Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Cult Of Zero

I have just returned from a thread on emptywheel's blog, on which I learned that there are still people defending Obama even for his utterly inappropriate public claim that PFC Bradley Manning "broke the law." As far as I know, Manning has been charged with, but neither tried for nor convicted of, the acts for which Obama publicly condemns him.

It is a truism of American justice (reinforced implicitly in the Fifth, Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution) that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty under the law before a duly constituted court. What part of "innocent until proven guilty" does our self-proclaimed legal scholar president not understand?

At some point, support of Mr. Obama... even as he defies the law and the legal tradition of due process, proclaiming Manning's guilt in public, a public including military service members  who will eventually serve as Manning's jurors in trial proceedings by a military of which Obama is commander-in-chief... amounts to a kind of cultism in which Obama, just by being Obama, is above the law.

I'm sorry... that just won't wash.


  1. Obama, is above the law. It couldn't be more clear that Obama has fully embraced the complete absolutism of the unitary presidency.

  2. I'm seriously depressed and tired of the alleged humanoids on both sides of the aisle who have conveniently forgotten who elected them and the Constitution. Not a good thing. Can you say 'Throw the bums out!'?

  3. mandt, Kay...

    mandt - it surely looks that way, doesn't it.

    Kay - the problems are that

    a) the two parties are not equally guilty of evisceration of the Constitution, though Obama is working hard on remedying that disparity, and

    b) the Tea Party folks proclaiming loudest about infringements on the operation of the Constitution act in ways that clearly show they haven't a single clue what that Constitution says, let alone how courts have interpreted it over the centuries.

    From Carroll's Through the Looking Glass here's Humpty Dumpty speaking to Alice:

    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less,”

    Apparently, the Teabagger's approach to the Constitution is exactly like Humpty's approach to words. I for one am growing tired of their scornful tone toward the rest of us.

  4. I don't know what, if anything, Manning has done, and neither does Zero. No evidence has been presented in court, all that has been presented are accusations.

    At this point, I'm not even sure that they can have a court martial that will stand up to appeal. This isn't a Guantanamo show trial, this is going to occur under the rules of the UCMJ, and it has been too long.

    If they had wanted to spend years investigating him, they should have confined him to quarters. By putting him in custody, they have started the clock running, and they are going to be required to justify it to an appeals court, if they can empanel a court martial and try him.

    I'm wondering a lot of things: Are they having trouble finding the officers to sit on the court? Is there something seriously wrong with the case. It is possible that they can't actually directly tie Manning to the leaks?

    The delays make no sense.

  5. (Damn Google. Blogger just lost my comment. Completely. Going back a page, even in Firefox, doesn't reveal it. Short version...)

    Bryan, IMHO there are two things going on.

    One, Obama is doing an Eric Cartman gesture ("Respect my authoriTAH!") as a warning to anyone else thinking of leaking.

    Two, they're pursuing someone they can't prosecute under American law, namely, Julian Assange, who, unlike Manning, has no obligation to secrecy on the material he obtained, however he obtained it.

    Maybe they don't have a case. Maybe they're trying to bluff what they can't prove, at least without releasing stuff they don't want to see the light of day. Maybe they can't find officers to participate... would YOU, absent a direct order?

    [Previous CAPTCHA text, before Google screwed me over: "bashes". Need I say more?]

  6. Afterthought: emptywheel, on that same post, offers the following regarding Obama's strident sermon that the classification laws restrict him as well (see original for many supporting links):

    But of course, Presidents (and some Vice Presidents) actually don’t have to “abide by certain rules of classified information.” As explained by John Rizzo in the context of the Obama Administration’s leaks to Bob Woodward, they can and do insta-declassify stuff for their own political purposes all the time. They can do it to make the President look important; they can do it to lie us into an illegal war; they can do it to ruin the career of someone who might expose the earlier lies. (Steven Aftergood and Eugene Fidell explain the legal reason this is true for the Politico.)

    What a hypocrite the man is. It's a real pity he's such an effective speaker; it makes him a better liar.

  7. Classification is based on an Executive Order and the President is the ultimate classification authority with the inherent right to declassify anything.

    Ronald Reagan, in his unnecessary justification for bombing Tripoli exposed one of the "crown jewels" of intelligence by explaining why we knew Libya was involved in the disco bombing in Germany. The usual description of that information is "sources and methods".

    To give you some idea of how classified what he revealed was, the actual classification designator, which is well in excess of Top Secret, is classified.

    The President can declassify anything because the office of the Presidency is the source of the power to classify.

    Zero was blowing smoke again.



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