Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Kucinich: Is it time to question Bush's mental health?

Kucinich: Is it time to question Bush's mental health?
Ron Brynaert
Published: Tuesday October 30, 2007

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a dark horse contender for the the Democratic presidential nomination, questioned President Bush's mental health on Tuesday, according to a Philadelphia newspaper.

"I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about his mental health," Kucinich told The Inquirer's editorial board. "There's something wrong. He does not seem to understand his words have real impact."

Kucinich was referring to President Bush's warning of dire consequences if Iran acquires nuclear weapons during a press conference earlier this month. Bush said that he had told world leaders the country must be prevented from achieving nuclear capability "if you're interested in avoiding World War III."

"We've got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel," Bush said, responding to Russia's stated cautioning against military action targeting Tehran's suspected atomic program.

"So I've told people that, if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon," said Bush.

In a press release sent to RAW STORY last week, Kucinich took Bush and other Administration officials to task for trying "to deceive Americans into yet another war—this time with Iran."

"After the lies and deception used to lead us to war in Iraq, the belligerent Bush Administration cannot be given leeway with statements that suggest a preemptive attack on Iran is necessary," Kucinich stated. "We are systematically destroying every available route to restoring peace and security in the Middle East. Congress must take back its exclusive authority to declare war from the Bush Administration."

Further excerpts from Inquirer article:


Kucinich, who thinks Bush and Vice President Cheney should be impeached and charged with war crimes, is running sixth in most national polls. He said he doesn't believe his comments about the president's mental health are irresponsible.

"You cannot be a president of the United States who's wanton in his expression of violence," Kucinich said. "There's a lot of people who need care. He might be one of them. If there isn't something wrong with him, then there's something wrong with us. This, to me, is a very serious question."


Monday, October 29, 2007

Where are the honey bees?

Where are the honey bees?

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There’s some doubt as to whether Einstein ever actually said that if honey bees died out, mankind only had four years left to live. But no matter the authorship, the truth is that we are very dependent upon bees for our food product and agricultural industry. And bees are dying, at a dangerously fast pace. By some estimates, a full 1/3 of the bee population has died off, in a phenomenon known as “Colony Collapse Disorder“:

(A) mystery malady, dubbed “Colony Collapse Disorder,” is sweeping through the apiaries, leaving many hives almost completely devoid of adult bees, which appear to abandon their hives and disappear. Apiculturists are looking at a number of potential culprits, from bad weather to bad corn syrup to genetically modified corn to pesticides to miticides, and many suspect the problem is compounded by the presence of the varroa mite, which weakens colonies so that invading pathogens pack a particularly destructive punch. (Scientists suspect the 2005 die-off was exacerbated by a viral event.) While Miller’s bees have not, so far, been affected by the colony collapse, beekeepers in 24 states have reported losses as high as 80 and even 90 percent, and many of the afflicted bees have been in the almonds, rubbing shoulders with Miller’s relatively healthy ones.

60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft looks at the phenomenon with the apiarist credited for sounding the alarm, David Hackenberg. Full transcripts and video available at their website.

Dollar falls to new record low against euro

Dollar falls to new record low against euro

The dollar sank to a new record low against the euro in Asian trade Monday as market players grew increasingly confident about the prospect of another US interest rate cut this week, analysts said.

The euro hit 1.4426 dollars in early Tokyo morning trade, breaking the 1.44 level for the first time since the single European currency's creation in 1999.

The euro stayed around the record levels in the afternoon, changing hands at 1.4420 dollars against 1.4391 dollars in New York on Friday.

The dollar also slipped to 114.15 yen from 114.24 in New York, while the euro rose to 164.64 yen from 164.37.

"The market is confident about selling the dollar because the Federal Reserve is expected to cut rates again" on Wednesday, said Kenichi Yumoto of Societe Generale.

"The dollar will be under pressure at least until the meeting as we are unlikely to see news that would erase uncertainty over the US economy by then," he said.

The policy-making Federal Open Market Committee will start its meeting Tuesday and announce the results of its deliberations on Wednesday.

"Expectations of a rate cut and US economic weakness are weighing on the dollar," said Callum Henderson, head of currency strategy at Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong.

The euro may go as high as 1.45 dollars this week, he said.

The Fed is widely expected to trim its benchmark short-term federal funds rate by a quarter of a percentage point this week after slashing it by a hefty 0.50 percent last month.

There has been some speculation the Fed might even lop another half point off the key rate again, but analysts said such a large reduction appeared unlikely this time.

"The Fed is not in a situation that warrants cutting the rate as aggressively as the last time," said Sumitomo Trust Bank forex strategist Saburo Matsumoto.

"As commodities prices are surging ahead, there also are concerns over inflation," which could be fuelled by lower interest rates, Matsumoto said.

The central bank cut borrowing costs by half a percentage point on September 18 to 4.75 percent in the face of the housing slump and a credit crunch that was shaking the financial sector.

Worries about the slowing US economy -- especially its housing market, which has been mired in a downturn since early 2006 -- continue to weigh on the dollar.

The market is waiting anxiously for fresh US data this week, including Friday's monthly labour market report, for fresh clues on the health of the world's largest economy.

The yen was higher against the dollar as players cut back on risky carry trades that involve selling low-return currencies for higher-yielding ones, but it lost ground against the euro, dealers said.

"The dollar and yen remained the weak pair of currencies," said Matsumoto.

The dollar was also down against most other Asian currencies.

The dollar fell to 1.4520 Singapore dollars from 1.4544 Singapore dollars on Friday, to 32.37 Taiwan dollars from 32.41 and to 908.10 South Korean won from 913.45.

It also slipped to 9,085 Indonesian rupiah from 9,135 and edged down to 44.00 Philippine pesos from 44.04.

But the dollar rose sharply to 34.05 Thai baht from 31.66.

Argentina's First Lady Wins Presidency

Argentina's First Lady Wins Presidency

President Nestor Kirchner and first lady Cristina Fernandez are poised to switch jobs in December, with partial results indicating Argentines elected a female president for the first time and launched their country's most powerful political dynasty since Juan and Evita Peron.

Fernandez is a lawyer and senator who followed her husband as he rose from an obscure governorship to the presidency, drawing comparisons to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. She would bring a feistier and more glamorous style to the Pink House, Argentina's presidential palace, in which she has already spent the last four years.

