Archive for January 2010
Justice Department officials John Yoo and Jay Bybee were two of the main architects of the Bush administration’s torture program. As Bybee’s deputy, Yoo “was the author of much of the legal rationale for using waterboarding and other severe interrogation techniques.” He argued that interrogators who harm a prisoner would be protected “national and international version of the right to self-defense,” and illegal conduct must “shock the conscience.” Bybee headed the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel and signed off on the infamous 2002 torture memo. Newsweek now reports that a senior DOJ official has essentially cleared the two men of misconduct in an upcoming office of Professional Responsibility report:
While the probe is sharply critical of the legal reasoning used to justify waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques, NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authors — Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor — violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action — which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.
A DOJ official said that Margolis “acted without input” from Attorney General Eric Holder. Emptywheel has more.
The following Editorial, however well intentioned, is really an condemnatory indictment of the Eureka Police Department. The fact that the EPD had to institute the Problem Oriented Policing program speaks for itself. It’s purpose, apparently defined below, was to get the people calling on the police to respond. Apparently the general public “did NOT have a sense of buy-in.” They’d call in and get the run-around. My personal experience was, not only did I get the run-around, their failure to do their job made the matter worse. That would make me a prime candidate for some new empowering police program, right?
“This is effective policing”? If we didn’t have “effective policing” BEFORE, why do we need a new “empowering program” now when all the police need to do is the job they are paid to do?
So, what’s the real message this program is sending? Unless the police get the powers they want, we the people, the one’s that they are here to supposedly protect and serve, divest us of everything, including our tax dollars, until they get their way. You can read how this all works here.
While the POP program in and of itself may be a useful tool and even an asset to the community, it’s very existance, as justified in the following Editorial, definitely “sends” the wrong message.
This is the Sunday, January 17, 2010 Times-Standard Editorial copied here verbatim:
Empowering the people
Posted: 01/17/2010 01:30:15 AM PST
Law enforcement in this and any community works best when residents have a sense of buy-in. If Eurekans feel like their concerns and observations are noted by police, and that action is taken when crimes are committed and reported, then they are much more likely to take umbrage at crimes committed on their doorstep, and report them.
In two recent cases at least, the Eureka Police Department’s Problem Oriented Policing program has yielded investigations and arrests. These were allegedly problem properties that had attracted the attention of neighbors, and their efforts to see these problems addressed led to concrete action on the part of law enforcement officials.
This success only serves to reinforce the program — as more and more residents realize that their calls actually result in action and enforcement, you can bet more and more calls will be made. This is effective policing. [Emphasis mine.]
Neither of the two recent busts led to major arrests. But that is not the point. The program is working quickly to give Eureka residents confidence that its police department is working to address the problems that affect their lives.
At the same time, it’s sending signals to criminals within city limits that their actions will have consequences. Their activity will not be tolerated, and their neighbors, for so long simply passive witnesses to crime that went on all around them, are suddenly empowered. When people are invested, and feel like they can make a difference by policing their own communities, that’s when positive change can really occur.
A good explanation of Problem Oriented Policing — POP — is here.
A longstanding argument of this Report is that “words are important,” that “words mean what they say.” That is how the intentions of the speaker or writer are communicated or expressed. Today we hear that it is unacceptable to use the word “negro” in normal day-to-day language. Use the evil “N” word and you commit suicide. Reason? It offends some “…” people. Well, the use of the term “African-American” offended me! That term means “African” first, “American” second. As an American “white,” with roots that go back to the beginning of this country, I find such usage and it’s overt acceptance is a direct implication of my second-class status.
Keeping and protecting their African heritage at the cost of their American reality has dominated their movement toward individuality and their maturity as a race within the American context is self-evident. Simple-minded, knee jerk reactions, however well intended, because someone’s sensitivities are tweaked, can lead to some rather undesirable and unintended consequences. But then, that’s usually the undisclosed plan, especially one with an ulterior motive, isn’t it?
Today we see an effort to actually recognize the value and meaning of words expressed in law. In the state of Washington –
Decades ago, poor children became known as “disadvantaged” to soften the stigma of poverty. Then they were “at-risk.” Now, a Washington lawmaker wants to replace those euphemisms with a new one, “at hope.”
Lovely word “euphemisms.” It means: “the substitution of a mild, indirect, or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh, or blunt.”
Democratic State Sen. Rosa Franklin says negative labels are hurting kids’ chances for success and she’s not a bit concerned that people will be confused by her proposed rewrite of the 54 places in state law where words like “at risk” and “disadvantaged” are used.
You can read the rest of the story here:
Of course there’s the expected standard simple-minded Republican response:
“It’s not the label, it’s the people who show up to help (children) that make the difference,” he says. “What helps is a smart, well structured program, that has funding and credibility.”
You can read Robert Preidt report on HealthDay News published at MedicineNet.com, “Negative Words Register Faster” and see why I say “simple-minded.” Class stigmatisms are subliminally contained in the attitude expressed by the words used to tag, classify and identify people. It is a “truth” nearly impossible to overcome.
This is nowhere expressed more succinctly than in this statement by a Federal Judge at the Sentencing Hearing of Richard Reid: “And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.”
Yes, words matter. Words of truth do not make anyone a bigot, a racist, or a monster. But then, Jesus Christ spoke words of truth defending and empowering the “disadvantaged” and “at risk” and look what happened to him!