A Little More Tarnish for the Bush Legacy

I do believe that at the end of the day, the Bush regime will go down in American history as the most corrupt, dirty, rotten and downright disgusting administration ever. They’re already the biggest bunch of scoundrels seen on our national stage, and the revelations just keep coming:

In an important new article from Murray Waas, writing at The Hill, we have at long last fresh news on the Rick Renzi corruption case in Arizona, and it turns out that officials in the Bush Administration improperly leaked out information compromising the investigation of Renzi, and did so for sheer political gain immediately prior to the 2006 elections.

In the fall of 2006, one day after the Justice Department granted permission to a U.S. attorney to place a wiretap on a Republican congressman suspected of corruption, existence of the investigation was leaked to the press — not only compromising the sensitive criminal probe but tipping the lawmaker off to the wiretap.

Career federal law enforcement officials who worked directly on a probe of former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) said they believe that word of the investigation was leaked by senior Bush administration political appointees in the Justice Department in an improper and perhaps illegal effort to affect the outcome of an election.

At the time of the leak, Renzi was locked in a razor-thin bid for reelection and unconfirmed reports of a criminal probe could have become politically damaging. The leaked stories — appearing 10 days before the election — falsely suggested that the investigation of Renzi was in its initial stages and unlikely to lead to criminal charges.

As you will recall, Renzi’s indictment (or lack thereof at the time) was a critical prong in the greater US Attorney firing scandal, specifically as to Arizona US Attorney Paul Charlton.

Read the rest of Bmaz’s article, and you’ll see this image in a whole new light:

Friends buy you birthday cake. Bush White House friends shield you from embarrassing corruption investigations and possible prosecution, then buy you a birthday cake while a city drowns.

We have a long way to go in scrubbing away the taint of that regime.

A Little More Tarnish for the Bush Legacy

Feds Express a Decided Interest in Sean Hannity's Pal Hal

Quick, my darlings, to the wayback machine! Remember this bit o’ drama last January?

We’re already aware that the white-supremacist crowd is already creating a higher level of security concerns surrounding Barack Obama’s inauguration.

So somehow it probably figures that Sean Hannity’s old pal Hal Turner would be out there leading the parade of nutcases making threats around the events.

According to Mark Potok at the SPLC, Turner has gone public this week with his threats:

On Friday, neo-Nazi threatmeister Hal Turner, amplifying on an earlier posting suggesting that it would be a good thing to use an unmanned drone carrying explosives to attack the crowds, said a mass murder of those attending the festivities “would be a public service.” “I won’t say what may happen Tuesday but I will say this,” Turner wrote on his blog. “After Tuesday, the name Hal Turner may live in infamy. Let it be known that I saw what was necessary and decided to do what had to be done. I make no apology to those affected or their families.”

Earlier, on Jan. 11, Turner had posted photos to his blog, under the headline “My Inauguration Dream,” of a small, unmanned drone, an electronic guidance system and sticks of dynamite as he laid out one method of attack. He also discussed the possibility of sending up balloons filled with helium and a “payload” and fitted with fuses that would explode the balloons over the crowds. And he displayed a grainy video that purported to show that method being tested. “Too far fetched?” Turner asks of a possible balloon attack. “It got tested and it worked! … Watch the video and imagine what payload, other than the index cards taped to the outside of the test balloons, might be substituted? HMMMMMM. Might be something messy? Something contagious? Something deadly? Ahhhh, such possibilities!” Then, last Thursday, he posted an update, saying: “All the assets that need to be in-place for next week are now in-place; deep within the security perimeter. Everything is a ‘go.’ We have crossed the Rubicon; let history judge us well.”

