Welcome Glenn Greenwald (Salon.com) and Host, Jonathan Hafetz, (author, Habeas Corpus after 9/11).

[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. - bev]

With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful

Host, Jonathan Hafetz:

The United States was founded on the principle that no individual is above the law. We are, as John Adams said, “a nation of laws, not men.” But that principle is under assault, as Glenn Greenwald explains in his powerful new book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful.

The United States has two sets of rules: those that apply to the rich and powerful; and those that apply to everyone else. Greenwald details how the country’s financial and political elites have twisted and manipulated the law to escape responsibility for even the most egregious crimes. The rise of elite immunity over the last four decades, Greenwald explains, has corroded the country’s institutions and legal and political culture. It not only threatens the ideals on which the United States was built, but also produces widespread disaffection among the public, which manifests itself in a variety of ways, including, most recently, in the Occupy Wall Street protests.

Greenwald, one of the nation’s leading liberal commentators, has been covering these issues for years at Salon.com. Unafraid to speak the truth to power, Greenwald has consistently exposed the hypocrisy beneath United States’ commitment to the rule of law, whether he is writing about the “war on terror,” the politicization of Department of Justice, or the Wall Street bailout. With Liberty and Justice for Some weaves these stories together into a powerful indictment of a nation that has lost its way.

The book begins with the origins of elite immunity, which Greenwald traces to early precedents such as Ford’s pardon of Nixon and the Iran-Contra affair under Reagan. Greenwald then describes how elite immunity has spread through the public and private sectors and Republican and Democratic administrations alike. In an illuminating, if troubling, case study, Greenwald explains how Congress, with the support of the Bush administration, immunized the nation’s largest telecommunications companies from liability for their role in the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program that illegally eavesdropped on the phone calls of hundreds if not thousands of American citizens. Greenwald also documents the failure to hold accountable the banking and financial leaders who helped cause the current economic crisis; a number of those individuals were instead rewarded with appointments to top government positions in the Obama administration. Greenwald next details the United States’ failure to prosecute senior Bush administration officials for their role in torture and other war crimes committed in the “war on terror.” In place of accountability, America has witnessed the rebirth of the Nixonian vision of unchecked executive power—that if the president does it, it must be legal. Any blame for these crimes has instead been assigned to the least powerful, the low-level military officers who simply implemented the illegal policies designed by senior officials.

In his final chapter, Greenwald turns to the terrible irony at the heart of his story: that while elites routinely evade sanction, average citizens are subject to the one of the most draconian criminal justice systems in the world. The United States incarcerates far more people and for longer periods of time than almost every other country, including for nonviolent crimes for which other Western nations rarely if ever impose jail terms, from petty drug offenses to writing bad checks. Not surprisingly, in a country where criminal justice outcomes are heavily influenced by a person’s relative wealth and power, U.S. crime and sentencing laws have the severest impact on racial minorities and the country’s poorest.

With Liberty and Justice for Some should spark the kind of outrage that books like Gulliver’s Travels evoked in their time. But With Liberty and Justice for Some is not satire. As Greenwald explains, it is one thing to have inequalities in wealth and power in a democracy. It is quite another thing, however, when the law is applied is such a vastly uneven manner to shield the powerful from punishment for their crimes. Greenwald’s book is essential reading for anyone concerned with the future of law and justice in the United States.

159 Responses to “Firedoglake Book Salon Welcomes Glenn Greenwald, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful”

BevW October 29th, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Glenn, Welcome back to the Lake and for all your efforts fighting the snow storm in the North East!

Johanthan, Thank you for Hosting this Book Salon.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 1:55 pm
In response to BevW @ 1

Hi Bev, The pleasure is mine.

BevW October 29th, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Jonathan, how is the weather up there? Glenn should be here any minute.

Cynthia Kouril October 29th, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Welcome Glenzilla!

Cynthia Kouril October 29th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Welcome as well, Mr. Hafetz. Hope your weather is better than mine. Long Island is horrible today.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:02 pm

Thanks to everyone for attending and to FDL – and to Jonathan Hafetz for hosting

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Welcome Glenn. It’s a honor to host this discussion of your new book, With Liberty and Justice for Some. I thought I’d get us started with a question about history. You powerfully document the rise of elite immunity over the past four decades and, in particular, since Ford’s pardon of Nixon. What do you think lies behind it? Why has the country been so willing to accept a situation where powerful and wealthy are able to avoid punishment for their crimes, while ordinary Americans are subject to one of the most draconian criminal justice system’s in the world.

Mauimom October 29th, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Welcome, Glenn. Don’t know if you stayed over in DC after Thursday’s event @ GW. It’s snowing like crazy here now.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Hi Glenn. I’ve been enjoying your book tour. Saw you on democracynow & listened to the radio interview you linked on your website.

Please repeat the locution that Ford used to pardon Nixon, and go into more depth on why that was such a watershed in rule of law in U.S.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:07 pm
In response to Jonathan Hafetz @ 7

I’m not sure the country – as opposed to political and media elites – really does accept this elite immunity. Majorities of Americans were horrified by the Ford pardon of Nixon, though the media consensus was that it was the right and admirable thing to do.

If you look at polls at the beginning of the Obama presidency, large majorities wanted investigations of Bush torture, eavesdropping and U.S. Attorney scandals – but, again, media figures were almost unanimous in opposition. Once both parties got behind shutting them down, only then did public opinion change.

You have both parties and most media outlets continuously railing against investigations, and even then, large % of Americans want investigations.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

I am losing my electricity off & on owing to snow, so I may not be here for long. Only have a couple of inches so far, but ground is so soaked it may not take much additional weight on trees to uproot them.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:08 pm

You criticize—rightly in my view—President Obama for “looking forward and not backward” with respect to the torture and other egregious human rights abuses committed during the Bush administration? If Obama had acted differently and launched a real criminal investigation, how do you think it would have played out, especially with respect to senior Bush administration officials?

frankBel October 29th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Wall Street banksters deserve a fair trial

It seems to me that the various and varied frauds had a clear and coherent structure that reflected a clear and coherent purpose. Every step depended on fraudulent activity from the previous step. The liar’s loans originated in perverse mortgage broker incentives. The riskier the loan, the higher the interest rate and the greater the fees. And, the riskier the loan, the easier it was to find a borrower. The result was an explosion in the number and the dollar value of mortgages. It was essential that these decrepit mortgages be consolidated as quickly and as expeditiously as possible – before the borrowers could default. Hence, instead of properly registering all title/deed/lien transfers with local authorities as required by law, the banks concocted the Mortgage Electronic Registry System, MERS. As minor as MERS was, the failure to properly convey the notes and the mortgages to the trusts, it was essential to the greater crime, pushing them out the door before the borrowers defaulted. The huge volume of mortgages flooding the market formed the feed stock for the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities and collateralized debt obligations, among other investment instruments. When divided into “tranches” and given a favorable rating by the store-bought ratings agencies, these became the final product, what the investment banks pawned off on the nation’s pension funds. Yes, there were the inside investors (John Paulson) that milked a corrupt system by creating securities designed to fail, but they were a relatively small fraction of the total fraud. This was a systematic fraud on all that aspire to a retirement free from poverty, and its architects must be held accountable, lest it happen again.

