Tag Archives: House Judiciary Committee

NEXT STEP: Tell Congress To Open Impeachment Inquiry Into Jay Bybee

Thanks again to all of you who signed petitions and made phone calls and helped push the resolution to open a Congressional inquiry into Torture Judge Jay Bybee, which the California Democratic Party adopted at its convention yesterday.  I have been told by the authors of the resolution that the pressure from the outside really aided their efforts.  

The passage of the resolution was a beginning, not an ending.  On the flip, come and join us in the next step.

UPDATE: Ryan Grim of The Huffington Post has the full story of the passage of the resolution at the convention.

I view the impeachment of Jay Bybee from the 9th Circuit Court as a moral and legal imperative, but also an entryway into the larger fight for justice and accountability for those who authorized and directed torture in our name.  I agree with Jerrold Nadler that impeachment should not be seen as a compromise measure, a way to satiate those concerned with accountability.  “There can’t be a compromise — you have to follow the law … If the facts say that some former high-ranking official should be prosecuted, the fact people will get angry should be irrelevant … If we do not investigate the torture that is clear that it occured, and if the evidence is there prosecute, not only are we disobeying the law, not only are we being immoral, but we are inviting torture of our people in the future.”

Bybee’s impeachment can start us down the path to restoring the rule of law.  And now the largest state Democratic Party in the country has spoken.  They have said that the myth about torture being a useful tool to extract actionable intelligence from terror suspects is not only irrelevant when it comes to lawbreaking but also entirely false, according to the CIA’s own inspector general.  They have said that Judge Bybee’s appalling judgment and slavish acceptance of John Yoo’s flawed legal reasoning represents a greater evil – the evil of thoughtlessness – and a greater responsibility for the actions committed thanks to his off-handed signature.  They have said that Bybee’s understanding of his own wrongdoing outweighed by his desire to be a federal judge shocks the conscience, and that far from being rewarded for his obedience to his conservative minders, he should bear responsibility for it, to the fullest extent possible.

So what do we do now?  Members of the California Democratic Party include 34 members of Congress, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and six men and women who sit on the House Judiciary Committee, where an impeachment inquiry would be remanded.  They need to hear that their party just recommended that they open an immediate Congressional inquiry into Judge Bybee, with all appropriate remedies and punishments available.  In fact, the entire House Judiciary Committee needs to hear this.  Thanks to my friends at Firedoglake, they will.  We have put together a contact list for the entire House Judiciary Committee, and you can, with just a few clicks, compose a letter to any member of that Committee telling them of the CDP’s action and demanding immediate action on an inquiry.

House Judiciary Committee
John Conyers, Michigan Howard Berman, California
Rick Boucher, Virginia Jerrold Nadler, New York
Robert C. Scott, Virginia Mel Watt, North Carolina
Zoe Lofgren, California Sheila Jackson-Lee, Texas
Maxine Waters, California Bill Delahunt, Massachusetts
Robert Wexler, Florida Steve Cohen, Tennessee
Hank Johnson, Georgia Pedro Pierluisi, Puerto Rico
Luis Gutierrez, Illinois Brad Sherman, California
Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Charles Gonzalez, Texas
Anthony Weiner, New York Adam Schiff, California
Linda Sánchez, California Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Fl
Dan Maffei, New York Lamar S. Smith, Texas
Jim Sensenbrenner, Wisconsin Howard Coble, North Carolina
Elton Gallegly, California Bob Goodlatte, Virginia
Dan Lungren, California Darrell Issa, California
Randy Forbes, Virginia Steve King, Iowa
Trent Franks, Arizona Louie Gohmert, Texas<
Jim Jordan, Ohio Ted Poe, Texas
Jason Chaffetz, Utah Tom Rooney, Florida
               Gregg Harper, Mississippi  

In addition, you can call your members of Congress and tell them that they must support an immediate inquiry into the actions of Jay Bybee, federal judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Congressional switchboard at 1-866-220-0044 can connect you to your member of Congress as well.  Here are some talking points:

• Jay Bybee signed the August 1, 2002 memo approving certain torture techniques to be used on mentally ill terror suspect Abu Zubaydah.

• The CIA’s Inspector General found that the torture of Abu Zubaydah and others foiled no terror plots and sent intelligence personnel on wild goose chases and false leads around the world. (McClatchy, 4.24.09)

• The California Democratic Party is the largest state party in the country, and they have spoken with one voice to demand hearings on Bybee.

• We are required by the Convention Against Torture to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law those who authorized and committed acts of torture.

• Judge Bybee’s presence on the 9th Circuit disgraces the federal bench and saps at our moral authority in the world.  Congress has a duty to step in and impeach him.

We now have this resolution as a tool.  Let’s use it to pry open the Congress and provide the opening of some accountability for these heinous acts committed in our name.

House Judiciary Warns DoJ on Perata Leaks

I’ve been mulling this around in my head for a few days.  Three powerful members of the House Judiciary committee have have sent a letter to the Justice Department calling for an investigation into leaks surrounding the inquiry into State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata.

No article since November 2004 has explicitly said that any information came from a federal government source. But in a letter to U.S. Atty. Gen. Michael B. Mukasey obtained by The Times on Monday, U.S. Reps. John Conyers Jr., Linda Sanchez and Zoe Lofgren wrote, “We are disturbed and concerned that news story after news story . . . has cited federal law enforcement sources as the basis of information.”

