George W. Bush inconvenienced

Dubya in jail

The problem for the ex-Decider, current fine arts painter is legal in nature:

Will George W. Bush set foot in Europe again in his lifetime?

A planned trip by Bush to speak at the Switzerland-based United Israel Appeal later this week has been canceled after several human rights groups called for Swiss authorities to arrest Bush and investigate him for authorizing torture. Bush has traveled widely since leaving office, but not to Europe, where there is a strong tradition of international prosecutions.

The Swiss group and Bush’s spokesman claim that it was threats of protest, not of legal action, that prompted the cancellation. But facing protests is nothing new for Bush. What was different about this trip was that groups including Amnesty International and the Center for Constitutional Rights argued that Switzerland, as a party to the UN Convention against Torture, is obligated to investigate Bush for potential prosecution.

Is it unsurprising that a Bush spokesman has a truth-telling problem? No, of course not. The word “Bush” could become a synonym for “liar.” Nor is it surprising that George W. Bush wants to avoid the legal problems generated by his criminal actions. There is nothing here which is at all surprising because he has evaded responsibility for his worst acts his whole life.

It just pleases me greatly that The Decider must avoid traveling to and around Europe lest he risk finding himself in prison for the rest of his life for the decisions he made while president! It would please me even more if he were to spend the rest of his life in prison for his crimes.

Which soldier is the hero?

https://i2.wp.com/i1123.photobucket.com/albums/l553/Steve_Zielinski/Bradley-Manning-is-escort-010.jpg

Bradley Manning with his escort

Quote of the day

This one appeared in an article written by Nick Alexandrov which discussed Leon Panetta‘s recent trip to Uruguay. The United States has had a long and disreputable history in that country just as it had throughout Latin America during the Postwar era. Alexandrov shared a bit of that history:

Little had changed in Uruguay by 1969, when U.S. official Dan Mitrione arrived to supervise police training. Writing to Washington late that year, he explained, “Life today seems normal on the streets of Montevideo, and the real problem facing the police is the number of assaults on police officers[.]” The “real problem,” it bears repeating, was not that Uruguay’s government, functionally a one-party system, was forcing citizens to cope with the stark choices a ruined economy imposes. The problem was that Uruguayans protested these conditions. The U.S. government trained Uruguay’s police to punish them for this sin — punishment that would only intensify when a few dared to retaliate against their aggressors. Mitrione himself understood well the business of discipline. His reputation, in certain circles, was that of a master torturer.

He had a simple motto: “The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect.” And he was proud of his abilities, according to a Cuban double agent working with the CIA in Uruguay. This man attended one of Mitrione’s seminars. Four homeless people were picked up off the street for the occasion. They were used first to show the effects “of different voltages on different parts of the human body.” Next came a demonstration of an emetic’s functions. Once they had finished vomiting, they were forced to ingest another chemical. In the end, all the subjects died. The Tupamaros subsequently kidnapped Mitrione in July 1970, and killed him in early August. Two months later, the Uruguayan Senate issued a report indicating that the Montevideo police tortured its prisoners on a regular basis. By June 1973, President Bordaberry — whom Washington aided in the 1971 election by suppressing his leftist opponents — completed the transformation. Uruguay had become a dictatorship.

Mitrione’s Wikipedia page can be found here.

Quote of the day

Glenn Greenwald castigates the Judicial Branch because of its cowardly support for the ‘war on terror’ methods used by the Executive Branch:

The abdication of U.S. federal judges in the post-9/11 era, and their craven subservience to Executive Branch security claims, has been a topic I’ve written about several times over the past couples of weeks. Yesterday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals adopted the argument of the Obama DOJ that John Yoo is — needless to say — fully immune from any and all liability for having authorized the torture of Jose Padilla, on the ground that the illegality of Yoo’s conduct was not “beyond debate” at the time he engaged in it. Everything I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the identical shielding of Donald Rumsfeld by federal courts and the Obama DOJ from similar claims applies to yesterday’s ruling, and The New York Times has a good editorial today condemning this ruling as “misguided and dangerous.”

In sum, this yet again underscores that of all the American institutions that have so profoundly failed in the wake of 9/11 to protect the most basic liberties — Congress, both political parties, the establishment media, the Executive Branch, the DOJ specifically — none has been quite as disgraceful as the federal judiciary, whose life tenure is supposed to insulate them from base political pressures that produce cowardly and corrupted choices.

Heroic Americans — citizens of the land of the free, home of the brave

Journalist Eyal Press, during his report on dissent, whistleblowing and elite opposition to both in Obama’s America, makes this remarkable but unsurprising claim:

Despite the lore of the whistleblower that pervades popular culture, Americans turn out to be less sympathetic to such dissenters than Europeans. Drawing on data from the World Value Surveys and other sources over multiple years, the sociologist Claude Fischer has found that U.S. citizens are “much more likely than Europeans to say that employees should follow a boss’s orders even if the boss is wrong.” They are also more likely “to defer to church leaders and to insist on abiding by the law,” and more prone “to believe that individuals should go along and get along.”whistleblower

Whistleblowers may often be praised in the abstract and from a distance, but Americans have a tendency to ignore or even vilify them when they dare to stir up trouble in their own workplaces or communities.

