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April 07, 2006

Comments

CharleyCarp: Yikes.

I once did a magical ritual, which might even count as black magic, depending on how you count such things...

As you may have noticed, I very seldom get mad. However, every so often (maybe once a decade) something happens that's so awful that I get angry, and this was one such occasion: someone did something really bad to me, utterly out of the blue. (Bad enough that all my lawyer friends, including one former US solicitor general, urged me to sue -- and I don't hang out with many lawyers who are into frivolous lawsuits.)

I was really angry, and that worried me -- I felt as though I had been poisoned, and needed to get the anger somehow out of my body lest it do me harm. But how? Most of the ways of expressing that much anger are independently wrong, and doing things like filing grievances and the lawsuit all my friends were urging on me just seemed likely to feed it; and some instinct of self-preservation said: NO.

At this juncture, one of my friends, who is into wicca, suggested a binding ritual, which basically involves binding the consequences of someone's actions, threefold, to them. I like the idea: when you wish bad stuff on someone, you're assuming that you're right about what that person deserves, whereas a binding ritual leaves open the possibility that you're wrong -- if the person has actually done nothing wrong, no bad consequences are supposed to attach. -- Liking the idea, however, is of course completely different from believing that any such ceremony is effective.

Anyways, when she suggested it, I thought: aha! the perfect way to deal with this anger! A ritual that will feel good, but that won't actually do anything!!So she wrote the ceremony, and after taking a purifying bath with various appropriate clarifying herbs, we cast the circle and did the whole thing -- including burning a picture of the person in question, along with one of his articles, and binding the consequences of his actions, along with rosemary (for remembrance) and rue (for regret) to the withered old stick that, for these purposes, represented the object of the whole thing.

Going to the magical supplies store was a trip -- this was in LA, so there was a decent market for these things. I still have some of it -- my favorite being Justice powder -- who knew that justice, or any of the cardinal virtues for that matter, came in powdered form?

Does this make me a liberal?

"Going to the magical supplies store was a trip -- this was in LA, so there was a decent market for these things. I still have some of it -- my favorite being Justice powder -- who knew that justice, or any of the cardinal virtues for that matter, came in powdered form?"

And yet -- I may be all wrong -- my impression is that you've yet to watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

No, really, you should. (If you have, I humbly apologize for my confusion. Most humbly, with abasement. I live in fog at present.)

Digressing: I was sort of hoping someone might have something interesting to say about the Kissinger/China link I produced a bit ago, but it is a digression, so if not, oh, well. I just thought it was a bit of fascinating history, myself. And I'm perfectly willing to entertain either Nixon bashing, or other views; I can argue against either. ;-)

Gary: I watched it a couple of times, and thought it was fun, but for some reason it never took.

Here's one thing that struck me about the magical supplies store: all the supplies that weren't for curses, but for something the person might want, were for things that come to you, not things that are the fruit of effort. There was a lot of winning at lottery magic, make my lover faithful magic, bring me money magic, and so forth, but no willpower magic, courage or fortitude magic, and so forth.

I thought that was interesting.

Well lookey-lookey here (pg. 23):

Defendant discussed with Miller the contents of a then classified CIA report which defendant characterized to Miller as having been written by Wilson. Defendant advised Miller that Wilson had reported that he had learned that in 1999 an Iraqi delegation visited Niger and sought to expand commercial relations, which was understood to be a reference to a desire to obtain uranium.

...Pat Fitzgerald's, and his helpers, own words.

via the shrill FDL.

"Gary: I watched it a couple of times, and thought it was fun, but for some reason it never took."

If I asked you for (with pardons for going off-topic, digressing, etc., and if you want to put this on the most recent open thread, or open another, or ignore it entirely, I understand completely, of course; it's not as if Buffy affects the fate of the nation -- alas!) a couple of clues as to which couple of episodes you saw, I'd be quite curious (and I bet not just me).

