Archive for the ‘9-11’ Category

Domestic Terrorism

Written by Rebecca Zietlow on June 11th, 2009

The attacks on our country on September 11, 2001 dramatically alerted our nation to the threat of international terrorism.  Our lawmakers responded by authorizing attacks on the country that had harbored the 9/11 terrorists, and anti-immigration measures to keep the terrorists out.  The threat of internatimages.jpgional terrorism is real, but recent events remind us that Muslim extremists from across the globe are not the only terrorist threat facing us.  Before there was 9/11, there was Oklahoma City and Timothy McVeigh, and we still are plagued by right wing extremists in this country.  Yesterday, a vocal anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, James Von Brunn, killed a security guard at the Holocaust Memorial.  As bad as the incident was, it could have been much worse.  Crowds of people were inside the museum, some waiting to attend the premier of a new play about anti-Semitism and racism, Anna and Emmett.  NPR reports that among those expected to attend was Attorney General Eric Holder.  Two weeks ago, anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder murdered George Tiller, a Wichita doctor who provided late abortions.  Now Roeder is warning of more violence, claiming that there are “many other similar events planned around the country.”  Other anti-abortion activists say this is wrong, but do they really know?

Both Von Brunn and Roeder are well known for their outspoken extermist views.  Moreover, these events are particularly disturbing given that gun sales have surged since Barack Obama was elected president.  What are our lawmakers doing about it?  Nothing.  Instead of acting to protect us, Congress recently authorized the possession of concealed weapons in national parks.  It’s about time that we started taking the treat of domestic terrorism seriously, before more innocent people are hurt.

Prosecutorial Discretion and the Torture Memos – Part II

Written by Henry L. Chambers, Jr. on May 13th, 2009

A few weeks ago, I wrote about prosecutorial discretion and the torture memos.  No new information has been revealed abotmpphpdvqdsc1.jpgut the memos.  However, former Vice President Dick Cheney has continued to talk about enhanced interrogation techniques (read torture) and the good information they supposedly produced.   Cheney continues to claim that waterboarding and similar troubling interrogation techniques do not amount to torture.  However, his defense of the techniques seems to suggest that even if they did amount to torture, they should have been authorized and used against the terrorists who were indeed subjected to the techniques.  His defense suggests a balancing process that comes out in favor of torture because there would be almost no argument against the use of such techniques if they were in fact legal, not torturous and did in fact produce information that stopped attacks on the United States and other countries, as Cheney has claimed.

This all ties into prosecutorial discretion in a controversial way.  This is because there may be room to consider Cheney’s comments in the process of deciding whether he or others ought to be prosecuted, if they have committed a crime related to authorizing enhanced interrogation techniques.   Some might complain that Cheney’s First Amendment rights would be put in jeopardy or that the government might attempt to prosecute Cheney merely to quiet him.  However, others would argue that Cheney’s continuing assertions that torture is not torture and his advocacy that torture continue to be used, even in the absence of clear evidence that it has produced actionable intelligence that directly saves lives, suggests that Cheney has no remorse or regrets regarding the use of torture.  Whether Cheney demonstrates acceptance that his actions were wrongful or illegal, assuming they were, arguably is quite relevant to whether the Department of Justice should prosecute him if it concludes that he has committed a crime.   At least, it should be as relevant as any information about a putative criminal that suggests that he has refused to realize the criminality of his behavior.  Indeed, a person who refuses to acknowledge the criminality of his behavior is almost certainly in need of the punishment and correction that the Bureau of Prisons is supposed to provide.

Protesting Yoo’s Torture Memo

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on May 18th, 2008

Law students at the University of California-Berkeley protested yersterday at graduation, Professor John Yoo’s retention of the faculty. “Some 50 protesters, clad in orange jumpsuits and black hoods to emulate the infamous photos of prisoners in Iraq, picketed UC Berkeley’s law school graduation ceremony Saturday, demanding that the university fire Professor John Yoo for his authorship of the Bush administration’s policies on torture. . . . “We want to see him fired and disbarred for being a war criminal,” said Anne Weills, an Oakland attorney who said she was with the National Lawyers Guild, one of the groups that protested. “Academic freedom stops when you intend to harm or injure somebody.” . . . Yoo, a tenured constitutional law professor at Boalt Hall, took a leave of absence from 2001 to 2003 to work for the U.S. Department of Justice. During that time, he wrote what critics call the “torture memos,” which protesters say outlined the legal basis for the use of torture at the Abu Ghraib (Iraq) and Guantanamo Bay (Cuba) military prisons.

