considered the request reprehensible.

Just for the record, I'm still waiting for someone to publish the cost to the taxpayers of the Iraqi Survey Group's big adventure (Joe Biden, can you please help?).
More below the fold - this is not small potatoes!

Q: Now, one of the things that was revealed today, if the article is correct, is that the administration is seeking an additional $600 million to fund the Iraq survey group, to keep it going and to provide resources for its continued efforts. Is that accurate?

MR. McCLELLAN: There -- as with normal, or other budget appropriations, there are classified sections within those appropriations. This is a wartime supplemental. It does have a classified section, and it would not be appropriate for me to discuss those classified sections.


Q: Follow-up to Jim's question. Why is the amount of money the administration is seeking for the Iraq survey group classified? What's the rationale for that?

MR. McCLELLAN: There are classified sections in it. One, I can't get into the classified section of budget appropriations. This is a wartime supplemental, and so I can't -- it's not appropriate for me to discuss it -- the classified section further. You're asking me to get into confirming or denying certain parts of that matter.

But the Iraq survey group, as I've noted over here, continues to do its job. Keep in mind that Saddam Hussein had a sophisticated concealment strategy that was well-known, trying to deceive the international community, trying to conceal -- and they were caught by the weapons inspectors in the past for what they were concealing. So the Iraq survey group has a massive amount of documents, miles of documents to go through to uncover the full truth of his weapons of mass destruction programs. And that work continues. And it's important work.

Q: I'm not asking you to discuss what's in that classified section. I'm asking you what is -- as a matter of policy, why does that amount of money have --

MR. McCLELLAN: That would be asking me to talk about classified sections of the report.

Q: No, just the policy rationale for keeping this -- why is that -- why does that have to be secret?

MR. McCLELLAN: That's making assumptions about what's in the classified section of the report. It's a classified section that you're asking me to discuss

Oh, no, you are not done. There is more (can you believe it?).

Health Care Costs

Apparently, there is some "fallacy" about rising health care costs.


In the 1990s, weren't we peddled managed-care as the way to ... limit health care costs?

The managed care experiment couldn't reign in the supply side cost growth, ultimately.

If Tyler really wants to posit that health care services inflation is being driven by runaway demand, I don't think he'll have much company...

All the same, as I have been saying a long time, no one appears to have built a decision-quality, public dataset that elucidates the cost drivers in the U.S. Sytem, so expect full blown, waste-of-time ideological arguments over 'the facts'... We tried, with the Federal database, but, on last look, it was not detailed enough. Right idea, not done well.

Our CIA Sucks

So bad.

Noted in passing:

According to U.S. sources, in 2004, the CIA had lost its entire agent network in Iran when a CIA headquarters communications officer was about to send instructions to an agent via its Inmarsat transmitter/receivers. The CIA officer attempted to download data intended for a single operative, but accidentally hit a button that sent it to the entire U.S. spy network in Iran, these sources said.

More triumphs of the covert division ... how "special".

[All the same, Pelosi v. CIA? Not a good move. These people will "generate" a briefing memo, rather than take on water ... and you know they have the capabilities to do it.]

Deadly Charm


Obama will meet with the man who could seriously dent his Presidency.

All roads point to the emergence of yet another "roadmap" without consequences (pdf), rather than robust settlement talks ("peace" is elusive, practically and theologically -!!!-, today).

First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes. So how will the first 30 seconds, and the rest of the meeting, go when President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sit down together on May 18?

- Elliot Abrams, WSJ (yes, that Elliot)

The situation in the mid-east is grave.
  • Netanyahu is a walking provocation with a smile.
  • Obama doesn't have time to get involved in high-level diplomacy, of almost any kind.
  • Few outside Israel seem to have the stomach to put real pressure on the Hammas, physical and otherwise.
  • Hizb'allah is getting along apparently better than ever (U.S. training of the Lebanese Army is being recyled into capturing Isreali intelligence operatives inside Lebanon!).
  • Except, they will take a second-seat only to Tehran and Syria.
  • Netanyahu has pre-empted the ability to hold multi-party talks outside of Israel, by putting his public face against real talks with Syria (although, truth be told, the people of the Golan don't even want Syria...).
  • The nuclear pressure-cooker continues to whistle on the back-burner, sounding all the way from Iran.
  • The Hamas, despite their rocket sex antics, seem to have hit a stride, at least (they aren't being rejected by the Palestinians they 'sacrifice'). Their black-hole formulation of a settlement without a peace declaration is mind numbing, but apparently is good enough to hold the fort.

In the Ring, The Ultimate Fighter

TUF, in words rather than blood. Quintessential Dowd. Ranks with the time she pulled a Barberini Fawn out of the hat, maybe.

Ms. USA 1995 Tells The Donald that He's Fired

Shanna Moakler? She's moving on. It's a good thing.

A $2 Trillion Torture Cost?

Julian Sanchez recently reminded us that the Japanese mis-judged the U.S.'s nuclear capabilities, at the end of WWII, based on false information they created via torture.

Paul Begala reminds us that we may have paid a huge price for torture, to the extent that the bogus interrogation of al-Libi was influential among the weak, like George "The Decider" Bush.

Even if the al-Libi data-point was 1% of "the case for war", that'd be a $2 billion dollar cost... On the other hand, if it was the last 1% required to convince someone, it wouldn't be wrong to allow the full $2 trillion dollar cost, so ...

Unfortunate Quote of the Day

Lindsey O. Graham was having a banner day. A selection of his is below, but this one takes the award.

