Tag Archives: Justice Dept.

Is Dick Cheney Above the Law?

He obviously thinks he is. How else to explain his veiled threat not to co-operate with the probe of detainee interrogation? We already know he doesn’t like the probe. He’s called it partisan, says the techniques used by the CIA were legal and saved lives, blah blah, blah.

Yet when asked in a Fox News interview if he’d talk to prosecutor John Durham once the probe got started, here’s what Cheney said. “It will depend on the circumstances and what I think their activities are really involved in.” That would seem to mean he won’t talk to Durham unless he feels like it. Right now, that means he doesn’t feel like it.

What makes Cheney think he, as a former elected official, is empowered to thumb his nose at a legitimate inquiry? And why is he taking the position that anything the CIA did in the wake of September 11th was legal and warranted?

The former VP went on in the interview to mention how this investigation will demoralize the intelligence community. This is old stuff. He wants us to believe any look back at how the Bush Administration conducted the war on terror must be an organized plot by the left wing of the Democratic Party.

Some facts to keep in mind. President Obama has said only those who acted without legal authorization face the possibility of legal action. Both the president and Attorney General Eric Holder have said those who acted on legal advice from the Justice Dept. won’t be prosecuted.

And of course, there’s Cheney’s assertion that even those interrogators who went over the line provided crucial intelligence that saved the lives of Americans. Even Sen. John McCain got off the bus on that one. So you have to go back to the question, why? Why is Dick Cheney the point man on this? He wasn’t even president at the time, and the guy who was doesn’t talk nearly as much about it.

No, Dick Cheney has a personal stake in all this. Does he worry about a trail of illegality that stops at his door? Does he think there’s no way an investigation that hasn’t even begun yet can be fair to those involved? If the probe is political, what is his response to it?

Former Vice President Dick Cheney
Former Vice President Dick Cheney

Methinks this guy has much to hide, and he’s hiding behind the people at the CIA, the people who tried to do their jobs properly and legally. That is truly sad. Let me say this from the left wing of the Democratic Party. The investigation should go forward. If Cheney refuses to talk to the prosecutor, let the full weight of the law fall on his head. And if it turns out he broke the law, let him be prosecuted!

What’s wrong with that?

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Can Legalizing Weed Save Cali?

Well, no, it can’t.

A new estimate says legalizing marijuana would net the Golden State around $1.4 billion dollars. Their current budget gap is something like $26 billion. But it would, no doubt, make a dent. That’s why there’s a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate weed sales that’s been introduced in the California Assembly. Tax officials bas their estimate on a $50 dollar per ounce fee, as well as revenue from sales taxes.

Call me old fashioned, but I have a problem with the idea of legalizing something to make money from it. Sort of brings up the question why was it illegal for so long? It smacks of political and financial expediency. That said, it does make sense. I know there are some old stoners in California looking at that $50 dollar an ounce fee and thinking “I can remember when an ounce cost less than that”! Yet the logic of the bill’s sponsor, San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano rings true. With California’s legislature unable (as of Thursday) to reach a budget agreement, with furloughs, state IOUs, and cutbacks the order of the day, can the state really afford not to take a look at this potential revenue source?

Some facts are in order. California is the nation’s largest marijuana producing state. Last year, law enforcement seized 5.3 million plants. At the same time, residents consumed an estimated 500 tons of weed, implying that the law can only interdict so much. So the question really becomes, can the state afford to ignore what’s going on under their nose?

Of course, medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996. There’s also a move afoot to tax that as well, especially now that the Justice Dept. under Attorney General Eric Holder has taken a more rational position on federal raids on dispensaries. Other states will be keeping a close eye on what California does. Whether by legislation or referendum, Cali is a bellwether state. As it goes, so goes the rest of America, or so the thinking goes.

It’s just interesting how financial necessity becomes the mother of invention. Would efforts at legalization be taken so seriously if California’s economy was steaming along? Will the black market dry up completely if marijuana is legal? Can the state’s tax collection system adapt itself to properly monitor sales and collect revenue?

All these are hypothetical questions that in a way put the cart before the horse. Let’s see what happens when the Assembly takes up Tom Ammiano’s bill. Legalization opponents, especially those in law enforcement, won’t simply go away. After all, weed seizure is big business to them.

What do you think? Will California bite the bullet and legalize marijuana? Should they?

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