Hal, you poor silly shit. You’re too much of an assclown to pull of your dreams of wholesale death and destruction, and you made a ginormous ass of yourself blustering threats you couldn’t follow through on. But hey, congratulations – if it was just attention you were seeking, boy, you sure got it:

Today, FBI agents went to the New Jersey home of white supremacist blogger/radio host Hal Turner and arrested him “on a federal complaint filed in Chicago alleging that he made internet postings threatening to assault and murder three federal appeals court judges in Chicago in retaliation for their recent ruling upholding handgun bans in Chicago and a suburb,” according to a statement released by the Justice Department. A summary of Turner’s dangerous tirade against the judges:

Internet postings on June 2 and 3 proclaimed “outrage” over the June 2, 2009, handgun decision by Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer, of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, further stating, among other things: “Let me be the first to say this plainly: These Judges deserve to be killed.” The postings included photographs, phone numbers, work address and room numbers of these judges, along with a photo of the building in which they work and a map of its location.

Turner’s posts also “referred to the murder of the mother and husband of Chicago-based federal Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow in February 2005,” saying, “Apparently, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court didn’t get the hint after those killings. It appears another lesson is needed.” In the Justice Department statement, U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald — who announced the charges — said, “We take threats to federal judges very seriously. Period.”

Oh, yes, they do, Hal – yes, they do. And they’ll probably want words about your Inauguration Day threats, too – forms a pattern of escalating murderous ideations, y’see.

It’s okay, Hal. I’m sure you’ll only get a few years, considering all you’ve done so far is make terroristic threats. And I’ll betcha your old pal Hannity’ll be happy to come visit you in prison. No, really. I mean, he hasn’t got a reputation to defend, and the Faux News audience is so far gone they’ll probably rally round you like a martyr.

I mean, a right wing dumbfuck enough to say this about Sanford’s little dereliction of duty…

The two silliest defensive responses from before he fessed up:

“It is refreshing that Mark Sanford is secure enough in himself and the people of South Carolina that he does not view himself as an indispensable man.” (Erick Erickson)

And:

“Are [Cassie] and I married to the only real men left in the entire freakin’ country? Do we only want Momma’s boys or Daddy’s girls in the White House from here on out? Teddy Roosevelt is doing backflips in his grave right now: apparently no one is allowed to go on a writing retreat, take a road trip, or hike, hunt, or fish if they have any political ambitions at all. Unbelievable.” (Little Miss Attila)

…is certainly dumbfuck enough to make excuses for you. They’ll probably write you in prison and everything.

Hell, you get enough of a following going, you might even get the Charlie Manson treatment. How would you like being seen as someone so likely to incite murder and mayhem that you have to be locked up for life, eh? That’s fame, that is.

Couldn’t have happened to a better racist asshole, I’d say.

Feds Express a Decided Interest in Sean Hannity's Pal Hal

Something to Keep in Mind

The next time someone yawps at you about the extraordinary accomplishments of the Bush regime, you might want to drop this little tidbit on them (h/t):

Former Congresswoman and prosecutor Liz Holtzman makes a good point:

The criminal justice system identified and convicted some of those involved in the 1993 World Trade Center attacks. By contrast, not one person has been prosecuted for the 9/11 attacks, although seven and a half years have gone by. Even Khalid Sheik Mohammed, one of the masterminds of 9/11, is unlikely ever to be convicted in US courts because he was repeatedly subjected to torture. Significantly, the cruel and torturous methods used on detainees never yielded enough information to capture Osama Bin Laden or his chief deputy. So much for the claims of torture’s efficacy.

So what the fuck have we done for the last nearly 8 years? Oh. That’s right. Invaded the wrong fucking country so that a bunch of pathetic losers could play out their War President fantasies.

Anyone who still thinks the Bush regime was good for this country after clicking these three links is so terminally stupid that further conversation is useless.

Something to Keep in Mind

Advice for Bush & Co.: Don't Plan Any Trips Abroad

Because Spain’s legal community’s wanting to have a little chat about torture:

In some countries, they apparently take this sort of thing seriously:

In a ruling in Madrid today, Judge Baltasar Garzón has announced that an inquiry into the Bush administration’s torture policy makers now will proceed into a formal criminal investigation. The ruling came as a jolt following the recommendation of Spanish Attorney General Cándido Conde-Pumpido against proceeding with a criminal inquiry, reported in The Daily Beast on April 16.

