Cheney's Book Shows Collapse of 'Rule of Law'

Dick Cheney

As so often the case, Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald provides a compelling overview of an important law-and-order issue. Greenwald began, "Less than three years ago, Dick Cheney was presiding over policies that left hundreds of thousands of innocent people dead from a war of aggression, constructed a worldwide torture regime, and spied on thousands of Americans without the warrants required by law, all of which resulted in his leaving office as one of the most reviled political figures in decades." The columnist continued:

But thanks to the decision to block all legal investigations into his chronic criminality, those matters have been relegated to mere pedestrian partisan disputes, and Cheney is thus now preparing to be feted -- and further enriched -- as a Wise and Serious Statesman with the release of his memoirs this week: one in which he proudly boasts (yet again) of the very crimes for which he was immunized.

Read the column here: The fruits of elite immunity. We'll soon provide more of our own analysis on the motives of Obama administration officials. Until then, our JIP news round-up is below for the period beginning Aug. 18.

Dick Cheney CoverMargie Burns, Rumsfeld and Cheney pressured CIA to mislead Congress in the 1970s, Margie Burn, Sept. 13, 2011. The first time Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld pressured the Central Intelligence Agency to mislead Congress was in 1975 and 1976, when Cheney was chief of staff to President Gerald Ford and Rumsfeld was Ford’s secretary of defense. (Cheney, having held a series of positions alongside Rumsfeld—starting under him in the Nixon administration–also became campaign manager for Ford’s reelection campaign.) George H. W. Bush headed the CIA, appointed by Jerry Ford when Ford switched Rumsfeld from White House Chief of Staff to Secretary of Defense.

Washington Post, In memoir, Cheney defends decisions, Bush as president, Scott Wilson and Karen DeYoung, Aug. 25, 2011. Former vice president Richard B. Cheney provides an unapologetic defense of the George W. Bush administration in his memoir to be released next week, including explanations of his own decisions on contested national security and domestic policies that often come at the expense of former Cabinet members and colleagues. Those include the justification to invade Iraq in 2003, a judgment he blames on CIA failures, and the lack of support for his urging that the United States strike a Syrian nuclear reactor site in 2007. Israel ended up doing so despite recommendations from then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that it “choose the path of diplomacy,” which Cheney correctly predicted the Israelis would reject., Cheney's Kettle Logic, David Swanson, Sept. 1, 2011. On "Morning Joe" on MSNBC on Thursday, the former Vice President claimed that the intelligence used to invade Iraq had been sound and accurate; the faulty intelligence was all Bill Clinton's fault; the invasion didn't do any damage but rather it was the Iraqis who damaged Iraq; and any invasion causes horrific things to happen, that just comes with the territory. The Justice Department answers to Obama, and Obama is protecting Cheney because Obama is continuing similar crimes and abuses. If Obama were to allow Attorney General Eric Holder to enforce our laws against Dick Cheney, Obama might very well save his own electoral prospects. But he would put himself at risk of future prosecution. The question of whether we will have the rule of law becomes the question of whether Obama wants to trade four years of power for decades in prison. That's not how it is supposed to work.

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Secrecy, leaks, and the real criminals, Glenn Greenwald, Aug. 26, 2011. Ali Soufan is a long-time FBI agent and interrogator who was at the center of the U.S. government's counter-terrorism activities from 1997 through 2005, and became an outspoken critic of the government's torture program. He has written a book exposing the abuses of the CIA's interrogation program as well as pervasive ineptitude and corruption in the War on Terror. He is, however, encountering a significant problem: the CIA is barring the publication of vast amounts of information in his book including, as Scott Shane details in The New York Times today, many facts that are not remotely secret.  Shane notes that the government's censorship effort "amounts to a fight over who gets to write the history of the Sept. 11 attacks and their aftermath," particularly given the imminent publication of a book by CIA agent Jose Rodriguez -- who destroyed the videotapes of CIA interrogations in violation of multiple court orders aThomas Drakend subpoenas only to be protected by the Obama DOJ -- that touts the benefits of the CIA's "tough" actions, propagandistically entitled: "Hard Measures: How Aggressive C.I.A. Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives."

Washington, Post, Why are we subverting the Constitution in the name of security? Former NSA officer Thomas Drake, at right in Stephen DePolo photo, Aug. 26 2011. "The Justice Department’s high-profile Espionage Act case against me collapsed on July 15, with all 10 felony charges dropped, when I was sentenced to community service after entering into a plea agreement for a minor misdemeanor."


Below are significant articles for this two-week period on legal reform and related political, security and media factors. The articles, including a strong representation from independent blogs and other media, contain a sample of news. See the full article by clicking the link.