Watch the video below:

Read more on Huff Wires.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Biden slams Bush's strategy on Tehran

Biden slams Bush's strategy on Tehran

Touts own record on foreign policy

Joseph R. Biden Jr. called President Bush's strategy to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions "mindless" and dangerous yesterday, asserting that radical elements in Pakistan and international terrorists pose graver nuclear threats to the United States.

In a 90-minute question-and-answer session with Globe editors and reporters, the Delaware senator also spoke confidently about competing for the Democratic presidential nomination despite his single-digit showing in current polls, suggested the candidacies of rivals Barack Obama and John Edwards might be fading, and warned that putting Hillary Clinton on the ticket would make the 2008 election more difficult for the Democratic Party.

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a 35-year veteran of Congress who is one of his party's leaders on Iraq policy said he would benefit from voter concern about foreign policy, which he contends has never been greater. He said a military strike would only set back Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program by 18 months or two years, and would backfire by weakening US allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, radicalizing the Muslim world, and uniting the Iranian government behind their leader.

"This is a mindless, mindless approach to dealing with proliferation," he said.

Biden voted last month against a Senate resolution that declared the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. It passed 76 to 22, but Clinton was the only presidential candidate to vote for it. Her vote became a major campaign issue that was rekindled Thursday when the Bush administration announced stricter economic sanctions against Iran.

Biden said the resolution handed the president a justification for attacking Iran, declaring "I have zero faith" in Bush's judgment. Based on about 15 to 17 hours spent with the president, Biden said, "he is a lot brighter than most people think, but he is absolutely driven by his instincts and not by his knowledge, the knowledge base of what the hell we're dealing with."

The "saving grace" in the Bush administration, Biden said, is Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who he believes has set a "red line" against military action unless the Iranian regime attacks US forces.

Biden, in addition to touting his own foreign policy expertise, said his experience in the Senate equips him to forge consensus on major issues.

"I don't think Hillary is nearly as skilled as I am - I mean it sincerely - in getting big ideas into the mainstream of the American public," he said. "Go back and look at my record over 30 years. I'm actually one of those senators who has a record of accomplishment."

The senator said the healthcare plan he unveiled this week, which focuses on insuring children and covering catastrophic illness but stops short of mandating that every American have health insurance, is a realistic approach.

Biden said he would aggressively contend with climate change. On his first day in office, he would sign an executive order mandating that the federal government buy only vehicles that get at least 40 miles a gallon and build only "green" buildings. That would spur states to do the same, he said, and encourage the free market to develop more energy- efficient products.

As for his candidacy, Biden said that "there is a little bit of sunlight coming through the fog," and that the field was opening up so that he could emerge as the primary challenger to Clinton. "There is a sense, whether it is accurate or not, that Barack has plateaued and may be not ready," while for Edwards, "the sheen is a little off in terms of the possibility that he can make it."

Biden said the crowds at his speeches have grown from 70 people earlier this year to 300 or 400 in Iowa.

"If I come out one, two, or three," he said, "I think I win the nomination."

He said Democrats should consider whether Clinton as the nominee would hurt their chances to recapture the White House.

The question is whether the campaign will "be about the failure of the Republicans and us being able to focus on that or the issue about both the Clintons," he said. "It would be the same if Jeb Bush were the nominee to replace President Bush."

Dodd: President uses 'scare tactics' to usurp the law, torture

Dodd: President uses 'scare tactics' to usurp the law, torture
David Edwards and Nick Juliano

Dodd repeats vow to block telecom immunity

Continuing his vocal stand against President Bush's dramatic expansion of executive authority, Chris Dodd took to the Senate floor Friday and called on his colleagues to stand up to the administration's "scare tactics" and stop president Bush's "wholesale disregard for the rule of law."

Dodd was repeating his pledge to block a proposed foreign surveillance law that would grant legal immunity to telephone and internet companies that helped the National Security Agency spy on Americans without warrants as part of a post-9/11 wiretapping scheme authorized by Bush.

"For six years this President has used scare tactics to prevent the Congress from reining in his abuse of authority. A case and point is the current direction this body appears to be headed as we prepare to reform and extend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act," Dodd said. "Many of the unprecedented rollbacks to the rule of law by this Administration have been made in the name of national security."

Dodd, who has lately focused his presidential bid on a promise to uphold the Constitution, spoke as the White House agreed to let key senators see legal justifications of its warrantless wiretapping program before the Senate Judiciary Committee begins debating FISA revisions next week.

Although the Connecticut Democrat does not serve on either the Intelligence of Judiciary Committees, which has jurisdiction over the laws, he has mounted a one-man campaign to block any FISA bill that included telecom immunity, either through an informal "hold" Senators customarily can use to block certain legislation or by taking to the floor for a formal filibuster.

A chief administration critic who serves on both relevant committees, Sen. Russ Feingold, has said he will do whatever it takes to prevent letting telecom companies off the hook, and Sen. Barack Obama, another presidential candidate, has said he would join Dodd's filibuster of any bill containing such a provision.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has said she would commit to filibustering the particular bill passed last week by the Intelligence Committee if it doesn't change, but she has been less precise over whether she will block all telecom immunity. Clinton's campaign did not respond to RAW STORY's request for clarification Friday.

Dodd excoriated the administration in his floor speech Friday, accusing the president of ignoring laws at his leisure, resulting in grave harm to the country. It is time for Congress to stand up to the administration, he said.

"Consider the scandal at Abu Ghraib ... Guantanamo Bay ... the secret prisons run by the CIA ... warrantless wiretapping, torture -- the list goes on," Dodd said. "Each of these policies ... has only been possible becasue Congress has not been able to stop this president's unprecedented expansion of power."

"Whether or not these policies were explicitly authorized is beside the point. In every instance, Congress has been unable to hold this Administration to account for violating the rule of law and our Constitution," Dodd said. "In each instance, Republicans in the Congress have prevented this body from telling this Administration that 'a state of war is not a blank check.'”

A transcript of Dodd's speech is available at

The following video is from C-SPAN, broadcast on October 26, 2007.

Kucinich Ramps up Efforts for Bush Impeachment:

Breaking Story Video News

October 24, 2007

Kucinich Ramps up Efforts for Bush Impeachment: "I actually am going to be talking to the Speaker about this ... I don't think that Congress can any longer say that impeachment is off the table"

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Dennis Kucinich | Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Kucinich: Next President Should Arrest Bush

Kucinich: Next President Should Arrest Bush
News and Policy

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has urged Congress to put an end to the war he says is a "gross immorality."

"The way to end the war is this: The leaders of Congress must go to the president and say, 'Mr. President, we are not going to give you another dime. Use the money you have to bring the troops home,"' the Ohio congressman said.

