Obama To Git-Mo Better Military Tribunals

graphic by twolf

graphic by twolf

The GOP squeals and Obama greases their detainee wheel. On May 1st, the New York Times warned that President Obama was contemplating reinstating the tyrannical Bush/Cheney military tribunals for Gitmo detainees.

Yes, the same Barack Obama that forcefully pronounced to the American public during the election:

By any measure our system of trying detainees has been an enormous failure,

Not to mention declaring that as President he would:

reject the Military Commissions Act.

That was then, this is now. And now, today, it is seems nearly confirmed that military commissions will be back. From Peter Finn at the Washington Post:

The Obama administration is preparing to revive the system of military commissions established at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, under new rules that would offer terrorism suspects greater legal protections, government officials said.

The rules would block the use of evidence obtained from coercive interrogations, tighten the admissibility of hearsay testimony and allow detainees greater freedom to choose their attorneys, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Officials said yesterday that the Obama administration will seek a 90-day extension of the suspension as early as next week. It would subsequently restart the commissions on American soil, probably at military bases, according to a lawyer briefed on the plan.

To be clear, the Administration indicates that Obama has not given the final sign off on the plan, and the ACLU has already sworn to fight any such plan. One thing is for certain, however, Obama is not contemplating this move in order to give the detainees so tried the equivalent level of due process and justice that would be afforded by American courts, else he would simply use American courts as he stated was his intention while campaigning for votes.

No, you can safely bet that the idea is to use evidence and restrict rights in order to obtain convictions and severity of sentences that would be less likely with traditional due process and fundamental fairness. Not that the original iteration of the tribunals produced particularly good results as a mere three convictions have been produced out of a known total of 779 detainees since the inception of Gitmo. One area clearly in play to obtain the desired easier convictions under Obama’s tribunals would be allowance of hearsay evidence:

Under the administration’s rule changes, hearsay evidence would be admissible if a judge determines it is reliable, officials said. That provision would allow the government to introduce some intelligence material that would ordinarily be barred in federal court or military courts martial, the officials said.

Really there are two forces at work here, the desire to make easier the prosecution of the remaining detainees whose cases are problematic and filled with pratfalls because of the torture and rendition programs, and the desire to appease the right wing shrieking howlers that are apoplectic over the thought of actually trying criminals in American courts. It is easy to see that these twin forces are making it hard for Obama to stick to the rational morality of his campaign positions and promises; what is not understandable is why he feels he must shunt his ideals and promises aside.

First off, the goal of any appropriate prosecution, whether criminal, quasi-criminal or other, is to provide a fair and just trial with due process, to protect the innocent and convict the guilty, and to provide a transparent forum so that the public as a whole can see that justice is being served and done. That is most definitely not what this plan is about. Although clearly the Obama Administration has sought to make some improvements around the edges, it is still nothing but lipstick on the Bush pig. Let’s look at some of the problem areas:

The rules would "block the use of evidence obtained from coercive interrogations". All evidence from coercive interrogations or just some evidence from coercive interrogations? Will the ban be on any coerced statements and fruits thereof, or only those that came from that particular defendant? Will coerced statements from others be allowed, and if so to what degree? What about the fruit of coercion? Once you have tortured an individual, how do you not term any information obtained while he is still detained subsequent to that torture to not be the product of coercion? The reliance on "clean teams" and/or regular interrogators subsequent to torture to sanitize the proceedings is a joke. It is crystal clear that the Obama Administration is desirous of sliding in a lot of evidence this way, it is why they have fallen back onto the tribunals.

The rules would "tighten the admissibility of hearsay testimony". Well, as stated above, this is not the case in the least; in fact, the rules are specifically designed to allow for wide ranging admissibility of hearsay. Again, that is the whole purpose here. The use of "hearsay" here is going to be designed to protect sources and means, conceal identities of the agents of torture and rendition and allow for selective use of classified information without challenge. In short it is nothing but a scam to deny the defendant the opportunity to confront and cross-examine his accusers and the evidence propounded against him; the very principle that is the bedrock of minimal due process and fundamental fairness.

The rules would "allow detainees greater freedom to choose their attorneys". You’ve got to be kidding me. Seriously? What a load of dung. The Obama Administration has proved themselves every bit as obstreperous in relation to allowing effective assistance of acceptable counsel to the detainees as the Bush/Cheney crew was, witness the dogged determination to remove Kuebler in the Khadr case. How, pray tell, are detainees that have been locked up in the hell hole of Guantanamo for five plus years, tortured, isolated, feared up, egoed down, repeatedly told that any lawyer they speak to is an imperial American spy out to get them etc. going to meaningfully participate in obtaining counsel of their choice? And that is before you get to the fact that the US government has extremely narrow acceptability criteria for attorneys that are even able to be contemplated for participation in the tribunals. Quite frankly, the cynic would presume that this is simply Orwellian cover for prejudicing detainees by reshuffling some of the attorneys, military lawyers and JAG types that have proved to be a remarkable thorn in the side of the American government’s plans for convenient justice. And said cynic would almost certainly be right.

