Open Thread: Bloggergate Documents

Juan Cole and ACLU Sue CIA, FBI 

Juan Cole writes about the lawsuit filed on Wednesday agains the FBI and CIA.  Documents requested in a FOIA were never received. (Sound familiar?). 

I had told the ACLU, “Americans don’t need permission from their government to write and publish their political opinions. If the Bush White House pettily attempted to use the CIA to destroy my reputation by seeking dirt on my private life in order to punish me for speaking out, that would be a profound violation of my Constitutional rights.”

Truthout has a story about it here.

Thoughts, comments, feedback are always welcome.

Has Senator Sessions Forgotten His Oath of Office?

Promoted. -- GH

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) railed against President Barack Obama's nominees to the federal bench on Tuesday afternoon, complaining that Obama was only nominating individuals with "ACLU DNA" and rattling off a list of potential judges who are now or have ever been a member of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"I'm sure that less than one percent of the lawyers in America are members of the ACLU," Sessions said. "It seems if you have the ACLU DNA, you get a pretty good leg up to being nominated by this president."

The ACLU -- which has over 500,000 members and supporters -- did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The American Civil Liberties Union is an organization that has gone to court repeatedly over the past nine decades to protect and defend the civil liberties guaranteed in the United States Constitution.

What does Jeff Sessions have against the United States Constitution?

As a United States Senator, Jeff Sessions swore this oath when he first came to office:

"I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God. "

Okay, so he swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, so why is Sessions threatening to block judges that have "ACLU DNA"?

Has Sessions forgotten his oath of office?

Or was he lying when he swore he would support and defend the Constitution of the United States?

Either way his opposition to American civil liberties is troubling.
[ed. note - made link clickable, luaptifer]

ACLU's Investigation Unveils BushCo Told 9/11 Commission "Not To Cross A Line"

Via a Facebook update by Naomi Wolf comes the news that the ACLU uncovered a memo from the Bush era that warned the 9/11 Commission not to "cross a line" in its investigation and not to probe too deeply.

Leaked confidential documents have revealed that senior officials from the former US administration had warned a 9/11 investigation panel against probing too deeply into the terrorist attacks.

In a letter obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the 9/11 Commission was refused permission to question terror suspects, with the Bush administration arguing that by doing so the panel would "cross" a "line" and obstruct the administration's efforts to protect the nation.

Wolf's link includes a reference to an OpEd News article by Sahil Kapur that offers this additional insight:

The 9/11 Commission, officially called the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was formed by President Bush in November of 2002 "to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks" and to offer recommendations for preventing future attacks.

"The Commission staff's proposed participation in questioning of detainees would cross that line," the letter continued. "As the officers of the United States responsible for the law enforcement, defense and intelligence functions of the Government, we urge your Commission not to further pursue the proposed request to participate in the questioning of detainees."

FireDogLake's Marcy Wheeler speculates that this was an attempt by the Bush administration to ensure that its torture of certain detainees, which has since been widely documented, remained secret.

"[W]hoever made these annotations appears to have been most worried that Commission staff members could make independent judgments about the detainees and the interrogations," Wheeler wrote on her blog. The official "didn't want anyone to independently evaluate the interrogations conducted in the torture program."

Eventually, the commission's co-chairs harshly criticized the administration for having purportedly "destroyed" tapes of its interrogations with terror suspects, as Raw Story reported last year.

Destruction of -- and loss of -- evidence seemed to be a hallmark of the Bush Administration's years in the White House. Story highlights from the CNN link about the missing emails from the US Attorney scandal:

Story Highlights

• NEW: White House spokeswoman says 5 million official e-mails may be missing

• White House admits it should have kept e-mails on private GOP system

• Chairman of Senate Judiciary Committee doubts e-mails are deleted

• Committee investigating whether U.S. attorneys' firings were politically motivated

At some point, hopefully before the Obama Administration gets too far along on its own path, someone will have the fortitude and wherewithall to send a huge cleaning van up to the White House to help mop up the mess left by the previous Administration, ideally in time to help ensure that the current Administration is given a much clearer mandate to work with, and ideally to help it stay within the bounds of Constitutional law and proper common ethical standards.

