Musharraf Plays Bush for a Fool by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Marjorie Cohn
Global Research, November 20, 2007

Pakistan ‘s President General Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 3rd after the Pakistani Supreme Court indicated it would overturn the results of an illegitimate election that would have extended Musharraf’s term as president. Musharraf quickly fired the Supreme Court justices who planned to rule against him. And his declaration of emergency attacked the entire population of Pakistan by suspending fundamental constitutional rights to life and liberty, freedom of speech, assembly and association, and equal protection of the law.

As a result of Musharraf’s action, Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry is being held under house arrest, and over 2500 lawyers in different parts of Pakistan have been detained. The detainees include the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and officials of the Democratic Lawyers Association of Pakistan. The government also ordered that journalists who brought “ridicule or disrepute” to Musharraf could face three years in prison.

The real motivation for Musharraf’s declared emergency is not to defend the country against “Islamic extremists,” as he claims, but to maintain Musharraf in power. He acted to prevent public protests that lawyers and political parties were organizing. And his scheme is working. Musharraf’s new brand-new, hand-picked Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Musharraf can remain in power for five more years.

Meanwhile, the Bush Administration is scurrying around in damage control mode. Musharraf’s actions would be very embarrassing for Bush — if Bush were the type of guy to get embarrassed. After all, Bush has been claiming for the past several years that he wants to spread democracy throughout the Islamic world. Somehow, Musharraf’s declared state of emergency, followed by mass arrests of his political opponents, doesn’t seem very democratic.

Bush dispatched Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte to Pakistan to talk sense to Musharraf. Negroponte urged Musharraf to end the state of emergency. But Bush’s man didn’t complain about Musharraf shutting down the Supreme Court and replacing it with his loyalists. Negroponte also failed to tell Musharraf to release the judges and lawyers from prison. So much for democracy and an independent judiciary.

The recipient of nearly $11 billion of U.S. aid since 9/11, Musharraf will cover for his benefactor Bush to keep him from losing face in light of the Pakistani strongman’s blatant and tyrannical power grab. Musharraf has agreed that parliamentary elections scheduled for January will proceed and that he will take off his military uniform after the sham elections are held. Of course, Musharraf’s jailed political opponents will likely find it difficult to campaign effectively for seats in parliament while incarcerated under a state of martial law.

American citizens whose tax dollars are being used to prop up this ruthless and corrupt regime should demand an accounting of how their money is being spent.

Bush claims that Musharraf is an indispensable ally in his “war against terror,” and that money sent to Pakistan supports that goal. It appears from my vantage point, though, that Musharraf is playing Bush for a fool. Musharraf tells Bush he will help destroy the Taliban. However, Pakistani Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy wrote in the November 18 Los Angeles Times that some people in Pakistan believe Musharraf is “secretly supporting the Taliban as a means for countering Indian influence.” Moreover, if Musharraf wants to regain and maintain support of the Pakistani people, he will continue to support the Taliban. Hoodbhoy also wrote, “Most Pakistanis see the [Taliban] as America ‘s enemy, not their own. The Taliban is perceived as the only group standing up against the unwelcome American presence in the region.” According to Hoodbhoy, “For more than 25 years, the army has nurtured Islamist radicals as proxy warriors for covert operations on Pakistan ‘s borders in Kashmir and Afghanistan .”

Hoodbhoy’s remarks are corroborated by Adrien Levy, co-author of “Deception: Pakistan , the United States and the Global Nuclear Weapons Conspiracy.” Levy told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, “The [Musharraf] agenda is to destabilize Afghanistan , to create a government there which is favorable to Islamabad . These are goals which are actually contrary to the goals – very largely contrary to the goals of the West. Yet,” Levy, said, “this slowly moving car crash of the U.S. pumping billions of untraceable cash into the Pakistan military has continued since 2001 and we’re left with the position where Pakistan is devoid of democracy, democracy is weakened and feeble, and we have just increased instability, quite honestly.”

If Congress stands by and does nothing to cut off the funds to Musharraf while he maintains martial law in Pakistan , it will confirm our worst fears that Democrats and Republicans alike are making a sham of our democracy.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and the President of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law. Her columns are archived at www.marjoriecohn.com.