One reason I'm getting at this, aside from simple enthusiasm to share the pleasure of an aesthetic enjoyment that is also intellectually and emotionally provocative is that Buffy used and evolved the metaphor of magic and fantasy to deal with, first, high school life and adolescence, and then college life and maturing, and then dealing with becoming an adult, and everything in between, but also with endless sorts of ethical issues, and moral issues, and just all sorts of intellectual and emotional issues, as well as being full of puns and clever writing and hilarious dialogue and other good stuff.

Not everything that works for some works for others, of course. Maybe, if you looked more, it would not be for you. I couldn't possible say. I just think, based on my current level of ignorance about you and it, that it might be for you. And also might, hey, even be a useful, if aging, tool for teaching. It's really good stuff. And there are all sorts of issues that might be discussed therein. But maybe it wouldn't work for you, after all. I don't know you well enough to predict.

Apologies for plugging. I wave my hands for having... enthusiasms. (Thinking strangely also of Robert deNiro in The Untouchables, yet not wanting in the least to play baseball with him.)

Also: missed having you around during the day's discussions, but you probably have some sad excuse like courses to teach, or papers to write, or houses to buy, or people to visit, or charities to do good works with, or other completely nonsensical excuses!

By the way, rumor has it that Slart has something going on with eye surgery, and I wished him all best elsewhere for a speedy and as painfree and minimally complex recovery as possible, but a) I have no idea what's actually going on with him; and b) I hope you, yourself, have fully recovered from your own still recent meeting with surgeons, and c) I don't mean to open up anyone's privacy to public discussion in a way that they wouldn't wish, but d) I hope for the best for everyone, is all.

Um, anyway.

Leaving aside our appalling administration and bizarrely lame Congress and so on, since many more eloquent and informed commenters have weighed in above, I'll go straight to the pop culture reference. Hil, come hang w/ me for a weekend somewhere down the road, and I'll screen a few Buffy eps that you'll at least enjoy. No need for it to "take," of course, but there are lots of quotes it's handy to know and be able to deploy - man, those writers were good). At the very least you'll know all about The Magic Box.

What do you think, Gary - "Doppelgangland"?

"Well lookey-lookey here (pg. 23) [...] via the shrill FDL."

Um, a lot of people linked to that pdf. Tom Maguire, even, to the Sun to me.

But I'm not clear what your point is: that Libby hadn't yet made the claim that Bush had declassified the thing?

If you want to credit FDL, though, probably a good idea to provide a link, so we know what you're talking about, and if there's some additional point we should be aware of. Perhaps it would be of general interest.

Absent a link, not clear what point you're trying to make. Looky-looky at what?

A good Buffy discussion: this thread.

I second Gary's enthusiasm.

Gary,
I'm not sure how long back this was, but Slart's eye surgery is vision correction surgery, and we discussed it briefly in another thread. A bit strange to wish 'get well', though we obviously want to good karma and all that. Apologies if you knew this, but it sounded as if you weren't sure on what was going on.

As for Shrill FDL, I think that relates to some discussions both here and at HoCB that used the site as an example and discussed whether that impinged on the value of the information. I'm guessing this navel gazing among us is going on after the comment food fight over at Balloon Juice and mentioning a site that posts something is not like a claim that it broke the story, I think. (in fact, I'm beginning to realize that it is getting harder and harder to figure out 'where' stories come from)

"What do you think, Gary - "Doppelgangland"?"

No, I think that's definitely too dependent on knowing the characters first. Muchly.

The problem with a series like Buffy, where there was complete continuity, and change from each episode to the next, and growth for each character, is that order of episodes is fairly important -- they keep changing, and becoming more interesting based upon what happened last time.

Which means that though the first "season" (only a half, really) is the most superficial, and with the most boring and unbelievable threat, it sets up the second, far better second season, and so on and so forth.

So to try to hook someone, there's a delicate balance between trying to find the Bestest And Deepest episodes, and yet not getting too far ahead of continuity. Tis a problem. (It exists for other tv series of late, as well, of course; we could discuss this, somewhere, where it isn't off-topic, were there a proper thread, cough, cough.)