He elucidated an opinion about intelligence-gathering that sounded like pre-emptive warfare, but forgot, maybe, that he was in a hearing about torture:

"We need to hit them before they hit us."

Slug away, Senator. Just don't be a fool and represent yourself.

More Important Testimony

Tucked over at HuffPo, testimony that didn't make the Senate's website.

Whitehouse.gov really isn't supplying enough original-source material. Still, at least they didn't dump the decision to not release the photos in the Friday garbage, right?

The "lab report" that Krauthammerians didn't want to hear:

I also want to address the so called "ticking time bomb" scenario that is so often used as an excuse for torture and abuse. My team lived through this scenario every day in Iraq. The men that we captured and interrogated were behind Zarqawi's suicide bombing campaign.
I also conducted point-of-capture interrogations in Iraqi homes, streets, and cars, and I discovered that in these time-constrained environments where an interrogator has ten or fifteen minutes to assess a detainee and obtain accurate intelligence information, relationship building and deception were again the most effective interrogation tools. It is about being smarter, not harsher.

-Matthew Alexander, former Air Force, recipient of the Bronze Star

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Emergency GOP Meeting

The fight against health care reform begins.

The GOP will call names, specifically, "The Democrat Socialist Party".

It's true. Including the fact that it is technically an 'extraordinary' meeting (a special session).

And Folks Think It is the GOP in Crisis

The credit-card "industry" as been central to U.S. Economic expansion.

A prolonged contraction of consumer credit would be ugly.

Consumer rates should be falling with the fed-funds rate. Today, however, rate-jacking requires another several months of study:

"After the effort failed, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, the Democratic chairman of the banking committee, proposed that the Federal Reserve be asked to provide an analysis of how Congress could rein in interest rates."

Foreclosures Today and Everyday

Anyone who thought March was the peak in the foreclosure activity was girl-interrupted today.

It's amazing, to me, that in Washington, past-the-peak is now seen as an "okay" reason to ... well, er, "wait it out".

Can you even state how many people in America are going into home-mortgage default, one way or the other, each week? I'll bet up to 90% of the country couldn't name-that-figure.

The worst is over? The worst is just starting for tens of thousands, over the upcoming year...

Obama Slow-Peddling Change?


There is a gathering impatience about the pace of gay-rights legislation.

During the primaries, I was among those expecting far less from Obama. Now, I'm curiously more optimistic about what he can achieve.

It's been just 113 days, today (including weekends!).

So, my sense is to press for full repeal of DADT, true immigration equality, etc.

I can think of a lot of ugly halfway houses, constructed by the rightwing of the military and the "blue dogs" ...
Most of the legislation they've passed has been on a tight deadline. They will ram through healthcare by July 31. (gulp!)

Civil Rights issues are going to require White House leadership, which means they will take up time. Can someone in the Congress take up the task of building the legislative support required? Is there a Congressional Civil Rights Czar, who can increase the span of control? It doesn't seem likely. Stalwart Ted Kennedy is hardly in top shape*. It doesn't look like Gates will step up to the plate for the President, on this issue, at least not in a leadership role.

My worry is that what they do will be low quality, not that they won't attempt to do something at all.

So, my sense is to press for full repeal of DADT, true immigration equality, etc. I can think of a lot of ugly halfway houses, constructed by the rightwing of the military and the "blue dogs" ...


Here is a question for those who know the Hill far better than I. If I were a legislative aide, I'd might recommend that Obama-Biden tackle all the legislative items at once. One giant legislative push for all of them. I think the Left-Left and Right-Left politics works better that way: true or false?

*Although, he did have time/energy for the Serve America Act, so these views are ... weakly held, to say the least.

Nagasaki Pictures to be Wtihheld

Well, not Nagasaki, but our detainee fiasco. It's a horrible "war" and we cannot look at it.

Funny thing is that I actually concur that more of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld mess in the hands of Hizb'allah or the Hammas is probably not a good idea.

The political concession should be that a dedicated wing in the Bush library be built, so it can house ALL the pictures, eventually.

I'm unfamiliar with the court case related to these photos. However, if there is a prosecution of someone to occur, rather than a principle of access to be vindicated, it's hard to see how these photos shouldn't be admissible as classified evidence. In other words, I don't see proper handling of the photos to preclude a trial (although I could be wrong about whether evidence rules of that kind are common or possible).

The Costs of Torture, Part II

Torture offers no assurances of achieving the truth, even in a ticking-bomb scenario. Therefore, to call it a "safeguard" is false advertising.

A second major problem with this technique is that evidence gained from it is unreliable. ... This unfortunately has happened and we have had problems ranging from agents chasing false leads to the disastrous case of Ibn Sheikh al-Libby who gave false information on Iraq, al Qaeda, and WMD.

More on the deferred costs of the Bush-Cheney feel-good era on National Security:

A fourth problem with this technique is that ignores the end game. In our country we have due process, which requires evidence to be collected in a certain way. The CIA, because of the sensitivity of its operations, by necessity, operates secretly. These two factors mean that by putting the CIA in charge of interrogations, either secrecy is sacrificed for justice and the CIA's operations are hampered, or justice is not served. Neither is a desirable outcome.

[quotes, FBI Interrogator, Ali Soufan]

Senator Graham Know-it-All

Senator Lindsey Graham is making an historical fool of himself, today, on behalf of his political party's amateur hour in the torture room they created:

“You cannot say 'hello', firmly, under Common Article 3”
- The Pride of South Carolina, May 13, 2009, 11:43 a.m.

"The Geneva Convention did not apply until 2006." [Quite the message to send, eh?]

