Archive for category Alberto Gonzales

Torture Pro Judge Bybee Fails Backbone Test

Friends Say Judge Wasn’t Proud of Outcome


Via his roommate at BYU, this morning’s Washington Post reports that Torture Memo author Judge Jay Bybee is tortured by self-pity.

“Jay would be the sort of lawyer who would say, ‘Look, I’ll give you the legal advice, but it’s up to someone else to make the policy decision whether you implement it,’ ” said Randall Guynn, who roomed with Bybee at Brigham Young University and remains close.

In other words, “Its not my fault those evil men used my advice to justify torture.” Is Bybee then standing by his legal opinion?

Neither Guynn nor his brother, Steve, who also roomed with Bybee, recalled the judge distancing himself from the memos. But in the years since the first memo became public, Bybee left that sense with some.

Where is the personal responsibility?  Where is the moral compass?

Since moving to Utah years ago, I am frequently reminded that without religion there is no morality.

If morality – the sense of  right vs wrong — is derived exclusivily from religion, and Bybee’s religious training is straight from the bosum of The LDS Church…  Is it possible the training at BYU Law School is at odds with religious doctrine?  Or is Bybee a weak-kneed, ambitious, self-serving schmuck with a pretty face?

Bybee’s friends said he never sought the job at the Office of Legal Counsel. The reason he went back to Washington, Guynn said, was to interview with then-White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales for a slot that would be opening on the 9th Circuit when a judge retired. The opening was not yet there, however, so Gonzales asked, “Would you be willing to take a position at the OLC first?” Guynn said.

I can only imagine what must be going on in Bybee’s head. “Dang. I got caught.”

Bybee should take this opportunity to become a ‘man.’ Otherwise, he’s going to face the fasted impeachment in history.  Three Senators have already called for his resignation.

What is he waiting for?

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‘This conversation doesn’t exist’

For years now, we’ve wondered about the senior Democratic members of Congress who helped cover up Bush’s crimes. The Bushies must have something on them, we thought. Even some Bush supporters figured something akin to blackmail was afoot. Well, as Morgan Freeman said in “The Big Bounce” (2004), sometimes things are exactly as they appear.

This story broke late last night, on CQ. Jeff Stein explains how the Bush administration halted a corruption investigation of Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, to preserve her credibility as a defender of Bush’s illegal warrantless surveillance programs. The investigation was related to the AIPAC spy case.

Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

The exchange was recorded via a court-approved NSA tap directed at alleged Israel covert action operations in Washington.

The investigation of Rep. Harman was reported in October 2006. Stein’s scoop is that then-Attorney General Alberto Gonazles intervened to kill the criminal investigation into Harman — even though DOJ lawyers had concluded that she committed crimes — because top Bush officials wanted Harman’s credibility to be preserved so that she could publicly defend the Bush administration’s illegal warrantless eavesdropping program.

According to two officials privy to the events, Gonzales said he “needed Jane” to help support the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about to be exposed by the New York Times.

Harman, he told Goss, had helped persuade the newspaper to hold the wiretap story before, on the eve of the 2004 elections. And although it was too late to stop the Times from publishing now, she could be counted on again to help defend the program

He was right.

On Dec. 21, 2005, in the midst of a firestorm of criticism about the wiretaps, Harman issued a statement defending the operation and slamming the Times, saying, “I believe it essential to U.S. national security, and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities.”

And thanks to grateful Bush administration officials, the investigation of Harman was effectively dead.

It’s ironic that the wiretap of Rep. Harman was not one of the warrantless surveillance activities that she defended so staunchly. Yet it certainly highlights the political utility of secret surveillance programs.

Updates below…

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Spain Needed to Guide American Justice. Somebody’s Got To

For real. A bunch of former administration officals cannot go to Europe because they have been indicted on war crimes. For real.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Oh well, I hear Branson MO is almost like Paris.



Bush lied, thousands died

On the last day of the Bush presidency, let’s review the greatest shame of his regime.

