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"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety" - Benjamin Franklin

Thursday, March 30, 2006

It's what makes us better than them.
(a guest post by -Scott)
I thought I'd share an article in it's entirety that was written by a friend, Danny Westneat, who is a columnist for the Seattle Times:

"Seattle's largest law firm, Perkins Coie, is what back east they call a "white shoe" firm, named for the preppy shoes popular with Ivy Leaguers in the '50s.

It means staid. Corporate. Aligned with power. The firm's top client for nearly a century has been Boeing. Says Harry Schneider, 52, an attorney there for 27 years: "We're not generally known for representing prisoners."

So what are they doing defending Osama bin Laden's former chauffeur?

For the past two years, four Perkins Coie lawyers have logged roughly 2,500 hours — about a third of their total workload — working at no charge for a prisoner they've never met.

That the prisoner is bin Laden's former driver and bodyguard has thrown this establishment firm into the middle of a heated debate about the war on terrorism — and even led to veiled questions about the firm's patriotism.

On behalf of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, accused of being an al-Qaida terrorist, the lawyers have sued our own government. Including our commander in chief. At a time when he says we're at war.

"Of course we knew this wouldn't be popular with everyone," Schneider said, adding the firm thought "long and hard" about getting involved. "Ultimately, we decided the issues at stake were too important to be ignored."

The attorneys insist they're no radicals. They say they're fighting for what is supposed to be one of our core values — that everyone, even the enemy, has a right to a fair trial.

The government doesn't see it that way. This month, a top U.S. official at Guantánamo made waves when he suggested big law firms that represent defense contractors such as Boeing shouldn't let their lawyers work for suspected terrorists.

The message to Perkins Coie was clear: You're either with us, or you're with them.

Threats aside, the real issue is: How should we bring suspected terrorists to justice? Send them to special military tribunals, at which they forfeit many of the rights U.S. courts grant to defendants? Or try them more like we do our own citizens?

In 2001, President Bush decided terrorists are not subject to the usual rules of war, such as the Geneva Conventions. He also denied them the protections of U.S. criminal law because they're not Americans.

Unilaterally, without asking Congress, Bush formed the military tribunals. Hamdan, captured in Afghanistan in 2001, is slated to be tried for conspiracy before a military panel in which the Defense Department will pick the judge and jury and forestall any chance for appeal to an independent body.

This is wrong and actually un-American, the Perkins Coie lawyers argue. Even if it turns out Hamdan is guilty. "You can't subject him to the laws of war without also giving him the protections of the laws of war," said Charles Sipos, 33, also of Perkins Coie. "Do that and our whole system breaks down."

The case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court this week. The other local attorneys working on it are Joe McMillan, 46, of Perkins Coie, and David East, 30, formerly of Perkins and now of Seattle firm McNaul Ebel.

When Perkins Coie started representing Hamdan, in early 2004 at the request of a Georgetown law professor, Neal Katyal, "we were all alone, with a very unpopular defendant," Schneider said.


But since then, virtually the entire legal establishment has rallied to its side. More than 30 legal briefs were filed before the Supreme Court on Hamdan's side, many of them from the country's bluest of blue-chip law firms. All argue essentially the same thing: Railroad these prisoners and you undermine the very values we're supposedly fighting for.

I find all of this extraordinary, and hopeful. Not just that we live in a country where we can challenge our leaders in court. But that it's a major branch of the power elite — a corporate-law firm such as Perkins Coie — that is leading the charge. For free.

Yes, they're helping a suspected terrorist. But it's not an example of "you're with us or you're with them." It's what makes us better than them. "


Monday, March 27, 2006

Understadning "How" Bush Does What Bush Does
As Opposed To
Understanding "Why" Bush Does What Bush Does
(a guest Post by - Scott)

I've been seeing this exchange around a lot. I had to re-post it in case someone has missed it. I believe it is compelling on its face. It also so clearly represents, for me, the part about "How Bush Does it". The dynamics happening inside the dialogue appear so transparent and so easy to me that I cannot imagine how any could tolerate it. (Unless one did not care what was happening in the dialogue.)