Kucinich told the crowd of more than 500 people that if Congress does not impeach President Bush for intentionally misleading the public, the next president should hand over Bush and his administration to law enforcement officials - a suggestion that was answered with cheers and a standing ovation from the audience.

Kucinich said he would create a policy of "strength through peace," which would focus on diplomacy, open dialogue and "at its core, would reject war as an instrument of policy."

"Somehow war and strength became equated, but now war and stupidity are being equated," he said. "We cannot buy into this mentality that the war is going to be with us for a long time."

He emphasized that he voted against the war because "there was no proof" that Iraq was linked to the Sept. 11 attacks or that Iraqis held weapons of mass destruction.

The occupation of Iraq is based on lies and oil, and Kucinich said the U.S. presence is only making things worse.

"Iraq cannot be stabilized through continued U.S. presence," he said. "The occupation is fueling the insurgency."

Kucinich walked through the aisles at Central New Mexico Community College's Smith-Brasher Hall, taking questions from the audience on issues such as immigration, education, social security and taxes.

Kucinich is among the first of the presidential candidates to campaign in New Mexico, which is home to Gov. Bill Richardson, who also is in the race.

New Mexico could prove to be a battleground state in next year's presidential election . The 2004 presidential race in New Mexico was among the closest in the country. Republican President George Bush won with 49.8 percent of the vote and a 5,988-vote margin over Democrat Sen. John Kerry .

In the end, the state's five electoral votes weren't crucial, as Bush finished with 286 electoral votes, 16 more than he needed, and Kerry 252.

Kucinich had made stops in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces and Farmington during his campaign for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. ”

House Passes Thought Crime Prevention Bill

House Passes Thought Crime Prevention Bill
Lee Rogers

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed HR 1955 titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. This bill is one of the most blatant attacks against the Constitution yet and actually defines thought crimes as homegrown terrorism. If passed into law, it will also establish a commission and a Center of Excellence to study and defeat so called thought criminals. Unlike previous anti-terror legislation, this bill specifically targets the civilian population of the United States and uses vague language to define homegrown terrorism. Amazingly, 404 of our elected representatives from both the Democrat and Republican parties voted in favor of this bill. There is little doubt that this bill is specifically targeting the growing patriot community that is demanding the restoration of the Constitution.

First let’s take a look at the definitions of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism as defined in Section 899A of the bill.

The definition of violent radicalization uses vague language to define this term of promoting any belief system that the government considers to be an extremist agenda. Since the bill doesn’t specifically define what an extremist belief system is, it is entirely up to the interpretation of the government. Considering how much the government has done to destroy the Constitution they could even define Ron Paul supporters as promoting an extremist belief system. Literally, the government according to this definition can define whatever they want as an extremist belief system. Essentially they have defined violent radicalization as thought crime. The definition as defined in the bill is shown below.

`(2) VIOLENT RADICALIZATION- The term `violent radicalization' means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.

The definition of homegrown terrorism uses equally vague language to further define thought crime. The bill includes the planned use of force or violence as homegrown terrorism which could be interpreted as thinking about using force or violence. Not only that but the definition is so vaguely defined, that petty crimes could even fall into the category of homegrown terrorism. The definition as defined in the bill is shown below.

`(3) HOMEGROWN TERRORISM- The term `homegrown terrorism' means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

Section 899B of the bill goes over the findings of Congress as it pertains to homegrown terrorism. Particularly alarming is that the bill mentions the Internet as a main source for terrorist propaganda. The bill even mentions streams in obvious reference to many of the patriot and pro-constitution Internet radio networks that have been formed. It also mentions that homegrown terrorists span all ages and races indicating that the Congress is stating that everyone is a potential terrorist. Even worse is that Congress states in their findings that they should look at draconian police states like Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom as models to defeat homegrown terrorists. Literally, these findings of Congress fall right in line with the growing patriot community.

The biggest joke of all is that this section also says that any measure to prevent violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism should not violate the constitutional rights of citizens. However, the definition of violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism as they are defined in section 899A are themselves unconstitutional. The Constitution does not allow the government to arrest people for thought crimes, so any promises not to violate the constitutional rights of citizens are already broken by their own definitions.


`The Congress finds the following:

`(1) The development and implementation of methods and processes that can be utilized to prevent violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States is critical to combating domestic terrorism.

`(2) The promotion of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence exists in the United States and poses a threat to homeland security.

`(3) The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.

`(4) While the United States must continue its vigilant efforts to combat international terrorism, it must also strengthen efforts to combat the threat posed by homegrown terrorists based and operating within the United States.

`(5) Understanding the motivational factors that lead to violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence is a vital step toward eradicating these threats in the United States.

`(6) The potential rise of self radicalized, unaffiliated terrorists domestically cannot be easily prevented through traditional Federal intelligence or law enforcement efforts, and requires the incorporation of State and local solutions.

`(7) Individuals prone to violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence span all races, ethnicities, and religious beliefs, and individuals should not be targeted based solely on race, ethnicity, or religion.

`(8) Any measure taken to prevent violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism in the United States should not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights and civil liberties of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents.

`(9) Certain governments, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia have significant experience with homegrown terrorism and the United States can benefit from lessons learned by those nations.

Section 899C calls for a commission on the prevention of violent radicalization and ideologically based violence. The commission will consist of ten members appointed by various individuals that hold different positions in government. Essentially, this is a commission that will examine and report on how they are going to deal with violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism. So basically, the commission is being formed specifically on how to deal with thought criminals in the United States. The bill requires that the commission submit their final report 18 months following the commission’s first meeting as well as submit interim reports every 6 months leading up to the final report. Below is the bill’s defined purpose of the commission. Amazingly they even define one of the purposes of the commission to determine the causes of lone wolf violent radicalization.

(b) Purpose- The purposes of the Commission are the following:

`(1) Examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States, including United States connections to non-United States persons and networks, violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in prison, individual or `lone wolf' violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence, and other faces of the phenomena of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence that the Commission considers important.

`(2) Build upon and bring together the work of other entities and avoid unnecessary duplication, by reviewing the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of--

`(A) the Center of Excellence established or designated under section 899D, and other academic work, as appropriate;

`(B) Federal, State, local, or tribal studies of, reviews of, and experiences with violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence; and

`(C) foreign government studies of, reviews of, and experiences with violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence.