"I'm guessing this navel gazing among us is going on after the comment food fight over at Balloon Juice and mentioning a site that posts something is not like a claim that it broke the story, I think."

A link might be helpful? And maybe trying that sentence again? Though probably it's just me who is mostly confused by it. Sorry. I'm getting less foggy, since my hypothesis about my blood pressure meds seems to be paying off (short version: try them only before trying to sleep), but I'm still pretty foggy, and thus mostly confused by this sentence.

Gary: no idea which episode it was.

I was grading, and then doing the property inspection on the house. The seller may have to replace the furnace and hot water heater. The former I had suspected -- it is literally held together with baling wire -- but the latter I would never have caught myself. Which is why I always, always hire property inspectors.

"A good Buffy discussion: this thread."

My first reaction was to wonder why I missed that thread at Belle & John's, but looking at the date, I realize I was in the depths of my best beloved dying (October to mid-January, most of all), so no wonder I missed it. :-(

Thanks for pointing out a good thing I missed, since that was a very awful time for me, in which I said little, and missed much stuff. I'm slowly catching up on that thread now.

Hilzoy sez: "Gary: no idea which episode it was."

Not surprised. Wishing we were sitcom neighbors (or just neighbors) so that I could drop by with an hour or two to watch and try out and chat about. Not expecting you to go very far to indulge my urgings and enthusiasms.

Just, ya know, sort of earnestly wishing. The sort of "but maybe you'd love this!" thing that might be wrong.

I'm all full of awkwardness as to being clueless as to the boundaries between what you want to talk about regarding life, here, and private stuff. Not even sure if I should ask what state you've bought a house in, or not.

So that's a kind of asking, in a way you should ignore, if it was inappropriate of me.

(Can't help recall the recent visiting moron who was Sending! Everyone! Your! Real! Name! Oh! No!, and not wanting to get anywhere in the vicinity of that, y'know?)

But if you're still in Maryland, that's all I need to know. Regardless: bless your new house! Tell us whatever details that make you love it! (You wouldn't buy it without loving it: of this I am sure.)

Gary, my condolences, and I'm glad I was able to point usefully.

Where to start with Buffy? "Begin at the beginning. Continue until you come to the end. Then stop." Or, in my case, on to Angel and Firefly.

A link might be helpful? And maybe trying that sentence again?

I'm just guessing here, but I'll take a shot, since most of y'all are slowly going off to sleep so I imagine spartikus is as well.

At any rate, firedoglake is here, with this post being the one linking to the pdf, though, as you note, the pdf is linked through a number of other sites. Again, just guessing, but I think spartikus was making the underlying observation of if it's true, it ain't shrill, (arguable, but worth considering) Perhaps he will weigh in later on this. That observation probably doesn't require a link as such, especially since it is more the observation rather than any information contained in the blog post. Again, just my guess.

If you want a link to the Balloon Juice food fight, it's already moved off the page, and I don't feel so comfortable rehashing it through linking. I also think that the BJ commentator crowd is a pretty remarkable one in terms of the vigor they go at each other. But it was within the past 2 weeks or so, occasioned by a John Cole post about 'the Jane Hamshers of the left'. Tempers flared, bytes were exchanged. Another day in the blogosphere.

Looky-looky at what?

At pg. 23 of the oft-linked-to pdf. I think the point is Libby leaked, in the words of the Special Prosecutor, a bonafide classified document. Whether it's a good observation, or merely an observation, is for the audience at home. I hadn't noted it before, being lazy and relying on the blogsphere for my education

I credited FDL, as the observation was not my own. And plagiarism is sensitive issue.

Or at least it was last week.

(yes, Shrill FDL is (perhaps) a running gag, via HoCB.)

