Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Former White House Counsel Berenson's Fatal Admissions Confirmed

Brad Berenson made what he apparently thought were benign comments about US cooperating with overseas adversaries to engage in prisoner abuse. Berenson failed to comprehend his statements would be corroborated.

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It is not news the American government has been secretly cooperating with Syria to abuse prisoners of war. The news is that former White House counsel Brad Berenson has made out of court statements substantially confirming the Administration involvement and knowledge with these specific war crimes.

There are two different lines of evidence, both are old. The first are the revelations on Democracy Now where author Stephen Grey discussed the contrast between US government public condemnations of Syria as a terrorist nation, while US officials privately working with Syria to put that terror-support into effect against prisoners under American control.

The second is the old news about Brad Berenson, where he publicly confirmed that the United States had two policies: A public policy that condemned unspecified nations for terrorist support; and a private policy to use these nations to commit abuse. Berenson likened it to working around the rules to advance national security interests.

We call it something simpler: A fatal admission that the White House legal counsel knows the specific names of CIA agents and personnel who have engaged in war crimes; and that the White House counsel's office fully knows there are inconsistent statements on whether the US does or does not have full control over the agents who have committed war crimes.

Either way, Berenson's previous statements were recorded, and are admissible. Also, the book's author's notes can be reviewed and substantially confirm what Berenson alluded: There is a way to gather evidence about US war crimes, even from those who refuse to cooperate.

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The only way to have put these allegedly illegal plans into effect, and for Berenson to be able to discuss them in any way, is for there to have been White House counsel complicity with the illegal war crimes planning, and prisoner abuse in Eastern Europe. This is not news.

Berenson's knowledge must be linked with either a document, or a conversation with someone who has seen the war crimes planning. The news is that a specific former White House counsel has, because of additional reporting, implicitly confirmed that he was aware of this alleged illegal activity despite his legal duty and power to prevent, or remove himself from, the activity. This means that Berenson's fatal admissions make him an alleged target of the expanding war crimes investigation.

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Berenson's problem is that his vague public statements have been confirmed by other memos, and substantially confirmed using other sources known to Stephen Grey.

The only reason Berenson would have made the public statements that the US worked with nations it publicly asserted was hostile to the US interests was if that statement was true. How Stephen Grey's findings do or do not lead to other evidence related to war crimes is a separate issue.

Berenson cannot claim that the memos he knows about, which were the apparent basis for his public statements, do not exist -- to do so would be to undermine his original credibility; and put his legal career in jeopardy. Berenson is an attorney. he is governed by the rules of professional conduct. He would not make a statement that he knew was false, especially when he knew that the revelation would confirm the truth of something that was an alleged war crime.

Berenson's problem is that he's in a no-win situation. This doesn't mean that he needs to be bargained with; rather, it means that there is no reason to negotiate with him.

He appears to well know about the planning which Grey reported.

Berenson, other White House counsel, and the Department of Justice may not lawfully claim that the issues are privileged. Precedent clearly waives any claim of privilege when that information has been disclosed to third parties, even if the disclosure was inadvertent. Berenson has fatally admitted his knowledge of the illegal activity; and he cannot put the genie back into the bottle.

Whether Berenson has or has not violated his non-disclosure agreement is not a matter we need to concern our selves; his primary oath is to the US Constitution, not his alleged promise to remain silent about conduct he knew, or should know is illegal.

Berenson's problem started when he failed to remove himself; his second error was to fail to prevent the alleged war crimes; and the third error was to publicly comment on a matter that he thought nobody else would reveal. Based on Grey's independent reporting it appears as though Berenson has miscalculated: There are people who are taking, naming names, and there are documents which Berenson apparently doesn't believe will see the light of day.

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The war crimes prosecutors need to use the Grey revelations, and contrast them with Berenson's fatal admissions. This is not an issue of politics, or national security, but criminal law.

It doesn't matter if the Congress is or is not interested in conducting an investigation. What matters is that the world sees that the rule of law prevails over those who defy the law, regardless their convoluted thinking or rationalizations.

When the international community is willing to do the difficult -- lawfully targeting US officials, leaders, agents, and Presidents for war crimes prosecutions -- the world will see that the rule of law and justice apply to all, not simply to those who the President wants to illegally abuse in secret.

Indeed, the world has changed. America, once the shining beacon on the hill which defeated fascism, has embraced the same abuses and become the object of the world's contempt.

Thanks to American leadership, the world knows there are lawful options. The world, once a student of American justice, must take the role America reluctantly took during WWII -- lawfully discipline the former teacher. For the students to do anything other than lawfully target the wayward teacher would inappropriately endorse lessons which the students well know are incorrect and illegal.

Inappropriate conduct cannot be endorsed at Harvard Westlake; and it shall not be tolerated from America. America must decide whether it will freely cooperate with the court of justice it detests; or suffer further losses on the battlefield. Americans, to avoid lawful justice, prefer to suffer losses on the only form they have well demonstrated they are hopelessly incompetent: The battlefield.

The American leadership, by starting surrender negotiations with the Iraqi insurgents, has implicitly stated it is willing to discuss a compromise in Iraq. This is not out of strength. Americans know force no longer has any effect.

Eventually, the Americans will comprehend that just as they have surrendered on the battlefield, they will have to submit to the court of justice. The longer they delay, the worse it is going to get. There is no statute of limitations on war crimes.