Obama Pretends the Bob Woodward Law Doesn’t Exist

Yesterday, Michael Whitney pointed out how irresponsible it was for the ultimate commander of all the people who will decide Bradley Manning’s innocence or guilt to state publicly, before his trial, that “he broke the law.” But there was something else wrong with it. As transcribed by the UK Friends of Bradley Manning, Obama said,

OBAMA: So people can have philosophical views [about Bradley Manning] but I can’t conduct diplomacy on an open source [basis]… That’s not how the world works.

And if you’re in the military… And I have to abide by certain rules of classified information. If I were to release material I weren’t allowed to, I’d be breaking the law.

We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.

[Q: Didn’t he release evidence of war crimes?]

OBAMA: What he did was he dumped

[Q: Isn’t that just the same thing as what Daniel Ellsberg did?]

OBAMA: No it wasn’t the same thing. Ellsberg’s material wasn’t classified in the same way. [my emphasis]

But of course, Presidents (and some Vice Presidents) actually don’t have to “abide by certain rules of classified information.” As explained by John Rizzo in the context of the Obama Administration’s leaks to Bob Woodward, they can and do insta-declassify stuff for their own political purposes all the time. They can do it to make the President look important; they can do it to lie us into an illegal war; they can do it to ruin the career of someone who might expose the earlier lies. (Steven Aftergood and Eugene Fidell explain the legal reason this is true for the Politico.)

The way secrecy in this country works is insidious not just because the government prevents citizens from learning the things we as citizens need to know to exercise democracy, but also because the President and other classification authorities can wield secrecy as an instrument of power, choosing to release information they otherwise claim is top secret when it serves their political purpose. As I pointed out last year, this power even extends to information about whether or not the President has approved assassinating an American citizen.

Less than a month ago, the Obama Administration told a judge they didn’t have to–couldn’t–tell a judge their basis for killing a US citizen. Instead, they invoked state secrets, claiming (among other things) they couldn’t even confirm or deny whether they had targeted Anwar al-Awlaki for assassination.

Yet this came after one after another Obama Administration official leaked the news that al-Awlaki had been targeted, and after they had obliquely confirmed that he was. The Administration can leak news of this targeting all it wants, apparently, but when a US citizen attempts to get protection under the law, then it becomes a state secret.

There’s a lot of other reasons why this President’s claim that “we are a nation of laws!” is utterly laughable, from his Administration’s refusal to prosecute torture or bank fraud to its efforts to prevent former officials from doing time for breaking the law.

We are not, anymore, a nation of laws. The Constitutional Professor President has institutionalized the efforts W and Cheney made to make sure that remains true.

But one of the ways our lawlessness most disproportionately works against the citizens of this country is the government’s abuse of secrecy.

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  1. bmaz says:

    The more damning statement by Obama is the later one that is quoted in the Politico article:

    “I have to abide by certain classified information,” Obama is shown saying in a video that quickly began to circulate among media outlets Friday. “If I was to release stuff, information that I’m not authorized to release, I’m breaking the law…We’re a nation of laws. We don’t individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate… He broke the law.”

    And, may I point out that, in addition to all the things Marcy said that I totally agree with, Obama’s quote is absolute gibberish. Not to mention inappropriate command influence since he is the Commander in Chief and it will be a jury of military officers. Unbelievable.

      • freesociety says:

        “Can we impeach him for incompetence? /exasperation”

        He should be impeached, but not for simple incompetence.

        Obama knows what he is doing here, and the sad truth is that he is as criminally malicious in matters of Foreign Policy, government transparency, and human rights as Dick Cheney, Rumsfeld, or Bush ever was. His scope of mass murder, and coverup far surpasses everything Richard Nixon did. For Obama is deeply involved in perpetrating War Crimes throughout 7 Countries [Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Iran (CIA hostilities), Venezuela (CIA-Columbia-proxy)] simultaneously, and advocating like a used-car salesman on behalf of them.

        He has zero respect for being a “Nation of Laws” when he drops BOMBS on thousands of innocent people for sport, and aggressively applies Goverment intimidation and bribery (at taxpayers expense) to prevent and stop Foreign Nations from properly following Laws and prosecuting U.S. War Criminals (including Cheney, Bush, and the Bush administration defendants named in the Spanish Inquiry, etc.)

        These are not crimes of incompetence.

        These are crimes of commission and premeditated malice and criminal ideology.

        Obama should be in Jail, or hanging in the Haig, and not Bradley Manning.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Reagan’s Gen. Alexander Haig would appreciate the complement. The International Criminal Court or ICC sits at The Hague, the Dutch capital. Unfortunately, the US, the Sudan and Israel do not accept its jurisdiction.

    • harpie says:

      Obama has never been any good at unscripted responses-gibberish is right.

      As to “command influence”, a commenter named coram nobis at Glenn Greenwald’s threads has been schooling readers on that. Heres a link to one comment from yesterday, regarding this burp from Obama. [There’s much more information at his letter page]

      • AitchD says:

        I couldn’t tell from the vid or the several transcriptions whether Obama employed the subjunctive (‘If + were’) and if he wanted to suppose his ‘speaker’, as it were (*g*), is hypothetically in the military. If he meant himself as POTUS, it’s right to condemn the hypocrisy. If he meant a character in the military in his nonce outburst, he gets some nanoslack, no? Yes?

