Bench Goes Bye-Bye for a Few Days

If it's okay with y'all, the Bench Conference is going to be on hiatus for a few days. If major legal news breaks out, I'll find a way to break back into my Movetable Type platform and weigh in.

In the meantime, I leave you with this piece, in which the vice president of the United States declares that he is a "big fan" of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. You just can't make this stuff up.

By Andrew Cohen |  July 31, 2007; 7:47 AM ET
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"You just can't make this stuff up."

No, you can't can you!

Hurry back!

Posted by: DC | July 31, 2007 11:06 AM

Good idea. Take your time.

Posted by: | July 31, 2007 11:19 AM

Best of the Washington Post, Andrew. I am a big fan of the Frito Bandito as well. What a performance! There's nothing like the public spectacle of flogging an imbecile. While it will not rein in the power of a tyrannical executive and his devoted minions, at least we can enjoy some good theater as our country goes down with this titanic regime.

Instead of Moveable Type, why doesn't WaPo contribute back to the community and invest in building a platform based on a proper standards compliant CMS such as Plone (www.plone.org www.zope.org) Users of Plone include Marriott, NASA, Lufthansa, Continental Airlines, the Governors of Texas and Hawaii, and many others. When discussing compliance with standards like what Bush would call "the so-called rule of law", your newspaper would have added credibility if they adhered to Open standards.

Posted by: Suomi Andy | July 31, 2007 11:35 AM

Good time for a summer vacation. Look forward to reading the next series of posts when Bench Conference returns.

Posted by: JP2 | July 31, 2007 10:41 PM

You guys are irresponsible reporters. Maybe Alberto Gonzales can't fix all the problems in our Justice System. Nobody could, but he has done something so important that he will go down in history as a hero. President Bush and Dick Cheney on the other hand have been the worst President/Vice President combination this country has ever known with the exception of Clinton and Gore. and the reason President Bush and Dick Cheney haven't been impeached by now is because of your irresponsible reporting of the news - that goes for every reporter that works at the Post. President Bush and Dick Cheney have both sexually assaulted a young woman while they have been in their respective offices and their attitudes toward what they have done are appalling and sickening, and all you can do is bash Alberto Gonzales who is a mere victim of President Bush and the grossest corruption our government has ever known, and if you could ever accomplish anything close to responsible reporting, you wouldn't be bashing an innocent man. You would be bashing Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft. Those four made their beds - they need to be prosecuted for what they did, and they need to stop putting pressure on Gonzales to lie. because not one of them is going to stand by him, if something bad happens to him. Those four -- Bush , Cheney , Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft need to go down in history as the crud and corruption of the universe that they are, and they need to be prosecuted for the high crimes of which they are guilty. The other problem that nobody seems to mention and maybe it is because you really don't know, but Gonzales has to also deal with the most corrupt FBI Director this country has ever had - Robert Mueller. You guys will find out eventually. Your journalist irresponsibility and disregard for the truth makes me sick.

Posted by: Darlene | August 1, 2007 07:37 PM

You guys are irresponsible reporters. Maybe Alberto Gonzales can't fix all the problems in our Justice System. Nobody could, but he has done something so important that he will go down in history as a hero. President Bush and Dick Cheney on the other hand have been the worst President/Vice President combination this country has ever known with the exception of Clinton and Gore. and the reason President Bush and Dick Cheney haven't been impeached by now is because of your irresponsible reporting of the news - that goes for every reporter that works at the Post. President Bush and Dick Cheney have both sexually assaulted a young woman while they have been in their respective offices and their attitudes toward what they have done are appalling and sickening, and all you can do is bash Alberto Gonzales who is a mere victim of President Bush and the grossest corruption our government has ever known, and if you could ever accomplish anything close to responsible reporting, you wouldn't be bashing an innocent man. You would be bashing Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft. Those four made their beds - they need to be prosecuted for what they did, and they need to stop putting pressure on Gonzales to lie. because not one of them is going to stand by him, if something bad happens to him. Those four -- Bush , Cheney , Rumsfeld, and Ashcroft need to go down in history as the crud and corruption of the universe that they are, and they need to be prosecuted for the high crimes of which they are guilty. The other problem that nobody seems to mention and maybe it is because you really don't know, but Gonzales has to also deal with the most corrupt FBI Director this country has ever had - Robert Mueller. You guys will find out eventually. Your journalist irresponsibility and disregard for the truth makes me sick.