Section 899D of the bill establishes a Center of Excellence for the Study of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism in the United States. Essentially, this will be a Department of Homeland Security affiliated institution that will study and determine how to defeat thought criminals.

Section 899E of the bill discusses how the government is going to defeat violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism through international cooperation. As stated in the findings section earlier in the legislation, they will unquestionably seek the advice of countries with draconian police states like the United Kingdom to determine how to deal with this growing threat of thought crime.

Possibly the most ridiculous section of the bill is Section 899F which states how they plan on protecting civil rights and civil liberties while preventing ideologically based violence and homegrown terrorism. Here is what the section says.


`(a) In General- The Department of Homeland Security's efforts to prevent ideologically-based violence and homegrown terrorism as described herein shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights, and civil liberties of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents.

`(b) Commitment to Racial Neutrality- The Secretary shall ensure that the activities and operations of the entities created by this subtitle are in compliance with the Department of Homeland Security's commitment to racial neutrality.

`(c) Auditing Mechanism- The Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Officer of the Department of Homeland Security will develop and implement an auditing mechanism to ensure that compliance with this subtitle does not result in a disproportionate impact, without a rational basis, on any particular race, ethnicity, or religion and include the results of its audit in its annual report to Congress required under section 705.'.

(b) Clerical Amendment- The table of contents in section 1(b) of such Act is amended by inserting at the end of the items relating to title VIII the following:

It states in the first subsection that in general the efforts to defeat thought crime shall not violate the constitutional rights, civil rights and civil liberties of the United States citizens and lawful permanent residents. How does this protect constitutional rights if they use vague language such as in general that prefaces the statement? This means that the Department of Homeland Security does not have to abide by the Constitution in their attempts to prevent so called homegrown terrorism.

This bill is completely insane. It literally allows the government to define any and all crimes including thought crime as violent radicalization and homegrown terrorism. Obviously, this legislation is unconstitutional on a number of levels and it is clear that all 404 representatives who voted in favor of this bill are traitors and should be removed from office immediately. The treason spans both political parties and it shows us all that there is no difference between them. The bill will go on to the Senate and will likely be passed and signed into the law by George W. Bush. Considering that draconian legislation like the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act have already been passed, there seems little question that this one will get passed as well. This is more proof that our country has been completely sold out by a group of traitors at all levels of government.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

‘There is no Iraqi government’

‘There is no Iraqi government’

It’s one of those quotes that looks increasingly ridiculous all the time.

A principal architect of Iraq’s interim constitution, who resigned in August as one of the country’s top diplomats, has laid out a devastating critique of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the U.S. occupation, telling NBC News that, functionally, “there is no Iraqi government.”

The diplomat, Feisal Amin Istrabadi, said in his first interview since stepping down as Iraq’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations that “this government has got to go.”

Istrabadi said the Iraqi government itself is an illusion, stocked with incompetent administrators who had helped bring about “chaos and instability.” He pointed to the Health Ministry, dominated by the Mahdi Army militia. “You cannot have this sectarian doling out of the Cabinet ministries,” Istrabadi said. “You’ve got to bring in competent technocrats to try to run those ministries, the service ministries.”

This guy is clearly not on the same page as the Bush administration.

Cheney’s Law: The Veeps Radical Theories of Executive Power

Cheney’s Law: The Veeps Radical Theories of Executive Power

Last week PBS Frontline aired a special called “Cheney’s Law” that examined Dick Cheney’s view of presidential power and his 30 year struggle to expand, strengthen and centralize that power. Through interviews with high-level administration officials such as John Yoo and Jack Goldsmith, the program offers a fresh perspective on how fundamentally different Dick Cheney’s view of constitutional government is from, well, just about every student of American history. Here is a brief clip about the administration’s contempt for Congress, illustrated by their public acceptance of the “McCain torture bill’, and their private signing statement essentially saying that the bill means absolutely nothing.

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The entire program can be streamed here.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

NBC: Lesbian ejected from ladies' restroom calls for wider gender discrimination protections

NBC: Lesbian ejected from ladies' restroom calls for wider gender discrimination protections
Nick Langewis and David Edwards

Imagine going to the bathroom in a restaurant, when suddenly a bouncer comes in and tries to kick you out," opens anchor Meredith Vieira.

Such is the story of 28-year-old Khadijah Farmer, who recently lodged a lawsuit against New York City restaurant Caliente Cab Company over an incident that took place during this year's gay pride parade.

Farmer and her attorney, Michael D. Silverman of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, appeared on NBC's Today Show Thursday morning.

"My girlfriend and I decided to have dinner at the Caliente Cab Company with another friend of ours," says Farmer, "and shortly after, I excused myself and went down to the ladies' rest room."

"I was in there maybe a minute by myself before I heard a very loud bang opened up the bathroom door, and then the bouncer was standing directly in front of the stall that I was using."

Ms. Farmer's account is that a bouncer had heard a report of a man in the ladies' restroom, entered the restroom and demanded that she immediately leave. She says the bouncer refused to look at her identification to prove her gender.

"He rushed me back upstairs towards our seating area, and we were forced to pay for the food that we did eat, and the three of us were kicked out of the restaurant."

"Needless to say," continues Farmer, "that night was incredibly embarrassing and quite humiliating...I didn't do anything except go to the bathroom."

Ms. Farmer has been mistaken for a man before because of her short hair and her manner of dress, but, she says, "this was the incident that went over the top for me."

"I mean, I've never been removed from an establishment, much less--the place I was patronizing, because of the way I look."

"The complainants' representatives would not discuss any issues, nor consider the overwhelming evidence contradicting [the] complainant's allegations, without a prior promise of serious monetary compensation to the complainant. This is their primary interest."
--Caliente Cab Company statement

Mr. Silverman contends that he and his client are not out for money, but they want to make sure that the situation Khadijah Farmer doesn't play out again. On being asked why they haven't settled, Silverman says he wants more action to be taken, such as senstivity training for employees, and policies that ensure that legal protections based on gender expression are recognized.

"Who gets to decide whether someone's gender expression is appropriate? Is it Khadijah, or is it every bouncer in a restaurant?"

While New York City has legal protections based on an individual's gender expression, says Ms. Farmer, there is no state law to match, and as diverse a people as Americans are, there ought to be wider ranging laws in place.

The following video is from NBC's Today Show, broadcast on October 11, 2007.

Shabani, 10-year-old Western Lowland gorilla, walks on a tightrope

Shabani the gorilla learns the ropes

TOKYO (AFP) — Sick of just hanging around, Shabani the gorilla has taken to walking the tightrope, delighting hundreds of visitors at a Japanese zoo.

