National Journal blog – 18 March 2010



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21 Responses to National Journal blog – 18 March 2010

  1. Mad Dogs says:

    And by the way, Michael Scheuer’s comments suggests he has finally finished his journey to complete and utter looney tunes.
    And this was the person who at one time (1996-1999) was in charge as the CIA’s Chief of the Bin Laden unit (aka “Alec Station”), and then later (2001-2004) was the Special Advisor to that same Bin Laden unit?
    Reminds me of having to be careful about who you sit next to on the subway.

  2. Perhaps our SST lawyer group could clarify. I had thought ALL accused of crimes under our Constitutional system are entitled to legal representation and a fair trial in court. The objective is justice.
    I had also thought that this is entrenched in the ethics or ethos of the legal profession in these United States.
    Is something going on within the legal profession about which we are unaware?
    For example, in Germany as fascism moved forward, the legal profession came under attack. Nazi-oriented lawyers’ groups were organized and so on. We can recall the tremendous influence of the notorious Nazi jurist Carl Schmitt in all this.
    Query: Does Ms. Cheney’s position reflect the influence of the “Federalist Society” of lawyers? Are they Carl Schmitt influenced?
    Or is it something which is idiosyncratic to herself and a small circle of believers in the “unitary state.”

  3. Fred says:

    Mr. Scheuer’s comments:
    “…dismantling the America created by the Founders and replacing it with a much more despotic regime run by the all-knowing products of our elitist, pagan, collectivist, and amoral major universities.”
    Not to include Yale & Harvard (John Yoo of torture memo fame, President G.W. Bush and Justice Clarence Thomas), Wyoming (Dick Cheney) Notre Dame (Condoleezza Rice), USNA (John McCain) or Georgetown, where the Mr. Scheuer is adjunct professor.
    Toyota’s recalling defective cars, maybe someone will re-call whatever kool-aid Mr. Scheuer has drunk?

  4. s nadh says:

    Habeas corpus and due process is the cornerstone of liberal democracy. And I do mean liberal in its universal and proper (but now lost) sense. I agree with Pat’s line of thought and would add that reason and fairness are our values and what we are. The Cheney-Addington-Yoo view is a blight and a poison. It is a true shame that this is framed and presented as a debate.

  5. confusedponderer says:

    Carl Schmitt? Interesting quote by Schmitt that might as well have been said by someone like Addington on why the president is entitled to extra judicial killings:

    Der Führer schützt das Recht vor dem schlimmsten Missbrauch, wenn er im Augenblick der Gefahr kraft seines Führertums als oberster Gerichtsherr unmittelbar Recht schafft

    Schmitt said that to justify the night of the long knives. My somewhat mischieveous translation of the quote:

    The Commander in Chief protects the law from the worst abuse when he, in face of an imminent threat, exercises leadership and makes right by virtue of his broad inherent powers.

    Cheney and Addington, more so than Yoo, indeed appear to reflect Schmitt-ian thinking.

  6. confusedponderer says:

    I might add, that from the perspective of people who decry ‘lawfare’ the defence of a terrorist suspect by an able attorney in a regular court also is one of those ‘worst abuses of the law’ – i.e. because these swine deserve no mercy, granting them any rights is per se an abuse of the law. Interesting parallels in thinking.
    That said, Schmitt is a very interesting and intellectually challenging read.

  7. HankP says:

    Col. Lang –
    Thanks for summing it up. They created a class of captives that were neither civilian nor POW, that could be treated as convicted without any intervention by our legal system. The only question I have is whether any of them will ever be called to account for this most un-American of actions. Will we allow this kind of assault on the Constitution without any repercussions whatsoever?

  8. Interesting comments by various men who lived their lives in the world of secrets. While entitled to skilled advocacy the “Terrorists” advocates do seem to be an interesting choice to have flipped sides to the American government. My experience in law indicates that while some are capable of “flipping” on representation–they often know both sides of the arguments extremely well–these are few and far between. It is just so much easier [perhaps lazy} not to have to go through the intellectual effort of flipping and most cannot do so.
    That stated Michael F. Scheuer is becoming a most interesting representative of the insights as to the beliefs of former CIA officialdom and clearly his training, and experience demonstrate that skilled collection, analysis and dessimination of INTEL was not enough, but that he “needed” to be believed and have his beliefs acted upon. INTEL as a profession is a very very difficult one. Like the intellectual capacity for judging few really have the ability. In this case I come down on the side of Patrick Lang for a variety of short term and long term reasons too lengthy to go into here. Nice comment PL!

