Tag: Rachel Maddow

Is Obama poised to continue some parts of Bush’s torture policies?

February 10, 2009

Yesterday’s news out of the Justice Department in which it indicated support for Bush’s rendition program (i.e. exit visa for torture outside of US) was horrifying. I really don’t know what to make of it. I’m not a lawyer, so was kinda hoping it wasn’t as bad as it sounded.

But here’s what the lawyers think:

From the Desk of Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director, ACLU
Just as we’re in court challenging the government’s use of the “state secrets” doctrine, we must also confront the doctrine on Capitol Hill.

Dear ACLU Supporter,

Yesterday, ACLU lawyers encountered a recurring — and troubling –obstacle in our lawsuit seeking justice for torture victims caught up in the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. But this time, the objections were not coming from the Bush administration.

To our surprise and disappointment, the new Justice Department urged a federal appeals court to dismiss our lawsuit charging a Boeing subsidiary with providing critical support for the CIA’s rendition program based on the same “state secrets” claim that the Bush administration had repeatedly invoked to avoid any judicial scrutiny of its actions. During the course of the argument, one judge asked twice if the change in administration had any bearing on the Justice Department’s position. The attorney for the government said that its position remained the same.

This isn’t the kind of change we need if we want an America we can be proud of again.

If the judges rule in the government’s favor, our clients — who were tortured as part of the government’s rendition program –will never get their day in court.

We’re still hoping the court will rule in our favor and allow our case to move forward. But, in the meantime, we must do everything we can to end the abuse of the “state secrets” doctrine both in the courts and on Capitol Hill.

Senators Kennedy, Leahy, Specter and Representative Nadler introduced legislation in 2008 to narrow the scope of the state secrets privilege — and open the courthouse doors to people who have suffered real and legitimate harm by the government. Clearly, this legislation is needed now more than ever.

Send a message to these members of Congress to let them know you support the State Secrets Protection Act. http://action.aclu.org/site/R?i=4ZCCyt9qoeR3O5xPyJOmeA

This crucial civil liberties bill recognizes the need to take precautions when it comes to national security. But, it also acknowledges that courts have been competently managing the balance between the security of classified information and the right to a fair trial in criminal cases for years. And, most important of all, it makes it much more difficult for the government to abuse the state secrets doctrine to escape accountability for illegal behavior.

We can’t allow any administration to invoke state secrets to hide a reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations.

Send a message to support the State Secrets Protection Act. http://action.aclu.org/site/R?i=RM5mjfeVNW98tsG2xLz5aA

Yesterday, the Obama administration had an opportunity to act on its condemnation of torture and rendition. But, instead, the Justice Department opted to stay the course.

Now, we must hope that the court will assert its independence, reject the government’s false claims of state secrets, and allow victims of torture and rendition their day in court.

Thanks for standing with us as we work to pursue justice on this critical civil liberties issue.


Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director

P.S. The ACLU has been working on this case for years. To learn more about rendition and the people impacted, watch our short video. http://action.aclu.org/site/R?i=y7U5EBGwWSZLgZNf9A9rCA

© ACLU, 125 Broad Street, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10004

And here’s another ACLU spokesperson on the Rachel Maddow Show tonight. (It’s preceded by Rachel and Kent Jones doing a little silly bit of “comedy” on the issue, which in my opinion was inappropriate for the seriousness of the problem, and not funny. But it’s the only video I could find posted this soon after the show.)

Debra Sweet from World Can’t Wait is also sounding the alarm:

Why Should the U.S. Government’s Right to Secrecy Trump the Right of People Not to be Tortured?

Binyam Mohamed is no longer a non-person, even though he’s still in Guantanamo.  After being flown around the world by the CIA, and tortured in both Pakistan and Morocco, he’s fighting the torture.  Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union have direct testimony of torture from the five who were transported in CIA sponsored flights by Jeppesen Datalan, a subsidiary of Boeing, and testimony to show that employees of Jeppesen knew they were planning flights in what has become known infamously as the “Torture Taxi.”