The 10-year-old Western Lowland gorilla is meant to hang on the rope but has started walking across it instead, flapping his arms to keep balance as onlookers cheer him on.

"The rope is meant for hanging on but he started walking on it shortly after he got here," said Hiroshi Kobayashi, head of Higashiyama Zoo in the central city of Nagoya.

"Gorillas climb trees in the wild but we have hardly seen them walking a tightrope," he said.

Shabani, who weighs 110 kilogrammes (220 pounds), arrived in Japan from Sydney's Taronga Zoo in June before joining Higashiyama Zoo to breed with the three females there.

He already appears close with Nene, who at 36 is more than three times his age.

"She might seen a bit old," Kobayashi said, "but it is still fully possible to have a baby."

New testimony details alleged Rove ties to prosecution of Democratic governor

New testimony details alleged Rove ties to prosecution of Democratic governor

New testimony releasJason Rhyne
Published: Thursday October 11, 2007

ed yesterday by the House Judiciary Committee reveals details about the alleged involvement of former Bush administration advisor Karl Rove in the prosecution of Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

Dana Jill Simpson, a Republican attorney and activist, stated earlier this year that an associate of Rove's had said that the then top White House political strategist had communicated directly with the Justice Department about "pursuing" the former governor via US attorneys.

In her new 143-page sworn statement to the House Judiciary, Simpson elaborates on the contents of conversations she says indicate that Rove helped to drive the prosecution of Siegelman.

Simpson says that she was told by the son of current Alabama Gov. Rob Riley, Rob Riley, Jr., that his father and another prominent state Republican named Bill Canary contacted Rove about Siegelman in 2004. That conversation, according to Simpson, prompted Rove to encourage the Justice Department to investigate and eventually indict the former governor.

"What I understood, or what I believed Mr. Canary to be saying," Simpson says in the transcript, "was that he had had this ongoing conversation with Karl Rove about Don Siegelman, and that Don Siegelman was a thorn to them and basically he was going to -- he had been talking with Rove."

"Rove had been talking with the Justice Department," she added, "and they were pursuing Don Siegelman as a result of Rove talking to the Justice Department at the request of Bill Canary.”

Additionally, Simpson was told a judge who “hated” the governor would be assigned to the case.

Rob Riley, Jr. "made a statement that [Judge Mark]Fuller would hang Don Siegelman," she said. "And I asked him how he knew that, if he got him in his court. And he said that Fuller was -- had been on the Executive Republican Committee at Alabama -- in Alabama before he had been a judge."

"[Riley,Jr.]said that Don Siegelman had caused Fuller to get audited," she added. "That's what Fuller thought. He hated him for that."

Siegelman was later convicted on seven counts of corruption -- following a trial presided over by Fuller -- and is currently serving time in Federal prison.

"If Simpson's version of events is accurate, it would show direct political involvement by the White House in federal prosecutions — a charge leveled by Administration critics in connection with the U.S. attorney scandal that led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales," Adam Zagorin reports in Time.

“But [Simpson’s] account is disputed; those who she alleges told her about Rove's involvement during a G.O.P. campaign conference call claim that no such conversation took place,” Time continues. “Rove himself has not responded to Simpson's allegations, which are clearly based on second-hand information, and the White House has refused to comment while Siegelman's case remains on appeal."

Rob Riley, Jr. "denied Ms. Simpson’s accusation,” reports the New York Times, adding that he said Simpson has more "outlandish accusations” and that “none of them are true.”

“Karl has made clear that he had no involvement in that issue at all,” a White House spokesman said of Rove, according to the Times.

The events leading up to the prosecution of Siegelman will be the subject of an upcoming House Judiciary joint subcommittee hearing.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Charlie Savage: Cheney Plotted Bush’s Imperial Presidency ‘Thirty Years Ago’

Charlie Savage: Cheney Plotted Bush’s Imperial Presidency ‘Thirty Years Ago’

The Bush administration has long held that President Bush’s expanded executive power is justified due to 9/11. “I believe in a strong, robust executive authority and I think that the world we live in demands it,” claimed Vice President Cheney in 2005.

But in his new book, Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy, Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage reveals that Cheney has been on a thirty-year quest to implement his views of unfettered executive power.

For example, when it was revealed in 2005 that the Bush administration had been illegally spying on Americans, Cheney responded: “If you want to understand why this program is legal…go back and read my Iran-Contra report.” In that report — authored in 1987 — Cheney and aide David Addington defended President Reagan by claiming it was “unconstitutional for Congress to pass laws intruding” on the “commander in chief.”

Decades later, Bush’s legal team used their first meeting in January 2001 — nine months before 9/11 — to map out a plan to expand presidential authority. According to Savage, who appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this morning, Cheney was looking for a moment to “seize” power in the weeks before 9/11:

We are going to expand presidential power in any way we can. This was discussed in January 2001 at the first meeting of the White House legal team after the inauguration, long before 9/11. If an opportunity arises to expand presidential prerogatives, you will seize it.

Watch it:

Savage, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his seminal work exposing President Bush’s abuse of signing statements, suggested that the administration knew its power grab would be unpopular and thus avoided any mention of their plans prior to being elected:

In hindsight, it is clear this is something that has been a central agenda of [Cheney’s] for thirty years. And yet, in 1999 and 2000, no one was talking about this at all, how he might use his influence as the most experienced vice president in history dealing with the least experienced president in history.

Regarding his secretive nature, Cheney acknowledged last month that he “learned early on [under Ford] that if you don’t want your memos to get you in trouble some day, just don’t write any.”

Proposed FISA update would not give telecom companies legal protection

Proposed FISA update would not give telecom companies legal protection

House introduces delayed proposal to amend foreign spying law
House Democrats have refused to submit to Bush administration requests to save telecommunications companies that assisted in a warrantless wiretapping scheme from lawsuits or prosecution, and they want to require judicial approval for future efforts to spy on Americans.

