Thursday, 25 February 2010


Ken Berwitz

The editorial writers at the New York Times have decided that John Yoo and James Bybee worked for the Bush administration, so they must be punished.  Even if the Obama administration, whose single greatest accomplishment so far is blaming Bush for its failures, exonerates them.

Here is today's lead editorial on this subject - with my comments in blue:


The Torture Lawyers

Published: February 24, 2010


Is this really the state of ethics in the American legal profession? Government lawyers who abused their offices to give the president license to get away with torture did nothing that merits a review by the bar?

A five-year inquiry by the Justice Departments ethics watchdogs recommended a disciplinary review for the two lawyers who produced the infamous torture memos for former President George W. Bush, but they were overruled by a more senior Justice Department official.  Infamous to whom?  The editorial writers at the New York Times, who sit comfy-cozy in their Manhattan aerie peering down at we lesser beings?  Enhanced interrogation after 9/11 sure as hell wasnt infamous to me.


The original investigation found that the lawyers, John Yoo and Jay Bybee, had committed professional misconduct in a series of memos starting in August 2002. First, they defined torture so narrowly as to make it almost impossible to accuse a jailer of torturing a prisoner, and they finally concluded that President Bush was free to ignore any law on the conduct of war. That is not true.  That is a characterization of what Yoo and Bybee said from a newspaper that hated everything about the administration they worked for.


The Justice Departments Office of Professional Responsibility said appropriate bar associations should be asked to look at the actions of Mr. Yoo, who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, and Mr. Bybee, who was rewarded for his political loyalty with a lifetime appointment to the federal bench. It was a credible accounting, especially since some former officials, like Attorney General John Ashcroft, refused to cooperate and e-mails from Mr. Yoo were mysteriously missing.  Which emails, when?  I lose emails too.  So if I were investigated, therefore, the claim of missing emails could be made.  I have a feeling that everyone reading this would be in the same boat.  Is the Times saying that specific emails relating to the decision were missing?  If so, why didnt it say so?  A general claim that e-mails from Mr. Yoo were mysteriously missing is entirely non-specific.  Now why do you suppose they wrote it that way?


But the more senior official, David Margolis, decided that Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee only had shown poor judgment and should not be disciplined. Mr. Margolis did not dispute that Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee mangled legal reasoning and produced work that ultimately was repudiated by the Bush administration itself. He criticized the professional responsibility offices investigation on procedural grounds and excused Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee by noting that everyone was frightened after Sept. 11, 2001, and that they were in a hurry.  Translation:  Margolis didnt think they did anything actionable. 


Americans were indeed frightened after Sept. 11, and the Bush administration was in a great rush to torture prisoners. Responsible lawyers would have responded with extra vigilance, especially if, like Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee, they worked in the Justice Departments Office of Legal Counsel. When that office renders an opinion, it has the force of law within the executive branch. Poor judgment is an absurdly dismissive way to describe giving the green light to policies that have badly soiled Americas reputation and made it less safe.  Ooooohhh, President Bush moved heaven and earth to protect this country after the single most deadly terrorist attack in history, and he must be punished.  Do you see anything in the Times editorial about the quality of information we got from khalid sheikh mohammed, or how many lives it almost certainly saved?  Irrelevantnimmaterial.  Bush and his administration achieved a positive result so it must be condemned.


As the dealings outlined in the original report underscore, the lawyers did not offer what most people think of as legal advice. Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee were not acting as fair-minded analysts of the law but as facilitators of a scheme to evade it. The White House decision to brutalize detainees already had been made. Mr. Yoo and Mr. Bybee provided legal cover.  A scheme?  SCHEME?  What were they doing, stealing money?  Hurting political rivals?  I could have sworn they were trying to protect the United States from enemies who grew, became strong and installed sleeper cells in the US while Democrat Bill Clinton was President (no editorial on that, is there?).  al qaeda vowed to annihilate us, and killed almost 3,000 innocents on 9/11.  Doing everything possible to fight these people is a scheme?  Who the hell is writing editorials for the Times these days?  bin laden or zawahiri?


We were glad that the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, Representative John Conyers Jr. and Senator Patrick Leahy, committed to holding hearings after the release of the Justice Department documents.  Now theres a pair of nonpartisan fellows interested only in neutrality and justice.  Why stop there, why not see if ramsey clark is available. 


The attorney general, Eric Holder Jr., should expand the investigation into rogue interrogators he initiated last year to include officials responsible for facilitating torture. While he is at it, Mr. Holder should assign someone to look into the disappearance of Mr. Yoos e-mails.  Sure.  Lets get eric holder, with his rich history of sympathetic recommendations on behalf of terrorists, and his partnership in a law firm, Covington & Burling, which specializes in defending them, to go after the people who worked at protecting us from those terrorists.  Thats like making George Steinbrenner the home plate umpire at a Yankees-Red Sox game.