Yesterday, the ACLU represented Mohamed and 4 other men who were tortured and “rendered” by the CIA in the US Court of Appeals, 9th District in San Francisco.  The Bush administration had gotten a judge to throw out the men’s lawsuit against “extraordinary rendition.”  The ACLU and others hoped that the Obama administration would not stand on “national security” and let the suit go forward.

But no.  The New York Times reports today, “the Obama administration seemed to surprise a panel of federal appeals judges on Monday by pressing ahead with an argument for preserving state secrets originally developed by the Bush administration.”  The ACLU provided testimony from Mohamed that, “he was routinely beaten, suffering broken bones and, on occasion, loss of consciousness. His clothes were cut off with a scalpel and the same scalpel was then used to make incisions on his body, including his penis. A hot stinging liquid was then poured into open wounds on his penis where he had been cut. He was frequently threatened with rape, electrocution and death.”

The World Can’t Wait continues to demand an end to torture carried on directly by the United States or its allies; the overturning of the Military Commissions Act and “enhanced” interrogation whether carried out by U.S. military, CIA, private contractors, or allied governments’ the closure of Guantanamo, Bagram and other indefinite detention facilities controlled by the United States. It believes that the rights of the people to be free of government spying supersede the secrecy rights of the government.  FULL statement here

And to repeat the action part from ACLU:

Send a message to support the State Secrets Protection Act. http://action.aclu.org/site/R?i=4ZCCyt9qoeR3O5xPyJOmeA

Why Chris Matthews is not a liberal

January 28, 2009

Recently while being interviewed by Leslie Stahl (of 60 Minutes, she wants you to know), Rachel Maddow tried to explain to her that Chris Matthews is not a liberal. Stahl was adament that he was, pushing it to Maddow like she was an idiot not to realize something so obvious.

Finally Rachel broke it down for Leslie — who has spent too many years in Washington to know up from down — and I can imagine she spoke especially slowly and clearly so that the long-time Villager (© Atrios) could understand:

LESLEY: But everybody thinks MSNBC is moving in that direction. That that’s exactly what the shift is — where you are — that people there are trying to make you into the un-Fox network, the liberal place to go.

RACHEL: Well, if you think about the way that Fox was founded, though – Fox was founded by Roger Ailes. It was created from his perspective as a political operative. His background was as a Republican activist of the highest order. There’s no equivalent on MSNBC. I think MSNBC is trying to find hit shows.

LESLEY: Everybody they hire to anchor their shows is distinctly liberal and encouraged to express themselves that way, wouldn’t you say?



RACHEL: Well, I wouldn’t call David Shuster a liberal. I would barely call Chris Matthews a liberal. He voted for Bush. And I certainly wouldn’t call Joe Scarborough a liberal.

LESLEY: Chris Matthews is a liberal.

RACHEL: Well, Chris Matthews is a Democrat.

LESLEY: He’s a liberal.

RACHEL: Chris Matthews – well, you could interview him about it and find out. If Chris Matthews had an Air America radio show, he’d get torn apart by our listeners.

LESLEY: So he doesn’t go that far. I see. OK.

RACHEL: No. I wouldn’t put Chris and my politics in the same canoe.

While Matthews once in a blue moon talks sense about some policy and is at times on the right side of an issue (while still unable to discuss it sanely), he’s erratic, emotionally immature, in love with power of any kind, and thinks politics is just a game rather than about real people who can suffer as the result of bad policy, not to mention bad punditry.

Here is a prime example of how his very obvious sexual hangups destroy whatever shred of reason he wanders across in his cavernous brain, and why he most definitely is NOT a “liberal” and why real liberals and progressives loathe and distrust him more than almost any other TV news personality. (He has a special page on Media Matters dedicated to his wankery and has been named by the watchdog group as Misinformer of the Year in 2005. He also has prompted the creation of several blogs by netroots activists for the sole purpose of exposing and decrying his special brand of nonsense.)