Moreover, it wasn’t just the investment banks. The mortgage brokers, the ratings agencies, the mortgage servicers and the government regulators were all essential elements and all played crucial roles. Aggressive regulation would have aborted the frauds while only a gleam in the bankster’s eye, Honest ratings would have graded the MBSs and CDOs toxic before they tickled the pension funds. Rational incentives would have prevented the “liar’s loans” from ever entering the market. The mortgage services would have never engaged in fraudulent foreclosure or “robo-signing” of the chain-of-ownership documents. Over and over, we see a coherent conspiracy, probably held together through email.

So what to do? Answer: Treat the entire Wall Street investment banking industry as a giant conspiracy to defraud, and charge them under the federal conspiracy statutes. Who are the conspirators? All the salaried employees of the banks, regulators, services and brokers known to have participated in the fraud. Most of Wall Street. Round them up and try them as a group in a giant courtroom, say Yankee Stadium.

Keep in mind that conspiracy is a very easy crime to prove. All you need to show is that there was a crime and that at least one member of the conspiracy committed a single act in furtherance of the conspiracy.
How much culpability each defendant has in the over-all crime? We’re in no position to judge, but their peers are. Their peers judge them every day and reward them at the end of every year, at Bonus Time. Their bonuses are the true measure of their individual culpability.

Finally, what fraction of Wall Street people suffering felony convictions would it take to deter the rampant fraud infecting investment banking? Two percent, which is 20 out of every thousand players? Twenty percent? What constitutes a player? Salaried employees with annual bonuses of at least X dollars? How many players would that be? What should be the range of penalties? Some have argued for execution, but few regard that as serious. More likely, some might get long sentences, a decade or more, but most would probably be released after serving five to eight years, and with heavy debt from legal fees and fines. Some might be impoverished to the point of homelessness, but certainly, nothing harsher than what drug dealers face.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

It’s hard to say. Maybe a prosecutor would have decided they lacked the criminal intent because DOJ ideologues told them it was legal (though I think it would have been easy to prove they sought those memos as cover). Maybe a jury would have excued them on that basis.

But if the process had been allowed to proceed the way it normally does, I think even people who really wanted to see them prosecuted – like me – would have at least been satisfied that they weren’t treated differently – the way they were by virtue of a White-House-decreed, absolute shield of immunity in advance.

Mauimom October 29th, 2011 at 2:11 pm

I too watched the Democracy Now interview and enjoyed your remark about how Nixon, who liked to portray himself as “Mr. Law and Order,” was the beginning of this slide into lawlessness.

Don’t you think it’s additionally ironic [as well as tragic] that Obama, who used to market himself as a “constitutional law professor,” has been the leader of the continuation of the destruction of our rights?

Would you characterize this as ignorance or veniality?

David Kaib October 29th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Glenn,

Does the book address the question of how to combat either the lawlessness of elites or the punitiveness directed towards those at the bottom?

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

The Rs screwed the pooch on that one by trivializing it into impeachiness. The persecution of Clinton for trivial offense made a mockery out of what should have been a serious exercise.

szielinski October 29th, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Thanks, Glenn, for the book and the chat.

My question: Is not the problem you analyze in your book and old one? After all, as Thucydides famously put it, “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.” Did not the Constitution of 1787 embody this maxim in the governmental architecture it created?

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Glenn, left you a Q at 9; not sure you saw it. It’s one of the most important points I’ve heard you make so far.

Knut October 29th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Thank you for being here, Mr. Greenwald. I would like to know your opinion on the odds of the United States maintaining a plausibly independent judiciary. Most of the criticisms around here go to the prosecutorial aspects of unequal justice, but there is also the courtroom.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Don’t you think it’s additionally ironic [as well as tragic] that Obama, who used to market himself as a “constitutional law professor,” has been the leader of the continuation of the destruction of our rights?

I think only a progressive Democrat and proclaimed Constitutional Law scholar could have gotten away with seizing the power to target American citizens for assassination in total secrecy and without a shred of due process. I also think the fact that it is he, rather than a right-wing Republican who is doing these things, has transformed these policies from controversial radicalism into bipartisan consensus, and thus removing them from the realm of debate and entrenching them for a generation at least.

That is easily one of the most significant aspects of the Obama legacy.

Would you characterize this as ignorance or veniality?

I think Obama is many things; ignorant is not one of them. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing.

Mauimom October 29th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Glenn, do you feel that ANY dent has been made in the iron-clad beliefs of Obama supporters? I.e., do they see at all his long line of constitutional transgressions? My recollection is that he had widespread support in the legal community. Are they looking at this, or just “looking forward”?

yoself October 29th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

…only then did public opinion change.

But doesn’t that show that our memories are getting shorter or we’re getting more forgiving since Nixon? Nixon’s legacy of being a crook will never be lived down, but it seems that Bush has already lived down his.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:16 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 17

It is troubling to see the efforts to hold Clinton accountable for his misdeeds, lamentable as they were, but the absence of any corresponding effort to promote what are widely recognized as war crimes under Bush.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:17 pm
In response to David Kaib @ 16

Does the book address the question of how to combat either the lawlessness of elites or the punitiveness directed towards those at the bottom?

It argues that the only means of redress is for citizens to make clear – through citizen unrest and protest – that the status quo is unacceptable, to put fear in the heart of those in power.

That’s why I find the Occupation movement so inspiring and why I supported it from the start: I think it has the potential to do that or at least to spawn what will.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:18 pm
In response to szielinski @ 18

I had a similar thought. The Framers of the U.S. Constitution certainly said the right things in terms of the idea that no man (and it really was “man”) was above the law, but did they act on those ideals?

gnomedigest October 29th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I am involved with the Occupy Raleigh branch of the movement. It just seems like beautiful kismet that your book would come out against the backdrop of over a month of Occupy Wallstreet ongoing protests. I had grown pretty cynical that any resistance like the Occupy movement would start anytime soon.

Did you see it coming and how useful do you find that backdrop when discussing the issues your book raises? Already just the discussions of your book have helped me better explain to others the intense anger and frustration of the supposed “success” of the 1%, in terms of cheating to success vs earning it.