Judge Garzón previously initiated and handled investigations involving Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, Argentine “Dirty War” strategist Adolfo Scilingo and Guatemalan strongman José Efraín Ríos-Montt, often over the objections of the Spanish attorney general. His case against Pinochet gained international attention when the Chilean general was apprehended in England on a Spanish arrest warrant. Scilingo was extradited to Spain and is now serving a sentence of 30 years for his role in the torture and murder of some thirty persons, several of whom were Spanish citizens.

Garzón’s ruling today marks a decision to begin a formal criminal inquiry into the allegations of torture and inhumane treatment he has been collecting for several years now.

Looks like European vacations are out for the Bushies. If they don’t end up in the Hague, they’ll be spending plenty of quality time in a Spanish jail. This is all to the good.

Of course, Spain may be able to stop doing our jobs for us. It seems the opinion in some circles is that if the President admits the former administration committed war crimes, criminal investigations must necessarily follow:

First up: Dem Rep Jerrold Nadler, who just told me in an interview that Obama’s comments leave the administration only one legal option: Investigate, and if necessary, prosecute.

“President Obama said, `They used torture, I believe waterboarding is torture,’” Nadler said, speaking of Obama’s comments about his predecessors. “Once you concede that torture was committed, the law requires that there be an investigation, and if warranted, a prosecution.”

Nadler and other House Dems have already called on the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to look into potential torture crimes. Yesterday’s comments from Obama, Nadler says, make it clearer still that this is the only legal path open to the administration — in part because Obama seemed to acknowledge that his predecessors had violated “international law.”

Ooo, that’s gonna get some right-wing panties in a twist. But they have a defense! Nixon told them so:

There are all kinds of problems with the “Frost/Nixon” movie, but it’s hard to miss the significance of the disgraced president saying, “[I]f the president does it, that means it’s not illegal.” It’s one of those iconic phrases the political world recognizes as the height of abuses of power. Illegal acts are not made legal by virtue of a leader’s whims.

It’s the kind of thing former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice should probably be aware of. And yet, there was Rice speaking with some students at Stanford University, when she was asked if waterboarding is, in her opinion, torture. Rice replied:

“[T]he United States was told, we were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Convention Against Torture.”

I was especially impressed by Rice’s use of the phrase “by definition,” since it was literally the exact same phrase Nixon used to explain why presidents are incapable of committing crimes.

Digby expands on Steve’s observation about Condi’s comments, including more snippets of Condi’s supposed wisdom. I’m sorry the students at Stanford had to be sprayed with hoses of bullshit, but that’s what happens when Bushies are invited to talk about the law. I hope everybody got a good laugh.

Once we’re done clutching our sides, perhaps we could upstage the Spaniards. Prosecutions. Now.

Advice for Bush & Co.: Don't Plan Any Trips Abroad

Haters Freak Over Hate Crimes Legislation

Hate crimes legislation is on the way to becoming a reality, and the right-wing haters are livid:

We’re finally making progress on passing a federal hate-crimes bill: On Thursday, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Protection Act passed out of the House Judiciary Committee.

Sure enough, as Kyle at RightWingWatch predicted, the right-wing freakout has begun. Unsurprisingly, Glenn Beck is already leading the way.

He invited on wingnut talk-show host Sandi Rios, who promptly declared hate crimes “thought crimes” (uh-huh, right). She also attacked Debbie Wasserman-Schulz, who was defending the bill from Republican attempts to nullify it by adding categories or victims by claiming:

Rios: Well, she’s saying that anybody that’s killed or harmed is not a real victim — unless they’re homosexual or gay or Jewish. Then they’re real victims. So you can murder more severely if they happen to homosexual or Jewish. It makes no sense.

Beck: Whatever happened to equal protection under the law? If you kill someone, you should go to jail!

Well, Glenn, that’s true. And people do in fact go to jail for killing people – unless of course they’re rich, powerful, and killing folks under the aegis of “national security” or poisonous corporations. What you fucktards don’t seem to get is that under law, there are aggravating factors to a crime. Kill someone in legitimate self-defense, and you don’t get treated the same way as someone who kills for monetary gain. Kill someone in a particularly heinous way, and you’re likely to get a harsher sentence. What this legislation says is that there’s another aggravating factor when you kill someone because you don’t like their religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity. The majority of us think that people who kill other people for those reasons are dangerous enough to be treated a little bit more harshly under the law. Society’s also sending the message that certain crimes are more serious when they’re used to terrorize people for those factors.