Marjorie Cohn is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Marjorie Cohn
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Torture Endorsed, Torture Denied by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Marjorie Cohn
Global Research, October 8, 2007
The Jurist

JURIST Contributing Editor Marjorie Cohn of Thomas Jefferson School of Law says that the Bush administration’s repeated insistence that it has not endorsed the torture of prisoners rings hollow in light of newly-disclosed US Department of Justice memos supporting the harshest techniques the CIA has ever used…

The April 2004 publication of grotesque photographs of naked Iraqis piled on top of each other, forced to masturbate, and led around on leashes like dogs, sent shock waves around the world. George W. Bush declared, “I shared a deep disgust that those prisoners were treated the way they were treated.” Yet less than a year later, his Justice Department issued a secret opinion endorsing the harshest techniques the CIA has ever used, according to a report in the New York Times. These include head slapping, frigid temperatures, and water boarding, in which the subject is made to feel he is drowning. Water boarding is widely considered a torture technique. Once again, Bush is compelled to issue a denial. “This government does not torture people,” he insisted.

This was not the first time the Bush administration had officially endorsed torture, however. John Yoo, writing for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, penned an August 2002 memorandum that rewrote the legal definition of torture to require the equivalent of organ failure. This memo violated the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, a treaty the United States ratified, and therefore part of U.S. law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

In December 2002, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approved interrogation methods that included the use of dogs, hooding, stress positions, isolation for up to 30 days, 20-hour interrogations, deprivation of light and sound, and water boarding. U.S. Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora told William Haynes, the Pentagon’s general counsel, that Rumsfeld’s “authorized interrogation techniques could rise to the level of torture.” As a result, Rumsfeld rescinded some methods but reserved the right to approve others, including water boarding, on a case-by-case basis.

When Bush maintained last week that his government doesn’t torture prisoners, he stressed the necessity of interrogation to “protect the American people.” Notwithstanding the myth perpetuated by shows like “24,” however, torture doesn’t work. Experts agree that people who are tortured will say anything to make the torture stop.

One of the first victims of the Bush administration’s 2002 torture policy was Abu Zubaydah, whom they called “chief of operations” for al Qaeda and bin Laden’s “number three man.” He was repeatedly tortured at the secret CIA “black sites.” They water boarded him, withheld his medication, threatened him with impending death, and bombarded him with continuous deafening noise and harsh lights.

But Zubaydah wasn’t a top al Qaeda leader. Dan Coleman, one of the FBI’s leading experts on al Qaeda, said of Zubaydah, “He knew very little about real operations, or strategy … He was expendable, you know, the greeter . . . Joe Louis in the lobby of Caeser’s Palace, shaking hands.” Moreover, Zubaydah was schizophrenic; according to Coleman, “This guy is insane, certifiable split personality.” Coleman’s views were echoed at the top levels of the CIA and were communicated to Bush and Cheney. But Bush scolded CIA director George Tenet, saying, “I said [Zubaydah] was important. You’re not going to let me lose face on this, are you?” Zubaydah’s minor role in al Qaeda and his apparent insanity were kept secret.

In response to the torture, Zubaydah told his interrogators about myriad terrorist targets al Qaeda had in its sights: the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statute of Liberty, shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, and apartment buildings. Al Qaeda was close to building a crude nuclear bomb, Zubaydah reported. None of this was corroborated but the Bush gang reacted to each report zealously.

Moreover, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, considered the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, was tortured so severely – including by water boarding – that the information he provided is virtually worthless. A potentially rich source of intelligence was lost as a result of the torture.

Bush’s insistence that his administration doesn’t torture rings hollow. He lied about weapons of mass destruction and a Saddam-al Qaeda connection in Iraq. He lied when he assured us his officials would not wiretap without warrants. As evidence of secret memos detailing harsh interrogation policies continues to emerge, we can’t believe Bush’s denials about torture.

