Various matters

Major defeat for the Obama DOJ and John Yoo. Iranian elections. And a new, surprising poll from Israel

By Glenn Greenwald

Published June 14, 2009 11:15AM (EDT)

(updated below)

I'm unable to write much today, but there are several brief matters to note:

(1)  I did an interview with The Economist's Democracy in America regarding civil liberties and Obama, problems with establishment journalism and the Sotomayor nomination.  It can be read here.  

(2) I'm currently looking for someone -- preferably in New York, though possibly in Washington -- to work with me roughly 8-10 hours per month, to help with some research as well as some clerical and administrative matters.  It's probably ideal for a student or someone who just wants to work a few additional hours.  If you're interested, please email me with some information about yourself.

(3) According to Haaretz, a new poll in Israel finds that "only one in five Israeli Jews believes a nuclear-armed Iran would try to destroy Israel and most see life continuing as normal should the Islamic Republic get the bomb."  And that poll, for "budgetary reasons," did not even include Israeli Arabs, who comprise 20% of Israel's population.  As Haaretz puts it, the poll "challenge[s] the argument of successive Israeli governments that Iran must be denied the means to make atomic weapons lest it threaten Israel's existence."  As always, it's striking how much more rational and open debates over Israeli security issues are within Israel as compared to within the U.S.

(4) Speaking of Iran, I don't have any idea what really happened with its presidential election -- if, as Juan Cole argues, there was widespread fraud, that would be entirely unsurprising -- but Newsweek's long-time Middle East reporter Christopher Dickey persuasively warns against the emerging assumption that the anti-Ahmedinejad views expressed by middle class and cosmopolitan Iranians and promoted by the Western press are representative of a majority of Iranians.  In Brazil, if you ask middle class, professional and/or educated Brazilians what they think of President Lula da Silva, you would conclude that he is an intensely despised figure, when -- in reality -- he is profoundly popular among a majority of Brazilians largely due to the deep support from that country's poor and under-educated population (much the same way that you'd get vastly disparate responses if, in 2004, you went to Manhattan and then to rural Kansas and solicited opinions of George Bush).  Dickey suggests that the same dynamic exists in Iran.

(5) I hope to write more about this with time permitting, but this decision (.pdf) by Bush 43-appointed federal Judge Jeffrey White from Friday -- refusing to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Jose Padilla against John Yoo, which alleges that Yoo violated numerous constitutional rights of Padilla's by virtue of his torture and other memos -- is both extremely significant and very well-reasoned.  Ironically, the Obama DOJ, in representing Yoo, raised many of Yoo's defining legal theories in order to argue for dismissal of the lawsuit (see p. 22:  the Executive is vested with war-related power and the judiciary has no role to play in such matters; judges should defer to the President; what was done to Padilla is too secret to allow judicial review, etc.).  It was those Yooian theories that were resoundingly rejected by Judge White, who held that the brutal, inhumane treatment to which Padilla alleges he was subjected plainly constitutes serious violations of his Constitutional rights and that Yoo's memos can be shown to be responsible for those violations.

Judge White's systematic rejection of the arguments once made by the Bush DOJ -- and now made by the Obama DOJ -- to prevent courts from adjudicating the legality of presidential actions was prefaced with this citation to the Federalist Papers:

(6)  As a reminder:  as I wrote about on Thursday, the ACLU now has a superb new website and new project to bring about accountability for torture.  There will be many new updates and developments from there shortly.

(7) Digby's analysis of the amazingly effective campaign by a small handful of bloggers led by Jane Hamsher and Howie Klein -- to stop the White House's war spending and IMF bill -- is well worth reading.  It's really amazing how disputes over war funding, so prevalent during the Bush era, have now all but disappeared from media debates and political activism generally.

(8)  Finally, this is one administrative point I've been meaning to note for some time:  the volume of email I receive prevents me from answering all of it -- or even anywhere near the amount I wish I could answer.  I do, however, read all of it.  There are many people who have sent me very thoughtful and even moving emails which, to my chagrin, I've been unable to answer even when I wish I could.  If you're someone who has sent me email(s) and didn't receive a reply, know that I have read it and in many cases -- even when I wasn't able to respond -- really appreciated it.  Interaction with readers is one of the things I like best about doing this, and is also one of the most important resources I have in the work I do here.



(9)  Juan Cole examines and rejects the view -- expressed by Christopher Dickey -- that Western reporting on the election in Iran is creating a distorted picture by focusing too heavily on educated and Western-leaning opponents of Ahmedinejad at the expense of his poorer and more rural supporters.  As I said, I have no idea what actually happened there.  That doesn't stop many people from opining about what did happen, so at the very least, those interested should try to confine their reading to those who have some expertise in these issues (and I'd include both Cole and Dickey as people who do).

(10) Solely for entertainment purposes, here is an email exchange Jonah Goldberg had with a critic who contacted him by email.

Glenn Greenwald

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