Ah, the house. -- I did buy my present house without loving it, actually. It's a perfectly nice house, and all that, but I didn't love it. I bought it because when I was offered my present job, everyone said: oh, the real estate market is very slow here; it will be easy. So I thought: OK, and came out for four days or so to Buy A House. In fact, the real estate market wasn't slow at all, but I hate moving, so I just bought this one. It's sort of in the middle of nowhere, which has its nice aspects (foxes, deer), and I have planted a lot of fruit trees (ten; just right for me, the birds, the squirrels and the deer, I thought) but there is no neighborhood at all.

The new house -- it's in the city, first of all, and it does have a neighborhood. A very friendly and cohesive one. It's a townhouse (my cats will kill me for this -- Mr. Nils, in particular, is very used to having an enormous territory to call his own.) It has three stories plus an unfinished basement; built around 1850; every floor has one room in front, stairs, a room in back, and then some space which is the (little) kitchen on the ground floor, and bathrooms, closets, and storage on the two upper ones.

It's the end of its block of townhouses, with windows facing south, so it's very light, and there are bay windows on the first two floors, which really opens it up. And there's a skylight over the stairwell, which is nice. It's full of interesting built-in shelves and thisses and thats, which I love; and has nice high ceilings. And the present owner has done that thing where you paint the walls bright colors, which takes taste to carry off, and she's done it well. (I myself can't do that; Experience Has Shown that I am lousy at predicting what a color will look like on a wall by looking at a paint chip.) All in all, it's great.

Of course, I do have to have an engineer in to look at one bit of wall, and the boiler and hot water heater will need to be replaced. And no central air, alas. But it does have a little garden out front and a sort of concrete area in back, small but nice to be able to sit outside. And I have developed a perverse fondness for the basement -- I love unfinished basements, and this one -- well, when I first saw it, I said: this looks as though I should be hiding fugitive slaves on the Underground Railroad! (I think the realtor thinks I'm nuts.)

Basically, it's a great little townhouse in a great neighborhood, and finally I will get to live in the city.

Oh, well, yes, that city, that state, that harbor, etc.

Say, does the name "Pembleton" mean anything to you?

I loves the crabs, myself.

Butter. Crabs. Swoon.

Um, a lot of people linked to that pdf. Tom Maguire, even, to the Sun to me.

first time i'd seen it. let's not discourage the free sharing of info. links are cheap.

"links are cheap."

You're saying that I'm cheap?

;-)

(They're not completely cheap when one puts a major effort into finding them and presenting them to people; we call this "blogging"; some of us spend a lot of our day at it, or even try to make a living off it, it turns out.)

Actually, I think he was saying that once a URL is known, there's no 'cost' to including it in a post when there's even a chance it might be useful. ie, 'Disk space is cheap -- don't be afraid to use it' rather than 'talk is cheap.'

Continuing to read the thread at John & Belle's (whose blog I assume everyone reads), this is an excellent comment.

My own view leans towards the idea that while Buffy is not quite Shakespeare, but that it is in the same region and neighborhood.

That I have goofy and minor credentials as a guy who used to be able to pay good money to other folks to produce novels may be irrelevant.

(It's not as if it was my own money; it was either the money of the Hearst Corporation, via Avon Books, or the money of the many corporations I worked for freelance.)

I had judgement before and since. That I spent a couple of decades oftimes being paid for my opinions about prose and scripts and fiction and nonfiction isn't all that relevant, since I can name endless numbers of folks who weren't whose taste and intelligence I think is superior to mine. (Or whose taste sucked, of course, as might mine in the regard of anyone.)

But, hey, all I'm trying to say is that Buffy rocks, and has much richness, and that Hilzoy, among others, might find another, deeper, look, rewarding.

It's a cult, but for a good reason. Good writing is the reason.

In practical terms: Hilzoy, rent the first disk of Season 2, or Netflix it, or Intelliflix it, or however you approach DVDs, maybe, maybe, and then maybe the 2nd, and then if you don't like it, ok. If you don't love Willow like me and others, ok.

I'm sure Gary's seen this already but OT: Sy Hersh sez

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups.