The only article specifically mentioned in the July 31 letter was a story in the San Francisco Chronicle. The article cited “sources familiar with the probe,” a broad term that could encompass federal agents, defense attorneys and people who have been questioned […]

On Friday, the day after the congressional letter was sent, a Wall Street Journal article said the investigation into Perata “gained momentum over the past year.” The article’s details were attributed to anonymous people “close to the defense,” who said Perata’s longtime political consultant, Sandi Polka, was granted immunity to compel her to answer questions.

(Here’s that SF Chron article mentioned in the letter.)

The Perata investigation certainly has dragged on for years, leading to him needing more and more funds to raise in his defense.  In particular, the dumping of $250,000 from the California Democratic Party into his legal defense fund raised a lot of eyebrows around these parts.  After the initial explanation of “We’re the CDP and we can do what we want,” a secondary explanation was that the investigation had been politicized and that this was part of the DoJ’s efforts to prosecute and delegitimize Democrats.  A couple weeks later, out comes this letter, signed by two members of the California delegation.  But it’s Conyers’ participation that makes me believe that this is a real concern.  I trust Conyers enough to think that he wouldn’t simply badger the DoJ to help out a political problem in California.

Of course, let’s look at what the letter is actually alleging.  It’s not suggesting that the investigation itself is unnecessarily political, but that someone inside the investigation is using the media to disparage Perata.  That may well be true, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that the whole investigation is a farce.

Let’s now look at what this does NOT suggest:

• It in no way excuses the CDP for paying off Perata with $250,000 in the middle of an election year, whether that money was simply laundered through them and earmarked for Perata or not.  Based on this SacBee report, it appears Perata is perfectly capable of raising money for himself:

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata has solicited at least $200,000 this year from political interest groups for a nonprofit foundation that promotes and rallies support for one of his bills.

The arrangement, apparently legal, allows the Senate leader to solicit unlimited funds for his own political agenda without having to detail how the money is spent.

“He may have found a loophole in the Political Reform Act that needs to be closed,” said attorney Bob Stern, a co-author of the state’s Political Reform Act who now runs the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles.

Which leads me to point 2:

• There is no way that Perata should still be Senate President Pro Tem at this point.  While he has done a good job of hammering Republicans for their intransigence on the budget, this image hit, as well as the constant distraction of having to find new ways to raise money for his legal bills, are not what we need at this sensitive time, ESPECIALLY when Darrell Steinberg is waiting in the wings and perfectly capable of performing the same duties without the black cloud of indictment hanging over the head of the Democratic leadership.  They haven’t even taken a caucus vote on this yet, to my knowledge – it’s currently scheduled for August 21, but during these budget negotiations that’s doubtful to come off.

It is perfectly consistent to be skeptical of the Justice Department’s case against Perata and to ALSO demand that he step down from his leadership position, and to excoriate the CDP for their conduct in either shoveling Perata money or acting as a conduit for that fund transfer.

Odds and Sods 4-23

Post-Pennsylvania and… well, nothing much different actually.  But next time, for sure!  Meanwhile, here are some California-centric notes:

• The California School Employees Association made their endorsements for the June primary.  In addition to Migden, they strike of an aversion to go out on a limb.  They only endorsed one Congressional candidate in a Republican-held seat (Charlie Brown), and they opted out of a lot of contested primaries in the legislative seats as well.  Manuel Perez did get the endorsement in the 80th AD, however (he is a school board member, so not a big shock).

• We don’t get into a lot of rural issues on the site, probably because of the bias toward writers here in urban environments.  But this salmon fishing ban is a big deal along the Mendocino coast.  This actually goes back to the Klamath fish kill in the beginning of the decade and Darth Cheney’s efforts to ensure that.  I think there are going to be a lot of angry fishermen wanting answers this fall.

• I keep forgetting to write about the State Senate primary in my own backyard of SD-23, between Fran Pavley  and Lloyd Levine.  Here’s some background on the race to succeed Sheila Kuehl.  I actually attended an environmental forum with these two last week and found them both to be really solid, with different strengths.  While Pavley is an astonishingly effective lawmaker – she probably has her name on more far-reaching climate change legislation than anyone in the entire country – Levine really seems to understand the nature of the fight in Sacramento and how best to bring about sweeping change.  I’m not going to be disappointed on June 3, regardless of the winner.  We’re hoping to get both Pavley and Levine on a future Calitics Radio show.

• Here’s a user-created video of our debate protest at ABC last week.  We have our own video set for release as well.

• Adam Liptak in The New York Times today: “The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.”

Yet we must remain “tough on crime,” even though rises and falls in the crime rate are not correlative to imprisoning people (Canada’s rate goes up and down roughly at the same time ours does, without a corresponding increase in the prison population).

• John Yoo won’t talk to the House Judiciary Committee but it’s really not his fault, you see:

In a letter, Yoo’s lawyer told Conyers he was “not authorized” by DOJ to discuss internal deliberations.

“We have been expressly advised by the Office of Legal Counsel of the United States Department of Justice that Professor Yoo is not authorized to discuss before your Committee any specific deliberative communications, including the substance of comments on opinions or policy questions, or the confidential predecisional advice, recommendations or other positions taken by individuals or entities of the Executive Branch,” Yoo’s lawyer, John C. Millian, wrote in a letter to Conyers.

As we all know, the executive branch can ignore subpoenas and prevent Congressional oversight.  Why, Yoo wrote it in a memo!  But he can’t discuss it.  Because the executive branch follows the law.  That he wrote.

Round and round we go…