The growing controversy over President Obama’s illegal waging of war in Libyagot much bigger last night with Charlie Savage’s New York Times scoop. He reveals that top administration lawyers — Attorney General Eric Holder, OLC Chief Caroline Krass, and DoD General Counsel Jeh Johnson — all told Obama that his latest, widely pannedexcuse for waging war without Congressional approval (that it does not rise to the level of “hostilities” under the War Powers Resolution (WPR)) was invalid and that such authorization was legally required after 60 days: itself a generous intepretation of the President’s war powers. But Obama rejected those views and (with the support of administration lawyers in lesser positions: his White House counsel and long-time political operative Robert Bauer and State Department “legal adviser” Harold Koh) publicly claimed that the WPR does not apply to Libya.
As Savage notes, it is, in particular, “extraordinarily rare” for a President “to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice.” Just imagine if George Bush had waged a war that his own Attorney General, OLC Chief, and DoD General Counsel all insisted was illegal (and did so by pointing to the fact that his White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and a legal adviser at State agreed with him). One need not imagine this, though, because there is very telling actual parallel to this lawless episode:
Officials at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant suspended an operation to clean contaminated water hours after it had begun because of a rapid rise in radiation.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), which operates the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, is investigating the cause and could not say when the clean-up will resume, company spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said.
Fresh water is being pumped in to cool damaged reactor cores, and is becoming contaminated in the process. Around 105,000 tonnes of highly radioactive water have pooled across the plant, and could overflow within a couple of weeks if action is not taken.
In earlier tests, the water treatment system reduced caesium levels in the water to about one ten-thousandth of their original levels. The system began full operations on Friday after a series of problems involving leaks and valve flaws.
The system was suspended in early Saturday when workers detected a sharp radiation increase in the system’s caesium-absorbing component, Matsumoto said. Radioactivity in one of 24 cartridges, which was expected to last for a few weeks, had already reached its limit within five hours, he said.
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Here’s the statement they released today, disputing the Wall St. Journal story:
WASHINGTON – AARP CEO A. Barry Rand offered the following statement in response to inaccurate media stories on the association’s policy on Social Security:
“Let me be clear – AARP is as committed as we’ve ever been to fighting to protect Social Security for today’s seniors and strengthening it for future generations. Contrary to the misleading characterization in a recent media story, AARP has not changed its position on Social Security.
“First, we are currently fighting some proposals in Washington to cut Social Security to reduce a deficit it did not cause. Social Security should not be used as a piggy bank to solve the nation’s deficit. Any changes to this lifeline program should happen in a separate, broader discussion and make retirement more secure for future generations, not less.
“Our focus has always been on the human impact of changes, not just the budget tables. Which is why, as we have done numerous times over the last several decades, AARP is engaging our volunteer Board to evaluate any proposed changes to Social Security to determine how each might – individually or in different combinations – impact the lives of current and future retirees given the constantly changing economic realities they face.
“Second, we have maintained for years – to our members, the media and elected officials – that long term solvency is key to protecting and strengthening Social Security for all generations, and we have urged elected officials in Washington to address the program’s long-term challenges in a way that’s fair for all generations.
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I just met the nicest West Virginia couple, Bill and Annette Haney, who are here to promote their movie about mountaintop mining, “The Last Mountain.” (Coming to a theater near you!) Anyway, so we’re chatting and I’m telling them to send me info. When I told them my name, they both got very excited and Bill jumped up to shake my hand. “I love you! I feel like I’m meeting a Beatle!” (Annette even took our picture together.)
I never felt like a celebrity before.
It’s really funny, how much crap I took over at C&L for saying we’d be sold out on Social Security. They seemed to think that as long as Obama didn’t talk about it in the SOTU, it wouldn’t happen:
Meanwhile, AARP has quietly dropped their blanket opposition to Social Security cuts. The reason? They figure they’re inevitable. “The ship was sailing,” John Rother, AARP’s policy chief, told the Wall Street Journal. “I wanted to be at the wheel when that happens.” That makes it much likelier that Social Security will see reform later this year. But perhaps more importantly, it shows that the major players in Washington are entering dealmaking mode. And that’s usually a pretty good predictor that some deals are about to be made.
Remember, this is nothing more than our elected representatives saying austerity should come out of our hides, and not their wealthy friends.
Roger Hickey has more.
Should be interesting, since I’ve yet to speak with anyone here who has any respect left for the White House:
The conference kicks off Thursday morning in Minneapolis. Organizers say it will be the largest Netroots Nation on record, with more than 2,200 in attendance. Speakers include Minnesota’s own Sen. Al Franken (D), former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Netroots favorite Howard Dean. The White House will also be represented, with Obama communications director Dan Pfeiffer addressing the crowd Friday morning.
Participants told TPM they expected the crowd to be “respectful” of Pfeiffer, but they also made it clear he’s not addressing a friendly crowd.
“He’s got some hard questions to answer,” Netroots executive director Raven Brooks told TPM. “It’s not going to be a bunch of softballs lobbed at him.”
Brooks said participants will likely press Pfeiffer on Obama campaign promises they feel he hasn’t delivered on and frustrations they have over the administration’s compromises on the Bush tax cuts and other matters that have left progressives frustrated.
Chief among those concerns is the economy. Progressives have lamented Obama’s focus on deficits and debt rather than stimulus to create new jobs. Pfeiffer can expect to hear and earful about that one.
“We will be out there fighting Republicans and we’re planning to fight hard for the people who work for a living in this country and the people who are trying to get their piece of the American dream and who haven’t been able to get that lately. Those people are also called Democratic voters,” said Levana Layendecker, communications director for Democracy for America, a progressive advocacy group founded out of the remains of Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign.
“What we want is for the White House to be with us in this fight.”
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), whose district includes Minneapolis and — this weekend, anyway — the epicenter of liberal politics in America, agreed. Despite his position in the Democratic minority in the House, he said Netroots needs to keep the pressure on his party to lean left whenever possible.
UPDATE: I don’t know who the interviewer was, but she was tough and snarky. (I got there late and was sitting all the way in the back.) “We’re Democrats, we’re going to vote for the president. But we’re not knocking on doors, we’re not making calls and we’re not making donations. Are we of any value to you? What are you going to do for us?”