Sunday, January 29, 2006


The Kremlin Watch: Newsweek identifies scapegoat

The latest Newsweek piece (co-authored by the odious Stuart Taylor) is a classic for Kremlinologists. The basic storyline is something like "Real conservatives opposed Cheney overreach on civil liberties. Sacrificial goat: Addington." To reduce it to its basics: * James Comey, resigning as Deputy AG, is a good guy because he looks like Jimmy Stewart. Notwithstanding his jaw-dropping position on Padilla (courts don't tell presidents what they can do), * Comey's staff warned him Bushco was treading into illegality, and they paid a price, * For Assistant AG Jack Goldsmith, that price was taking perhaps double the salary to teach at Harvard Law, * Comey is the good guy who appointed Patrick Fitzgerald, * We know he's a good guy because he withdrew the torture memo (after it leaked to The Washington Post), * None of the heroes were career civil servants. They were conservatives, * The bad guy was David Addington, a Rasputin with a volcanic temper and an ominous love for gazpacho, * His sidekick was John Yoo, conveniently now moved on to a tenured position paying beaucoup bucks, * Patrick Philbin, another good guy despite co-authoring the Yoo torture memo, was denied the chance to become Deputy Solicitor General in the most corrupt administration in history and is now moving on to the private sector, where Bushco will doubtless find a way to pay him enough to keep his mouth shut, [I know that my colleagues admire Patrick Fitzgerald. I am more skeptical, and suggest we hold the admiration until we see what he produces in the most important case he's ever likely to prosecute. Also, Newsweek did get around to mentioning that Bush and Cheney were the motive forces behind the illegality, but since they buried their inculpation of Dick and George deep in text and inside parentheses where no one reads, I'll similarly bury my exculpation of Klaidman, Taylor, and Thomas from the charge of being complete tools.] You know you are in the Twilight Zone when you read statements like, "[The] carefully worded opinions [of the Office of Legal Counsel] are regarded as binding precedent-final say on what the president and all his agencies can and cannot legally do." Apparently Newsweek has never heard of the Judicial Branch of Government. Or this: "Perhaps inevitably, however, 'coercive interrogation methods' spread from Guantanamo Bay, which housed terror suspects, into prisons like Abu Ghraib, where detainees could be almost anyone." As the Taguba Report makes plain, the Pentagon ordered coercive interrogation methods, and they "spread" because Jeffrey Miller was dispatched to spread them. As the Alfred McCoy interview I linked below says, torture has been a calculated part of US official policy since the 1950s, kept to the margins most of the time, but always available for use in Third World countries that lack a vigorous independent media. "Reasoning that there was no time to obtain warrants from a secret court set up under FISA (a sometimes cumbersome process)..." This is a lie, and Stuart Taylor should be ashamed to have his name attached to it (obviously he's not). As everyone knows, FISA is just fine with post-dated warrants (to enroll in a law course on the legality of post-dating, try post-dating your mortgage payment.) James Goldsmith and the unnamed others in this story may have done their jobs. For this, they got a paycheck. But anyone who goes from one job to a higher paying one while spending two years saying that, well, torture is not such a bad thing is not my idea of a hero. Based on absolutely nothing [*] besides the tone of this article, one would predict that Addington is being set up to be the next indictment in the Plame case. Maybe yes, maybe no, but this definitely looks like a show trial pre-game warm-up. [*] There's also this this: "Addington was referred to by job title in the indictment of Libby on Friday, and appears likely to be called as a witness should Libby’s case go to trial."
Just to remind people of why I call Stuart Taylor, Jr. "odious", consider these statements from the man:

The iceberg that is about to hit Clinton is personified by KennethStarr. He is everything that Clinton is not: honest, principled, andutterly inept at spin. But the facts in Starr's report will pop therivets in Clinton's fragile ship. And as the ship starts sinking,Democrats in Congress will run for the lifeboats. ...

To be sure, not one of the key witnesses against Clinton appears to be aprofile in integrity. But 10 or so not-very- credible witnesses --strongly corroborated by other evidence, in some cases -- add up. Toillustrate: If we posit at 50-50 the probability that any one of the top10 witnesses against Clinton is lying, then the mathematical probabilitythat all 10 are lying -- and thus that Clinton has told the whole truthin his own sworn testimony -- comes to one chance in 1,024.

I can do better than that. I can say that the odds that a biopsy of Stuart Taylor would reveal that he is composed of unadulterated BS are 100%.

No honest person would make the "where there's smoke, there's fire" in such a highly politicized case.

None did.
I won't diss Fitzgerald because Comey was his boss. (After all, John Paul Stevens was a Nixon appointee.) I do hope that Comey's decisionmaking is a good deal better -- or at least more consistent -- than that evinced by Robert Byrd, who seems not to realize that if Samuel "unitary executive" Alito gets onto the Supreme Court, Byrd might as well use that copy of the Constitution he carries around for toilet paper.
I'm certainly not dissing Fitzgerald, PW. I'm simply saying that he is a prosecutor with some accomplishments. Bringing down Bushco is not one of them, at least as of this writing. Therefore, for Taylor, Jr. et al to cite Comey's assignment of Fitzgerald to the Plame case is not evidence of anything much.

I definitely agree with you that bad bosses can appoint good employees. Those appointments do tend to be accidents, though.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

More blogs about politics.
Technorati Blog Finder