Recently in Justice Department Category

I Beg To Disagree

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There is quite a bit of discussion on the Obama's Justice Department's appeal of Judge Virginia Phillips's ruling on DADT (did I avoid the massive double negatives that usually occurs with this issue?). I completely understand why the move was done. I would write it again, but let me instead copy and past from one of my comments over at "The Same Rowdy Crowd."

Wish I could agree with you. But one of the responsibilities of the Administration, and the Justice Department, is to uphold the rule of law. We saw what happened to our country when George Bush was in office; much of the damage done was by his failing to uphold laws. Whether or not you agree with a law is immaterial, as President of the United States he does not get to pick and choose which laws to uphold, he is required to uphold them all. His statement that he wants it repealed is not only legitimate, but it is the correct way to go about righting the travesty that is DADT.
The second greatest failure of the Bush Administration was it's failure to uphold the laws of the land. As a result, we have seen our nation's food supply poisoned, witnessed what appears to be one of the greatest systemic frauds (mortgage paperwork? We don't need no stink'n paperwork!) in the history of our country, and have watched as we marched to war, all because of a failure to follow the rule of law.

Bitch all you want about the move to appeal Judge Virginia Phillips's ruling - President Obama is doing his job. Had President George W. Bush also upheld the rule of law, we would never have invaded Iraq.

State Rights

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You mean the Obama Administration is upholding the constitution?

Legacy Chooses

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Ian Walsh believes President Obama is just about done being proactive. I agree.

The Republican/conservative brightness before the burn out I keep thinking is happening, only gets brighter and brighter, and not in a good way. As the Birthers, Tea baggers, and generally just mad at the world types, descend upon the town hall meetings, I realize that my imagining of their behavior falls quantitatively short of their capabilities.

Then, Ian had this to say:

They took the lesson of the Clinton administration to be "don't enflame (sic) the fanatics on the right--avoid social issues, and don't slash the military".  They were, of course, wrong: the radical right (and there is hardly a non-radical right left) will oppose Obama no matter what he does and if Obama is unwilling to use to the full might of the administrative apparatus against them, they will simply take advantage of his weakness to escalate.  Tactics which are seen to work, will not be abandoned, to the contrary, they will be used more and more.
don't enflame (sic) the fanatics on the right--avoid social issues

Suddenly, my imagination made a quantum jump that pictured a radical increase in the use of deadly force, with a resultant increase in dead minorities (including gay, lesbian, and transgenders).

Now, I am not about to believe one way or another that President Obama understood this possible scenario. Still, to pick health care as his first major policy push might have been for other reasons besides the time was right. Regardless of whether he recognized it was a policy that could result in the least amount of insanity and violence, in the end, it is what happened.

Ask yourself this; had President Obama picked an African American jurist for the Supreme Court, just what kind of push back do you think would have happened? Unlike health care, an African American nominee to the Supreme Court is a racial element that would have inflamed the radical right even more then the current push for health reform. I don't know about you, but my imagination in this situation includes some serious killings, maybe even a lynching or three.

What? You think that's too far? If there are calls by influential leaders of the radical right for people to bring guns to town hall meetings, my suggestion of lynchings had President Obama attempted to place an African American on the Supreme Court is going to far? Considering how easy it is for the radical right followers to kill gays, lesbians, and transgenders during less politically decisive times, any push to end DADT, or otherwise legislate equal rights for sexual orientation, would suddenly result in a decrease of killings? We are talking about a section of the electorate that thinks it is funny to print out liberal hunting licenses.

So, for whatever reason, President Obama went the path of least resistance. But, Ian is right. No matter what policy the President pursues, the radical right will fight back. And they will use any action they perceive to have already been effective. If the push for health reform does stall, and no bill is forthcoming this year, I too believe the President is dead in the water. He will achieve no further legislative goals. And even if he does pass health care reform, I still believe he's dead in the water, simply because the radical right, already inflamed and instilled with an Armageddon mindset, will simply believe the end is nigh and make a homicidal/suicidal push. They are going to take as many with them as possible.

In my opinion, any further legislative attempts by the President and violence is assured. It is already occurring. If President Obama manages to shove a version of health reform through congress, he's going to be faced with one angry, pissed off radical right. He will pretty much be unable to overcome any further resistance because civil unrest is only going to continue. Chances are, it will take up most of his administration's attention.

So, once he's done with as much of the legislative work he can realistically achieve, I suggest he turn his attention to judicial/legal house cleaning. Unleash the Justice Department and force a searching and fearless constitutional inventory of our government. There is a world of hurt in it, with much latent corruption and incompetence set to cause further decades of pain and suffering, thereby weakening our country. If he truly wants to be seen as an agent of change, the more important task he faces is exposure of the past administration's eight years of malfeasance and criminality. Hell, cleaning up the last 30 years of modern conservative governance is one damn fine legacy, if you ask me.

Now, I do not believe President Obama wants that for a legacy. But most people do not get to choose their destiny, it chooses them.