Sept. 1

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Top CIA official: Obama "changed virtually nothing," Glenn Greenwald, Sept. 1, 2011. PBS's Frontline is airing an examination of "Top Secret America" on September 6. The show includes a rare and lengthy interview with 34-year-CIA-veteran John Rizzo, who is described as "the most influential lawyer in CIA history." Here is one quote they include from Rizzo:     With a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing with respect to existing CIA programs and operations. Things continued. Authorities were continued that were originally granted by President Bush beginning shortly after 9/11. Those were all picked up, reviewed and endorsed by the Obama administration."

Aug. 31.

Paul Craig RobertsOpEd News, In America The Rule Of Law Is Vacated, Paul Craig Roberts, Aug. 31, 2011. With bank fraudsters, torturers, and war criminals running free, the US Department of Justice (sic) has nothing better to do than to harass the famous Tennessee Gibson guitar manufacturer, arrest organic food producers in California and send 12 abusive FBI agents armed with assault rifles to bust down yet another wrong door of yet another innocent family, leaving parents, children, and grandmother traumatized. What law did Gibson Guitar Corp break that caused federal agents to disrupt Gibson's plants in Nashville and Memphis, seize guitars, cause layoffs, and cost the company $3 million from disrupted operations?  No US law was broken. The feds claim that Gibson broke a law that is on the books in India....Meanwhile, the real master criminals, such as Dick Cheney, who, if tried for his actions at Nuremberg, would most definitely have been executed as a war criminal, run free. Cheney is all over TV hawking his memoirs. On August 29, interviewed by Jamie Gangel on NBC's Dateline, Cheney again proudly admitted that he authorized torture, secret prisons, and illegal wiretapping. These are crimes under US and international laws.

McLatchy Newspapers, WikiLeaks: Iraqi children in U.S. raid shot in head, U.N. says, Matthew Schofield, Aug. 31, 2011. A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks provides evidence that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi. The unclassified cable, which was posted on WikiLeaks' website last week, contained questions from a United Nations investigator about the incident, which had angered local Iraqi officials, who demanded some kind of action from their government.

Haley BarbourMcClatchy Newspapers, Haley Barbour relative defrauded FEMA after Katrina, judge rules, Maria Recio, Aug. 31, 2011. Six years after Hurricane Katrina, a relative of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour was found by a federal court to have masterminded a massive fraud against the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the inspection of the legendary trailers that housed storm refugees along the Gulf Coast. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims found last week that Rosemary Barbour's company, Jackson, Miss.,-based Alcatec LLC, had engaged in a fraudulent billing scheme as part of a $100 million, five-year maintenance contract with FEMA. She was ordered to pay more than $350,000 in penalties and damages. In often colorful language, the judge described the testimony of Rosemary Barbour during an eight-day trial in May in Jackson as "exasperating" and "bumble-headed."

[JIP Editor's Note: Mississippi's governor, at right in a Gage Skidmore photo on Wikipedia, denies any improper involvement in the high-profile contract. Barbour is a former national chairman of his party and one of Washington's most famed wheeler-dealers of recent years. He founded a major lobbying firm, Barbour, Giffith and Rogers and the Caucus Room. The latter, co-owned by  Tommy Boggs, head of Washington's top-grossing lobbyign firm Patton Boggs, is restaurant frequently by lobbysts and government decision-makers located across the street from FBI headquarters, and a stone's throw from Justice Department headquarters, Jack Abramoff's former restaurant -- and JIP headquarters.]

Aug. 30

Roger ShulerLegal Schnauzer, How Should a Progressive Blogger React to a Possible Death Threat? Roger Shuler, Aug. 30, 2011. On Monday evening, Legal Schnauzer received an anonymous comment that I interpreted to be a death threat. How should a blogger handle such a situation? I'm not aware of any textbook or position paper on the subject, so there seems to be no clear-cut answer. But I can tell you what I've done, so far. In the four-plus years that I've been producing this blog, I've received probably 50 to 75 anonymous messages that had a threatening tone. I'm guessing that 20 to 30 of those have been ugly enough to cause me some measure of alarm. I've never described any blog-related communication that I thought caused me to be in danger of bodily harm or death--until now. What's different about this most recent message? Well, I explained that, in a general sense, with a post yesterday afternoon. Mainly, the timing of the comment--and the content of the post to which it was attached--made me think the individual behind this one might be dangerous.

Aug. 29

Legal Schnauzer, Did I Just Receive a Death Threat Via E-Mail? Roger Shuler, Aug. 29, 2011. At 6:55 p.m. yesterday, I received an anonymous comment on this blog that reads as follows: "Yours is coming- Don't Worry." The comment was in response to a post I published last Tuesday (August 23), titled "Death of a Bush-Era Prosecutor Prompts Deep Thoughts On the Hereafter."  Anonymous threats, unfortunately, are not an uncommon occurrence around here. In fact, I've written several times about threats, most recently in a July 18 post that includes a roundup of the various charming messages we've received through the years.  I've always taken threats seriously, but not so much that I've ever reported one to authorities. This time, it might be different.