Democrats in Congress have demanded they be allowed to see the memos, but Bush said the interrogation methods have been “fully disclosed to appropriate members of Congress.” Senator John D. Rockefeller IV was unmoved. “I’m tired of these games,” he said. “They can’t say that Congress has been fully briefed while refusing to turn over key documents used to justify the legality of the program.”

It is incumbent upon the Senate Judiciary Committee to vigorously interrogate Michael Mukasey during his attorney general confirmation hearing. As AG, Mukasey would oversee the department that writes interrogation policy. Mukasey should know that the Convention Against Torture prohibits torture in all circumstances, even in times of war.

Torture is a war crime. Those who commit or order torture can be convicted under the U.S. War Crimes Statute. Techniques that don’t rise to the level of torture but constitute cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment also violate U.S. law. Congress should provide for the appointment of a special independent counsel to fully investigate and prosecute all who are complicit in the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild. She is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law. Her articles are archived at http://www.marjoriecohn.com/

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Cheney Sounds Out Jordan, Egypt on U.S. Bombing of Iran by Prof Marjorie Cohn

Dandelion Salad

by Prof Marjorie Cohn
Global Research, September 27, 2007
Huffington Post

My cousin Larry Russell, a travel writer, spent three weeks (May 11 through May 31 of 2007) in Jordan as a guest of the Jordanian Tourist Board. He was invited to dinner at the home of Karim Kawar, Jordan ‘s ex- ambassador to the United States (2002-06), in Amman. Dick Cheney and his daughter were Kawar’s guests two nights before Larry arrived. Kawar confided to Larry that “Cheney’s mission was to sound out the reaction to a forthcoming bombing of Iran ‘s nuclear sites (no ground invasion planned) by the U.S. from Jordan’s King Abdullah and President Mubarak of Egypt . They both rejected the idea.”

When Larry pointed out that Jordan and Egypt receive regular economic and military equipment assistance from the United States so any resistance to this plan on their parts would probably be of a token nature at best, Kawar just smiled.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and President of the National Lawyers Guild. Her new book, Cowboy Republic : Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, was just published. Her articles are archived at www.marjoriecohn.com

Marjorie Cohn is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Marjorie Cohn

 


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Bush Plans War on Iran by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Marjorie Cohn
Global Research, September 2, 2007

The Sunday Times of London is reporting that the Pentagon has plans for three days of massive air strikes against 1,200 targets in Iran . Last week, Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center , told a meeting of The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal, that the military did not intend to carry out “pinprick strikes” against Iranian nuclear facilities. He said, “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military.”

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Reviewing Marjorie Cohn’s “Cowboy Republic” by Stephen Lendman

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Aug 9, 2007

Marjorie Cohn is a distinguished law professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego where she’s taught since 1991 and is the current president of the National Lawyers Guild. She’s also been a criminal defense attorney at the trial and appellate levels, is an author, and has written many articles for professional journals, other publications, and for noted web sites such as Global Research, ZNet, CounterPunch, AfterDowning Street, Common Dreams, AlterNet and others. Her long record of achievements, distinctions and awards is broad and varied for her teaching, writing and her work as a lawyer and activist for peace, social and economic justice.

Cohn’s latest book just published, and subject of this review, is titled “Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law.” It provides a thorough, impressive and incisive account of the most important ways the Bush administration defied, defiled and weakened the rule of law and by so doing hurtled the nation toward tyranny. This book is an essential guide to their lawless record, its threat to the nation and world, and the desperate need to confront it, challenge it and remove it from office before it’s too late. The stakes couldn’t be greater – the fate of the republic hangs by a thread as well as all humanity if people of conscience fail to act and swiftly. Cohn’s book lays out the problem clearly. The rest is up to us.

Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, introduces what’s to follow in his brief introduction to Cohn’s book. In it, he states the most important lesson of the disastrous Iraq war is that “adherence to international law serves the national (as well as) human interest in time of war.” More than at any other time, with the nation at war, US presidents can practically operate as dictators outside the normally constraining check and balancing influences of the other two branches of government, when they choose to use them.

Continued…

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FISA Revised: A Blank Check for Domestic Spying by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Marjorie Cohn
Global Research, August 10, 2007

Responding to fear-mongering by the Bush administration, the Democrat-led Congress put its stamp of approval on the unconstitutional wiretapping of Americans.