        • harpie says:

          He emphasizes the I there [I think he even makes a hand gesture indicating himself at that point], which seems to me means he’s talking about himself as POTUS.

          This is what I got from the video:

          If you’re in the military, and …I have to abide by…of classified information. If I…and I’m not authorized to…I’m breaking the law…We’re a nation of laws. We don’t individually make our own decisions about how the laws operate. [to others] no, he’s fine…he’s being courteous…[to questioner] He broke the law…

          • AitchD says:

            I think his “If you’re in the military” is casual vernacular for ‘Suppose I’m in the military’ as the rest of it sounds. The only formal locutions for eliminating doubt or personal application would be ‘If one is, then one must’, and so on, which would be pompous in such a casual exchange.

          • AitchD says:

            Okay. I watched and listened and watched. There’s no question that Obama is referring to himself as POTUS Obama when he brushes his palm across his necktie. As he speaks then, he says about himself as POTUS that “if I’m not authorized” to release certain information “I’m breaking the law”, which is silly nonsense. Who could authorize something like that? Or, if it isn’t silly nonsense, did he betray something about how the world really works?

            • harpie says:

              Yes, I thought so. It sounds like Glenn Greenwald [and others] thought so to:

              That Obama has to resort to the most brazen hypocrisy and factually confused claims to defend Manning’s treatment should hardly be surprising (and as Politico’s quoted experts noted, Obama was also deeply confused when he claimed yesterday that he, too, would be breaking the law if he released unauthorized classified information, since the President has the unfettered right to declassify what he wants).

            • AitchD says:

              Or, if it isn’t silly nonsense, did he betray something about how the world really works?

              Hmm…

              Once a year I trot out an attempt to make sense of the inchoate swirl of events that in hindsight seem self-evident.

              911 is our code for an emergency call for help. The WTC attacks on 9/11/01 were a proof of concept attack. The US is vulnerable. Because the US is overly complex in its infrastructure, its vulnerability is overly fragile. Yet there has been no successful terrorist attack since the 9/11 WTC catastrophe. It’s amazing that there haven’t been suicide bombings on a regular basis in the US since they are easy to accomplish if the bomber has the will.

              The presumed motive for the WTC attack was — what? What did the attackers and the organizers of the attack intend to communicate and intend to gain? Who knows? Someone knows, right?

              So, then: The only information made available is that Osama bin Laden organized and ordered the attack as reprisal for the US policy in the Middle East in general and its military presence in Saudi Arabia in particular. The previous attacks, e.g., the USS Cole, had failed to achieve ‘results’. But after the WTC attack, several events followed, either coincidentally or according to an agreement. That is, the WTC attack proved that there are very crazy people willing and able to wreak untold damage; and, unless those crazy people are reined in by their superiors, more attacks will follow. But none followed, except for a few highly publicized attempts and failures. Hmm?

              It looks and sounds like a deal was struck, and it was blackmail.

              The US military in fact left Saudi Arabia. The too-secular tyrant of Iraq was removed. The too-secular dictator of Egypt left. The too-secular dictator of Libya is being attacked. The too-secular president of Syria is being attacked — and Wikileaks revealed that the US has been supporting Assad’s removal.

              We could view these activities as ransom payment in exchange for three promises. One, if the US turns the Middle East over to Islam’s own rule, the US will not be attacked by Muslim terrorists. Two, any planned terrorist attack by a Muslim sympathizer will be reported in advance to the US and its closest allies, assuming the attacker has informed others already. Thus have the several attacks been thwarted in one way or other. And three: the US will ensure that the secular dictators lose their power and control. It’s not unreasonable to think that perhaps the Muslims in their own countries don’t want Coca-Cola and porn, wither hardcore or soft.

              It’s not evident that Israel is included in any of the blackmail, but, of course, Israel would not be not unaware.

              • onitgoes says:

                Interesting musings. You connect some dots in an interesting way with some potential for being accurate. I’ve mulled some of this over, esp in light of recent events with secular leaders being ousted in the ME in one fashion or another. Coincidence? Time will tell.

                But for all the 9/11 FEARFEARFEAR tactics, it’s quite amazing how the vast majority of the populace continues to be quite bambozzeled with now quite ridiculous scare-tactics. There will always be some terrorist something or other going on somewhere. Other nations have had terrorist attacks since 9/11 purportedly by Al Qaeda or similar. It’s not great, and sure, some effort should be made to see what “can be done.”

                But as you logically point out: what other terrorist attacks have occurred in the USA since 9/11, except for the very dubious anthrax incidents right after 9/11? NONE. And the few “near misses” all seemed, uh, odd… and not really effective.

                I happen to fly a lot, and I STILL hear citizens stating the usual gumpf about how TSA is so “necessary” to “keep us safe.” Witless & clueless, most citizens are eminently willing to be hereded thru the chute in the irrational “belief” that they’re *safe* in some insane way. TSA’s various gadgets are there to make Chertoff & his buddies RICH off of middle/lower US citizen taxes. Period. The end. It’s yet another scam by the extremely wealthy, and they do it because they know they can get away with it. US citizens: ever-complacent, ever-willing to let “big Daddy” tell them what to do in the idiotic belief that it makes them “safe.”