Haven’t read the new book yet, but still feel confident in thanking you for the new book Glennzilla!

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:19 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 22

Glenn, do you feel that ANY dent has been made in the iron-clad beliefs of Obama supporters? I.e., do they see at all his long line of constitutional transgressions? My recollection is that he had widespread support in the legal community. Are they looking at this, or just “looking forward”?

There’s a small group whose opinions are not subject to change; they see Obama as a religious or cult leader and his greatness — and Goodness — are too instrumental to their worldview to permit reconsideration based on evidence.

But I think even among the standard Obama supporter, there is a clear recognition – and willingness to concede – that he has been atrocious in these areas.

Ultimately, though, fear-mongering works in politics – Bush and Rove proved that, as have many others – and the Obama campaign is counting on fear-mongering over the GOP to make most people overlook these serious deficiencies and vote to keep him in power.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:20 pm
In response to yoself @ 23

And even Nixon had a rebirth of sorts, with later presidents and other government leaders seeking his advice on foreign policy.

David Kaib October 29th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

That sounds about right to me.

Knut October 29th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

I think he knows exactly what he’s doing.

The question, then, is why. We all know the CPAC world-view. Does Obama share it? It is hard to make sense of the systematic suppression of civil liberties without some kind of goal that drives it. He is a very calculating man, but not one, I think, who is trying to install a dictatorship.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:21 pm

My point is that the treatment of Clinton was precisely oriented to throw the whole process into disrepute so that it would be, in the words of that famous gavel bearer, Madame Pelosi, off the table. Just one more example of inside-the-beltway kabuki.

Mauimom October 29th, 2011 at 2:22 pm

the Obama campaign is counting on fear-mongering over the GOP to make most people overlook these serious deficiencies and vote to keep him in power.

After all, we wouldn’t want the crazy Republicans wielding all the abusive powers that Obama and the Dems have now established as “normal,” would we?

Better to just let those Dems we can “trust” continue this. [insert snark tag here]

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:23 pm
In response to gnomedigest @ 27

Did you see it coming and how useful do you find that backdrop when discussing the issues your book raises? Already just the discussions of your book have helped me better explain to others the intense anger and frustration of the supposed “success” of the 1%, in terms of cheating to success vs earning it.

I really think that what is fueling the Occupy movement more than anything is not inequality per se, but the sense that it is fundamentally illegimate, precisely because the “winners” are not bound by the rules to which everyone else is subjected – I wrote about that here:

Scarecrow October 29th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Welcome Glenn, and thanks to Jonathan for hosting and the fine intro. There’s a clear split between state AGs that are trying to reach settlements with banksters without completing investigations and state AGs like Schneiderman, Biden, perhaps Coakley who want to pursue more investigations. How do you see that sorting out? Will the same forces that have compromised the Department of Justice also limit what the smaller “rule of law” AGs are trying to do?

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I worry that the movement is too diffuse and that insider trading prosecutions, such as the recent indictment of Ratjat Gupta, may be invoked to deflect pressure for more genuine and far-reaching accountability

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:25 pm
In response to Knut @ 31

The question, then, is why. We all know the CPAC world-view. Does Obama share it?

Motives are notoriously hard to assess — even our own — but I’m sure a big part of it is that there is a big political cost and risk to challenging these policies and the factions that want them, and he’s unwilling to incur it (despite his promises to the contrary).

I also think that leaders who perceive of themselves as good and magnanimous – as I think he does – are often more attracted to abuses of power – they believe that because they’re Good, they don’t need checks, accountability and transparency and are accustomed to finding justifications for even malignant acts (since I’m devoted to the Good, what I do is justified by the good ends toward which I’m striving).

Mauimom October 29th, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I occasionally see the ACLU and Center for Constitutional Rights speaking up about specific encroachments, but I don’t recall a full-throated cry about Obama.

How would you characterize them [the term "veal pen" is available], and what do you expect in the future?

Is there somewhere else we can turn for better push-back?

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:27 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 35

There’s a clear split between state AGs that are trying to reach settlements with banksters without completing investigations and state AGs like Schneiderman, Biden, perhaps Coakley who want to pursue more investigations. How do you see that sorting out? Will the same forces that have compromised the Department of Justice also limit what the smaller “rule of law” AGs are trying to do?

I think it remains to be seen how clear this split is. Partisan and institutional forces are very, very strong – especially when applied to young politicians who aspire to higher office – I think Schneiderman and Biden seem sincere, but sincerity is not always enough.

szielinski October 29th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Well, the founders certainly failed to create a constitution which consistently applied the maxim stating that all men are created equal and have inalienable rights. They not only excluded women from the franchise, they used the constitution to restrict the franchise among the class of men to which it would be applied. Finally, a constitution consistent with imperial expansion is not a constitution that recognizes the equality of men (of every human being) who have inalienable rights.

We were meant to have a republic, not a democracy, and the United States did not achieve a complete democracy until the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. Naturally, the reactionaries hate these acts.

yoself October 29th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I actually think that by being so broad it’s hard to buy off with token changes. I wasn’t convinced by Kevin here, and Glenn, at the beginning, but I think they were right that no “demands” are needed, and I think that makes the movement strong.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

aka scapegoating.

As near as I can discern the pattern, the only prosecutions are of those who have robbed the rich (Madoff, who among others took Jeanettte Winter Loeb, first female partner of Goldman Sucks for her entire $22 million financial portfolio), or insider trading, which I gather is an easy case to make. (IANAL, so wrt latter, just parroting what I read.)

Cynthia Kouril October 29th, 2011 at 2:28 pm
In response to frankBel @ 13

And yet when faced with clear evidence of the wholesale use of forged and fraudlent documents by one of the bggest foreclosure mills in NYS, USAO SDNY chose a CIVIL SETTLEMENT for less maoney than this firm probaably spend on xerox toner in a year.

http://www.appellate-brief.com/images/stories/PDF/10-6-11USAttyPR.pdf

This could have been the easiest mail fraund an wire fraud prosecution you’ve ever seen, the only difficulty would hav been managing the reams and reams of forged documents,

But hey, look forward, not backward.

If USAO SDNY isn’t going to do it, it isn’t going to get done unless Schniederman can get the feds out of his way

Mauimom October 29th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

I also think that leaders who perceive of themselves as good and magnanimous – as I think he does – are often more attracted to abuses of power – they believe that because they’re Good, they don’t need checks, accountability and transparency and are accustomed to finding justifications for even malignant acts

But that sort of magical thinking should have been knocked out of him in LAW SCHOOL, to say nothing of his being a Con Law PROFESSOR.

Jeeze, a “government of laws, not men” should be discussed in Week One.

But I agree with you, and thank you for that analysis/characterization.