George W. Bush has perfected the art of ramming ill-considered legislation through Congress by hyping emergencies that don’t exist. He did it with the USA Patriot Act, the authorization for the Iraq war, the Military Commissions Act, and now the “Protect America Act of 2007” which amends the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

FISA was enacted in 1978 in reaction to excesses of Richard Nixon and the FBI, who covertly spied on critics of administration policies. FISA set up a conservative system with judges who meet in secret and issue nearly every wiretapping order the administration requests.

But that wasn’t good enough for Bush. In 2001, he secretly established his “Terrorist Surveillance Program,” with which the National Security Agency has illegally spied on Americans. Instead of holding hearings and holding the executive accountable for his law-breaking, Congress capitulated once again to the White House’s strong-arm tactics. As Congress was about to adjourn for its summer recess, Bush officials threatened to label anyone who opposed their new legislation as soft on terror. True to form, Congress – including 16 Senate and 41 House Democrats – caved.

The new law takes the power to authorize electronic surveillance out of the hands of a judge and places it in the hands of the attorney general (AG) and the director of national intelligence (DNI). FISA had required the government to convince a judge there was probable cause to believe the target of the surveillance was a foreign power or the agent of a foreign power. The law didn’t apply to wiretaps of foreign nationals abroad. Its restrictions were triggered only when the surveillance targeted a U.S. citizen or permanent resident or when the surveillance was obtained from a wiretap physically located in the United States . The attorney general was required to certify that the communications to be monitored would be exclusively between foreign powers and there was no substantial likelihood a U.S. person would be overheard.

Under the new law, the attorney general and the director of national intelligence can authorize “surveillance directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States .” The surveillance could take place inside the U.S. , and there is no requirement of any connection with al-Qaeda, terrorism or criminal behavior. The requirement that the AG certify there is no substantial likelihood a U.S. person will be overheard has been eliminated.

By its terms, the new law will sunset in 180 days. But this is a specious limitation. The AG and DNI can authorize surveillance for up to one year. So just before the statute is set to expire around February 1, 2008, they could approve surveillance that will last until after Bush leaves office.

There is provision for judicial review of the procedures the AG and DNI establish to make sure they are reasonably designed to ensure communications of U.S. persons are not overheard. But that requirement is also specious. They must submit their procedures to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court 120 days after the effective date of the act. The court doesn’t have to respond to their submission until 180 days after the effective date of the act, and the standard of review is appallingly low. It’s limited to whether the government’s determination is “clearly erroneous.” Even if the court were to find the proffer clearly erroneous, the AG and DNI have another 30 days to fix it. That takes the entire review process beyond the 6 month sunset period. Meanwhile, the surveillance can continue.

The Supreme Court held in the 1967 case of Katz v. United States that government wiretapping must be supported by a search warrant based on probable cause and issued by a judge. In 1972, the Court, in U.S. v. U.S. District Court (Keith), struck down warrantless domestic surveillance. The Court has recognized the “special needs” exception to the warrant requirement. The special need must be narrowly tailored to the problem. However, the new law is much too broad to come under this exception. Congress eliminated any need that the person surveilled be a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power. The government need only show it is seeking “foreign intelligence information.” There is no requirement of any connection with terrorism. The special needs exception also requires an absence of discretion in the implementing authority. There is unlimited discretion now as long as the target is reasonably believed to be outside the United States .

The AG is required under the new law to report to Congress semi-annually, but only on incidents of non-compliance. Can we really trust Alberto Gonzales to be forthcoming about compliance with this law? Senator Christopher Dodd told Glenn Greenwald at the YearlyKos convention last week that neither he nor the other senators have any idea of how the Bush administration has been using its secret program to spy on Americans.

Finally, the new law requires telephone companies to collect data and turn it over to the federal government. It also grants immunity against lawsuits to these companies, many of which are currently defendants in civil cases.

