The Justice Department’s twisted and morbid history

Statement of Congressman Ron Paul

United States House of Representatives

Statement on H. Res. 1422

June 24, 2010

Madam Speaker, the House of Representatives recently considered H.RES. 1422, honoring the 140th anniversary of the Department of Justice. I voted against this resolution because of the Justice Department’s history of violating individual rights.

It is the Justice Department that leads the ongoing violations of the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments in the name of the “war on drugs.” It is Justice Department agents who perform warrantless wiretap, and “sneak-and-peak” searches under the misnamed PATRIOT Act. It is the Justice Department that prosecutes American citizens for violating unconstitutional federal regulations even in cases where no reasonable person could have known their actions violated federal law.

Some like to pretend that the Justice Department’s assault on liberties is a modern phenomenon, or that abuses of liberties are only carried out by one political party. However, history shows that the unconstitutional usurpations of power and abuse of rights goes back at least almost a hundred years to the “Progressive” era and that Justice Departments of both parties have disregarded the Constitution and violated individual liberties.

During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson’s Justice Department imprisoned people who dared to speak out against the war. Following the war, the progressive assault on the First Amendment continued with the infamous “Palmer raids,” named for Wilson’s Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Just as President Wilson’s policies of foreign interventionism and domestic welfare served as a model for future presidents, Attorney General Palmer’s assaults on civil liberties served as a model for future attorney generals of both parties. Think of Robert Kennedy authorizing the wiretapping of Martin Luther King, Jr, John Mitchell’s role in the abuses of civil liberties by Nixon Administration, Ed Meese’s assault on the First Amendment with his “pornography commission,” Janet Reno’s role in the murder of innocent men, women and children at Waco, and the steady erosion of our rights over the past decade. In addition, it is the attorney general and the Justice Department that defend and justify violations of constitutional liberties by the president and the other federal bureaucracies.

Many civil libertarians were hopeful the new administration would be more sympathetic to civil liberties than was the prior administration. But the current administration has disregarded campaign promises to restore respect for civil liberates and has continued, and in many cases expanded, the anti-freedom policies of its predecessors. For instance, the current administration is supporting renewal of the policies of warrantless wiretapping, and other PATRIOT Act provisions. The administration, despite promising to be more open and transparent, is also continuing to use the claim of “state secrets” to shield potentially embarrassing information from Americans. According to the New York Times, the current administration is even outdoing its predecessors in the prosecution of government whistleblowers. It is little wonder that the head of the American Civil Liberties Union recently said he is disgusted with the administration’s record on civil liberties.

Of course, Madam Speaker, Congress bears ultimate responsibility for the Justice Department’s actions, as it is Congress that passes the unconstitutional laws the Justice Department enforces. Congress also fails to perform effective oversight of the Justice Department. Instead of honoring the Justice Department, Congress should begin to repeal unconstitutional laws and start exercising congressional oversight of executive branch agencies that menace our freedoms.


Obama’s bruised ego

Every politician has an ego.  Why else would they tell us that their way is the best?  They scratch and claw at one another during the primary debates, then when the winner is declared, they pile in their support in the hopes of a Cabinet post.  President Obama is possibly the most egotistical president since LBJ.  This is a man who does not like the answer “no”.

When healthcare reform didn’t pass the usual rigors of the Congress, Democrats used an un-Constitutional pathway called reconciliation to pass the economically disastrous bill.  GOP leaders who criticize Obama’s humongous spending rates are vilified as “being against the American people.”

The President’s initiative to sign Executive Order’s as if they are law, is not only un-Constitutional, but economically disastrous.  His piece of legislation laying the blame on the financial sector and not the Federal Reserve, thusly, giving the Fed more regulatory power, is nothing more than our capitalist system being overthrown by a small and very powerful sect of secret men.

Since its start, the Federal Reserve has overseen at least twelve recessions.  They have the power to influence or destroy our economy.  The President’s administration is in bed with such corrupt bankers.  So with a clear mind and a free thinking process, one could see why he wants to give more power to the Federal Reserve.

BP is not the primary target of President Obama’s Cap and Trade agenda.  It is the American companies.  As Ron Paul says, “BP loves Cap and Trade.”

