by Andy Worthington
hat tip: Campaign for Liberty
Republican Witch-hunters Embrace Dictatorship
Are there no depths to which conservatives will not sink in their ardent embrace of the war on terrorism? The latest monstrosity from the right came courtesy of Keep America Safe, a toxic organization headed by Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who recently put out a disgraceful TV ad, “Who Are the Al-Qaeda Seven?” The ad questioned the loyalty and patriotism of nine lawyers in the Justice Department who had represented prisoners at Guantánamo before joining the DoJ.
To be fair, Liz Cheney’s ad has backfired badly, drawing the ire not only of those on the left, but also of heavyweight conservatives, nineteen of whom signed a statement last week denouncing it, declaring, “We consider these attacks both unjust to the individuals in question and destructive of any attempt to build lasting mechanisms for counterterrorism adjudications,” and adding that the attacks on the lawyers “undermine the Justice system more broadly,” by “delegitimizing” any system in which accused terrorists have lawyers, whether that system is federal court trials or military commissions.
Those who signed the statement included former Solicitor General Ken Starr, former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, former White House lawyer Brad Berenson, John Bellinger, the former legal adviser to the National Security Council and the State Department, and two former detainee policy officials in the Bush administration, Matthew Waxman, and Charles “Cully” Stimson, who, ironically, was himself forced to resign from the DoD in 2007 after starting a similar witch-hunt against corporate law firms whose lawyers represented prisoners at Guantánamo.
Originally published as: Hawaii considering law to ignore Obama ‘birthers’
by Mark Niesse, Associated Press Writer
Wed Mar 17, 2010
HONOLULU – Birthers beware: Hawaii may start ignoring your repeated requests for proof that President Barack Obama was born here.
As the state continues to receive e-mails seeking Obama’s birth certificate, the state House Judiciary Committee heard a bill Tuesday permitting government officials to ignore people who won’t give up.
“Sometimes we may be dealing with a cohort of people who believe lack of evidence is evidence of a conspiracy,” said Lorrin Kim, chief of the Hawaii Department of Health’s Office of Planning, Policy and Program Development.
So-called “birthers” claim Obama is ineligible to be president because, they argue, he was actually born outside the United States, and therefore doesn’t meet a constitutional requirement for being president.
Hawaii Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino issued statements last year and in October 2008 saying that she’s seen vital records that prove Obama is a natural-born American citizen.
by Paul Ryan
hat tip: Imprimis
The following is adapted from a speech delivered on January 13, 2010, in Washington, D.C., at an event sponsored by Hillsdale College’s Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship.
SOMEONE once said that before there was the New Deal, there was the Wisconsin Deal. In my home state, the University of Wisconsin was an early hotbed of progressivism, whose goal was to reorder society along lines other than those of the Constitution. The best known Wisconsin progressive in American politics was Robert LaFollette. “Fighting Bob,” as he was called, was a Republican—as was Theodore Roosevelt, another early progressive. Today we tend to associate progressivism mostly with Democrats, and trace it back to Woodrow Wilson. But it had its roots in both parties.
The social and political programs of the progressives came in on two great waves: the New Deal of the 1930s and the Great Society of the 1960s. Today, President Obama often invokes progressivism and hopes to generate its third great wave of public policy. In thinking about what this would mean, we need look no farther than the health care reform program he is promoting along with the leadership in Congress.
Let me say here at the beginning that even though survey after survey shows that 75 percent or more of Americans are satisfied with the quality of their health care, no one I know in Congress denies that health care reform is needed. Everyone understands that health care in our country has grown needlessly expensive, and that some who want coverage cannot afford it. The ongoing debate over health care, then, is not about whether there should be reform; it is about what the principle of that reform ought to be.
Under the terms of our Constitution, every individual has a right to care for their health, just as they have a right to eat. These rights are integral to our natural right to life—and it is government’s chief purpose to secure our natural rights. But the right to care for one’s health does not imply that government must provide health care, any more than our right to eat, in order to live, requires government to own the farms and raise the crops.
Government’s constitutional obligations in regard to protecting such rights are normally met by establishing the conditions for free markets—markets which historically provide an abundance of goods and services, at an affordable cost, for the largest number. When free markets seem to be failing to meet this goal—and I would argue that the delivery of health care today is an example of where this is the case—government, rather than seeking to supply the need itself, should look to see if its own interventions are the root of the problem, and should make adjustments to unleash competition and choice.
More US military personnel have taken their OWN lives than have died in action
Here is a shocking statistic that you won’t hear in most western news media: over the past nine years, more US military personnel have taken their own lives than have died in action in either the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. These are official figures from the US Department of Defense, yet somehow they have not been deemed newsworthy to report. Last year alone, more than 330 serving members of the US armed forces committed suicide – more than the 320 killed in Afghanistan and the 150 who fell in Iraq (see wsws.org).
Since 2001, when Washington launched its so-called “war on terror”, there has been a dramatic year-on-year increase in US military suicides, particularly in the army, which has borne the brunt of fighting abroad. Last year saw the highest total number since such records began in 1980. Prior to 2001, the suicide rate in the US military was lower than that for the general US population; now, it is nearly double the national average.
