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Last week, I did a complete rundown of the incredibly sordid case of Ohio Attorney General Mark Dann (D). Democrats, though united in their desire for Dann to resign, had not quite arrived at impeachment as the solution. As one lawmaker put it, it wasn't clear if Dann's transgressions had gone beyond "being stupid."

Well, with Dann continuing to refuse to step down, Democrats have united on impeachment as the solution. This morning, they filed articles of impeachment in Ohio's House, with 42 of the 45 Dems supporting the nine counts.

The House Judiciary Committee wants Karl Rove to testify about what he knows about the prosecution of ex-Gov. Don Siegelman (D-AL). Rove doesn't want to testify. Conyers has threatened to seek a subpoena, and in response, Rove's lawyer made an offer for a compromise yesterday.

It was somewhat of an improvement on Rove's preliminary offer, which was a private interview with no transcript or oath and with strictly defined parameters. The new offer is that he will testify in writing. So it would create a record of his answers, thus creating a clear basis for prosecution if he were to lie. On the other hand, it's hardly the ideal forum for questioning.

Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) has yet to indicate what he thinks of the offer. We'll let you know when he does.

Throughout the House Judiciary Committee's struggle to obtain White House documents and have Harriet Miers testify about the U.S. Attorney firings, House Republicans adopted a contrary stance.

They're firm believers in Congressional oversight, they said, but citing Miers and White House chief of staff Josh Bolten with contempt of Congress was the wrong way to go. If they lost the battle in court, then the executive would come out much stronger. It would "make the presidency in America, a much stronger, imperial office," as Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) put it. Democrats, of course, think we're already there.

Well, now House Republicans have brought their opposition to court. In a filing yesterday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-MO), House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Cannon asked the court to allow them to file a brief in the case arguing against the House's suit and with the administration. They are just trying to save the House from itself, they write:

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The Washington Post's four-part series on sub-standard health care provided for illegal immigrants with fewer rights than convicted felons, detained in Gitmo-like prisons, continues today with a look into the perils of mental health treatment at detention centers. (Washington Post)

Alaa "Alex" Mohammad Ali, dual Iraqi and Candadian citizen and Army translator working in Iraq, has been court-martialed by the U.S. military for stabbing another contract worker on Feb. 23. This is the first such prosecution of a civilian military contractor working for the U.S. since the Vietnam War. (US News)

Esquire takes a careful look at John Yoo, former Justice Dept. lawyer and author of what are now called the torture memos, and the steps he took when contemplating the rationales for torture during a war with a unique foes. (Esquire)

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Just in time to run during the Spring sweeps, the Pentagon has rolled out a slate of charges against five Guantanamo Bay detainees for conspiring in the 9/11 attacks. Kudos to the Convening Authority for beating expectations with a well-timed launch.

Unfortunately, the move does come shortly after one of the senior Pentagon officials working on the commissions was disqualified from dealing with Osama Bin Laden's alleged driver Salim Hamdan's case. For some reason, the judge didn't seem to appreciate Brig. Gen. Tom Hartmann's taste for "sexy" cases that grab the public's attention (he's obviously never tried to run a PR campaign himself). It was a black eye surely, but you know the old saying: there's no such thing as bad press. They are riding that wave.

Now, the naysayers will point to the fact that the nascent commissions are sure to drag on for possibly as much as a year before the actual trials begin. There are still plenty of kinks (allegations of torture, politicization, lack of due process, etc.). And then there's the small matter of the Supreme Court, which might overturn the applecart all over again in the near future. You can understand the frustration of the administration: they had hoped to roll out the trials before the 2006 election, and here we are in the run-up to the 2008 election, and the clock is ticking.

But all is not lost. The detainees should be arraigned in June. And there should be frequent opportunities between now and November to remind the public of what's going on down there. Finally, justice is served.

Note: The Convening Authority Susan Crawford had planned to include charges against Mohammed al Qahtani, the supposed 20th hijacker, along with the other five, but Qahtani has been struck from the charging sheet. Now, Qahtani's lawyer has immediately jumped to the conclusion that Crawford's decision to dismiss the charges affirms "that everything he said at Guantánamo was extracted through torture -- or the threat of torture," and that his treatment was "so well documented and unconscionable that he is unprosecutable.'' But I gotta figure that this crew is sharper than that. Crawford can bring those chargers against Qahtani at any time. The 20th hijacker deserves his own unique launch, to be sure. Maybe in October?

Last Friday, administration lawyers for the first time laid out their argument against the House's lawsuit to enforce Congressional subpoenas from the U.S. Attorney firings scandal. The House is seeking to enforce the House Judiciary Committee's subpoena of former White House counsel Harriet Miers and current chief of staff Josh Bolten.

The 83-page motion laid out a number of arguments for why the judge should dismiss the suit, but the central one was that the courts should not get involved because historically, they haven't. From the AP:

"For over two hundred years, when disputes have arisen between the political branches concerning the testimony of executive branch witnesses before Congress, or the production of executive branch documents to Congress, the branches have engaged in negotiation and compromise," Justice Department lawyers wrote....