Global War on Terror: How Long, at What Cost?

War Without End?

Is this Global War on Terror going to last forever? Has it already changed our nation from an historically defensive Athens to an offensive Sparta whose military looks everywhere for trouble and finds it? Who is calculating the cost-to-benefit ratio of sending Green Berets and other Special Operations troopers into remote corners of the world to assassinate suspected terrorists? Ever since the Vietnam War, our presidents have ushered members of Congress into the grandstand where they can boo or cheer military decisions but not make them, despite what the Constitution says right there in Article 1, Section 8: "The Congress shall have power to provide for the common defense."

Update: Obama Opens Door to Investigations, Prosecution: What Will "Immunity" and "Good Faith" Come to Mean? REVISED

bumped by carol, originally posted 2009-04-19 12:43:02 -0500 Original title  on buzzflash: "Obama Releases Torture Memo's: What Will "Immunity and "Good Faith Come to Mean."

In remarks made this morning Obama has opened the door to Congressional investigations and prosecutions of former Bush adminstration officials for torturing people. His formulations are quite precise. Please check out the update links in the comments below. The transcript of what he had to say is provided in the link to raw story in the fourth comment. Please also compare what he said with what Senator Cardan (D-Md) said to MSNBC in the video report in the third comment. Thanks.

The ACLU, and the people who've worked with them over the last few years, deserve to be recognized and thanked profusely by everybody. They figured out what the paper trail which littered the path the Bush administration decided to adopt in pursuing what it called the "Global War on Terror" must be made up of, and how that all could be identified, and then brought out into the public. And they did it. Without their unremitting labor what happened last Thursday when Obama announced the release of the Bush torture memos, would not have happened, and surely not in the way it did. The ACLU legal cases provided the vehicle for  discovery and release, but to get to that outcome requires establishing the right to get to the evidence and a whole infrastructure chain of work from individuals and institutions, who we may never know, but who ought to know that there is a depth of appreciation for what they did and the way they did it.

This commentary is kind of a conjoint effort. Susie Dow thought the developments worthy of coverage and pulled together what she called the "bare bones links" through which the story is elaborated. But, unfortunately, she wasn't in a position to write it all up. She asked if any one wanted to help. Well, almost three years ago now, in June 2006 she picked up something I wrote which went on DailyKos, and cross-posted it here. It was the first posting I ever did on ePluribusMedia, and it was a report on a conference on torture held in a Maryland church that Spring Saturday, around a theme laid out by Ray McGovern. Ray told those there that torture isn't wrong because it is illegal, it is ilegal because it is wrong. I think the message of that conference is still one which applies, perhaps in more fundamental ways now than it did three years ago.  So I said "yes".

This is by way of introduction. I would like to discuss President Obama's statement from last Thursday in which he announced that the four documents which the ACLU had been demanding through the court system would be released. The documents can be found in the references at the end of this. I think it important to stress that the issue brought to the fore by what the President said does not involve the question of who will be punished under the law for what they did. The issue is the same as it was before. For there to be a rule of law there has to be an effective notion of the difference between right and wrong. The documents show how weasel words were developed to extricate the US as a country from the obligations of international treaties and its own statutes because one man wanted it to be that way. How can it be that one man, with his cronies, could over-ride everything this country has stood for for so long

CNN Journalist Added To Terrorist Watch List After Report

The Terrorist Watch List maintained by the Transportation Security Administration has become a bloated and useless compendium of waste. The ACLU recently reported that the list contains a million names. The TSA disputes this saying that, due to duplicates and aliases, the number is actually closer to 400,000. Well, that’s comforting, but it doesn’t change the fact that…

“Members of Congress, nuns, war heroes and other ’suspicious characters,’ with names like Robert Johnson and Gary Smith, have become trapped in the Kafkaesque clutches of this list, with little hope of escape.”

Ohio ACLU Sues SOS Brunner on Claims Voting System Changes Unlawful and Will Result in More Uncounted Ballots

OhioNews Bureau

ONB COLUMBUS: BREAKING NEWS: The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Ohio filed a lawsuit against state election officials in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio late Thursday, challenging the use of unequal, inaccurate and inadequate voting technology in Ohio’s most populous county by Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner.