Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Supreme Court to hear administration lawyers defend the indefensible

 
U.S. Supreme Court hears opening arguments on habeas corpus

Today, the Supreme Court will hear administration lawyers defend the indefensible: that the President can ignore the writ of habeas corpus and hold people indefinitely, without charge and without question.

The hearing challenges the administration’s attacks on our system of justice and the assertion that fear, not freedom, guides our country. The outcome could mark a significant shift back to our founding values of truth, justice and liberty.

As four Supreme Court Justices put it, “[I]if this Nation is to remain true to the ideals symbolized by its flag, it must not wield the tools of tyrants even to resist an assault by the forces of tyranny.”

With so much at stake, your support for our work has never been so important. Thank you for standing with us.

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~ Link ~

more excuses for avoiding impeachment

Conyers' hard choice: An expert on impeachment says not this time

by Jack Lessenberry

5 Dec 2007

"My best friends are my biggest problem," he told me, out of the blue, as we leaned up against a wine bar at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn Saturday night. He wanted to talk about the possibility of impeaching the president.

Impeachment is something a lot of people talk about, but this guy's a little different. For one thing, he knows a lot more about it than anyone on the planet.

For another, he has the power, if anyone does, to do it. Nor can anyone launch a legal effort to impeach George W. Bush or Richard Cheney without his say-so. I was talking, of course, to Congressman John Conyers.

Make that, U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Conyers, now one of the most powerful men in Washington. He knows, more than most people, how deeply lawless President Bush is. He knows he deserves impeachment, and knows that Cheney does, probably even more so.

As a man who loves the Constitution, Conyers deeply loathes both these men, who have violated civil liberties and waged unjust war and sanctioned torture. He would be very happy, pleased and satisfied to see them gone.

Yet he knows that trying to impeach Smirky and Snarly now would be a very bad idea. It would be an effort doomed to failure, and one he knows he needs to resist, for a number of compelling reasons.

"There aren't the votes there, period," said Conyers, who was in Dearborn for the American Civil Liberties Union's annual dinner. "You need 218 in the House to impeach and 67 in the Senate to convict, and 218 and 67 just aren't there," he said, peering over his glasses.

"But beyond that — do you know what a boost that would give Bush if we tried and failed to convict him? He would have an outpouring of sympathy for him, we'd be discredited, and it might help elect one of his clones.

"Nothing is more important than stopping that from happening."

I was impressed by his reasoning and the vast knowledge behind it. This is something he clearly thinks about — a lot. Incidentally, from time to time rumors surface that the 78-year-old Conyers isn't completely there.

Frankly, there are times when he does give that impression, whether deliberately or otherwise. But what I can tell you is that the man I talked with Saturday night was shrewd, savvy and fully engaged.

Conyers knows how the system works, and he knows exactly what he's talking about. He knows where the bodies were buried, how they died, and who the usual suspects are and whether they were in fact involved. Half a century ago, he worked on the line at an auto factory.

Today, he knows how the power lines flow in Washington. And he knows better than anyone ever has, when, how and under what circumstances you can get impeachment done. John Conyers is the only man in history to have served on two subcommittees that looked into — and recommended — impeaching two presidents, Richard Nixon (Conyers voted yes) and Bill Clinton (he voted no).

Then in January, Conyers at last became the big enchilada — chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, one of Congress's most powerful.

Now, he had something like real power, 42 years after he arrived in Washington for the first time, in an era when a black congressman was a novelty and segregation was far from completely gone.

The world clearly changed when Democrats took Congress back a year ago, but not as much as some wished. "My best friends are my biggest problem," Conyers told me again. "They say, 'John, you got to go for it,'" showing how they'd grab him by the lapels. "'John, you got to impeach him!'"

I wondered if he was thinking of his wife, Monica Conyers, now a Detroit city councilwoman. She sponsored a resolution last May that passed the council unanimously, calling for the impeachment of both Bush and Cheney.

Just imagine — the man Monica lives with is the one man who can make that happen, and he isn't going for it. (That must have made for some interesting dinner table conversation.) He told me he's had to patiently explain to some of his oldest friends why he just can't push impeachment. For one reason, "there isn't enough time." Impeachment and conviction would take well over a year if they had the votes, which they don't. Bush is gone in barely over a year.

But beyond that, he noted that, "Nobody [in Congress] would be able to do anything else while they were doing impeachment," he told me.

Nobody would be able to work on stopping the war, or any of the dozens of other matters that need immediate attention. What's more, nobody would be paying attention to the issues the presidential candidates are trying to raise.

Sometimes they urge him to just impeach Cheney. "Yeah, and so what would happen if we succeeded?" Bush might appoint Rudy Giuliani vice president and give him a big edge for the election. Do you want that?

