This afternoon on MSNBC’s Hardball, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) endorsed House Judiciary Committee Chariman John Conyers’ pledge to hold hearings into the torture techniques authorized by the Bush administration’s Office of Legal Counsel. Asked by host Chris Matthews if she believed Judge Jay Bybee “should go” because of his role in authoring the OLC torture memos, Wasserman Shultz said that she believed the government needed to take a “first things first approach,” but said “it doesn’t look very good”:
MATTHEWS: Should we ask Jay Bybee to retire form the court out at the 9th circuit? He’s one of the ones who approved it and sits on the federal bench. Should he go?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well, I think we need to take a first things first approach, taking a look at who exactly was responsible for these memos. Where was it initiated. We need to go through the process. And you’re still innocent until proven guilty in America, but it doesn’t look very good.
Wasserman Schultz also said she would not rule out prosecuting former President Bush or Vice President Cheney. Watch it:
Please join our campaign calling on Congress to begin impeachment hearings against Jay Bybee.
In a letter to President Obama today, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) asked him to resist prosecuting Bush administration officials who wrote legal memos authorizing torture. “Pursuing such prosecutions would, we believe, have serious negative effects,” wrote the three senators.
Acknowledging that the Office of Legal Counsel memos were “deeply flawed,” the three senators claim that they have always been “strongly opposed” to torturous interrogation tactics like waterboarding:
We disagree, however, with Administration statements suggesting that the lawyers who provided such counsel may now be open to prosecution. Some of the legal analysis included in the OLC memos released last week was, we believe, deeply flawed. We have also strongly opposed the overly coercive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, that these memos deemed legal. We do not believe, however, that legal analysis should be criminalized, as proposals to prosecute government lawyers suggest.
LIEBERMAN: Well, I take a minority position on this. Most people think it’s definitely torture. The truth is, it has mostly a psychological impact on people. It’s a terrible thing to do. … I want the president of the United States in a given circumstance where we believe somebody we’ve got in our control may have information that could help us stop an attack, an imminent attack on the United States like 9/11 or, god forbid, worse, we ought to be able to use something like waterboarding.
MSNBC is reporting that General Motors (GM) plans to close “most” of its U.S. factories for up to nine weeks this summer, due to its swiftly growing collection of financial problems:
Two people briefed on the plan say General Motors Corp. will close most of its U.S. factories for up to nine weeks this summer because of slumping sales and growing inventories of unsold vehicles. The people did not know exactly when the shutdowns would occur, but both say they will include the normal two-week closure in July to change from one model year to the next.
“We’re a part of what is arguably one of the most regulated industries and provide a voice in complex policy discussions. We meet strict reporting requirements and our spending is reflective of the breadth of issues that affect our business,” said GM spokesman Greg Martin. But it’s worth asking: How many days could GM keep some factories open with that money? How many workers could have earned just a little bit more in wages if that lobbying hadn’t occurred?
When Matthews insisted that he wasn’t being inflammatory because he was reading directly from the report, Ensign tried to discredit the entire document by saying it was a “Democrat partisan” report:
ENSIGN: Chris, the reason I said it is because you didn’t preface that with saying that was a Democrat report. That was a Democrat partisan report. And you have to understand where the people who were doing that report — where their ideology comes from.
MATTHEWS: Well, apparently, Sen. John McCain is part of what you call a “Democrat report.” It’s the full committee report. … [I]t’s the Armed Services Committee report. It went through three months of review by the Defense Department, until its final release just yesterday. It seems to me this was vetted, sir. And you say this was some Democrat report.
ENSIGN: The Democrats are in control of all of the committees. This was a Democrat majority report. This was not with the participation of the minority where the minority signed it, “Yes, we agree with these views.”
Ensign is right that there are often committee reports produced and released by only the minority or the majority. This report, however, was not one of them. The first page of the detainee report makes it clear that it is a document from the “Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate.” ThinkProgress spoke with a committee spokesman who confirmed that the full, unanimous committee released the report. When talking with Levin today, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell noted that Republican Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham also endorsed the report.
Additionally, documents clearly show that the Bush administration’s interrogation program was based on the U.S. military program known as Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE), which is used to train U.S. troops if they are ever tortured by an enemy that doesn’t adhere to the Geneva Conventions. As the report notes, SERE techniques “were based, in part, on Chinese Communist techniques used during the Korean War to elicit false confessions.”
What is the most unsustainable activity you have ever seen?
So I was taking my daughter upstairs last night when I happened to look outside the window and saw a “Mobile Grooming Salon” for dogs and cats. The big tricked out van looked something like this:
Anyway, while I suppose this could conceivably save the energy of individual pet owners each driving to a salon in a world of overconsumption and cheap gasoline, I don’t think I saw this van in my copy of The Transition Handbook: from oil dependency to local resilience [which I just started reading and will blog on eventually]. Though it does occur to me just now that this van could easily be replaced by a plug-in hybrid in the near future, and essentially always stay charged up as it moved from home to home. Hmm. Would that make it sustainable, assuming the grid goes low-carbon?
