Friday, May 15, 2009

Chance of Showers, 05/15/09

Hello raindancers! Here are some of today's top stories:

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's claim that she and the Congress were lied to by the CIA regarding the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" was rebuffed today by CIA director Leon Panetta, who, although not serving as director at the time, defended the agency and assured it never sought nor does not seek to "mislead" the Congress. Meanwhile, the Speaker's own story on her knowledge or lack thereof of so-called "EITS" has been changing with the wind. Perhaps the Speaker should start to consider who the public will believe: her (with her sagging poll numbers and polarizing nature) or the Central Intelligence Agency (not necessarily a bastion of transparency and forthrightness but still credible, especially since it is Speaker Pelosi who must prove her accusation).

I sincerely hope the Speaker is telling the truth about her lack of knowledge of the use of torture on detainees. But if she's not, the question becomes whether or not she could have done anything in her power to challenge the Bush Administration on the use of torture without revealing sensitive national security information.
The Obama Administration has decided to reinstate the military tribunal system to try detainees, a system the President had suspended in January by executive order. But the tribunals will now operate under some new rules: statements obtained through “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment will not be admissible in court (which the Bush Administration had permitted), hearsay evidence will remain permissible as long as the party which wishes to bring in out-of-court statements can prove the reliability of the source. Defendants will have greater latitude in choosing their legal representation, and those who refuse to testify in court will be protected.

Liberal groups have launched fiery criticisms of the President's decision, accusing him of breaking a campaign promise and endorsing Bush-like anti-Constitutional tribunals. But as Politico's Glenn Thrush points out, the President's decision is largely consistent with his stance toward these tribunals as a U.S. Senator.

Former Vice President Al Gore went after fellow former Vice President Dick Cheney for the latter's constant and early criticism of the current administration, saying that he waited "two years" before levying criticism on the nascent Bush Administration following the 2000 election.

Whether or not Al Gore actually waited two years before criticizing the Bush Administration is entirely irrelevant. There is nothing wrong, repeat, nothing wrong with Vice President Cheney offering criticism of those who have replaced him in power, regardless of whether it's two years or two minutes after President Obama took the oath of office. What IS wrong is the former Vice President's blatantly incorrect statements and false claims concerning the effectiveness of torture and his administration's handling of the war on terrorism.

The Dow dropped three quarters of a percent today with the NASDAQ falling half a percent and the S&P 500 falling over one percent. This flop of a day ended a pretty dismal week on Wall Street (3.6% drop for the Dow) which follows many weeks of rally.

And finally, the World Series Champions Philadelphia Phillies visited the White House today and presented the President with his own number 44 jersey.

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