  9. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Roberto Unger has studied and written about how the disintegration of the legal system in the Weimar Republic helped give rise to fascism. Much of it is just common sense — just go hang out at a criminal calendar call and watch the people and how they interact with the “State”. (And it’s achangin’). But Unger is a genius and takes it to a much higher plane.
    I don’t know how I stumbled upon his work. Just luck. Nor do I understand all about which he writes.
    And, no, I am not a follower of the Harvard critical legal studies. I believe Dr. Robert Coles…another genius…wrote a commentary of some of Michael Kennedy’s work. Dr. Coles, if I remember correctly, wrote something like these Harvard law professors, while well intentioned, may learn more if they served in a soup kitchen. You gotta admire Dr. Coles…

  10. N. M. Salamon says:

    It is interesting to an outsider to observe systematic choices in naming professors of various kinds to various universities: Michael F. Scheuer. Mr Yoo, etc. One can but wonder why there is so much miseducation in USA from K-college degrees whne high level teaching jobs are given toi those whoe trash the Constitution!
    Colonel: Thank you for the cloear staement on the “prisoner” and law issue.

  11. confusedponderer says:

    Sidney O. Smith III,
    which book by Roberto Unger are you referring to?

  12. jedermann says:

    I suppose that the notion of “common sense” has been abused from the moment it was conceived to define a mode of thinking that does not lead to or depend upon the highfalutin ideas of elitist intellectual types, a mode that the common man would find self-evidently sound and valid. Mr. Scheuer’s hold on a common sense that I could subscribe to is tenuous at best, but he connects to a lot of other dots out there with names like Beck, Hannity, Limbaugh and the rest of the usual suspects who flog common sense ceaselessly as the basis of their legitimacy. It is their dog and they will shoot it if we don’t let them have their way. And, of course, we will be to blame if that happens.

  13. Charles I says:

    Please, its said by some wag I can’t recall that the mark of a first class mind is the ability to simultaneously authoritatively, cogently argue both sides of an issue. Indeed, its a poor, or specifically unskilled lawyer who does not anticipate and research every potential argument that the the retainer, issue and resources – in that order – affords.
    Those unable to “flip’, even in this limited sense are worthless advocates who deserve to be very poor lawyers.
    I used to be an insurance lawyer, expertly trained as an insurance defence shill, er solicitor. I subsequently moved to the plaintiff side of the bar. In an adversarial area of specific legal arcana, it makes perfect sense to pick the top members of the “opposing” side as your expert counsel if you yourself are not.
    While I agree with William R. Cumming that those who do flip completely are rare, I put it to you that this is more often a matter of philosophical inclination and indolence than outright inability.
    Of course, as a complete bleeding heart now firmly, though not actively ensconced on the plaintiff/ criminal defence side of the bar, I feel that, as opposed to think, that that indolence in itself is morally defective, so I’m really not too balanced in this regard at all.
    Sidney O. Smith, being a mentally ill addict helped turn me into a human being. Prior to that, I was a well indoctrinated frothing right winger, so I second your counsel on professors. Food banks are definitely where to start.
    The phenomenon you cite Unger on can operate in the reverse in differently developed civil societies.
    French journalist and authour Genevievce Abdo has discusse this in her book No God But God: Egypt
    And The Triumph Of Islam, “(Oxford University Press, 2000), a work that documents the social and political transformation of Egypt into an Islamic society. The book was the first to detail the leading figures and events responsible for giving moderate Islamists in Egypt enormous social and political power.’
    She details the strategy of the long repressed Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt of obeying the “law” and infiltrating professional associations, particularly legal and educational ones, gaining democratically legitimate control over them, working to diminish the arbitrary ambit of the regime, albeit with, one supposes, latent Tammany hall potential.
    In this way, to me, they toil on the side of the angels, as opposed to Nazi lawyers working to extend the regime beyond the Law, until such time as their latent potential manifests a virulent Islamofascism, which given Egypt’s history is not inevitable.
    Ms Cheyney, along with most of our MSM, are shameless disgraceful people whose ignorance we would defend to the limits of the law, but the reverse is not the case. Fact and law are of zero weight with these unaccountably popular and effective cretins, whom I used to think could be rebutted by any mother with a couple of pie charts.
    I stand corrected.

