Donkey Punch

July 3, 2008

The Nuremberg Defense

Go ahead, call it out. I’ve Godwinned my post before even getting past the title.

The Nuremberg Defense is a legal defense that essentially states that the defendant was “only following orders” (“Befehl ist Befehl”, literally “order is order”) and is therefore not responsible for his crimes. The defense was most famously employed during the Nuremberg Trials, after which it is named.

Our Senate is going to come back next week and vote on the new FISA bill. For those of you that don’t know what that is, here’s a brief overview via Bill Moyers:

On January 27, 1975, the Senate, in the wake of the Watergate scandal and alarmed by recent allegations of intelligence service misdeeds, voted to establish an 11-member investigating body along the lines of the recently concluded Watergate Committee….

In reaction to the Church Committee reports pushing for oversight, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, which established a secret FISA court responsible for issuing warrants for domestic wiretapping activity. The FISA court consists of seven judges appointed by the Chief Justice and who serve for seven years.

In December 2005, the NEW YORK TIMES reported that President Bush had authorized the NSA to eavesdrop on American phone calls and emails without obtaining a warrant from the FISA court. That revelation was met with consternation, and investigations, by many in and outside of the political realm.

In August 2007, a temporary amendment to FISA passed called the Protect America Act, which as President Bush explains, modernizes FISA by “accounting for changes in technology and restoring the statute to its original focus on appropriate protections for the rights of persons in the United States – and not foreign targets located in foreign lands.”

Bascially, the FISA bill passed in 1978 provide a framework in which we can spy on people, but supposedly prevents the President from abusing his power and spying without review from a court (exactly what Bush has been doing). The consequence for violating FISA is (again, supposedly) a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Right now there are more about 40 civil lawsuits against the telecoms for breaking the law and allowing the government access to huge amounts of our communications. Their defense? We we only doing what we were told. Sound familiar? Remember that the telecoms have large legal departments, and don’t do anything unless it is reviewed by these lawyers in order to expose themselves to minimum liability. There is no way they thought this was legal (unless their legal departments consisted of Liberty University hacks).

When the Senate gets back in session on Monday, they are planning passing an update to the FISA bill that the House passed last week. It is a complete sham. They want to retroactively immunize the telecoms for breaking the law because…wait for it…the telecoms were only doing what they were told.

Did you know that the government started the wiretapping program 7 months before 9/11? We know this because a former CEO of Qwest, Joe Nacchio, was tried and convicted of dumping stocks. During the trial it came out that on February 27, 2001Nacchio had a meeting with a representative from the NSA to discuss the Groundbreaker program, essentially the farming out of the NSA’s Information Technology to the telecoms. It was estimated that the program was worth 2-5 billion dollars in new revenue for the telecoms. (Many critics have said that the Groundbreaker program was actually just a cover for massive illegal wiretapping.) Here’s Naccio’s lawyer, Herbert Stern:

In the Fall of 2001, at a time when there was no investigation of Qwest or Mr. Nacchio by the Department of Justice or the Securities and Exchange Commission, and while Mr. Nacchio was Chairman and CEO of Qwest and was serving pursuant to the President’s appointment as the Chairman of the National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, Qwest was approached to permit the Government access to the private telephone records of Qwest customers.

Mr. Nacchio made inquiry as to whether a warrant or other legal process had been secured in support of that request. When he learned that no such authority had been granted and that there was a disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process, including the Special Court which had been established to handle such matters, Mr. Nacchio concluded that these requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act.

So Joe Nacchio says no (Qwest is the only company known to have raised objections) and six years later he is rotting in jail.

So our congress is attempting to codify the Nuremberg Defense. And although months ago this issue came up Barack Obama pledged to do anything to stop retroactive immunity, now that he has the nomination he has decided it is good for the country and he supports it.

What really concerns me is that when discussing this issue with friends, I have heard the “They were just doing what they were told” bullshit. Check out this comment from an excellent post about Obama’s position on this matter from the American Conservative:

I work in private industry, in construction, and if the government came to me and insisted that I build something that was vital for national security but violated a few laws, and was assured that this wouldn’t be a problem, and that if I did this I would be rewarded, and if I didn’t that I wouldn’t get many government contracts again, what exactly should I be expected to do?