Washington Post, U.S. scientists knew 1940s Guatemalan STD studies were unethical, panel finds, Rob Stein, August 29, 2011. U.S. government researchers who purposely infected unwitting subjects with sexually transmitted diseases in Guatemala in the 1940s had obtained consent a few years earlier before conducting similar experiments in Indiana, investigators reported Monday.

FireDogLake, 83 Died in U.S.-Guatemala Syphilis Experiments, Jeff Kaye, Aug. 29, 2011. It made headlines when historian Susan M. Reverby of Wellesley College discovered a decades-old program run from by the U.S. Public Health Service’s studies in Guatemala from 1946 to 1948. That’s because the researchers deliberately inoculated subjects with syphilis in order to study sexually transmitted disease, and they did so without informed consent for the procedure. Subjects were “not told what the purpose of the research was nor were they warned of its potentially fatal consequences.” Furthermore, “U.S. government researchers must have known they were contravening ethical standards by deliberately infecting mental patients with syphilis.”

Huffington Post, Steven Hayne, Michael West 'Expert' Witness Scandal Could Affect Mississippi Attorney General Race, Radley Balko, Aug. 29 2011. A widening scandal involving two longtime expert witnesses may become an issue in Mississippi's race for attorney general this fall. Incumbent Attorney General Jim Hood has long defended two prolific but controversial forensic specialists who have come under fire in recent years: medical examiner Steven Hayne and forensic dentist Michael West. West has testified in about a hundred cases over the years, and Hayne has testified in thousands. Critics have alleged for years that the two are guns for hire, willing to say on the witness stand whatever prosecutors need in order to win a conviction.

Aug. 28

Associated Press / Huffington Post, New York Comptroller Spikes School Contract With News Corp, Aug. 28, 2011.New York's comptroller, Tom DiNapoli, spiked a $27 million contract with one of media giant Rupert Murdoch's companies because of the phone hacking scandal in Great Britain. Wireless Generation was to get $27 million of the state's $700 million in federal Race to the Top money to develop software that would track test scores. DiNapoli bowed to pressure from teachers' unions.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Special prosecutor: No charges for Prosser, Bradley in fracas, Jason Stein and Larry Sandler, Aug. 25, 2011. Neither Supreme Court Justice David Prosser nor fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley will face criminal charges for a June altercation that broke out as the judges were considering Gov. Scott Walker's union bargaining law, a special prosecutor has determined.  But the incident still could have far-reaching effects - possibly even opening the doors of the court to the public as justices debate how to decide cases.  Breaking her silence about the altercation in a written statement Thursday, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said she would propose "the presumption will be that court conferences are open to the public," as a way to lead the fractious court back toward civility.

Aug. 26

Harvey SilverglateForbes, Leveling the playing field: immunized witnesses for the defense, Harvey A. Silverglate, Aug. 26, 2011. In the vast majority of criminal cases, the defense faces a serious institutional disadvantage. One of the government's greatest assets is its ability to ask a judge to grant immunity to witnesses, a gift that assures the prosecution of evidence when it needs it. But a recent federal court case in Philadelphia presents the possibility of a partial un-stacking of the deck, as U.S. District Judge Sylvia Ramba granted a defense request for so-called “defense witness immunity,” a rarely granted, but potentially vital, tool for pursuing truth and achieving even-handed justice.

Aug. 25

Boston Phoenix, A libertarian's view of the Barstool/Brady child-porn fiasco, Silverglate, Aug. 25, 2011. Earlier this month, David Portnoy, a sports blogger, posted a naked picture of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s son on his website, and made a number of crude remarks directed to the baby’s genitals. A number of free speech advocates argued that, while Portnoy’s actions were in the worst possible taste, Portnoy’s blog could not be construed as a violation of the state’s child pornography statute and was, instead, constitutionally-protected speech. I argue that my esteemed colleagues are incorrect and overly-optimistic.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Special prosecutor: No charges for Prosser, Bradley in fracas, Jason Stein and Larry Sandler, Aug. 25, 2011. Neither Supreme Court Justice David Prosser nor fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley will face criminal charges for a June altercation that broke out as the judges were considering Gov. Scott Walker's union bargaining law, a special prosecutor has determined.  But the incident still could have far-reaching effects - possibly even opening the doors of the court to the public as justices debate how to decide cases.  Breaking her silence about the altercation in a written statement Thursday, Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson said she would propose "the presumption will be that court conferences are open to the public," as a way to lead the fractious court back toward civility.

