Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Administration Shills' Exemption Worn Out

Banner day for WaPo editorial board, as another commenter points out, with two actual critiques of the worst administration in U.S. history are up there today.

The advisors to the cretin in chief have been unique in offering obviously erroneous advice such as Abu Gonzales' and John Yoo's, that the president can choose not to prosecute laws he doesn't like and that the U.S. can torture its victims. That Mukasey is claiming that the executive can't be prosecuted for following that erroneous advice is simple justification for avoiding criminal prosecution, as Diane has pointed out.

SINCE ITS creation in the early 20th century, the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel has been considered the legal conscience of the executive branch, rendering judgments to presidents and executive agencies about what the law allows. The OLC responds to executive branch requests for clarifications on everything from how to determine annual leave for federal employees to whether treaty provisions are constitutional and how torture should be defined. Its opinions are binding on the executive and essentially carry the weight of law. Past OLC opinions continue to have force when a new administration begins, just as Supreme Court decisions enjoy the force of law long after the justices who made them have left the bench.

Unfortunately, during the Bush administration, the OLC has become known as a partisan enabler of legally and ethically questionable presidential policies, including those involving the use of torture. The OLC's decisions have eroded the legitimacy of the office and given legal cover to behavior that most Americans -- and most lawyers -- regard as improper.
Such checks and balances help the political branches stay honest and protect the rule of law from erosion.

Naturally, there is that last sentence implying that the rule of law has not yet been abdicated, unfortunately not true. There is an excellent comment following the editorial though, to wit:

njackson1950 wrote:
Get real. The Office of Legal Counsel has a delegated duty to offer legal advice to the President and the heads of Executive departments that was initially assigned by statute to the first Attorney General almost two hundred and twenty years ago. Lawyers who remember their ethics training from law school know that an attorney’s role as an adviser is not the same as the role of an advocate. An adviser is to tell the client what is legal and what is not regardless of whether the client likes the advice. It’s pretty clear that OLC lawyers such as John Yoo and Steven Bradbury breached their ethical duties to act as advisers.

But it’s worse than that. Lawyers cannot ethically counsel their client on the means, methods or advisability of committing a crime when they wear their advocacy hats. When lawyers go that far in their zeal they are participants in their client’s subsequent crimes.

With regard to the federal crime of torture, defined at 18 USC section 2340, a later statutory section provides severe penalties for torture conspiracy. This statute, found at 18 USC section 2340A, says such conspirators face life sentences.

The Justice Department spokespersons, the Bill O’Reillys, and the Rush Limbaughs can bob and weave all they want to say that 18 USC 2340A is not applicable to the likes of John Yoo and Steven Bradbury, but the stark language of the statute stares back.

After the current Attorney General, Michael Mukasey finishes his term of obstructing justice on January 20, 2009 the incoming Attorney General should prepare torture conspiracy indictments against Yoo, Bradbury, and about a dozen other Bush officials who were involved in the crime.

And, WaPo Editorial Board, none of these guys were “low-level lawyers.”
(Emphasis added.)

And I have to repeat what I said, apologies for quoting myself, but the reason I said it is because it's what I think needs to be said.

jocabel wrote:
"Such checks and balances help the political branches stay honest and protect the rule of law from erosion."

A little late in the day of this worst administration in U.S. history, with its contention that the presidency is above the law. Reminiscent of Watergate, in which WaPo played a heroic role, this series of violations of law has not been prosecuted not because congress has failed, as its role is not to prosecute but legislate. Prosecution has not been done, by the executive branch that has the responsibility, and it has been whitewashed by a complaisant press. Shame on you.

The occupied White House has made a point from its beginnings to violate the laws and to insist that it has that prerogative. This is intolerable, and cannot continue if we are ever to return to the decent and lawful proceedings of ethical government.


Texas has the most infamous politicians, I betcha - we can go toe to toe with any New Yorker in that capacity.

A veteran Capitol staffer resigned Monday over allegations he impersonated both a state representative and a newspaper reporter in the last month – first to sway a state primary race, then to glean information on an ethics complaint against his boss.

Todd Gallaher had been on leave from Republican state Sen. Bob Deuell's office since last month, when he used an e-mail address that looked like it belonged to a Democratic lawmaker to send out embarrassing photos of a South Texas sheriff up for re-election.
The pictures from repjuangarcia@hotmail.com hit e-mail inboxes before the Aransas County primary election, showing Republican incumbent Sheriff Mark Gilliam revealing his buttocks, stripping off his shirt and pretending to kiss another man at a house party two decades ago.

Sheriff Gilliam lost the primary. Many questions have been raised, such as:
Now, which one would you rather be? Or which one's wife? Giuliani comes from New York? are you sure?

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