                Sigh… time will tell vis the ME, but you propose an very interesting theory re 9/11. Could be. Certainly looks that way some days. Plus, like the Chinese, the Saudi’s OWN great swathes of the USA, and the Saudi’s have a big say in how things are run these days. So much for the US “empire.”

                • AitchD says:

                  Thanks for the generous feedback. I don’t fly — I quit in 1968, and have flown rt maybe five times since, so I can’t say about the TSA invasiveness. Though I do remember in grad school having to open my briefcase for inspection when I left the library.

                  I guess the point of the TSA system is to make flyers feel more secure along with making them never forget that Evil People want to murder them. I don’t agree it’s to make Chertoff & his buddies rich, but I hope it’s true hahaha. Like drug testing as a condition for employment or playing sports even in high school, and like ISP TOS and software licensing agreements, it’s another invisible voluntary waiver of our 4th Amendment ‘rights’ and probably also 1st, 2nd, and 5th amendments. It also slows down the queues at the airports, which allows security to observe further. I suppose they’ve tested security systems in every conceivable way since 9/11, and we know that every sort of destructive device has made it on board in those tests.

                  Glad you’ve made it safely.

        • beowulf says:

          I couldn’t tell from the vid or the several transcriptions whether Obama employed the subjunctive (‘If + were’) and if he wanted to suppose his ‘speaker’, as it were (*g*), is hypothetically in the military.

          He’s our Commander in Chief and his predecessors have left him a very high standard for him to live up to (“He was a hero. He spoke with a voice of thunder; he laughed like the sunrise and his deeds were strong as the rock… His name was Lincoln and the country in which he lived is called America”). What you’re describing is Obama’s lack of command presence, which may be a bigger problem than his hypocrisy.
          http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Tolstoy_on_Lincoln

          Recruits alternate the job of leading drill, under the instructor’s watchful eye. The instructor looks for how you handle the pressure, how you project your voice, whether you correct mistakes coolly or create cascades of ineptitude. In short, he’s looking for what Marines call “command presence”.
          http://www.slate.com/id/2112484/

      • bmaz says:

        Gibberish either way; though Politico’s reads a scunch worse. But, jeebus, he didn’t have a few spare interneurons available to say “This is a matter for the military justice system, and as you can tell they are handling it”. Instead he went with a bunch of Palin like gibberish and closed with an emphatic “He broke the law!” Come on, an average city prosecutor has got better common sense than that.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As I said just above, I don’t think Mr. Obama misspoke out of hurry, lack of preparation or incompetence. I don’t think he misspoke. I think he said exactly what he wanted to say to the audience he wanted to say it to. Getting hit in blog comments is a small price to pay. If he never tries Manning, or keeps him in jail notwithstanding a guilty verdict, a power he claims he has, then he’ll pay no price.

  2. justbetty says:

    “But one of the ways our lawlessness most disproportionately works against the citizens of this country is the government’s abuse of secrecy.”
    Amen to that, EW. Amen to that.

  3. bell says:

    when secrecy is used to hide laws being broken a leader with vision would challenge the secrecy part for the purpose of maintaining the law part… with obama as with bush and cheney and etc, we have the exact opposite.. secrecy is used to cover up those breaking the law… what a corrupt facade to uphold..

  4. perris says:

    We are not, anymore, a nation of laws. The Constitutional Professor President has institutionalized the efforts W and Cheney made to make sure that remains true.

    we were duped by the big zero and my heart cries

  5. tjbs says:

    Torture/ Murder/ Treason where else could it lead ?

    Pretty pleas won’t slow down these clowns.

    Guilty please may cause a rethinking of their murderous ways.

  6. vegasboomer says:

    “We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.”
    ___

    No need for that little “allegedly” incovnenience. “Presumption of innocence” irritation that only a law professor might know about.

  7. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    from coram nobis’ comment:

    “…PRINCE: ‘i was raised to be charming, not sincere’…”

    that’s funny,

    and that’s our boardroom-charmer of a president.

    what most troubles me most,

    what lies deep beneath the specific legal or political issues discussed here,

    is the president’s lack of a sense of justice, a sense of fairness, a sense of empathy.

    that he would tolerate an american soldier (and citizen) being subjected to the psychological brutality that the marine corps visited on bradley manning for even a brief time, let alone for a year, is proof to me of the president’s ruthlessness and love of power for its own sake.

  8. sandinbrick says:

    Yes, but getting back to the fact that Manning chose to commit a crime against our Country, instead of going to the right sources, he, in fact, risked everything and gave this to a Assange. And I don’t understand why FDL is trying to bring Obama down. This will not help in his re-election. I feel very sorry for Manning, but he commited a grave crime. I will always support President Obama. Done.

    • bell says:

      sandinbrick – obama is bringing the usa down! bush and cheney did the same thing… the election and what the usa has come to be is an empty shell of it’s former self..

