First story is about the head of the Justice Department’s voting rights section.
For some strange reason this got him into trouble. He suggested:
black voters are not hurt as much as whites by voter identification laws because “they die first.”
“I want to apologize for the comments,” Tanner said. “. . . I understand that my explanation of the data came across in a hurtful way, which I deeply regret.”
But Tanner, a 31-year Justice Department career employee, also stuck by his assertion that demographic differences between racial groups temper the impact on minorities of laws requiring that voters present detailed identification, prompting several Democrats to question his fitness to be a senior official in the department’s Civil Rights Division.
Except it seems that the data does not support his statement or at least calls into question his statement:
National health statistics show that blacks have shorter life expectancies than whites. But lawmakers and some voting experts said other data also show that older minority voters frequently cast ballots at higher rates than their white counterparts.
I think this sums things up rather well:
Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.) said voting statistics in his own state show that a higher percentage of blacks older than 60 voted in the 2004 presidential election than whites in the same age group.
“You engaged in analysis without knowing the numbers,” Davis said. “If you are basing your conclusions on stereotypes rather than facts, then it suggests to some of us that someone else can do this job better than you can.”
I have to say how stupid can people be. This guy seems to think the tone of his statement is what set people off as opposed to what was said. The tone has nothing to do with it.
The second story is about immunity given by the State Department to members of Blackwater involved in the shooting in Iraq in September.
Here’s the start of the story:
The State Department promised Blackwater USA bodyguards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of last month’s deadly shooting of 17 Iraqi civilians, The Associated Press has learned.
The immunity deal has delayed a criminal inquiry into the Sept. 16 killings and could undermine any effort to prosecute security contractors for their role in the incident that has infuriated the Iraqi government.
Later in the story and this is the real important point:
Prosecutors will have to prove that any evidence they use in bringing charges against Blackwater employees was uncovered without using the guards’ statements to State Department investigators. They “have to show we got the information independently,” one official said.
So a prosecution can happen but it will be more difficult then it should be because of this. Clearly considering the to do over this someone in the State Department should have thought to contact someone in the Department of Justice and ask if this was a good idea.
The final trick involves the nominee for Attorney General. Here’s what he said:
Attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey told Senate Democrats yesterday that a kind of simulated drowning known as waterboarding is “repugnant to me,” but he said he does not know whether the interrogation tactic violates U.S. laws against torture.
Stories about this in the Post and USA Today.
Mukasey goes on to say:
“If, after such a review, I determine that any technique is unlawful, I will not hesitate to so advise the president and will rescind or correct any legal opinion of the Department of Justice that supports the use of the technique,” Mukasey wrote to the committee’s 10 Democrats.
Just in case anyone is not clear on what waterboarding is:
Waterboarding generally involves strapping a prisoner to a board, covering his face or mouth with a cloth, and pouring water over his face to create the sensation of drowning, human rights groups say. The practice dates at least to the Spanish Inquisition and has been prosecuted as torture in U.S. military courts since the Spanish-American War. The State Department has condemned its use in other countries.
Here the Post’s editorial opinion on waterboarding.
It also seems Mukasey thinks it ok for “the president has broad and ill-defined powers to ignore a law when he believes his constitutional authority to defend the nation empowers him to do so.”
Wow isn’t that reassuring.
And those are my three tricks from the Bush Administration. I’m sure there are more but these three are scary enough for this Halloween.