With an injunction placed by a federal judge against the Obama administration (they have since said that they will issue a new order), a commission panel created by the President alone (made up of environmentalists), a sinking approval rating, a faltering conflict in Afghanistan; November could pose dangerous to Obama and the Democrats.

Did Bush & Co. do Medical Research on Detainees?

By Sheldon Richman

As time goes by, the record of the Bush administration gets worse and worse. It could turn out that the most egregious offense of the Bush-esque Obama administration will be that its Justice Department let Bush-Cheney & Co. off scot-free.

It’s not enough that the last gang to occupy the Executive Branch got us into two illegal wars, accumulated autocratic powers, violated our civil liberties, and tortured suspects. Now it appears that it kicked things up a notch.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) says it has unearthed “evidence that indicates the Bush administration apparently conducted illegal and unethical human experimentation and research on detainees in CIA custody.”

Why would the U.S. government do this?

“The apparent experimentation and research appear to have been performed to provide legal cover for torture, as well as to help justify and shape future procedures and policies governing the use of the ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques.”

PHR says its report is “the first to provide evidence that CIA medical personnel engaged in the crime of illegal experimentation after 9/11, in addition to the previously disclosed crime of torture.”

The organization demands that the Justice Department investigate the charges. It is also particularly concerned that health professionals participated to “calibrate and study the infliction of harm.” That, PHR says, “disgraces the health profession and makes a mockery of the practice of medicine.” The program violated “the Geneva Conventions, The Common Rule, the Nuremberg Code and other international and domestic prohibitions against illegal human subject research and experimentation,” the PHR news release states.

PHR says that declassified documents show, first, that “Research and medical experimentation on detainees was used to measure the effects of large-volume waterboarding and adjust the procedure according to the results.” As a result, saline was added “to prevent putting detainees in a coma or killing them through over-ingestion of large amounts of plain water.”

Second, “Health professionals monitored sleep deprivation on more than a dozen detainees in 48-, 96- and 180-hour increments. This research was apparently used to monitor and assess the effects of varying levels of sleep deprivation to support legal definitions of torture and to plan future sleep deprivation techniques.”

Third, “Health professionals appear to have analyzed data, based on their observations of 25 detainees who were subjected to individual and combined applications of ‘enhanced’ interrogation techniques, to determine whether one type of application over another would increase the subject’s ‘susceptibility to severe pain.’ The alleged research appears to have been undertaken only to assess the legality of the ‘enhanced’ interrogation tactics and to guide future application of the techniques.”

PHR called on Congress to amend the War Crimes Act (WCA) “to remove changes made to the WCA in 2006 by the Bush Administration that allow a more permissive definition of the crime of illegal experimentation on detainees in US custody. The more lenient 2006 language of the WCA was made retroactive to all acts committed by US personnel since 1997.” Legal authorities say that other U.S. statutes besides the WCA make such experimentation illegal.

After the 9/11 attacks the Bush administration ignored proven nontorture techniques for obtaining information from detainees in favor of techniques long regarded as torture. Cognizant of the illegality, administration legal personnel strained to justify “enhanced interrogation techniques” as something other than torture. Hence the famous “torture memos” from the Office of Legal Counsel. The monitoring of techniques by physicians was apparently to determine which were and were not susceptible to charges of torture. This is indistinguishable from medical research on nonconsenting persons. Of course it is not the first time in history that supposed healers have lent their skills to government torturers.

The Obama administration could do something constructive for a change by investigating PHR’s charges and, if they are borne out, bringing the offenders to justice — no matter how high up the chain of command. Let’s not forget that George W. Bush boasts of having approved water-boarding for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

If for no other reason, the Bush administration’s legerdemain over torture put a stain on America that will not soon be erased. At least we can make a start.

McChrystal’s future hangs in the balance – Says credibility in Afghanistan has been eroded

As President Obama deliberates on McChrystal’s future, public support for the conflict in Afghanistan has dropped, and McChrystal as quoted by the Navytimes as saying:

“Because of CivCas [civilian casualties], I think we have just about eroded our credibility here in Afghanistan.”

The fact is, is that when you are trying to fight a militant group like al-Qaeda, it is a steep mountain to climb to hunt and control the populous.  At times war is needed and collateral damage can be expected.  But once civilians start dying, the “controlled” populous sees us as the aggresors, not the liberators.

