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A Blow Against Tyranny

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"It really removes the veil of secrecy -- and it could be very embarrassing for the administration."

David Barron blogs for Slate: "Notice the president focuses on deciding whether there needs to be a legislative response to ensure 'we are doing everything we can to protect you' rather than to correct the procedural deficiencies in the current legislation that led the court to conclude that it failed to provide the habeas right the Constitution guarantees in the absence of a valid suspension. In other words, it does not sound like the legislation he has in mind would be what we ordinarily think of as a legislative 'fix.'"

Mark Sherman writes for the Associated Press: "Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Friday the deeply divided high court ruling would not affect the Guantanamo trials against enemy combatants and President Bush said he might seek a new law to keep the alleged terrorists in a U.S. prison. . . .

"Some detainee lawyers said [habeas] hearings could take place within a few months. But James Cohen, a Fordham University law professor who has two clients at Guantanamo, predicted Bush would continue seeking ways to resist the ruling. 'Nothing is going to happen between June 12 and Jan. 20,' when the next president takes office, Cohen said. . . .

"Charles Swift, the former Navy lawyer who used to represent Hamdan, said he believes the court removed any legal basis for keeping the Guantanamo facility open and that the military tribunals are 'doomed.'

"Guantanamo generally and the tribunals were conceived on the idea that 'constitutional protections wouldn't apply,' Swift said. 'The court said the Constitution applies. They're in big trouble.'"

Flashback to October 2006

Glenn Greenwald blogs for Salon: "The Military Commissions Act of 2006 was -- and remains -- one of the great stains on our national political character. It was passed by a substantial majority in the Senate ( 65-34) with the support of every single Senate Republican (except [Lincoln] Chafee) and 12 Senate Democrats. No filibuster was even attempted. It passed by a similar margin in the House, where 34 Democrats joined 219 Republicans to enact it. One of the most extraordinary quotes of the post-9/11 era came from GOP Sen. Arlen Specter, who said at the time that that the Military Commissions Act -- because it explicitly barred federal courts from hearing habeas corpus petitions brought by Guantanamo detainees -- 'sets back basic rights by some 900 years' and was 'patently unconstitutional on its face' -- and Specter then proceeded to vote for it."

As I wrote in my October 17, 2006 column, Bush, as he signed the bill into law, seemed to think history would be kind to him.

"Over the past few months the debate over this bill has been heated, and the questions raised can seem complex," he said at the signing ceremony. "Yet, with the distance of history, the questions will be narrowed and few: Did this generation of Americans take the threat seriously, and did we do what it takes to defeat that threat?"

Dead End In Iraq

Bush has been trying to dismiss talk about how negotiations to establish a long-term security agreement with Iraq are flailing. "I deal with Prime Minister Maliki," Bush said. "He appreciates our presence there."

But Shafiki Mattar reports for the Associated Press: "Iraq's prime minister said Friday that talks with the U.S. on a long-term security agreement between the two nations have reached a dead end, saying the U.S. proposals 'violate Iraqi sovereignty.'

"Nouri al-Maliki said the talks slumped because each side refused the other's demands. The initial framework agreed upon was to have been an accord 'between two completely sovereign states, al-Maliki said. The U.S. demands 'violate Iraqi sovereignty. At the end, we reached a dead end,' he said.

"The prime minister, who spoke to reporters during a visit to neighboring Jordan, said of the American demands that 'this is not acceptable.' . . .

"Failure to strike the security deal soon would leave the future of the American military presence in Iraq to the next administration. Al-Maliki's stance increased doubts the deal could be struck before the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

"Iraqi opposition to the deal has mainly focused on concerns that the agreement would cement American military, political and economic domination of Iraq."

Economy Watch

Jeffrey M. Jones reports for Gallup: "In the midst of record high gas prices, just 17% of Americans say President Bush is doing enough to solve the country's energy problems, a significant decline from already low figures in 2006. . . .

"Additionally, nearly half of Americans, 49%, say the Bush administration deserves a great deal of blame for the country's energy problems, up from 38% in 2006 and just 20% in May 2001, when rolling blackouts in California focused national attention on the issue."

Cheney and the Comedians

Julie Mason blogs for the Houston Chronicle: "Vice President Dick Cheney sat for the weirdest radio interview ever today, with the 'Chaz and AJ in the Morning' show on WPLR in New Haven."

Chaz and AJ are a comedy duo. So, it turned out, were Cheney and fellow guest Sen. Joseph Lieberman. Here's the transcript. Here's a video report from NBC30, which also includes footage of Chaz and Al yukking it up with their next guest, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The radio duo tried to find humor in some likely and some unlikely places. There was talk about hunting, of course -- but also talk about the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

Cheney: "I had a conversation with the President, who was in Florida. He called me from Florida and we talked briefly about it. And shortly thereafter, my Secret Service agent, who was right outside the door, came in and grabbed me and said, sir, we have to leave immediately. And he grabbed me by the back of the belt and put a hand on my shoulder."