    • AitchD says:

      If in fact Pfc Manning offloaded and ripped so-called ‘classified’ data, and if he had been ordered by his superior officer to do so, would you still claim that he “chose to commit a crime against our [c]ountry”?

    • tjbs says:

      sandingears

      His foremost duty, ms or sir, was to report war crimes where they would be exposed.

      Or do you prefer that obama can see the torture pictures, ordered released by the courts, but we can’t. Implicit in that statement is Justice will be served which is a Boldfaced LIE, now isn’t it ?

    • SBtheYDD says:

      sandinbrick: exactly how many crimes has Manning been tried for? how many has he been convicted of? Right: zero, and zero.

      Basic American jurisprudence requires you… yes, YOU, and everyone else… to presume Manning’s innocence until his guilt is proven. I think your presumption of guilt is exceedingly premature to say the least, and that’s the mildest assessment I can offer, in deference to the rules of civil dialogue on FDL’s threads.

    • Surtt says:

      Yes, but getting back to the fact that Manning chose to commit a crime against our Country, instead of going to the right sources, he, in fact, risked everything and gave this to a Assange. And I don’t understand why FDL is trying to bring Obama down. This will not help in his re-election. I feel very sorry for Manning, but he commited a grave crime. I will always support President Obama. Done.

      How do you know that???

      He has been accused of a crime, NOT convicted.
      Innocent until proven guilty, that is the cornerstone of our justice system.
      You (or Obama) can not just declare him guilt.

    • dakine01 says:

      I will always support President Obama. Done.

      And there’s your problem. I’m sure if Bush had acted as Obama has (which of course he did), you would have been screaming about it. But because now it is Obama doing it, it’s OK?

      Sorry, but that flies 180 degrees from what I was raised as to how the US operates.

      • onitgoes says:

        When the POTUS breaks the law, I personally don’t give sh*t which party that POTUS professes to be from. Breaking the law is breaking the law. That’s how I feel, and I am personally DONE with Obama (albeit I was DONE with Obama a looooong time ago; this is just more very tragic icing on that cake).

    • onitgoes says:

      I feel very sorry for Manning, but he commited a grave crime.

      Pardon me, but I didn’t realize that Pfc. Bradley Manning had actually had a trial that examined & ruled on his alleged crimes. Pray tell, when and where was this trial? OH, what’s that you say: Pres Obama, whom you’re so committed to, has worked very hard to slow down the “due process” which, in theory, all citizens are supposed to entitled to under the “rule of law.” Not to mention that Manning has not “enjoyed” a speedy trial, which is his “right” under US law, nor has Manning been formally charged with a crime.

      So, based on your professed allegiance to Obama, you’re quite willing to throw not only Pfc Manning under the bus, but you’re also *equally willing* to dispense with the “rule of law” in the USA, as well as any notion of “justice,” nor does it matter to you if the system is corrupt beyond all measure… just so long as you can continue in your unbridled “support” of Obama.

      Got it. Well, if you happen to ever run afoul of the law, hope you’re not placed in the position that Pfc Manning is, where many citizens – such as yourself – determine that *you* are “guilty until proven innocent,” where *you* are literally and figurative stripped of your clothing & dignity, where *you* are mandated by the POTUS to be *tortured,* etc. Would you “enjoy” that treatment? Would you find it “just,” and “lawful.” Would you be “pleased” to learn that the POTUS, or someone in a similarly high office, had publically accused *you* of being guilty without *you* having benefited yet from a trial by your peers?

      Just curious… would love to know the answers to my questions.

      But hey: don’t forget to vote for former Constitutional Law Prof Barry in 2012…

    • john in sacramento says:

      Yes, but getting back to the fact that Manning chose to commit a crime against our Country, instead of going to the right sources, he, in fact, risked everything and gave this to a Assange. And I don’t understand why FDL is trying to bring Obama down. This will not help in his re-election. I feel very sorry for Manning, but he commited a grave crime. I will always support President Obama. Done.

      Not picking on you, but thanks for proving my point from the other day. You seem to be proof of Stanley Milgram’s authority experiment

      • gigi3 says:

        LOL

        I’m usually suspicious of someone who registers (today), makes a comment intended to stir controversy and then scurries, Perhaps s/he is one of Cass Sunstein’s minions.

        • onitgoes says:

          Wondered a bit about this one, too. Somewhat out of the blue, and then the big PR for “vote for Obama no matter what.” One does wonder about the provenance of such b.s.

        • john in sacramento says:

          And to mzchief at 58, and onitgoes at 62

          I try to take people at their word until proven otherwise, but it’s always interesting how people come here, and take potshots at others, or make unsupported declarative statements, and/or slanted propaganda diaries about certain hot button subjects, and then *poof* they disappear

          (bagofhealthandpolitics, Mike Diaz, Liberty Lee, Red Fish …)

          • onitgoes says:

            I’m with you, and some conservatives who blog here somewhat regularly appear sincere in their beliefs. That’s fine. But a quick pot-shot, and then gone… makes me wonder… seems a little fishy. However, good responses to that nonsense for those who lurk by later on. Maybe that person did us all a favor, in the end.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        The HBGarian theme sold by the comment you’re responding to ignores what’s being discussed here. FDL’ers do not want to “bring down” this or any other president. That’s a strawman. They want this president, who ran on his stellar credentials at Harvard Law School and his more than a decade of part-time teaching of Constitutional Law (possibly the toughest, most theoretical course in law school) at the University of Chicago, to actually, um, you know, follow it.