So, to wind this toward a conclusion, this Obama gussied up swine of military commissions is a pig that ain’t gonna fly. It is a patina of change on that which is not. And it is a sham; because there is no need for it, traditional criminal courts are situated to handle these matters just fine once you get past the Republican hysterical shrieking. Traditional courts have handled Zacharias Moussaoui, Jose Padilla, the Blind Sheik Abdel-Rahman, John Walker Lindh and numerous others. Criminal courts have the CIPA process to deal with classified information in a professional and equitable manner. Have there been errors and problems in some of the cases to date; yes, absolutely, but almost all were the fault of malicious and unethical prosecutors, not the inability of the system to handle the matters. Lastly, traditional courts have at least the appearance of neutrality, a concept that simply is absent in the tribunals run by the American military out of the Pentagon.

The bottom line is that no matter how you shine it up, military tribunals are wrong, convey the wrong message to the rest of the world and are nothing but a lazy dodge by an American government complicit in an eight year litany of wrongful acts. President Obama should stop the madness right here and now, try the detainees in a just system for the world to see and start reclaiming the high ground.

99 replies
  1. BoxTurtle says:

    If the ACLU’s suit works, it’s all going to fall back into regular court anyway. So this is either a delaying tactic to buy them 3 years or so or they think they can beat the ACLU.

    Obama is a lawyer. He should know better than this. Hrrumph. Remember, I’ve always said at the end of the day he’s a Chicago politician.

    I’m betting that Obamas endgame consists of calling these folk POWs, giving the rights of POWs, and saying they will be released as soon as the war on terror is over.

    Boxturtle (Meaning they’ll all be buried in Cuba)

    • quake says:

      Remember, I’ve always said at the end of the day he’s a Chicago politician.

      At the beginning of the day he’s a Chicago pol too. At some point (we’ve probably already gone past it) being someone other than GWB isn’t enough.

      • SparklestheIguana says:

        I live in Chicago, and let me assure you, he is not like any other Chicago pol.

        • quake says:

          How do you mean that? Abe Lincoln was a downstate Illinois pol (who could survive in the rough and tumble), but he also had a dimension of vision lacking in most of his contemporaries in Illinois politics. Is that what you mean about Obama?

          For me I like what he says but am a bit unhappy with what he does (Aye on FISA immunity, handouts for banksters while stiffing everyone else, the military commissions outrage reported by Bmaz in this post…..).

          • SparklestheIguana says:

            I wasn’t thinking back as far as Lincoln. I mean Obama is not the typical cigar-smoking back room wheeling-dealing pol handing out patronage jobs and contracts to his uncles, aunts, cousins, stepsons, buddies, etc. He will form alliances if necessary to get things done, and get himself where he wants to go, but there’s a line he won’t cross and it’s that sleazy pol line. As Obama’s friend Judge Abner Mikva said about him, “Purists usually end up dying pure but without many accomplishments. True reformers learn how to build coalitions.” Obama’s a reformer but not a purist. I don’t consider Chicago pols to be reformers. They want the system to stay exactly the way it is so they can continue to profit from it.

  2. Jeff Kaye says:

    Excellent article, bmaz, and a gauntlet thrown down to the Obama administration and the Pentagon. Your points about cleaning up the torture to provide a later, “clean” interrogation for use in prosecution reminds me of Binyam Mohamed’s interview with the Daily Mail only two months ago (it already seems like an eternity):

    [Binyam Mohamed] reached Guantanamo in September 2004.

    There, the interrogations continued but there had been another shift.

    He says: ‘They said they were worried I would tell the court that I had only confessed through torture. They said now they needed me to say it freely.

    ‘We called them the clean team, they wanted to say they had got this stuff from a clean interrogation.’

    I don’t think, however, that the resurrection of the military commissions is a manifestation of laziness on Obama’s part. Nor is it a failure of leadership, per se, as behindthefall suggests above. The MCs are a constituent part of the torture program which, even now, is not dismantled, and continues in somewhat attenuated form. It is also part of the cover-up of the previous torture program, allowing for the use of torture evidence without the political explosion that would take place by having to release or acquit “terrorists” (really “accused terrorists,” but who cavils about such things in our modern America anymore?) because the evidence was tainted by torture, and therefore inadmissible.

    All signs point to the fact that when it comes to national security and military matters, Obama is compliant to the wishes of the Pentagon, that he has no real policy of his own. For that matter, has Obama ever rejected the Bush-era 2002 document, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, which famously put forth the current U.S. doctrine of pre-emptive war and world U.S. military supremacy? If he did, I missed it somehow. But then, there is a “process”:

    By law, Obama is required to submit a comprehensive national security strategy report within 150 days of taking office. A Defense Department briefing slide reviewed by Inside the Pentagon suggests the new team might develop high-level planning guidance next spring, followed by a new national security strategy next summer. In early 2010, the Obama team’s first QDR report would be issued, along with a National Defense Strategy and National Military Strategy, according to the slide.

