Cost of the War in Iraq
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Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Ok, one more post about you know who 

check out these stories about Gonzales:

Marjorie Cohn on Alberto Gonzales

Slate.com story

As the Stomach Turns 

The thought of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States turns my stomach. Literally.

No, I mean it. When I take a moment to think about him leading this country's Justice Department, then think of his advice to the President that torture is acceptable in certain circumstances, I get that really sick feeling like I want to throw up. It doesn't last long, but I get it just long enough to put my mind on something else.

The appointment is a spoil of the election that Bush bestowed to reward his loyal counsel. Since Gonzales, like Bush, may be liable for war crimes, it is not surprising that Bush would appointment Gonzales to the position that would decide whether to indict him for violating various federal laws banning torture. The President is assured that Gonzales will enforce the law as the President pronounces it.

The reasoning in the so-called torture memos is terribly weak. The gist of the administration's theory is this: following the laws that Congress passed in this area does not allow the President enough flexibility in carrying out his so-called war on terror. Therefore, because the President is Commander in Chief, the rules of war set by Congress do not apply. In other words, he can override the will of the people.

Memo to Gonzales: The three branches that make up the federal government have distinct powers. The Congress passes legislation, the President, as the executive executes the law and directs U.S. foreign policy, and the judiciary interprets and applies the law in disputes brought before the courts. The President's authority to execute a war declared by Congress requires him to submit to the rules Congress established for those circumstances.

Basically, Gonzales made a policy argument against following the law. That argument belongs in Congress, not in legal advice to the President -- unless the advice is to ask Congress to change the law.

Now, don't misunderstand me to say that I support the use of torture or kidnapping or detention without counsel or trial. But, I would be far less offended by this administration if it were to seek and obtain Congressional approval for its actions that have circumvented federal statutes and international treaties. At least the policy change would be made through the process our Constitution established.

Changing the subject slightly, there is another reason why the administration wanted the result Gonzales handed to it regarding torture and the inapplicability of certain laws of war. It all boils down to money.

Much has been made of Gonzales's concern about being liable for war crimes. I think even beyond that he worried about civil liability for injuries caused by decisions the President and other officials made. Decisions made with the advice of our Attorney-General-to-Be, Gonzales himself.

The President and other public officials can avoid suit under the doctrine of qualified immunity. If the officials acted in objective good faith when they, say kidnapped and tortured people, then they can't be sued. The torture memos could help defeat any claim for compensation against officials. Officials relying on those memos could argue that anyone else in their situation would have believed their actions were legal.

What if the officials knew their actions were unlawful? Doesn't matter. The tortured individual doesn't even get a chance to prove that if the officials can make a case after suit is filed that the facts show their actions were reasonable on an objective basis. So, the fact that official legal advice exists approving certain practices considered torture under the law is helpful.

The memos could also help demonstrate that the officials would have had no way of knowing their actions were not lawful because the law in this area was not settled, that unanswered questions remained about whether certain practices violated federal law. The memo could form the basis of a claim that a plausible argument in favor of the administration's position existed.

Remember, in this administration, the law is often irrelevant in determining a course of action, but money always matters.

It's always about the money.

I think that is one reason that Bush's decision to appoint Gonzales makes me feel so ill. Or maybe because I fear what could happen to prisoners in the federal justice system when Gonzales takes over at Justice.

Either way, I'll have to prepare my tummy for the confirmation hearings -- if I decide to watch them. It might just be too painful to do so.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Sorry Everybody Site Back Up 

I just checked the www.sorryeverybody.com site and it is back up. There are loads of pictures, some of which will surely make you laugh out loud. I'm doubtful the experience will be a good one if you have dial up, but any broadband connection should let you view the pictures relatively easily.

Have fun!

We Are Living In Opposite Land 

Alberto Gonzales for the chief law enforcement officer of the United States? This feels like opposite land.

Unbelievable. A man whose legal writings demonstrate an inability to interpret the law according to standard legal principles. I've read his memoranda. They are some of the most unsound legal opinions I've ever seen. I was shocked to see how flimsy they were. If the current law does not allow the executive to prosecute the so-called "war on terror" in the manner it wishes, then the executive should petition the legislative branch of government to change the law. The memos Alberto Gonzales drafted fail to recognize that fundamental principle.

The Center for American Progress released a statement on the nomination that I agree with completely. Here's the link should you wish to read it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Concession Speech We Should Have Heard 

One of my cousins sent me an email with this "concession speech" by comedian Adam Felber. It's off his blog, Fanatical Apathy. My cousin said it was uplifting, and I couldn't agree more. Enjoy.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Great, Now Bush Is Bombing Hospitals 

BBC News: US strikes raze Falluja hospital

Friday, November 05, 2004

The 2004 Election by John Dean 

John Dean provides an interesting analysis of the election. I agree with him for the most part.

I also think that the Republicans won by a clever use of language. Through their langauge, they crafted an image of Bush and of the reality he sees.

As I've said many times about the risks of going to trial with a jury, the only thing that matters is what the 12 jurors believed happened and not what actually happened.

To Bush's supporters, the only thing that matters is what they believe is true, not what reality, and history for that matter, demonstrates is true.

It seems that the "sorryeverybody.com" site is no longer there. Don't know exactly what's going on. Hopefully, it will come back on soon.

Send A Message 

Check out www.sorryeverbody.com. You too can send the world a message.

Permanent link (insofar as anything is permanent) to the right.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Day to Be Depressed 

Oh what an up and down day. Taking my wise husband's advice, I tried to avoid thinking about the election by focusing on my work and doing the mundane chores of every day life. Still, it was hard not to listen to a little Air America and watch the evening repeat of the Daily Show from last night. Both made me laugh a little, while feeling wistful of what I wish could have happened instead.

Tonight I thought I'd peek and see what folks around the world are saying about the result. No surprise. People are horrified, mystified, disappointed, and most of all, frightened. How sad. Below are links to make it easy for you to see what I mean.

But before I do that, I just want to say that I think it is necessary to push as hard as possible against the tide of federal moralism that seems to have driven the result in this election. I read a headline that something about how Bush wants to reach out to Democrats. Well, if that means that he stops misleading, including Dems in policymaking sessions, moves away from the far far right in his judicial appointments (and stops insulting the judiciary), and the like, then there is a little hope. But with the majority in Congress, I doubt that is what Bush means. I bet he means he wants to give Dems a hand in joining his side like Zell Miller did. I'm just not optimistic that we will get anything better than we got the last four years.

Now for the links:

The Toronto Star, "Voices: Your U.S. Election Views"

Pravda, "An Open Letter to U.S. Citizens" (and more)

The Guardian

Zaman Daily News

BBC News

First Thoughts on the Election 

We're fucked.

Oh, Canada . . . .

The Dems better start getting as vicious as the Republicans or this country will be no more. Give Bush the Clinton treatment. I don't care if this country remains divided as a result. We are screwed already because Bush's legacy will last for a long, long time.

No more today, it's just too depressing to think about.

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