        Mr. Obama has never practiced law. He has always used it, like Bill Clinton, as an avenue, a nice place to walk en route to political power. His and Bill’s wives are the ones who went to law school and paid the rent afterwards.

        Mr. Obama speaks as a politician, not as a lawyer. He doesn’t care what the law is, as is obvious from his central meme of Look Forward, Not Back! He cares about what he can make it do for him.

        This eleventy dimensional chess playing lawyer president did not misspeak about so central a tenet of American law. He said it on purpose, to send a political message: He’s tough, as tough as Cheney. The Right, Nixon’s Silent Majority”, and most importantly, his military-intelligence complex, should trust him (as ill-informed an egocentrism as any in today’s politics).

        Mr. Obama’s equally important message was sent to the DoJ and to potential whistleblowers everywhere – the legions of them who struggled silently through eight years of CheneyBush’s abuses and now two of Obama’s: “STFU! This is what I can and will do.” He just says it in the same manner that David Brooks sells his harsh, Randian policies – in a sweater and penny loafers.

    • hektor6766 says:

      There are people sitting in Communist Chinese prisons who committed crimes against the laws of their country. There have been women stoned to death in Iran for breaking the laws of their country. Obama ran on a campaign of, among other things, a more transparent government. His support of the secrecy laws lends mockery to his promise. And mocks your allegiance.

      “Our government teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”
      -Louis Brandeis

    • Kris says:

      Actually, Bradley Manning did the right thing–he went to his superiors, they refused to act, so he leaked the info to wikileaks. It is not a crime to expose war crimes; it is a DUTY. It is a crime to COMMIT war crimes.

      Pfc. Manning is a true hero. But even if he were guilty of horrible crimes, he would deserve protection from the torture Obama promotes and condones. That is to say, even monsters like Obama, the Bushes, Pinochet, the Clintons, etc., have a universal human right to decent treatment during imprisonment.

      Not sure how you imagine that Obama is worth your support, unless you are happy to see the establishment of a two-tier system of “justice” in the U.S. Obama is really the very worst, most unprincipled and nasty president we have ever had, and I say that as someone who actively supported his campaign and even donated money to him.

      Fool me once, shame on Obama. Fool me twice–not going to happen!!!!!!

      • thatvisionthing says:

        Actually, Bradley Manning did the right thing–he went to his superiors, they refused to act, so he leaked the info to wikileaks. It is not a crime to expose war crimes; it is a DUTY. It is a crime to COMMIT war crimes.

        Thank you!

        • bmaz says:

          He appears to have leaked one hell of a lot of stuff that had nothing whatsoever to do with either war crimes or what he supposedly “talked to his superiors about”. This meme is complete and utter bullshit.

          • thatvisionthing says:

            He appears to have leaked one hell of a lot of stuff that had nothing whatsoever to do with either war crimes or what he supposedly “talked to his superiors about”. This meme is complete and utter bullshit.

            I call bullshit on your bullshit again! Is the amount of war crime to other stuff a baby/bathwater ratio argument? If I sat on a jury, I would have no hesitation calling the Collateral Murder video a war crime. To get from some bathwater to “complete and utter bullshit,” does it matter to you if there’s ANY baby there? Pretty much, my opinion, the exposing-war-crime meme is the farthest thing from “complete and utter bullshit” that I can imagine. Also informing Americans what crap is being done in their name, abusing their authority, is citizen hero stuff to me. See #89. But I wait to be dazzled. Your turn.

  9. eCAHNomics says:

    When Woodward was here for book salon on O’s wars, I asked him how he got & felt free to release so much classified information. He, of course, ignored my Q.

  10. kittykitty says:

    I can’t imagine why anyone is surprised by Obama’s comments. So the guy went to law school. Big deal. Law review, Big deal. He’s fundamentally another corporate shill who either dimmed his own bulb and sold out long ago or wasn’t all that bright or principled to begin with.Just an opportunist. It occurs to me the in a nation of Hollywood- obsessed, spiritually starved people folks who voted for him really voted for a good preacher, cause he’s a good one when he wants to be. But Gandhi he ain’t. Deeply principled, not so much. Just wait, some crackerjack journo like Matt Taibbi will one day do some serious digging and write a book about the guy’s life. He’s just not as innocent as he appears. The job is wearing him out, that’s for sure. Those bankers can really bring it.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      The books by Paul Street on O are pretty good. I’ve read the first one, which was terrific & pretty revealing about his corp whoredom, but haven’t read the second one yet.

  11. eCAHNomics says:

    Mods, I just went to check out what’s up for book salon today & noticed that the two book salons on the front page of FDL are for tomorrow & next Saturday, and the one for this afternoon is not advertised. I think that’s a mistake. Thx.

      • eCAHNomics says:

        Yes, I figured that out by going to the book salon section. My comment was directed to the fact that it wasn’t advertised on the main FDL page & thought it should be.