The latest demands were aired Tuesday in a proposed update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, although it remains to be seen whether House leaders -- and their counterparts in the Senate -- will be able to stand firm in sticking to their demands.
“Earlier this year, President Bush signed a short-term surveillance law that exposed innocent Americans’ phone calls and emails to warrantless intrusion," House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers said in a statement announcing the Democrats' proposal. "This bill shows that it is possible to protect civil liberties and fight terrorism at the same time.”
The proposed House bill offers some concession to the administration, and it includes fixes in surveillance that Democrats and Republicans agreed were needed, such as a clarification that no warrant is required to spy on strictly foreign-to-foreign phone calls and e-mails.
Under the new law, the Attorney General or Director of National Intelligence would be authorized to receive blanket warrants to eavesdrop on several foreign intelligence targets who could call into the United States, but the bill would restore FISA court reviews of targeting procedures and steps taken to "minimize" Americans' exposure to surveillance. If an American is to become the "target" of surveillance, intelligence agencies would be required to seek an individualized warrant from the FISA court.

The American Civil Liberties Union said that concession would allow "blanket warrants" to authorize the National Security Agency and other US intelligence services to gather information on untold numbers of Americans who may not be suspected of doing anything wrong.
"The program can collect any communication as long as one leg of it is overseas," the ACLU said in a critique of the new proposal. "If Americans’ communications are swept up by this new, general program warrant, there is no requirement that a court actually review whether those communications are seized in compliance with the Fourth Amendment."

A Democratic summary of the new bill says Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell did not object to judicial oversight of targeting and minimization procedures. A DNI spokeswoman told RAW STORY that McConnell would not comment on pending legislation.
When he testified before Congress last month, McConnell laid out three primary requests for the FISA update. His foreign-to-foreign clarification and basket warrant provisions were included, but Democrats did not bow to his requests that telecommunications be let off the hook for assisting in the warrantless wiretapping program since 2001. McConnell told congressional committees that basket warrants were needed because intelligence analysts can't know in advance whether a foreign target would be calling someone in the US.

The ACLU was largely positive about bill, but it was dire in its warnings about the basket warrants' potential to violate Americans civil rights.

"There has not been a surveillance program since FISA was created that allows massive, untargeted collection of communications that will knowingly pick up US communications on US soil without any suspicion of wrongdoing," the group said. "This creates novel and fundamental Fourth Amendment problems that Congress should seek to avoid instead of sanctioning. Going back to the court may be inconvenient, but doing so is just a matter or resources and protecting our Fourth Amendment rights is worth the cost."

Since passing what many saw as a hastily crafted temporary FISA revision just before recessing in August, Democrats in the House vowed to assuage critics who saw that bill, the Protect America Act, as not doing enough to protect Americans' privacy rights.

The House Intelligence and Judiciary committees on Tuesday released a summary of their latest effort to amend FISA, which would require repair shortcomings in intelligence-gathering efforts while ensuring that intelligence agencies do not target Americans without first getting
individualized warrants.

The proposal is known as the Responsible Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed and Effective (Restore) Act, and it is timed to expire Dec. 31, 2009, when Congress also would revisit the Patriot Act.

Before the announcement Tuesday, the New York Times published a bleak assessment of the chances for success of a bill like the one Democrats have proposed.

Although the act would include several provisions requested last week by progressive lawmakers, it does not include must-have items demanded by President Bush, such as telecom immunity, and Democrats are unlikely to be able to corral enough votes to override a presidential veto.

Civil liberties and privacy-rights activists have been lobbying intensely for Democrats to stand firm against immunity for telephone and Internet providers who are alleged to have granted National Security Agency spies access to domestic communications switches, and they appear to have scored a small victory with Tuesday's announcement.

House leaders were expected to announce their proposal last week but held off after the House Progressive Caucus released its list of needed reforms in a FISA update, such as a sunset provision and refusal to grant immunity to telecom companies, which were included Tuesday.
The Protect America Act expires in February, and Democrats are facing pressure from the White House to pass a permanent measure soon. Congress is expected to send its FISA revision to the president before the end of the year.

The House Intelligence and Judiciary committees released the following summary of their proposal:

RESTORE Act of 2007 (Responsible Surveillance That is Overseen, Reviewed and Effective) Bill Summary
Security and Liberty: The bill provides the Intelligence Community with effective tools to conduct surveillance of foreign targets outside the United States but restores Constitutional checks and balances that were not contained in the Protect America Act (PAA--the Administration’s FISA bill.)

Clarifies that No Court Warrant is Required to Intercept Communications of Non-United States Persons When Both Ends of the Communications are Outside the United States.
Requires an Individualized Court Warrant from the FISA Court When Targeting Persons in the United States. (Same as current law.)

Creates a Program of Court Authorized Targeting of Non-U.S. Persons Outside the United States. Grants the Attorney General (AG) and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) authority to apply to the FISA Court for an order to conduct surveillance of foreign targets, or groups of targets, for up to one year – but RESTORES the following checks and balances that were absent under the PAA:

a. Court Review of Targeting Procedures. The FISA Court must review targeting procedures to ensure that they are reasonably designed to target only people outside the United States. In emergencies, the FISA Court review may take place after the surveillance has begun – for up to 45 days. DNI McConnell told Congress in September that he did not oppose FISA Court review of these targeting procedures.

b. Court Review of Minimization Procedures. The FISA Court must review minimization procedures. DNI McConnell told Congress in September that he did not oppose FISA Court review of these minimization procedures.

c. Court Review of Guidelines to ensure that, when the government seeks to conduct electronic surveillance of a person in the United States, the government obtains a traditional individualized warrant from the FISA Court.

Clarifies Ambiguous Language on Warrantless Domestic Searches. The bill clarifies and eliminates ambiguous language in the PAA that appeared to authorize warrantless searches inside the United States, including physical searches of American homes, offices, computers, and medical records.

In a letter to Congress in September, Administration officials indicated that they did not intend their legislation to authorize such warrantless domestic searches and expressed a willingness to consider alternative language.

A RESTORE ACT Authorization May Not Be Used to Target Any Known U.S. Person. If the government learns that the target of surveillance is a U.S. person (say, an American traveling abroad), it cannot use this new authority.

Assistant Attorney General Ken Wainstein acknowledged to Congress in September that the PAA could be used by the Administration to target Americans abroad without a warrant, even U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Limits Authority to Terrorism, Espionage, Sabotage, and Threats to National Security. The Administration’s bill allowed for surveillance for all foreign intelligence, including a broad category of information related to “foreign affairs.” This bill allows the Intelligence Community to deal with the threats facing the United States from terrorism, espionage, sabotage, clandestine intelligence activities, and to collect information related to the national defense or security of the U.S., without authorizing the collection on the broad category of “foreign affairs.”
Requires Quarterly Audits and Reports. Requires quarterly audits by the Justice Department Inspector General (DOJ IG) on communications collected under this authority and the number of U.S. persons identified in intelligence reports disseminated pursuant to this collection. These audits would be provided to the FISA Court and to Congress (Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.)

