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Jonathan Turley Lambasts Obama for Refusing to Investigate Dick Cheney for War Crimes

Posted by PowerToThePeople 
From last night's show...

MADDOW: So President Obama says all the right things to “60 Minutes” about the Bush administration‘s torture policy. And the Obama administration is planning on releasing these torture memos, repudiating the policies, promising to work to change them going forward.

In terms of lining themselves up with the Constitution, how substantive are these moves? Where would you put the Obama administration‘s policies on these issues as we speak tonight?

TURLEY: Quite frankly, I have to put it very, very low. Yes, the fact that he is having a dialogue with Dick Cheney that he finds irritating is understandable. I mean, Vice President Cheney comes off as sort of the cranky uncle you can‘t get rid of at Thanksgiving dinner.

But there is more to it than that. And the reason Obama seems very irritated by it is that he is responsible for the conversation. Because he‘s the one that is blocking a criminal investigation of Vice President Cheney and President Bush and other Bush officials. It is like a bank robber calling up and asking him to debate bank robbery.

President Obama would say, “Listen, fellow. That is a crime.”

But of course, he hasn‘t said that with Dick Cheney. He can‘t say that.

Instead, he says, “How long will it take for us to reconcile our values?”

These are not just our values. They are the law.

He should be saying what you are describing is a crime. And if he would allow an investigation to well-defined war crimes, Dick Cheney would not be making public statements. He would be surrounded by criminal defense counsel.

And yet the president refuses to allow the investigation of war crimes. And we just found out the international Red Cross, also the definitive body on torture, found that this was a real torture program. And yet, the president is having a debate with the guy over whether it was good policy.

MADDOW: In this case, we keep running up against politics versus law, politics versus law. For the legal case here, is all the president needs to do - the only thing he needs to do is get out of the way of prosecutors who would take this as a matter of law regardless of the politics here?

TURLEY: Rachel, let‘s be honest here. It is just as bad to prevent the investigation and prosecution of a war crime as its commission because you become part of it. There‘s no question about a war crime here. There is no need for a truth commission.

You know, some people say, what do you need, a film? We actually had films of us torturing people. So this would be the shortest investigation in history. You have Bush officials who have said that we tortured people. We have interrogators who have said we tortured people. The Red Cross has said it. A host of international organizations have said it.

What is President Obama waiting for? And I‘m afraid the answer is a convenient moment. The fact is he has been told by his adviser that it would be grossly unpopular to investigate and prosecute Bush officials. Well, that is a perfectly horrible reason not to follow principle.

When we talk about values, the most important one is that the president has to enforce the laws. He can‘t pick and choose who would be popular to prosecute.

MADDOW: Should he be appointing a special prosecutor? What should he be doing?

TURLEY: He should be appointing a special prosecutor. There is no question about that. This is the most well-defined and publicly known crime I have seen in my lifetime. There is no debate about it. There is no ambiguity. It is well known.

You‘ve got people involved who have basically admitted the elements of a war crime that we are committed to prosecuting. We don‘t need a truth and reconciliation commission because we are already reconciled to the rule of law. There is nothing to reconcile to.

What the people have to reconcile are the people who broke the law. They need to reconcile with the law. And he happens to be having a debate with one of those people as if they are talking about some quaint notion of policy.

MADDOW: I wonder, ultimately, if the fact that Dick Cheney continues to talk about this issue and continues to promote it as if it is a solution and something the Obama administration ought to feel ashamed for not having continued will ultimately be the thing that creates the political room the Obama administration feels that they need in order to proceed legally. They may just need to get that mad.

TURLEY: Rachel, I wish that were true. But you know, it is sort of like every great villain in every bad movie, dialoguing to prevent something happening. You know, Cheney is dialoguing. He‘s trying - the more he talks in public, the more he makes this look like a policy and not a legal issue which is exactly what he wants.

And the reason that the Obama administration is now pulling back on the truth commission is because they have finally realized that if the truth commission actually investigates, it will be the shortest investigation in history. There is no question there is a war crime.

And at the end, people are going to wonder how and why did you block this? It is like a live torpedo in the water and it is going to come back and hit him. And that is why President Obama is beginning to pull back.