The American Bar Association should decide whether its rules are adequate for deterring and punishing ethical failures by government lawyers.  LGreat idea:  the ABAs long-time rules wont get these guys, so lets change em.


The quest for real accountability must continue. The alternative is to leave torture open as a policy option for future administrations.  I have another alternative.  Editorial writers at the New York Times who think before they write.



Ken Berwitz

Sometimes you can tell how dense someone is by how long it takes that person to catch on to reality.  Here is one such instance.

From Jamie Glazov at

Wow, according to Fox News, Janet Napolitano just described what happened at Fort Hood as violent Islamic extremism.


This is quite a step. How long did it take her to figure this one out?


It must be hard, after all, when youre a person who heads Homeland Security but who has no idea who the 9/11 hijackers were and thinks that they came from Canada. Its really difficult when your first instinct after Abdulmutallab almost blew himself up on Northwest Airlines Flight 253, is to say that the airport security system worked.


Hmmm, I wonder if Napolitano will now confirm that thirteen American heroes lost their lives at Fort Hood precisely because of people like her, who have created a culture in which naming Islamic extremism and crystallizing its roots is disallowed? Major Nidal Malik Hasan would have been thrown out of the army a long time before his shooting spree if members of the army were not afraid to get in trouble for violating diversity and felt safe to point a finger at a Muslim who was preaching hate and violence against non-Muslims.


Will Napolitano and the Obama administration now make an issue out of where Hasan got his violent Islamic extremism from? Indeed, from where oh where could Hasan have possibly got the idea that he was supposed to kill the kafir? Hmmm, could it have been from the Verse of the Sword of the Koran (9:5)?


Hmmm, could it have been from all the other Koranic verses? (i.e. 9:29).


This is just all so mysterious.


Is the Obama administration now going to talk about how Hasans and Abdullmutallabs actions, and, well, you know, things like 9/11, just might have something to do with the fact that 61% of the Koran is devoted to the hatred of non-Muslims, that 75% of the Sira (the life of Mohammed) is devoted to jihad, and that 20% of the Hadith is in reference to the necessity of subjugating and killing the infidel?


I wonder, could any of this have anything to do with the fact that nowhere in Islamic theology is there even one positive reference to kafirs and even the slightest suggestion that a Muslim should love them as much as he loves himself?


How do we win this terror war if our administration not only refuses to fight the enemy on many realms, but to even name him?


The issue here is not to demonize Muslims. Many Muslims, like Tarek Fatah and Irshad Manji, are fighting to reform Islam and to bring it into the modern and democratic world. We must support them. Millions of Muslims suffer from persecution under Sharia Law. We must help them. The key is that it is time to be honest about what Islamic theology inspires and sanctions. The key is that the onus is on the Muslim world to confront these teachings and to negate them if there is to be any possibility for an end to this conflict.


Napolitanos step is a positive one. But do we hold our breath for the Obama administration to step up to the plate and to name not only Islamic jihad as our enemy, but to also name the Islamic theology that spawns it?

That, folks, is Janet Napolitano.  Our secretary of homeland security.  The person charged with protecting us from terrorism.

Feel safer?


Ken Berwitz

Who assassinated the career terrorist mahmoud al-mabhouh?  Was it Mossad, as most people assume?  Quite possibly the answer is yes.

Now:  What about it?  What should Israel do when terrorists, like American Express cards, are accepted everywhere they travel?

Here is the opinion of Political Science Professor Gerald M. Steinberg, writing for the Wall St. Journal.  See if you agree (the bold print is mine):



Israel's Right To Self-Defense

The Dubai hit exposes the failure of international law to fight jihadi
terror, forcing the Jewish state to act independently.


FEBRUARY 23, 2010, 4:24 P.M. ET


The headlines and video images allegedly showing Israeli spies in Dubai are
titillating, but they mask the serious issues involved in the death of Hamas
terrorist Mahmoud al-Mabhouh. Along with predictable European hand-wringing
over forged passports, this case is the latest example of the failure of the
international legal system and the United Nations to provide a remedy to
mass terror.


Al-Mabhouh was a cold-blooded murderer-in an interview just last year on Al
Jazeera he boasted about kidnapping and then killing two Israeli soldiers.
He was also a major figure in arranging arms shipments from Iran to Gaza.

Al-Mabhouh shared responsibility for the thousands of rocket attacks fired
at civilians in Sderot and other Israeli towns, which resulted in last
year's war in Gaza. In his travels, the Hamas terrorist was probably making
arrangements for the next round of attacks.


