I am the very model of a Russian Major-General,
I’ve been shot by snipers, Javelins, and rockets fired aerial,
I lose the tanks of Moscow, as farmers laugh hysterical,
From Donetsk to Odessa, we are fighting terrible.
I am the very model of a dead Major-General,
I’ve war-crimed, bombed, and pillaged like a goddamn savage animal,
My body blown to bits, you’d be surprised how very flammable,
History will judge me and condemn me categorical.
I tried to throw a punch with VDV and choppers aerial,
Objectives – making vassal state, a Russian periferia,
Turned to shelling cities – tactics simply catastrophical,
I am the very model of a Russian Major-General.
I am the very model of a Russian Major-General,
In tanks and men and ammo we are overwhelming numerical,
Still defeated by a woman throwing jars of pickled tomatoes,
All across Ukraine our logistics are so terrible.
I am the very model of a Russian major-general,
To murder of civilians and their kids I am amenable,
But Ukrainian resistance is so strong this is untenable,
Now only Comrade Putin thinks this cluster fuck is winnable.
The Hague will have a verdict, they’ll say I am a criminal.
A rope around my neck until I’m cold just like a popsicle,
If only our procurement bought us more tanks, trucks, and vehicles,
I am the very model of a Russian Major General.
“Россия” (Russia) – a variant of the Russian presidential flag.
A Georgetown source forwards over an email from that school’s administration, reporting that Professor Marty Lederman’s class will be canceled — because he’s joining the Obama administration.
Lederman, another former Clinton Office of Legal Counsel lawyer, is perhaps the most prominent of several high-profile opponents of the Bush Administration’s executive power claims joining Obama, a mark that he intends not just to change but to aggressively reverse Bush’s moves on subjects like torture. . . . Lederman has been . . . an early and vocal critic of torture, and has suggested Bush Administration officials have committed specific crimes in that regard.
…an Associate Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he teaches various courses in constitutional law, and seminars on separation of powers and executive branch lawyering. He regularly contributes to the weblogs SCOTUSblog and Balkinization, including on matters relating to Executive power, detention, interrogation, civil liberties, and torture. Lederman was an Attorney Advisor in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel from 1994 to 2002
There are many, almost six hundred, posts in that Balkinization category, but a quick scan of the titles will give you a good indication of Marty’s feelings and leanings on the subjects of torture and applicable “rule of law”, and his very strong and vocal criticisms of torture by the Bush administration.
Lederman is joining Dawn Johnsen in the Office of Legal Counsel.
Some of you may have noticed that Marty Lederman has not been blogging recently at Balkinization. The reason is that he has been working on the Department of Justice Transition team. As of today, the commencement of the Obama Administration, he begins work as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel. There he will be joined by two of his former OLC colleagues, Dawn Johnsen, nominated to be head of the office; and David Barron, who will serve as the Principal Deputy (and as the Acting AAG while the Senate considers Dawn’s nomination).
The job [Lederman] got is the same one held by Yoo when he wrote the Torture Memos (for Bybee’s signature) and who-knows-what other Constitutional abortions.
In other words, Obama just put one of Yoo’s harshest critics – and one who kept his criticism on purely intellectual-honesty type grounds – into Yoo’s old job, doubtless with the direction “clean things up”.
Here is Marty Lederman in a two and a half minute clip with Elisa Massimino and David Rivkin discussing guidelines for interrogation, and the Army field manual. Note Marty’s comments beginning at the two minute mark.
ACS (American Constitution Society) hosted a panel discussion on issues surrounding the destruction of the CIA interrogation tapes whose existence was revealed in December 2007. The panel, convened on Friday, January 25, 2008, discussed a number of legal and policy questions. Full video of the event is available on the ACS web site: www.acslaw.org/node/6069
The Army Field Manual still codifies torture in violation of the Geneva Conventions as noted in this article at AlterNet.
Lederman, although far from what we’ve had the past few years with Yoo and Bybee’s justifications and Bush’s endorsements of torture as part of US Government policy, is still very far from what I’d like to see and leaves much work left to be done for anti-torture activists.
Now’s the time to crank up the pressure as high as we can get it. Click the Badge and sign the petition. Give them the numbers of people backing them that they need:
Click to sign the petition to Attorney General designate Eric Holder:
Dear Attorney General-Designate Eric Holder,
We the undersigned citizens of the United States hereby formally petition you to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in War Crimes. CLICK TO SIGN:
Collect signatures in the real world by printing out this PDF.
Please also phone the Office of the Attorney General at 202-353-1555.
First let me say that we want Eric Holder confirmed as Attorney General. We want him confirmed because of statements like this…
Washington, D.C. — Eric H. Holder Jr., Deputy Attorney General during the Clinton administration, asserted in a speech to the American Constitution Society (ACS) that the United States must reverse “the disastrous course” set by the Bush administration in the struggle against terrorism by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, declaring without qualification that the U.S. does not torture people, ending the practice of transferring individuals involuntarily to countries that engage in torture and ceasing warrantless domestic surveillance.
