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September 30, 2009

Grant of habeas corpus to Fouad Mahmoud al Rahiah, held and tortured in Guantanamo for 7 years

The court decision clearly shows that the US government detained and tortured this man into demonstrably false confessions for most of the seven years he's been held in Guantanamo.  The wheels of American justice may grind slowly, but we must remember that they sometimes are grinding people down in the process.

The Obama administration's continued pursuit of this case leaves one's mind reeling between whether it was unconscionable given the facts or whether it was brilliant strategy to ensure more clear legal rulings on these matters instead of just leaving this history of the Bush administration's torture and detention policies in legal limbo by simply releasing him.

Extract from the 65 page opinion, Civil. Action No. 02-828 (CKK) :

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

FOUAD MAHMOUD AL RABIAH, et al., Petitioners,

v.

UNITED STATES, et al., Respondents.

Civil. Action No. 02-828 (CKK)

CLASSIFIED MEMORANDUM OPINION (September 17, 2009)

UNCLASSIFIEDIIFOR PUBLIC RELEASE

Petitioner Fouad Mahmoud Al Rabiah ("AI Rabiah") has been detained by the United States Government at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba since 2002. The evidentiary record on which the Government seeks to justify his indefinite detention is surprisingly bare. The Government has withdrawn its reliance on most of the evidence and allegations that were once asserted against Al Rabiah, and now relies almost exclusively on Al Rabiah's "confessions" to certain conduct. Not only did Al Rabiah's interrogators repeatedly conclude that these same confessions were not believable - which Al Rabiah's counsel attributes to abuse and coercion, some of which is supported by the record - but it is also undisputed that AI Rabiah confessed to information that his interrogators obtained from either alleged eyewitnesses who are not credible and as to whom the Government has now largely withdrawn any reliance, or from sources that never even existed. Far from providing the Court with credible and reliable evidence as the basis for Al Rabiah's continued detention, the Government asks the Court to simply accept the same confessions that the Government's own interrogators did not credit, and to ignore the assessment [REDACTED]

Based on this record (or more accurately, in spite of it), the Government asserts that it has the authority to detain Al Rabiah pursuant to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, Pub. L. No.1 07-40, § 2(a), 115 Stat. 224, 224 (2001) ("AUMF"), which authorizes the use of force against certain terrorist nations, organizations, and persons. Al Rabiah believes he is unlawfully detained and has filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

In connection with its inquiry into whether Al Rabiah is lawfully detained, the Court has considered the factual evidence in the record, the extensive legal briefings submitted by the parties, and the arguments presented during a four-day Merits Hearing held on August 26-28, 2009, and August 31, 2009, during which the parties proffered evidence based on the written record and did not present any live testimony.  Based on the foregoing, the Court concludes that Al Rabiah's uncorroborated confessions are not credible or reliable, and that the Government has failed to provide the Court with sufficiently credible and reliable evidence to meet its burden of persuasion. If there exists a basis for Al Rabiah's indefinite detention, it most certainly has not been presented to this Court. Al Rabiah's petition for habeas corpus is GRANTED.

September 29, 2009

Clip: Obama and China: Vandalism or Vision

Obama and China: Vandalism or Vision.

At the G-20 meetings in Pittsburgh, [Obama] succeeded in gaining international approval - including that of the Chinese - for a continuing review of the unsustainable imbalances in the global economy. The decision on Chinese tires may just be the president suggesting that he may put some teeth into digesting that change. 

Like health care, climate change, and financial reform, the challenge is inescapable. America can't go back to borrowing $2 billion a day from abroad to act as the world's consumer. Americans can't go back to spending more than they make, maxing out credit cards, treating their homes as an ATM machine. Those days are over. 

That means, as the president has said, the US must spend less and invest more. We must produce more at home, and export more. If that is the case, then inevitably the surplus countries, the mercantilist nations that have used export-led growth to drive their economies -- China, Germany, Japan and others -- also have to change course.

September 26, 2009

Clip: The New Sputnik

Op-Ed Columnist - The New Sputnik - NYTimes.com.

