Posts Tagged Holder
In arguing that Russia should send Edward Snowden back to the U.S. to face charges for exposing, from inside the NSA, a vast surveillance network on whole populations, Attorney General Eric Holder was in the ironic position of alleging that:
“I can report that the United States is prepared to provide to the Russian government the following assurances regarding the treatment Mr. Snowden would face upon return to the United States,” Holder wrote. “First, the United States would not seek the death penalty for Mr. Snowden should he return to the United States.” In addition, “Mr. Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States.”
Here are layers of irony, in brief:
1) Most countries in the world don’t have the death penalty, oppose it, and know the U.S. kills by far more people per per capita than any country, even including the countries which also use the death penalty.
So, for Holder to have to pledge that the U.S. won’t seek the death penalty for Snowden is quite an admission, but one masking the real horror of 1,340 killed since the 1976 when the U.S. Supreme Court made the death penalty legal again.
2) “Torture is unlawful in the United States,” says Holder, which shows you what the law is good for.
3). “Torture is unlawful in the United States,” says Holder, which is exactly why the Bush regime set up Guantanamo and a whole system of indefinite detention and torture outside U.S. borders.
Edward Snowden explained on June 10 that he knew what could happen at the hands of the U.S. and then elaborated on his knowledge of what had been done to Bradley Manning while in pre-trial custody, and before a huge outcry that forced the Obama administration to move him out of solitary confinement. We all fear for Snowden’s future, regardless of where he finds refuge, because as he said:
“You can’t come forward against the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies and be completely free from risk, because they’re such powerful adversaries that no one can meaningful oppose them. If they want to get you, they will get you in time.”
Here is someone who knows the risks, and chose to come forward so that the public could be informed about illegal surveillance by the U.S. government. In the process, over and over again, that same government must be exposed for illegitimate suppression of dissent and protest.
The Senate Intelligence Committee voted to send the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director to the full Senate, as we knew they would. After sparring with the Obama administration over how much information the Committee would be given on the U.S. drone program, they got some, though the public did not.
What the public got was a statement by Attorney General Holder, in response to an inquiry from Senator Paul of Kentucky which says that in an “entirely hypothetical” situation, the president could authorize the military to use lethal force within the U.S., presumably by drone. The Huffington Post reported that:
The Obama administration, Holder said, rejected the use of military force where “well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat.” But in theory, it’d be legal for the president to order such an attack under certain circumstances, Holder said.
Brennan answered Paul’s inquiry with a statement that the CIA, unequivocally, “does not conduct lethal operations within the United States, nor does it have any authority to do so.” Adam Serwer, in Mother Jones, reported:
Holder’s answer was more detailed, however, stating that under certain circumstances, the president would have the authority to order lethal attacks on American citizens. The two possible examples of such “extraordinary” circumstances were the attack on Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Which leaves the U.S. military, which specifically is now authorized to operate in the United States via the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012.
The platform of the Republican Party, and Romney in his speeches, promotes reviving the “global war on terror” as a concept, and criticizes the Obama administration for changing its name to the “overseas contingency operation.” I will grant you, there is a difference in approach between the two parties.
But does emphasizing that distinction miss the essential spread and development of the US “war on terror” which the Obama administration has relentlessly pursued? Beyond the matter of not closing Guantanamo, Obama’s lawyers argue against habeas corpus rights for 6,000 prisoners in Bagram; against even the right of people tortured in Guantanamo and U.S. secret rendition programs to sue for damages; against the release of photos of torture at Abu Ghraib so that people would have seen more of what the Bush regime was responsible for.
An announcement right before the Democrats convened in Charlotte to re-nominate Obama that his Justice Department is dropping any plans to investigate, much less prosecute cases of homicide by the CIA on detained prisoners might have shocked people, had they not already been rocked back by the reactionary rot spewing from the Republicans in Tampa. Don’t think the announcement was not very carefully timed to blindside the millions of people who say, “It’s true Obama hasn’t done ___, but at least he’s going to do better than Bush on torture.”
In fact, the CIA now has formal immunity in two instances of killings, which means they will do whatever they can to get away with more, no matter who is president. As reported by Jane Mayer in The New Yorker, Gul Rahman, who was beaten, shackled, and froze to death in the CIA prison knows as The Salt Pit,” in 2002, and Manadel al-Jamadi who died in CIA custody of a beating at Abu Ghraib in 2003.
No president can deliberately fail to dismantle the torture network assembled by the Bush regime, deciding not to prosecute anyone, not even to investigate most charges, except whistle-blowers like John Kiriakou who mildly criticized the CIA for carrying out torture. Glenn Greenwald called it an “aggressive, full-scale whitewashing of the “war on terror” crimes committed by Bush officials,” in Whitewashing Torture:
Obama has shielded Bush torture crimes not only from criminal prosecution, but any and all forms of accountability. Obama himself vigorously opposed and succeeded in killing even a congressional investigation into the torture regime at a time when his party controlled both houses of Congress.
Chris Floyd echoes a point made in the 12 Step Program to Overcome Addiction to Voting for the “Lesser” of Two Evils in Obama and Holder: Sanctioning State Murder that all the terrible things Republicans do are not canceled out by supporting Democrats.
The faction of the Imperial Bloc that just nominated Mitt Romney is a pack of militarist nutballs and enemies of the truth. But so is the other faction, which protects torturers, murderers people whose names they don’t even know based on arbitrarily chosen “life-pattern” details gleaned by robots in the sky, launches secret wars, foments coups, runs “black ops” in dozens of countries all over the world, killing hundreds of innocent people each year, plunging whole countries into chaos and ruin with its ‘terror war’ and ‘drug war’ and ‘economic war’ agendas — and ferociously prosecutes anyone who tries to smuggle out a few crumbs of truth about the abominable atrocities and self-destructive follies being carried out daily by a berserk militarist system which has no goal other than its own self-perpetuation and the forced domination of others.
Don’t you find it outrageous that the current president is prosecuting more whistle-blowers at one time than have ever been prosecuted? Whistle-blowing means criticizing wrong-doing by your superiors in government. Adam Serwer in Mother Jones, writes about what Obama & Holder are doing to add insult to injury;
[N]ot everyone connected to Bush-era torture has escaped accountability. John Kiriakou, the former CIA official who went public about interrogation techniques like waterboarding, is being prosecuted for disclosing classified information for allegedly assisting defense attorneys who were seeking to identify interrogators who may have tortured their clients. You can torture a detainee in your custody to death and get away with it. You just can’t talk about it. [emphasis mine].
If you don’t care about these issues — and the Obama presidency has surely reduced the outrage among Democrats over them — then be at peace with four more years of what most civilized peoples consider to be war crimes.