Frankly, I was hoping that Chris Matthews was going to run for the Senate to replace Arlen Spector, something he was seriously exploring last year. That possibility got dashed when his MSNBC contract was renewed recently. Pity — I really think he would do less damage to the country there.

2008 Peace Arena Progressive Person of the Year award goes to…

January 1, 2009

The award is presented to Rachel Maddow.

I think Rachel is eclipsed only by Obama in meteoric rise from relative obscurity during 2008. She first got national attention in 2004 on Air America Radio. In 2005, she started providing occasional commentary on Tucker Carlson’s old show (the only good thing that ever came from that), and last January (which seems like ages ago!) began doing political analysis for various MSNBC shows, and subbing for Keith Olbermann during the summer. Her appearances were so popular (the blogosphere followed her every word) that by August the brass were persuaded to give her her own hour, making history as the first openly gay/lesbian anchor to host a prime-time news program. The show was immediately a huge hit, surprising only the suits.

Getting her that hosting spot was apparently Keith Olbermann’s mission in life this year. Hey, good work, Mr. O. He’s seen as a genius for pushing it now, but can you imagine the first meeting at NBC on the subject? To have been a fly on that wall! No, it wasn’t so obvious it would fly, certainly not that it would revolutionize the channel’s stagnant lineup and sent its ratings souring.

Here are a few of the many profiles done on Rach in the past few months when it became apparent that she was on to something with her charming wonkery and progressive intellect.

New York Magazine
The Nation
Washington Post

In addition to promoting progressive ideas with a wider audience, she’s become an unlikely sex symbol, a butch lesbian that makes men and women alike into groupies. By being herself — disarmingly kind and funny — she’s advancing civil rights by huge bounds without breaking a sweat.

She’s taken issues that are otherwise archaic or complex, and broken them into digestable chunks. She keeps up with mainstream news, the blogosphere, the think tanks, and backroom politics, and digests it for the rest of us. It’s almost like she’s a Rhodes Scholar or something. She does need a little help with pop culture, which we all like to help her discover and exclaim over.

So, there was really no other choice for 2008 Progressive Person of the Year. Rachel has been our favorite pundit, our proud representative, our champion.

What’s most heartening to me is that Rachel will be questioning and challenging Obama and other Democrats from the left as his administration works with Congress to begin to set this country right. She’ll do so without all the mean-spirited dramatics that is the typical cable news fare, but rather with deep knowledge of history, keen insight and careful research. And she’ll demonstrate how an oppositional press is supposed to work.

All in all, Rachel Maddow is the most exciting and unexpected gift to the progressive movement in years. She’s made smart sexy and fun again.

And she’s just getting started!

Rachel Maddow links:
Rachel Maddow official site
MSNBC show web page
Air American show web page
Rachel’s Twitter (she hasn’t posted for a few weeks)
Facebook page for The Rachel Maddow Show
Fan site

Sarah Palin punked

November 1, 2008

Well, better her than us, which is what it would be if she were to be elected VP. And the past 8 years have been one loooong prank call by George W. Bush, if you ask me.

She actually thought the president of France would call her to shoot the breeze and plan a hunting trip.

If she and her staff can’t vet a damn phone call, or know when they’re being played for a fool (which wasn’t hard to catch) how do you think they are going to keep this country safe from, like, actual bad guys who don’t throw out a hint every other second?

C’est la vie, indeed. Here’s political historian Lawrence O’Donnell on Rachel Maddow Show last night explaining how VP candidates have no future in national politics. Yay! I feel much better. Pertinent part starts about 3:30 in.

O’Donnell was just on MSNBC talking about this phone call and he said that Palin’s staff is the worst in modern political history. According to him, if Palin or anyone around her had “gotten out of town more” they would know what a fake French accent that was. Touché!