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Holder Just Made Me a Promise

By David Swanson

As Attorney General Eric Holder left an appropriations subcommittee hearing on Thursday I spoke loudly from the third row as he prepared to leave the room:

"We need a special prosecutor for torture, Mr. Attorney General. Americans like the rule of law. The rule of law for everybody."

He replied as he approached and walked by, surrounded by bodyguards:

"And you will be proud of your country."

I was joined by others in replying simultaneously:

"Yes, we want to be proud of our country. We're ready. No need to wait."

Holder knew exactly what it would take for me to be proud of my country, and he told me directly that I would be.

Will I? Time will tell.

Some friends from Code Pink and Veterans for Peace and I had held up signs during the hearing: "Torture Is Illegal", "Special Prosecutor", "Justice for ALL", "Are Laws for Everyone?", "Special Counsel for War Crimes", "No Torture", etc.

But I had come with a coalition of groups led by the ACLU in an attempt to present a petition to Holder asking for a special prosecutor.

Pre-hearing we presented the petition to an assistant attorney general who then sat in the front row with a few other DOJ staffers. He promised to hand Holder the petition, and I asked him again in the hallway afterwards, and he promised to hand it to him.

Here's the opening of the ACLU's press release:

"A broad coalition of advocacy groups today will deliver petitions containing a quarter million signatures to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that he appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration’s use of torture on terrorism suspects. The petitions were gathered by the American Civil Liberties Union, Political Action, the Center for Constitutional Rights,, and other advocacy groups. The petitions will be delivered during Holder’s testimony before a House Appropriations Subcommittee."

And here's what I said in that press release:

"David Swanson, Washington Director of 'Torturing people to compel agreement with fictional justifications for war suggests that we have not advanced greatly during the past millennium. And yet I know that we have, and that we can prove it by enforcing our laws in the face of fear and misunderstanding. A delay cannot be justified by a lack of evidence (the evidence is overwhelming) or by a political calculation. Appointing an independent special counsel to enforce our laws would give a new basis for progress in our relations with the world, a rationale for improving our criminal code moving forward, and the necessary space for congress to properly pursue accountability and prevention of future abuses of power.'"

This was my blog of the hearing. A number of congress members said and asked very good things, but the questioning was not very pointed, and the answers were either vague or put matters off until July when task forces finish their work. (Do I have to wait until then to start being proud of my country?)

2:40 p.m. Rep David Obey opens with story of political prosecution in WI.

2:45 pm Rep Frank Wolf (R., Va.) talked about 9-11.

2:50 Holder says OPR report should be done "relatively soon."

2:55 Obey is asking about prosecution for torture team.

2:59 Holder says DOJ task forces on interrogations and detentions will report in July, but does not actually answer the question of whether there will be prosecutions.

3:01 Wolf is worried that enforcing the law might make employees in the future feel they had to be careful to obey laws. So, Wolf repeats the question: will you pursue the prosecutions? AND are there docs that show torturing saved lives?

3:02 Holder will not prosecute people who acted in good faith on justice dept memos, but claims to enforce the rule of law blah blah and MIGHT be open to prosecuting the people who wrote the memos. Holder has not seen and is unfamiliar with any memos that back up Cheney's claims but he hopes to make all OLC memos public. Wolf wants ALL memos, OLC and otherwise.

Let him have em!!! Here's how crazy Cheney's claim is.

3:09 hearing's being played live on MSNBC right now, and covered on CNN and Fox. Fattah is now asking about massive funding of prisons and pittance for re-entry programs, and about mortgage fraud.

3:10 Holder answers re mortgage fraud.

3:13 Asked again, Holder says he supports the Second Chance Act. He supports schools and parenting. (Not really his department?) He supports educating prisoners. (So why not fund it?)

Questioning drifting from topic of torture. I'm reading the news. NY Times has an op-ed from Roger Cohen, who wants immunity for torturers.

3:21 Schiff nails it. Holder said water boarding torture. Torture has occured. Laws must be enforced.

3:25 Holder hems and haws.

3:25 Culverson wants to know if CIAers who did not act in good faith might be prosecuted. Holder says yes.

3:31 Serrano: if we do not prosecute torture we provide a recruiting tool to terrorists, and we leave people unable to travel outside the country for fear of arrest. But Serrano asks no question and moves on to immigrants issues.

3:40 Rep Ruppersberger asks about the torture again and Holder answers about his task forces through July again.

I just posted an excellent article the AG should read.

I'm going to turn this off and try to talk to Holder when he leaves.

More to come.

(See above.)

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I am holding a sign behind Holder

My sign says "What is this man REALLY thinking?"

Oh, oh, it's just a dream....