“Our needlessly abusive and unlawful practices in the ‘War on Terror’ have diminished our standing in the world community and made us less, rather than more, safe,” Holder told a packed room at the ACS 2008 Convention on Friday evening. “For the sake of our safety and security, and because it is the right thing to do, the next president must move immediately to reclaim America’s standing in the world as a nation that cherishes and protects individual freedom and basic human rights.”
We want the man who said those words to be our next Attorney General. Because in truth and in a logical world the best way, perhaps the only way, to “reclaim America’s standing in the world as a nation that cherishes and protects individual freedom and basic human rights”…..is to investigate and then prosecute those who have criminally destroyed that standing. They destroyed it by using torture.
For those of you still on the fence as to whether the Bush Administration engaged in actual torture as opposed to merely “Enhanced Interrogation,” I offer this statement released today by a Bush appointee.
The top Bush administration official in charge of deciding whether to bring Guantanamo Bay detainees to trial has concluded that the U.S. military tortured a Saudi national who allegedly planned to participate in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, interrogating him with techniques that included sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, leaving him in a “life-threatening condition.”
“We tortured [Mohammed al-]Qahtani,” said Susan J. Crawford, in her first interview since being named convening authority of military commissions by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates in February 2007. “His treatment met the legal definition of torture.”
One of the arguments made in defense of the Bush Administrations official policy of torture that first surfaced at Abu Ghraib is that it was “a few bad apples.”
In an interview with Brit Hume that aired today on Fox News Sunday, President Bush admitted that he personally authorized the torture of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He said he personally asked “what tools” were available to use on him, and sought legal approval for waterboarding him:
BUSH: One such person who gave us information was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. … And I’m in the Oval Office and I am told that we have captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the professionals believe he has information necessary to secure the country. So I ask what tools are available for us to find information from him and they gave me a list of tools, and I said are these tools deemed to be legal? And so we got legal opinions before any decision was made.
KARL: Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
All of their false claims of legality come from one source, their own pet lawyers. Much of whose legal “work” has already been destroyed by the Supreme Court. Their only claim to legality comes from complicit lawyers in the White House and in the now famously corrupt and politicized Department of Justice.
The Department of Justice that Eric Holder has now been nominated to lead.
A Department of Justice that should, unlike the DOJ under Bush, be independent of political concerns. As Obama himself acknowledges..
OBAMA: What I — I think my general view when it comes to my attorney general is he is the people’s lawyer. Eric Holder’s been nominated. …His job is to uphold the Constitution and look after the interests of the American people, not to be swayed by my day-to-day politics. So, ultimately, he’s going to be making some calls….
The Attorney General does NOT, unlike the DOJ under Bush, work for the President. He works for The People of the United States. And he works for justice. Non-partisan, non-politicized justice, with no other agenda other than serving justice and representing the legal interests of the American people.
In a logical sane and rational world….a non-politicized world….AG Holder’s task would be clear cut. A “slam dunk” if you will.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has just released a 487 page report (NOTE: pdf file) whose table of contents clearly spells out what must be on AG Holders agenda in both reforming the DOJ and to effectively “reclaim America’s standing in the world as a nation that cherishes and protects individual freedom and basic human rights.”:
Hiring and Firing of U.S. Attorneys and other Department Personnel
Politicization of the Prosecution Function
Politicization of the Civil Rights Division and Voting Rights Enforcement
Ghosting and Black Sites
Warrantless Domestic Surveillance
National Security Letters (NSLs) and Exigent Letters
Use of Signing Statements
The Leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s Covert CIA Identity
Improper Use of State Secrets and Other Authorities
Manipulation and Misuse of Intelligence
All of these charges have been well documented and backed up with evidence. In addition to the admissions by Bush and Cheney of authorizing an entire network of torture and torture facilities. There is no question that crimes have been committed. The only questions left are what to do about it….and if we can overcome the politics that surround and protect the Bush Administration’s crimes.
We The People want Eric Holder confirmed as the nex
t Attorney General of the United States.
IF Attorney General Holder will uphold his statements of principle. Especially as to his objections to “Our needlessly abusive and unlawful practices in the ‘War on Terror'”
However, thanks to the efforts of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, Addington, Yoo and Bybee….we do NOT live in a logical sane and rational world, a non-politicized world. They have succeeded, so far, in muddying what should be crystal clear water. The evidence is there. Will we as a people and a country under the Rule of Law ignore it?
Due to politics and separate from any question of law, AG Designate Holder may not be able to directly come out at the confirmation hearings and state that he will even investigate these crimes, but he must be asked the question. In the muddied waters of our current political environment it would be political suicide to directly state that he will pursue justice. How low we as a nation have sunk into those muddy waters when the chief law enforcement officer of the United States of America must not, for purely political reasons, openly state that he will pursue criminals.