Update: Check out Graham's fallback position. It's secrecy, again. Faced with the fully dispositive facts that the Bush-era Zubaydeh claims are a farce, he falls back to KSM, for whom the details are not known and the clear-cut Zubaydeh counterfactuals, not present.


If only the people involved admitted it as such, this might have some currency. Cheney admits no mistake. He'd do it all again. Bush himself repudiated the Detainee Act with his signing statement. Condi may think she is excused because she was "terrified".

It is not behind us, Senator Graham.

Sheldon Whitehouse - American Hero

Senator Whitehouse, today, is obliterating the foundation of the Bush-era arguments for why they did what they did. The premises of their "Presidential finding" are getting smashed (which is not odd, if you ever watched how dismissive one Bush official was publicly about 'getting a finding', as if it were as easy as turning on the water faucet ...).

  • -The OLC assertion that Zubaydah broke on the introduction of harsh techniques? False on the facts.
  • -Bush's public statements that information flowed from Zubaydah only after CIA involvement via harsh techniques. False on the facts.

Yet, there are people who keep looking to the CIA (and their highly paid contractors) for some kind of non dis-information self-assessment.

Update: CIA kept asking for harsher and harsher techniques... Surprise, surprise. Where did they end? The waterboard.

Update2: Good grief, what is more important than his own meeting on torture, that the Senator must rush to the airport? God help him, if it is a long weekend or something similar.

"Satan's Wind" and the False Witness of the Rightwing

I'm sorry, but we just couldn't stop laughing over "Satan's wind"...

[apologies for the adverts, but that's the way the ball is bouncing ...]


Here's an false-witness update: the perpetrators, Focus on the Family. The persecuted? Well, wadda ya know, gay couples.

Carrie Prejean is Ugly Inside

Trump: I know beauty when I feel it ...

Trump says she's beautiful.


There are gay couples who have been together for years, for decades. Who is she to deny full relationship recognition to them, to pass such a judgment with nothing but 'how I was raised' to back it up?

She is not just stating an opinion, like "blue is my favorite color". To pretend her opinion is benign and not an affront to dignity is to be too charitable.

Have we put torture behind us?

One reason given not to 'dig up the past' is that we have put torture behind us.

Have we?

It's a provocative and forward-looking question, one that can help shape the debate.

  1. -Did Bush's signing statement(s) assert an Article 2 right to torture? If so, the question is ... open, in a sense.
  2. -We stopped using the waterboard, but that was because the CIA dropped the "request" to do so.
  3. -A list of approved techniques is probably how we structure CIA activities.

    Under this Regulate und Legalize (RULE) set-up, the President can change the list fiat (he's the "Unitary Executive", under some radical legal theories). There is no need to build a proper necessity defense, is there?

    Also, it's hard to know whether keeping various "bits", like video tapes, is still at the discretion of the CIA.
  4. -Obama's CIA director has stopped the _practice_ of outsourcing interrogation for profit. Practices, however, can be reversed by an incoming Republican Administration.

It's clear that the Obama Administration doesn't want this on their plate right now, but it's not going away, either, if the above is an accurate description of the current state of the law.

Why is Cheney Talking


He doesn't want to leave the field to his "enemies", in particular, the FBI testimony coming up. It's classic Rove-DeLay.

Except, it is really Geobbles, in two doses.

Re, "We do not torture":

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

-Joseph Goebbels

Just for the record, there could well be criminal referrals for torture, despite how you view the "policy pronouncements".


As for constantly telling the American public they are under treat and need the "safeguards" of torture to remain "safe", it's Goering rather than Goebbels:

“Naturally the common people don't want war... That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists [cf. also Krauthammer's Excusionism in which he singles out pacifists] for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

-- Hermann Goering

And that is how you get a very generous and giving people, Americans, to behave like rats and embrace torture.

All in a days work, that, I guess ... like clockwork.

Media Decides That "Torture" Sells Papers

It's hard to keep up with "the media" coverage of American torture.

What is already emerging, however, is the media's recognition that they can mine the issue for gold.

What else is to be made of offering a Face The Nation interview to Cheney? Of Yoo, offered space in Philly? I didn't recognize it at first, until I read the bizarre piece by Richard Cohen in the WaPo.

To be sure, they are being facilitated by a lack of an official inquiry, but still ...

Separately, I had to listen to some Cheney booster talking about the brave men and women who tortured for the CIA. Listen, respect where it is due, but let's not forget that we outsourced this stuff. Operatives were paid huge sums and took on not much risk at all, so far as they knew. That's even before we decide that interrogation requires a special kind of courage. Does it?

Really, it's a variation and resucitation of the "you don't support the troops meme", right?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Do Dems Have Any Red Lines on Health Care Policy?

Bottomline, does Obama have the knowledge and wherewithal to know when and how to say, "No plan is better than a bad plan"?

Yes, they want 60 votes, but it might be better to do the reconciliation route, that requires 50, if the compromise solution is no solution at all, really.

Health Care

It's different this time. At least, some observers are saying so (Krugman-sensei, for instance).

What's different is that, post-Bush, the health-industry has learned that the government is an easy mark.

Look for Obama's plan to turn into a giant subsidy, rather than a full metal jacket reform.

Schumer's "compromise" looks like an invitation for adverse-selection (i.e. all the worst cases end up on the government plan, so government premiums will be higher than private). The idea that the Government should fight "fair" is radical and could be a poor insurance design.

Hard choices have to be made. The private insurance market needs to change to a re-insurance and catastrophic insurance market (except for the most wealthy, who may never go on a government plan for basic). The USG will pick up basic medical care, via single-payor, for everyone.

