What’s Going On?

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Well, I’m glad you asked…

Republicans halted ethics legislation yesterday, because they want a line item veto in the mix. However, as John Cole points out, since the line item veto was deemed unconstitutional, they’ve had 6 years to come up with some type of workaround but, as of yet, haven’t…

There was no mention of the much loved GOP nuclear option. I wish I could honestly support the line item amendment, but I know damned well that as soon as it looks like it would pass, the Republicans would no longer want it. Right now it is a convenient tool to be used against the Democrats, but you don’t need to be too cynical to realize they don;t really care about ethics reform. If they did, they would recognize their amendment failed, and move on with the proposed reform (which although not perfect, is better than no reform at all). They want an issue, they want their earmarks, but they do not want ethics reform.

Welcome to the minority gentlemen. Kind of hard to make your voice heard, even though the minority is razor thin, yes? So we’re gonna try to build bridges instead of “permanent majorities”, right?

Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said if Iraqi forces get more guns and equipment, then US troops can start leaving sooner rahter than later.

Anybody wanna hold a bake sale to raise the money?

In a sign of the tense relations with Washington, he chided the US for suggesting his Government was living on “borrowed time�. Such criticism boosted Iraq’s extremists, he said, and was more a reflection of “some kind of crisis situation� in Washington after the Republicans’ midterm election losses. Mr al-Maliki conceded that his administration had made mistakes over the hanging of Saddam Hussein. But he refused to accept all criticism over the execution. When asked about the Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi’s attack on Iraq’s capital punishment laws, Mr al-Maliki cited the Italians’ summary killing of Benito Mussolini and his stringing-up from a lamppost.

Asked how long Iraq would require US troops, Mr al-Maliki said: “If we succeed in implementing the agreement between us to speed up the equipping and providing weapons to our military forces, I think that within three to six months our need for American troops will dramatically go down. That is on condition that there are real, strong efforts to support our military forces and equipping and arming them.�

So why doesn’t the US want to give them the arms? Well…

The US Government is wary of handing over large amounts of military hardware to the Iraqis because it has sometimes ended up in the hands of militias and insurgents.

Big deal. Give them the arms and let them worry about where they go. If this is what they’re telling us they want, let’s give it to them and go.

First, here’s what Article I, Section 9, Clause 2 of the Constitution says about Habeas Corpus:

“The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.�

Okay, got that. Pretty straightforward I think. You can’t be imprisoned unlawfully, and you have the right to be brought before a court to determine whether you should be in prison or released. Not too difficult to understand, right?

Now here’s an exchange between U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Senator Arlen Spector yesterday:

GONZALES: …there is no express grant of habeas in the Constitution. There is a prohibition against taking it away. But it’s never been the case, and I’m not a Supreme â€â€?

SPECTER: Now, wait a minute. Wait a minute. The constitution says you can’t take it away, except in the case of rebellion or invasion. Doesn’t that mean you have the right of habeas corpus, unless there is an invasion or rebellion?

GONZALES: I meant by that comment, the Constitution doesn’t say, “Every individual in the United States or every citizen is hereby granted or assured the right to habeas.� It doesn’t say that. It simply says the right of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except by �

SPECTER: You may be treading on your interdiction and violating common sense, Mr. Attorney General.


Meanwhile, the Attorney General says that federal judges aren’t qualified to make rulings in cases where national security is involved.

In remarks prepared for delivery Wednesday, Gonzales says judges generally should defer to the will of the president and Congress when deciding national security cases. He also raps jurists who “apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences.â€Â? […]

“We want to determine whether he understands the inherent limits that make an unelected judiciary inferior to Congress or the president in making policy judgments,â€Â? Gonzales says in the prepared speech. “That, for example, a judge will never be in the best position to know what is in the national security interests of our country.â€Â? […]

Judges who “apply an activist philosophy that stretches the law to suit policy preferences, they actually reduce the credibility and authority of the judiciary,� Gonzales says. “In so doing, they undermine the rule of law that strengthens our democracy.�

Activist judges = People who don’t agree with how I interpret the law.

Good times…

And last, but certainly not least, the research behind the effectiveness of interrogation tactics is not only lacking, it’s nearly non-existent.


There is almost no scientific evidence to back up the U.S. intelligence community’s use of controversial interrogation techniques in the fight against terrorism, and experts believe some painful and coercive approaches could hinder the ability to get good information, according to a new report from an intelligence advisory group.

The 374-page report from the Intelligence Science Board examines several aspects of broad interrogation methods and approaches, and it finds that no significant scientific research has been conducted in more than four decades about the effectiveness of many techniques the U.S. military and intelligence groups use regularly. Intelligence experts wrote that a lack of research could explain why abuse has been alleged at U.S. facilities in Afghanistan, Cuba and Iraq.

“Since there had been little or no development of sustained capacity for interrogation practice, training, or research within intelligence or military communities in the post-Soviet period, many interrogators were forced to ‘make it up’ on the fly,” wrote Robert A. Fein, chairman of the study, published by the National Defense Intelligence College. “This shortfall in advanced, research-based interrogation methods at a time of intense pressure from operational commanders to produce actionable intelligence from high-value targets may have contributed significantly to the unfortunate cases of abuse that have recently come to light.”

But, but…what if the terrorists have a nuclear bomb and there’s only 24 hours for Jack Bauer to get the information?