We have in Eric Holders confirmation hearing a chance to make our voices heard even more in this quest for accountability. Please take this opportunity to add your voice.
We do NOT want to torpedo Eric Holders chances of becoming Attorney General. But we DO want to make sure he lives up to his statements and principles. Please take this opportunity to let the Senators on the Judiciary Committee and AG designate Holder know that you support the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate the crimes of the Bush Administration.
Sign the petition, call the above Senators and your own representatives, and make your voice, and the voices of your fellow citizens, heard.
Yesterday George Will, of all people, was comparing Obama refusing to prosecute Bush and Cheney to Ford pardoning Nixon.
If a far right crazed wingnut can get it right, why can’t the rest of us?
This comparison is one that we can use to good effect, but only if we do it continuously and loudly.
A friend of mine this morning, a nearly unquestioning Obama supporter, said to me, and I quote:
No argument from me.
Ford should have been stood against the wall and shot for that pardon.
Nixon cooling his heels in the clink for a few years would have prevented this mess, no doubt.
Ford’s pardon of Nixon was the beginning of the end of any hope Ford had of being politically effective, and absolutely killed his future chances for reelection.
So let’s see… if Obama doesn’t want a political blood bath that might define his first term as him being a bush enabler and a torture excuser and might drown him, then he’ll tell Holder to appoint a Special Prosecutor, and answer Fertik’s question directly himself, instead of hiding behind excuses and Joe Biden, since according to Biden it is not the job of the president or the vice president, but of the Justice department.
Ford’s pardon of Nixon killed Ford politically, and not prosecuting Bush and Cheney has to kill Obama politically.
There has to be a political price to pay for not doing it, or he will not do it. Why would he, if there is no price to pay for not doing it and the price for doing it is high?
With things like the petition, Fertik’s insistent embarrassing questioning, people like Ari Melber doing their best to force the issue into the media, people need to force the price for not doing it so high that Obama and Holder cannot ignore it.
People did it to Ford. If people are willing to let Obama slide on this, then there is no reason Obama will not let Bush and Cheney slide on torture and war crimes.
It’s not up to Obama. It’s up to us. It’s up to me. It’s up to you.
If Obama were to announce right now that he was going to prosecute those who engaged in torture and war crimes, I understand it could trigger a rash of unwanted pardons before Bush left office and therefore it’s smart for him to hold his cards close.
“My orientation’s going to be to move forward,” Obama said. The attorney general has to stay above politics and “uphold the Constitution,” Obama added, but his administration will focus on “getting things right in the future as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past.”
Any decision to not pursue those who broke the law is in no way “above politics” — and if we were going to apply this principle across the board, it would have as Ari Melber notes rather strange implications:
No one argues against prosecuting Bernie Madoff so that the Justice Department can focus on fixing the economy, going forward. In fact, faithfully and uniformly enforcing the law is crucial to “getting things right in the future.” Any deterrence produced via criminal sanction is undermined when future, potential offenders see that a law is not actually enforced. People are more likely to follow the law when they see that breaking it carries consequences. This is such a basic foundation of our criminal system, justified by the elemental rationales of deterrence and retribution, it is quite hard to imagine that so many seasoned attorneys and Washington journalists honestly believe that the best way “forward” is to undermine deterrence and the rule of law.
Obama decision to appoint Eric Holder and Leon Panetta, who have made strong statements against torture, does indeed imply that he intends to “get it right” going forward.
But it is disconcerting that, as Glenn Greenwald observes, Obama indicated yesterday he is looking for a way to set up a system outside the courts where evidence obtained by torture can be used against Guantanamo detainees.
Glenn discusses Obama’s interview with George Stephanopolous:
What he’s saying is quite clear. There are detainees who the U.S. may not be able to convict in a court of law. Why not? Because the evidence that we believe establishes their guilt was obtained by torture, and it is therefore likely inadmissible in our courts (torture-obtained evidence is inadmissible in all courts in the civilized world; one might say it’s a defining attribute of being civilized). But Obama wants to detain them anyway — even though we can’t convict them of anything in our courts of law. So before he can close Guantanamo, he wants a new, special court to be created — presumably by an act of Congress — where evidence obtained by torture (confessions and the like) can be used to justify someone’s detention and where, presumably, other safeguards are abolished. That’s what he means when he refers to “creating a process.”
The synergy between right-wing fans of 24 who think torture is cool, members of the Bush administration who carried it out and the DC chattering class who mainstreamed it has created a climate where the political threat of directly dealing with the legacy of torture looms large.
Don’t expect me to or even ask me to tel
l you why you should sign the petition.
You already know why you should sign the petition. You don’t need me or anyone else to tell you why you should sign the petition.
