Court Of Impeachment And War Crimes: Our institutions have failed across the board

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Imbush Peach

An interview with Naomi Wolf about the 10 steps from democracy to dictatorship!

Stop The Spying Now

Stop the Spying!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Our institutions have failed across the board

In the United States,our institutions have failed across the board. Let us not simply surrender and hand over what little is left that might be repaired.

PFAW Urges Senators to Reject GOP Foot-Stomping on Judges

Time to Say 'Enough' to Controversial Bush Judicial Nominees.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy and Ranking Member Arlen Specter, People For the American Way President Kathryn Kolbert today urged the Committee to reject pressure from the White House and Republican supporters to speed up consideration of President Bush’s judicial nominees in the final months of his presidency. Instead, Kolbert writes, it is time to invoke the “Thurmond Rule,” a longstanding Senate practice of processing only non-controversial judicial nominees in the months preceding a presidential election.

Kolbert’s letter notes that under Sen. Leahy’s leadership, the judicial vacancy rate has been cut in half, and that President Bush’s nominees have fared far better than President Clinton’s nominees fared when the Republicans held the Senate majority.

Hundreds of judges named by President Bush, notes Kolbert’s letter, “are actively dismantling constitutional and statutory protections for workers, for consumers, for women, for minorities, and for the environment. They are closing the courthouse doors to ordinary Americans seeking justice, making it harder for individuals even to get a day in court when they have been wronged.”

“At this point in the active presidential election season, it is time for the Committee to say enough to such judges, not to speed up consideration of their nominations,” says the letter. “If President Bush cannot fill existing vacancies with mainstream, non-controversial nominees, then it should be up to the next President to do so.”

People For the American Way is a nationwide advocacy organization that works to protect and advance core constitutional values, including a federal judiciary that upholds individual Americans’ rights, opportunities, and legal protections.


Dear Ed.,

We need your help because together we can make a difference.

Bush allies in the Senate are turning on the heat, trying to push through ultra-conservative, highly controversial judges -- judges who will carry on the Bush administration's influence for a lifetime on the highest courts in the land.

But there is a longstanding Senate practice of ending the consideration of controversial nominees in the months before a presidential election. It's time to say enough is enough.

Check out a video message from PFAW President Kathryn Kolbert explaining why the Senate Judiciary Committee must stop all further confirmations of controversial judges ... and then, sign our petition

DON’T ANYONE DARE FALL FOR THIS SPECTER PLOY! The Approval Of All Federal Judges Should Be Shut Down Until After This Administration Is Done For!


By Manu Raju

Posted: 04/07/08 06:52 PM [ET]

Sen. Arlen Specter’s recent tough talk with Democrats in the escalating Senate battle over judicial nominees could mollify conservatives in his own party who almost upended his political career four years ago.

The Pennsylvania Republican barely escaped a two-pronged attack in 2004, weathering a GOP primary challenge and later a concerted effort to keep him from becoming the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.

Since then, the pro-abortion rights centrist has quietly sought to thaw relations with the right. He has hired aides well-known to conservative leaders, attended weekly Wednesday-morning meetings with activists, spoken to the conservative Federalist Society and kept conservative editorial boards apprised of his legislative maneuvering.

The outreach comes as he has sought to win Senate approval of lifetime seats for Bush’s judicial nominees, a priority for Republicans who want the federal courts to move solidly to the right. After shepherding through Bush’s two Supreme Court nominees, Specter is now playing the lead role in a partisan, election-year fight that could bring the Senate to a standstill.

Over the last month, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee has warned Democrats that if they do not move a number of stalled appeals court nominees, he may retaliate on the Senate floor by objecting to attempts to expedite routine business. He reiterated that threat last week in an interview with the conservative editorial board of The Wall Street Journal.

To Democrats, Specter’s strong criticism and threats seem motivated by his own political survival, given that he’s up for reelection in 2010.

“I think Sen. Specter is always afraid of getting a conservative Republican in a primary,” Judiciary panel Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said. “He’s trying to be a good soldier.”

That charge, according to Specter, is nothing more than a “farfetched theory.”

“This is an issue which has been pressed by many people besides me, and I’m the ranking member so it’s my responsibility to take the lead on it,” Specter said.

The current battle over judicial nominees stems from Republican complaints that the Senate is not on pace to match the 15 appeals court judges confirmed by the GOP-controlled Senate in the final two years of the Clinton administration. Six appellate nominees have been confirmed since the beginning of the 110th Congress, and 10 are pending.

Democrats say they have helped to confirm more than 86 percent of Bush nominees, compared with the 75 percent of Clinton judges who were confirmed. Last year 40 nominees for lower courts were confirmed, more than each of the three preceding years under Republican leadership. Democrats say Bush is looking for an election-year fight by proposing controversial nominees.