  14. confusedponderer,
    Yes, Carl Schmitt has penetrated the “conservative” world here since WWII. Several of his works are in English translation.
    The penetration is from several sources but I would specifically point to Leo Strauss one of the intellectual godfathers of the Neoconservatives. Strauss was a star student of Schmitt but being Jewish, despite being pro-fascism, could not very well stay in Germany after 1933.
    Schmitt organized a Rockefeller foundation grant which enabled Strauss to leave Germany and study in France and In England. From England he was deployed to the United States where he infested the academic world and trained many, and his students trained more.
    My own view is that Schmitt enters the legal area in the United States via various “Straussians” among other vectors. A couple colleagues of mine have looked into this rather carefully and not a few professors of law are aware of the problem.
    I think that the Schmitt perspective, which Addington and Yoo represent one might argue, is reflected in some degree in the “Federalist Society” which I mentioned earlier.
    I would posit that Vice President Cheney adopted this perspective. Consider Schmitt’s concept of states of emergency, for example. Consider also Schmitt’s work on “the Dictator” and so forth.
    We can take Schmitt’s concept of the Dictator and add Weber’s concept of the “charismatic leader” and we arrive at….young Bush perhaps? And now do we have it in a schwartz mode? Next in a female mode (Palin)?
    So when I raise the issue of fascism in SST it is with Schmitt and much else in mind. In a sense what has developed here is fascism without anti-semitism. As long as it is not anti-semitic, fascism is fine with certain Jews. Take Jabotinsky for example. And then there were those German Jewish bankers who supported Hitler but were made “Honorary Aryans”….the SS funds were handled in the Sal.Oppenheimer bank as I recall.
    We do notice that the co-founder with Ms Cheney of her institute is Bill Kristol.

  15. confusedponderer says:

    I find Schmitt remarkable. As a legal writer he is unique in his extraordinary style of writing. I presume to see that, one really has to read him in German. I think what he and Strauss have in common is an elitist revulsion against ‘the mob’, an anti-democratic attitude. At the same time his thoughts, for instance on the state of emergency, are rarely trivial. While reading Schmitt isn’t easy, it is always rewarding even when one doesn’t agree with him.
    PS: I finished reading ‘Dark Alliance’, and I found it a good read, and indeed, the extensive references are quite helpful. It is a good primer on the subject.
    One thing that stood out close to the end of the book: On p.177 you quote Hagee referring to Matthew 24:8 in the context of war: ‘All these are the beginning of the birth pains‘.
    I couldn’t help remembering Aasif Mandvi’s hilarious parody in response to Condi’s explanation for Israel’s Lebanon war – that they were ‘birth pangs’ of the New Middle East ™ and certainly no reason for America to take any action (except perhaps re-supplying Israel’s air force).
    birth pains or birth pangs – if one looks at the Bush administration’s rhetoric close enough one will find many comments containing such code words, tailored to the world view of the Christian Right.
    I had read Sizer’s ‘Christian Zionism’ before. I am now half through Gershom Goremberg’s ‘The End of Days’ and will finish it in the coming days.
    Next will then be Phillip’s ‘American Theocracy’ and Jeff Sharlet’s ‘The Family’. I will close this series with Hagee’s ‘Day of Deception’ (it only cost 53 cents … which is incidentally about as much as I was willing to pay for Perle and Frum’s ‘An End to Evil’)
    After that I will be probably so scared that I need to read something more uplifting for a change. I will certainly watch the Daily Show.

  16. confusedponderer,
    thank you for reading my book, Dark Crusade, and I am pleased you found it helpful. Father Sizer and Rev. Don Wagner were kind enough to encourage my research and writing. I left extended theological analysis out of my book as they have laid that out. My concern was to focus on the political.
    Schmitt is interesting as a European thinker. But, although interesting, his caste of mind is alien to our traditions in the US. Perhaps one reason, among many, that the Neocons are so … exotic.
    yes, the key speech writer for Bush was a Christian fundamentalist, Michael Gerson. You will note the Wheaton College education. The coded messages for Bush’s Fundamentalist base were thus no problem for him.
    Condi, or her speechwriter, may had had some coded reference in mind.
    I make only a passing reference to Vereide but Sharlett does a fine job.

  17. Pat Lang,
    Dr. Brenner has, once again, admirably and accurately defined the issue at hand.

  18. Patrick Lang says:

    Been to Rome yet? pl

  19. confusedponderer says:

    of course, without asking Condi or Gerson one cannot say with certainty that ‘birth pangs’ was meant to be code for ‘birth pains’. I think it is probable though. Which doesn’t mean all that much.
    As for the book, the focus on the political, and the impact on the US political landscape, is the really interesting part about your book. Even so, I found the chapters about the origins of dispensationalism informative enough. Thanks for taking the time to write ‘Dark Alliance’ 🙂

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