While the students have a right to protest, professor Yoo has a right to his opinion also. Casting this controversy in terms of the students’ free speech and John Yoo’s academic freedom, both of which are inviolable, treats this controversy superficially. The more salient question is whether the students’ contention that Yoo is a war criminal for his tenure in the admijninstration has any plausibility at all. Moreover, although Yoo claims he is not “fazed” by these protests, that’s too bad. Yooo’s analysis of the legitimacy of torture and his view regarding the inherent powers of the presidency depart from both traditional conservative and liberal viwews on these subjects. Consequently, one wonders whether Yoo, in his solicitude, ever tries to appreciate why his views repel so many different kinds of people.
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The Truth About Rudy Giuliani

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on January 25th, 2008

It’s difficult to see how American citizens can be duped by Mayor Giuliani, a charlatan and a dictator wannabe in his successful, but duplicitous attempts to garner praise for his “heroic” to 9-11. What precisely did GiulianiRun into burning buildings to save lives? Directed the attempt to save further devastation? No, Giuliani walked down the streets with his entourage, greeting New Yorkers, and surveying the damage, all the while making sure his presence was conspicuous. Check out the New York Times assessment: “Why, as a New York-based paper, are we not backing Rudolph Giuliani? Why not choose the man we endorsed for re-election in 1997 after a first term in which he showed that a dirty, dangerous, supposedly ungovernable city could become clean, safe and orderly? What about the man who stood fast on Sept. 11, when others, including President Bush, went AWOL? . . . That man is not running for president. . . . The real Mr. Giuliani, whom many New Yorkers came to know and mistrust, is a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man who saw no need to limit police power. Racial polarization was as much a legacy of his tenure as the rebirth of Times Square. . . . Mr. Giuliani’s arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking. When he claims fiscal prudence, we remember how he ran through surpluses without a thought to the inevitable downturn and bequeathed huge deficits to his successor. He fired Police Commissioner William Bratton, the architect of the drop in crime, because he couldn’t share the limelight. He later gave the job to Bernard Kerik, who has now been indicted on fraud and corruption charges. . . . The Rudolph Giuliani of 2008 first shamelessly turned the horror of 9/11 into a lucrative business, with a secret client list, then exploited his city’s and the country’s nightmare to promote his presidential campaign.” (Emphasis) To read further click here.

Why last night, even Senator McCain interrupted the debate to offer his fulsome praise of Giuliani as a “hero.” Just what did the Mayor do to even suggest such praise? Even the above Times’ editorial characterizes Giuliani as standing fast on 9-11. But what does that mean? Wouldn’t any New York Mayor have stood fast in these harrowing circumstances? What choice would he have? I lived in New York for 27 years. None of the Mayors serving during that time would have acted any less “courageously” than Mr. Giuliani. What difference can a Mayor make in such a catastrophic event as 9-11? But Giuliani, with fulsome media support, has fashioned himself to be “the hero of 9-11.” Reflect on what that means and who it excludes. Mayor Giuliani is an uncomplicated fraud. What’s so troubling is that so many Americans bought his act–even the otherwise astute New York Times’ editorial board and Senator McCain among a vast array of others. Why people are frightened to tell the truth about 9-11 and a Mayor whose failures in preparing for such an emergency are legion? Such intimidation creates a snowball effect. Each time someone’s praises the “heroic” Giuliani the snowball gets bigger and firmer. There were real heroes on 9-11, to be sure. Among many others, were the gallant, dedicated men and women of New York’s fire department who gave their lives to defend New York. Their memory is sullied every time someone perfunctorily refers to Mayor Giuliani as a hero.

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Remembering 9-11

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on September 11th, 2007

On Tuesday 11 September 2001, fanatical, religious terrorists intent on criminal revenge for claimed injuries to Muslins, especially in Arab nations, attacked the United States. The goal was to indiscriminately kill and injure Americans, to terrify other Americans, and to draw the United States into a war it cannot win militarily without occupying various parts of the Muslim world. Von Clausewitz insisted that “[w]ar is . . . a continuation
of political activity by other means.” What then is terrorism? The cowardly and vicious infliction of pain and death in order to fulfill some fanatical religious commandment? These terrorists are paradigmatic of one form of pernicious evil preventing the world from working out its problems is some peaceful, pragmatic manner. Those Americans killed by their noxious hands are victims of radical unreason and its cousin, the absence of empathy–both of which constitute the scourge of humanity–and both continue with no end in sight.