Specter is now leading that battle and winning praise from a number of conservatives. Yet there are elements of the Republican base still dissatisfied with him. Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), who lost to Specter by two percentage points in the 2004 Pennsylvania primary, has not ruled out another challenge against him in 2010. Specter might be keeping that in mind, with $4.2 million in his war chest, according to CQ MoneyLine.

For now, most conservative leaders think Specter is on much more solid ground than in 2004.

“I think conservatives are much more receptive to him,” said Curt Levey, head of the Committee for Justice, which supports conservative judicial nominees. “I really don’t even hear complaints about him.”

“He’s found an area that conservatives care a lot about,” said David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

Keene said the senator’s efforts to build relationships have helped ease skepticism.

“He really didn’t have much communication with and outreach to conservatives before,” said Keene, who is also a friend of Specter’s and a columnist for The Hill.

Specter has long had a mixed relationship with conservatives. In 1987, he angered the right by helping defeat the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. But years later he angered the left by helping Clarence Thomas win a lifetime seat on the bench. He has sided with Democrats on issues such as tax cuts, the minimum wage, tobacco regulations and labor-union rules.

After narrowly winning reelection in 2004, cultural conservatives tried to block his bid for the Judiciary chairmanship after he suggested Bush should not nominate judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade.

Specter later persuaded the Republican Conference that he would work to confirm Bush’s nominees, not block them.

“I think the broad picture of this is that Specter spent a career trying to straddle this divide, and it suddenly has got more and more difficult,” said Guian McKee, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs.

Being in the minority, Specter is on firm footing now because he “can make an issue out of it” but can’t be held accountable if nominees are not confirmed because Democrats control the majority, McKee said.

But to some conservatives, Specter’s performance is being measured.

“I think he has reached out to some degree … but he doesn’t have any success to offer us,” said Connie Mackey, senior vice president of the legislative arm of the Family Research Council.

Toomey, who now heads the anti-tax Club for Growth, could not be reached for comment. The club’s spokeswoman, Nachama Soloveichik, said Specter is one of the most liberal Republicans in the Senate and “ought to be very worried” about being challenged from the right.

If a Democrat wins the White House in November, the calls for Specter’s seat might grow louder on the right, depending on the extent to which he compromises with the new president, analysts say.

Americans traditionally thought of their country as a "city upon a hill," a "light unto the world." Today only the deluded think that.

Polls show that the rest of the world regards the United States and Israel as the two greatest threats to peace.

This is not surprising. In the words of Arthur Silber: "The Bush administration has announced to the world, and to all Americans, that this is what the United States now stands for: a vicious determination to dominate the world, criminal, genocidal wars of aggression, torture, and an increasingly brutal and brutalizing authoritarian state at home. That is what we stand for."

Addressing his fellow Americans, Silber asks the paramount question, "Why do you support" these horrors?

His question goes to the heart of the matter. Do we Americans have any honor, any humanity, any integrity, any awareness of the crimes our government is committing in our name? Do we have a moral conscience?

How can a moral conscience be reconciled with our continuing to tolerate our government, which has invaded two countries on the basis of lies and deception, destroyed their civilian infrastructures, and murdered hundreds of thousands of men, women and children?

The killing and occupation continue even though we now know that the invasions were based on lies and fabricated "evidence." The entire world knows this. Yet, Americans continue to act as if the gratuitous invasions, the gratuitous killing and the gratuitous destruction are justified. There is no end of it in sight.

If Americans have any honor, how can they betray their Founding Fathers, who gave them liberty, by tolerating a government that claims immunity to law and the Constitution and is erecting a police state in their midst?

Answers to these questions vary. Some reply that a fearful and deceived American public seeks safety from terrorists in government power.

Others answer that a majority of Americans finally understand the evil that Bush has set loose and tried to stop him by voting out the Republicans in November 2006 and putting the Democrats in control of Congress – all to no effect – and are now demoralized as neither party gives a hoot for public opinion or has a moral conscience.

The people ask over and over, "What can we do?"

Very little when the institutions put in place to protect the people from tyranny fail. In the United States, the institutions have failed across the board.

The freedom and independence of the watchdog press was destroyed by the media concentration that was permitted by the Clinton administration and Congress. Americans who rely on traditional print and TV media simply have no idea what is afoot.

Political competition failed when the opposition party became a "me-too" party. The Democrats even confirmed as attorney general Michael Mukasey, an authoritarian who refuses to condemn torture and whose rulings as a federal judge undermined habeas corpus. Such a person is now the highest law enforcement officer in the United States.

The judicial system failed when federal judges ruled that "state secrets" and "national security" are more important than government accountability and the rule of law.

The separation of powers failed when Congress acquiesced to the executive branch's claims of primary power and independence from statutory law and the Constitution.