  12. AitchD says:

    “We’re a nation of laws! We don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law.”

    What does it mean that the US is “a nation of laws”? It means the US isn’t a prison or a military dictatorship. Laws may prohibit behaviors and actions but they can’t prevent something from happening; a law can’t prevent an individual from choosing to violate that law.

    So, Obama’s belief that “we don’t let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate” reveals his ruling philosophy, and it’s perverse. Our system in fact does allow (let) individuals to break the law if they choose to do so. The system of law includes consequences as extreme as punishment for “breaking the law”, but that system doesn’t and cannot prevent an individual from disobeying. Obama has it wrong and twisted backwards.

  13. barne says:

    Only Nixon could go to China, because if a Democrat went, s/he’d have been pilloried as a traitor commie.

    Try going to China, or any modern equivalent, as a black Democratic president. Imagine the forces ready to pounce at one false step.

    • bailey2739 says:

      You mean a “modern equivalent” like HRC that would turn our fiscal problems around and that the GREAT majority of Americans desperately need & want.

  14. kittykitty says:

    Why are folks so afraid of this guy not getting re-elected? You have to wonder what that fear is about? Just how corrupt does the system have to get before we ask ourselves : Is it completely broken? If so , what should we do? Are we opting for just being pacified by more crooks who are just more subtle than Cheney? And if elections are just a show and a huge waste of money that could be better spent, at what point do we all turn off the screen and pick up a pitchfork? When is it “too” corrupt? “More” corrupt? I think Americans lack the cajones of the people in the Middle East who have so much less materially to lose. As a baby boomer, I am deeply ashamed of how far we have fallen from the days when we put things on the line for a principle. I hand it to Wisconsinites, but we’re all just watching, really. It’s just another channel. The guilt channel.

    • rwood says:

      I had to sign in just to emphatically agree with the expression of our generation’s ethical vacuum. If you are interested in the demise of our (generation’s) presumed global awareness and conscience that dissipated — have you any books to recommend that are instructive on this nearly failed “counterculture”?

  15. barne says:

    It WILL be sad if O finally angles into the “it’s our due” cush lifestyle, like Clinton and Blair, with the glamour and flash and Wall Street buds and multi-million dollar weddings and such. But I do begin to fear he’s way more average than I’d hoped.

  16. mzchief says:

    “Obama” is an illusion creation by a handful of PR/media operatives. There’s no rocket science going on here; it’s the Chicago banks-ster formula Clinton ran. Just even a slight scratch beneath the surface shows he’s all bluster and a jumble of incomprehensible, contradicting bull shite– just like the inner hack-tacular, drone-happy circle.

    • onitgoes says:

      Agree. The office of POTUS anymore seems to be occupied by an ever increasingly empty-headed, bought-off, hacks with no redeeming features whatsoever. The so-called “Democratic” POTUSes tend to be “smart” and speak well, whilst the purported “Republican” POTUSes are either dumb as a post legacy silver spoon types or Alzheimers-riddled B-grade “actors,” or ex-CIA spooks. Pick yer poison, though; they’re all corrupt.

      • mzchief says:

        OT– Speaking of central government corruption … the power struggle in Madrid continues:

        Two years after the Gürtel case broke, the investigating judge and the PP whistleblower are to appear in court before any of the corruption network” …
        A reversal of justice” (ElPais.Com in English, by José Manuel Romero, Apr. 13, 2011):

        Those that have denounced Garzón for the tapes are working to have the charge of corruption against the defendants thrown out and the investigation annulled. However, before the judicial order to listen in on the defense, Garzón had spent six months collating evidence of bribery, influence peddling, money laundering and misappropriation of public funds in PP-governed Madrid, Valencia, Castilla y León and Galicia.

        Garzón is the second person without links to Gürtel to be called to appear in court. Ángel Luna, Socialist Party spokesman in Valencia, was absolved yesterday after having faced charges for presenting sub judice police report on corruption in Congress, even though it was published in the media five months beforehand.

        Even members of own Popular Party attack Gallardón’s proposal, which some say is reminiscent of Franco-era hard line” … “Madrid mayor slammed for plan to clear homeless off streets” (ElPais.Com in English, by V. López and F. J. Barroso, Apr. 14, 2011)

  17. AitchD says:

    We are not, anymore, a nation of laws. The Constitutional Professor President has institutionalized the efforts W and Cheney made to make sure that remains true.

    But one of the ways our lawlessness most disproportionately works against the citizens of this country is the government’s abuse of secrecy.

    Can you give your breathless readers some idea about when your book will be finished?

    From PNAC, the WHIG, and the one-percent doctrine, it’s our tragic bad luck that reality has been cherry-picked.

  18. bailey2739 says:

    Excitedly looking forward to the day when FDL says, “If Obama does run again it is implausable that ideological Democrats could rationalize supporting him, regardless the circumstance.” THAT would be progress!

  19. beowulf says:

    As I pointed out last year, this power even extends to information about whether or not the President has approved assassinating an American citizen.