    If the proposal for MCs hangs true, then I think we are getting some idea of what the new National Security Strategy report will look like, and I don’t expect a big difference from what we have seen.

    Ten-dimensional chess, anyone?

    • Mary says:

      EPU’d, but I think this:

      The MCs are a constituent part of the torture program which, even now, is not dismantled, and continues in somewhat attenuated form. It is also part of the cover-up of the previous torture program, allowing for the use of torture evidence without the political explosion that would take place by having to release or acquit “terrorists” (really “accused terrorists,” but who cavils about such things in our modern America anymore?) because the evidence was tainted by torture, and therefore inadmissible.

      is very much on point.

      From the FBI report (pdf link here to one chapter of it only) on FBI roles in the program, Chertoff (yes, Chertoff) supposedly told FBI/DOJ when he was head of Crim Div that you couldn’t “cleanse” coercion with later clean teams.

      Chertoff told us he oculd not recall specific conversations about Zubaydah, but he did generally recall discussions about whether the FBI could preserve the admissibility of detainee statements by interviewing detainees some period after other agencies had completed their interrogations using non-FBI techniques. Chertoff also told us that he did not think this approach would successfully prevent the statement from being “tainted” by any prior enhanced interrogation techniques.

      This is in a now-public FBI review document. Even so, in 2006 FBI went on with a “clean team” approach. I guess Obama feels that a “clean up” that even someone like Chertoff won’t endorse for a real court is fine for a Presidentially convened, Congressionally blessed, military commission. The GITMO detainees we sent to Spain did end up walking because of their torture, but what is going to happen if KSM walks? Think of the position that a US judge would be placed in to make that ruling. Well, we don’t really. We had the related issue of Padilla and his ability to participate in his defense after years of abuse and US courts had no problem with it. We had the issue of coercive interrogations, masked men certified in torture appearing before a court that had no jurisdiction over them to punish them for perjury showing up to offer testimony on the “clean” nature of confessions in the Saleh case and courts had no problemw ith that. We had the coerced statements of Zubaydah and Mohamed in the Padilla case and the lack of access to torture witnesses in Moussaoui’s case and the courts ahd no problem with that.

      The only way to address any of this is head on, with the truth, and that’s what Obama won’t do. The only thing I can say is that in some ways a military judge who might make rulings on the admissibility of information might be more “protected” from political and domestic fall out, but the corollary is that if a military commission is excluding evidence for coercion (if it happened, as opposed to just getting a stacked result) that commission is also by definition saying that there were war crimes committed but that it won’t be able to address.

      • bmaz says:

        Yep. The issue of coerced statements, and evidence derived therefrom, has a strange negative duality about it. At this point, the posturing of the government about not using it is far more out of concern for the doors of cross-examination and prosecutions against them that they cannot fathom than it is fairness to the detainee’s rights to have an ethical prosecution conducted. The shift back to tribunals has everything to do with stanching the exploding exposure of the torture regime and pretty much nothing to do with fear of the detainees, due process or prosecution ethics.

  3. Funnydiva2002 says:


    Thanks for staying on this, disgusting as it is.

    Once again, I feel that I’ve been had, in the worst possible way, by this (now) President and his pretty words. Mr President, talk is cheap and as articulate and skilful an orator as you are, as shiny as the veneer of thoughtfulness and empathy is, your words are proving just as worthless as those of your immediate predecessor. The same old bull-crap in a fancier sack still stinks.

    It doesn’t help at all that none of the other alternatives in the last presidential contest would have been any better, or that McCain/Palin would have been much worse. I expected better of the man I so proudly and hopefully voted for.


  4. skdadl says:

    Quite frankly, the cynic would presume that this is simply Orwellian cover for prejudicing detainees by reshuffling some of the attorneys, military lawyers and JAG types that have proved to be a remarkable thorn in the side of the American government’s plans for convenient justice. And said cynic would almost certainly be right.

    I’m not a cynic, but that’s pretty much what I would say. It’s the non-profane part of what I would say.

  5. TheraP says:

    Clean interrogations after torture? Think again!

    JPRA-Memo (25 July, 02), paragraph 4:

    Once any means of duress has been purposefully applied to the prisoner, the formerly cooperative relationship can not be reestablished.

  6. phred says:

    A couple of years ago I put the first and only bumper sticker on my car. It says simply, “IMPEACH”. I have been waiting for Obama to give me a reason to take it off. It appears I will have a long wait.

    • Petrocelli says:

      That was you ?!!

      Sorry, I meant to leave a note on your windshield about that dent … *g*

      • phred says:

        Good thing you didn’t I was pretty p.o.’ed about that dent ; )

        By the way, glad to see you turn up… You didn’t happen to go see a certain movie that opened this weekend, did you???