Q. "Like he was going to throw you out the door. (Laughter.)"

Cheney: "There wasn't any question that I was going with him."

Q. "You said, only my wife grabs me like this. (Laughter.)"

Cheney describes descending to the White House bunker.

Q. "You guys have T.V. down there?"

Cheney: "Yes."

Q. "Pool table, ping-pong, foosball?"

Q. "Game Boy? (Laughter.)"

The hosts raised the uncomfortable fact that Osama bin Laden is still at large.

Cheney: "I think eventually we'll get him. And as Joe said, the most dangerous job in the world these days is being number three in al Qaida because they keep getting taken out. (Laughter.)"

Q. "Number three's the tough one."

Q. "The benefit's got to be tough."

And a bit later:

Q. "Looking back at the last seven years in office, do you have any regrets, besides not getting bin Laden?"

Cheney: "Well, besides not getting bin Laden, no, not really."

Mark Silva blogs for Tribune about one revelation of sorts: "We knew that Vice President Dick Cheney had left Yale under less than honorable terms - 'by mutual agreement,' as he put it today -- but maybe we had forgotten, until today, that he also was kicked out of Kindergarten."

Cheney Takes It Back

H. Josef Hebert writes for the Associated Press: "Vice President Dick Cheney's office acknowledged on Thursday that he was mistaken when he asserted that China, at Cuba's behest, is drilling for oil in waters 60 miles from the Florida coast."

Bush at the Vatican

Deb Riechmann writes for the Associated Press: "Pope Benedict XVI gave President Bush a rare peek on Friday of the Vatican Gardens, a spot where popes pray privately and only special guests are allowed to stroll.

"'Your eminence, you're looking good,' Bush told the pope as the two shared a warm greeting."

Malcolm Moore writes in the Telegraph: "Several Italian newspapers cited Vatican sources suggesting that Mr Bush may be prepared to convert."

Bush in Paris

Angelique Chrisafis writes for the Guardian: "As George Bush lands in Paris this afternoon, he might be relieved that he's not doing a goodbye tour with his old nemesis Jacques Chirac. Instead the US president will be welcomed by his new friend 'Sarko the American'. . . .

"Washington is styling the Paris visit as a celebration of the reconciliation between France and America after the fallout over Iraq and the stubbornness of the 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys'. . . .

"The French press and the public are largely treating Bush's visit as an annoying irrelevance by a hugely unpopular 'yesterday's man'. A recent poll showed 84% of French people would vote for Barack Obama in the US presidential election and that France more than any other nation believe American policy will 'change for the better' when a new president is elected in November. 'George who?' asked an editorial in La Dépêche du Midi, saying France can't even be bothered to hate Bush any more."

Deb Riechmann reports for the Associated Press: "President Bush said Friday that Europe and United States must hold firm in Afghanistan and never let it be a base for terrorists again.

"In a speech billed by the White House as the centerpiece of his European trip, Bush urged allies to stand by Afghanistan, where the ongoing conflict and redevelopment effort is often overshadowed by the war in Iraq."

Twilight Watch

Over at NiemanWatchdog.org, where I'm deputy editor, I've been examining all the ways that Bush and his loyalists could entrench their people and policies in such a way that a Democratic president would find it hard to reverse course. In the last installment of my series, I wonder how far they might be willing to go to prevent a Democrat from getting elected in the first place.

Late Night Humor

Jon Stewart launches a new segment: "George Walker Bush; Still President."

In this episode: "With Barack Obama and John McCain hogging the front pages in the United States, still President Bush decided to get out of town and take a quick trip to Europe, making him one of the only Americans who can still afford a trip to Europe."

Stewarts also notes how Bush is complaining about being misunderstood. "You guys got it all wrong. He doesn't like war. He likes blowing things up," Stewart says.

Stewart also uses video clips to note the remarkable similarity between Bush's rhetoric about Iraq before the war, and his rhetoric about Iran now. "Here we go again," Stewart says.

John Oliver explains to Stewart that Bush gave the media too much credit. "He didn't realize that by using warlike terms and single-mindedly starting warlike wars, we would leap to the false assumption that that was his intention."

Cartoon Watch

John Sherffius, Ed Stein, Ben Sargent, Nate Beeler, Rex Babin and Ted Rall on Bush and the Constitution; Ann Telnaes on Bush's lack of regrets; Mark Fiore on Barney's tell-all; and Kal on Bush on the world stage.


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