I ask again, why isn't Chair Mollohan chairing this hearing? The intrigue is killing me....

After less than an hour, we've already heard enough. As Mike Farrell has wisely commented, Obama and Holder are standing the Nuremberg principles on their head. Every Nazi who obeyed the orders given and approved by the numerous agencies comprising the Third Reich, are simply loyal government officials who should be absolved from all personal responsibility.

The Bush Gang revived the Nazi blueprint: Use fear to drag the citizens into wars of aggression, and denounce as unpatriotic all who oppose. They even went as far as successfully strategizing and implementing the use of torture.

Now, we're seeing the Democratic cohorts of the American Fourth Reich in glorious action. Obama's expanding the wars, continuing the fear with the fraudulent "War on Terror," and protecting those who believe in torture so they can regroup and strike on yet another day.

It is beyond disgust. Obama and Holder are threats to America's soul.

if there was a breakthrough pending but

uppity Ivy League attorneys know it fucking all and are not afraid of school teacher-trained Obey. Obey knows where the bodies are buried, but he won't talk.

This is Kabuki Theater. Thanks for "the show" today, David.

signatures be headed for the shredder, too?

The hearing:
"3:02 Holder will not prosecute people who acted in good faith on justice dept memos..."
"3:25 Culverson wants to know if CIAers who did not act in good faith might be prosecuted..."


This point of "good faith" has absolutely NO bearing here. That is, the issue on the table is the torture of human beings, and, therefore, where does quote-unquote good faith even begin to enter the picture? That is specious argumentation. Said another way: let us be just a bit more precise (read: "honest"), and pose the RELEVANT question: "faithful" to what and to whom? The "I was only following orders" denial has been thoroughly discredited. And, as the prosecutor at Nuremburg--General Telford Taylor--declared, we had better not show hypocrisy after having condemned Nazis for their heinous acts if and when our crimes are ever disclosed. As of this writing, they have been disclosed.
If an adult law enforcement agent or operative is in the act of siccing an attack dog on the genitals of detainee #479 at Guantanamo, the only way that we can begin to argue to the possibility of "good faith" is if we are in denial about the act in question. Full stop.

The word games are mind-numbing with all these players.

It's torture for Americans to be confronted with the Orwellian shit that Democrat and Republican leaders dish out.

Let's never forget this all follows an unbroken totalitarian thread...

John J.Coghlan

Asking the question, "Did we benefit from torture" is like asking the bank robber if he got a lot of money. It does not make any difference if we benefited from breaking the law. Torture is barbaric, grotesque, and immoral. It is also against the law, and it must be prosecuted.

I don't know how you manage to do this, DS, but it is much appreciated.

3:01 Wolf is worried that enforcing the law might make employees in the future feel they had to be careful to obey laws..People should be careful crossing the street, also.
The only thing any person needs to be careful about is loosing their soul. A human without a soul is an animal!

Any normal minded human would not carry out an inhuman act, no matter who wrote it and claimed it was the law. Just because something is written doesn't make it right, just because Cheney, bush and all their cohorts say it is okay doesn't make it right.


I must come to the defense of animals. The idea that an animal is as evil as a torturing human or a bombing -- kill, kill, kill -- human is just not true. Animals do have a different sense of rules. They are usually far more humane than are humans (especially how humans are toward our fellow animals).

As for torturers, we would be wise to seek justice from the top down. I would consider the likes of Bybee as quite close to the top. Cheney is the mastermind of it all.

Somehow, I am disappointed. Like where is the beef? It would really be too bad if the last administration was held accountable, now wouldn't it. I want them under oath so that all the Fox News freqies and the rest of the GOP sheeple will understand what a bunch of liars they are!


"EVERY gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."--President Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953

He seemed to be saying off the cuff that he's proud of his country. After all, he's the Attorney General, the nation's chief law enforcer. However, no Bush officials, including Bush himself, have been held accountable for anything, no indictments, no charges, no prosecutions, while the months slip away into years, always waiting for the next report (due July 2009) before taking action. Then congress goes on summer break (August 2009), then their Christmas break (Dec 2009), then it's the mid-terms(Nov 2010)and everything is put on hold until after the elections. Then everything is again put on hold to gear up for the next presidential election (Nov 2012). Bushco has escaped justice, probably forever after, but those who are proud of their country are still waiting for the day.

Radio host, Joe Madison said yesterday, nothing will ever be done because of one thing, the path of criminality leads right to the door of the democratic leadership. They are dirty and compromised and Obama will protect them, afterall, 2010 is closing in.

Could someone please make a SIGN that says JUSTICE DOESN'T TAKE A HOLIDAY.

,no matter what party they are from.

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