Scarecrow October 29th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Glenn — in your research for the book, did you find other eras in our history when we went through periods of lawlessness, only to come back with better accountability — and we seem to be repeating lots of the economic history of the 30s — So is there a pattern of how a nation gets out of this? What should we be nourishing to bring that about?

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Glenn, I think this certainly describes the dynamic on national security policy. What’s been striking is the extent to which Obama has continued the policies of his predecessor, such as indefinite detention and the use of military commissions, while changing the perception of most Americans, who believe that much has changed in this area.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:30 pm

but sincerity is not always enough

We have a winnah.

bluedot12 October 29th, 2011 at 2:30 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 33

Actually, no snark tag needed. that is the way it is these days.

Mauimom October 29th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I think Schneiderman and Biden seem sincere, but sincerity is not always enough.

I’d sure like to eavesdrop on conversations between Biden pere & fils.

pdaly October 29th, 2011 at 2:31 pm

I was down the street last night from Occupy Boston, so I dropped off gloves, hats, a shovel and emergency foil blankets in anticipation of the 6 inches of snow. I also gave them a copy of your new book for the Occupy Boston Library tent.

Sorry the Boston torrential rains interferred with your plans to speak with them today.

Hoping they will have time to read your book by the time you make your way back to Boston in November.

I have been reading your Salon posts and will start reading tonight your book (I got myself a second copy today).

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:32 pm
In response to szielinski @ 40

U.S. constitution was only ever supposed to benefit RWMs (rich white males; channeling Zinn). Never meant to be the high falutin’ words (heh) written on paper (double heh). Constitution was meant to fool the 99%ers into thinking they had, well, ya know, RIGHTS.

gnomedigest October 29th, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Glenn does your book focus mainly on the elite class immunity or does it also give extensive arguments to how the legal system is used as a weapon against most of us. Just feels like that part could be easily overlooked by people looking at your argument.

Seeing a disabled women arrested a couple days ago for sitting in a chair on a public sidewalk because the Capitol police demanded the chair be removed (with assistance from the city police) only for the city police to tell us the very next day that we could in fact use chairs on that same exact sidewalk, seemed to really bring the point home. I wonder if people that haven’t had first had experiences like that will miss how important the “law as a weapon vs the 99%” aspect of this is.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:33 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 49

Don’t want to be at their family Tgiving.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:35 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 44

Are you sure O actually went to law school or ever was even an adjunct prof of constitutional law. I know that’s what his wiki sez, but that doesn’t make it so.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 45

Glenn — in your research for the book, did you find other eras in our history when we went through periods of lawlessness, only to come back with better accountability — and we seem to be repeating lots of the economic history of the 30s — So is there a pattern of how a nation gets out of this? What should we be nourishing to bring that about?

There have, of course, been instances where elites and powerful people got away with crimes. Being rich and powerful has always been an advantage in the legal system. The difference is this is the first time when the principle of equality under the law is no longer affirmed – before it was violated but affirmed – now it’s explicitly renounced and repudiated.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:36 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 51

The Constitution though has evolved, even if it is still far from perfect (note, relevant to this topic, the disproportionate effects of the criminal justice system on racial minorities and on the poor. I think the problem is that even as America has grown more inclusive, the pattern of elite immunity has grown worse.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:37 pm
In response to pdaly @ 50

Sorry the Boston torrential rains interferred with your plans to speak with them today.

I was sorry, too – was really looking forward to it – they asked me to re-schedule so there’d be more people.

Coincidentally, I”m in the train station in Boston now where the Occupy orgniazers are meeting and they just came over and said hello right as I was writing why I find the movement inspiring – like some weird destiny thing.

Mauimom October 29th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Glenn, your book is obviously the core for laying out the case for the growth of lawlessness, and the abandonment of our constitutional protections, over the last 40 years.

Do you see any progress being made in educating folks?

Is there anything we can do to assist?

Should #Occupy focus more on this?

mikesacola October 29th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

“the only means of redress is for citizens to make clear – through citizen unrest and protest”

What about Citizens Arrest? Tricky I’m sure, but a trial almost guaranteed, for instance, if whoever ordered the Oakland massacre was arrested by citizens for assault with intent to inflict bodily harm.

Kelly Canfield October 29th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Glad your here Glenn!

I’ll just stay in lurking mode as everybody else is asking/opining pretty much as I would. Just one observation for the moment:

At this very moment while this Salon is happening, Denver riot cops are pepper spraying the peaceful demonstrators in front of the State Capitol, pretty much proving Glenn’s point that there is liberty and justice – for some.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Glenn, I think this certainly describes the dynamic on national security policy. What’s been striking is the extent to which Obama has continued the policies of his predecessor, such as indefinite detention and the use of military commissions, while changing the perception of most Americans, who believe that much has changed in this area.

One of my favorite quotes of the last three years: here.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Agree entirely. Only pointing out that the historic roots of what we are seeing in 2011 go back a long time. So plenty of history for 1%ers to build on.

Funnydiva2002 October 29th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 33

But…but, if you don’t vote for Obama, you’re helping the Republicans!
*snark*

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:39 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 58

Do you see any progress being made in educating folks?

Is there anything we can do to assist?

Should #Occupy focus more on this?

I think in an incohate but very real way, this is the crux of Occupy:

See here.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to Funnydiva2002 @ 63

But…but, if you don’t vote for Obama, you’re helping the Republicans!

If you say you think it’s wrong to assassinate American citizens without due process, then this means you love Michele Bachmann.

KrisAinTX October 29th, 2011 at 2:40 pm
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 60

I’ll just stay in lurking mode

That’s the mode I’m in. Greater minds than mine are being brought to bear here.

I’m following Denver on Twitter right now. Terrible that these folks are having to go through this again. For the fourth time now, right?

Scarecrow October 29th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

One of the more frightening changes in law has been the radical erosion of the ability of ordinary citizens to access the courts to redress injustices — with the Supreme Court curtailing shareholder suits against corporations and limiting the ability to use class actions against large companies. How does this trend connect with the other forces you write about, and is there anything short of replacing 2-3 of the Justices that can reverse this trend. do we need the threat of a “court packing” scheme, or what?

Barry Eisler October 29th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Jonathan, thanks for hosting. Glenn, I’m halfway through the book and loving it despite all the righteous outrage it provokes. And I’m thrilled at how the timing of publication coincided with the Occupy movement. For once, I’m pleased at those long legacy publisher lead times. :)

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Glenn, how would you compare the record of other Western democracies compare on holding elites accountable, whether for human rights violations or other illegal acts?

yoself October 29th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

The cases I’ve heard you mention are cases where charges weren’t brought and investigations not even carried out. Is there evidence that the judicial system has also moved towards immunity for the elite?