It’s almost 11 minutes in length, but extremely important. We must never forget. Will these criminals ever face justice?

Readers, please add your own links and videos in the comments. There are just too many to even narrow them down to the most succinct.

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Thomas Tamm, NSA Whistleblower and a man of courage

BUSH LETS U.S. SPY ON CALLERS WITHOUT COURTS, that was the New York Times headline Dec. 16, 2005. It was three years ago today that we began learning about this illegal NSA program.

Rachel Maddow last night had the first television interview with NSA whistleblower Thomas Tamm. Tamm was a Justice Department official and former prosecutor when he learned that private American citizens were being spied on illegally by the NSA without the necessary approvals from the FISA court. The story is in Newsweek:

In the spring of 2004, Tamm had just finished a yearlong stint at a Justice Department unit handling wiretaps of suspected terrorists and spies—a unit so sensitive that employees are required to put their hands through a biometric scanner to check their fingerprints upon entering. While there, Tamm stumbled upon the existence of a highly classified National Security Agency program that seemed to be eavesdropping on U.S. citizens. The unit had special rules that appeared to be hiding the NSA activities from a panel of federal judges who are required to approve such surveillance. When Tamm started asking questions, his supervisors told him to drop the subject. He says one volunteered that “the program” (as it was commonly called within the office) was “probably illegal.” (emphasis mine)

Tamm agonized over what to do . . . For weeks, Tamm couldn’t sleep. The idea of lawlessness at the Justice Department angered him. Finally, one day during his lunch hour, Tamm ducked into a subway station near the U.S. District Courthouse on Pennsylvania Avenue. He headed for a pair of adjoining pay phones . . . and called The New York Times. [snip]

The New York Times won a Pulitzer Prize for its story. . . But Tamm—who was not the Times’s only source, but played the key role in tipping off the paper—has not fared so well. The FBI has pursued him relentlessly for the past two and a half years. Agents have raided his house, hauled away personal possessions and grilled his wife, a teenage daughter and a grown son. More recently, they’ve been questioning Tamm’s friends and associates about nearly every aspect of his life. Tamm has resisted pressure to plead to a felony for divulging classified information. But he is living under a pall, never sure if or when federal agents might arrest him.

Exhausted by the uncertainty clouding his life, Tamm now is telling his story publicly for the first time. . . against the advice of his lawyers

Tamm is learning the consequences of being a whistleblower, especially with the Bush administration. It is thanks to Tamm that we even know about this illegal program. That people with no ties to terrorism whatsoever had very private and personal conversations eavesdropped on. He knew he risked his career and security to do what he did. But his commitment to the rule of law was too important to him and he couldn’t ignore the illegal activity and do nothing about it.

I know some of our readers may be inclined to call Tamm a traitor for his actions. But remember, the thing he revealed was a crime punishable by five years in prison.

Congress created the FISA court in 1978 because of well-publicized abuses by the intelligence community. It was designed to protect the civil liberties of Americans who might come under suspicion. The court’s role was to review domestic national-security wiretaps to make sure there was “probable cause” that the targets were “agents of a foreign power”—either spies or operatives of a foreign terrorist organization. The law creating the court, called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, made it a federal crime—punishable by up to five years in prison—for any official to engage in such surveillance without following strict rules, including court approval.

American citizens’ constitutional rights were violated by this illegal surveillance. Indictments should be brought by the Obama administration. But I’m expecting to see pre-indictment pardons on this one.

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Cheney Gonzales Indicted. Arraignment Today

Most assuredly, this is just the beginning. Is this Paul Mero’s idea of conservatism?

From: November 20, 2008
Willacy County district attorney, Juan Angel Guerra. He leaves office on December 31st.

A Texas judge has set an arraignment date for Friday (11/21) for Vice President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. They were indicted this week by a Texas grand jury on state charges accusing them of responsibility for prisoner abuse in a privately-run federal jail. Cheney, Gonzales and the others named in the indictments will not be arrested, and do not need to appear in person at the arraignment, the judge said.