The Administration’s bill contained very limited reporting to Congress. During testimony, DNI McConnell said he did not oppose an Inspector General audit of the program to determine the scope of American communications swept up by this authority.

Requires an Audit of the President’s Surveillance Program and Other Warrantless Surveillance Programs. This audit mandates a report and documents related to these programs be provided
to Congress in unclassified form with a classified annex.

Requires Record-keeping of the Use of United States Persons Information. Mandates that the Executive Branch record every instance in which the identity of a United States person whose communication was acquired by the Intelligence Community is disseminated to an element or person within the Executive Branch and that it submit an annual report to Congress on the dissemination.

Adds Resources for FISA. Adds funding for personnel and technology resources at DOJ and NSA to speed the FISA process and to ensure that audits can be conducted expeditiously.
Reiterates the Exclusivity of FISA. Includes House-passed bipartisan Schiff-Flake language stating that FISA is the exclusive means to conduct electronic surveillance of Americans for the purpose of foreign intelligence collection.

No Retroactive Immunity. The bill is silent on retroactive immunity because the Administration has refused to provide Congress with documents on the specifics of the President’s warrantless surveillance program. However, the bill does provide prospective immunity for those complying with court orders issued pursuant to this authority.

Establishes En Banc Review. Allows the FISA Court to sit en banc. The FISA Court requested this, and the Administration does not oppose it.

Provides Sunset, Transition Procedures and Report on PAA. Sunsets this new authority on December 31, 2009, when certain PATRIOT Act provisions sunset. However, the legislation will allow for a transition from the existing warrants to the new ones to ensure that the Intelligence Community does not go “dark” on any surveillance. The Administration will be required to submit a report on U.S.-person information collected and disseminated under the PAA authorities.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Novak: Wilson didn't strongly object to wife's name being revealed

Novak: Wilson didn't strongly object to wife's name being revealed
Nick JulianoPublished: Tuesday October 9,

Wilson: Novak 'going to hell for his lies'
Conservative columnist Robert Novak said he did not hear forceful objection from the husband of a then-undercover CIA agent before her name was printed in his infamous column that sparked a years-long legal battle over his sources.

“He was not terribly exercised about it,” Novak said, referring to Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose wife Valerie Plame Wilson was outed in his July 2003 column. Novak's comments to the Society of Professional Journalists convention were reported Monday in The Hill.

Wilson refuted that charge in an interview with RAW STORY Monday.
"I hope he's going to confession, because if not he's surely going to Hell for his lies," Wilson said.
Wilson, who had just published a column undercutting the Bush administrations claims about Iraq's weapons capabilities, asked Novak before the column appeared not to portray him simply as a war critic, the Hill reported. And Novak told the crowd that Wilson stressed that his wife went by his last name, rather than her maiden name (Novak's column reported her name as Valerie Plame).

"The question of my wife's last name never came up," Wilson said.
Rather, he says he asked Novak to stop telling people around Washington that his wife worked for the CIA.

"It is a compromise of my family's personal responsibility and safety ... not to mention treasonous," said Wilson, who did not confirm to Novak that Valerie Wilson was a CIA agent.
Novak slammed his critics for attacking his ethics, saying they really had a problem with his ideology. He said his case demonstrates the need for a federal shield law to protect journalists.
“I was stunned by how little editorial support I received. I was under assault from editorial writers from across the country,” Novak said. “It is startling how little is known about this case by the people who are commenting on it.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee last week approved a reporters' shield law, that would protect journalists from having to disclose the identities of confidential sources or hand over to authorities any records, documents or notes from confidential sources. The Washington Post reports that the new law would have a broad definition of who was covered that would include, reporters, columnists and bloggers but could exclude employees of news organizations owned by foreign governments, such as al-Jazeera or the BBC.

Novak defended his reporting Valerie Wilson's name, and said the disclosure was not part of a Bush administration effort to smear a prominent war critic. He also said it is "hypocritical" for his critics to support a shield law "that would have saved me from three years of confrontation."
To Wilson, Novak's "I'm a victim" defense is little more than a last resort aimed more at upping his book sales than setting the record straight.

"He's trying to flog his book," Wilson charged, "on my back and my wife's back."

Leak severs link to al-Qaeda’s secrets

Leak severs link to al-Qaeda’s secrets
Firm says Bush administration’s handling of video ruined its spying efforts
By Joby Warrick
The Washington Post

A small private intelligence company that monitors Islamic terrorist groups obtained a new Osama bin Laden video ahead of its official release last month, and around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, it notified the Bush administration of its secret acquisition. It gave two senior officials access on the condition that the officials not reveal they had it until the al-Qaeda release.

Within 20 minutes, a range of intelligence agencies had begun downloading it from the company's Web site. By midafternoon that day, the video and a transcript of its audio track had been leaked from within the Bush administration to cable television news and broadcast worldwide.

The founder of the company, the SITE Intelligence Group, says this premature disclosure tipped al-Qaeda to a security breach and destroyed a years-long surveillance operation that the company has used to intercept and pass along secret messages, videos and advance warnings of suicide bombings from the terrorist group's communications network.

"Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless," said Rita Katz, the firm's 44-year-old founder, who has garnered wide attention by publicizing statements and videos from extremist chat rooms and Web sites, while attracting controversy over the secrecy of SITE's methodology. Her firm provides intelligence about terrorist groups to a wide range of paying clients, including private firms and military and intelligence agencies from the United States and several other countries.

The precise source of the leak remains unknown. Government officials declined to be interviewed about the circumstances on the record, but they did not challenge Katz's version of events. They also said the incident had no effect on U.S. intelligence-gathering efforts and did not diminish the government's ability to anticipate attacks.

While acknowledging that SITE had achieved success, the officials said U.S. agencies have their own sophisticated means of watching al-Qaeda on the Web. "We have individuals in the right places dealing with all these issues, across all 16 intelligence agencies," said Ross Feinstein, spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

‘Tremendously helpful’But privately, some intelligence officials called the incident regrettable, and one official said SITE had been "tremendously helpful" in ferreting out al-Qaeda secrets over time.

The al-Qaeda video aired on Sept. 7 attracted international attention as the first new video message from the group's leader in three years. In it, a dark-bearded bin Laden urges Americans to convert to Islam and predicts failure for the Bush administration in Iraq and Afghanistan. The video was aired on hundreds of Western news Web sites nearly a full day before its release by a distribution company linked to al-Qaeda.