Guiliani: The Rescue Worker or the Authentic Bush-Lite?

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 18th, 2007

Check out Russ Buettner’s story in yesterday’s NYTimes about Rudy Guilian’s rescue efforts after 9-11. Here’s a sample: “As Rudolph W. Giuliani campaigns around the country highlighting his stewardship of New York City after the Sept. 11 attacks, he is widely hailed for bringing order to a traumatized city. But he has also raised the hackles of rescue and recovery workers by likening his experience to theirs. On at least three ocassions, in responding to accusations that the city failed to adequately protect the health of workers in the wreckage, he has boasted that he faced comparable risks himself. In one appearance he declared that he had been in the ruins “as often, if not more” than the cleanup workers who logged hundreds of hours in the smoldering pile. Another time he brushed aside safety claims by asserting that his long hours at the site had left him susceptible to “every health consequence that people have suffered.” Pretty astonishing accomplishments, if true. Are they true? The article goes on to ask: “So, how much time did Mayor Giuliani spend at ground zero? A complete record of Mr. Giuliani’s exposure to the site is not available for the chaotic six days after the attack, when he was a frequent visitor. But an exhaustively detailed account from his mayoral archive, revised after the events to account for last-minute changes on scheduled stops, does exist for the period of Sept. 17 to Dec. 16, 2001. It shows he was there for a total of 29 hours in those three months, often for short periods or to visit locations adjacent to the rubble. In that same period, many rescue and recovery workers put in daily 12-hour shifts.” Are Mr. Guiliani’s claims fraudulent?

Check out Alex Koppleman’s article in Salon. com: “What was he doing instead? Giuliani’s beloved New York Yankees made it to the World Series in 2001. We decided to compare the time he spent on baseball to the time he spent at the ruins of the World Trade Center. . . . The results were, considering the mayor’s long-standing devotion to the Bronx Bombers, unsurprising. By our count, Giuliani spent about 58 hours at Yankees games or flying to them in the 40 days between Sept. 25 and Nov. 4, roughly twice as long as he spent at ground zero in the 60 days between Sept. 17 and Dec. 16. By his own standard, Giuliani was one of the Yankees more than he was one of the rescue workers.” If these allegations are true, Mr. Guiliani’s remarks are self-serving lies. Moreover, they demonstrate Mr. Guiliani’s character as someone eager to exploit one of the nation’s most catastrophic injuries for his self-aggrandizement and, of course, his presidential ambitions. Red states wake-up to the leading contender for the 2008 Republican nomination for president. Mr. Guiliani is truly “Bush-lite.”

The Giuliani Myth! No, the Guiliani Fraud

Written by Robert Justin Lipkin on August 14th, 2007

Rudy Giuliani has garnered more undeserved kudos for his role in 9-11 than anyone can imagine. And some of these kudos come from some very savvy people who should know better. What heroic act did Mr. Giuliani perform on 9-11 that any other sitting Mayor would not have done? Immediately after the craven attack, Mr. Giuliani walked around the area. Terrific! Would any other Mayor–Dinkens, Koch, Lindsay, Wagner, LaGuardia–have done anything else? Subsequently, he attended funerals. Again what sort of Mayor would not? The media contributes to this charade by not challenging the barrage of exaggerated claims of Mr. Giuliani’s heroism. But Mr. Giuliani himself shamelessly contributes to his own mythology. Most recently, to the outrage of the NYC Fire Department, he claimed “I was there working with them. I was exposed to exactly the same things they were exposed to. So in that sense, I’m one of them.” Indeed, I have friends who volunteered to help the first-responders, who never in their wildest dreams would claim to be “one of them.” Mr. Giuliani’s hyperbolic claims are fraudulent and render his modest contribution suspect. That might suggest why, even his own family, refuses to ardently support his presidential candidacy. If Mr. Guiliani’s candidacy rests on his capability of dealing with terrorism then it rests on nothing at all. Come on Rudy, tell the truth. It will mean you have no credibility as a terrorism fighter. But, it will, as they say, set you free.