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Archive for October, 2007

When he was asked about Mukasey’s refusal to condemn waterboarding as torture, CIA director Michael Hayden said that he would need to understand “the totality of the circumstances” before he could give an answer. So, how about these circumstances for you, Mike?

  1. Waterboarding is torture.
  2. When you torture someone, the victim will tell you anything you want to hear so that you will stop torturing them.
  3. So, all of the “valuable intelligence” you have gathered by torturing people is worthless, as was clearly demonstrated last week by the release of the unredacted Higazy decision.

That’s why torture is against the law- it causes great harm, without yielding any real benefits except a burgeoning public fear of those in power. Perhaps the circumstance that Mukasey and Hayden are worried about is this one: Americans are almost certainly guilty of participating in waterboarding sessions, if not other acts of torture, against the political prisoners we’re holding in Guantanamo and in the CIA secret prisons overseas. If Mukasey says “Waterboarding is torture,” all of those CIA guys who have been doing their torture jobs like happy little Eichmanns are suddenly going to have a whole lot more to think about.

The only way to purge this stain from the American soul will be to have open and public war crimes trials of all the government figures who were involved in the decision to torture prisoners. The trials should end with Dick Cheney and David Addington and Alberto Gonzales and Michael Hayden, but they must begin with the individual soldiers on the ground. So forget Dick Cheney for the moment. For good or ill, those soldiers are the people that Mukasey is trying to protect.

So if you are one of those soldiers, your course of action is clear: if you have been engaged in waterboarding, you should stop now, because Mukasey’s refusal to condemn it is prima facie evidence that it is illegal.  And you should come out from behind the sordid protection of a complicit administration, and admit that what you did was an illegal violation of human rights.  And you should call Patrick Leahy or Sheldon Whitehouse and offer to testify against the superior officer who ordered you to do it.

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Expert testimony is expensive. Putting a post up on a website is cheap. When your opponents have insufficient evidence and their experts are a bunch of charlatains, it can be very helpful to have an active community of highly intelligent people who share a personal interest in seeing you win your case.

If you were representing Ms. Lindor, or were a technical expert, what else would you want to see? Remember that this is for discovery, and what he wants to request is *documents*. Look over what has already been produced, and then ask yourself if there are any other likely documents that could be helpful. Be specific, and don’t assume he’ll “just know”. All the documents in the UMG v. Lindor case that are public are here. It’s a New York case, filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of NY.

This is the midgame that results from the animus that the record companies have engendered by indiscriminately suing their customer base. The market has changed. People will continue to share digital music with each other, for free, without any regard for whether or not such sharing is permitted by copyright law. Like Tim Wu pointed out in Slate (discussed previously here)- if you can’t or won’t enforce the laws, then the laws effectively just don’t exist.

The internet can be a great force for social change when it is used to help like-minded people work together. Groklaw is the forum that tracked the whole SCO v. IBM series of lawsuits about Linux. It’s also the forum that started me thinking about going to law school. I know you can’t win ’em all, but I do feel obligated to point out that the zeitgeist at Groklaw was predicting SCO’s bankruptcy as a result of their specious legal actions as early as July 2003- a full four years before the courts got around to dismissing all of the claims in their complaint.  And full disclosure- I made a couple hundred dollars on a naked short of SCO’s stock in the summer after the lawsuits were announced, as the price of SCOX fell from the mid-20s to under $5.

The breakthrough value that led to Groklaw’s popularity was that it gave tech people and lawyers a place to interface without having to filter everything they say through the idiot MBAs that infest American business culture.  (more…)

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And since it is torture, all of those in the Administration who knew of or facilitated its use are guilty of war crimes. Still unsure? Perhaps you should read this:

Waterboarding is a controlled drowning that, in the American model, occurs under the watch of a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a trained strap-in/strap-out team. It does not simulate drowning, as the lungs are actually filling with water. There is no way to simulate that. The victim is drowning. . . .
Waterboarding is slow motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of black out and expiration –usually the person goes into hysterics on the board. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch and if it goes wrong, it can lead straight to terminal hypoxia. When done right it is controlled death. Its lack of physical scarring allows the victim to recover and be threaten with its use again and again.

This is what our President has ordered our troops to do. This is what his last Attorney General and his current AG nominee are unwilling to condemn. And this is the reason that the Senate must not confirm Mukasey– if he is unwilling to face reality, he is unfit to hold the office.

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If OPEC moves off the dollar standard, October 1987 is going to look like a walk in the park.

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Is right here at the next hurrah.  And EW makes it very clear that the telecoms who cooperated with the wiretapping program broke the law, and that they must have known at the time that they were breaking the law.  Instead of forgiving them, we should demand that they suffer the consequences.

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A whole bunch of stuff came out last night that I don’t have time to write about this morning, so I’m going to post a linkfest.

Gonzales resigned because more lies wouldn’t keep him out of jail, by Dahlia Litwick at Slate.

The House of Reps has enough votes to hold Harriet Miers in criminal contempt of Congress for violating a subpoena, by John Bresnahan at The Politico.  (Of course with a corrupt DOJ and a complicit US Attorney for DC, such a vote would beg the question,  “So what?” The House doesn’t have any say in whether or how the DOJ prosecutes cases.)

In another test of checks-and-balances, an (Article III) federal court may order the White House to preserve, or even to produce, email that they have been claiming was “lost” as an excuse for not delivering it in response to various subpoenas.

And Adam Cohen at the NYT lifts the lid on the cesspool of a deal that bought former US Attorney Deborah Yang from the DOJ for a $1.5 million signing bonus.  What really stinks about this one is that she was in charge of prosecuting Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-CA)… and then she went to work for the firm which is defending him.  She and the firm have made public statements that she’s not involved with the defense in any way.  Riiiiiight.

And finally, oil hits a new high ($92), and the dollar hits a new low.

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And about time too.  Sure would be nice if someone with the power to launch an impeachment was paying attention.  Raw Story has the video.

Matthews asked Plame how, if she believed the Bush administration had covered up a “false case for war,” that she didn’t also anticipate that the White House would strike back at her personally.

“Call me naive,” she said, “but that wasn’t on our list of options…we didn’t actually consider they would betray our country’s national security to get at me.”

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