And this fun bit:

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was “absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb” if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do “what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,” and “that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.”

and

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.”

Right, becuase when a country is invaded/bombed by a foreign power the first thing its citizens do is overthrow their own government, generally an effective method for repelling invastion. Has this ever happened in the known history of the world?

Gary: won't happen before I move (busy busy busy.) However, I'll try to remember after then.

"Gary: won't happen before I move (busy busy busy.) However, I'll try to remember after then."

Story of my life: my timing sucks.

Sorry, oops.

(Upside: started watching my Buffy DVDs again; downside: still barely awake, donations appreciated, etc.)

Ugh, I saw that and felt like I'd been dunked in icewater.

There's been no public debate about attacking Iran at all. I have an awful feeling the Bush Admin will just do it, without any notice or discussion, regardless of anything anyone says (with that goddamn AUMF as a figleaf of legality).

I read that Sy Hersh article too. You lefties seemed to have missed this part

Ahmadinejad and his Revolutionary Guard colleagues in the Iranian government “are capable of making a bomb, hiding it, and launching it at Israel. They’re apocalyptic Shiites. If you’re sitting in Tel Aviv and you believe they’ve got nukes and missiles—you’ve got to take them out. These guys are nuts, and there’s no reason to back off.

The quote is from Robert Baer, one of the few analysts respected by people on both sides of the debate.

Would you rather nuke them there or let them nuke us here? The choice is yours. Why do I have the feeling that moonbats would rather be nuked than take the fight to the mullahs?

CaseyL -

I had a similar feeling, and agree with your assessment of the administration. Another wonderful quote from the article:

A retired four-star general told me that, despite the eight thousand British troops in the region, “the Iranians could take Basra with ten mullahs and one sound truck.”

We are in Iraq with the permission of the Iranians and Sistani, either could be withdrawn.

Leonidas sez:

Would you rather nuke them there or let them nuke us here?

Are you in Israel?

Ah, the old anti-semitic ploy here from Ugh. The shopworn claim that the conflict in the Middle East is all about Israel.

we call this "blogging"; some of us spend a lot of our day at it, or even try to make a living off it, it turns out

FWIW, your pointless condescension here keeps at least one potential reader from your blog.

I have an awful feeling the Bush Admin will just do it

if he does, and isn't impeached for it, i'll move to Canada.

Leonidis sez:

Ah, the old anti-semitic ploy here from Ugh. The shopworn claim that the conflict in the Middle East is all about Israel.

Well, you quote the following

are capable of making a bomb, hiding it, and launching it at Israel

and then say

Would you rather nuke them there or let them nuke us here?

So I thought I'd ask if you were in Israel. If you can explain the anti-semitism to me and my jewish wife, I'll gladly disavow it.

Ugh, okay I see your point. But I think it is likely that Iran will try to make suitcase nuke and smuggle it into the US.

But I think it is likely that Iran will try to make suitcase nuke and smuggle it into the US.

and you think this based on ... ?

Based on the fact that sneaking one into the US would make Ahmadinejad to many in the middle east.

Leonidas:

I have a feeling you are going to nuke me and my family.

What should I do about it?

Yeah, yeah, I know...don't feed them.

Based on the fact that sneaking one into the US would make Ahmadinejad [a hero?] to many in the middle east.

only if he took credit for it... an act which would lead to the immediate incineration of his entire country.

Ugh, indeed.

So the strategy to just nuke them a little, to save them from themselves?

Insane.

Highlighting the Baer quote was interesting. With all respect to Hersh, who 'you' is in 'you've got to take them out' is ambiguous. Baer pretty much thinks it's hopeless, as can be seen in this interview and has no good words for the US support of Israel. In fact, to pick out the strongest statement, there's this:

RB: What's not mentioned in my book, or in Syriana, is Israel. As far as those people are concerned, Israelis are Americans. Look at the Israelis. They sound American. They've got the same sense of humor, the same sense of irony, they dress like Americans; they are like efficient Americans, especially the military.

