Impeach Bush

Apparently, Doug Thompson has caught some flak for a previous column in which he reported that President Bush “called the Constitution ‘just a goddamned piece of paper.'” He defends the report in his Rant, while simultaneously rejecting calls for impeachment, saying “He’s not the first President to consider the Constitution an expendable document and he won’t be the last. Most Presidents have complained that the Constitution gets in their way.”

The trouble is in a pattern of viewing the Constitution as an outdated document. Presidents claim Congress can’t act fast enough to declare war, for example, yet in the last declared war, Congress declared war within four days of the Pearl Harbor bombing, while it has taken weeks, months, and even years to prepare for the Persian Gulf War, the invasion of Afghanistan, and the invasion of Iraq. Michael Dorf explains that “once troops are in the field under enemy fire, Congress can only block such action at the cost of endangering those troops and potentially undermining the national interest. Yet Congress is virtually powerless to prevent the President from using military force in the first place.”

It is a fatal logic. “Although the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive power to ‘declare’ war, that wording doesn’t mean the president needs to consult Congress to ‘make war’ or ‘commence war,’ [UC Berkeley law professor John] Yoo’s book [The Powers of War and Peace] says.” Yoo also argues “that the Bush administration has the right to hold ‘enemy combatants’ indefinitely without charges, and question them without a lawyer present.”

The Bush Administration has also used the outdated document logic in demanding the PATRIOT Act. Human rights, it seems, place human lives in jeopardy. This is not, however, a new argument. Benjamin Franklin said, “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.”

Franklin could have been talking about Bush. And Bush, who has killed thousands of American soldiers, more troops from the “Coalition of the Willing,” and possibly hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, in a war launched on false pretenses, is certainly guilty of the high crimes and misdemeanors that deserve impeachment.

The trouble with Wikipedia

A prankster has confessed “he put false information into a Wikipedia entry about John Seigenthaler Sr. … suggesting Seigenthaler had been involved in the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy.” The prank led Wikipedia to limit article creation to registered users, a step that will still allow anonymous users to edit articles.

An article in SFGate captures the difficulty in relying on Wikipedia:

“If you look at the Encyclopedia Britannica, you can be fairly sure that somebody writing an article is an acknowledged expert in that field, and you can take his or her words as being at least a scholarly point of view,” said Michael Gorman, president of the American Library Association and dean of library services at Cal State Fresno. “The problem with an online encyclopedia created by anybody is that you have no idea whether you are reading an established person in the field or somebody with an ax to grind. For all I know, Wikipedia may contain articles of great scholarly value. The question is, how do you choose between those and the other kind?”

But Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales replies:

“It’s a mistake to think about Britannica’s content as being vetted while ours isn’t,” he said. “In the future, people will look at an article from Britannica and say, ‘This was written by two people and reviewed by two more; I want an article reviewed by hundreds of people, fact-checked scrupulously by dozens and dozens of people.’ In the future, we can say Britannica can’t touch these (Wikipedia’s) articles; it doesn’t have the manpower to do it.”

CIA power grab in the wake of 9/11

Spiegel documents a power grab by the CIA in the days following the 9/11 terror attacks–a remaking of “America’s Gestapo.”

Cofer Black, the coordinator for counter-terrorism, demanded the head of the al-Qaida boss [Osama bin Laden] and meant it quite literally. The gruesome trophy should be sent express — and ‘on ice’ — to Washington, he said.”

The article seems to sum up Spiegel’s investigation of CIA uses of European territory in extraordinary rendition, describing airports and European government complicity — possibly what an anonymous State Department official referred to when he said European nations “need to look at [them]selves as much as us” and that “[p]eople in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” Spiegel quotes “[f]ormer CIA officer Robert Baer, one of the most successful secret service Middle East experts, [who] described the arrangement with disarming openness: ‘There is a rule inside the CIA that if you want a good interrogation and you want good information you send the suspect to Jordan, if you want them to be killed or tortured to death you send them either to Egypt or Syria, and you never see them again.'”

“Of course Alito would vote to overturn Roe”

Arguing that “Of course [Sam] Alito would vote to overturn Roe,” Ryan Lizza write in The New Republic:

The movement that prides itself on being built on the strength of its ideas is now embarrassed to articulate one of its core beliefs: that Roe was wrongly decided and should be reversed. The White House and its nominee have decided that the political cost of affirming this principle is too high.

Europe satisfied with U.S. position on torture

On Wednesday, Ms [Condoleezza] Rice stressed that all American interrogators were bound by the UN Convention on Torture, whether they worked in the US or abroad.

The Bush administration has previously said the convention, which bans cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, does not apply to US personnel abroad.

With that, European leaders pronounced themselves “very satisfied.”

UK Lords reject evidence from torture

Upholding an over 500-year old English law, the Law Lords rejected the use of any evidence obtained through torture, whether the torture was conducted by the United Kingdom or by another power, specifically including the United States. The case involved eight detainees held in the UK’s version of the war on terror, who faced deportation — they claim on “evidence obtained in US detention camps.”