A Democratic president thrills a French audience by telling it that America has been “arrogant.” He brushes aside 50 years of anti-communist orthodoxy by relaxing restrictions against Fidel Castro’s Cuba. He directs his attorney general to ease a crackdown on medical marijuana and even plays host to the Grateful Dead in the Oval Office.
Several times a month in his young presidency, Barack Obama has done things that cause conservatives to bray, using the phrase once invoked by Bob Dole, “Where’s the outrage?!”
I don’t find this all that surprising. Easing up on America’s Cold War approach to Cuba is a pretty obvious and intuitive response to the end of the Cold War. The Clinton administration chose to avoid taking any political risks on this front and then George W. Bush decided to intensify the old approach. That was actually a great deal odder than Obama easing off a bit. After all, why would the United States be in a period of intensifying hostility to Cuba? That’s how this looks to me more or less down the line. There never was a political taboo on shaking hands with left-wing third world politicians—the right-wing just decided to act as if there was one, and that Obama had violated it.
Obama really has laid out an ambitious substantive domestic policy agenda. But the right-wing doesn’t seem especially interested in engaging with it. Instead, they’re freaking out about basically non-existent cultural issues. Like remember when we were talking about Obama’s secret, but also totally made up, plan to replace the dollar with a new global currency?
Yesterday, President Obama said he would support a “bipartisan” congressional commission examining the Bush administration’s torture program. The Washington Post’s Dan Balz reports that this development followed weeks of “vigorous” debate inside the White House. Obama reportedly rejected a 9/11-style national commission because he thought it would “ratchet the whole thing up”:
There was, according to a senior official, considerable support among Obama’s advisers for the creation of a 9-11 Commission-style investigation as an alternative to releasing the Justice Department memos. But Obama quashed it. “His concern was that would ratchet the whole thing up,” the official said. “His whole thing is, I banned all this. This chapter is over. What we don’t need now is to become a sort of feeding frenzy where we go back and re-litigate all this.”
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has been widely regaled as a “green” conservative for his plan to limit global warming pollution, today attacked President Obama’s clean energy plan as an “irresponsible, ill-conceived and distorted version of a cap-and-trade system.” Speaking at an energy forum convened by the Reform Institute, McCain reserved particular vitriol for Obama’s “proposal of auctioning 100 percent of the carbon credits“:
The president’s proposal of auctioning 100 percent of the carbon credits is bad economic policy that would cost businesses billions of dollars and allow for little-to-no transition into a low carbon system. I am a supporter of a strong cap-and-trade system, but I will not and cannot align myself with a giant government slush fund that will further burden our businesses and consumers.
In fact, full auctioning of carbon credits is needed to avoid polluter windfall profits. The principle is simple: Pollution permits have a dollar value, and giving them for free to covered emitters is equivalent to pork-barrel subsidies for the polluters. Economic modeling of cap-and-trade systems has found that permit giveaways do not reduce costs for consumers — they only increase polluter profits. McCain has claimed, “I oppose subsidies. Not just ethanol subsidies. Subsidies.” For some reason, this principle is being thrown out the window when it comes to subsidizing global warming pollution from the coal and oil industry.
On Monday, the New York Times confirmed that in December 2005, its Washington bureau chief, Philip Taubman, “met with a group of Congressional leaders familiar with the eavesdropping program, including Ms. Harman. They all argued that The Times should not publish” its story on the National Security Agency’s wiretapping. So who are those other “Congressional leaders”? CQ’s David Nather tries to narrow down the possibilities:
But during the period before the NSA program became public, the members of the Gang of Eight would have included House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill.; Nancy Pelosi, initially the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, and later the House minority leader; Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.; Tom Daschle, D-S.D., and later Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate minority leaders at the time; Senate Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., the ranking Democrat on Senate Intelligence; House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich.; and Harman, who replaced Pelosi as the ranking Democrat on House Intelligence after Pelosi became minority leader.
A “Democratic aide” told CQ that Pelosi wasn’t at the NYT meeting. Nather adds that GOP members of the Gang of Eight “would have had more incentive to try to kill the story, since most GOP lawmakers later said the Times jeopardized national security by running the story.”
Like no President before him — indeed, like no major U.S. politician — he has stated again and again that our current path is unsustainable and doomed to fail, using language very similar to the global economy is a Ponzi scheme metaphor.
“We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand.” (4/14)
“We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad, or we can create those jobs right here in America and lay the foundation for our lasting prosperity.” (3/19)
His speech today was equally blunt and equally visionary — testimony to the fact that the best messaging on this subject has both the positive vision of the future if we change our path and the painful reality facing us if we don’t.
And don’t miss his extended discussion at the end about “closing the carbon loophole through this kind of market-based cap” and trade system. Anyone who thinks President Obama is not serious about passing a climate bill in the next year or so, that he is somehow softening on his campaign commitment, is simply not paying attention: