What rulers crave most is deniability. But with the murder of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by his own government, the poisoning of former Russian spies living in the United Kingdom, and whispers that the head of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, may have been executed in China, the curtain has been slipping more than usual of late. In Riyadh, Moscow, and even Beijing, the political class is scrambling to cover up its lethal ways.
Andrew Jackson, was a cold-blooded murderer, slaveowner, and ethnic cleanser of native Americans. For Harry Truman, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima spared him the likely high cost of invading Japan. But the second atomic bombing, of Nagasaki, was utterly indefensible and took place through sheer bureaucratic momentum: the bombing apparently occurred without Truman’s explicit order.
.. Since 1947, the deniability of presidential murder has been facilitated by the CIA, which has served as a secret army (and sometime death squad) for American presidents. The CIA has been a party to murders and mayhem in all parts of the world, with almost no oversight or accountability for its countless assassinations. It is possible, though not definitively proved, that the CIA even assassinated UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld.
.. Many mass killings by presidents have involved the conventional military. Lyndon Johnson escalated US military intervention in Vietnam on the pretext of a North Vietnamese attack in the Gulf of Tonkin that never happened. Richard Nixon went further: by carpet-bombing Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, he sought to instill in the Soviet Union the fear that he was an irrational leader capable of anything. (Nixon’s willingness to implement his “madman theory” is perhaps the self-fulfilling proof of his madness.) In the end, the Johnson-Nixon American war in Indochina cost millions of innocent lives. There was never a true accounting, and perhaps the opposite: plenty of precedents for later mass killings by US forces.
.. The mass killings in Iraq under George W. Bush are of course better known, because the US-led war there was made for TV. A supposedly civilized country engaged in “shock and awe” to overthrow another country’s government on utterly false pretenses. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians died as a result.
Barack Obama was widely attacked by the right for being too soft, yet he, too, notched up quite a death toll. His administration repeatedly approved drone attacks that killed not only terrorists, but also innocents and US citizens who opposed America’s bloody wars in Muslim countries. He signed the presidential finding authorizing the CIA to cooperate with Saudi Arabia in overthrowing the Syrian government. That “covert” operation (hardly discussed in the polite pages of the New York Times) led to an ongoing civil war that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths and millions displaced from their homes. He used NATO airstrikes to overthrow Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi, resulting in a failed state and ongoing violence.
.. Under Trump, the US has abetted Saudi Arabia’s mass murder (including of children) in Yemen by selling it bombs and advanced weapons with almost no awareness, oversight, or accountability by the Congress or the public. Murder committed out of view of the media is almost no longer murder at all.
When the curtain slips, as with the Khashoggi killing, we briefly see the world as it is. A Washington Post columnist is lured to a brutal death and dismembered by America’s close “ally.” The American-Israeli-Saudi big lie that Iran is at the center of global terrorism, a claim refuted by the data, is briefly threatened by the embarrassing disclosure of Khashoggi’s grisly end. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who ostensibly ordered the operation, is put in charge of the “investigation” of the case; the Saudis duly cashier a few senior officials; and Trump, a master of non-stop lies, parrots official Saudi tall tales about a rogue operation.
A few government and business leaders have postponed visits to Saudi Arabia. The list of announced withdrawals from a glitzy investment conference is a who’s who of America’s military-industrial complex: top Wall Street bankers, CEOs of major media companies, and senior officials of military contractors, such as Airbus’s defense chief.
.. Political scientists should test the following hypothesis: countries led by presidents (as in the US) and non-constitutional monarchs (as in Saudi Arabia), rather than by parliaments and prime ministers, are especially vulnerable to murderous politics. Parliaments provide no guarantees of restraint, but one-man rule in foreign policy, as in the US and Saudi Arabia, almost guarantees massive bloodletting.
The renowned liberal attorney threw ethics out the window to help Harvey Weinstein.
Boies told Farrow that he didn’t think this was a conflict, explaining that he was doing the Times a favor by pushing the newspaper to vet its Weinstein coverage carefully. “If evidence could be uncovered to convince the Times the charges should not be published, I did not believe, and do not believe, that that would be averse to the Times’ interest,” he told the New Yorker... In the Trump era, we often measure justice along one simple axis, one that pits the president and his bullying New York attack dogs against legal rules and norms. But there is and has always been a second axis, one populated by respectable, principled attorneys who will work against the rule of law when they are working for the extremely wealthy. Consider Jamie Gorelick, the longtime Democratic activist and deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton, who represented Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump in their business affairs. While Gorelick stepped back in July from handling anything related to Kushner and the Russia probe, her view has always been that everyone deserves quality representation.It is a long-standing American legal tradition dating back to John Adams that even contemptible people deserve good representation. The problem comes when counsel for the 1 percent finds themselves helping their clients contract out of, or bully their way around, the legal rules imposed upon the rest of us.wealthy to fail.
What Boies seems to have done here is the very opposite of fighting for the rule of law. Rather, it looks an awful lot like aiding and abetting a man determined to bypass legal sanctions with money, privilege, and terror. At the very least, he created an attorney-client bubble around grotesque abuse. But Boies also should have known what lawyers and investigators were doing to vulnerable women in the interest of protecting Weinstein. In conceding that he failed to supervise or manage a raft of outside investigators, Boies was also admitting that Weinstein essentially bought his way around his legal relationship with his lawyer, then deployed that same legal relationship for cover.There are many, many legal stratagems that allow society’s wealthiest to buy their way out of criminal and civil sanctions. In Weinstein’s case, those stratagems have included oppressive nondisclosure agreements and legal threats and attempts to confuse and harass witnesses. Anyone who has watched Donald Trump ooze his way out from under oodles of lawsuits knows that there have always been Platinum Elite workarounds for the rule of law—and lawyers willing to fly you there. This week we learned that Boies may very well be one of them.