Post-partisan Ass-covering

by matttbastard

Paul Krugman wades into the ongoing debate over whether Obama should look back or move forward with regards to extra-legal activities on the part of the outgoing administration:

Last Sunday President-elect Barack Obama was asked whether he would seek an investigation of possible crimes by the Bush administration. “I don’t believe that anybody is above the law,” he responded, but “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards.”

I’m sorry, but if we don’t have an inquest into what happened during the Bush years — and nearly everyone has taken Mr. Obama’s remarks to mean that we won’t — this means that those who hold power are indeed above the law because they don’t face any consequences if they abuse their power.

[…]

Now, it’s true that a serious investigation of Bush-era abuses would make Washington an uncomfortable place, both for those who abused power and those who acted as their enablers or apologists. And these people have a lot of friends. But the price of protecting their comfort would be high: If we whitewash the abuses of the past eight years, we’ll guarantee that they will happen again.

First, let me make it clear that my sentiments directly and unequivocally intersect with Krugman’s, as outlined in this post. With that said, I’m all-too pessimistic about the likelihood of any serious investigations taking place. As Earl Ofari Hutchinson notes, members of the party that currently controls both branches of Congress (including and especially its leadership) also have bloodstained hands:

The Democratic-controlled Congress passed the “Protect America Act.” This put the Congressional stamp of approval on what Bush did and actually expanded his powers to snoop. The targets weren’t just foreign terror suspects and known operatives but American citizens. Democrats knew this and approved it by inserting in the law open ended wording that permitted legalized spying on anyone outside the U.S. who intelligence agencies “reasonably believed” to posses foreign intelligence information. The law deliberately made no distinction about exactly who the target could be. Then there was the infamous clause that granted immunity from lawsuits to communications service providers that made Bush snooping possible. With no fear or threat of legal action against the companies, the wraps were legally off on who could be snooped on. As an added sweetener the law also gave Bush emergency power to tap for up to a week anyone deemed a terror threat; all without a warrant.

And one can’t forget about the CIA’s torture enhanced interrogation program, of which top-level Democratic members of the House and Senate were informed early on of what was going on, yet at the time chose to do nothing. So, with all due respect to people like John Conyers Jr., any attempt to cast the spotlight on the many, many crimes committed over the past decade and hold everyone who is responsible accountable is, I fear, ultimately a futile pursuit. Forgive and (most importantly) forget will be the mantra that the Washington establishment continues to embrace, purely out of an unhealthy, cynical, yet entirely understandable bipartisan sense of self-preservation.

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“It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it.”

by matttbastard

Apologies for getting to this a bit late:

More from ProPublica’s A.C. Thompson here, here and here.

Also blogging on this:

(Special thanks to Sylvia/M for link assistance)

Related: Rep. John Conyers responds:

“I am deeply disturbed by the reported incidents in Algiers Point, Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina,” said Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, and chair of the House Judiciary Committee.

Algiers Point residents, Conyers continued, “allegedly shot randomly at African Americans who had fled to the area escaping the effects of the storm. Several injuries and deaths were reported. I am particularly concerned about accounts that local police fueled, rather than extinguished, the violence.”

Also see Color of Change, which has started a campaign asking  “Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate” the attacks.

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George H.W. Bush at the CIA – Tim Weiner

by matttbastard

Journalist Tim Weiner discusses future President George H.W. Bush’s appointment to Director of Central Intelligence under Gerald Ford.

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“To protect the privacy of the person stunned”

by matttbastard

Alison at the Beav notes that the RCMP has stripped several key details from the Robert Dziekanski TASER™ report, recently obtained by The Canadian Press and CBC under the Access to Information Act:

Missing from the RCMP report :
1) Dziekanski’s name [!]
2) the name and rank of the officer who fired the TASER™
3) the name of his supervisor
4) details about the duration of the firing
5) the number of times the weapon was used in stun mode
6) whether Dziekanski was armed
7) a written summary of the incident
8) “assessments as to whether use of the TASER™ helped the RCMP either “avoid use of lethal force” or “avoid injuries to subject or Police.”

In other words, pretty much everything of use for the general public to understand exactly what happened (and, more importantly, why), all purportedly redacted in order to to protect the late Mr. Dziekanski’s “privacy”.

Yeah. To protect [redacted]’s privacy–sure. As Alison further notes,

It’s worth remembering that none of these inquiries would be happening at all had not Paul Pritchard of Victoria first recorded Dziekanski’s murder, stood his ground and hired a lawyer to get the recording back from the RCMP on being told it might be several years before they would return it, and then released it to the public.
Previous to Pritchard’s YouTube going worldwide, the RCMP were already covering their tracks, muttering darkly about the likelihood of Dziekanski being a drug mule and how the officers were forced to use stun guns because the room was crowded with airline passengers.

Sorry–after all that’s gone down with regards to Dziekanski’s death, a hubris-laden request from the Feds that basically amounts to “hey, trust us” doesn’t fucking cut it. The only way to clear up the haze of corruption that has been hovering over the Mounties for far too many years now is for the government to call for a full public inquiry into the activities of the RCMP. Are you finally listening, Stockboy?

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CBSA Dziekanski Report: Jolicoeur “very, very sorry.”

by matttbastard

The CBSA report on the death of Robert Dziekanski is out, and–surprise surprise–the border service agency ain’t admittin’ nuthin’:

Alain Jolicoeur, the agency’s president, said on Monday that “we do not have all the answers” as to how Dziekanski could spend at least six hours loitering in the baggage area of the international arrivals terminal, waiting for his mother while she tried to get information about him from the public area of the airport.

But Jolicoeur said he will try to fix what went wrong.

“I’m very, very sorry and I really wish that we had found out about Mr. Dziekanski before.”

Yet Jolicoeur said in an area the size of two football fields, with upwards of 4,000 passengers circulating the night Dziekanski died, the officers on duty did what they were supposed to do.

“There is no action that in my view requires discipline,” he said.

Two adverbs! I’m sure that’s comforting to Mr Dziekanski’s family. Very, very cold comfort. JJ is dead on goddamn right in her bitter summation of this inaugural white wash: “The CBSA’s condolences: “We’re sorry, but we ain’t that sorry.””

Expect more of the same as the results from still-ongoing (internal) investigations continue to come in: hollow (non)apologies compounded by an all-too-apparent lack of accountability. “Responsibility” is apparently an alien concept to those who would (boldly erroneously) claim to represent our best interests. Therefore, we must continue to demand answers and accept nothing less than justice.

For Robert.

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