Wanda Sykes

In a parody of Rush's far-right nuttery, she should simply release a statement that she meant the policies of Rush's kidneys.

It is lamentable that these events, designed to help break the everyday barriers and constant political tensions, have gotten so politicized.

The Donald and His Beauty Pagent


The Donald will making a ruling, today, reportedly, on Ms. California.

We can guess that he'll fire everyone. It seems to be what he knows (his show should have been called 'you're fired'). It's odd that people would look to him for moral compass or subtle management skill ...

In any case, turning Ms. Prejean into a martyr for the cause is a bad outcome. Letting her continue is almost untenable for everyone. Mr. Trump will help her to "graduate" to issue advocacy, I'll bet, and clean-out the Pageant hierarchy, so he can keep watching young women parade across the stage, well into his most senior years ... because of the cross-selling opportunities it provides his real-estate empire (of course!).


The margins are so thin, it all could actually mean something, other than just an ugly usurping of the Pageant limelight by marriage foes.

This is what I'm reading about how Maine could go the way of California:

In 2005, Maine voters rejected an effort to repeal the law that added sexual orientation to the Maine Human Rights Act, 55 percent to 45 percent. That vote came seven years after they repealed a gay rights law at the polls, 52 percent to 48 percent.

This makes it look like Maine is a 50% state... 1-2% at the margin is non-trivial.

Meanwhile, N.H. is fighting back against the influx of non-declared money, trying to push the electorate:

(h.t JMG)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ready, Set, Tested

Sorry for the unavoidable adverts, but here is a commentary on the weird state of banking, today:

What if it hadn't "worked"?

Among the many circularities to emerge from the Bush-Cheney era is the alleged notion of "successful torture". Of course, we know there is no such thing as a successful torture program, but follow the argument.

They set out to torture, most likely, but the question is why?

After the fact, they say it was successful, but what did they say before the fact?

They must have said it was necessary. The question is why they said that.

We already have ample evidence of the ideological and political impetus, but one other way to answer that question is from prior intelligence-gathering experience with torture.

Strangely, the CIA and the OLC limited their inquiry into the matter to SERE techniques.

Yet, people still see no evidence of a conspiracy ...

Cheney, Still Waving the Mushroom Cloud


If you thought people were ga-ga about Obama, it is Cheney who has a Savior-complex:

CHENEY: No regrets. I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. I'm convinced, absolutely convinced, that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives.


What will save hundreds of thousands of lives, rather than vainly hoping to catch a terrorist ticking-bomb scenario, is to have a national readiness.
I know numbers are hard, but hundreds of thousands?

This narrow definition of "safety" as "savings lives" is deeply politicized and problematic.

We are never 100% safe; therefore, we cannot be "kept safe". Period.

What will save hundreds of thousands of lives, rather than vainly hoping to catch a terrorist ticking-bomb scenario, is to have a national readiness.

I'll take the gay translators, expelled by Bush-Cheney.

I'll take a hospital system that is flexible to high capacity; a response-force that is tested and trained; a policing force that has true communications interoperability and mobile central command. The list goes on.

All these things, long before a cheap torture program.

Cheney And His One-man Side Show, "We Got 'em!"

Essay topic: compare and contrast the following two statements in the context of the criminal probe that appears warranted:

CHENEY: ...and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed is the man who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11, blew up the World Trade Center, attacked the Pentagon, tried to blow up the White House or the Capitol building. An evil, evil man that's been in our custody since March of ‘03.

So, what do you do with "evil men", let alone "evil, evil men"? What implication left unsaid and unexposed by Shieffer?

There is no peaceful co-existence with "evil", so ... Nothing is unjustified in fighting "evil" is the sordid implication, right? Torture is to be justified in the public's mind as a necessary, not cheap, component of confronting evil in the world (in the 'foreign world'?). Ever-Catholic Bill "The Warrior" O'Reilly has propagated the same view, so don't laugh.

Anyway, here is the contrast (the cover-story?):

CHENEY: Well, at the heart of what we did with the terrorist surveillance program and the enhanced interrogation techniques for Al Qaida terrorists and so forth was collect information. It was about intelligence. It was about finding out what Al Qaida was going to do, what their capabilities and plans were. It was discovering all those things we needed in order to be able to go defeat Al Qaida.

Do you have confidence that a dispassionate intelligence-gathering operation was constructed or run?

Do you share the misgivings of others that a RULE approach, regulate und legalize, is highly unworkable? Remember, this is an operation that by law conflates prosecutor, judge and jury AND does it behind a cloak of non-accountability called secrecy - how many of those systems function swimmingly?

Bonus part, below the fold

CHENEY: ...we were absolutely convinced, the country was convinced, that there was a very high likelihood of a follow-on attack, a mass casualty attack against the United States.

Since the premise above is that we were seeking intelligence, in extra-ordinary ways, because we were 'caught flat footed', what was the evidence that convinced anyone of an imminent attack in advance of actually gathering the intelligence on the matter?

Al qa'ida's hallmark has been simultaneous attacks, not rapid fire, so ... Say again? Isn't it true that they were "convinced" by their fears and suspicions, mostly the hallmark of weak leadership?


CHENEY: ...The reason we went to the Justice Department wasn't because we felt we were going to take some kind of free hand assault on these people or that we were in the torture business. We weren't. And specifically, what we got from the Office of Legal Counsel were legal memos that laid out what is

Why no free-hand assault on "evil"? Now, we are peddling back the Al qa'ida - Iraq link ...er, I mean, the evil-torture link?