The easiest thing to do is get out of the way, say, “You know what, this is not about values. This is about the law. I took an oath to God to enforce the law. And you know what, fellow? You are going to be a target of an investigation. And maybe you are not guilty. Maybe you are. But it is not for me to decide it. It‘s for a special prosecutor.”
Yeah. I was going to post something on this. As I watched this I was hoping that someone in the Obama Administration was watching too. If they were, they'd have to admit, Turley's arguments for a full-blown prosecution of the Bush/Cheney criminals are unassailable.

He described Obama's remarks with regard to Cheney's admissions of torture that he made on 60 Minutes (as well as other instances) were as though they were having a debate on policy. There is no debate, Turley said. They broke the law and so the top law enforcement officer in the land has an obligation to prosecute. He does not have a choice.

I think it was one of the best interviews and one of the clearest opinions on this subject that I have ever heard.
The thing is this was policy, policy that was not entirely new to the U.S. But it was used more vigorously and intensely than ever before. The other thing is Democrats at the highest levels of Congress (maybe even Obama) had to be involved. They went to thes prisons and in Taxi To The Dark Side it was revealed the guards DID NOT cover anything up for visits by any high ranking officials. These people knew what was going on and they did nothing to stop it. the one thing the Bush Administration did was prosecute those who took their policies too far. This may be why Obama is not going after them. The policy was ambiguous and not clear, after some abuse of the policy the Administration refined it and made it more clear. To my understanding the people we did use full blown torture against were terrorists and and as far as I am concerned they have no rights and are not protected by any laws. Obama, IMO, agrees.
HHH
Re: Jonathan Turley Lambasts Obama for Refusing to Investigate Dick Cheney for War Crimes
March 25, 2009 06:22AM
Could it be Obama perceives a giant sucking sound as all media coverage is vacuumed into the torture investigation and whatever else Obama hoped to do moves to the inside pages?

____________________________________________
What kind of genius loses a billion dollars in a year?
The thing is this was policy, policy that was not entirely new to the U.S. But it was used more vigorously and intensely than ever before. - FY

True.

The other thing is Democrats at the highest levels of Congress (maybe even Obama) had to be involved. - FY

How do you figure Obama may have known? He wasn't on any committee that would have been privey to such knowledge.

Pelosi was questioned on that, and she denied that BushCo reveled to them that they were torturing terror suspects. OTOH, maybe she's lying.

the one thing the Bush Administration did was prosecute those who took their policies too far. - FY

Like who?

To my understanding the people we did use full blown torture against were terrorists... - FY

Most high ranking people in our military will tell you that torture is ineffective because the person being tortured will say anything to stop the torture. It's also common sense.

How do you know they were all terrorists? None of the terror suspects were ever charged with a crime, nor were any of them given an opportunity to defend themselves in court. That's like if we allowed cops to decide guilt or innocence. Would you be comfortable living in a society where there were no courts - just cops?

The belief that a person is innocent until proven guilty was our founders' vision, not only for America, but for the world.

The policy was ambiguous and not clear, after some abuse of the policy the Administration refined it and made it more clear. - FY

It was crystal clear. They tortured. Dick Cheney even ran an assassination ring out of his office.

Btw, Jonathan Turley is a constitutional scholar and a Georgetown professor. Did you read what he said?

***

"When they say there’s not enough money, they mean there’s not enough money for YOU." - Jill Stein, Green Party presidential nominee.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/25/2009 09:31AM by PowerToThePeople.
Re: Jonathan Turley Lambasts Obama for Refusing to Investigate Dick Cheney for War Crimes
March 25, 2009 09:31AM


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"Build yourselves a wall of ships!" said the Oracle!
May be, HHH. But IMO and in Turley's opinion, that's no excuse not to investigate and prosecute.

From the interview:

The fact is he has been told by his adviser that it would be grossly unpopular to investigate and prosecute Bush officials. Well, that is a perfectly horrible reason not to follow principle. When we talk about values, the most important one is that the president has to enforce the laws. He can‘t pick and choose who would be popular to prosecute.
It's a matter of priorities. Obama has the economy, the budget, education, Iraq, Afghanistan, the environment, health care on his plate. Plus there are the unforeseen crises like Mexico drug violence, etc. Convicting Bush and Cheney of war crimes doesn't advance anything on his list and is a distraction. If he accomplishes his long list, he might give it some attention.
Obama doesn't have to give it his attention - at least not now.

What does the Justice Department have on its plate?