Not that you Cons are sane enough to understand this.

Haters Freak Over Hate Crimes Legislation

Phoenix PD Behaving Badly

Note to police departments that think intimidating bloggers will help cover up their corruption: you’re only guaranteeing we all find out about your supreme dumbfuckitude.

This is becoming an old story. Blogger gets fed up with an out-of-control police department and starts exposing their actions to the public, police department proves the blogger right by trying to prosecute the blogger for vague crimes that really amount to “saying bad things about powerful people.” But in this case, the police actually raided the blogger’s home and seized virtually everything.

In what should send a frightening chill down the spine of every blogger, writer, journalist and First Amendment advocate in the United States, Phoenix police raided the home of a blogger who has been highly critical of the department.

Jeff Pataky, who runs Bad Phoenix Cops, said the officers confiscated three computers, routers, modems, hard drives, memory cards and everything necessary to continue blogging.

The 41-year-old software engineer said they also confiscated numerous personal files and documents relating to a pending lawsuit he has against the department alleging harassment – which he says makes it obvious the raid was an act of retaliation.

[snip]

The warrant apparently listed “petty theft” and “computer tampering with the intent to harass” as the probable cause for the warrant, neither of which would justify seizing so much material. And the petty theft charge is truly absurd:

The allegation of “petty theft” against Pataky stem from photos he posted on his blog of police name plates that appear to have been taken from within the department. He said he actually made the plates himself.

Interestingly, almost everything he gets on the department comes from good cops within the department blowing the whistle:

“We were going to shut down the website after that but then all of a sudden all these good cops started hitting the site and sending us tips,” he said.

He said they would also deliver all kinds of internal documents from within the department exposing everything from a cop with multiple DUIs to another cop whose son was a child molester and was trying to get on the force (and was eventually arrested).

“We have about 50 to 100 retired and active cops who provide us information,” he said.

Phoenix has a serious problem. And now they’ve ensured their dirty laundry’s aired far and wide. This may be news to them, but there’s too many bloggers on the intertoobz to intimidate us all, or even enough.

To which all I can say is, good.

Phoenix PD Behaving Badly

Eliot Spitzer Watches the Magicians' Hands

It’s always nice to have a reminder that the smoke and mirrors are a distraction calculated to prevent us from seeing what’s really going on (h/t):

Everybody is rushing to condemn AIG’s bonuses, but this simple scandal is obscuring the real disgrace at the insurance giant: Why are AIG’s counterparties getting paid back in full, to the tune of tens of billions of taxpayer dollars?

For the answer to this question, we need to go back to the very first decision to bail out AIG, made, we are told, by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, then-New York Fed official Timothy Geithner, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last fall. Post-Lehman’s collapse, they feared a systemic failure could be triggered by AIG’s inability to pay the counterparties to all the sophisticated instruments AIG had sold. And who were AIG’s trading partners? No shock here: Goldman, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, UBS, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, and on it goes. So now we know for sure what we already surmised: The AIG bailout has been a way to hide an enormous second round of cash to the same group that had received TARP money already.

[snip]

The appearance that this was all an inside job is overwhelming. AIG was nothing more than a conduit for huge capital flows to the same old suspects, with no reason or explanation.

Eliot Spitzer, you may remember, knows Wall Street well. As a prosecutor, he made their lives hell. He’s definitely a man worth listening to as these companies scramble for every last cent they can wring from taxpayers. He sees them for what they are.

Read the whole thing. Screw your outrage to the sticking place, and then start shouting before 10am Eastern. We can turn their smoke-and-mirrors into a conflagration. We can turn the magicians’ tricks against them.