Isn't it plausible that the reason they went to OLC to "get" a "memo" was so that the conspiracy could move forward, not that it would be restrained? Notice especially Cheney's word choice - it's not legal "advice" he was after, it was a memo. He knows that OLC "memos" are special inside the Executive, right?

All the voices of policy restraint, until then, had been ignored (they certainly weren't provided to the Congress...). And where is the historical context, now, completely dropped, that al-qa'ida was to be treated as external to the laws of war, precisely so that a free hand was permitted?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cheney And His One-man Side Show, In and Out of Office


Just like the prior "weapons-related program activities", we now have terrorist-related program activities.
It seems to make the most sense for Dick Cheney to be talking to lawyers, at this stage.

Yet, he's out with a 'no regrets' statement about it all, explained away as the necessary shortcuts to having been caught on 9/11, after which we were made "safe".


Bob Shieffer doesn't play hardball, but he does ask about the politicized and politically self-serving ideas on safety.

In Cheney's reply, notice no ticking bomb, no Krauthammerian excusionisms:

CHENEY: That's what's in those [yet unpublished] memos [from the CIA, only]. It talks specifically about different attack planning that was under way and how it was stopped. It talks about how the volume of intelligence reports that were produced from that.

SCHIEFFER: Does it talk about planning for attacks or attacks that were actually stopped?

CHENEY: Well, I need to be careful here, Bob, because it's still classified. The way to answer this is give us the memos.

Just like the prior "weapons-related program activities", we now have terrorist-related program activities.

All his pop-up passion on the issue, yet this reply is all he can muster? Terrorist-related program activities?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Is Bob Shieffer Up To It?


Ahead of the next week's hearings on Bush-era torture, Dick Cheney will take to the air, to countermand the sitting President and undermine the current "war effort", as he and his conceive it.

I wonder if Bob Shieffer knows he's in one of the toughest spots, with this interview, possibly, of his entire and long career?


You can bet that Cheney wouldn't be on the airwaves, quite like this, if there were, right?

I have strong feelings about what happened and what we did or didn't do and what's happening now. And I don't have any reason not to forthrightly express those views.

-Former VP, Dick Cheney, WaPo

We all have strong feelings, but it's time that you put yours to the test in front of a jury, maybe? Unless, the intent of "Facing the Nation" is to make that almost impossible?


We're just getting to the point at which the Bush-era doctrines are behind us, with the undisciplined taking of detainees, with a new Army Field Manual, one that is synced with the overall effort in ways that our sitting Generals all believe is apt prosecution of the war.

So why is Cheney out there, ready to undo all that has been achieved? At best, he's "unhelpful", as Rummy would say (did say, of others).


{next post}

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Obama Seizes Opportunity to Take Mantle of Fiscal Responsibility


I think it was Douthat comma Ross who wrote that he might recoil from exhaustion if he had to listen to one more screed on GOP "rebranding". I reached that point yesterday, with lead stories from Matthews and Maddow again on the GOP. Who cares, anymore, except as fascination with the macabre?

Coupled with the initiative to close tax loopholes, a pattern of steps to keep a firm handle on the politics of spending and collecting, emerges. One starts to sleep more assured.
Obama struck a blow for those who would move out of the block-and-tackle mode and actually move over into the fast lane that is governance, where setting the agenda and the debate are important.

His team unveiled a 100-page book, outlining line-by-line $17 billion in cuts to the budget. Eat your heart out, John McCain, right? Each line-item contains a paragraph or two of "justification". Gnomes have been working hard to save dollars!

The media are downplaying it, and playing 5-second snips from the President's speech. Sadly, the Whitehouse doesn't have the video source on the website.

Coupled with the initiative to close tax loopholes, a pattern of steps to keep a firm handle on the politics of spending and collecting, emerges. One starts to sleep more assured. Readers here know that I'm one who would print up "I {heart} Peter Orzag" buttons, already, though, for how he has helped this Administration so far. Heck, I'm still waiting for the 10% that Rumsfeld said that anyone could get out of a budget, when he promised the same for the Pentagon ...

More on the Bush-era Failed Legal Strategies


Senators Graham and McCain write at length about the mess that Bush-Cheney dumped on the next guy: hundreds (?) of detainees in a limbo created by a lack of prosecutorial discipline.

If Senators McCain and Graham come to grips with that, the more they might realize that stomping up-and-down about war powers didn't help Bush-Cheney and it won't help them (or anyone).
It's typical Bush-era "thinking": 'hope for the best and don't plan for the rest'; all benefits, no costs (that we can't push off to others or blame on the Democrats); etc., etc.

As CQ Politics points out, the courts have been rightly uneasy about an Executive declaring a non-juridical "war" with people who it intended to treat as "non-warriors".


If there were delicate balances and new methods to be tried out, hopes for them were dashed by the unidimensional arrogance with which Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld asserted Article 2 powers, perhaps, creating a need, today, to somehow 'transition' to a more far-sighted schema, even if there are short-term costs that are significant.

Scuttling the hopes for practical people to wrestle with real-world problems is the Bush-Cheney penchant for secrecy. The balances that were to be struck between secrecy and perceived fairness got dashed when secrecy was used to hide interrogation practices that were unsupportable, to ease accountability standards, possibly to cover-up treacherous detainee abuse, and possibly to wiretap journalists. (Let alone to create lies of omission required to win an election....grrr...).

Justice hates a vacuum and people hate a tyrant, even a "regulated tyrant".