        • bmaz says:

          We are going to see it at an IMAX theater tomorrow. You gotta love a wife that thinks that is an appropriate Mother’s Day venture!

          • phred says:

            Ya got keeper there bmaz! I won’t say a thing, not a thing, except to say… Have fun!!! (saw it last night… : )

            • Petrocelli says:

              How was it ?

              I’m kinda sensitive about someone else playing Kirk besides that great over actor and fellow Canuck, William Alan Shatner.

                  • newtonusr says:

                    Not an uncommon sentiment when it comes to the Shat. You either love him or hate him, or you laugh out loud every time you see his mug and are completely indifferent to his gifts.

                    Personally, I am fond of his commercial work.

              • PJEvans says:

                I’m trying to figure out why they’re taking ten or fifteen years off McCoy’s age. (The older I get, the more interesting he looks.) I can see the (very?) young Spock in this one becoming the older one from the original, though.

                Why, yes, I’m a true believer. I want starships!

          • phred says:

            Ummm, safe to say if it had (after what 40 years?!?) you might not have swooned as in the old days ; )

            I’m not going to say anything other than I loved it : ) I really didn’t expect to, I figured that I would hate it (pretty much for the same reason you suggest, who can really step into the shoes of the originals?!?), but by the end I was grinning from ear to ear. If you see it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did : )

            • barbara says:

              ooh, ooh, ooh! My kiddos are taking me to see Movie Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken tomorrow. Looking forward to it. Just tell me this one thing. Are the boulders still cheesy? Okay, two things. Are the Tribbles still adorable?

              • phred says:

                Ooooo, I so want to answer that, but I just can’t. I went into the movie without knowing a thing about it and I totally loved it. I don’t want to spoil any of it… Have fun!

            • Petrocelli says:

              You obviously have nevvuh heard of Talos IV, where Jeri Lynn Mooney resides in her eternal youth !

              I’m cummin’, Jeri Lynn, just as soon as Mr. Scott can replace those blasted DiLithium Crystals !

              bmaz, you have a treasure … the only way to get my wife to see teh Movie Whose Name Cannot Be Spoken would be to set my Phaser on Stun.

  7. PJEvans says:

    I’d like to know who’s telling him what about the various detainees, because I don’t think they’re on our side. (They sound like GOoPers to me. Or those ‘moderate’ and ‘centrist’ Dems who never say yes unless it’s been approved by the Rs.)

  8. JohnLopresti says:

    Here’s something I think Obama can do. It flies in the visage of the turkies who instituted the illicit plan to torcha offshore. Ever read some of CRosenberg’s accounts of how much time it takes to book a ticket and schedule a visit to Gtmo, asked rhetorically here. What O can do is bring it onshore. His smart opponents will have to face free speech in the US. Where is even one poster depicting opposition to the CSRTkangaRoo located where it is currently? viz., in what the treaty of lease specifies was a fueling station a concept conceived to serve US sphere of influence activities in the Caribbean in the aftermath of the SpanishAmericanWar. Check the YaleAvalon project for copies of the treaty. I think, as long as the Republicans block nominations they believe they own the process, seeking to sandwich O between the timeline he specified in his early first month in office ExecutiveOrder to close the illicitly located Gtmo, and the still knotted disposition of the torcha victims. If there are onshore tribunals, they should include ombudspersons from the field of psychiatry, not simply psychology; and the analyses should examine both the individuals who served as the torturer and their respective known victim. There is little doubt much of the evidence will remain too tainted for US law to admit, but a psychiatric profile includes the physiologic as well as neurologic elements of human composition. No more redacted reports to protect the public from the vivisecting details. These tribunals need to integrate the other concepts congress is evaluating, namely, examining the sausagemaking of the policy, including listening to the folks who designed and agitated for torcha as new US policy. There is an analogous strain of time visible in the recent DC appeals court review of Rasul consolidated opinion remanded from Scotus. Scotus had said Boumediene standards needed to apply; the way the DC appeals opinion on review sounded when published finally April 24 2009 was characterized succinctly as an exercise in absurdity, in this Center for Constitutional Rights press release issued the same day, April 24 2009: CCR summarized it, ‘these folks were not torchad because they are not ‘humans’, as the legal standard for torturing humans became accepted caselaw AFTER these prisioners were torchad. CCR’s online dossier of court documents remains somewhat behind current developments even though their press releases are current at the site; Google or ur favorite searchTool will locate the relevant papers quickly. O is good at stating simply and acting with the available energies built into his office. He can formulate this kangaroo better. Bring it onshore. The presidency controls foreign policy. If there are residual Bushniks obstructing a more salubrious outcome, fire them. Nominate some people who are more in the solid tradition of US military policy. Letting the corruption which is torcha infiltrate military law is only an invitation to some of its proponents to go study how to fix voting machines in three-plus years.

  9. Rayne says:

    OT — readerofTealLeaves, am almost ready to send you a couple of emails.