Knut October 29th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Glenn,

The immunity seems to me to be selective across classes of crime. It still seems plausible to me that if Jamie Dimon were arrested for shoplifting or DUI, he would face charges. Of course billionaires don’t drive their own cars, so the situation would probably never arise. The egregious uncharged crimes are the ones that you have described in your articles and book: they are in large measure crimes of raison d’etat, and to some extent this is even true of the bank frauds, which are not being prosecuted in large part because of a belief that prosecutions would make the economy worse than it is already. I’m not defending either of these abhorrent positions; but they are still a long way from a completely bifurcated system of justice in which ordinary men are hung but nobles get to be beheaded.

Michael Mulanaphy October 29th, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Professor Hafetz and Glenn,

Thank you for hosting this discussion, I’m happy to have found it this afternoon. Glenn, I am especially interested in your opinion as to the effect that being so close to the locus of governing and power may have on otherwise rational decision makers. We recently saw Harold Koh, seemingly out of character, support the President’s no-hostilities theory in Libya to skirt the War Powers Act requirement. Is one’s ability to objectively offer legal opinions now checked at the doors of State Department and OLC? Do you believe that Dawn Johnsen, had she been confirmed, would have ever issued the memo authorizing the assasination of al-Awlaki?

Thank you.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to Barry Eisler @ 68

Glenn, I’m halfway through the book and loving it despite all the righteous outrage it provokes. And I’m thrilled at how the timing of publication coincided with the Occupy movement. For once, I’m pleased at those long legacy publisher lead times. :)

The Occupy movement is really the perfect living embodiment of what the book is about – soon as the book came out, I was deluged with invitations to speak at Occupy events because the protesters recognized that.

The Occupy movement is, to me, the most exciting and inspiring thing to happen in American politics in years – I have infinite respect for the people who have been out there.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:45 pm
In response to Barry Eisler @ 68

Hi Barry. Good timing indeed. The book really captures the zeitgeist, and the collective sense of disgust.

KrisAinTX October 29th, 2011 at 2:47 pm
In response to Knut @ 71

It still seems plausible to me that if Jamie Dimon were arresed for shoplifting or DUI, he would face charges.

I’m not so sure about this. See DSK’s rape charges disappearing.

olderwiser2 October 29th, 2011 at 2:48 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 43
perris October 29th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

we were just talking on another thread american voters advoca
for their party instead of their policy

we have obama bots now find every excuse 4 policies even more damaging them bush’s himself
once it was it okay if you are a republican , now it’s okay if you are a democrat

chalk it up to cognitive dissonance

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Glenn, how would you compare the record of other Western democracies compare on holding elites accountable, whether for human rights violations or other illegal acts?

One thing that is so striking is that torture and other War on Terror victims have received substantial accountability in other countries. Canada paid Maher Arar $9 million and profusely apologized; Britain paid Binyamin Mohamed $1 million and apologized for its role in his torture; Australia has done the same; Norway and Sweden investigated its role in these abuses; Eastern European countries have embarked on investigations of the rendition and black site program.

In the U.S. – the country most responsible for these abuses – not a single War on Terror victim – including ones the Government admits were innocent – has even had a day in court. The courthouse doors were slammed in their faces based on secrecy and immunity claims or other accountability shell games. Meanwhile, not a single one of the perpetrators has been held accountable (other than “rogue” Abu Ghraib-type scapegoats).

The same is true in terms of the financial crisis. A Parliamentary Commission recommended that the former Prime Minister and his top aides be indicted for their complicity in the financial crisis, and the PM will be. That sort of accountability is unimaginable here.

Cujo359 October 29th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Glenn writes:

The difference is this is the first time when the principle of equality under the law is no longer affirmed – before it was violated but affirmed – now it’s explicitly renounced and repudiated.

By whom, or by what mechanism? I know you’re not trying to guess motivations here.

Oops, session’s over. Guess I’ll have to wait for the paperback…

Funnydiva2002 October 29th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Hi, Glenn
Thanks so much for being here! Long-time reader and lurker over at Unclaimed Territory.
Bought the book on Launch Day after work. One nice thing about my local, independent book store is that the lady helping me didn’t quit until she’d located the boxes in “the back” and pulled one out for me.

Thanks for hosting, Jonathan, and thank you, BevW for organizing this!
Thanks, everyone, for the questions and discussion.

Now returning to Lurker Mode.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Speaking as a someone who has litigated numerous civil liberties cases, I think it’s also incredibly important because real change only comes through popular protest. That’s one of the most important lessons of the 1960s, whether in civil rights or on Vietnam. Sadly, that type of protest has been lacking for decades.

bluedot12 October 29th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Motives are notoriously hard to assess — even our own — but I’m sure a big part of it is that there is a big political cost and risk to challenging these policies and the factions that want them, and he’s unwilling to incur it (despite his promises to the contrary).

Nonetheless, I do wish I understood those motivations better. I sometimes think he is simply afraid. It is hard to reconcile his preelection rhetoric to what he has become. I suppose I read more into him. We are likely in for more of the same for the next four years, no matter who wins.

Barry Eisler October 29th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to KrisAinTX @ 75

See also Martin Joel Erzinger, Morgan Stanley banker who walked from a hit and run, discussed in Chapter 3:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/08/martin-erzinger-morgan-stanley-hit-and-run-_n_780294.html

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to Knut @ 71

The immunity seems to me to be selective across classes of crime. It still seems plausible to me that if Jamie Dimon were arrested for shoplifting or DUI, he would face charges

I’m not convinced of this. I start Chapter 3 – Too Big to Jail – with a case in Colorado where a hedge fund manager who drove his car into someone on a bike, seriously injured him, and then fled the scene without even calling an ambulance, was charged only with a misdemeanor, not a felony, because the DA said a felony charge would harm his career given what he does.

Still, even these class-of-crime immunities are class-based because certain crimes (eavesdropping, financial fraud, mortgage fraud) on that level are ones committed only by political and financial elites.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:51 pm
In response to Cujo359 @ 79

By whom, or by what mechanism? I know you’re not trying to guess motivations here.

By the people who argue for this immunity – I chronicle examples extensively in this book.

Funnydiva2002 October 29th, 2011 at 2:52 pm

Or that you’re all for a President “Goodhair” Perry.

emptywheel October 29th, 2011 at 2:52 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 32

Kagro actually did a post (maybe even a series of them) back in 2005 on TNH on that point. That they were making it possible to impeach again.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:53 pm

One might term this the underside of “American exceptionalism”. Sadly, the United States does not believe that the laws that bind other nations apply to it. The U.S. government’s embrace of the “war on terror” framework–which maximizes state power at the expense of individual rights–has facilitated this accountability gap.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:53 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 87

And Marcy Wheeler enters the room to well-deserved cheers…

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Calling baloney on Canada. NO accountability for Omar Khadr, whose persecution only got worse as publicity got greater.