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama rebuked his Afghanistan war commander for “poor judgment” Tuesday and considered whether to fire him in the most extraordinary airing of military-civilian tensions since Harry Truman stripped Gen. Douglas MacArthur of his command a half-century ago.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal is prepared to submit his resignation at a meeting with Obama on Wednesday at the White House, two military officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Obama summoned McChrystal to explain disparaging comments about his commander in chief and Obama’s top aides. The meeting was a last-ditch moment for the general once considered the war’s brightest hope.

If not insubordination, the remarks in a forthcoming Rolling Stone magazine article were at least an indirect challenge to civilian management of the war in Washington by its top military commander.

“I think it’s clear that the article in which he and his team appeared showed a poor — showed poor judgment,” the president said, surrounded by members of his Cabinet at the close of their meeting. “But I also want to make sure that I talk to him directly before I make any final decisions.”

The eruption comes as the war and public support for it are at a tipping point, a perilous time to change military leadership. A majority of Americans now say the war is probably not worth fighting, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that public dissatisfaction means the U.S.-led international coalition must show progress this year.

In the article, McChrystal did not criticize Obama directly but called the period last fall when Obama was deciding whether to approve more troops “painful” and said the president was handing him an “unsellable” position.

McChrystal also said he was “betrayed” by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, the man the White House chose to be his diplomatic partner in Afghanistan. He accused Eikenberry of raising doubts about the reliability of Afghan President Hamid Karzai only to give himself cover in case the U.S. effort failed.

“Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books,” McChrystal told the magazine. “Now, if we fail, they can say ‘I told you so.'”

And he was quoted joking that he doesn’t recognize Vice President Joe Biden’s name.

As support for the general drained in Washington, the showdown was set to take place in two parts — as part of Obama’s regular monthly war meeting, in which McChrystal usually participates by videoconference, and a separate discussion with Obama in the Oval Office.

Several names circulated among Pentagon and Capitol Hill aides as potential successors. Military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the White House meeting, said the administration has not reached out to possible successors, but might do so on Wednesday.

“We all serve at the pleasure of the president,” said Gen. James Mattis, one of those mentioned. “I have a pretty full plate here,” in his current job as Joint Forces Command chief, Mattis told AP.

Other names include Lt. Gen. John Allen, the No. 2 at U.S. Central Command; Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, McChrystal’s No. 2 in Afghanistan; Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the Army Training and Doctrine Command; and Adm. James Stavridis, the top NATO commander in Europe.

A senior U.S. military official in Afghanistan told The Associated Press the general has been given no indication that he’ll be fired — but no assurance he won’t be. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions between Washington and the general’s office in Kabul.

A crucial military push to pacify the Taliban heartland in southern Afghanistan is going more slowly that McChrystal had planned, and showing fewer solid results. Marines in Helmand Province are in near-daily firefights, months after a push there was supposed to clear out the bulk of Taliban fighters.

McChrystal has spent the past several weeks arguing that the U.S.-led military effort is gaining momentum against the Taliban, while Gates argued for time to show that McChrystal’s many changes in strategy and tactics can succeed.

Wisconsin Democrat Rep. David Obey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, called for McChrystal to resign. Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee that approved McChrystal for the job, was among three prominent Republican senators to criticize the general and say a decision about his future should rest with Obama.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said: “I couldn’t believe Gen. McChrystal, being the good soldier I think he is, at least in this article not being a very good soldier.”

McChrystal publicly apologized Tuesday for using “poor judgment” in the magazine interviews, words echoed later by Obama. He then left Afghanistan for the meeting in Washington.

There has been no similar public contretemps between a president and a top wartime commander since Truman relieved MacArthur of his Far East command in 1951. MacArthur bid farewell in an address to Congress in which he quoted a line from a ballad: “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”

MacArthur had openly flouted the Truman administration’s policy of limited war during the Korean conflict, arguing that the “police action” against North Korea’s invasion of South Korea should not be contained to the Korean peninsula but expanded to China and Asian communism in general. Braced for the political fallout to follow, the unpopular Truman fired his popular general rather than allow MacArthur to resign.

McChrystal will also meet separately with Gates, who issued a stern scolding to McChrystal on Tuesday that contains no endorsement for him to remain in his job. Gates hand-picked McChrystal to take over the war last year, calling him a driven visionary with the guts and smarts to turn the war around. Obama fired the previous commander at Gates’ recommendation.