***

"When they say there’s not enough money, they mean there’s not enough money for YOU." - Jill Stein, Green Party presidential nominee.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 03/25/2009 11:27AM by PowerToThePeople.
Any person convicted and prosecuted for prisoner abuse during the Bush Administration is an example of people who were punished, PttP.

In Taxi To The Dark Side it was revealed that the guards DID NOT hide what they were doing during visits by high ranking government officials. Do you honestly believe Pelosi or any other high ranking Democrat when they say they had no idea what was happening? Has it crossed your mind that they are trying to save their own ass?

I go back to a point I have made time and time again if the evidence is so concrete and damning why did the Democrats do nothing and continue to do nothing? I have two possible explanations,

A. The evidence is not concrete and the Democrats did/do not want to hinder their future politically.
B. They were complicit and do not want their involvement to be known.

A crime of this magnitude can only stay a secret for so long before high ranking Congressional officials from both parties become aware of it. They too swore an oath to defend the Constitution and by doing nothing they too are complicit and involved in the crime. Therefore they too can be prosecuted.

Furthermore yoi agree with my statement that the policies were already in place. Taxi To The Dark Side verifies this. If this is the case any past officials who did nothing but knew or even supported these policies are also complicit and can therefore be prosecuted.

Basically I think Obama knows all this and knows this will take down more than just Bush Administration officials. If it does not then I have to question the validity of the prosecution and whether it was even about the law or if it is about destroying Bush and his legacy.
Any person convicted and prosecuted for prisoner abuse during the Bush Administration is an example of people who were punished, PttP. - FY

I know, but who? Lynndie England? HA! What about the creeps who gave her and others those orders?

Has it crossed your mind that they are trying to save their own ass? - FY

I said that Pelosi might be lying.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/25/2009 12:05PM by PowerToThePeople.
Curt Anderson Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It's a matter of priorities. Obama has the
> economy, the budget, education, Iraq, Afghanistan,
> the environment, health care on his plate. Plus
> there are the unforeseen crises like Mexico drug
> violence, etc. Convicting Bush and Cheney of war
> crimes doesn't advance anything on his list and is
> a distraction. If he accomplishes his long list,
> he might give it some attention.


Apparently you did not see the Turley/Maddow interview. Turley makes the point that I've heard no one else make. It's this simple: These people committed crimes. SERIOUS CRIMES. The Attorney General has an OBLIGATION to prosecute. He does not have a choice. If someone commits a murder - AND THEN ADMITS IT - a prosecutor just can't choose to overlook the act because to do so ' would be a distraction' or because it would not 'advance other issues on his plate' He cannot decide not to prosecute a known criminal because he has other things to do.

And as Turley points out, The President and his AG's failure to prosecute because he's just too busy or any other excuse (not reason) makes him an accessory after the fact.
Curt when criminals go free and America does not investigate it underminds everything America stands for. it sends a loud message that those in Washington can do what they please and no one will come after them. Obama is a puss or one of them and it is looking more and more like he is on the take.
This is HUGE news !

Spanish prosecutors will seek criminal charges against Alberto Gonzales and five high-ranking Bush administration officials for sanctioning torture at Guantánamo.


Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo, several reliable sources close to the investigation have told The Daily Beast. Their decision is expected to be announced on Tuesday before the Spanish central criminal court, the Audencia Nacional, in Madrid. But the decision is likely to raise concerns with the human-rights community on other points: They will seek to have the case referred to a different judge.

The six defendants—in addition to Gonzales, Federal Appeals Court Judge and former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, University of California law professor and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, former Defense Department general counsel and current Chevron lawyer William J. Haynes II, Vice President Cheney’s former chief of staff David Addington, and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith—are accused of having given the green light to the torture and mistreatment of prisoners held in U.S. detention in “the war on terror.” The case arises in the context of a pending proceeding before the court involving terrorism charges against five Spaniards formerly held at Guantánamo.

A group of human-rights lawyers originally filed a criminal complaint asking the court to look at the possibility of charges against the six American lawyers. Baltasar Garzón Real, the investigating judge, accepted the complaint and referred it to Spanish prosecutors for a view as to whether they would accept the case and press it forward. “The evidence provided was more than sufficient to justify a more comprehensive investigation,” one of the lawyers associated with the prosecution stated.