Funnydiva2002 October 29th, 2011 at 2:55 pm
In response to perris @ 77

Tribalism at its finest! Ain’t it grand that We Americans aren’t irrational like those scary, dusky mooslimz?

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 2:56 pm

One might term this the underside of “American exceptionalism”. Sadly, the United States does not believe that the laws that bind other nations apply to it. The U.S. government’s embrace of the “war on terror” framework–which maximizes state power at the expense of individual rights–has facilitated this accountability gap.

Absolutely – the two-tiered justice system was really pioneered in the foreign relations context before it was imported so fully into the domestic context. This is one my favorite examples – here.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:56 pm
In response to emptywheel @ 87

I presume you meant to type impossible.

olderwiser2 October 29th, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Glenn, doesn’t American jurisprudence rely heavily on the idea of the Puritan ethic which implies that the hoi polloi are children who must be punished for the smallest infractions while our authoritarian elders escape judgment?

bmaz October 29th, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Hi Glenn and Jon,

This question goes to both of you. In scanning the comments so far there has been a lot of talk about the pernicious Executive; I am just as interested in the harm emanating from a neutered and lackadaisical Congress that will not enforce its prerogative and protect its Article I power. Not only are they ineffective as legislators (which is bad enough) but they have abdicated almost entirely their check and balance duties. This goes from investigation of Executive criminality to War Powers Resolution on and on and on.

How does this play into the force of Glenn’s book and how can it start to be remedied?

bluedot12 October 29th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

The Awlaki killing is noteworthy. What is your response to those who say Awlaki was trying to kill Americans, like Times Square and the underwear bomber and was a leader of al Quaeda?

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

There’s an upside to U.S. exceptionalism? Do tell.

Scarecrow October 29th, 2011 at 2:58 pm

And as if to punctuate the theme of selective, unequal law enforcement, we have reports Denver police are about to move in to arrest the Occupy group there.

gigi3 October 29th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

“Sadly, the United States does not believe that the laws that bind other nations apply to it.”

Here is a video you all can watch later clearly illustrating that point.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S880UldxB1o&feature=player_embedded#!

KrisAinTX October 29th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 98

God Bless ‘Merikuh.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Welcome Michael. Nice to see your question. One of the interesting aspects of the Libya resolution, when compared with the administration’s position on target killing, is how malleable the term “hostilities” has become (“no hostilities” for Libya but global “hostilities” w/r/t to the armed conflict against AQ and associated groups)–and how legal analysis tends to bend toward desired outcomes.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 2:59 pm
In response to bmaz @ 95

Congress is self-neutered. Grab dick in left hand. Stretch it out. Grab knife in right hand. Hack hack hack.

yoself October 29th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 102

I think I saw that on my twitter feed

papau October 29th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Spot on.

Thanks to you and FDL for a great discussion. Watched your TV interviews (speaking of “must see TV”) and came away very impressed.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 3:01 pm
In response to bmaz @ 95

This question goes to both of you. In scanning the comments so far there has been a lot of talk about the pernicious Executive; I am just as interested in the harm emanating from a neutered and lackadaisical Congress that will not enforce its prerogative and protect its Article I power. Not only are they ineffective as legislators (which is bad enough) but they have abdicated almost entirely their check and balance duties. This goes from investigation of Executive criminality to War Powers Resolution on and on and on.

How does this play into the force of Glenn’s book and how can it start to be remedied?

When there is rampant criminality, all institutions designed to be checks — the courts, the Congress, the media, the citizenry — have the responsibility to act to stop it. Congress is very much part of the ethos of elite immunity, and thus has refused to. There are barely any rumblings even of trying, even when the Democrats had control of both houses for two years.

That said, the President takes an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution and is mandated by Article II to faithfully execute the laws. When Congress fails to act, Congress deserves blame, but that doesn’t mitigate Executive Branch lawlessness.

Mauimom October 29th, 2011 at 3:03 pm
In response to bmaz @ 95

bmaz, don’t you think one cause of the “lack of outcry” is the DNC & Obama holding the purse-strings of campaign funds for those who would traditionally be doing the objecting?

It’s one of the things that convinces me we’d be better to have a bat-shit crazy Republican pres, because at least we’d have a chance of some outrage and push-back. Now, the folks we used to be able to count on are neutered and silenced.

bluedot12 October 29th, 2011 at 3:03 pm
In response to bmaz @ 95

Congress seems selective as well. What was all that about the debt ceiling debate? They behave more like sophmores in high school than a deliberative body. NOw war, they like war, especially Johnny boy.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 3:04 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 97

I do believe that the United States did and to lesser extent still does stand for the protection of individual liberties. What several individuals who were victims of lawless “war on terror” policies have communicated to me is how surprised they were because they had believed the United States was different than many other countries. Those differences have diminished significantly over the last decade.

KrisAinTX October 29th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Do you see any solutions available to us as normal citizens to remedy this? Our courts are impotent or bought, our legislature is useless, and our Chief Executive is guilty of the most atrocious violations of human rights seen in centuries. Is the American populous rising up and demanding accountability the only solution?

I suppose this ties into my second question. We all have our opinions about how #Occupy will play out, about where this is headed. Do you have an opinion? What would you like to see happen?

KrisAinTX October 29th, 2011 at 3:06 pm
In response to KrisAinTX @ 109

On edit – I’d also add that the 4th Estate has completely failed in it’s duty to inform the American public. Accountability is nothing for the elite to fear when the informers are silenced or co-opted.

spocko October 29th, 2011 at 3:06 pm

In the financial services area there is a lot of cases of regulators going to the companies they were supposed to be regulating. It’s all a part of gaming the system and capturing the regulators.

Does the same thing happen in the justice system? Do prosecutors look for future spots in big firms for the clients they prosecuted?

Funnydiva2002 October 29th, 2011 at 3:07 pm
In response to KrisAinTX @ 110

or bought and paid for…
see: Media Consolidation.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Glenn–In addition to the Occupy movement, do you see any positive signs towards breaking the cycle of elite immunity?

Knut October 29th, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Absolutely – the two-tiered justice system was really pioneered in the foreign relations context before it was imported

Hannah Arendt wrote pretty much the same thing about how torture was imported from the nineteenth-century colonial territories to Europe. It was tested on the natives first.

carolofcarol October 29th, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Hi, Glenn. Loving the book!

Firstly: Is your chat earlier today with Chomsky going to be put up online?

Secondly: I think there should be a youtube channel that is just videos of you reading sections of the book to President Obama, kind of like a bedtime story or something cozy like that.