A growing number of these victims have been deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. What these figures should tell us is that there is something fundamentally deranged about Washington’s “war on terror” – which is probably why western news media prefer to ignore the issue. How damning is it about such military campaigns that the numbers of US soldiers who take their own lives outnumber those killed by enemy combatants.
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2009 list of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.” The list, in alphabetical order, includes:
- Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT): This marks two years in a row for Senator Dodd, who made the 2008 “Ten Most Corrupt” list for his corrupt relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and for accepting preferential treatment and loan terms from Countrywide Financial, a scandal which still dogs him. In 2009, the scandals kept coming for the Connecticut Democrat. In 2009, Judicial Watch filed a Senate ethics complaint against Dodd for undervaluing a property he owns in Ireland on his Senate Financial Disclosure forms. Judicial Watch’s complaint forced Dodd to amend the forms. However, press reports suggest the property to this day remains undervalued. Judicial Watch also alleges in the complaint that Dodd obtained a sweetheart deal for the property in exchange for his assistance in obtaining a presidential pardon (during the Clinton administration) and other favors for a long-time friend and business associate. The false financial disclosure forms were part of the cover-up. Dodd remains the head the Senate Banking Committee.
- Senator John Ensign (R-NV): A number of scandals popped up in 2009 involving public officials who conducted illicit affairs, and then attempted to cover them up with hush payments and favors, an obvious abuse of power. The year’s worst offender might just be Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign. Ensign admitted in June to an extramarital affair with the wife of one of his staff members, who then allegedly obtained special favors from the Nevada Republican in exchange for his silence. According to The New York Times: “The Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee are expected to conduct preliminary inquiries into whether Senator John Ensign violated federal law or ethics rules as part of an effort to conceal an affair with the wife of an aide…” The former staffer, Douglas Hampton, began to lobby Mr. Ensign’s office immediately upon leaving his congressional job, despite the fact that he was subject to a one-year lobbying ban. Ensign seems to have ignored the law and allowed Hampton lobbying access to his office as a payment for his silence about the affair. (These are potentially criminal offenses.) It looks as if Ensign misused his public office (and taxpayer resources) to cover up his sexual shenanigans.
by Suzanne Ito
hat tip: ACLU Blog
Mar 2nd, 2010
On Friday, we filed a habeas corpus lawsuit on behalf of four Bagram detainees. The lawsuit requests that the four men be granted access to lawyers and be allowed to challenge the legality of their detention in court. The petition alleges they have never engaged in hostilities against the U.S., have never been a part of any group hostile to the U.S. and have never even been told why they’re being detained or had access to a lawyer.
We have two sets of clients. The first set is brothers Samiullah and Sibghatullah Jalatzai. Sibghatullah served as a translator for the U.S. military for four years before his capture nearly 20 months ago. Samiullah was arrested without explanation at his workplace nearly 23 months ago. The second set is Haji Abdul Wahid, an Afghan government employee, and Zia-ur-Rahman, his nephew. Both were taken from their homes by the U.S. military during a massive neighborhood sweep more than a year ago.
We’re afraid to say it, but it’s looking like Bagram is the new Gitmo. Bagram detainees lack access to courts or any meaningful process to challenge their detention. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it was the same at Guantánamo until the Supreme Court decided, in Boumediene v. Bush, that detainees are entitled to challenge their detention through habeas corpus.
Hat tip: The New American
by Thomas R. Eddlem
February 26, 2010
An alternative budget proposal submitted by Congressman Paul Ryan (Wis.), the House Budget Committee’s Republican ranking member, would increase the federal budget deficit even more than President Obama’s bloated budget — nearly $1 trillion more — according to a February 24 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Ryan’s “alternative policy scenario” would make no serious spending cuts, but it would institute three new tax cuts. CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf explained to Ryan that “the three changes to the tax policy assumptions are estimated to increase deficits relative to the baseline projections by $9 billion in 2010 and $3.4 trillion over the 2011-2020 period, mostly from lower revenues but also from increased outlays for refundable tax credits.”
“CBO estimates that, under the alternative scenario you specified, the deficit would amount to $1.2 trillion in 2020, about $500 billion more than the shortfall projected under baseline assumptions.”
Overall, the Republican budget alternative would increase the federal budget deficit by $9.4 trillion over the next 10 years, while President Obama’s fiscal 2011 budget would increase the deficit by $8.5 trillion over the same period of time.
By Kevin Barrett
Yes, it’s great to have a black face in the White House. And yes, it’s nice to have a bright, well-educated, eloquent president for a change.
But national leaders who are dark-skinned, bright, well-educated, and eloquent are a dime a dozen. The Third World is full of them. They’re called dictators.
In the Third World, dictators are often alumni of American ivy league universities. The bankers, and the foundations they control, give the brightest students from places like Rwanda and Kenya and Benin scholarships to places like Harvard and Yale and Princeton. Then they send them home, help them out with money and organization, and reap the benefits when their protegés seize power and make themselves heads of state.
I hate to say it, but I’m afraid that’s pretty much what has happened to America.