Military leaders rarely challenge their commander in chief publicly and when they do, consequences tend to be more severe than a scolding.

McChrystal has a history of drawing criticism, despite his military achievements.

Obama called him on the carpet last fall for speaking too bluntly about his desire for more troops.

Obama declares war on Arizona

A secure border is vital to preserving a nations future, not only for national security, but also soveriegnty.  When the fourteen year Mexican border jumper was shot and killed, Attorney General Eric Holder called it “regrettable”.  But when U.S. border patrol agent Luis Aguilar is killed, nothing is said.

Lord, please don’t let this guy get reelected!

Amid crises, Obama declares war – On Arizona

Byron York
Washington Examiner
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Obama administration has a lot of fights on its hands. Putting aside real wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there’s the battle against leaking oil in the Gulf, the struggle against 9.7 percent unemployment across the country, and clashes over the president’s agenda on Capitol Hill. Despite all that, the White House has found time to issue a new declaration of war, this time against an unlikely enemy: the state of Arizona.

The Justice Department is preparing to sue Arizona over its new immigration law. The president has stiffed Gov. Jan Brewer’s call for meaningful assistance in efforts to secure the border. And the White House has accused Arizona’s junior senator, Republican Jon Kyl, of lying about an Oval Office discussion with the president over comprehensive immigration reform. Put them all together, and you have an ugly state of affairs that’s getting uglier by the day.

First, the lawsuit. Last week, Brewer was appalled to learn the Justice Department’s intentions not from the Justice Department but from an interview done by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with an Ecuadorian TV outlet. “It would seem to me that if they were going to file suit against us,” Brewer told Fox News’ Greta van Susteren last week, “they definitely would have contacted us first and informed us before they informed citizens … of another nation.”

But they didn’t.

“There certainly seems to be an underlying disrespect for the state of Arizona,” says Kris Kobach, the law professor and former Bush administration Justice Department official who helped draft the Arizona law. Kobach points out that during the Bush years, several states openly flouted federal immigration law on issues like sanctuary cities and in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. Respecting the doctrines of comity and federalism, the Bush administration didn’t sue. Now, when Arizona passes a measure that is fully consistent with federal law, the Obama administration, says Kobach, “goes sprinting to the courthouse door.”

Then there is the matter of the White House’s assistance, or nonassistance, in Arizona’s border-security efforts. On June 3, the president, under criticism for refusing to meet or even talk to Brewer, reluctantly granted her an audience in the Oval Office. After the meeting, Brewer told reporters Obama pledged that administration officials would come to Arizona within two weeks with details of plans to secure the border.

June 17 marked two weeks, and there were no administration officials and no plans. There still aren’t. “What a disappointment,” Brewer told van Susteren. “You know, when you hear from the president of the United States and he gives you a commitment, you would think that they would stand up and stand by their word. It is totally disappointing.”

And now, there’s the Kyl controversy. On June 18, Kyl told a town meeting in North Phoenix that Obama personally told him the administration will not secure the U.S.-Mexico border because doing so would make it politically difficult to pass comprehensive immigration reform. “I met with the president in the Oval Office, just the two of us,” Kyl said. “Here’s what the president said. The problem is, he said, if we secure the border, then you all won’t have any reason to support comprehensive immigration reform.”

“In other words,” Kyl continued, “they’re holding it hostage. They don’t want to secure the border unless and until it is combined with comprehensive immigration reform.”

After Kyl’s statement went viral on the Internet, the White House issued a sharp denial. “The president didn’t say that and Senator Kyl knows it,” communications director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on the White House blog. “There are more resources dedicated toward border security today than ever before, but, as the president has made clear, truly securing the border will require a comprehensive solution to our broken immigration system.”

Kyl is not backing down. “What I said occurred, did occur,” he told an Arizona radio station. “Some spokesman down at the White House said no, that isn’t what happened at all, and then proceeded to say we need comprehensive immigration reform to secure the border. That is their position, and all I was doing was explaining why, from a conversation with the president, why it appears that that’s their position.”

Even if it didn’t have so many other fights on its hands, it would be unusual for an administration to align itself against an American state. But that’s precisely what has happened. Soon it will be up to the courts and voters to decide whether Obama’s campaign against Arizona will succeed or fail.