If Senators McCain and Graham come to grips with that, the more they might realize that stomping up-and-down about war powers didn't help Bush-Cheney and it won't help them (or anyone).

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Resting Prosecution Too Early, Part II

Now, exceptions can be made, and the question of whom to prosecute is tricky. It seems unfair to prosecute CIA agents who tortured, as they had been specifically advised that techniques like waterboarding were legal.

- Johnathan Chait

Oh, those innocent 20-something interrogators that we put in the torture room and the outsourced operatives we put in charge!

Tell me, what is the long-term remedy for the proverbial CIA 'official' who comes along and says, to each President, "we can offer you the mother load, Mr. President, if only you would untie our hands!"

Isn't legal jeopardy of some kind perhaps as good as any?


The meeting marked "the first time that the issue of interrogations comes up" among top-ranking White House officials, recalled John C. Yoo, who represented the Justice Department. "The CIA guys said, 'We're going to have some real difficulties getting actionable intelligence from detainees'" if interrogators confined themselves to treatment allowed by the Geneva Conventions. - WaPo

If we really, really, really ever want a CIA worthy of the money that we spend on it, we have to stop the CIA from these requests and insist that they develop more comprehensive programs.


If we believe this account above (no reason to, especially), the problem isn't the civilian Congress who go back-and-forth with detrimental demands on the CIA, it is the demands of the CIA itself.

We Report, You Shut Up!

Media Matters on the job (report):

I have to say that the rest of the media often do variations of the same thing. With the interweb, however, it is possible to get original source, more often, but not nearly enough.

A Disaster on Wheels?


Something about the optics of sharing a stage, for money (?), with a potential war criminal that doesn't seem right.

Quick, if you were Obama's, Bill's, or George's PR person, would you go in for this, on foreign soil no less?:

Former U.S. presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will appear together in Toronto next month on a public stage for the first time since Mr. Bush ended his presidency, in a remarkable twist on the cultural cold war that Barack Obama and others are trying to lay to rest. The two will be appearing at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on May 29 for a moderated "conversation" that is expected to last about two hours.

Banana Republic/Republican Watch

The evidence keeps coming in.

Another Bush-era investigation that went on forever:

"The professional responsibility office first began examining the actions of the lawyers nearly five years ago." - NYT

Obama, looking a little feckless, himself.

Update: Getting away with it?

That’s because OPR’s five-year investigation—carefully timed for release only as Bush was leaving the White House and Obama was coming in—dragged on too long. As a result of that timing, OPR blew the deadline for referring possible misconduct allegations against Yoo.

John Yoo is admitted to the bar in Pennsylvania. But the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board, which would investigate any complaints against him, imposes a four-year limitation for complaints.

Yoo wrote the memos in 2002 and 2003. This is 2009. You do the math.

"Strong on Defense" Goes by the Boards with "Compassionate Conservatism"


I'm reading, this morning, about all the "leadership strength" under the gun:

What has also been disclosed is that the former Attorney-General, Judge Mukasey, and his Deputy, did write a paper for the OPR [office of professional review] speaking of the extraordinary circumstances and pressure under which the [OLC] lawyers concerned were operating in the immediate aftermath of 9-11.

[see also, Condi Admits White House was "terrified"]

It is clear that this attitude resulted from fear of another terrorist attack and the resulting pressure that was felt throughout the administration to do anything that might prevent one.

I'm sure everyone has their own, but here is one I picked up fast on youTube. Given what we now know, what a fraud:

Bad News for The Torturists Among Us


Focusing on the purported benefits (of torture) without enumerating the costs is a typical slight of hand from the Bush-Cheney huggers, like Krauthammer.

Here is a shorthand (even though there are long alternatives).

  1. 1. The U.S. and our allies will likely be "hit" by some other act of terrorism.
  2. 2.Terrorists get out of jail, if you make Krauthammerian "exceptions".

There is no 100% safe, even if we wanted it. Al qa'ida is probably not the last terrorist network to ever arise. We have not seen the end of war or political violence.

Maybe, it's not until we let a terrorist go that we will be forced to understand that there ARE costs to Bush-Cheney safety, ...

Our hands tied, we will continue with the Bush-era tribunals-cum-detention-torture-cover-ups.
No way that Justice is served if you torture someone and get nothing of value. In fact, the grave injustice served on that person is of such a quality that they have a case for their release (and more). No prior crime, known or unknown, justifies torture, does it? To some unknown measure, all one creates, wittingly or no, is a blood-lust program, not a pick-me-up for Porter-Goss's 'global human condition'.


There is a lot more that can go under each of those paragraphs. But, it may not matter.

Our hands tied, we will continue with the Bush-era tribunals-cum-detention-cover-ups.

Maybe, it's not until we let a terrorist go that we will be forced to understand that there ARE costs to Bush-Cheney safety, and it could not have made us and our allies fully safe anyway.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Can We Ever Trust Another Republican President?

Andrew Sullivan writes,

This [investigating our torture regime] is not about vengeance; it's not about partisanship; it's about the integrity of the rule of law, without which we are all lost.

Ultimately, it's an American tragedy.

Face it, can we ever trust another Republican President? After Nixon, did you ever think you'd have to ask that again, in your lifetime?

p.s. My money-bet is on Addington, for the "smoking gun", so not much excitement there.

Tell me a little bit about the first White House Counsel's office meeting after the administration took office. Who was there, and what was laid out?

