Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nothing Surprises Me Anymore

The New York Times is reporting that immunity was offered to Blackwater USA security guards. Well, of course it was. To not have offered immunity would have gone against everything this administration stands for. See below ....

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29 — State Department investigators offered Blackwater USA security guards immunity during an inquiry into last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad — a potentially serious investigative misstep that could complicate efforts to prosecute the company’s employees involved in the episode, government officials said Monday.

The State Department investigators from the agency’s investigative arm, the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, offered the immunity grants even though they did not have the authority to do so, the officials said. Prosecutors at the Justice Department, who do have such authority, had no advance knowledge of the arrangement, they added.

Click here for more.

10 Swings of the bat:

Dad29 said...

Your conclusion is a LARGE over-reach.

Please take your meds and read the excerpt again, slowly. Check in the dictionary for words you cannot understand.

1) "The State Department", (other than Condi Rice) is a bunch of overeducated morons who despise GWB and his foreign policy. That's just the major framework which you should understand.

2) The "amnesty" was granted WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT of the Attorney General, by some small division of State.

Since the article is a complaint, it is entirely possible that the AG's office was complaining, no?

After all, State cut them off at the pass, without authority to do so, apparently from pure idiocy (which confirms what we know about State employees in general.)

You can do better than that, Tim.

Other Side said...

I don't agree, dad, but nice dodge. This is just one more misstep in a series of missteps that have occurred under this administration. This one is even more egregious because it involves the murder of civilians belonging to our ally, Iraq. Another fine piece of propaganda for Al Qaeda.

Like you said, Condi is a part of the State Department. So, your personal knowledge of the rest being moronic is moot. Directives on how to conduct investigations must come from somewhere, and I don't believe these directives reach across administrations. This administration has shown a profound disdain for human rights, this incident is par for the course.

And while you're right the article does state that the Justice Department is looking into this ... the problem being, as it states, that once offered it's hard to take back immunity, unless it can be found the immunized are lying.

This administration doesn't even know what the back of its hand is doing.

I won't invoke the meds question, but I will suggest you can do better, too.

James Wigderson said...

Let me re-phrase Dad29's point:

The State Department is traditionally one of the most independent of the executive branch departments, and certainly the most independent department when it comes to foreign policy. Their natural inclination is to smother problems rather than confront them because confronting problems often involves change which is very counter to the state department's bureaucratic inertia. In the traditional (rather than political) sense of the word, the state department is a very conservative institution. You could almost see how it happens:
1) incident
2) investigation stymied
3) make deal
4) report filed, case closed

On the other hand, the justice department is a more politicized department, always has been, of the executive branch and therefore more responsive to the political desires of its masters. You can see why and how it was frustrated by the state department, and therefore the frustration of the White House.

If you want an interesting case study, I would suggest the early Nixon Administration. Nixon sent his close friend William Rogers to run the state department but brought in outsider Henry Kissinger as National Security Advisor (I'm generalizing, but you get the point.)

James Wigderson said...

Tim, you might be interested in this comment by Andy McCarthy over at National Review Online.

"Under the rules, the guards are treated as if they were government agents. Government agents can be compelled to answer questions by their agencies on pain of losing their jobs if they demur. But there's a price tag: if they choose to speak under that compulsion, any statements they make may not be used to prosecute them due to the Fifth Amendment's proscription against compulsory self-incrimination.

"This is a weighing government always has to make in a situation fraught with political implications: Do we treat it as a diplomatic incident or a crime? Is it more important to find out what happened quickly so it can be explained or to find out what happened methodically so culprits can be prosecuted?

"Sometimes, you can do both — but you need to have people who are experienced in this sort of thing. The State Department is perfectly good at getting to the bottom of certain things, but murder (if this was murder) is not in its bailiwick. The FBI, on the other hand, knows how to do this — and knows, in particular, that if you can't crack the case without giving someone immunity, you don't turn around and give everyone immunity. Instead, you try to assess what knowledgeable person has the least culpability and immunize that person — you lose the ability to prosecute him, but the trade-off is you can use his information to prosecute everyone else."

Other Side said...

I remember that. And as I wrote that (then rescued my daughter from the clutches of a corner she'd gotten herself stuck in), I saw your second comment.

It will have to wait, though ... going to Target with the midget to purchase some items.

Other Side said...

All right, still here. Your second comment with Andrew Sullivan is interesting. I did not know that.

That explains why the FBI was not involved in this ... the political dimensions.

Question: Why is the State Department so independent? Am I wrong in assuming that State is not turned over with changes in administrations?

I would still argue, even if this is the case, that State, like other government entities, is still guided by the whims of those in power ... the executive branch.

But, I would be willing to hear differently.

James Wigderson said...

The state department actually has very little turnover and is one of the most protected bureacracies. The President has a very limited number of appointments: ambassadors, secretaries and under secretaries. But the actual bureaucracy itself continues.

There's another factor, too. Ambassadorships that are not career foreign policy experts are often given as political rewards without expectation of influencing policy. Does anyone think Mark Green is going to change or even affect policy towards Africa? It's a bipartisan failing.

Then there's the problem of "going native" where the state department representative often feels more compelled to make the case for country where he's stationed rather than making the US case to the country he's stationed. Some of that is natural. If you want to make your appointment look important, the country you are appointed to must be important. And while there's some rotation, the rotation is often to manage the desk back home for the same area (not necessarily the same country). Too much rotation and you lose the expertise that the state department supposedly provides.

Now, if a president really wanted to make an impact on the state department, they probably could. Arguably Reagan did with some effect, but then he had "true believers" to appoint.

But most of them learn quickly that there are more pliable tools in the foreign policy bag than the state department, and they rely on those.

Secretary of State may be the more prestigious of the foreign policy leadership roles, but the office is not in the White House. It's at Foggy Bottom. Meanwhile, the National Security Advisor is just down the hall.

James Wigderson said...

I think though you can make a valid criticism in that moving Rice to run the State Department when she had not demonstrated strong organizational skills prior to her appointment was a mistake.

But she'll never have to teach undergrads again.

Other Side said...

Well, she is fourth in line to the presidency.

Still, I find it incredibly hard to believe these people doing the investigation and offering the immunity did not have any inkling at all this may not have been the course to take.

But, stranger things happen during the Halloween season I guess.

Dad29 said...

Glad you finally saw some light.

There's hope for you.