The view of China in the U.S. Congress — that China is going to try to leapfrog us by out-polluting us — is out of date. It’s going to try to out-green us. Right now, China is focused on low-cost manufacturing of solar, wind and batteries and building the world’s biggest market for these products. It still badly lags U.S. innovation. But research will follow the market. America’s premier solar equipment maker, Applied Materials, is about to open the world’s largest privately funded solar research facility — in Xian, China.

“If they invest in 21st-century technologies and we invest in 20th-century technologies, they’ll win,” says David Sandalow, the assistant secretary of energy for policy. “If we both invest in 21st-century technologies, challenging each other, we all win.”

September 23, 2009

Clip: Key Senators and Paul Krugman Call for Tariffs on High Carbon Footprint Products

Key Senators and Paul Krugman Call for Tariffs on High Carbon Footprint Products | OurFuture.org.

Creating a system of global trade that is sustainable and allows all countries including the United States to flourish is necessary for a global economic recovery. To do this, we must enact strong laws that don't allow one country to cheat the other by polluting their way to low prices.

Some argue that such measures, such as putting a tariff on products with a high carbon footprint are protectionists and harmful. However, as Steelworkers President Leo Gerard argues today in a must-read New York Times piece defending the decision of his union to call for enforcement of trade laws on tire and paper imports: “Anybody who believes we have a rule-based system, but we shouldn’t enforce the laws, they’re the ones jeopardizing the global trading system.”

Without a commitment to live up to—and a precedent of enforcing—agreements, any climate change treaty signed at Copenhagen or at future summits won't be worth the paper it is printed on.

September 18, 2009

Re: Edward Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Dies - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.com

H/t to APN who noted to me, 

Wow, and that was called demagogic instead of prescient.  Not only does this describe the actual platform of the current Republican Party and the majority rule on the Supreme Court, without a bit of research I could annotate an example of how this Court and this Party have in fact ruled, enacted and/or endorsed each of the points so aptly predicted by Kennedy.  Who is demagogic?

Edward Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Dies - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.com.

He was a forceful and successful opponent of the confirmation of Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court. In a speech delivered within minutes of President Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Mr. Bork in 1987, Mr. Kennedy made an attack that even friendly commentators called demagogic.

Mr. Bork’s “extremist view of the Constitution,” Mr. Kennedy said, meant that “Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, and schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of Americans.”Some of Mr. Kennedy’s success as a legislator can be traced to the quality and loyalty of his staff, considered by his colleagues and outsiders alike to be the best on Capitol Hill.

September 07, 2009

Re: Tom Coburn Loses ‘Tenther’ Debate With Town Hall Attendee

Re: Think Progress » Tom Coburn Loses ‘Tenther’ Debate With Town Hall Attendee .

[Senatory Tom] Coburn argued that instituting a single-payer system would result in “rationing.” The town hall attendee astutely noted, “I feel like health care is rationed now.” Coburn responded, “Well, not near the extent it is in the countries that have single-payer.” In fact, countries with single-payer systems — like Australia and Canada — enjoy higher life-expectancy, lower infant mortality, and better cost efficiency.

Lower costs, better outcomes.  That sounds like the kind of "rationing" we could all use!

Coburn quickly pivoted to a “tenther” argument, asking the woman: “Where do you find the authority in the U.S. Constitution for the federal government” to run a single-payer health care system? The crowd exploded with applause. 

Uh ... Well, Tom, would be in Article I, Section 8, you know Article I, right?, the part of the Constitution that defines the role of the Congress, which basically is your job description.  Here's the relevant part:

Section. 8. The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States;

September 05, 2009

Clip: Lessons Learned from Clinton Health Care Debacle - NYTimes.com

Clip: Lessons Learned from Clinton Health Care Debacle - NYTimes.com.

... In 1994, Democrats’ dysfunction over fulfilling a new president’s campaign promise contributed to the party’s loss of its 40-year dominance of Congress. ... and it is the message the White House and Congressional leaders will press when lawmakers return this week...

Republicans early on united behind the lesson they took from the past struggle, that they stand to gain politically in next year’s elections if Democrats do nothing.

... the lessons of the Clinton era:

Lesson 1: Failure Is Not an Option...