But prosecutors will also ask that Judge Garzón, an internationally known figure due to his management of the case against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and other high-profile cases, step aside. The case originally came to Garzón because he presided over efforts to bring terrorism charges against the five Spaniards previously held at Guantánamo. Spanish prosecutors consider it “awkward” for the same judge to have both the case against former U.S. officials based on the possible torture of the five Spaniards at Guantánamo and the case against those very same Spaniards.

A source close to the prosecution also noted that there was concern about the reaction to the case in some parts of the U.S. media, where it had been viewed, incorrectly, as a sort of personal frolic of Judge Garzón. Instead, the prosecutors will ask Garzón to transfer the case to Judge Ismail Moreno, who is currently handling an investigation into kidnapping charges surrounding the CIA’s use of facilities as a safe harbor in connection with the seizure of Khalid el-Masri, a German greengrocer who was seized and held at various CIA blacksites for about half a year as a result of mistaken identity. The decision on the transfer will be up to Judge Garzón in the first instance, and he is expected to make a quick ruling. If he denies the request, it may be appealed.

Judge Garzón’s name grabs headlines in Spain today less because of his involvement in the Gonzales torture case than because of his supervision of the Gürtel affair, in which leading figures of the conservative Partido Popular in Madrid and Valencia are now under investigation or indictment on suspicions of corruptly awarding public-works contracts. Garzón is also the nation’s leading counterterrorism judge, responsible for hundreds of investigations targeting Basque terrorist groups, as well as a major recent effort to identify and root out al Qaeda affiliates operating in the Spanish enclaves of North Africa.

Announcement of the prosecutor’s decision was delayed until after the Easter holiday in order not to interfere with a series of meetings between President Barack Obama and Spanish Prime Minister José Zapatero. However, contrary to a claim contained in an editorial on April 8 in the Wall Street Journal, the Obama State Department has been in steady contact with the Spanish government about the case.

Shortly after the case was filed on March 17, chief prosecutor Javier Zaragoza was invited to the U.S. embassy in Madrid to brief members of the embassy staff about the matter. A person in attendance at the meeting described the process as “correct and formal.” The Spanish prosecutors briefed the American diplomats on the status of the case, how it arose, the nature of the allegations raised against the former U.S. government officials. The Americans “were basically there just to collect information,” the source stated.The Spanish prosecutors advised the Americans that they would suspend their investigation if at any point the United States were to undertake an investigation of its own into these matters. They pressed to know whether any such investigation was pending. These inquiries met with no answer from the U.S. side.

Spanish officials are highly conscious of the political context of the case and have measured the Obama administration’s low-key reaction attentively. Although Spain is a NATO ally that initially supported “the war on terror” under Bush with a commitment of troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, relations with the Bush administration deteriorated after Zapatero became prime minister and acted quickly to withdraw the Spanish contingent in Iraq.

In the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican John McCain referred to Spain as a hostile state in comments that mystified Spaniards (it appears that McCain may have confused Spain with Venezuela and Zapatero with Hugo Chávez).

Recently, the United States and Spain also wrangled over Spain’s decision to withdraw its troop commitment in Kosovo as well. Both Zapatero and Obama, however, have given a high priority to improving relations between the two long-standing allies. Spanish newspapers hailed the fact that Obama referred to Zapatero three times as “my good friend” during the recent European summit meetings, a sharp contrast with meetings at which former President Bush gave Zapatero a cold shoulder.

Both Washington and Madrid appear determined not to allow the pending criminal investigation to get in the way of improved relations, which both desire, particularly in regard to coordinated economic policy to confront the current financial crisis and a reshaped NATO mandate for action in Afghanistan. With the case now proceeding, that will be more of a challenge.

The reaction on American editorial pages is divided—some questioning sharply why the Obama administration is not conducting an investigation, which is implicitly the question raised by the Spanish prosecutors. Publications loyal to the Bush team argue that the Spanish investigation is an “intrusion” into American affairs, even when those affairs involve the torture of five Spaniards on Cuba.

The Bush Six labored at length to create a legal black hole in which they could implement their policies safe from the scrutiny of American courts and the American media. Perhaps they achieved much of their objective, but the law of unintended consequences has kicked in. If U.S. courts and prosecutors will not address the matter because of a lack of jurisdiction, foreign courts appear only too happy to step in.

Scott Horton is a law professor and writer on legal and national-security affairs for Harper's magazine and The American Lawyer, among other publications.
[www.thedailybeast.com]
Not really....Just another former empire (that really fukked up Central America) trying to get air time.
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