Indeed, the mad rush to push this legislation through last week was likely a preemptive strike by Bush to head off adverse rulings in lawsuits challenging the legality of his Terrorist Surveillance Program. On August 9, a federal district court in San Francisco will hear oral arguments by lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild in CCR v. Bush. And on August 15, Guild lawyers and others will argue Al-Haramain v. Bush in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

In six months, when the “Protect America Act of 2007” is set to expire, there will be even more political pressure on Congress to appear tough on terror in the run-up to the 2008 presidential election. We cannot expect a Congress that so easily caved in to the fears hyped by the Bush administration to stand firm in support of the Constitution.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and President of the National Lawyers Guild. Her new book, Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, has just been published by PoliPointPress. Her articles are archived at http://www.marjoriecohn.com/.

Marjorie Cohn is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Marjorie Cohn


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Glenn Greenwald & Marjorie Cohn on FISA and Wiretapping (link)

Dandelion Salad

August 07, 2007

Democrats Capitulate to President Bush as Congress Gives Government Broad New Powers to Conduct Warrantless Surveillance on American Citizens 

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Time for an Independent Counsel by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Alberto Gonzales’s testimony before Congress: a criminal investigation is warranted

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Marjorie Cohn
Global Research, July 30, 2007

Congressional leaders are calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate possible perjury charges against Alberto Gonzales. As we saw during the Watergate scandal, the executive branch cannot be counted on to investigate itself.

Watergate led to the enactment of the Ethics in Government Act. Three years after Richard Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment, President Jimmy Carter asked Congress to pass a law authorizing the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute unlawful acts by high government officials. The bill empowered the attorney general to conduct a preliminary 90-day investigation when serious allegations arose involving a high government official. President Carter, who signed the bill in 1978, declared, “I believe that this act will help to restore confidence in the integrity of our government.”

Under the act, the attorney general could drop the investigation if he determined it was unsupported by the evidence. But if he found some merit to the charges, he was required to apply to a three-judge panel of federal court judges who would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate, prosecute, and issue a report.

The referral clause of the independent counsel statute provided, “An independent counsel shall advise the House of Representatives of any substantial and credible information which such independent counsel receives, in carrying out the independent counsel’s responsibilities under this chapter, that may constitute grounds for an impeachment.” But Congress, reacting to Kenneth Starr’s witch hunt which led to Bill Clinton’s impeachment, allowed the independent counsel statute to expire by its own terms in 1999.

With the death of the independent counsel statute, the pendulum had swung back. By failing to renew the act, Congress returned the investigation of high government officials to pre-Watergate policies. Once again, the power to appoint an independent counsel would rest with the executive branch, that is, the attorney general. The Department of Justice drafted a set of regulations to guide future investigations.

Now the attorney general, not a three-judge panel, has the authority to appoint and remove special counsel to investigate top government officials. He exercises power over indictments and other prosecutorial actions, and the special counsel remains accountable to the attorney general. He can block “any investigative or prosecutorial step” he deems “inappropriate or unwarranted.”

Justice Department regulations call for the appointment of an outside special counsel when (1) a criminal investigation of a person or matter is warranted, (2) the investigation or prosecution of that person or matter by a United States Attorney’s Office or litigating division of the Department of Justice would present a conflict of interest for the Department, and (3) under the circumstances it would be in the public interest to appoint an outside Special Counsel to assume responsibility for the matter. When these three conditions are satisfied, the attorney general must select a special counsel from outside the government. (28 C.F.R. 600.1, 600.3 (2007).)

In light of material inconsistencies in Alberto Gonzales’s testimony before Congress, a criminal investigation is warranted. Gonzales, who is suspected of committing perjury, has a conflict of interest. The public interest requires that the highest prosecutor in the land be brought to justice.

Congress should appoint a permanent special counsel to investigate and advise Congress about misconduct by high government officials, beginning with Alberto Gonzales. That procedure should lead the House Judiciary Committee to initiate impeachment proceedings against Gonzales.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and President of the National Lawyers Guild. Her new book, Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, was just published by PoliPointPress. Her articles are archived at http://www.marjoriecohn.com.