Politically Motivated

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Ted Stevens' case was the first to be dealt with because it prevents any cries of partisanship when Holden moves to deal with the cases of politically motivated prosecutions on the part of the Bush Justice Department.

Nation Of Cowards

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a blunt assessment of race relations in the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday called the American people "essentially a nation of cowards" in failing to openly discuss the issue of race.
You know the wing nuts are going to go, well, errr.... nuts over this.

I, on the other hand, happen to agree with Mr. Holder. We have been cowards. Oh, we can work with other races. But do you see yourself hanging out with other races after work? Even our TV shows still show a racial divide. There are TV shows for blacks. There are TV shows for whites. But there are very few TV shows that are homogenized.

When I was in the Navy, this divide was very obvious among the enlisted on medium to large ships. The blacks would gather together in one common room, while the white enlisted would gather together in another. Now, that was back in 1983. Maybe today it's different. I don't know. I just know that when it comes to actually living with other races, we've hardly even begun to eliminate fear and bias.

I rarely think of myself as a "white" person. I strictly think of myself as a person. That is, until I was the lone white person in a room full of blacks. Then I was aware I was white. Yet, when going through my training as a Chemical Dependency counselor, I was taught that many blacks see themselves as a black person, not just a person, even when they are in a room full of only other blacks.

So, yes, Mr. Holder is correct. As a nation, we've a long way to go still. 

And Thus It Begins

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Finally, a clear sign of this administration breaking with the past.

Washington Post

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Jan. 20 -- In one of its first actions, the Obama administration instructed military prosecutors late Tuesday to seek a 120-day suspension of legal proceedings involving detainees at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- a clear break with the approach of the outgoing Bush administration.

The instruction came in a motion filed with a military court in the case of five defendants accused of organizing the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The motion called for "a continuance of the proceedings" until May 20 so that "the newly inaugurated president and his administration [can] review the military commissions process, generally, and the cases currently pending before military commissions, specifically."

They can't move fast enough to undue the damage of the last 8 years. But at least they are moving.
By way of Blue Girl, Red State:

New York Times

Jose Padilla, the American citizen who was held in military detention for more than three years as an enemy combatant, filed a lawsuit Friday against a former Justice Department lawyer who helped provide the legal justifications for what the suit says was Mr. Padilla’s unconstitutional confinement and “gross physical and psychological abuse.”

The lawyer, John C. Yoo, now a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote or helped prepare a series of legal memorandums on interrogations and the treatment of detainees after the Sept. 11 attacks.

A lawyer for Mr. Yoo, Eric M. George, called Mr. Padilla’s suit “a political diatribe” that “belongs, at best, in a journal, not before a federal court.”

Mr. Padilla, 37, was transferred from military custody to the criminal justice system in 2006, and in August he was convicted of terrorism-related charges in Miami. He awaits sentencing.

The new lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco, seeks only one dollar in damages. “That’s what Padilla directed us to ask for,” said Jonathan M. Freiman, one of Mr. Padilla’s lawyers. “At bottom, this isn’t about money. It’s about right and wrong.”

I hope the son-of-a-bitch is hung out to dry by Padilla and his legal team. And wouldn't it be just grand if a memo from the President was discovered that directed Yoo to write those heinous legal opinions.
Washington Post

Attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey told Senate Democrats yesterday that a kind of simulated drowning known as waterboarding is "repugnant to me," but he said he does not know whether the interrogation tactic violates U.S. laws against torture.

Mukasey's uncertainty about the method's legality has raised new questions about the success of his nomination. It seemed a sure thing just two weeks ago, as Democrats joined Republicans in predicting his easy confirmation to succeed the embattled Alberto R. Gonzales.

Okay, what part of cruel and unusual does he not understand? Because if he's having trouble with that simple concept, things like human rights, fair and equal justice, and rule of law might also be out of his range of understanding. My earlier affection for him is starting to wan.

Immunity Jeopardizes Iraq Probe

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Washington Post

Potential prosecution of Blackwater guards allegedly involved in the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians last month may have been compromised because the guards received immunity for statements they made to State Department officials investigating the incident, federal law enforcement officials said yesterday.

FBI agents called in to take over the State Department's investigation two weeks after the Sept. 16 shootings cannot use any information gleaned during questioning of the guards by the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which is charged with supervising security contractors.

Some of the Blackwater guards have subsequently refused to be interviewed by the FBI, citing promises of immunity from State, one law enforcement official said. The restrictions on the FBI's use of their initial statements do not preclude prosecution by the Justice Department using other evidence, the official said, but "they make things a lot more complicated and difficult."

Under State Department contractor rules, Diplomatic Security agents are charged with investigating and reporting on all "use of force" incidents. Although there have been previous Blackwater shootings over the past three years -- none of which resulted in prosecutions -- the Sept. 16 incident was by far the most serious. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security was under pressure to quickly determine what had happened in what soon became a major controversy in Baghdad and Washington.

Let's be clear here. This is not an example of how big government is bad. This is an example of how BushCo™ is bad at running government. This is just another in a long line of examples of incompetence and arrogance that has been the hallmark of this administration. And there is no doubt that nothing is going to change this pattern except the removal of the current President/Vice-President by either impeachment or the next election. Until then, we are screwed.

