And this message is to Attorney General Holder: I want you to know that we have more tapes, it’s not just ACORN, and we’re going to hold out until the next election cycle, or else if you want to do a clean investigation, we will give you the rest of what we have, we will comply with you, we will give you the documentation we have from countless ACORN whistleblowers who want to come forward but are fearful of this organization and the retribution that they fear that this is a dangerous organization. So if you get into an investigation, we will give you the tapes; if you don’t give us the tapes, we will revisit these tapes come election time.
Italics in original. If this is a bluff… well. Every time somebody thought that Andrew Breitbart has been bluffing on the ACORN scandal, he’s turned out not to be. The latest one has Patterico almost gibbering in glee as he rakes the LA Times and James Rainey over the coals for their uncritical willingness to believe Lavelle Stewart; it doesn’t seem particularly safe to hope that this time is the time that Breitbart’s got nothing left.
I know that Senator Lindsey Graham (R, SC) is not on a lot of people’s Christmas card lists, but this exchange between him and Attorney General Eric Holder was four minutes, forty seconds’ worth of pure schooling:
Not filmed was the bit in the end where Holder was on the floor, looking for his teeth. You do not walk into a situation like that without an elementary knowledge of the relevant historical record*. You do not come completely unprepared for a obviously-telegraphed question like “So. What are you going to do with a captured bin Laden?” And you do not assume that Senators like being given the mushroom treatment. Because if you do any of that, you can be assured that some Senator, somewhere, will take the opportunity to introduce you to pain.
Actually, in this context ‘same as the old boss’ would be a comfort. To me, at least, if not the folks who made such a hullabaloo over the PATRIOT Act; I’m not worried about the government abusing its authority so much as I worry about it making an utter hash of its attempt to try to use it. But of course said ‘abuse’ was not the least common election-year theme – usually in the context of how things would change, once the Republicans weren’t running things. And usually argued by people who really should have known better.
Which is why I’m more amused than anything else about this:
Attorney General Eric Holder endorsed the Senate’s version of legislation that would extend three provisions of the Patriot Act that are slated to expire at the end of the year.
Holder wrote in a letter today to Senate Judiciary Committee members that he offers “strong support” for the USA Patriot Act Sunset Extension Act, which would reauthorize the “lone wolf,” records and “roving wiretap” powers. By contrast, a House version of the bill would not continue the “lone wolf” provision, which lets the government track targets who don’t have any discernible affiliation with terrorist or other foreign groups.
…although I admit that I’m kind of curious of which member of the current ruling party thought that it was a good idea to hamper lone wolf surveillance. The timing for that seems… suboptimal.
The decision not to pursue indictments was made by top Justice Department officials, according to a person familiar with the investigation, who asked not to be identified because federal officials had not disclosed results of the probe.
“It’s over. There’s nothing. It was killed in Washington,” the person told The Associated Press.
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s ethics office has recommended reversing the Bush administration and reopening nearly a dozen prisoner-abuse cases, potentially exposing Central Intelligence Agency employees and contractors to prosecution for brutal treatment of terrorism suspects, according to a person officially briefed on the matter.
With the release of the details on Monday and the formal advice that at least some cases be reopened, it now seems all but certain that the appointment of a prosecutor or other concrete steps will follow, posing significant new problems for the C.I.A. It is politically awkward, too, for Mr. Holder because President Obama has said that he would rather move forward than get bogged down in the issue at the expense of his own agenda.
My reading of the article suggests that the focus of this is not Bush administration policies, but is instead on how the CIA carried those policies out. This should prove interesting: the CIA is already dealing with new Director Leon Panetta’s epic-level bungling of the ‘assassination program’ nonsense, and this is going to do nothing to persuade the career bureaucrats in the Agency that the current administration isn’t planning to hang them all out to dry. Having lived through one Church Committee, I suspect that the CIA is not inclined to endure another.
I don’t exactly have ‘a pox on both their houses’ attitude towards this, but I do consider this to be a bit of a karmic balancing for both the White House and the CIA.
As I see it, there are three possible ways that you could investigate claims of CIA abuse of suspected terrorists during interrogations under Bush.