Posted by: Darlene | August 1, 2007 07:37 PM

Darlene: you have no basis for defending Gonzales. He's just as bad as the rest of the bunch, except he's more of an eagerly willing stooge than an originator of policy. It appears that there is no depravity that Gonzales would not earnestly commit if George Bush wanted it. To hell with him.

Posted by: Chris Fox | August 2, 2007 11:34 AM

"President Bush and Cheney have both sexualy assaulted a young woman?" "Gonzalez is a hero" What are you talking about, Darlene? Elaborate please.

Posted by: Bill | August 2, 2007 11:34 AM

"but Cheney said the attorney general has the support of the only man who really counts."

That quote says it all about the Bush Administration. Those are comments that lead to dictatorships. The last time I checked we have a host of "people" who count in our democratic government based on checks and balances.

maybe I am missing something here, I sure hope not.

Posted by: Chris | August 2, 2007 02:00 PM

Meaning, Chris, that only the president chooses the attorney general, therefore his is the only vote that counts.

Posted by: Sa | August 2, 2007 02:05 PM


Just had to say, on this South Korean business, the Taliban remind me of some Latin-American gangs, and indeed much widely-accepted vigilantism, in the US, they feel they have to act that way to preserve their ethnic identity and religious values, and many in their community virtually celebrate them (block parties, community civic involvement) and turn a blind eye to the illegal ways they make their money, because after all the government and law is corrupt, justice nonexistent, so gangs are an effort to provide it. After all, how many respectable, prosperous citizens in the US privately support the Robin Hood of legitimized stealing, looting, and ultimately violent revolution, if they don't like how things are going. The culture they fight for is different from most in the US, but then so too can be the Hispanic Catholic etc.. -based one of gangs and their communities from other prominent, often dominant strains in American society.

They really hurt whatever cause they thought they had by abducting those from a country that has nothing to do with them, a group far more peaceful and unthreatening than the occupying forces, and resorting to killing them. AN IDIOTIC,DISASTROUS MOVE. They could unquestionably have worked it out with the South Koreans directly, and without needing to resort to threats and coercion, as is beginning to be done now, but two harmless people have now been pointlessly, tragically killed. What possible message was the Taliban trying to send ? They can give phone interviews to CBS, but don't understand the stupidity and senselessness of this, and how it destroys any possible credibility they could have had before in front of the world, now just looking like wanton murderers of innocent people who had nothing to do with them, and with whom they might have been able to have more of a dialogue than with the Americans or even their Afghan emissaries.

REALLY A BIG SCREW UP.

Posted by: Cyrus | August 2, 2007 05:27 PM

Shouldn't the priority in Iraq have been on getting them self-governing (it is telling that that wasn't even part of the "mission"; all these sudden "discoveries" by US top military that Iraqi forces are unprepared, or that as of today that the US underestimated the sides' ability to agree on principles, saying with wondernment that it is analogous to the US constitutional convention), rather than "winning a war"? BTW gotta love the attitude of "we are growing a country", the US's movie actor -like instant fantasy role-playing the history of its forefathers, anyone can do it.

