"Torture anywhere is an affront to human dignity everywhere... I call on all governments to join with the United States and the community of law-abiding nations in prohibiting, investigating, and prosecuting all acts of torture."-- George W. Bush, June 2003
I was delighted that President Obama backed away from his statement that there would be no torture related prosections by deferring to the professional prosecutors in the Department of Justice. The good guys won one today. And then we here from a report from the Senate Armed Services Committee what almost seems like the real reason for the harsh interrogations and torture. The Bush Administration, according to this report, was intent on proving a link between Al Queda and Saddam Hussein. Is this why we waterboarded one man 183 times in 4 months? To prove what wasn't true. What we knew wasn't true before we invaded Iraq. Bybee should be impeached and there are people who should go to jail. I don't know if even teh Bybee memo should shield people who waterboarded 1 prisoner 183 times in 4 months. All in an attempt to prove a lie Utterly depressing
Dear Mr. President, I was relieved that your Department of Justice chose to release the memos written under the Bush Administration that authorized and justified torture. I am also very happy that you have issued an Executive Order that requires that the CIA follow the Army Field Manual strictures on interrogation of suspected terrorists. That being said, I find that I must disagree with you in the strongest of terms, when you and the Attorney General have granted effective immunity to the CIA case officers and the contractors working for them that, in the name of the United States, tortured prisoners in our custody. As you are well aware, torture is prohibited by both US Law and treaties that the US has signed. You do not have the authority under our Constitution, to decide not to allow prosecution of people that might have broken both US and International law. We, as a nation, share responsibility for these crimes, but we cannot use our collective guilt to shield the individual guilt of those who justified torture, or those who authorized torture, or those who actually tortured prisoners in our custody. I call upon you to direct the Attorney General to appoint a special counsel, similar to the special counsel appointed to investigate the disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity, to investigate and prosecute as necessary the allegations that representatives of the United States Government justified, authorized, or actually committed acts of torture on prisoners in our custody, either in acknowledged locations like Abu Grahib or Guantanamo Bay or the "Black" prisons reportedly operated by the CIA. We are a nation of laws. It is important, even critical, for us as a people and a nation to acknowledge the crimes that were committed in our name and to prosecute those who are involved. Personally I would suspect that most juries would acquit the actual torturers because of the thin film of cover provided by the Justice Department decisions, and would (hopefully) convict those who justified and authorized actions that, despite the Justice Department decisions, were so clearly violations of US and International Law I supported you because I hoped/thought/prayed that you really were different, that you really would take on the hard things. There is no doubt this is a hard thing. But it is necessary that we acknowledge our mistakes and prosecute those responsible for committing acts of torture. It is necessary for us to restore our moral standing in the world to admit our mistakes and correct them. I remain excited about almost all of what you are doing. On this though, I beg you to reconsider your position, hard as I know that to be, and enforce the law. Let the chips fall where they may. Thank you Walt Stoelting
Preview of Coming Attractions in Washington DC.The debate over health care.The President has pointed out (correctly) that the most important step that his administration can take to reign in long term government spending is to control the cost of health care. Far more than Social Security (which may or may not have liquidity problems long term depending on who you ask), Medicare, with health care costs in general, is growing at a pace that is clearly unsustainable.There are two Frontline articles that I recommend to everyone.Sick in America (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundamerica/) examines the weaknesses and inefficiencies in our current system of paying for health care that rely in large part of for profit insurancecompanies. Sick Around the World (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/)examines how 5 different capitalist countries addressed the issue of universal care. Of note, none of those systems allow for profit health insurance companies in their basic care programs. Somewhat lost in the debate about how to achieve universal health care is the issue of cost. If we cannot find a way to reign in the growth in health care costs, who pays for health care will really be a moot issue, no one will be able to afford it.To his credit, President Obama has recognized that critical fact and is trying to make it a central part of the move towards universal care. It is a national embarrassment that the Richest and Most Powerful nation in the world has 50 million people without health insurance (I am currently one of them). Finding ways to control costs and ensure that everyone has access to the full range of health care (not just the emergency room) is perhaps the most important thing we can do for our future financial success. Let the debating begin.
The President has pointed out (correctly) that the most important step that his administration can take to reign in long term government spending is to control the cost of health care. Far more than Social Security (which may or may not have liquidity problems long term depending on who you ask), Medicare, with health care costs in general, is growning at a pace that is clearly unsustaninable.
There are two Frontline articles that I recommend to everyone.
Somewhat lost in the debate about how to acheive universal health care is the issue of cost. If we cannot find a way to reign in the growth in health care costs, who pays for health care will really be a moot issue, no one will be able to afford it.
To his credit, President Obama has recognized that critical fact and is trying to make it a central part of the move towards universal care.
It is a national embarrasement that the Richest and Most Powerful nation in the world has 50 million people without health insurance (Until recently, I was one of them)
Is a measure of how clueless the Republican Party is that they continue to use the courts to delay the certification of Al Franken as the duly elected Senator from Minnesota. Its clear from the statements made by the Senate Republican leadership that they are encouraging the endless delays purely to prevent the Democrats from seating their 59th Senator. The initial returns on election day gave Norm Coleman a slight lead. He immediately called on Al Franken to concede and respect the will of the people. Now that the required recount is complete and Franken has a small lead, Coleman and his supporters have turned to the courts to try to claim some sort of malfeasance. At each stage of their appeals, Al Franken has actually gained votes. They have already promised to take their case to the state Supreme Court and are openly talking about taking their case to the Federal Courts as some sort of civil rights case. This is all the Republican's seem to have left. This and their silly Tea Parties Sad kind of I like it though. Another sign that they have no leader, no real vision, no unifying purpose (other than obstructing the President's agenda) RIP GOP
Two milestones occurred that probably mark the beginning of the end for the laws that deny gays equal protection under our laws. The Vermont legislature passed a law allowing any two adults to marry, regardless of their gender. They then had to override the Governor's veto. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that the law that denied gays access to the civil contract called marriage was unconstitutional. And they did so unanimously.
The laws denying gays the equal protection of the law have never made any logical sense. Every time I have this discussion with people who oppose gay marriage the only real substantive reason they have is because they disapprove of homosexuality. They no longer try to show how society will be harmed in any real way, they just know in their heart of hearts that homosexuality is wrong and gay marriage should not be allowed.
I think we have reached a tipping point. This is like the Battle of Midway in World War II. We haven't won the war yet, but the opponents of gay rights are on the defensive now and they will eventually lose.
Its a great day to be an American, Gay or Straight.