"Listen." he told me. "The most important thing is that we don't elect another Republican. That is the most important issue. I am supporting Obama, but any of the Democrats would be better than any Republican.

"Because if they elect another one of them, the Constitution is just going to be in tatters. Think of what that will mean for civil liberties. Think of wiretapping and the Supreme Court. Think of everything that would mean."

Yes, he's crazy like a fox, all right. What was it they used to say back during the darkest days of the civil rights movement? Keep your eyes on the prize. Conyers, who led the fight to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a federal holiday, knows about patience and keeping your eyes on the prize.

So is it worth it, being chairman of the House Judiciary Committee? His eyes lit up with amusement and mild amazement at the question.

"Are you kidding? To have the power to set the agenda and call hearings, to have the power to protect the Constitution? Forty-two years. I have been waiting and preparing for this for 42 years." He didn't say it, but I could tell part of him thought: African-Americans have been waiting since 1865.

Yes, he said with a very sly grin. Yes. "It's worth it, Lessenberry." As perilous a time as it may be, as awful the rogues are who currently occupy the castle, Chairman John Conyers is having the time of his life.

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/11402

'War critics astonished as US hawk admits invasion was illegal'

Oliver Burkeman and Julian Borger in Washington
Thursday November 20, 2003
The Guardian


International lawyers and anti-war campaigners reacted with astonishment yesterday after the influential Pentagon hawk Richard Perle conceded that the invasion of Iraq had been illegal.

In a startling break with the official White House and Downing Street lines, Mr Perle told an audience in London: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."

President George Bush has consistently argued that the war was legal either because of existing UN security council resolutions on Iraq - also the British government's publicly stated view - or as an act of self-defence permitted by international law.

But Mr Perle, a key member of the defence policy board, which advises the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said that "international law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone", and this would have been morally unacceptable.

French intransigence, he added, meant there had been "no practical mechanism consistent with the rules of the UN for dealing with Saddam Hussein".

Mr Perle, who was speaking at an event organised by the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, had argued loudly for the toppling of the Iraqi dictator since the end of the 1991 Gulf war.

"They're just not interested in international law, are they?" said Linda Hugl, a spokeswoman for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which launched a high court challenge to the war's legality last year. "It's only when the law suits them that they want to use it."

Mr Perle's remarks bear little resemblance to official justifications for war, according to Rabinder Singh QC, who represented CND and also participated in Tuesday's event.

Certainly the British government, he said, "has never advanced the suggestion that it is entitled to act, or right to act, contrary to international law in relation to Iraq".

The Pentagon adviser's views, he added, underlined "a divergence of view between the British govern ment and some senior voices in American public life [who] have expressed the view that, well, if it's the case that international law doesn't permit unilateral pre-emptive action without the authority of the UN, then the defect is in international law".

Mr Perle's view is not the official one put forward by the White House. Its main argument has been that the invasion was justified under the UN charter, which guarantees the right of each state to self-defence, including pre-emptive self-defence. On the night bombing began, in March, Mr Bush reiterated America's "sovereign authority to use force" to defeat the threat from Baghdad.

The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, has questioned that justification, arguing that the security council would have to rule on whether the US and its allies were under imminent threat.

Coalition officials countered that the security council had already approved the use of force in resolution 1441, passed a year ago, warning of "serious consequences" if Iraq failed to give a complete ac counting of its weapons programmes.

Other council members disagreed, but American and British lawyers argued that the threat of force had been implicit since the first Gulf war, which was ended only by a ceasefire.

"I think Perle's statement has the virtue of honesty," said Michael Dorf, a law professor at Columbia University who opposed the war, arguing that it was illegal.

"And, interestingly, I suspect a majority of the American public would have supported the invasion almost exactly to the same degree that they in fact did, had the administration said that all along."

The controversy-prone Mr Perle resigned his chairmanship of the defence policy board earlier this year but remained a member of the advisory board.

Meanwhile, there was a hint that the US was trying to find a way to release the Britons held at Guantanamo Bay.

The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, said Mr Bush was "very sensitive" to British sentiment. "We also expect to be resolving this in the near future," he told the BBC.

~ link ~

'Guns Beat Green: The Market Has Spoken'

The Nation, issue of 17 Dec 2007

Naomi Klein

" ... Anyone tired of lousy news from the markets should talk to Douglas Lloyd, director of Venture Business Research, a company that tracks trends in venture capitalism. "I expect investment activity in this sector to remain buoyant," he said recently. His bouncy mood was inspired by the money gushing into private security and defense companies. He added, "I also see this as a more attractive sector, as many do, than clean energy."

Got that? If you are looking for a sure bet in a new growth market, sell solar, buy surveillance; forget wind, buy weapons. ... "

~ Read on... ~

 

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