    TheraP, I need a confirm of your email addy to send you the same emails for the purposes of the collaborative media monitoring project. You can reach me at rayne_today [at] yahoo if you’re still game to participate.

    klynn — any chance you’re out there? have a rather interesting line of inquiry for you regarding appropriations since you’re digging through those. You can drop me a note at the same email addy above if you’re interested.

    • TheraP says:

      Just seeing this. Will send. Also readerofTeaLeaves should have my email. I sent an email this am – as bmaz forwarded to me.

      Will do. Right now! Count me in!

      • Rayne says:

        Thanks, you and readerofTeaLeaves should both have a couple of things waiting for you in your email box.

        Spokane61 (25) — the frustration for all of us who’ve been fighting so long and hard is quite palpable (witness zeabow’s nearly irrational rage in this thread for example).

        But consider that the first African American president has challenges of a nature which other presidents regardless of party affiliation must face in trying to do their job. This is a point of real frustration for me as a person of mixed race, that so many people forget we are up against an opponent which thought nothing at all of killing innocent people, at close range in interrogations, and at a distance with bombs, and likely people in between. These are people who believe we out here are all “touchable” and expendable, and they can surely find a way to make an annoying leader a non-threat as they have already with members of Congress.

        Much of the work which needs to be done is not and cannot be done — or at least LAUNCHED — by Obama and his administration. It will need to be done by others, and it may very well look like we are dragging them to the solutions and to justice.

        So be it. The last eight years were excellent training, and now it’s time to put the learnings to use.

        Surely if you have followed emptywheel’s research and blogging you are aware there is much that even members of Congress do not know, much which the so-called media doesn’t know or misses, and it’s only with dogged personal determination as a citizen that the truth has slowly emerged.

        We have much more to do. MUCH, much more. Speaking from personal experience, I am only now beginning to make connections on matters which I have been researching for three years, matters which I am certain members of Congress and media are still completely unaware. The same goes for a number of other bloggers who work on investigative reporting; we are beginning to put together the pieces which may not only make it easier to investigate at federal level, but may make it a necessity once the information has been publicized. We’re talking about volumes of information the size of books, all of which may need to be released over the next year in order to make real traction.

        It’s going to be up to us to defend our own democracy, and we don’t even have to risk as much as our Revolutionary forefathers did. Put your shoulder to the wheel if you want it badly.

    • phred says:

      Thanks for that link bmaz. What an excellent op-ed. That is patriotism at its finest. I hope it shames Obama into doing the right thing: give America a chance to play to its greatest strength – the application of the rule of law in our nation’s courts. That would be a proud day for all of us.

      Reinstituting the kangaroo courts? Now that would be a travesty that would shame us all. It disgusts me that Obama is even considering it.

  10. Spokane61 says:

    Why am I, or any of us surprised? The O team says they will close Gitmo, but in a year or so. They say they will

    stop renditions, maybe, sort of, mostly. They go to court and out-Bush Bush’s team claiming Sovereign immunity

    to keep people from getting a hearing even in a civil matter. They throw out the prosecution of the guilty crook

    from Alaska but don’t lift a hand for the innocent Seigleman. They keep on spying on Americans. They give

    trillions to the bankers but won’t stop the foreclosures. They give every insurance company a seat at the table but

    exclude all single payer representatives.

    When the Bush team acted like this we were howling for impeachment. How much slack are we supposed to cut

    O? He’s new and can’t do everything at once? It looks like he has found time enough to make some pretty bad

    decisions up to this point, where are the signs that he is going to do better as he goes along?

    • zeabow says:

      The biggest surprise is that there are people that are still surprised. They are people that have either “obamatized” their brains or they listen only to his speeches and never substantiate that he actually does what he says.

      The pope of hope is nothing more than the head pr man for the establishment. He’s a fraud.


      • newtonusr says:

        While the bigger things weigh heavily on his record, and on the nation, tell it to the Lily Ledbetters, and the folks who will benefit from stem-cell research.

        I hesitate to defend Obama, as he is a grave disappointment, but he is not George Bush, and he is not John McCain. He is the in-between (Truman & Bush) we knew we were getting.

        • zeabow says:

          Wow! I guess we are applying a “no president left behind” standard and comparing him to a baseline of the abominable bush … the worst president in our nation’s history.

          Way to hold the head pr man for the establishment accountable!


          • newtonusr says:

            Your bait is weak. Shoveling more coal on an already glowing fire is overkill.

            What are you prepared to do to drive this President to uphold the good name of his office? What are you prepared to do besides shout until red-faced? Because if you have no plan, no initiative, no intention of making it a better government, you are lost space.

            Come up with something to do instead of trolling for folks to bleed on. Otherwise, you are useless, to us and to your nation.

  11. tjbs says:

    We have to insist on Nuremburg 2.0 nothing less.
    Just read somewhere the detainees have more of a need for a nursing home over prisons. Just like little george said the’re not a threat anymore ,because i DECIDED destroyed their humanity.