    There ought to be a law against that! Oh wait, there is…

    18 USC 1119 Foreign murder of United States nationals

    (b) Offense.— A person who, being a national of the United States, kills or attempts to kill a national of the United States while such national is outside the United States but within the jurisdiction of another country shall be punished as provided under sections 1111

    18 USC 1111 Murder
    (a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Every murder perpetrated by poison, lying in wait, or any other kind of willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated killing… is murder in the first degree.
    (b) Within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, Whoever is guilty of murder in the first degree shall be punished by death or by imprisonment for life…

    18 USC 1117 Conspiracy to murder

    If two or more persons conspire to violate section 1111… or 1119 of this title, and one or more of such persons do any overt act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life.

  20. mzchief says:

    Tangential– From “Arguments Tomorrow in Test Case of Government’s Obligation to Produce Embedded Electronic Data under Freedom of Information Act” (CCRJustice.Org, New York, April 20, 2011):

    Judge Scheindlin’s orders were the first recognition by a federal court that metadata is part of the record in a FOIA case, though it is recognized as such in both state FOIA or “sunshine” laws and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Metadata, often referred to as “data about data,” includes all of a document’s electronically stored information. Such data would provide plaintiffs with information in a searchable format on how production documents are organized and kept, their relationship to each other and who created or modified the documents and at what time.

    • thatvisionthing says:

      When I was listening to the Antiwar podcasts I heard an update from Jesse Trentadue about his upcoming case regarding the government’s responsibility to fulfill FOIA requests:

      JESSE TRENTADUE: The big fight now, and it will happen on May 11, is over the surveillance cameras that were on the Murrah building, the external cameras. I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the Murrah cameras’ videotapes and the cameras from the other buildings on the route McVeigh would have taken to deliver the bomb that morning, and these were, the other cameras were on the exterior of the buildings along the road that McVeigh would have driven to take that truck, the Ryder truck bomb, to the Murrah building.

      I received 26 tapes. These tapes go blank at various times between 8:58 on the morning of April 19th and 9:02 on the morning of April 19th, when the bomb went off. So as McVeigh was driving by a particular building, the tape goes blank for 10 or 15 seconds. And then further down the road, the tape on that building would go blank for a few seconds as McVeigh would have passed. And the FBI claims that all these tapes were being recycled or changed and that’s why they’re blank at these crucial times.

      But they didn’t give me the Murrah tapes.

      And I have an affidavit (PDF) from an Oklahoma City police officer who arrived on scene just after the bomb went off. He’s desperately and other people are desperately trying to pull people out of the rubble to save their lives. Literally at gunpoint almost, the FBI orders them out of the building, and he watches as the agents take the cameras down from the Murrah building. And then the rescue operation is allowed to proceed after that’s done.

      JESSE TRENTADUE: But, anyway, they didn’t produce those tapes. And so– and their excuse to the judge was, “We looked real hard, your honor, but we just can’t find those tapes.” And the government takes the position, especially the FBI, that when anyone makes a request under the Freedom of Information Act for documents or records or materials that are embarrassing or harmful to the government, that all the FBI has to do is look for those records or documents or materials; it does not have to find and produce them. That’s an incredible position to take, that all the law requires is that you look. And you go wink and nod, “We can’t find anything.” And that’s what this hearing is about on the 11th is whether or not they have to do more than that, whether or not they have to go back and actually do a manual search and turn those tapes over.

      An Oklahoma news station reported on the missing tapes at the time and even generated a computer recreation (youtube link and transcript here).

      Jesse’s court papers are here (PDF).

      The point:

      The American public has a right to know what happened in Oklahoma City on the morning of April 19, 1995 and, more importantly, why? Yet, it is obvious that for some reason FBI Defendants do not want the truth about the Oklahoma City bombing made public. Perhaps the reason is as simple as: the Federal Government’s prior knowledge of that planned attack and failure to prevent it, or that there were others involved whom the Federal government chose not to expose and/or prosecute. But whatever the reason, that is precisely why the FOIA became law: to protect the right of American citizens to know their own history and, more importantly, their government.

      — Jesse Trentadue, Memorandum in Support of Rule 56(f) Motion for Continuance Pending Discovery

    • thatvisionthing says:

      And FBI “zero files”!

      In a sworn affidavit dated May 21, 2001 (PDF), [FBI agent] Ojeda outlined how the FBI handled information they did not want to see brought up in court:

      The FBI also kept “zero files,” which were reports containing information that the FBI would not generally want disclosed to the defense and which were kept separate from a specific case file. These files were kept internally within the Bureau and typically were not turned over to the prosecution or the defense. Files would be assigned numbers bases on the type of offense or investigation involved, for example, a bank robbery would be assigned a particular number. A letter A after that number would mean highest importance. A zero after that number would mean that the report should go into the “zero” file.

      at link

        • thatvisionthing says:

          I call bullshit on your bullshit.

          Please back up your “bullshit” with some kind of sourcing or specific issue that we can reasonably examine and discuss.

          We’re all just pixels in a world of pixels here, but I have sourced everything I said, and in fact the FOIA issue at hand seems to me extremely relevant to everything firedoglake is about. All you’ve got is “bullshit”.