There is no more debate on these matters. The only people who want to continue debating these matters are war criminals who want to be let off the hook and supporters of letting war criminals off the hook.
As President, Obama will have the constitutional duty to faithfully execute our laws.
The constitutional oath of office will require President Obama to faithfully execute the office of President and preserve, protect and defend our Constitution. Our constitution also requires that our presidents “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” The principle of the rule of law is partially based on this Faithfully Execute clause which requires our President to comply with laws, our Constitution and treaties because our Constitution established a government of laws, not of men and women.
The Geneva Convention is one of the laws which must be faithfully executed.
Our constitution mandates that treaties are one of the laws that the President must faithfully execute. Moreover, treaties are recognized as one of our supreme laws of the land alongside our Constitution and federal laws. For over 200 years, the federal courts have reaffirmed that our President is bound by the laws of war, which include conventions. In fact, both Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004) and Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006)addressed issues of whether the US government was violating the terms of the 1949 Geneva Convention. Yet, some will whine that it is partisan to not exempt Bush from 200 years of precedent that governed presidents from both parties.
The Geneva Convention imposes a duty to prosecute former presidents who committed war crimes.
You already have your own reasons why you should sign the petition.
All the reasons that built up, piled one on top of the other for that past eight years as these criminals hijacked the country, dismantled the constitution and the rule of law, made their criminal friends fabulously wealthy, were directly responsible for the deaths of more than a million Iraqis in an illegal and immoral invasion and occupation, destroyed the global economy, wrecked America’s reputation around the world, and called you a traitor when you cried foul and set up schemes to spy on you and intimidate you into silence.
And tortured people in your name. Tortured people. In your name. Tortured people with the blackest, most heinous and most evil torture methods known to humanity. Tortured people with methods that America has pressed war criminal charges against other countries citizens for using. Tortured people with the most sadistic and evil methods the Spanish Inquisition and more recently the Khmer Rouge made a regular habit of using as an oppression tool. Tortured people with methods that have been universally condemned and outlawed by virtually every country and society on earth.
You already know. You already know all of your own reasons why you should sign the petition.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-R.I.): So is waterboarding constitutional?
MR. MUKASEY: I don’t know what’s involved in the technique. If waterboarding is torture, torture is not constitutional.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-R.I.): If water-boarding is constitutional is a massive hedge.
MR. MUKASEY: No, I said, if it’s torture. I’m sorry. I said, if it’s torture.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-R.I.): If it’s torture? That’s a massive hedge. I mean, it either is or it isn’t. Do you have an opinion on whether waterboarding, which is the practice of putting somebody in a reclining position, strapping them down, putting cloth over their faces and pouring water over the cloth to simulate the feeling of drowning — is that constitutional?
MR. MUKASEY: If it amounts to torture, it is not constitutional.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-R.I.): I’m very disappointed in that answer. I think it is purely semantic.
MR. MUKASEY: I am sorry….
The United States Government, as a participant in the following proceedings, long ago determined that waterboarding constitutes torture. On Monday, December 16, 1946 the prosecution in the International Military Military Tribunal for the Far East [Tokyo War Crimes Trial] introduced an affidavit describing the treatment of internees at Changi Prison (numbers in brackets indicate the transcript page number):
[12,936]…57 internees were removed from Changi prison by the Military Police on or after 10 October 1943…..The Japanese were trying to establish that there was a spy organization in Changi prison which received and transmitted by radio telephony, which had established contacts in the to[w]n for the purpose of sabotage and [12,937] stirring up of anti-Japanese feeling, and which collected money from outside for this purpose. In fact, there was no spy organization, no radio transmission, and no attempt to promote anti-Japanese activities outside the Camp…
[12,939]…Usually interrogation started quietly and would so continue as long as the inquisitors got the expected answers. If, for any reason, such answers were not forthcoming, physical violence was immediately [12,940] employed. The methods used were:
(1) Water Torture [emphasis supplied]. There were two forms of water torture. In the first, the victim was tied or held down on his back and a cloth placed over his nose and mouth. Water was then poured on the cloth. Interrogation proceeded and the victim was beaten if he did not reply. As he opened his mouth to breathe or to answer questions, water went down his throat until he could hold no more…
The judgment of the tribunal includes the following:
[49,664]…To indicate the prevalence of torture and the uniformity of the methods employed we give a brief summary of these methods.
The so-called “water treatment” was commonly applied. The victim was bound or otherwise secured in a prone position….
….There was evidence that this torture was used in the following places….
The Tokyo War Crimes Trial: The Complete Transcripts of the Proceedings of the International Military Tribunal for the far East in Twenty-two Volumes, New York: Garland Publishing, 1981.
I’m sorry, too, Judge Mukasey. For different reasons. If you don’t know what constitutes torture you can try reading sixty year old transcripts.