Andy ThibaultTorrington (CT) Register-Citizen / Cool Justice, Diary Of A Big Easy Public Records Request, Andy Thibault, left, Aug. 25, 2011. This follows up a Connecticut journalist's recent report about his experiences fighting under Freedom of Information law to receive responses from New Orleans police on behalf of the family of New York businessman Gabe Caporino, who disappeared in 1974 under suspicious circumstances on a business trip. Thibault, a longtime Connecticut newspaper reporter and author of the book Law and Justice in Everyday Life, reports that New Orleans police are now spending large sums to resist his inquiries instead of responding to FOI requests or otherwise focusing on the case.


Aug. 24

International Business Times, WikiLeaks: U.S. Seeks Assange Info Through Patriot Act, Aug. 24, 2011. The United States Department of Homeland Security issued a production order, which essentially acts as a subpoena, at Wikileaks' California Domain Name System server, Dynadot. WikiLeaks reports that the server is complying with the American government. The production order comes on the same day of WikiLeaks releasing another batch of cables -- this time 35,000 -- primarily culled from U.S. embassies in China and Libya.

Aug. 23

OpEd News, Hacking Our Elections With Big Money And Power, Michael Collins and Sheila Parks, Aug. 23, 2011. In 2004, Wally O'Dell, CEO and Chair of the Board of Diebold, said he would help deliver Ohio to Bush. And he did. Election fraud has been going on at least since 1970. Read the book Votescam, by the late great brothers, James and Kenneth Collier. The fraud of the electronic voting machines, coupled with the complicity of the corporate media and the politicians, are not glitches, errors, anomalies. To begin to solve this mess, we must immediately go to secure, hand-counted paper ballot elections. To see a video interview with James Collier go here.

Aug. 22

Justice Integrity Project, Feeling Friendly This Week? Beware, Andrew Kreig, Aug. 22, 2011. Are you feeling friendly? Perhaps you’d like to meet Holly Weber or others like her through their Facebook, Linked-In and Twitter accounts. Or maybe recent news has prompted you to get active in politics -- or even to protest in some way? Here's the bottom line: Be careful, whatever your views.

Aug. 21

Michelle RheeNew York Times, Eager for Spotlight, but Not if It Is on a Testing Scandal, Michael Winerip, August 21, 2011. Why won’t Michelle Rhee talk to USA Today? Ms. Rhee, right in a Wikipedia photo, is the chancellor of the Washington public schools from 2007 to 2010, is the national symbol of the data-driven, take-no-prisoners education reform movement. And yet, as voracious as she is for the media spotlight, Ms. Rhee will not talk to USA Today.

Aug. 20

OpEd News, Caught? Fake conservative identities re-writing the web? Thom Hartmann, Aug. 20, 2011. The Chamber of Commerce may be up to something much more nefarious using fake internet identities. It appears their strategy was to use fake online personas -- complete with fake Twitter, Facebook  and Linked-in accounts -- to infiltrate and gather private data and intimidate people who work for organizations critical of the Chamber of Commerce.

Michael CollinsOpEd News, Murdoch in Free Fall -- Credibility Gone, Billions to Follow, Michael Collins, left, Aug. 20, 2011. Rupert and James Murdoch conjured up a fictional report that serves as the fig leaf used to cover the naughty secret of News Corporation --- they never investigated phone hacking in general and they never tried to clean house. Their contempt of Parliament may cost News Corporation 33% of its gross revenue.


Aug. 18

BradBlog, 'There is No Way for Them to be Tampered With': Mississippi Election Clerk Gets Approval to Remove Paper Trail Printers from Diebold Touch-Screens, Brad Friedman, Aug. 18, 2011. Last week, e-voting system failures --- such as e-voting machines that wouldn't start up at all and votes that were counted twice --- led to chaos and uncertain results in Mississippi's state primaries, leading one official to declare days afterward, as they were all struggling to sort out results of several close elections: "At this point there is no election...Everyone is baffled." Against that backdrop then, the Jones County Board of Supervisors approved the removal of printers from the county’s voting machines at the request of Jones County Circuit Clerk Bart Gavin at Monday’s board meeting in Laurel.

Truthout / Buzzflash, It’s Not Just News Corp.: Is Comcast Spying on You Every Day? Elliott Cohen, Aug. 18, 2011. When Guardian reporter, Nick Davies, broke the story that Rupert Murdoch's News of the World had been hacking British citizens' voicemail messages, including those of a murdered teenager, there was a public outcry. Unfortunately, this is the tip of a glacial iceberg that has the potential to bring down a lot more than the News of the World. Last year, without due public debate and input, the FCC and Justice Department approved a merger between Comcast and NBC Universal that gave the Internet cable giant control over the programming of NBC news. At the same time, Comcast as well as all other telecom companies are required to cooperate with the federal government in providing the facility for government to search through all electronic communications sent down their pipes. So presently, the government can hack everyone's phone and email conversations.