Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Horse. Shit.

Today, someone tried to explain why this constant Reagan coverage was justified. Here's my response:

No, it is not justified. Nothing *new* has happened. Reagan is still dead. What is the point of the News doing 24/7 coffin-cam shit when important things are going on in the world? The networks are not doing their jobs spending all of their time on it.

Would you like to know what happened today that you probably won't see on the major news networks?

Last year, lawyers argued on behalf of the Bush administration, that Bush had the right to torture alleged terrorists and that he is above the law in a time of danger (something that rolls back hundreds of years of post-Magna Carta law). We only found out about this because someone in the administration leaked the memo. There are parts of the memo that suggest that certain acts that the Supreme Court has defined as torture are not really torture and that they can be exercised. This raises mountains of new questions regarding the official policy and knowledge of both the Bush administration and the Pentagon (er... the Ronald Reagan Defense Center ) regarding the travesty that was the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

So Congress asked Ashcroft for access to the memos. Know what he did? He flat out refused to turn them over. Did he claim that executive privelege or Congressional statute prevented him from turning them over? Did he cite any legal justification for why he wouldn't do it? No, he flat out admitted that he wouldn't do it merely because he didn't want to. This resulted in an exhasperated Congress that began to threaten to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Check out some of what was said on the floor:

KENNEDY: Just, General, has the president authorized you to invoke the executive privilege today on these documents?

ASHCROFT: I am not going to reveal discussions, whether I've had them or not had them, with the president. He asked me to deal with him as a matter of confidence.

I have not invoked executive privilege today. I have explained to you why I'm not turning over the documents.

KENNEDY: Well, what are you invoking?

ASHCROFT: I have not invoked anything. I have just explained to you why I'm not turning over the documents.

BIDEN: Thank you very much.

Well, General, that means you may be in contempt of Congress then. You got to have a reason not to answer our questions, as you know from you sitting up here. There may be a rationale for executive privilege that misses the point, but, you know, you have to have a reason. You are not allowed, under our Constitution, not to answer our questions, and that ain't constitutional.

But that's a different question. I don't want to get off on it, because I have to talk about other things. But you all better come up with a good rationale, because otherwise it's contempt of Congress.


DURBIN: I respect that.

But under which standard are you denying this committee the memos, either executive privilege or a specific statutory authority created by Congress exempting your constitutional responsibility to disclose? Under which are you refusing to disclose these memos?

ASHCROFT: I am refusing to disclose these memos because I believe it is essential to the operation of the executive branch that the president have the opportunity to get information from his attorney general that is confidential and that the responsibility to do that is a function of the executive branch and a necessity that is protected by the doctrine of the separation of powers in the Constitution.

And for that reason -- and that is the reason for which I have not delivered to the Congress or the members of the Senate these memos, any memos.

DURBIN: Sir, Attorney General, with all due respect, your personal belief is not a law, and you are not citing a law and you are not claiming executive privilege. And, frankly, that is what contempt of Congress is all about.

You have to give us a specific legal authority which gives you the right to say no or the president has to claim privilege. And you've done neither.

I think this committee has a responsibility to move forward on this.

HATCH: Are these memos classified?

Is this a sidebar conference on something the attorney general has so authoritatively stated his position on?

ASHCROFT: I'll tell you: This is me getting advice which will remain confidential.

HATCH: Well, I know. But the attorney general has been speaking about these memos so authoritatively that you ought to be able to at least say whether they are classified or not.

ASHCROFT: I have answered your questions. The committee has not made a decision to ask for these memos.

DURBIN: No, but the chairman asked you a specific question. Are there memos classified?

ASHCROFT: Some of these memos may be classified in some ways for some purposes.

ASHCROFT: I don't know. I don't...

DURBIN: Mr. Attorney General, with all due respect, that is a complete evasion. What you have done is refuse to cite a statutory basis for disclosing these memos, refused to claim executive privilege, and now suggest that some parts of these may be classified.


LEAHY: I would assume that you would carry out your responsibilities; you swore a solemn oath to do so. But does your answer mean that there has or has not been any order directed from the president with respect to interrogation of detainees, prisoners or combatants?

ASHCROFT: The president of the United States has not ordered any activity which would contradict the laws enacted by this Congress or previous Congresses...

LEAHY: Not quite my...

ASHCROFT: ... or the Constitution of the United States...

LEAHY: Mr. Attorney General, that was not my question.


ASHCROFT: ... or any of the treaties.

LEAHY: That was not my question.

Has there been any order directed from the president with respect to interrogation of detainees, prisoners or combatants, yes or no?

ASHCROFT: I'm not in a position to answer that question.

LEAHY: Does that mean because you don't know or you don't want to answer? I don't understand.

ASHCROFT: The answer to that question is yes.

LEAHY: You don't know whether he's issued such an order?

ASHCROFT: For me to comment on what I advise the president...

LEAHY: I'm not asking...

ASHCROFT: ... what the president's activity is is inappropriate if -- I will just say this: that he has made no order that would require or direct the violation of any law of the United States enacted by the Congress, or any treaty to which the United States is a party as ratified by the Congress, or the Constitution of the United States.

LEAHY: Well, it doesn't answer my question. But I think my time is up. We'll come back later.

Pretty newsworthy, right? Nope. Instead of learning about the gathering threat to the Separation of Powers that form the basis of the United States, we got "RONALD REAGAN IZ DED AND HE RULEZ AM I RITE?" 24 hours a day. It's like there's a firefight going on outside your house and you're inside watching "Who's Line is It Anyway?"

And you know what's sad? The administration will probably get away with this horseshit because 90% of America will have no idea that it ever happened. They'll just keep sucking down the soma of "BREAKING NEWS: How Reagan saved the west from Communist totalitarianism" and re-elect the whole nightmare of an administration to a second goddamn term.

That's a travesty. I feel bad for his loved ones, but when it comes to news, fuck him. We all know that he's dead and could probably benefit much more from coverage of shit that's actually important than the utterly repulsive circle-jerking that's passing for journalism on all of the major networks right now.

edit: If you didn't catch it tonight, you should try to watch tonight's Daily Show, with Jon Stewart, when it airs later tonight or tomorrow afternoon. It catches some of the better parts of the testimony and Jon's comments are perfect. I'll pull up a link if I find it available.

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