Obama Administration Won’t Intervene in Charlie Lynch Case

Monday, April 20th, 2009

The Justice Department announced (pdf) over the weekend that it will not intervene in the Charlie Lynch medical marijuana case. The federal judge in Lynch’s case had postponed Lynch’s sentencing to inquire if the Obama administration might want to back off, given Attorney General Holder’s recent statements about not prosecuting medical marijuana distributors who are complying with state and local law.

It would be merely disappointing had the DOJ based its decision not to intervene on the fact that a verdict had already been rendered in Lynch’s case. But the DOJ response goes much further, specifically stating that entire prosecution of Lynch is consistent with the government’s new position on medical marijuana, as laid out by Holder. I’s hard to say, then, exactly what distinguishes Obama’s position on medical marijuana from Bush’s. Lynch sought out and received assurance from state and local authorities that he was in complete compliance with state and local law. If that isn’t enough to meet Holder’s new policy, what is?

This decision looks particularly ugly in light of Obama’s continuing efforts to protect Bush’s torture team from prosecution, from Cheney, Yoo, and Bybee on down to the CIA operatives who actually administered the torture techniques. The message from Obama seems to be that when it comes to powerful government employees and covert agents breaking the law, he’s going to “look forward” and do everything he can to protect them from being held accountable, up to and including questionable assertions of executive power. Regular people who may violate ambiguous laws, on the other hand, can expect no such “looking forward,” just more of the same: the full brunt force of government tumbling down on top of them.

Background on Charlie Lynch’s case:

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27 Responses to “Obama Administration Won’t Intervene in Charlie Lynch Case”

  1. #1 |  UCrawford | 

    So much for Obama being better on social issues than the Republicans. Just goes to show that you can’t trust either the GOP or the Democrats to do what they say.

  2. #2 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    New boss=old boss

    No surprise. Now we wait for Obama supporters to explain how bad Bush was–because it is just Dems and Repubs after all.

    Lynch is a good guy fucked hard by the USA.

  3. #3 |  Andrew S. | 

    Everyone who’s surprised raise your hands!

    Ah, politics. And people wonder why I’m such a cynic.

  4. #4 |  todd | 

    “the savior” is just another politician color me surprised.

  5. #5 |  Dave Krueger | 

    “The message from Obama seems to be that when it comes to powerful government employees and covert agents breaking the law, he’s going to “look forward” and do everything he can to protect them from being held accountable, up to and including questionable assertions of executive power.”

    I think A LOT of people in government are probably dirty in some way and holding anyone accountable would risk exposing a big messy embarrassing nightmare, something they want to avoid.

    Government is never about what’s right or wrong. It’s about power, making money by selling favors, and covering your ass.

  6. #6 |  Red Green | 

    Poor Charlie got ‘lynched’ by the last regime. Oh well. we’ll just have to look forward…to the next election.

  7. #7 |  MassHole | 

    I have to say I was one who thought Obama would at least get this right if nothing else. Guess that will teach me.

  8. #8 |  Mattocracy | 

    I like how Holder thinks we’re all cowards about racism, and yet he’ll take the cowards way out himself when it comes to the civil rights of nonviolent drug users. The same crime that incarcerates one in four black men in America.

  9. #9 |  » Change we can be jailed for. | FR33 Agents | 

    [...] of FR33 Agents. Please poke around and let us know what you think. Thanks for visiting!Radley Balko reports that the Obama administration is refusing to intervene in the case of Charles Lynch, who was [...]

  10. #10 |  freedomfan | 

    Attorney General Eric Holder (via MSNBC):

    “What the president said during the campaign … will be consistent with what we will be doing here in law enforcement,” he said. “What (Obama) said during the campaign … is now American policy.”

    DOJ (in memo):

    The investigation, prosecution, and conviction of defendant are entirely consistent with the policies of DOJ and with public statements made by the Attorney General with respect to marijuana prosecutions.

    Looks like another instance of Obama’s words having no meaning.

    What actual purpose does pushing for a harsh sentence for Lynch serve, aside from validating the ego and efforts of some U.S. Attorney?

  11. #11 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    “CIA interrogators used the waterboarding technique on Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted planner of the September 11 attacks, 183 times and 83 times on another al Qaeda suspect…”

    Although Jack Bauer sees nothing wrong with this, maybe someone should be put on paid leave until an investigation clears them of any wrong doing.

  12. #12 |  Rhayader | 

    Is there any valid explanation whatsoever for this?

    …the investigation, prosecution, and conviction of defendant are entirely consistent with the policies of DOJ and with public
    statements made by the Attorney General with respect to marijuana prosecutions.

    How on earth are those two things “entirely consistent”? That just sounds like a complete lie to me, without even an attempt at rationalization or cover-up. Holder’s comments are on record, and seem explicitly designed to protect people exactly like Charlie Lynch.

    Like Radley said, if their excuse was that they didn’t want to retro-actively change the rules, then at least there would be some logical distinction between this case and Holder’s statements. Not only do they fail to make that distinction, they make the audacious claim that Lynch’s prosecution is entirely in step with this “new” policy. Are we all supposed to be complete morons?