          Love ya anyway, let’s fight. Just tell me, exactly what are we fighting about?

          • bmaz says:

            I know lawyers for both Terry Nichols and McVeigh and they roll on the ground laughing at the conspiracy crap as to the Murrah Ok City bombing.

            • thatvisionthing says:

              Well that’s fine hearsay, and I do appreciate it, but please be specific about what I posted. Thank you.

        • thatvisionthing says:

          I’ll go first! Specifically, do you take issue with this statement submitted to the court, to be heard May 11?

          …that is precisely why the FOIA became law: to protect the right of American citizens to know their own history and, more importantly, their government.

          You be the judge, I invite you. :-)

  21. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    you do bill clinton an injustice if you consider him the equal of president obama, as apparently you do.

    – clinton had a heart, which obama does not (or does not display),

    – clinton had enormous experience (state attny general and 4x govnr) BEFORE becoming president, NONE of which president obama had,

    – clinton (and his wife) had (and still have) a life-long committment to liberal principles, which president obama professed as a candidate but clearly does not have,

    – clinton would deal with republicans, but not be bullied by them, where any cockroach of a republican can bully barack obama into a change of policy.

    – clinton was smart, tough, very caring, but willing to deal, while obama is smart, apparently uncaring, buttercup obama who would sell his grandma or propose having a beer, for a short-term political gain.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      My comment did not contend that Clinton and Obama (either Mr. or Mrs.) were comparable, merely that both excelled in law school and used it as a pathway to political power, not to the practice of law. What they did or do with the law and that power are different questions altogether.

    • thatvisionthing says:

      Clinton presided over Waco, where the government turned military tanks on mothers and children, killing many in the ensuing fire. He’s not my humanitarian or civil libertarian hero. I listened to an Antiwar Radio podcast the other day that opened with the audio of the Branch Davidians calling 9/11 when the ATF raided them in February 1993: “Yeah, there are 75 men around our building and they’re shooting at us, at Mt. Carmel.” ‘Mt. Carmel?” “Yeah, tell them there are children and women here and to call it off!” “I hear gunfire.” … There are women and children… !” [helicopters]

      Scott Horton Interviews Anthony Gregory
      April 23, 2011

      Anthony Gregory, Editor in Chief of Campaign for Liberty, discusses his article “From Waco to Libya: 18 Years of Humanitarian Mass Murder;” the ATF’s “Operation Showtime” raid on the Branch Davidians, designed as a public relations stunt; going from bad to worse at Waco, with the FBI in charge and special forces soldiers set loose on civilians; and the crux of government humanitarianism: killing people in order to save them.

      Clinton, Obama, Bush… Waco, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen… dead is dead is dead is…

  22. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    yours is my view.

    this guy, our president, is no dummy; he depends on advisors.

    he likely discussed what he wanted to say beforehand with those advisors,

    then, said precisely what he wanted to say.

    what his motives were i don’t know,

    but a freeing of manning after a courts-martial-declared mistrial would be the best outcome i could hope the prez was aiming for.

  23. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Dennis Hartley at Digby’s place reviews Robert Redford’s film, The Conspirator, about the trial of Mary Surratt, a Washington, DC, boarding house proprietress, for conspiracy in the murder of Abraham Lincoln.

    He notes a few parallels with today, and surmises that some of them were intended by Redford. Most obvious is the general reaction of the country after Lincoln’s assassination and after 9/11. Another is Kevin Kline’s role as the political actor behind the trial and his uncanny resemblance to Dick Cheney. When questioned by the defense lawyer about the rabid pursuit of Surratt, despite her circumstantial ties to the murderers, Kline’s character responds:

    “Someone must be held accountable. The People want that.”

    The parallels that apply to this post start with her being tried by a military tribunal. Another is that Johnson, after succeeding Lincoln as president, publicly claimed that Surratt, “…kept the nest that hatched the egg”. Andrew Johnson, along with George W. Bush, is routinely listed as among the worst presidents in American history.

  24. prostratedragon says:

    Systemic closure:

    TRUMAN: What made you think he killed Laura?

    LELAND (steadfast): You arrested him.
    —Jerry Stahl et al., Twin Peaks, episode 11

  25. mmartin says:

    I especially like the homes for the poor and the community centers that zero man built, and the world famous grass roots legislation he inspired, while he was “the greatest community organizer ever”. … The only president of any law review at any law school anywhere who never wrote a single law review article. Pathetic. And then he was paid to live in luxury for s i x m o n t h s on an island in the South Pacific to write his bio at twenty friggin nine – [email protected]$$$. Books that later were clearly ghost re-written. The Chosen One was then chosen to be Constitutional Law Professor at the University of Chicago. hahahahaha. Did he actually ever teach a single student in 12 years? Where are the Teaching Evaluations for the Legal Genius? The dude is a brilliant reader, but he can’t write a word on his own, much less speak without a script. Just like the Ole Gipper, a front man constructed by the far right. As John D. Rockefeller said, “The University of Chicago was the best investment I ever made.” … abo – anybody but obama.

  26. Deep Harm says:

    It is universally true, that there is praise for the whistleblower who is miles away, and contempt for the whistleblower in your own backyard.