Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Obama's Supreme Court Nominee

"Of the many responsibilities granted to a President by our Constitution, few are more serious or more consequential than selecting a Supreme Court justice."

So sayeth the Obama this morning. The current Supreme Court is, at present, a plane with one wing--of 9 justices, there are 7 conservatives/reactionaries, 7 of the 9 being Republicans. Their rule has been terrible indeed. So the Obama is not only right; what he said is particularly true in his case. And then he wheeled out his version of a quality U.S. Supreme Court nominee: A former corporate lawyer, appointed to the federal bench by George Bush Sr. and who, in her long judicial career, votes with her Republican-appointed court colleagues 95% of the time. No kidding. From talking points issuing forth today from the administration itself:
"Known as a moderate on the court, [appointee Sonia] Sotomayor often forges consensus and agreeing with her more conservative nominees far more frequently than she disagrees with them. In cases where Sotomayor and at least one judge appointed by a Republican president were on the three-judge panel, Sotomayor and the Republican appointee(s) agreed on the outcome 95% of the time."
I let readers draw their own conclusion about what this says about the nominee, the appropriateness of her nomination and about Obama and offer only a prediction: Republicans will paint Sotomayor as some wild-eyed radical "judicial activist" anyway.


Friday, May 15, 2009

"Liberal" Media Alert: The Speaker vs. The Dick (updated below)

The corporate press has been obsessed over the Nancy Pelosi non-story for two days now; full-bore saturation coverage. Hour after hour of "What did Nancy Pelosi know about Bush administration torture and when did she know it?"

The real question is "What difference does it make?" And the answer is "none at all." The entire matter is a meaningless sideshow being raised as a distraction from the real story, which is the behavior of the Bush administration, the fact that it tortured prisoners.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, we got confirmation of something those of us who have followed these matters have long suspected--that Bush administration war-hawks were instituting their squalid torture regime in part to manufacture a case against Iraq. It was reported by former NBC News investigative producer Robert Windrem that, just after the Iraq invasion, when the fact that the administration had flat-out lied about WMDs was becoming painfully apparent, Dick Cheney's office suggested that captured Mukhabarat official Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi be put on a waterboard in order to get him to "confess" to an Iraq-al Qaida partnership. Two intelligence officers in the know confirmed this and Bush chief weapons inspector Charles Duelfer confirmed he was asked to oversee this and rejected the idea as "reprehensible." Duelfer called it a political move and darkly notes that it was "ludicrous" to assume Dulaymi, given his position, would even have any knowledge of any such matters.

It's already a matter of public record that, in the lead-up to the Iraq war, Bush and his thugs were writing directly into their public pronouncements the nonsense being offered by those whom they were torturing. In the case of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, for example, Cheney ordered the prisoner tortured even after interrogators had reported that al-Libi was compliant and that such methods weren't necessary. When al-Libi started "confessing" to an Iraq-al Qaida partnership, the torture was discontinued and even though his interrogators were reporting that he was probably just making it all up in order to get the torture to stop, his words on the subject were , within months, coming right out of the mouth of the "President" and his top thugs as a rationale for an attack on Iraq. Al-Libi later recanted this, the CIA circulated an IC-wide disavowal of everything he'd said on the subject and al-Libi mysteriously died.

But the press has chosen to ignore this and give us, instead, saturation coverage of the Nancy Pelosi matter, something that is of absolutely no consequence, except to conservative Republicans trying to derail the torture story and protect the vile Bush administration.

The ever-vigilant Media Matters gives us the dismal particulars:

"Despite covering questions regarding what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) knew about the Bush administration's interrogation policies, none of the three major networks' evening news programs mentioned on May 14 that according to a May 13 report by former NBC News investigative producer Robert Windrem, '[t]wo U.S. intelligence officers confirm that Vice President Cheney's office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner ... who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.' All May 14 CNN and Fox News Channel evening shows, as well as all daytime shows available on the Nexis database, also ignored Windrem's story."
Just another example of our "liberal" press at work.


UPDATE (05/19/09) -- Yesterday, Media Matters followed up with print media, looking at coverage in five major national newspapers (the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today). Unsurprisingly, while all had extensively covered the Pelosi non-story, there wasn't a single mention of the Windrem scoop, much less a full-blown article about it, in any of those papers.

At the same time, MM also looked into how those same papers had covered a May 15 McClatchy article about Dick Cheney's claims that prisoners tortured at Guantanamo had provided evidence of an Iraq-al Qaida partnership. They didn't. And the big papers buried that one, too.