  13. #13 |  Brandon Bowers | 

    It does seem like Obama now has more in common with Bush than he does with any non-politically-connected American, since he’s separated from normal citizens by his personal army, only has to get feedback from his own sycophantic appointees, and is apparently already disconnected from reality enough that he thinks marijuana legalization is still a fringe issue not worthy of the chosen one’s actual consideration. Seems like he’s spent the last 3 months having his god complex reinforced, and like Bush, he’s becoming less the man people thought they were electing and more a cartoonish super villain.

  14. #14 |  World B. Free | 

    By MICHAEL BOLDIN

    The drug war is based on a repugnant assertion: that you do not have ownership over your own body; that you don’t have the right to decide what you’ll do with your body, with your property and with your life. The position of the drug warriors is that you should be in jail if you decide to do something with your body that they don’t approve of.

    This is an abomination of everything that America is supposed to stand for. As long as this country continues the drug war, you are not free. At the root, then, those that force the drug war on you are enemies to your freedom.

  15. #15 |  Marty | 

    I hate 99.9% of all politicians. I HATE Bush. I HATE OBAMA EVEN MORE. The lying turd has destroyed enough lives since he’s been in office to rot in prison for the rest of his life. Fucker.

  16. #16 |  Tokin42 | 

    While I feel for Lynch, who really is getting a raw deal, I don’t think it looks any worse based on:

    …Obama’s continuing efforts to protect Bush’s torture team from prosecution, from Cheney, Yoo, and Bybee on down to the CIA operatives who actually administered the torture techniques.

    since we’ve known for awhile now that these techniques were approved by the chain of command, up to and including congress. Unless Obama wanted to indict the congress and senate as a whole then he didn’t have anywhere to really go.

    Am I of the understanding that Radley thinks that a CIA field operative (a federal employee) should face federal prosecution for doing what he was told by his immediate supervisor, his region head, the head of the CIA, the head of DHS, the applicable congressional committee members (republican AND democrat), OLC rulings, and finally his commander-in-chief? If that isn’t a perfect example of a “legal order” then at what point does a federal employee have an absolute guarantee that they’re following a good order? When could they NOT be prosecuted?

  17. #17 |  Rhayader | 

    @Tokin42: Ahh yes, the Nuremberg defense.

    Following orders is an institutional mandate, while following the law is a legal mandate. A subordinate in any department, military branch, etc absolutely has the right to refuse to follow orders if he believes those orders are illegal. Otherwise a single office run amok could cause a whole lot of misery. There would be no such thing as a whistle blower.

    Could those CIA operatives have faced departmental discipline or termination if they had refused to commit acts of torture? Almost certainly. Still though, it is no excuse, just as Hitler’s men had no excuse.

  18. #18 |  Tokin42 | 

    Nice Godwin.

    This would be federal prosecution of federal employees told by all levels of the federal government that what they were doing was legal and appropriate.

  19. #19 |  primus | 

    IMPEACH

  20. #20 |  Chris | 

    I second #19, IMPEACH this lying fraud who minimized his utter lack of experience with promises of “Change”, only to deliver zero change.

  21. #21 |  de libertate » Where Obama has screwed up thus far | 

    [...] Marjuana Policy 2. Cuba Policy 3. Transportation Policy 4. Bush Torture Policy 5. Economic [...]

  22. #22 |  Quartermain | 

    Say Hello to the new boss… He’s just like the old boss… Hope & Change? Sheesh!!! And people wonder why I voted for Dr. Ron Paul

  23. #23 |  Rhayader | 

    For the record, I referenced Nuremberg only because the line of reasoning was nearly identical. I am not trying to say that members of the CIA are de facto Nazis.

    Still though, I find it hard to agree with the contention that they were “told by all levels of the federal government that what they were doing was legal and appropriate.” Just as a starting point, I’ll quote wikipedia:

    On July 20, 2007, U.S. President George W. Bush signed an executive order banning torture during interrogation of terror suspects. While the guidelines for interrogation do not specifically ban waterboarding, the executive order refers to torture as defined by 18 USC 2340, which includes “the threat of imminent death,” as well as the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

    So there was not an absolute ban, but the fact that GW (of all people) signed a resolution like this shows that consent on the legitimacy of waterboarding was far from universal, even among the federal government. I don’t really buy the idea that “all levels” of the government unanimously approved of the technique.

  24. #24 |  Richard Schimelfenig | 

    To all the Pollyanna ostritches who thought Obama was going to be any different – his exact words were that he would support medical marijuana IF the “appropriate agency will set strength and dose.” That agency is the FDA, who already took the road of political expediency in declaring that ganaja is not medicine, and quoted the congressional resolutions to not discuss the medical merits of marijuana.

    It is PAST time that ganja activists create a cohesive attack on FEDERAL policy, since clearly no progress is possible until we can defeat the federal lies.

  25. #25 |  de libertate » Where Obama has screwed up thus far (cont.) | 

    [...] Marjuana Policy 2. Cuba Policy 3. Transportation Policy 4. Bush Torture Policy 5. Economic Policy 6. Armenian [...]

  26. #26 |  de libertate » Where Obama has screwed up thus far (cont.) | 

    [...] Marijuana Policy 2. Cuba Policy 3. Transportation Policy 4. Bush Torture Policy 5. Economic Policy 6. Armenian Policy [...]

  27. #27 |  de libertate » Where Obama as screwed up thus far (cont.) | 

    [...] Marijuana Policy 2. Cuba Policy 3. Transportation Policy 4. Bush Torture Policy 5. Economic Policy 6. Armenian Policy [...]

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