Eliot Spitzer Watches the Magicians' Hands

Sheriff Joe Will Look So Pretty In Pink

Good thing he’s already measured himself up for some nice government-issue underwear, there. He’s likely to need it soon:

Now, I know that Sheriff Joe told Glenn Beck he “welcomes” any investigation into his bordering-on-fascist rule in Arizona’s Maricopa County. But I bet that nonetheless, he wasn’t smiling yesterday:

The U.S. Justice Department has launched a civil-rights investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office after months of mounting complaints that deputies are discriminating in their enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Officials from the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division notified Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Tuesday that they had begun the investigation, which will focus on whether deputies are engaging in “patterns or practices of discriminatory police practices and unconstitutional searches and seizures.”

An expert said it is the department’s first civil-rights probe related to immigration enforcement.

… The Justice Department frequently receives racial-profiling complaints against police departments, but investigations are rare, said David Harris, a University of Pittsburgh law professor and racial-profiling expert.

“The fact that this has come to their attention and they have announced their intent to investigate is highly significant,” Harris said. “It says there is enough there to be investigated. It’s not an iffy case that (can be ignored).”

Harris said this is the first civil-rights investigation stemming from immigration enforcement. The probe could last several months.

You can read the notice here. [PDF file]

Sheriff Joe, of course, is a first-rate fucknugget. He won hard Arizona hearts with his tent city and his pink underwear, but he’s way overstepped bounds by turning Maricopa County into his own little fascist fiefdom.

I do hope they consider throwing them in his own tent city. And I hope the investigation’s wrapped up sometime this July.

Why, yes. Yes, I am evil. Whyever do you ask?

Sheriff Joe Will Look So Pretty In Pink

Get Your Truth On


Time for some truth and reconciliation, with possible jail time to follow:

There’s a new poll out from Gallup and USA Today which one is headlining as showing there’s “no mandate for criminal prosecutions” and the other is headlining as showing that “most want an enquiry” into whether Bush’s anti-terror policies broke the law.

Those headlines aren’t mutually incompatible. There’s a hard core of around 30% of Americans who still cleave to Bush as a hero, an unsung genius who can do no wrong and think that a president can just declare actions legal and be done with it. There’s a slightly larger core of those who want America to return to the fold of the rule of law, presidential accountability and humanity. They’ve done some homework and realise that anti-terror tactics during the Bush Years were built upon the kind of deliberately twisted legal reasoning that got Nazi lawyers hanged at Nuremberg. And there’s a group – the undecideds – who want to know more before they make their minds up, and would understandably prefer the evidence to come from official governmental sources rather than liberal blogs and human rights groups. They want to trust their government and want that government to bring the facts out in the open. That’s just human nature and trying to spin the two different headlines about results of this poll as some liberal conspiracy is just being dishonest.

So give the people a Truth Commission. Let the evidence be made public in official hearings rather than tucked away in little-read reports from human rights groups about the Defense Department’s co-operation in running CIA secret prisons or in obscure blog posts citing studies showing the military have “disappeared over 24,000 video tapes of detainee interrogations. Let’s not rely on whether foreign officials and judges bow to blackmail in hoping to get details of why someone had his penis repeatedly sliced because he once read a satirical article online. Let’s get those Bush officials who have admitted their administration engaged in torture up on the witness stand, under oath.

When all of those nasty little details come out, the turnaround from “let’s put the past behind us” to “let’s put the bastards in jail!” could be fairly dramatic. Even if it doesn’t lead to a public outcry, however, it will at least serve as a sharp, humiliating reminder to certain individuals that there are consequences for war crimes.

Patrick Leahy’s all about that. He’s trying to deliver what 2/3 of the American public want: the truth. Head on over and show him some love. The more of us who sign on to the idea, the more likely it is the oblivious dimwits in Congress will realize we can’t just wave buh-bye to Bush and pretend it’s all over.

It won’t be over until the jailbird sings.

Get Your Truth On

Why Extraordinary Rendition's Not Always Eevviilll

So the L.A. Times reports that Obama’s keeping rendition on the table, and suddenly everybody loses their heads. Without looking, I can tell you how this will play out: the Cons will crow that Obama recognizes the need for torture, and the progressives will howl that he’s becoming Bush III.