“When a party fails to govern, it fails electorally,” said Rahm Emanuel, a former Clinton aide who now is Mr. Obama’s chief of staff.

Lesson 2: Know your audience — insured taxpayers...

Mr. Obama never did [promise universal coverage], except for children. He emphasized that insured Americans would see lower costs, more choices and better coverage.

Lesson 3: Move before the honeymoon ends...

Lesson 4: Leave the details to Congress...

[But, ]“They’re not going to get the ball over the finish line without his direct help and intervention,” said Mr. Podesta, the former Clinton lieutenant, who headed Mr. Obama’s post-election transition.

Lesson 5: Co-opt the opposition...

Lesson 6: Take what you can get.

...The question for Mr. Obama is whether he will have any Republicans with whom to compromise. More likely, he will have to mediate between the liberals and conservatives in his own party.

September 04, 2009

Clip: Appeals Court Rules Against Ashcroft in 9 / 11 Case

What is it about the right-wing that they think the US Constitution can be selectively applied ... and not to people, even other US citizens, they think they might be afraid of?

Clip: Appeals Court Rules Against Ashcroft in 9 / 11 Case - NYTimes.com.

A federal appeals court delivered a stinging rebuke Friday to the Bush administration's post-Sept. 11 detention policies, ruling that former Attorney General John Ashcroft can be held liable for people who were wrongfully detained as material witnesses after 9/11. 
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the government's improper use of material witnesses after Sept. 11 was ''repugnant to the Constitution and a painful reminder of some of the most ignominious chapters of our national history.''

Re: Some Data for Mr. Biden by Jerry Bowyer on National Review Online

Why do I even bother with the right-wing blogs?  They are so intellectually challenged.  This guy disputes Joe Biden's statement that the economy has moved "to a safer ground on which we now discuss recovery" by pointing out that our economy is not growing yet (for the numbers so far available -- Q2 2009 --, though it probably is today).  But Biden did not say it was in positive growth, only that we had pulled back "from the precipice of a second Great Depression", which looking at the graph is exactly true as we can see that the world's economy in recession for two quarters of 2008 and then dropping very badly for the next two quarters (Q4 2008 and Q1 2009). While Q2 2009 is down mildly, it is clearly out of "depression" territory into mildly down, recovery territory.

Sheesh.

The National Review's own graph clearly shows Biden was right, we've passed the precipice and are looking at recovery (not that jobs don't have a long way -- 6 - 9 months? -- to go):

Some Data for Mr. Biden by Jerry Bowyer on National Review Online.

The vice president recently told the Brookings Institution that he has no doubt that the Obama administration’s stimulus plan has been a success. In fact, it’s been so successful that it has moved us from the precipice of a second Great Depression to the safer ground on which we now discuss recovery.
A big problem with this line of “reasoning” is that as of the second quarter of 2009 — the most recent period for which GDP data are available — we were still in recession. Meanwhile, much of the rest of the developed world had resumed positive economic growth.

Clip: Who Will Be Hurt if the Democrats Pass Health Care Alone

Lincoln Mitchell: Who Will Be Hurt if the Democrats Pass Health Care Alone.
The reason millions of Americans voted Democratic last fall was to pass progressive legislation such as health care reform. There is little point in having a Democratic majority if the party is afraid to use its majority to actually do anything. Inevitably the Democratic majority will be reduced and eventually the Republicans will come back in power. It would be a mistake to let this time go by without passing progressive legislation and get nothing out of this period of Democratic dominance, however long or brief it may be. 
Second, this argument is at its core, a bluff.... 
If the Democrats pass this bill alone, and are able to do it with a public option, not only will the Republican Party have been proven beyond a doubt to be irrelevant in Washington today, but they will have once again put themselves on the opposing side of groundbreaking legislation. A good health care program which provides a way for millions of currently uninsured Americans to get health insurance will become popular, much like Social Security and Medicare have....
...It might be better for America, and would certainly be better for the Republicans, if this program were passed with bipartisan support, but passing it alone won't hurt the Democrats. Failing to take advantage of this opportunity will, on the other hand, hurt both the Democratic Party and the country which it governs.

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