Stirring up trouble. Right here in River City. We can’t have that. Nosiree. We can’t have any of that.

Whistleblowers have walked hard road during Obama’s tenure (see, for instance, this, this and this), the ever-hopeful, sunshine President. They often lack a sympathetic ear in government, a lack which enables grifters on Wall Street and security apparatchiks in Washington to work their black magic on the weak. Crimes undetected are not really crimes! They’re smart business deals or realistic acts of sober G-men. And the powerful are always innocent until proven guilty.

Since Americans do not like to listen to discouraging words about important things, things on which they depend, it so happens that the fate of these whistleblowers obliquely mirrors the fate of the Occupy Movement: Like the Occupiers, whistleblowers are ignored when they are not harassed and denigrated. They, like their Occupy cousins, sometimes face prison terms for their efforts. They lose their jobs and their homes for exposing the powerful to critical scrutiny. It is fortunate that America’s whistleblowers in an out of government are not beaten or assaulted with caustic chemicals, although I would be negligent if I were to fail to point out that whistleblower Bradley Manning has had to endure mental and physical torture inflicted on him by the Pentagon. He stands before the world as an object lesson for anyone tempted to blow the whistle on America’s empire. The Occupiers have felt the baton and the pepper spray. The whistleblowers have been spared those methods. Yet, the powerful seek the same goal when confronting a whistleblower or an Occupation. They want to quash dissent.

It is sad that Americans typically advocate following the path of the witless and craven servant. For one thing, it is sad because the powerful are to remain unmolested even when they deserve close judicial scrutiny. It seems as though Americans prefer their authority figures to remain inscrutable and free. This condition creates a moral hazard problem for the country. For another, the beliefs which inform this advocacy comprise the social cement which binds together the elements that compose America’s security-surveillance government and its financial plutocracy. These institutional complexes could not operate as they have and want to without the passive and active consent of most Americans. Common Americans collude in the domination exercised by the elite. We might have a functioning democracy if it were not for these beliefs and the collusion they sponsor. We have instead what Sheldon Wolin called an inverted totalitarian system (see this and this). America’s politics are as vacuous as its plutocrats are rich and its war-makers are violent.

The antidote for minimal democracy remains strong democracy.

Bradley Manning: Before, After

The rule of law in America today

Does it exist? Is the United States a Nation of Laws? It is clear that some rules do exist. But do they conform to the spirit and letter of the rule of law doctrine?

Glenn Greenwald thinks not. He recently identified four rules of American justice:

(1) If you are a high-ranking government official who commits war crimes, you will receive full-scale immunity, both civil and criminal, and will have the American President demand that all citizens Look Forward, Not Backward.

(2) If you are a low-ranking member of the military, you will receive relatively trivial punishments in order to protect higher-ranking officials and cast the appearance of accountability.

(3) If you are a victim of American war crimes, you are a non-person with no legal rights or even any entitlement to see the inside of a courtroom.

(4) If you talk publicly about any of these war crimes, you have committed the Gravest Crime — you are guilty of espionage — and will have the full weight of the American criminal justice system come crashing down upon you.

It is thus clear that some Americans are not subject to the rule of law. The rule of law makes sense only when everyone is subject to the same laws. The United States is not a country governed by laws.


Update

David Dayen of FireDogLake walks over some of the same ground as Greenwald:

The Administration has reserved some of its most punitive uses of their prosecutorial discretion for government leakers and whistleblowers. Government information gets leaked all the time, of course, often by official sources doing so on behalf of the Administration for political reasons. But no Administration has prosecuted as many government officials for leaking as this one; in fact, the six criminal cases are more than all other Presidents combined. It has unquestionably had a chilling effect on other whistleblowers. The case against former NSA official Thomas Drake, which thankfully collapsed last year, is the most celebrated of these cases. But the inadequacy of that case has not stopped the Justice Department from continuing to wage war on leakers.

Quote of the day

This one issued from Mike Whitney‘s keyboard:

What does the assassination of Osama Bin Laden have in common with Guantanamo Bay?

They’re both intended to send a message that the United States has sunk deeper into savagery and abandoned any commitment to conventional norms of behavior. That’s the message, and we hear it “loud and clear”.

We don’t need our Harvard-educated president to crow about his latest gangland “hit” to know that America has turned into a moral swamp. That’s obvious in every area of policy, foreign and domestic. It’s just that certain incidents draw more attention than others, like when a drone incinerates a home full of women and children in the Pakistani outback or when F-16s reduce a city of 300,000 (Falluja) to rubble leaving behind a legacy of birth defects, cancer and grinding poverty. These are the real “headline grabbers”, like shrugging off the sovereign rights of an ally, invading their airspace, and deploying special ops to conduct a Rambo-style massacre in a civilian section of town.

Booyah. You go America! U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A.