Marjorie

Marjorie Cohn is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Marjorie Cohn


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Showdown Looming Over Executive Privilege by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Marjorie Cohn
Global Research, July 24, 2007

George W. Bush’s presidential tenure has been marked by one cover-up after another. But the masterful spinning of Karl Rove and a compliant media enabled Bush to get away with it. Now that the Democrat-controlled Congress is investigating administration malfeasance, Bush’s cover-ups have come cloaked in the guise of “executive privilege.”

Bush has claimed executive privilege in resisting congressional subpoenas in the investigation of the U.S. Attorney firing scandal. U.S. Attorneys who weren’t “loyal Bushies” were ousted in a mass purge. Bush instructed former White House political director Sara Taylor and former White House counsel Harriet Miers to refuse to testify about any “White House consideration, deliberations or communications” regarding the firings. He also instructed his chief of staff Joshua Bolten to withhold documents demanded by the House Judiciary Committee. Defying a congressional subpoena is a crime.

Taylor testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, invoking the privilege selectively. Miers’s and Bolten’s situation is even more problematic. They refused to show-up at the House committee altogether. A witness must appear, be sworn, and then invoke the privilege. Miers and Bolten committed a crime when they failed to appear. They could be locked up for ignoring the subpoenas. Bush will claim the Executive is supreme and that his order to Miers and Bolten nullifies the subpoenas.

There are already signs that Bush will refuse to allow his Justice Department to enforce congressional contempt charges. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy responded angrily, saying, “By acting above the law, this President and Vice President seek to override the independence of law enforcement and manipulate our valued system of checks and balances,” adding, “an independent review is probably in order.” It remains to be seen whether Congress will match its rhetoric with its votes.

As it did after the Haditha massacre, the U.S. military covered up the real cause of Pat Tillman’s death. After claiming he died in a heroic gun battle with the enemy, the administration was later compelled to admit Tillman died from “friendly-fire.” When the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform subpoenaed “all documents received or generated by any official in the Executive Office of the President” relating to Tillman’s death, Bush refused, claiming executive privilege. Again, a showdown is looming, this time over documents.

Chairman Henry Waxman and ranking Committee Republican Tom Davis wrote a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, which said: “The Committee hearing [on Tillman’s death]. . . raised questions about whether the administration has been providing accurate information to Congress and the American people about the ongoing war in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Congress has three options. First, if a majority of the judiciary committee and the full chamber agree, they can issue contempt citations and then certify them to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, “whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action,” according to a federal statute. But in spite of that statute, the White House will reportedly forbid the Justice Department from pursuing contempt charges.

Second, Congress could invoke its own “inherent contempt” power, direct the Sergeant-at-Arms to arrest the recalcitrant witness, and imprison her in the Capitol basement. This power was last used in 1934.

Finally, Congress can hire counsel to enforce the subpoenas in civil court.

In the past, when the White House and Congress have clashed over claims of executive privilege, the President generally capitulated before criminal proceedings began. But Bush has consistently defied Congress and the courts with his secret spying program and his signing statements. He will likely hold firm, banking on favorable rulings in the increasingly conservative Supreme Court.

Perhaps Congress should subpoena Dick Cheney to shed light on these matters. Since Cheney denies belonging to the executive branch, he’d be hard pressed to assert executive privilege.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and president of the National Lawyers Guild. Her new book, Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, has just been published by PoliPointPress. Her articles are archived at http://www.marjoriecohn.com

Marjorie Cohn is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Marjorie Cohn

see:

Reining In an Out-of-Control Executive by Prof. Marjorie Cohn


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Reining In an Out-of-Control Executive by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Our Founding Fathers created three separate but co-equal branches of government to check and balance each other so no one branch would become all powerful. Indeed, James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers, “The preservation of liberty requires that the three great departments of power should be separate and distinct.” Madison warned, “The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary in the same hands … may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.” The American colonists were reacting against a police state.

More than 200 years later, we have another King George. In the last six years, George W. Bush has sought to accumulate all governing powers in the same hands – his. In the Declaration of Independence, the framers charged that the King “refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.” Bush has repeatedly violated the Constitution’s command that the President “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” by breaking some and refusing to enforce others. The Constitution grants Congress the power to make laws; after both houses pass a bill, the President can only sign it or veto it. Bush, however, takes a different tack. He has vetoed just three bills, then quietly attached “signing statements” to more than 1,000 congressional laws, indicating his intent to follow only those parts with which he agrees.