Q: I'd like to ask you, Mr. President, your decision to invade Iraq has caused the deaths of thousands of Americans and Iraqis, wounds of Americans and Iraqis for a lifetime. Every reason given, publicly at least, has turned out not to be true. My question is, why did you really want to go to war? From the moment you stepped into the White House, from your Cabinet -- your Cabinet officers, intelligence people, and so forth -- what was your real reason? You have said it wasn't oil -- quest for oil, it hasn't been Israel, or anything else. What was it?
THE PRESIDENT: I think your premise -- in all due respect to your question and to you as a lifelong journalist -- is that -- I didn't want war. To assume I wanted war is just flat wrong, Helen, in all due respect --
Q: Everything --
THE PRESIDENT: Hold on for a second, please.
Q: -- everything I've heard --
THE PRESIDENT: Excuse me, excuse me. No President wants war. Everything you may have heard is that, but it's just simply not true. My attitude about the defense of this country changed on September the 11th. We -- when we got attacked, I vowed then and there to use every asset at my disposal to protect the American people. Our foreign policy changed on that day, Helen. You know, we used to think we were secure because of oceans and previous diplomacy. But we realized on September the 11th, 2001, that killers could destroy innocent life. And I'm never going to forget it. And I'm never going to forget the vow I made to the American people that we will do everything in our power to protect our people. Part of that meant to make sure that we didn't allow people to provide safe haven to an enemy. And that's why I went into Iraq -- hold on for a second --
Q: They didn't do anything to you, or to our country.
THE PRESIDENT: Look -- excuse me for a second, please. Excuse me for a second. They did. The Taliban provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where al Qaeda trained --
Q: I'm talking about Iraq --
THE PRESIDENT: Helen, excuse me. That's where -- Afghanistan provided safe haven for al Qaeda. That's where they trained. That's where they plotted. That's where they planned the attacks that killed thousands of innocent Americans. I also saw a threat in Iraq. I was hoping to solve this problem diplomatically. That's why I went to the Security Council; that's why it was important to pass 1441, which was unanimously passed. And the world said, disarm, disclose, or face serious consequences --
Q: -- go to war --
THE PRESIDENT: -- and therefore, we worked with the world, we worked to make sure that Saddam Hussein heard the message of the world. And when he chose to deny inspectors, when he chose not to disclose, then I had the difficult decision to make to remove him. And we did, and the world is safer for it.

Bush responded to the substance of an important direct question, (a seemingly important question still being asked because it has not been directly responded to adequately... "Why did you invade Iraq?"), in the status quo, a single, small, unsupported ambiguous quip: "...I also saw a threat in Iraq."

The "how" he does it per the forensics team at Podunt Post: First, jump topic on undesirable direct questions by inserting a clarification of the question that does not answer the question itself. When done with that, adjust topic by explaining reasoning behind an unasked question, (for example, explain emotive reasoning for invading a different country.) When eventually brought back to the topic question asked, respectfully use the questioner's first name to hold the questioner in check, and proceed to elaborate further on the unasked question. In buttoning it all up: connect the elaborate response to an unasked question to the direct question being asked with something unapproachable like..."I also saw a threat in Iraq." Lead the line of questioning to its conclusion by beginning the next sentence with, "Therefore,.." as if the avoided question had been directly and thouroughly addressed, and shut the thing down immediately by asserting everyone approves and everyone, (those listening to the response to an unasked question), has benefitted as a result.


It seems like the media ought to be able to develop some "counter-strategy". However, I imagine employing any effective counter strategy would get one ejected from the Q&A venue by one's employer - if not Bush's handlers.


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"There is something wrong when religious faiths can be shaken to the core by natural disasters but seem able to reconcile themselves with events such as the war on Iraq which are the result of human folly." ( Muriel Gray )

I display this ribbon because I feel as if I have entered a period of mourning. Mourning for my loss of trust, and faith. In our election process, and our government. Mourning for the freedoms we have already lost and those I fear we will loose in the near future. More about Black

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