"Never in American history has a federal court ordered an executive branch official to testify before Congress," lawyers for the White House wrote.

That makes for a murky area of law, and the Bush administration is urging U.S. District Judge John D. Bates not to tidy it up. The ambiguity fosters compromise, political solutions and the kind of give and take that the Founding Father envisioned, attorneys said.

Clearing it up "would forever alter the accommodation process that has served the Nation so well for over two centuries," attorneys wrote.


As part of their argument, the administration lawyers cited Congress' considerable leverage as the more traditional means of getting what it wants. This is from the motion:

And the Legislative Branch may vindicate its interests without enlisting judicial support: Congress has a variety of other means by which it can exert pressure on the Executive Branch, such as the withholding of consent for Presidential nominations, reducing Executive Branch appropriations, and the exercise of other powers Congress has under the Constitution.


It's not a tactic that Congress has employed over the past couple years, with a few exceptions. But maybe they ought to take the administration up on its own advice and see how it goes.

In our Pentagon military analyst doc dump thread, Kevin H comes up with a beauty. You can see it here.

In the exchange, someone (the name is redacted) emails public relations officials in the Pentagon with news that Jed Babbin, who was deputy undersecretary of defense in President George H.W. Bush's administration and a participant in the analyst program ("one of our military analysts," the emailer calls him), would be guest hosting the Michael Medved radio show. And Babbin wanted to interview Gen. George Casey, then the commanding officer in Iraq. Babbin is the editor of Human Events.

But just in case Pentagon officials were worried that the interview might not be worth doing, the emailer made the case: "this would be a softball interview and the show is 8th or 9th in the nation."

Allison Barber, a Public Affairs official at the Pentagon, responded quickly:

Thanks for sending this.

Just fyi, probably wouldn't put "softball" interview in writing. If that got out it would compromise jed and general casey.


The emailer, somewhat chastened, replied "check, check." Not bad advice at all.

Note: As for who this emailer is, it's unclear. The Pentagon redacted email addresses in the release, so it could very well be an official in the public affairs office emailing from a private address. The use of the phrase "our military analysts" certainly suggests that.

From the AP:

Arthur Brennan, who briefly served in Baghdad as head of the department's Office of Accountability and Transparency last year, and James Mattil, who worked as the chief of staff, told Senate Democrats on Monday that their office was understaffed and its warnings and recommendations ignored.

Brennan also alleges that the State Department prevented a congressional staffer visiting Baghdad from talking with staffers by insisting they were too busy. In reality, Brennan said, the staffers were watching movies at the embassy and on their computers. The staffers' workload had been cut dramatically because of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's "evisceration" of Iraq's top anti-corruption office, he said.

The State Department's policies "not only contradicted the anti-corruption mission but indirectly contributed to and has allowed corruption to fester at the highest levels of the Iraqi government," Brennan told the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

As Josh says, we'd like any help we can get finding the revealing tidbits from the Pentagon's military analyst documents. The documents are here. Please provide a link to the pdf you are referring to, as well as the page number when you comment below.

And for those of you who haven't heard the audio of the analyst briefing on April 18, 2006, don't miss it.

If you thought the military commissions in Guantanamo Bay couldn't get any uglier, you were wrong. On Friday, the judge presiding over the Salim Hamdan case, Capt. Keith J. Allred, disqualified a top Pentagon official from any more involvement in the case. The reason? His aims seemed too political, his cheerleading for the prosecution too obvious to allow him to remain involved.

The official is Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann, the Legal Advisor to the Convening Authority. That office oversees the whole process, meaning both prosecutors and defense attorneys. But as the judge's ruling makes clear, Hartmann wasn't anything close to impartial:



You can read the judge's ruling, which was first reported on by The New York Times, in full here. The judge requires that Hartmann be replaced on the case by someone outside his office.

As the Times reports, the ruling will open the flood gates to new challenges to the process from lawyers for other detainees.

Even beyond the judge's conclusion, the ruling is a remarkable document because it involves a blow-by-blow account of the politicization of the process. Mainly this information comes from Col. Morris Davis, who was the chief prosecutor for the commissions until he resigned because of the meddling of Hartmann and former Pentagon general counsel William Haynes. But other attorneys involved in the commissions provided similar accounts. Davis, called by Hamdan's lawyers, testified there late last month.

Below is an abbreviated timeline of efforts by Hartmann, Haynes and other Pentagon officials to use the Gitmo trials for political gain, as well as their efforts to squelch Davis' complaints about Hartmann's interference. It is all culled from the judge's ruling.

August, 2005 -- During Col. Davis' interview to be the chief prosecutor for the Gitmo military commissions, Pentagon general counsel William Haynes told Davis "We can't have acquittals. We've got to have convictions. We can't hold these men for five years and then have acquittals."

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