Neither of which is true. Ask Dr. Rendition (aka Hilzoy):

Since the publication of the LA Times story about rendition yesterday, I’ve noticed some confusion about the topic. So Dr. Rendition will try to make things easy.

Q: What is rendition?

A: Rendition is the act of transferring a person into a different jurisdiction.

Q: “It occurs to me that this more benign definition of rendition as transferring someone to another criminal justice system, used to be called extradition. Can someone explain the difference to me?”

A: Extradiction is one form of rendition, as you can see from Lawyers.com’s Glossary of Legal Terms, which defines ‘Rendition’ as “extradition of a fugitive who has fled to another state.” Here’s a nice example of the term’s normal usage from a hundred-year-old case:

“Among the powers of governors of territories of the United States is the authority to demand the rendition of fugitives from justice under 5278 of the Revised Statutes, and we concur with the courts below in the conclusion that the governor of Porto Rico has precisely the same power as that possessed by the governor of any organized territory to issue a requisition for the return of a fugitive criminal.”

That was just the first case I found when I looked. There are lots more.

Q: But extraordinary rendition means sending someone off to be tortured, right?

A: No. Extraordinary rendition is rendition outside normal legal frameworks. (Extradition is a form of “ordinary” rendition.) It includes sending people off to countries where we have reason to think that they will be tortured. But it also includes things like catching Osama bin Laden in another country and bringing him to the United States to stand trial. What makes something a case of extraordinary rendition is the way the person is transferred from one jurisdiction to another, not what happens to that person once s/he arrives.

Q: But don’t most people who talk about ‘rendition’ just mean ‘sending people off to other countries to be tortured’?

A: Probably. That’s the kind of rendition that became famous when Bush was in office. But remember: lawyers are not most people. They use all sorts of words in peculiar ways (besides using words like ‘estoppal’ that normal people don’t use at all.) To them, this is a technical term. They use it accordingly.

Glenn Greenwald, who is certainly no fan of torture, extralegal methods, and all that rot, puts forth a hypothetical that basically illustrates what extraordinary rendition’s supposed to be used for: extracting dangerous, horrible people from the countries where they’ve gone to ground and bringing them to a country that will prosecute. We’ve used this method many times in the past, and so have other countries, taking such people as Adolf Eichmann and Mir Aimal Kansi from their hidey-holes and delivering them to courts that tried, convicted and sentenced them for their crimes. The U.S. Department of State has a handy little chart showing folks who were either extradicted or renditioned between ’93 and ’99, back before “rendition” became a synonym for “snatch, disappear and torture the possibly innocent bastard.” Keeping the door open to rendition doesn’t mean Obama’s sliding down the slippery slope to Jack Bauer Fantasyland. Sorry, wingnuts, but you’ll have to look elsewhere for validation.

But what’s to keep rendition from becoming a dirty practice again? We all know there’s a dark side to it, just as there is whenever you get into gray areas of the law. Cujo359 once again comes through with a sensible proposal:

My own feeling is that the act of rendition itself may be necessary for some time, since there’s no way of enforcing any edict of the World Court or other international justice system in a country that doesn’t agree to abide by it. Perhaps in the long run, though, the only acceptable way of doing this will be to go through an international court to obtain a warrant. Messy as that idea sounds, it’s probably better than letting everyone do it on his own.

That begs the question of what would happen if the World Court declined to issue such a warrant in a case that clearly merited it, but it would be at least a step closer to bringing extralegal actions under the scrutiny of a court, where abuses could be minimized, and a judicial eyeball kept on rendition to ensure that renditioned people aren’t simply shipped off to be warehoused and tortured without legal recourse.

Even without such warrants, we can ensure that our own practice of rendition is restricted to bringing suspected criminals to trial in regular courts. It’s not a get-into-Guantanamo-free card. And considering Obama’s closing Gitmo and doing all sorts of things to show that yes, really, truly, he’s serious about this no-torture stuff, I imagine that’s exactly what’s going to happen when he revamps the rendition option. If not, enough of us screaming at him should do the trick.

Why Extraordinary Rendition's Not Always Eevviilll