Anyway, let’s all spread the word and get the book into our friend’s hands.

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Glenn–In addition to the Occupy movement, do you see any positive signs towards breaking the cycle of elite immunity?

No.

That said, my book is doing even better than we anticipated – I think this issue resonates for a lot of people – when you really crystallize it this way, I think people get how profound (and dangerous) of an injustice it is.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 3:10 pm
In response to KrisAinTX @ 110

The co-option of mainstream media elites is a very important part of Glenn’s book. We cannot lay all of the blame at the doorstep of Fox News.

Scarecrow October 29th, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Glenn, Jonathan — what cases coming up to the Supreme Court should cause of us the most concern, as either confirming the unequal justice/law trend you see or extending it into new areas? What’s next?

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 3:16 pm
In response to carolofcarol @ 115

Firstly: Is your chat earlier today with Chomsky going to be put up online?

C-SPAN recorded it and will broadcast it – not sure when – someone else taped it and will likely put it online first. It was great – that he’s 83 is just amazing.

Secondly: I think there should be a youtube channel that is just videos of you reading sections of the book to President Obama, kind of like a bedtime story or something cozy like that.

That sounds a bit creepy, even to me.

tuezday October 29th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

That said, my book is doing even better than we anticipated – I think this issue resonates for a lot of people – when you really crystallize it this way, I think people get how profound (and dangerous) of an injustice it is.

I’m glad to hear your book is doing so well. My copy arrived today and it’s my intention to drop it off at Occupy Orlando when I’m done reading it.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 3:17 pm

I think that’s one of the books’s greatest strengths–to show how elite immunity pervades such distinct areas, from the “war on terror” to the financial crisis. Because the financial crisis has affected so many people, it has caused people to question the way the rich and powerful can escape legal consequences for their action. My concern is that the same type of popular protest will not happen in the area of torture, for example, which does not affect mainstream American society in the same direct way.

cocktailhag October 29th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

The hit and run story really puts a cherry on top of it all, doesn’t it? When do you think they’ll just start killing their wives as they trade up? It’d be cheaper than all those messy divorces.

spocko October 29th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Good. I love the way that when Glenn calls out someone in the mainstream media for their sycophantic ways they respond, “You didn’t CALL ME FIRST! I can explain!”

yoself October 29th, 2011 at 3:18 pm

I’ve also gotten the impression that the public at large is not that negative about the civil disobedience that leads to arrest as I’ve seen in the past. I think that at least some people are waking up to the two-tiered system and that petitions won’t cut it.

David Kaib October 29th, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I wonder if there is not an opening at the moment to attack the punitive end of this: marijuana, the death penalty, etc. Given that I think these things are in fact linked, not just coexisting and inconsistent in principle, I believe that to the extent punitiveness against the rest of us can be rolled back, it will create even more space to address elite lawlessness.

yoself October 29th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

That sounds a bit creepy, even to me.

In all seriousness, I saw the Kindle version is coming next week — any news on the audible version?

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 3:20 pm

. My concern is that the same type of popular protest will not happen in the area of torture, for example, which does not affect mainstream American society in the same direct way.

I agree, though I do think that what’s driving the movement is a generalized anger over how the most powerful are exempt from rules – it shouldn’t take economic issues to trigger anger over what happened with the WoT abuses, but anything that sheds light on these inequities is to be welcomed (not suggesting you’re disagreeing with that . . .).

Glenn Greenwald October 29th, 2011 at 3:21 pm

I need to run to go catch a train – all flights to NYC are snowed out today – but I really appreciate FDL’s sponsoring the discussion, Jonathan Hafetz for being such a great host (and for his great work as a laywer in this field), and to everyone who came and participated.

Thanks!

msmolly October 29th, 2011 at 3:22 pm
In response to yoself @ 126

My Kindle version is supposed to be available Nov. 11th. I am really disappointed that I haven’t been able to at least get started reading it.

And the Denver police attacks are just frightful. It’s scary how much this reaction parallels the Bonus Army attacks.

Glad you are here, Glenn.

…back to lurking and reading…

RevBev October 29th, 2011 at 3:23 pm

What’s creepy? I really like the idea of a little remedial legal education….Continuing Ed, what ever you want to call it when someone just needs extra attention…..CLEs for the Pres….you would be doing us all a great service….;) Just a thought.

tuezday October 29th, 2011 at 3:23 pm
In response to David Kaib @ 125

I wonder if there is not an opening at the moment to attack the punitive end of this: marijuana, the death penalty, etc.

I wonder to what extent jury nullification can be used for this.

msmolly October 29th, 2011 at 3:25 pm
In response to RevBev @ 130

Brings to mind Keith Olbermann’s Friday night Thurber readings.

spocko October 29th, 2011 at 3:25 pm

My concern is that the same type of popular protest will not happen in the area of torture, for example, which does not affect mainstream American society in the same direct way.

Boy do I know it. I was all about educating people about torture and the role that the US played in it. But people really don’t want to talk about it. It’s a downer. I’ve had friends say, “Spocko, what happened to you? You were such a fun guy, now you are so dark.” One thing that is frustrating to me is that the people who are against torture aren’t in forums with the people who are FOR torture. For Example, I asked Mark Danner and Phillip Sands, “When are going on the Hannity show? Limbaugh?” Those two are the big torture apologists in America and they help shape the opinion on the use of torture.

I once tried to get a spokesperson for the National Religions Campaign against Torture to publicly challenge Hannity’s support of torture. He backed away because they wanted to work, “behind the scenes.”

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 3:26 pm
In response to Scarecrow @ 118

On the issue of accountability, several cases are working their way up the U.S. Supreme Court in which victims of torture and arbitrary detention in the “war on terror” can seek compensation i for the harm they suffered. These cases all involve U.S. citizens, including Jose Padilla, who was brutally mistreated at a U.S. navy brig in South Carolina following his designation by President Bush as an “enemy combatant.” As Glenn noted earlier in this discussion, torture victims have thus far been shut out of U.S. courts through a variety of legal doctrines, such as “state secrets.” These latest cases, however involve U.S. citizens, who, under existing precedent, have a stronger claim to judicial relief than non-citizens. I think that distinction is unfortunate and improper. But if U.S. citizens cannot get their day in court when they claim that they have been tortured by their own government, then who can?

Mauimom October 29th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Thanks, Glenn, for being here, and for the incredible work you do.

BevW October 29th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

As we come to the end of this great Book Salon,

Glenn, Thank you for stopping by the Lake and spending the afternoon with us discussing your new book.

Jonathan, Thank you very much for Hosting this great Book Salon.