    NO MORE FUCKING WAR . A torture/ murder /Treason discussion is a diversion away from the $72 billion rape coming this week to fund more rich war profiteers lifestyle, that’s what this this about

  12. Jkat says:

    thanks bm azz .. very well put .. i’m as perplexed as you are .. we already know the military tribunal system is totally screwed up .. so why are we back-pedaling to a position we know is untenable ..as well as indefensible ..just to stop the howling of the neanderthals and WATB’s on the right ..

    i’m doing my best to maintain a little hope and a small bit of faith in obama .. but he’s not making it easy to do so ..

    the fisa massacre .. the continuation of bushco “state secrets” positions .. the lack of commitment to investigate and prosecute murder-by-interrogation .. sheesh ..

    it truly sucks at times ..

    • TarheelDem says:

      The president has not made a decision. The information is sourced from anonymous “officials”. Maybe these same officials want to box him in with press pressure.

      I am beginning to get a little skeptical about these “inside” press reports that are surfacing the weekend Cheney gets a full show with Bob Schieffer.

      Smelling a little railroad building going on. And it isn’t supertrains.

      Guess we’ll know next week whether it is a railroad or a balloon. And watch for some “surprise” questions on the talkers tomorrow.

  13. zeabow says:

    I just want to inform some of you idiots that only listen to your hero’s words just how dumb U R … and how complicit U R in your hero’s corruption. Here’s an example of how fucking deceitful the pope of hope is … and how stupid U R. Remember those aig bonuses that obama said he’d do everything in his power to recoup? Do U remember how he said that he backed the tax to get the bonuses back, Well once the furor died down and the soundbites and headlines were no longer to be exploited, he withdrew his support for that tax and it never got done. I’ll bet U did not know that it was all a little show just 4 your dumbasses’ consumption.

    And he’s counting on your continued idiocy to get away with serving the establishment while you cheer him on like the fools that you are. That’s leadership U fucking morons choose to believe in.


        • bmaz says:

          Fine. But here’s the thing, your next antagonistic or petulant outburst will be your last. So, you want to keep being a butthead and disappear from here or behave?

          I regret having to says such things to people. But not that much, especially when, like you, they are adding nothing but vitriol.

          • zeabow says:

            Listen dude, if U really want 2 threaten me by trying 2 give me a time-out or throwing me off the board becoz I won’t acquiesce to your commands … go ahead … big deal. Have an ego boost on me.


            • bmaz says:

              What the hell is wrong with you? I have been nothing but polite to you. All I have asked is that you not be antagonistic to people for no reason. It really is not too much too ask. Yet here you are. Should you get bounced, it will all be on your insistence on being as antagonistic, not on my ego.

              • zeabow says:

                All right, dude. U R right, I was out of hand. I’m just frustrated and pissed off. I shouldn’t post when I feel this way.

                Have a good weekend.


                • bmaz says:

                  And you have a good weekend too. And you are welcome here anytime; you don’t even have to be nice, you just can’t be mean spirited. Take it easy.

                • greenwarrior says:

                  thanks for that.

                  some of us knew before the general election that this was not all going to be pretty. he did vote for fisa and he was up on the hill beating the tom toms for the accountabilityless bailout. and that was before the general election. lots of us are frustrated too and not just looking at the excellent orations.

                  for my part, the most inspiring words on this thread so far have been rayne’s last paragraph @33. it’s up to us. to paraphrase jacques cousteau, we must do what we can.

                    • Rayne says:

                      Thanks much, you and greenwarrior both.

                      In 2003 I really thought this was going to be easy, plunged headlong into local political activism. I have the scars and even now fresh scabs to prove it’s not. Cannot emphasize enough that politics is really multi-dimensional chess played full-body contact. It is SOOOOO much more complicated and challenging than I ever guessed prior to becoming a political activist.

                      It can even be worse; I have a close friend who ran for office this last election and was brutally savaged by anti-gay advertising, the kind of advertising which would make any decent human vomit to hear. They lost in no small part because of this last minute attack played over and over again on AM radio stations, the ones which carry Rush. They aren’t ready to run for office again because of this, which means we may have lost one of the very best progressives we could have from my state, having run a race which all other Dems point to as the perfect campaign. And in spite of the perfect campaign the beasts still came after this person with the ugliest of knives.

                      Obama managed to get past this kind of savagery, but at a price. And they continue to demand a price every day. The only thing which will prevent his slide towards the dark side is the same thing that might have saved my friend’s political career as an elected official: a substantive body of citizens who push back and fight for what is right.

                      Really, if American voters were all thoughtful, generous straight arrows, we’d have had a Gore presidency, or a Kucinich presidency (and my friend would now be serving the public as an elected official). But the truth is ugly — too many of our fellow citizens aren’t capable of thoughtfulness required of a real democracy and are instead driven by hate and fear and easily co-opted for this reason. Until this dynamic changes, it’s up to each and every one of us.

              • bobschacht says:

                Oops. Strikeout not available in “edit,” but deleting works. I wrote too soon.
                Felicitations, and a medal for bmaz for patience.