Yes, people may fight if they are attacked . Was the point, even if one believes the changing propaganda, to prove the US could prevail any time someone opposes it whatever the reason might be, or was it as initially claimed for Iraq to be "free", meaning independent? Where was the plan for that from the outset if one makes the cheery assumption that the aim was to "free Iraq" from Saddam (and his own people Saddam attacked were not indigenous Iraqis, but Kurds more affiliated to Turkey than Iraq; US never combats any of its own for any reason?)? This is not even to mention Wolfowitz's assumption, conceited and smugly provincial from the outset, that Iraq as a highly-educated populace(the propaganda of that soon changed in a hurry, making them out to be fanatical barbarians) would automatically embrace "freedom" if the missionary work was done of bringing Christian "freedom" to the heathens(since, it must be said, many Jews and Christians have united esp., accepting Christian Jesus as Jewish, as well as other socioeconomic reasons, but anyway)--the strong shadow of the "white man's burden" of colonizing the heathen natives.
Funny given this how many Iraqis there say that Sunnis and Shiites didn't even have remotely close to the same dissension before the US came (of course Iraqi soldiers did barbarous things when invading Kuwait, but that isn't the issue here).

All shows why, how far the Iraqis are from being an independent country, politically and militarily (including in this "war"-one would think that the priority would have been to train a central Iraqi military to sustain itself rather than the US trying to prove-while the Iraqi prime minister has long stints away from the country on a diet, and giving speeches-- it can blindly win a war simply because it is being opposed, whatever the cause is ) is no surprise, since that, amazingly, wasn't even the objective all this time, was it, but for the US to get a position there.
Can't and shouldn't snowjob this one over as "mistakes" or as military are today saying, "failure to anticipate" (the expressions of wonderment and discovery now!), much like AG's mendacious regret at "creating confusion".

Posted by: Jim L | August 2, 2007 07:07 PM

THE CROOKED FLORIDA ELECTION LET BUSH START THE IRAQ WAR TO STEAL TAXES TO MAKE US BUY WAR MERCHANDISE AND PAY HALLIBURTON. SOMEONE MUST CONSUME WAR ITEMS SO CONGRESS CAN BORROW TO REPLACE THEM. THE ONLY WAY TO USE COSTLY WAR SUPPLES IS TO BE CRIPPLED OR KLLED AS VICTIMS OF ALL WARS. ALL EXPLOSIVES ARE EJACULATORY SO THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN A MACHO QUALITY TO WAR. THE FLYING JACKET IS SO PSYCHOLOGICALLY PERFECT FOR WHAT IS HAPPENING.

Posted by: AURA Veirs | August 2, 2007 07:34 PM

Esp. since the US doesn't "negotiate with terrorists", South Korea should bypass them as needed; it's THEIR people who are directly affected by the minute.They are drawing back today, saying there is a limit to "what their government can do", while the Taliban are the ones expressing their willingness to talk and resolve the matter (in the meantime reported that at least two South Koreans are seriously ill). Clever strategizing, excessive concern with the US government's opinion and foolish pride of saving face shouldn't be the South Korean government's concern, particularly when innocent hostages' lives are subject to the volatile whims of their captors by the minute; GETTING THE HOSTAGES RELEASED ASAP IS (rather than the, yawn, reports of talks "stretching out yet another week" while the threat of serious illness and violent death to innocent third parties is constant).

The Taliban spokespeople have understandably asked for UN guarantees for discussion outside their area of control (REALIZE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THEIR WILLINGNESS TO RISK THEMSELVES TO DO THAT TO RESOLVE THE HOSTAGE ISSUE); AGAIN THEY HAVE INDICATED WILLINGNESS TO MEET EVEN OUTSIDE THEIR AREA, EVEN OUTSIDE AFGHANISTAN (if correctly reported by Reuters).
This is one major raison d'etre for the UN (and for European attempts in the past at some autonomy from US influence): why should a country have to be so dependent on and concerned with getting the US's permission or approval, or what the US might think esp. when many of the current government's policies are seriously not at all shared by numerous people in the US (and many currently in power in the US used similar arguments in getting autonomy from their parents and the national culture 35-40 years ago)?

RATHER THAN HOPING FOR AND DEPENDING ON "flexibility" FROM THE US TO GET YOUR OWN PEOPLE FREED ESPECIALLY UNDER SUCH A PRESSING SITUATION, AND PLAYING CLEVER GAMES WITH SOME OF YOUR OWN CITIZENS' LIVES, would emphatically urge to work directly with the captors (and as needed hopefully with the support of the UN), WHO HAVE INDICATED SOME "flexibility" and WILLINGNESS OF THEIR OWN TO RESOLVE THIS MATTER AS IT NEEDS TO BE, BEFORE A MOST UNNECESSARY AND SENSELESS TRAGEDY MIGHT OCCUR.