But international law provides no means for stopping terrorists like
Al-Mabhouh, or for his Hezbollah counterpart, Imad Moughniyeh, whose life
ended with an explosion in Damascus in 2008. (In addition to numerous
attacks against Israelis, Moughniyeh has been blamed for the 1983 Beirut
bombings that killed hundreds of American and French peacekeepers and the
murder of Lebanese President Rafik Hariri.) Cases involving Muslim
terrorists, supported by Iran, would never be pursued by the prosecutor of
the International Criminal Court, or raised in the framework of the United
Nations. Al-Mabhouh violated the human rights of untold Israeli civilians,
but the U.N.'s Human Rights Council-which is dominated by such moral
stalwarts as Libya, Algeria, and Iran-has no interest in Israeli complaints.


It is equally hard to imagine Interpol issuing arrest warrants in response
to Israeli requests. And if warrants were issued, history shows that German,
French, Belgian, and other European governments would not risk the
consequences of acting on them.
Little effort was ever made to apprehend the
perpetrators of the Munich Olympic massacre, or of the deadly bombing
attacks against synagogues in Istanbul and Athens. It's a widely known
secret that European governments had ungentlemanly agreements with the PLO
that allowed the Palestinians to operate from their territories, provided
the terror attacks occurred elsewhere. Not until 2003 did the EU even put
Hamas on its terror list. Hezbollah is currently free to operate in Europe.


The bitter reality is that for Israel, international legal frameworks
provide no protection and no hope of justice. Instead, these frameworks are
used to exploit the rhetoric of human rights and morality to attack Israel.
In European courts, universal jurisdiction statutes, initially created to
apprehend and try dictators and genocidal leaders, are now exploited as
weapons in the service of the Palestinian cause. In this way, Israeli
defense officials are branded as "war criminals."

Similarly, Richard Goldstone's predetermined "fact finding inquiry" into the
Gaza war makes no mention of Al-Mabhouh or Iran, which supplied Hamas with
over 10,000 rockets for attacks against Israelis. Mr. Goldstone and his team
have remained silent about what would be the "legal" way to bring jihadi
murderers to justice. In their efforts to demonize Israel, Palestinian
terror actually doesn't really exist. The Goldstone team simply refused to
accept conclusive Israeli video evidence of Hamas war crimes.


The same legal distortions are found among the organizations that claim to
be the world's moral guardians, such as Human Rights Watch. HRW's systematic
bias is reflected in a Middle East division that sees no problem in holding
fund-raising dinners in Saudi Arabia-one of the world's worst human rights
violators and a country officially still at war with Israel-to help finance
their campaigns against the Jewish state.


In the absence of any legal remedies or Western solidarity, Israel's only
option to protect its citizens from terror has always been to act
independently and with force.
When in 1976 a group of Palestinian and German
terrorists hijacked an Israel-bound Air France plane to Uganda and separated
the Jewish passengers, Israel decided to act. In a daring mission, it
rescued all but three passengers while killing all terrorists and several
Ugandan soldiers who had been protecting the terrorists. Back then, Israel's
detractors also fretted about the "violation of Ugandan sovereignty" even
though dictator Idi Amin was in cahoots with the terrorists. Entebbe,
though, quickly became the gold standard for successful counter-terror
operations. Only a year later, Israeli-trained German special forces freed
in Mogadishu, Somalia a Lufthansa plane hijacked by Palestinian terrorists.

Similarly, when after years of horrific suicide bombings Israel pioneered
the targeted killings of Hamas terrorists-often with the help of unmanned
drones-Israel's Western adversaries complained about "extrajudicial
assassinations." Today, though, U.S. forces have copied Israel's technique
with their own drone killings of jihadi terrorists in the Afghan-Pakistan
border region.


Unlike those Predator strikes, though, which hardly raise an eyebrow in the
West these days, there was no "collateral damage" in the mysterious Dubai
hit. No innocent civilians were hurt, no buildings were damaged. Justice was
done, and al-Mabhouh's preparations for the next war ended quietly.


All this is lost on those diplomats, "legal experts," and pundits who blame
Israel for Dubai, and angrily denounce the passport infractions. In the
absence of viable alternatives, and a refusal to share any of the risks,
they are in no position to condemn actions aimed at preventing more terror

Mr. Steinberg teaches political science at Bar Ilan University and heads NGO

Does the professor have a point? A damn good one?

What is Israel supposed to do when murdering terrorists can operate freely outside of its county and the world, which fears a cutoff of oil, and the terrorism which emanates from Israel's enemies, far more than the legal channels Israel tries to go through, does nothing to stop it?  How does this country protect itself?

When you judge the action Israel allegedly took, you should keep that in mind.

Zeke ... .... .... It is not at all clear that Mossad (Israel's CIA) was behind the rub out of this scum. .... Dubai (the friendly Dubai Ports Folk promoted by GWB) seems to have identified two dozen foreign 'agents' involved in this ... and that FOUR of them fled after the assassination .... fled to IRAN. .... .... Hardly seems a likely destination for Israeli spies. ... .... It is just as possible that Al-Mabhouh was rubbed out by his own people .... a power struggle, pocketing money (what's a few million dollars between friends?) .... .... (02/25/10)

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