Hell, it just does not pay to argue the specifics of this, or any other issue, because no matter what, this administration, whether by intent, or simply by sheer incompetence, will not be able to accomplish the goals. Our president is incapable of achieving any semblance of leadership. He is, and will always be, the worst president ever.

His only claim to fame will be the winning of two elections. So, he's beaten daddy dearest, and can now rest on his haunches. He's got nothing else to prove.

Oh, and isn't this just the most hilarious statement ever:

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack referred all questions to the Justice Department. "But if anyone has broken the rules or applicable laws, they should be held to account," McCormack said.

Get in line. We're still waiting for someone to be fired over the leaking of Valerie Plame's status as an undercover CIA agent.

Editor's Note: Clarified to eradicate author exuberance.

Post-9/11 Cases Fuel Criticism for Nominee

New York Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 -- The 21-year-old Jordanian immigrant was in shackles when he was brought into the courtroom of Judge Michael B. Mukasey in Federal District Court in Manhattan.

It was Oct. 2, 2001, and the prisoner, Osama Awadallah, then a college student in San Diego with no criminal record, was one of dozens of Arab men detained around the country in the days after the Sept. 11 attacks as potential witnesses in the terrorism investigation.

Before the hearing, Mr. Awadallah told his lawyer that he had been beaten in the federal detention center in Manhattan, producing bruises that were hidden beneath his orange prison jumpsuit. But when his lawyer told this to Judge Mukasey, the judge seemed little concerned.

"As far as the claim that he was beaten, I will tell you that he looks fine to me," said Judge Mukasey, who was nominated by President Bush last week to be his third attorney general and is now facing Senate confirmation hearings. "You want to have him examined, you can make an application. If you want to file a lawsuit, you can file a civil lawsuit."

Even though Mr. Awadallah was not charged at the time with any crime and had friends and family in San Diego who would vouch that he had no terrorist ties, Judge Mukasey ordered that he be held indefinitely, a ruling he made in the cases of several other so-called material witnesses in the Sept. 11 investigations. A prison medical examination later identified the bruises across his body.

I'll admit, I am concerned about this account. However, I also am willing to give benefit of the doubt, considering just how soon after 9/11 this particular incident occurred. Hopefully, he will answer the questions asked him at his hearing. If they are asked.

Update: Good point. Ah, okay, very good point. (scroll down a bit)

Capitol Briefing

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Washington Post

Not since the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, two years ago next month, has such a pivotal position to the conservative movement been filled with someone so unfamiliar to the right-wing base. Several hours after Mukasey was officially nominated today to be the next attorney general, the conservative caucus of the Senate still didn't know much about the man. Carefully read this statement from Cornyn this afternoon and note how little outward praise there is for Mukasey, with the Texan spending most of his five sentences bashing Democrats:

"In recent months, my Democratic colleagues have loudly voiced their belief that partisan politics has no place at the Department of Justice. With today's nomination and forthcoming confirmation process of Judge Mukasey, they will have an opportunity to demonstrate that. I am examining Judge Mukasey's record and will continue to do so in the days ahead. But early indications are that he is a respected, experienced jurist who has a strong reputation for honesty and integrity. He deserves a fair and prompt hearing by the Senate."
Okay, I am liking this man more and more. Not because he's a progressive, or liberal (whatever) but because he appears to be something rare these days; a true conservative. Why do I say that? Because the pretend conservatives in Congress don't know much about him.

Reid and Schumer, acting preemptively last week, issued declarations that another possible selection, former Solicitor General Theodore Olson, would not get through the confirmation process because of his partisan background. Whether Bush was ever set on Olson is unclear, but his pick of Mukasey in the face of blank stares from conservatives was a clear victory for Schumer.

"The nomination of Judge Mukasey certainly shows a new attitude in the White House," Schumer told reporters today.

And John Cornyn's relative silence on the nomination is all the proof that's needed to back up Schumer's claim.

That means he's probably ethical and competent. From what little I've read of his decisions, and what I read over a Glenn's blog, it makes me believe he is a true rule of law man.

Okay, I'm going to look out the window, there has to be an asteroid streaking towards Earth as I type. Bush picks a truly honorable and ethical man for a Cabinet position? In deference to the Democrats? It has to be the end of the world.

Paulose Under Investigation by Feds

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Eric Black Inc.

The federal Office of Special Counsel is investigating allegations that Rachel Paulose, U.S. attorney for Minnesota, mishandled classified information, decided to fire the subordinate who called it to her attention, retaliated against others in the office who crossed her, and made racist remarks about one employee.
With Michael B. Mukasey on the fast track for confirmation, and his apparent lack of partisanship, I suspect Rachel would do herself a world of good and resign. Something tells me Mukasey is not going to put up with this kind of bullshit.

Color me surprised, but I seriously see change coming to a local Federal government near you.

Honestly. I think this is the start of a backlash purge.

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