                Bob in HI

    • SparklestheIguana says:

      Yes, we know that 90% tax on AIG bonuses did not become law, which is a GOOD thing. It was a horrendous, punitive, knee-jerk bill that would have punished a lot of innocent people along with the guilty – and it would not have been an appropriate tax for the guilty anyway, and it may have been unconstitutional.

      However, I take issue with the forms of discipline being threatened by the schoolmarms here. I don’t care if someone calls me an idiot, I often enjoy it, and I think everyone should be welcome to state their point of view. I don’t care if someone is being “troll”-ish. Seriously, why are people on blogs so threatened by “trolls?” I’ve never seen such fretting and twisting of pearls.

      • zeabow says:

        I wasn’t really trolling … I don’t troll … at least not on purpose. I was just venting for the most part.

        As far as the tax was concerned, it was a draconian solution, but the fact is is that obama was for it at first when the public fury was intense and then later pulled away from it after the heat and the headlines died down. This is a pattern of behavior for him to play the public like this and this administration is all too often directed towards managing public opinion, while they serve big money interests just as the republicans do, rather than serving the public. This is why the dem’s … the dlc dem’s … dc master of deceit, emanuel, was brought aboard IMO. This is what he specializes in: deceit.

        I am not surprised by this deceit and this fealty to big money interests by team obama becoz I am completely non-partisan and am fed up with both parties although the republicans are definitely worse than the democrats. But I am disgusted with people that continue to put party over principle. Yes, the republicans are worse. Yes, obama is much better than bush … for God’s sake … but that’s not good enough and we shouldn’t back politicians becoz they are a member of “our” team becoz the fact of the matter is is that we don’t have any team … we are not represented.

        And for someone like myself who does not look at matters along party lines it is very frustrating watching the democrats get played just like the republicans did and observing this dynamic play out … once again … that keeps us at each other’s throats rather than united against our enemy: the federal government. And it is indeed our enemy.

        Mind you, not that I, with my rants, did much to raise the level of discourse today. Ranting here is sort of like preaching to the choir to some extent becoz most of the people here are as pissed as I am over the dynamic and obama’s sellouts and broken promises … although they are admittedly more eloquent about it than I. But I am frustrated becoz I don’t have much control over the situation right now since I possess no critical mass and there is little movement towards starting the hard work that will be required to form a desperately needed third party that is essential, IMO, to breaking this two-party trap.

        But I do have a plan though … a peaceful one … to effectuate change which I have put a lot of work into and will continue working on. And it’s probably much better for me to expend my time and energy towards that than somewhat mindlessly ranting here on this board.


        • SparklestheIguana says:

          As far as the tax was concerned, it was a draconian solution, but the fact is is that obama was for it at first when the public fury was intense and then later pulled away from it after the heat and the headlines died down.

          No, I’m pretty sure Obama was never for the 90% tax on income over $250,000. He expressed general outrage, yes.

          And the federal government being our enemy, hmmm…I smell Ronald Reagan.

        • bmaz says:

          For what it’s worth, I agree with you on the tax that was proposed in a typical knee jerk fashion by Congress on the Bankster bonuses. Hated the bonuses being issued in the face of the, for lack of a better term, bailouts too, but thought there were better ways to address the issue than the tax. Was a horrid precedent to try to set.

  14. bobschacht says:


    Lest we get modern myopia, there was an excellent segment today on NPR’s This American Life:

    Act Three. French Kiss.

    This American Life contributing editor Sarah Vowell tells the story of General Lafayette’s triumphant reunion with America after becoming really, really unpopular in his native France… (7 minutes)

    05.08.2009, Originally aired 07.01.2005

    You can’t just jump to Act 3; you have to click on the whole one hour show, and fast forward to about 48:00 (or was it 58:00?) into the show.
    I’ve heard Vowell’s stories before, but this is one of her best. Her story line is really a fine piece of writing. Nothing I can summarize about it will prove that to you, but I was impressed. Remember that after participating in the American Revolution, Lafayette went back to France to a country in uproar, through Napoleon, through his own imprisonment, and into yet another French monarchy. Lafayette’s France just couldn’t seem to get it right. So he came back to America somewhat disillusioned, and was treated to a triumphal tour of all the states then in the Union. Vowell does a nice job of painting the historical context in her brief 7 minute story.

    Here’s my take. Our myopia of the moment has us running around like Chicken Little proclaiming OMG!!! Things are really bad! They’ve never been this bad before!!! George Bush was that Chicken Little, right after 9/11, and the Progressive Left has done a pretty good Chicken Little imitation for the past few years. I’m not saying that the sky is NOT falling; what I mean to say is that some historical perspective is beneficial in helping us deal with the dicey events of the present, because our past has thrown us some pretty dicey curves before. And the 1820s had some pretty dicey moments.

    Why is it that we often seem to need someone from France like Alexis de Tocqueville, or General Lafayette, to remind us of who we are, and to call out the best in us?