Everyone, if you would like more information:

Glenn’s website and book

Jonathan’s website and book (Habeas Corpus After 9/11)

Thanks all, Have a great evening.

Sunday – Paul Koudounaris / The Empire of Death: A Cultural History of Ossuaries and Charnel Houses; Hosted by Wendy Fonarow

If you want to contact the FDL Book Salon: FiredoglakeBookSalon@gmail.com

bmaz October 29th, 2011 at 3:28 pm
In response to Mauimom @ 106

I think the purse and coattails of Obama and DNC are very little, if any, of the issue any more thanks to the toxicity of Obama to many and the decentralization of political funding. Corps and super-PACS have removed that hammer. I would hazard a guess Glenn would agree that the problem is less top down from the Executive as, say, in the Nixon era, as the the complete ownership of the political class by the financial and corporate class including, in no small measure, the military/industrial/mercenary class.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Yes, let’s hope there’s a spillover effect into areas like accountability for human rights abuses, and that we see a move to restore the rule of law on various fronts.

Jonathan Hafetz October 29th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to BevW @ 136

Thanks Bev. Glenn, it was an honor to host the salon for your incredibly powerful and important book.

ffein October 29th, 2011 at 3:29 pm
In response to cocktailhag @ 122

You may be too young to remember Martha Mitchell….

bmaz October 29th, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Those cases are getting there. But if the, ahem, welcome Padilla and ACLU got last wednesday is any indication, I am not sure there is a lot of hope.

yoself October 29th, 2011 at 3:30 pm
In response to spocko @ 133

One thing that sets the occupy movement apart is the teach-ins, forums and all the different meetings. People are definitely talking about all these issues. Whether that will expand beyond the core group remains to be seen.

Scarecrow October 29th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Also, Glenn Greenwald was on Rachel Maddow earlier in the week, and you can see the video here.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Did the Filipinos who had bamboo inserted into their bellies thru their throats by U.S. soldiers in the 1890s agree? Esp when those same soldiers then jumped on the bloated stomachs?

yoself October 29th, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Thanks to Glenn, Jonathan, Bev and everyone

frankBel October 29th, 2011 at 3:32 pm
In response to Cynthia Kouril @ 43

Yes, and thanks for the comment.

I want to make two points very clear to all: First, that instead of not enough law to prosecute these crimes, there is plenty of law. Second that unless there is significant prison time, we are condemned to see these crimes repeated. I think we start with the prison time: How much is enough to prevent these crimes from occurring again? Then move on to who were the true architects and and how much individual culpability was there. But again, the best evidence to these two will be found in their correspondence and in their compensation.

KrisAinTX October 29th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

Wonderful. I love FDL. This is just another reason why.

Thanks Glenn, Jonathan, and everyone in the comments.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 3:36 pm
In response to tuezday @ 131

What’s the evidence of jury nullification? Even if your sort by types of cases and pick out the category with the highest %.

David Kaib October 29th, 2011 at 3:37 pm
In response to tuezday @ 131

Aside from jury nullification, there is also jury review (analogous to judicial review, which is functionally similar but rests on a different justification.) But I think there are opportunities for legislative change as well – at least at the local and state levels.

David Kaib October 29th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to tuezday @ 131

I forgot to mention – since only around 1% of cases are resolved by trials, any approaches that depend on juries will have a limited impact. While what might happen at trial certainly matters, the costs (writ large) associated with prosecution along with the high possible (even if unlikely) penalties available for even petty crimes are probably bigger drivers of outcomes.

Edit: Also getting less punitive prosecutors can make a big difference, and has in some locales.

tuezday October 29th, 2011 at 3:40 pm
In response to eCAHNomics @ 148

It won’t work from the top down only the bottom up. It has zip to do with prosecuting the 1%.

eCAHNomics October 29th, 2011 at 3:42 pm
In response to tuezday @ 151

See 150. Yeppers, bottom up, attacking problem 0.1% at a time is BOUND to solve the problem.

bmaz October 29th, 2011 at 3:42 pm
In response to frankBel @ 146

Criminal prosecution would take nothing more than a prosecutor desirous of doing it for many counts, even if the top counts on an indictment might require hard work to convict. Quite frankly, that is no different from any other criminal enterprise prosecution; the kind done all the time. The cases are there for the making.

tuezday October 29th, 2011 at 3:43 pm
In response to David Kaib @ 150

Yes, I know very few cases go to trial. As I’m not a lawyer, I just wanted to see what comments throwing that out would get. It’s a tool in theory, but not very useful practically speaking.

RevBev October 29th, 2011 at 3:56 pm
In response to msmolly @ 132

Thanks….good company;)

DWBartoo October 29th, 2011 at 4:03 pm
In response to bmaz @ 153

Why then, do we see no prosecutor desirous of so doing? Perhaps, bmaz, it is a question of that “deference” of which you and I have spoken in past? Both the deference of the legal profession and the “deference” of political expediency. When the chief prosecutor of the land, signals that he wishes to abide by the “looking forward” meme, then even the best of good intentions and “sincerity” cannot, likely, be sufficient to overcome the clear dismissal of the Rule of Law … it being part of that Fatal Flaw, the inability of the Judiciary, in particular, to recognize the “patterns” which it is the Judiciary’s fundamental responsibility, even more than Congress to recognize and act upon. What federal court has indicated, even in the slightest, that it and its chief officers have noticed anything sunstantially amiss?

A most superb Book Salon.

Thank you Glenn, Jonathan, Bev, and all.

DW

astroduke October 29th, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I just read through the whole discussion – excellent BTW, I love Glenn’s “voice” which is rare and real and truthful. And thank-you Jonathon for hosting.

I’d just like to add a perspective that I don’t see much in any discussion about accountability and rule of law which is that there has never been functional accountability and rule of law for indigenous peoples here in North America.

Some years ago I was involved in an energetic and effective Native Rights movement that was violently suppressed with gov/judicial and media complicity and there has never been any redress and the media black-out, spin and smear was so substantial that hardly anyone even knows about it.

It happened in Canada, this international exemplar of courtesy and moderation. It’s all a lie of course and always was. Fundamentally it has always been about money and access to resources. A valid legal claim has never protected those in the way of the powerful seeking their own dominance and profit.

My Elders repeatedly made a point of telling anyone who would listen, look, it’s us under the boot now but it will be you soon enough.

Now here we are.

Welcome to the struggle. :

http://sisis.nativeweb.org/sov/confjudg.html

bolloxref October 29th, 2011 at 5:27 pm

Thank you Glenn for all that you do. I don’t feel qualified to comment on your site, but read the posts regularly.

Thanks once again. You’re a good man.

empiricalguy October 30th, 2011 at 4:34 am

A rich man’s prank is a poor man’s felony.

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