It failed again when the Democrats refused to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney, the two greatest criminals in American political history.

Without the impeachment of Bush and Cheney, America can never recover. The precedents for unaccountable government established by the Bush administration are too great, their damage too lasting. Without impeachment, America will continue to sink into dictatorship in which criticism of the government and appeals to the Constitution are criminalized. We are closer to executive rule than many people know.

Silber reminds us that America once had leaders, such as Speaker of the House Thomas B. Reed and Sen. Robert M. LaFollette Sr., who valued the principles upon which America was based more than they valued their political careers. Perhaps Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich are of this ilk, but America has fallen so low that people who stand on principle today are marginalized. They cannot become speaker of the House or a leader in the Senate.

Today, Congress is almost as superfluous as the Roman Senate under the Caesars. On Feb. 13 the U.S. Senate barely passed a bill banning torture, and the White House promptly announced that President Bush would veto it. Torture is now the American way. The U.S. Senate was only able to muster 51 votes against torture, an indication that almost a majority of U.S. senators support torture.

Bush says that his administration does not torture. So why veto a bill prohibiting torture? Bush seems proud to present America to the world as a torturer.

After years of lying to Americans and the rest of the world that Guantanamo prison contained 774 of "the world's most dangerous terrorists," the Bush regime is bringing six of its victims to trial. The vast majority of the 774 detainees have been quietly released. The U.S. government stole years of life from hundreds of ordinary people who had the misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and were captured by warlords and sold to the stupid Americans as "terrorists."

Needing terrorists to keep the farce going, the U.S. government dropped leaflets in Afghanistan offering $25,000 a head for "terrorists." Kidnappings ensued until the U.S. government had purchased enough "terrorists" to validate the "terrorist threat."

The six that the United States are bringing to "trial" include two child soldiers for the Taliban and a car pool driver who allegedly drove Osama bin Laden.

The Taliban did not attack the United States. The child soldiers were fighting in an Afghan civil war. The United States attacked the Taliban. How does that make Taliban soldiers terrorists who should be locked up and abused in Gitmo and brought before a kangaroo military tribunal? If a terrorist hires a driver or a taxi, does that make the driver a terrorist? What about the pilots of the airliners who brought the alleged 9-11 terrorists to the United States? Are they guilty, too?

The Gitmo trials are show trials. Their only purpose is to create the precedent that the executive branch can ignore the U.S. court system and try people in the same manner that innocent people were tried in Stalinist Russia and Gestapo Germany. If the Bush regime had any real evidence against the Gitmo detainees, it would have no need for its kangaroo military tribunal.

If any more proof is needed that Bush has no case against any of the Gitmo detainees, the following AP News report of Feb. 14, 2008, should suffice: "The Bush administration asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to limit judges' authority to scrutinize evidence against detainees at Guantanamo Bay."

The reason Bush doesn't want judges to see the evidence is that there is no evidence except a few confessions obtained by torture. In the American system of justice, confession obtained by torture is self-incrimination and is impermissible evidence under the U.S. Constitution.

Andy Worthington's book, "The Guantanamo Files," and his online articles make it perfectly clear that the "dangerous terrorists" claim of the Bush administration is just another hoax perpetrated on the inattentive American public.

Recently, the nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity issued a report that documents the fact that Bush administration officials made 935 false statements about Iraq to the American people in order to deceive them into going along with Bush's invasion. In recent testimony before Congress, Bush's Secretary of State and former National Security Advisor, Condi Rice was asked by Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., about the 56 false statements she made.

Rice replied: "I take my integrity very seriously, and I did not at any time make a statement that I knew to be false." Rice blamed "the intelligence assessments," which "were wrong."

Another Rice lie, like those mushroom clouds that were going to go up over American cities if we didn't invade Iraq. The weapon inspectors told the Bush administration that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as Scott Ritter has reminded us over and over. Every knowledgeable person in the country knew there were no weapons. As the leaked Downing Street memo confirms, the head of British intelligence told the British cabinet that the Bush administration had already decided to invade Iraq and was making up the intelligence to justify the invasion.

But let's assume that Rice was fooled by faulty intelligence. If she had any integrity she would have resigned. In the days when American government officials had integrity, they would have resigned in shame from such a disastrous war and terrible destruction based on their mistake. But Rice, like all the Bush (and Clinton) operatives, is too full of American self-righteousness and ambition to have any remorse about her mistake.

Condi can still look herself in the mirror despite 1 million Iraqis dying from her mistake and several million more being homeless refugees, just as Clinton's secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, can still look herself in the mirror despite sharing responsibility for 500,000 dead Iraqi children.

There is no one in the Bush administration with enough integrity to resign. It is a government devoid of truth, morality, decency and honor. The Bush administration is a blight upon America and upon the world.

Paul Craig Roberts

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