Monday, February 09, 2009

Sobering as a Mugging

(updated below)

Listening to NPR on Sunday afternoon I was amazed that they were covering the ACLU case against Jeppesen - a subsidiary of Boeing - that has provided the torture flights for the CIA's extraordinary rendition program (not NPR's first story on Jeppesen).

I had recently listened to the ACLU's Ben Wizner on Salon Radio where he spelled out the history and implications of this case - at stake is whether US government officials will EVER be held accountable in any way in court for laws broken in the name of national security secrecy, or whether blanket immunity will stop cases from even going to court in the name of "state secrets."

About three quarters of the way through NPR's piece, I was thinking of the "Kudos" post I would write on this blog (by necessity, a rare event). I was impressed that Shapiro's report stuck to the facts of the case and its implications for revealing whether the new Obama Justice Department would offer a break from Bush policy on torture and rendition or would continue the same policy of blanket secrecy and immunity. But then...

Shapiro closed the piece by featuring attorney David Laufman, identified only as having "handled terrorism cases as a federal prosecutor." Shapiro says
"Attorney David Laufman believes tomorrow could be a rude awakening for some of Obama's more liberal supporters. [Laufman] 'There's that old joke that a conservative is a liberal who's gotten mugged and, thank God the new team hasn't gotten mugged yet.' But he says a daily threat briefing can be about as sobering as a mugging."
Oh we childish "more liberal" listeners who just don't understand the real Jack Bauer world of the threats facing our benevolent empire. If only we were privy to the super-secret briefings that the grown-ups get every day, then we too would be begging for more prison camps, more torture flights, more preventive wars, more spying on ourselves - in fact all kinds of "extraordinary" measures to protect the freedoms, liberties, rule of law and democracy that the "bad guys" want to take from us.

As far as Laufman goes, he has a rather checkered past regarding this story. A glance at his biography on the Kelly Drye Legal Counsel firm website reveals that
  • "From 1980-1984, Mr. Laufman served as an intelligence analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency, specializing in political and military analysis."
  • "From 2001 to 2003, Mr. Laufman served as Chief of Staff to Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson at the Department of Justice (DOJ), where he assisted in managing the day-to-day operations of DOJ and helped to coordinate the Department's responses to the September 11 terrorist attacks."
How convenient that NPR failed to disclose the obvious conflicts of interest that Laufman has in this case. I don't know, it's as if NPR got my defenses down and then just when I was starting to trust the story...BAM! right upside the a mugging.

Unfortunately, the Obama Justice Department has decided that mugging the Constitution isn't such a bad thing after all, and has come out as a torture defender and enabler - in a most deliberate manner.


Juan "Toss" Ensalada said...

All- I know an attorney at Jeppesen. Maybe I will ask about it. -JET

Hubertg said...

This Laufman thing is exactly the kind of stuff our dynastic corporatocracy is good at....slinking these dudes around to different offices here and there, with ALL kinds of conflicts of interest going on... evil crap behind every door. Logic, reasonable man standards and social justice has nothing to do with any of it....this is the kind of stuff NPR fails to inform us on.
...this is where NPR really drops the ball.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, the Obama Justice Department has decided that mugging the Constitution isn't such a bad thing after all, and has come out as a torture defender and enabler - in a most deliberate manner."

The remedy is strightforward.

Work to make sure Obama does not get a second term.

There is NOTHING more pathetic than a one term President.

and, unless he shifts course RIGHT now, it looks to me like Obama is headed in the Jimmy Carter direction.

Anonymous said...


Obama voted for Patriot Act II. He voted for telecom immunity. These are simply two reasons not to vote for the guy in the first place (among a host of others).


Hubertg said...

Obama votes for Patriot Act stuff and Telecom Immunity and plenty much bad things and the Bush & Co, administration that should have been impeached goes Scot free....
the parties are one and the same
Corporatocracy...their allegiance is NOT to the public. The only thing you can expect to 'change' is the juggling of the dynastic leadership....again, it is all one party.

Benoit Balz said...

Dear Men (or Women):

Great work blogging this important issue. People appreciate what you're doing here. People read it.



Anonymous said...

The BBC is all over this story (I've heard the Lt. Col three times this week) yet NPR has not mentioned it once. Lt Col Yvonne Bradley has stated on the BBC that there is evidence of criminal activity which reaches to the very innards of the White House. I repeat, I have not heard mention one of this case.