That is some scary stuff. But he keeps digging:

If we make our entire system of laws dependent not on the government following the law, but on private individuals bucking the government’s inducements and extortions, we have a crazy system of checks and balances in place.

Yeah, there something crazy going on here all right. But it doesn’t have to do with checks and balances, it has to do with assuming that the government always has our best interests at heart.

I’ve got news for you. They don’t.

January 23, 2008

Worthless Democrats

Filed under: Capitulation, Chris Dodd, Fuck!, Hold on Fisa Bill, Pelosi, Reid — t4toby @ 3:24 pm

pelosi-reid.jpg

I have tried to start this post so many times and have just ended up too pissed off to actually go through with it.

Harry Reid is a worthless piece of shit. Nancy Pelosi is a brain dead ninny.

On the Pelosi side, she has said, since she was named Speaker of the House, that impeachment is off the table. What kind of crap is this? She is basically obstructing justice at this point. As some other much more prominent blog said today (I forgot the source), she deserves to be sitting at the defendants’ table at the War Crimes Proceedings.

Robert Wexler has different ideas. He wants Cheney impeached. Go sign his petition.

Harry Reid has allowed the obstructionist Republicans to avoid filibustering by requiring a 60 vote treshold to vote on legistlation. Until Chris Dodd decided that the FISA telecom immunity was filibuster worthy. Not only did he ignore the hold that Dodd put on the bill, now he is making Dodd actually filibuster.

As far as I’m concerned, these two ‘leaders’ are the most worthless pieces of horse manure in our entire government. Sure the Republicans are crooked and vile, but it is in their nature. These are supposed to be the people carrying our nation forward. Unfortunately, I can’t tell them from a garden variety Bush administration official. You know its bad when I start grabbing images from wingnut sites that just seem perfect:

negotiateevil.jpg

Heh, indeedy.

October 18, 2007

Chris Dodd in ’08!

dodd.jpg

Something amazing happened today. A presidential candidate stepped forward and showed true leadership in the face of our runaway president and the corporations that hold the puppet strings.

Chris Dodd will put a hold on the horrible Fisa capitulation bill. Greenwald breaks it down.

I am officially supporting Chris Dodd for President in 2008. I contacted the campaign to start volunteering this morning. I am very happy to have a candidate that takes the shredding of the Constitution seriously. None of the big three (Clinton, Edwards, Obama) seem to have a clue when it comes to our basic rights. Could that be because the have tons of corporate cash in their pockets.

I’d be real happy with a Dodd/Obama ticket. I don’t think that Barak has quaffed too much Kool-Aid yet, but he’s certainly teetering above the slippery slope.

Check out Dodd’s website, and sign the petition.

October 4, 2007

The more they become our own…

Filed under: Capitulation, Glenn Greenwald, Hypocrisy, Politics, Torture — t4toby @ 9:03 am

herc.jpg

Whether you like him or hate him, you have to admit that Glenn Greenwald is a force of nature.

All of these subversive and grotesque policies — the Yoo/Addington theories of the imperial presidency, torture, rendition, illegal surveillance, black sites — began as secret, illegal Bush administration policies. But the more they are revealed, and the more we do nothing about them, the more they become our own.

And today, he is particularly on point. If you’ve got a few minutes, go read it.

September 26, 2007

In which we take a break from reality…

We have come to the point in our society where we are really asking the important questions. We, as a species, have decided to tackle the most pressing issues. Take the question of perfect breasts, for example.

Evidently, Mallucci (to whom the article refers to as a ‘scientist’, with no substantive back-up) has…

thoroughly researched pictures of celebrity women to compile images of the best looking breasts

in an effort to…

help plastic surgeons create the perfect looking breasts when clients request some work done on their natural assets.

I do the same thing. On the internet. But I don’t go around calling myself “Doctor”.

Cut to the chase:

This is perfect
caprese.jpg

And these are “unnaturally round”
posh.jpg

If you ask me, I think there’s more plastic than in a Barbie factory in those three pictures. I’d like to think that it would be inherent that ‘perfect’ = natural, but then again, I’m no ‘doctor’.

So why am I blogging about breasts instead of politics? Because I am so fucking tired of the democrats and their total lack of strategy and courage that I decided to write about something comforting, THAT’S WHY!!!1!!ELEVENTYHUNDRED!!

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