Posted by: William Franklin III | August 3, 2007 11:42 AM

Just noting on the outrage in Pakistan at Obama's statement that he would support pursuing al-Quaeda there, although welcome Pakistan's making a statement that it is a sovereign country and its borders must be respected, Obama's statement was entirely conditional on and with the necessary assumptions of having 100% sure intelligence that 1) there are those unquestionably planning an attack on US targets there 2) that knowing this, Pakistan for some reason refused to do anything and was known to actively be promoting this theoretical known attack.

The situation is entirely hypothetical and theoretical, basically completely imaginary. If such intelligence were so incontrovertible and sure about something also assumed sure and incontrovertible about a known-for-sure attack on the US planned from within Pakistan's borders, it would of course be incumbent on the US to inform Pakistan of what it knows and the basis of it, and to have their real, uncoerced consent as the ALL-IMPORTANT NECESSARY condition before any action. Prior information known with such rock-solid assurance of what is going to happen, as TOTALLY DISTINGUISHED FROM CONJECTURE,THEORY,HOPE ETC.., is usually not that easily available, and Pakistan has previously shown that it doesn't subversively promote terrorist activities that directly endanger another country, which they surely understand if (again if somehow known in such an unlikely scenario without any possibility of uncertainty)proven without doubt, wouldn't be acceptable.

Again , Obama's STATEMENT WAS REFERRING TO AN ENTIRELY SPECULATIVE AND THEORETICAL SITUATION, FAR FROM EVIDENT TO EVER HAVE A CHANCE OF OCCURING.

Posted by: Nawaz | August 3, 2007 12:22 PM

Our president is on record for saying "If the Iraqis ask us to leave, we will."

So much unnecessary past time and loss of life past, (Some Muslims talk of the opportunity of "dying a martyr as a great temptation"; that's not a good way at all to make a reasonably livable life in an existing situation) the Iraqis SHOULD HOLD HIM TO HIS WORD, and put aside any comparatively minor differences (and many in Iraq say groups there coexisted far better before the US intervened) to UNITE IN ASKING THE US TO LEAVE so that they can acceptably run their own affairs (isn't it far preferable for Iraq to manage its own affairs by those who are part of and understand its own culture, rather than following the dictates of a foreign, occupying power?) , AT IRAQ'S OWN CHOICE AND REQUEST, NOT WHEN THE US DEIGNS TO GRANT PERMISSION.

THAT should be the primary, guiding objective.

Posted by: James K | August 3, 2007 12:42 PM

(LOL)Don't know about wars being necessarily so macho, Aura, women squabble plenty, are perhaps even more prone to partisanship and competing.


But more seriously, if your theory has any truth, THAT SITUATION ISN'T ACCEPTABLE. Often it seems as if someone gives a cynical explanation as if to say the real answer is widely known, but then if the reason for such cynical situation is so obviously known, then it is somehow acceptable. On the contrary, all the more reason then for it NOT TO BE ACCEPTED. It might be possible though that the reasons may not be so evident, though.

Posted by: Paul V | August 3, 2007 01:02 PM

Oooh boy:

From the UK Guardian today:
"Bush called Musharraf Friday to congratulate him on the 60th anniversary of Pakistan's existence, but also mentioned recent statements emanating from the U.S. regarding possible U.S. action inside Pakistani territory (meaning Obama's statements regarding Pakistan)

Bush said (confidingly, I'll bet)that "SUCH REMARKS WERE UNSAVORY AND OFTEN PROMPTED BY POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS IN AN ENVIRONMENT OF ELECTIONEERING" (emph. added) Bush further said "that the United States fully respected Pakistan's sovereignty."