LT: They're backed by lots of American dollars.

RB: And American dollars. It's sort of like if you took a Ku Klux Klan colony and placed it in Detroit and you paid for it. Look at the 9/11 commission. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind, said it's all about Israel. We have to pay attention.

Not endorsing that strength of expression, just noting that Baer could be talking about Israeli perspectives which, by Hersh's placement, makes it sound like the US has to "take out" Iran's nuclear program. Baer also says

RB: I was in Iran last spring and talked to one of the ayatollahs there. He said, "These people are wolves, are pitiless wolves"—this is the Sunni he's referring to—"and as soon as we get an opportunity we're going to go in and slaughter them." He said this on camera to me, an American, ex-CIA on top of it. There's a great article by Chris Dickey [in Newsweek] about [how] the Iranians all want nuclear bombs. All of them: liberals, pro-American, everybody thinks Iran should have one. What bothers me is, the people in Washington, in the think tanks, really don't know what is going on and are making policy.

As for the possibility of suitcase nukes, to think that Iran can not only make nukes, but shrink them into small enough packages that don't put off enough radiation to trigger radiation detectors (which one would assume, are being deployed in Israel just as they are in the US) strains credulity. Accepting for the purposes of debate that Iran can develop a nuke in 3-4 years, how long would it take to develop a suitcase nuke (something which, for obvious reasons, isn't a development priority for traditional nuclear powers)? 10 years would be remarkable. If they are that smart, there's not a whole lot that can be done.

Furthermore,
This gloomy report notes the following:

There are alerts about the growing power of Iranian-backed religious Shiite parties, several of which the United States helped put into power...

Funny how these things bite back, eh.

"FWIW, your pointless condescension here keeps at least one potential reader from your blog."

I prefer to show my good humor, even if it's not always in bars, but I do sometimes unnecessarily condescend, and it's not quite by choice, and I've written about that (in my blog, even), and all I can do is apologize, and say that it's my lesser side, and that I regret that tendency in me.

Really.

Gary, i am humbled.

"Gary, i am humbled."

Read me! Read my archives! Read what I said in years past! I am insanely wise!

Okay, kinda kidding, but, really, I suck when I comment to people. I am so often offensive unintentionally, and I so often am nasty to people without meaning to be, and I just suck at that sort of thing, and almost all criticisms of that sort of thing are true.

All I can say is that I think about that sort of thing near-constantly, and that I'm entirely aware of that personality flaw, and that I keep working on it. See here, and my further comments, if you can bear to read my blog that far.

I have a long list of personality flaws. I have a long list of flaws in the ways I communicate with other people.

I try to do better. I still hope other people will read me, nonetheless. I know I am more unpleasant, too often, than I mean to be. I just suck at that. I try to work to be better. :-(

I just can't plow through all the comments here right now, so please don't blast me for asking a question that may have been answered already; just answer it or point to the existing answer.

GF: there's never been a claim that the President doesn't have the power to keep secret some documents and to equally decide to make them unsecret.

But surely there's no claim that once having declassified a document, the President can then keep it from anyone who asks to see it?

As I understand it, the full NIE in question was kept from members of Congress as late as July 2004, a full year after it was (rather selectively) "declassified".

"As I understand it, the full NIE in question was kept from members of Congress as late as July 2004, a full year after it was (rather selectively) 'declassified'."

July 18th was when it was fully out there. There were ten days between the leakage and the the full and obvious declassification. Not at all blasting (hell, I think Nell is swell), but see here.

"As I understand it, the full NIE in question was kept from members of Congress as late as July 2004, a full year after it was (rather selectively) "declassified"."

And it was ten days, at most, not a "full year."

As usual, I don't point this out because I like the President, because I don't, but in answer to a query about the facts as I know them.

Really, given my lack of fondness for the Prez, I greatly prefer putting forward facts that point out Bush's nastiness. I can only do that, though, when people don't ask stuff in which it happens to be the fact that he hasn't done wrong. Darn it. So, like, maybe, people should stop asking such questions. Facts are bothersome things. What else can I say?