Don’t. This would infuriate the Left, most of whom spent considerable amounts of time, effort, and money to elect a President and Congress that would revisit the Salem Witch Trials (with possibly even the mass hangings); and give no net gain to the Right (it’s what they should be doing, anyway), the CIA (ditto), and the Middle (they just don’t care).
Do. This would infuriate the CIA, a bureaucracy that easily outmatches the current administration in the arcane art of Beltway warfare; quietly please the Right (as that means that a lot of embarrassing* documents would finally get put in the public record); and give no net gain to the Left (it’s what they should be doing, anyway) and the Middle (they just don’t care).
Do, but ostensibly only those claims that violated Bush-era guidelines. This would anger the CIA (ex post facto career blighting), the Left (it’d legitimize the guidelines), the Right (tailor-made for scapegoating); and give no net gain to the Middle (they just don’t care). In other words, it’d be the single most politically tone-deaf solution.
PS: Oh, you want a solution? Easy. The administration comes out and says that now that it’s had a chance to look at all the information, they’ve changed their mind on their previous position with regard to appropriateness of the Bush administration’s counter-terrorism strategy; and that they’ll be doing a thorough review with the CIA to fix the system to make sure that anything that slipped through the cracks won’t happen again. Then they actually do the review in a bipartisan fashion, with enough well-known CIA advocates involved to reassure the Agency that there’s not going to be a witch hunt. That satisfies everybody.
Well, everybody except the Hard Left, but what are they going to do? Vote Republican?
(H/t: Hot Air) The more often I reread this open letter by Andrew McCarthy declining the government’s invitation to a round table meeting on detention policy, the more depressed I get:
…in light of public statements by both you and the President, it is dismayingly clear that, under your leadership, the Justice Department takes the position that a lawyer who in good faith offers legal advice to government policy makers—like the government lawyers who offered good faith advice on interrogation policy—may be subject to investigation and prosecution for the content of that advice, in addition to empty but professionally damaging accusations of ethical misconduct. Given that stance, any prudent lawyer would have to hesitate before offering advice to the government.
Beyond that, as elucidated in my writing (including my proposal for a new national security court, which I understand the Task Force has perused), I believe alien enemy combatants should be detained at Guantanamo Bay (or a facility like it) until the conclusion of hostilities. This national defense measure is deeply rooted in the venerable laws of war and was reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in the 2004 Hamdi case. Yet, as recently as Wednesday, you asserted that, in your considered judgment, such notions violate America’s “commitment to the rule of law.” Indeed, you elaborated, “Nothing symbolizes our [adminstration’s] new course more than our decision to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay…. President Obama believes, and I strongly agree, that Guantanamo has come to represent a time and an approach that we want to put behind us: a disregard for our centuries-long respect for the rule of law[.]” (Emphasis added.)
Given your policy of conducting ruinous criminal and ethics investigations of lawyers over the advice they offer the government, and your specific position that the wartime detention I would endorse is tantamount to a violation of law, it makes little sense for me to attend the Task Force meeting. After all, my choice would be to remain silent or risk jeopardizing myself.
It’s depressing primarily because I never expected that an administration could so thoroughly muck up what I naively thought was a bedrock concept of our system of government: that there were limits to how hard the game was played. And, yes, this is a game that the White House is playing right now. Badly.
The DC Voting bill thing: he didn’t like his own people’s interpretation (which matched the Bush administration’s interpretation), so he looked around for a suitably trained seal of approval. (Via Hot Air Headlines.)
I’m not surprised, and not even particularly upset (this sucker’s getting settled by the Supreme Court anyway). But if you are… why? Surely you’re not still laboring under the illusion that it’s not Business As Usual in our nation’s capital any longer…
President Obama’s choice to run the Justice Department has assured senior Republican senators that he won’t prosecute intelligence officers or political appointees who were involved in the Bush administration’s policy of “enhanced interrogations.”
Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, a Republican from Missouri and the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in an interview with The Washington Times that he will support Eric H. Holder Jr.’s nomination for Attorney General because Mr. Holder assured him privately that Mr. Obama’s Justice Department will not prosecute former Bush officials involved in the interrogations program.