... Very early on Judge Gonzales outlined for the office what the president's priorities were for the counsel's office, and there were really two principal priorities. One was the speedy appointment of top-notch judges who were practitioners of judicial restraint and being ready to appoint a justice of the Supreme Court, should that become necessary. The other was, as Judge Gonzales related to us, to leave the presidency in better shape than he found it; that is, to try to restore some of the powers and privileges and prerogatives of the presidency, along with restoring its honor and reputation in the wake of eight years under President Clinton in which the presidency had taken a real beating, both legally and reputationally.

So this idea of executive power is on the table immediately?

It's on the table immediately. The vice president certainly, and a lot of the lawyers that were working in the White House Counsel's office, had strong beliefs about the importance of executive power and separation of powers and were very interested, not for the sake of George W. Bush the person, but for the sake of the institution of the presidency. ...

More to the Story - Bush League

Hitchens comes through, as only he can.

I confess, however, that I still wonder why Hitchens doesn't consider that Bush-Cheney torture and abusive detention were part of a retributive mindset.

Despite their (all too vocal?) protestations that all that was done was about "intelligence gathering", can we yet rule out that the torture room, for them, was not their own way of serving up to "these people", including some non high-value detainees, what they thought they deserved?

I confess, however, that I still wonder why Hitchens doesn't consider that Bush-Cheney torture and abusive detention were part of a retributive mindset.
While seeking criminal prosecutions, AS writes, "My own sense, from a few off-the-record conversations as well, is that president Bush simply said: do what you have to do, but make sure it's legal. Cheney ran with that. Bush meant it as cover."

There is enough subsequent evidence to worry they may have indulged themselves, armed with "new authorities". We know from Suskind's reporting, for instance, that Bush was in touch with CIA operatives, not a little, but a LOT. He was a participant, not a distracted bureaucrat...

We can hazard from the inclusion of 'retroactive immunity' in the Congressional bills, that they had no confidence in their own "legal analysis".

The CIA destroyed the taped evidence. They extended techniques beyond the Administration's own guidance, almost demonstrably.

There is ample collateral evidence that there were ideological forces at work in the men behind the execution of the Executive orders. Look for it. It's nearly ubiquitous. General Miller. CIA's Goss (terrible case of it). Hayden, even. Probably Mukasey. Cheney. Even the timing of the decisions suggests that an ideological framework was in place, one that was likely criminal.

The Granite State

The road is long. The last steps are sometimes the hardest, in Maine, D.C., and California. But here is something simple and direct from one of my favorite states, New Hampshire:

How Gay Kids Learn the Hate

What message does this send to gay kids, when you have public figures in the GOP (saying what all of them are thinking?):

And, I mean, they know where I stand, and they know that I wouldn't have them [gays] anywhere near my children." - Joe, Last Year's GOP Useful Idiot

The clear message is that "Daddy Joe" will not accept you if you are gay. You aren't fit to be around.

Condi Admits that WHouse was "Terrified"

Quick, someone ask Palin and Romney if they were "terrified".

While the Administration was issuing reassurances to everyone, they were privately terrified:

"I hope you understand that it was a very difficult time. We were all so terrified of another attack on the country," she said. "Even under those most difficult circumstances,..."

- Condi Rice, AP

There ought to be a proper, independent investigation, if not prosecution. Dribbling out the story to the press via fourth graders is worse.

Think about the low standard we set for our leadership-mindset, though, forgiving all because they were scared witless enough to attempt torture to "save us". What will happen to "us" if a dirty-bomb (higher on my list than bio-weapons) or a nuke goes off somewhere (not even here)?

America is likely to become unbalanced, again, because of the way that this whole debate over security was framed by those (including the flunky Federalist Society?) who saw it as yet another "need" to assert the Executive and so on.

$100 Millin for "W" in 100 Days


For those who think that the free markets apportion wealth to ... productive causes just swimmingly, there is the strange case of the $100 Million in 100 days for George Bush.

I have to say that made me stagger back (Pentagon to Release 2,000 Photos In Time For Bush Library Opening).

And, it's not just because of the GOP's useful idiots, who are just recently telling their gay children, indirectly but plain as day, that they 'wouldn't go near them', seem oblivious.

Have a look at how the Bush Administration set our national energy priorities:

the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced President Bush’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 for DOE’s advanced coal technology research, development, and deployment program is $648 million, a 25% or $129 million increase above the $519 million budget request in FY08. This $648 million request is the largest amount requested for DOE’s coal program in more than 25 years.

That's right. Our "free market economy" just apportioned nearly 25% of the average annual spending on "clean coal" to a library for the guy who passed out over $2.1 billion to research the issue, with no demonstrable results (at least Germany has a plant, even if the energy from it costs so much more...).


Cap-and-trade could, of course, force providers over to "clean coal". But, would you want your old, cash-dow, coal plant to be 'stranded' by Washington? Not a chance, right?

Look for the GOP to extract LONG lead times as concessions for any cap-and-trade legislation. Long is ten to fifteen years, with generous extensions given by the Congress critters - you know, like our auto non-standard standards.

It's one back-door way to weasel out, while appearing to 'do something'.

Still, it's better than a gas-tax, so ...

Meanwhile, not a dollar in the stimulus bill (that I saw, I could be wrong) for environmental clean-up or to ease transitions for old, dirty plants. It's possible that the stimulus bill could end up most as tax-cuts, as the spending in the out years gets cut.

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Bankruptcy Rules For When the Taxpayers are Involved, CDS Edition

Q: Are there certain circumstances in which CDS (credit default swaps) should not be paid after a bankruptcy?

Most bondholders have a natural interest in seeing a company succeed. In fact, many will work out deals (interest, terms, forgiveness, and restructurings), to give management a 'second chance', depending on the outlook and the circumstances.