In regards to the declassifying thing, I also imagine that a RW argument will be that it was/is like how the Japanese version of the Freedom of Info act works, which is you have to be able to know what you are asking for and if someone had asked for it, Bush, being the honorable man that he is, would have run over to the copier and served it up. Also, I'm sure it will be pointed out that President Bush, being the busy man that he is, can't go around and tell everyone what he's declassified, so this is simple delegating, which Bush, like any other top CEO, has to do. Whoops, my tongue just went thru my cheek.

Also, I'm sure that it will be argued that Bush can choose which parts of the various documents can be declassified. (Indeed, the WH has explicitly made that argument in that the President needed to bolster his case for going to war with specific pieces of information) Honesty would seem to dictate that the declassification process would present things in context, but honesty is not this admin's strong suit.

Not incidentally, I spent time today watching "Doppelgangland."

I cried.

That was my hour, over a couple of hours. That's what I think of Buffy. That's why I wish Hilzoy to watch more of it.

Because I think it's that good. Still. Today. (I hate setting up over-expectations; still.)

Actually, it was "The Wish." Sorry.

Of course it was "The Wish" - what a good episode. I can't imagine that what I remember of "Doppelgangland" (most of it) has ever brought tears to anyone's eyes (that weren't tears of laughter).

Going to go break out the Season 3 set now. Darn it.

*

"If the President does it, it's not against the law."

God, do I hope Sy Hersh is wrong on this one.

only if he took credit for it... an act which would lead to the immediate incineration of his entire country.

So who's advocating bombing Iran now?

"So who's advocating bombing Iran, now?"

I don't know. Is it the antiSemite who happens to have a Jewish wife or is it one of many moonbats who would rather be nuked than take the battle to the mullahs?

You tell us.

Gary, the 'here' link in your comment doesn't work, so I can't read it.

Did you read my link? It says that only part of the NIE was released in 2003 (the 'Key Findings' and a few additional paragraphs), and the rest of the NIE was still not available as of July 2004. What am I missing?

I'll wait for a working link, but until then still don't see the answer to my question. You appear to be saying that Presidents have the authority to selectively 'declassify' (i.e., leak) intelligence etc., while keeping that information from others who would normally have the right to see unclassified material (which is to be considered 'immediate reclassification', I guess).

That strikes me as dictatorship in the realm of information. I decline to believe that there are no legal problems with that, only political ones. Of course, I could be wrong, not being a lawyer of any kind, much less one with expertise in national security law.

So who's advocating bombing Iran now?

looks like it's still just you and your leader.

"I'll wait for a working link, but until then still don't see the answer to my question. You appear to be saying that Presidents have the authority to selectively 'declassify' (i.e., leak) intelligence etc., while keeping that information from others who would normally have the right to see unclassified material (which is to be considered 'immediate reclassification', I guess)."

Sorry, Nell. I don't even actually recall, this morning, precisely which URL I tried/intended to paste in there, but it was one of the many that noted that there was a ten-day gap between between the July 8th leak from Libby and the July 18th formal declassification of the NIE in question.

As regards the President's authority, well, basically, yes. Executive power does exist, and it doesn't become evil just because of the occupant. It's not "dictatorship" just because we do have one of our three parts of government being a single person; it's the intended system, and it's supposed to be only one of three parts. I don't really know what else to say about that. That the current guy is awful doesn't change the system; the Presidency does carry certain powers with it; that we are currently running into an occupant who madly insists they include those of the other two parts/bodies doesn't mean that the one third doesn't have the powers that it does.

gary--

I think you are somewhat off base, insofar as you are arguing that it is legal for the President to classify and declassify at will. (You seem to be arguing that but I'm not totally certain).

Let me quote the executive order again:

(a) In no case shall information be classified in order to:

(1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error;
(2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency;
(3) restrain competition; or
(4) prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of national security....