Half of the eight high-profile indictments returned Monday by a Willacy County grand jury are tied to privately-run federal detention centers in the sparsely populated South Texas county and the other half target judges and special prosecutors who played a role in an earlier investigation of Guerra.
The grand jury traced a sketchy line between Cheney’s influence over the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, which oversees the county’s federal immigrant detention center, and his substantial holdings in the Vanguard Group, which invests in private prison companies.

Combining those interests, the grand jury accused Cheney of a conflict of interest because the more the prison companies were paid to hold inmates, the better he did financially. “It is appalling to find that numerous elected officials from different levels of our government throughout our country to our U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney, defendant, are profiting from depriving human beings of their liberty,” the indictment said.

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Dick Cheney Indicted by Texas Grand Jury

I know nothing about this story except what I read on Certainly of interest.

President Dick Cheney and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have been indicted on state charges involving federal prisons in a South Texas county that has been a source of bizarre legal and political battles under the outgoing prosecutor.

The indictment returned Monday has not yet been signed by the presiding judge, and no action can be taken until that happens.

Cheney is charged with engaging in an organized criminal activity related to the vice president’s investment in the Vanguard Group, which holds financial interests in the private prison companies running the federal detention centers. It accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and “at least misdemeanor assaults” on detainees because of his link to the prison companies. [snip]

The indictment accuses Gonzales of using his position while in office to stop an investigation in 2006 into abuses at one of the privately-run prisons.

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The Poison Fruit from the Tree of Corruption

There’s been a great deal of talk about corruption in politics. The last 8 years have seen a truly shocking level of corruption in government – from the Republicans K Street Project, to the Bushies’ endless politicizing of every aspect of government starting with no bid contracts for any firm connected to the Administration and wanting some taxpayer dollars for helping ruin Iraq down to firing DoJ lawyers for not being politicized. The Republican Culture of Corruption (documented in The Wrecking Crew) is spectacular, thorough, and shocking. Ultimately, it has poisoned our public discourse, has left a devastated trail of ruin in its wake, has wasted billions upon billions of dollars and, ultimately, has created an environment in which all politicians are suspect.

As I’ve talked to voters the last few weeks – in church, at work, in restaurants and coffee shops, I keep running into the same attitude, from Republicans and Democrats and independents. That attitude can be summed up neatly in one phrase: All politicians are corrupt. The notion that one might go into politics because one feels a passion for public service is all but laughable to so many voters. Though the bitterness is deeper from conservatives, I found it from almost every person I’ve talked with. Even more alarming to me, were statements from conservatives alleging that there is no way small donors have fueld Obama’s campaign. The idea that people like me might have given to Obama a couple times this year in sums of about $50 or $100 is dismissed out of hand. Obama’s success with small donors literally becomes evidence of corruption – apparently George Soros (according to one theory) has people making small donations using his money. The extraordinary sleaze of the Republican congress and the Bush administration has become de facto proof that all politicians are corrupt, power mongering, money grubbing crooks.

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Who is to blame?

This post is part three in my series on good and evil.

In The Lucifer Effect Philip Zimbardo explores the way in which situational factors play a role in individual behaviors. 
Zimbardo sums up his argument:

“Bad systems” create “bad situations” create “bad apples” create “bad behaviors” even in good people.

The point of course is simple – I am responsible for my behavior but I may not have done what I did were I not in the situation I was in. The people who created the situation bear responsibility for creating that situation. The people who had system level influence are responsible for creating the system that created the situation. Read the rest of this entry »


Bush-Cheney Used DOJ to Destroy (attempt) America

Seven years later, at least the cable media is beginning to pull their noses out of Bush’s ass and do their job.

Download Click image to play. Quicktime 7 required

Many scandals ago, with each new one, I would think it couldn’t get any worse. Today I believe we will continue to uncover crimes of the Bush-Cheney administration long after they are dead.

But, it is my greatest hope that they both live long enough to answer for their crimes.


When “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”

Such a sad, pitiful, little man.gonzales.jpgspacer

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What About a Sin Tax For War Profiteering?


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