Now, if you own a fully-hedged corporate bond position, do you have a vested interest in seeing the company file for bankruptcy protection? Yes, if you put your hedge on at prices higher than what is on bid, currently.

And, maybe this is what is going on:

...holders of fully 90% of Chrysler’s bonds are now on board with the government’s deal. - Felix Salmon

Jack Kemp


No friend of gays, Heritage-Foundation Jack seems to be one of those people who got involved in the wrong ideas too early in life (or the people with the wrong ideas).

We still haven't figured out how to pay for his ideas, or capture in (tax) policy the few nuggets they did manage to uncover along the way.

In fact, the entire Laffer-led crowd has piled on more national debt than any despairing Keynesian could have imagined possible, even under weak kneed Congress critters.

It's fitting that he was able to see 'teabagging' parties, as the culmination of the Reagan-era postulates. And, perhaps, to see as well the monetary hero of the same, wondering aloud how self-interest and the wealth of the wealthy were not enough ...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Quote of the Week

Rush Limbaugh, amplifying his views on the swine flu and showing, once again, that he knows his all-American audience better than anyone else, including those whose jaw drops when they read that 7% of America still think that Obama is a Muslim, crypto or otherwise

"[E]verywhere Obama is spreading Obamaism, there is a deadly disease taking place, either in the TARP community or in the newspaper business," he said. "Obama goes to Mexico -- they have an earthquake. Obama goes to Mexico -- get pig flu."-HuffPo

"Own it, America!", as Colbert might say.

Of course, Limbaugh has good company in the Senate:


A short time thereafter, Arlen Specter bolted the party. A few days later, conservative-appointed Judge Souter resigned less than four months into the new Administration, another face-slap to the bogus leadership of conservatism in America (assuming that Souter is in good health, still).

The GOP continued to have amnesia, in hopes that, one day, the terrain will shift and they can seize on that, to get their mojo back, cf.
Gay America: all is forgiven!

Recession Proof Jobs

Turns out that Maggie Gallagher is getting paid $125,000 a year, to run a website, be available for calls, issue some sing-songy issue-reports and generally show-off her moral concern, for something that ought to be pretty low on the list of social harms in America.

That's right. $10,000+/month.

I so want to get on that band-wagon.


OMG, they are too close for comfort:

Brian S. Brown Executive Director
National Organization for Marriage
20 Nassau Street, Suite 242
Princeton, NJ 08542

I wonder if he was previously associated with the Robert George group, connected enough that they secured your (gay) tax dollars from the Bush Administration, in grant form, for the putative study of 'natural law' theory. That's right. Your own tax dollars were secured to help repress your civil rights, directly or indirectly ...

One of the laughable things about that group, as I recall, is that their compendium on why marriage is a public good was not available freely to ... the public (you had to launch a special request to get it).

In Torture's Wake: A Chilling Effect


Suddenly, some people reportedly have to think again, after having been part of the Bush-Cheney 'Dirka Dirka' Presidency.

STRATFOR laments that there is a chilling effect going on.

Proper alignment of the risks-rewards implies that, yes, people should worry. They ought to be thinking about building their necessity defense and the cost of the interrogation room, ...
Good grief, I hope there is! This is exactly what you want. To motivate people to think that there might be consequences, a broader context (even "wartime context"), for their actions. Didn't Petreaus try to effect a similar change in attitude, when he took over in Iraq?

This is a key problem with the regulate-and-legalize (RULE) approach to 'enhanced interrogation'. If you create zero risk (to torture), you end up with an insatiable demand. (Ask any sub-prime mortgage-broker from 2006, if you need further evidence.)

If this reporting is right, then it confirms how wrong-headed the RULE approach is. If torture is on the list, then one ends up justifying how to keep people out of the torture room, rather than the other way around.

Proper alignment of the risks-rewards implies that, yes, people should worry. They ought to be thinking about building their (personal?) necessity defense and the costs of the interrogation room, rather than whether they will appear like a super-cowboy to the Vice-President for having extracted information quickly.

Then there is this possible distortion from STRATFOR's analysis:

Politics and moral arguments aside, the end effect of the memos’ release is that people who have put their lives on the line in U.S. counterterrorism efforts are now uncertain of whether they should be making that sacrifice. Many of these people are now questioning whether the administration that happens to be in power at any given time will recognize the fact that they were carrying out lawful orders under a previous administration.

Just how many people do we have interrogating suspects? Dozens?

Hayden's op-ed indicates that circa 30 people went into 'enhanced techniques'. How does that imply scores of interrogators, who have "put their lives on the line"?

Too many, perhaps, read these 'reports' uncritically.

Hell, I know people who would look at that assessment and think, "Start firing people until the morale improves ...".


Spend your money on interdiction, etc., or spend your money on 'comprehensive' drug-relief programs. The idea that all that is at stake is personal liberty is total rubbish (i.e. don't read CATO reports for the conclusions...). Anyone who thinks that government involvement, legal entanglement, and cost will diminish is foolhardy. It will shift, only.

May 1, 2009 2213 GMT
Mexico's Congress passed a law April 30 to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs, Reuters reported May 1. Under the legislation, which was originally proposed by Mexican President Felipe Calderon, there will be no legal punishment for anyone caught carrying up to five grams of marijuana, two grams of opium, 0.05 grams of heroin, 0.5 grams of cocaine or 0.04 grams of methamphetamines. In addition, the law gives more power to state governments to prosecute those caught selling drugs, an act which currently falls under the jurisdiction of federal courts.