(c) Information may not be reclassified after it has been declassified and released to the public under proper authority.

There is no logical reason why it would be no good to classify for political reasons but perfectly okay to declassify for political reason, and it would open you up to the possibility of classifying EVERYTHING and selectively declassifying, but I'm more fond of purposive readings than a lot of people.

But if it's safe to call Judy Miller with this info, there's no possible national security rationale for re-classifying it immediately after you hang up the phone--so even if the declassification is okay, the (hypothetical) re-classification would not be.

It seems pretty blatantly clear to me that this administration classifies information to avoid embarrassment and conceal illegality. Do you disagree, and do I need to list examples? The executive order in force says you can't do that.

Is this a crime? No. Is it something you can sue them for? No. Is this a legal prohibition you can enforce in court? No. Is this a plausible grounds for impeachment? Abuse of the classification power is so endemic that it seems silly to single one instance out. No one has the authority to enforce an executive order against the President; he can always change the executive order (although as far as I know he hasn't). That's why it's dumb not to have so few statutory limits on this. (I believe you're wrong about none; FOIA exempts only "properly classified" info & the success of the ACLU's torture FOIA lawsuit leads me to believe that the "properly" part is not meaningless.)

But they aren't in good-faith compliance with the classification laws, here, because they're not following their own executive order. Even if you think that limit on the purposes of classification applies purely to classification rather than declassification decisions, the declassification decisions undermine the claim that information that is kept secret is being properly classified for national security reasons, and is not being concealed for political gain or to hide lawbreaking.

The fact that no one has the authority to stop the President from breaking the law, or punish him for breaking it, does not make his actions legal. He has an obligation to classify according to the terms of the executive order, and he is pretty blatantly not meeting it.

The difference between "it's legal" and "no one has the power to stop us" is really, really crucial. Look at Qassem v. Bush: Judge Robertson concluded that the Uighurs exonerated by their CSRT were being held illegally, but he had no authority to provide any remedy. Look at Arar v. Ashcroft: Judge Trager took no position at all on whether shipping Maher Arar off to Syria was legal, he simply held that the court did not have the power to hear the case. I don't agree with Judge Robertson or Trager about the courts' authority, but there are cases where an action is illegal but it really is true that no court has the power to do anything about it.

Another example--the NSA lawsuits. A court might well find that it can't hear the case because no plaintiff has standing. It doesn't make the program legal.

I apologize if I'm telling you something you already know. You may be making a more limited argument than you seem to be, about an unlimited presidential power to DEclassify information, and not an unlimited power to classify or declassify at will for any or no reason. But if you're arguing the latter: no.

And abuse of classification authority is not as illegal or as bad as many other abuses of power, but it enables all those other things.

I think arguing the declassification issue is something of a smokescreen. Libby's team may be arguing that but Gonzales appears to be arguing releasing classified information on justifing giving an effective security clearance for specific information to selected reporters.


Thursday, Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales went further, saying the president has the "inherent authority to decide who should have classified information."

Thus even if the information was classified the president can tell anyone he chooses, or direct someone to do it for him. This makes a lot more sense than the declassifying and reclassifying argument. The argument then becomes about who and what he chose to release and whether it was right to do it and what restraints there can and should be on the president's release. Are there other justifications beyond "need to know"?

Gary, please read the Natl Security Archives link in my post. The NIE might have been formally declassified, but in actual fact a year later no one outside the White House had been able to see anything but the Key Findings and a few other paragraphs. That is not declassification.

I cannot believe that the president, any president, has the legal authority to declassify something and yet prevent members of Congress, the press, or anyone else from seeing it.

Katherine is making the same case in a much more informed way, but I'm providing the layperson's version.

Gary,

The President may have the authority to request declassifcation of anything, but I'm fairly sure any such declassifications would have to go through the mandatory review process.

This is getting really annoying. Obviously the President must have the authority to grant access to classified data. Please note that classification is not the same as secret : it is merely a low-level security device to say access to information is to be restricted to those authorized to have it.

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