Yet his Homeland Security Adviser Fran Townsend had a Jul 22 interview on Fox News Sunday, where one can read or hear her going along with Chris Wallace's questions (one can look it up themself):

Chris: " If our enemies are regenerating their safe haven in Pakistan, under the Bush doctrine of preemptive military action to take out any threat, why aren't we doing everything we can--special operations forces, pilotless drones-- why aren't we doing everyhting we can to take out this safe haven?"
Fran: "Well, Chris, just because we don't speak about things publicly doesn't mean we're not DOING MANY OF THE THINGS YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT (and what was it that he was just "talking about"?)
Chris: "Well are we doing those things?"

Fran: "First and foremost, we're working with our Pakistani allies to deny the safe haven.
BUT LET'S REMEMBER THAT THE FEDERALLY ADMINISTERED TRIBAL AREA IS AN AREA OF PAKISTAN THAT HAS NEVER SEEN THE WRIT OF THE PAKISTANI GOVERNMENT. IT'S NEVER EXTENDED THAT FAR "(very questionable). "President Musharraf has got over 80000 Pakistani military troops in the FATA and working with us they've sustained hundreds of casualties in this fight.

We're working with them", "BUT THE PRESIDENT HAS BEEN CLEAR. JOB NUMBER ONE IS TO PROTECT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, AND THERE ARE NO OPTIONS OFF THE TABLE." (emph. added) (um, starting with "but")

later,
Chris Wallace: "I guess a lot of people are asking 'why don't we just take them out'"

and later

Chris Wallace: DO WE HAVE AN INDEPENDENT POLICY FOR PAKISTAN OR ARE WE JOINED AT THE HIP TO MUSHARRAF" (hm, wonder what CW meant by "independent")
Fran: "WELL, THERE'S NO QUESTION, FIRST AND FOREMOST, WHAT WE CARE ABOUT, WHAT THE PRESIDENT CARES ABOUT, IS U.S. NATIONAL INTEREST. THAT COMES FIRST" (hm, what COULD she have in mind by that in context?)

(She does go on to say how we need our allies, even when they aren't doing 100 % of what we'd like them to do, that 20% is better than nothing-- try pulling Iraq in Pakistan--that "enhanced interrogation" is a "critical, critical program", the individuals who implement the program go through "psychological and aptitude screening" , enhanced interrogation " is a team concept",
Fran T" We need this program. You look at the NIE which we were just talking about. Gen Hayden tells me that nearly half of the references, WHAT PEOPLE MIGHT CALL FOOTNOTES, in the NIE came from detainee interrogations. Nearly 100 people who have 'BEEN THROUGH THE PROGRAM' [quotes added]-ONLY one-third had had interrogation enhanced techniques used against them, and they [meaning, the prisoners] GENERATED 8500 terrorism, intelligence reports. This is a critical, critical program."

Wallace later voices anxiousness and concern that "with the new safeguards -we are told-waterboarding is now off the table, some of the extreme use of heat or cold to press them. With all of those restrictions, are we not going to get the information we used to get?" )


(Don't the Pakistanis even know about the Fox Network? What would they think?)


Ah yes, Obama's statements were in George's words "unsavory", prompted by "election considerations" and "the United States fully respects Pakistan's sovereignty."
Good to know. What he thinks he can get away with reassuring says something.

Posted by: Carl T | August 3, 2007 07:20 PM

Michael Corleone like

Posted by: | August 3, 2007 07:24 PM

Sen. Chris Dodd: " It is dangerous..to leave even the impression that the United States would needlessly provoke a nuclear power (Pakistan, in this case)"

Hillary Clinton: "Presidents have used nuclear deterrence to keep the peace."

You see, given the previous, Hillary looks right: Nuclear weapons ARE INDEED a deterrent! (What might hold the US back?)

Posted by: GT | August 3, 2007 07:48 PM

You have to understand, in our president's world, unsavory or wrong has NO CONNECTION to whether he would do it.

Posted by: | August 9, 2007 01:02 PM

making torture, chic and playful

Posted by: | August 9, 2007 01:11 PM

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