    Bob in HI

  15. greenwarrior says:

    somebody please give me a hint about what movie is being discussed. like, the name of the movie. else, how will i be able to go see it?

    oh, and military tribunals are an obamination. i hadn’t seen that. my first response when i saw your headline was “that bastard!”

    i await the results tonight of the city council and mayoral elections that i’ve been working on.

    • Petrocelli says:

      See which movie is winning the Box Office # 1 position this weekend.

      Live long and prosper !

      • greenwarrior says:

        from what all’s been said here and what i remember seeing on the front of the movie section of the paper today, why i do believe i’ve got it.

        early voting tabulated plus 4% of the vote today. looks like there may well be a run-off on the mayor’s race, but the rest looks good so far.

  16. rosalind says:

    fresh meat, freep! (but use your small words…it appears grammatically challenged)

  17. Petrocelli says:

    To some people, “Fuck you” is prolly the best idea they’ll ever have.

    Oh and about your comment @ 23 … more of that will get you a strongly worded letter, Sir ! *g*

    O’ course, it’ll also get your “Bottomless Beer Coupon” voided, should you ever come up here.

  18. JohnLopresti says:

    Alexandria VA is a nice old city. Durham NC has a vibrant youthful population. Newark, NJ, a blend of modern people. Kent OH is fairly near some large cities.

  19. Petrocelli says:

    We lurved the TV shows so much, even the reruns got high ratings (yes, even during Hockey Season). We were pretty ticked when it got canceled and were overjoyed when the movie was released.

    • newtonusr says:

      Ugh. go caps…
      I started with them before Kolzig was there.
      *tapping index inpatiently on hard wooden surface*

      • Petrocelli says:

        Jeebus … it’s Wooden ? *g*

        The real Hockey game is about to start … handing out some Rickard’s Red and Rickard’s White to all you great folks. Have a great weekend !

      • SparklestheIguana says:

        I go back to Clint Malarchuk, myself. Wow, that almost seems like 21 years ago.

  20. JohnLopresti says:

    Considering various venues other than Alexandria VA, I glanced at some cities in the Walter-,Patrick McLarran itinerary, only discovering Boston. Still, Alexandria seems somewhat ED VA.

  21. Loo Hoo. says:

    Schoolmarm is a really offensive term, btw. I’m sure they must exist because I’ve heard the term my entire life, but I’ve never met one in the flesh.

  22. freepatriot says:

    if it’s “scheduled maintenance”, shouldn’t the schedule be posted or something ???

    an what’s got the freepi all riled up ???

    Scuse me, gotta do a little business:

    hey ZEABOW, you decide to call anybody an idiot here again, and you’ll get to see me unmasked, an nothing can save you then; not logic, not appeasement, not contrition

    you been warned, dickweed

    as to current motion pictures under discussion, I thought that genre died out after Galaxy Quest (never give up, never surrender)

    with regard to Obama an Lincoln, did Chicago even exist when Lincoln was riding hte circuit in south Illinois ??? If so, I’ll bet they got a little better at corruption in Chicago since then (come on, somebody burned down half the town an blamed it on a fookin cow, they KNOW how to cover shit up in Chicago, but they didn’t learn it all in a day)

    and will somebody post a trash talking thread for all these fookin canadians. they’re speakin “hockey” or some shit. the french talkin stuff is bad enough, but “Hockey” ??? it’s an imaginary language or something. so we need to quarintine those hosers quick, before they infect some real Americans

  23. lysias says:

    What, exactly, is the objection to treating these people as POW’s (with the privileges guaranteed POW’s under the Geneva Conventions)? Maybe, in the best of all possible worlds, it would have been better to punish those few actually tied in with 9/11, but this ain’t the best of all possible worlds. The previous administration royally screwed up any chance of convicting these people in a court that allows due process.

    • Rayne says:

      The problem is and always has been that once they are accorded POW status, other people become liable for war crimes.

      You think a grizzly bear backed into a corner is ugly?

      Wait’ll Deadeye gets cornered; he has no pride, shows no mercy, takes no prisoners.

  24. maryinbelltown says:

    Barack Obama the candidate and legislator was never a progressive. Maybe he reads progressives, like Howard Zinn. I don’t know. His pals seem to be regular Democratic establishment folk. I like him for what he is and does well. I always wanted a progressive president, so I supported progressives who never won nominations. My congressman is a member of the progressive caucus. I’d rather have a 2-party system of establishment Dems vs. Progressive Dems.

  25. bmaz says:

    Mary In Belltown – Welcome. I do not recall seeing your name before, thanks for joining us. And I, and a lot here would agree with you statement.

  26. Leen says:

    Great post Bmaz. Thanks.

    “this Obama gussied up swine of military commissions is a pig that is not going to fly”

    Not even with Obama’s efforts/wish to “look forward, turn the page, move onto the next chapter” and all?

    Appears to be some repeating going on

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