In an end run around Congress and the courts, Bush secretly authorized the Terrorist Surveillance Program to conduct electronic surveillance without a judicial warrant, in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the Fourth Amendment. Although two judges on a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the legality of Bush’s spying program for lack of standing, the only two judges ever to rule on the merits declared the program illegal.

The Bush administration lied to Congress to get authority to invade Iraq . Long before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Bush and his officials were planning to attack Iraq and change its regime. Dick Cheney’s secret energy task force drew up maps of Iraq ‘s oil fields to divvy up the black gold once we occupied that country. They then devised an elaborate scheme to convince the American people that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States, notwithstanding overwhelming intelligence to the contrary. Since Bush launched “Operation Iraq Freedom,” more than 3,600 American soldiers and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have died; many thousands more have been wounded. This invasion is a war of aggression, which violates the UN Charter, because it was neither executed in self-defense nor approved by the Security Council.

During the war, U.S. troops have been acting under rules of engagement – free-fire zones – that have led some to commit war crimes. For instance, the killing, execution-style, of 24 civilians in the Haditha Massacre, the execution of a disabled man, and the shooting of a wounded unarmed Iraqi in a mosque violate the Geneva Conventions which prohibit willful killing of civilians. Commanders, all the way up the chain to the commander-in-chief, could be convicted of war crimes if they should’ve known their subordinates would commit them and the commanders didn’t stop or prevent it.

Bush’s legal eagles, particularly David Addington and John Yoo, concocted elaborate “legal” arguments to justify the torture of prisoners. Never mind that international and American law forbid torture under all circumstances. Pursuant to a common plan to violate the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, prisoners in U.S. custody are being tortured and abused. Prisoners have been subjected to water-boarding, attacks by dogs, sexual humiliation, and excruciatingly painful force-feeding.

The Bush administration has secretly rendered prisoners to other countries to be tortured. One former CIA agent observed, “If you want a serious interrogation, you send a prisoner to Jordan . If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria . If you want someone to disappear – never to see them again – you send them to Egypt .”

Shortly after 9/11, the Bush gang set up a prison camp in Guantánamo, intending to create a legal black hole where they could hold prisoners for the rest of their lives without any judicial oversight. But the Supreme Court didn’t buy the administration’s argument that U.S. courts have no jurisdiction over Guantánamo because it’s in Cuba . And the Court struck down Bush’s original military commissions since they violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Conventions.

The Supreme Court said in Berger v. United States that
a prosecutor’s job is to see that justice is done, not to politicize justice. But Bush’s Department of Justice, the chief law enforcement agency in the government, has been seriously compromised. Several U.S. attorneys who refused to bring frivolous charges that would further Bush’s political agenda, or who brought charges that didn’t, were purged.

The White House is resisting congressional subpoenas that call for testimonial and documentary evidence about the U.S. attorney firing scandal. The deadline for Bush, Cheney and the Justice Department to produce documents in response to Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenas about the warrantless surveillance is July 18. In 1974, when the House Judiciary Committee passed three articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon, Article III charged refusal to comply with subpoenas during the Watergate hearings.


Marjorie Cohn is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and President of the National Lawyers Guild. Her new book, Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law, was just published. Her articles are archived at http://www.marjoriecohn.com.

Marjorie Cohn is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Marjorie Cohn

see:
Impeach Bush And Cheney Now By Paul Craig Roberts

Cheney Urges Bush to Strike Iran – Impeachment or War? By GARY LEUPP


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Targeting Dissent: FBI Spying on the National Lawyers Guild by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

Global Research, June 26, 2007

In 1937, the American Bar Association refused to allow people of color to join its ranks. With the blessing of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the National Lawyers Guild was founded as a multi-racial alternative to the ABA . The Guild’s founding members included the attorney general, several judges, some congressmen, and the head of the National Labor Relations Board. Continue reading