Computer logs and records reviewed by The Washington Post support SITE's claim that it snatched the video from al-Qaeda days beforehand. Katz requested that the precise date and details of the acquisition not be made public, saying such disclosures could reveal sensitive details about the company's methods.

SITE -- an acronym for the Search for International Terrorist Entities -- was established in 2002 with the stated goal of tracking and exposing terrorist groups, according to the company's Web site. Katz, an Iraqi-born Israeli citizen whose father was executed by Saddam Hussein in the 1960s, has made the investigation of terrorist groups a passionate quest.

"We were able to establish sources that provided us with unique and important information into al-Qaeda's hidden world," Katz said. Her company's income is drawn from subscriber fees and contracts.

Katz said she decided to offer an advance copy of the bin Laden video to the White House without charge so officials there could prepare for its eventual release.

She spoke first with White House counsel Fred F. Fielding, whom she had previously met, and then with Joel Bagnal, deputy assistant to the president for homeland security. Both expressed interest in obtaining a copy, and Bagnal suggested that she send a copy to Michael Leiter, who holds the No. 2 job at the National Counterterrorism Center.

Administration and intelligence officials would not comment on whether they had obtained the video separately. Katz said Fielding and Bagnal made it clear to her that the White House did not possess a copy at the time she offered hers.

Around 10 a.m. on Sept. 7, Katz sent both Leiter and Fielding an e-mail with a link to a private SITE Web page containing the video and an English transcript. "Please understand the necessity for secrecy," Katz wrote in her e-mail. "We ask you not to distribute . . . [as] it could harm our investigations."

Fielding replied with an e-mail expressing gratitude to Katz. "It is you who deserves the thanks," he wrote, according to a copy of the message. There was no record of a response from Leiter or the national intelligence director's office.

Exactly what happened next is unclear. But within minutes of Katz's e-mail to the White House, government-registered computers began downloading the video from SITE's server, according to a log of file transfers. The records show dozens of downloads over the next three hours from computers with addresses registered to defense and intelligence agencies.

Page markers an indicatorBy midafternoon, several television news networks reported obtaining copies of the transcript. A copy posted around 3 p.m. on Fox News's Web site referred to SITE and included page markers identical to those used by the group. "This confirms that the U.S. government was responsible for the leak of this document," Katz wrote in an e-mail to Leiter at 5 p.m.

Al-Qaeda supporters, now alerted to the intrusion into their secret network, put up new obstacles that prevented SITE from gaining the kind of access it had obtained in the past, according to Katz.

A small number of private intelligence companies compete with SITE in scouring terrorists' networks for information and messages, and some have questioned the company's motives and methods, including the claim that its access to al-Qaeda's network was unique. One competitor, Ben Venzke, founder of IntelCenter, said he questions SITE's decision -- as described by Katz -- to offer the video to White House policymakers rather than quietly share it with intelligence analysts.

"It is not just about getting the video first," Venzke said. "It is about having the proper methods and procedures in place to make sure that the appropriate intelligence gets to where it needs to go in the intelligence community and elsewhere in order to support ongoing counterterrorism operations."

Monday, October 08, 2007

Post editor says Bush, Gonzales should be tortured Nick Juliano

Post editor says Bush, Gonzales should be tortured

An associate editor and columnist for the Washington Post says that until George W. Bush and others in his administration endure the "harsh" treatment to which terrorism suspects are subjected, then Bush "will be remembered as the president who tried to justify torture."

Saying his proposal is a "serious" alternative to Jonathan Swift's "modest proposal," the Post's Eugene Robinson says Bush should endure the same detainee treatment he authorized, which "international conventions deem torture."

"My proposal on torture is serious," Robinson wrote on a discussion board Sunday. "Let me know if you agree: Bush administration officials who claim the "harsh" interrogation techniques being used on terrorism suspects are not torture should have to undergo those same techniques. Personally. Repeatedly."

The New York Times revealed last week that secret Justice Department documents explicitly authorized "a combination of painful physical and psychological tactics, including head-slapping, simulated drowning and frigid temperatures." Bush repeated denials that the US does not torture prisoners, although he has not discussed what specific tactics are used.

"Clearly, he is using a narrow definition of torture: If we haven't actually put anybody on the rack or pulled out his fingernails, we haven't committed torture," Robinson writes. "Until George W. Bush can say, 'Hey, I've been waterboarded, and it wasn't so bad,' or Alberto Gonzales can say, 'To tell the truth, spending those three days naked in a freezing-cold cell wasn't painful or anything,' then I'll continue to believe that history will condemn this administration for a shocking lapse of moral judgment. Bush will be remembered as the president who tried to justify torture."

Friday, October 05, 2007

10 Fast and Easy Steps from Freedom to Fascism

10 Fast and Easy Steps from Freedom to Fascism

By F. Vyan Walton

During her little noticed appearance on The Colbert Report this week author Naomi Wolf mentioned a list of ten specific steps that can and will lead a country from Democracy and Freedom into Totalitarian Fascism - and unfortunately it appears that we've already ticked our way past all but one of those goalposts while hardly blinking an eye.

From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all

The old analogy of the frog in the frying pan clearly applies here. It's only by very slowly and gradually increasing the heat that we are lulled into believing everything is just fine - meanwhile our skin is peeling off.

Because Americans like me were born in freedom, we have a hard time even considering that it is possible for us to become as unfree - domestically - as many other nations. Because we no longer learn much about our rights or our system of government - the task of being aware of the constitution has been outsourced from citizens' ownership to being the domain of professionals such as lawyers and professors - we scarcely recognize the checks and balances that the founders put in place, even as they are being systematically dismantled. Because we don't learn much about European history, the setting up of a department of "homeland" security - remember who else was keen on the word "homeland" - didn't raise the alarm bells it might have.

It is my argument that, beneath our very noses, George Bush and his administration are using time-tested tactics to close down an open society. It is time for us to be willing to think the unthinkable - as the author and political journalist Joe Conason, has put it, that it can happen here. And that we are further along than we realize.

Naomi makes an excellent point, but what is even more chilling is the fact that it has happened before - TO US!

Step 1. Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

As was done after the Reichstag Fire and the Attack on Pearl Harbor a new and enduring enemy of the state has been identified, both within and without - both real and imagined. In Germany the imagined enemy were the Jews, Gypsies and Gays, in America it was the interned Japanese-Americans, the dreaded "Fifth Column" and later The Reds and Commies.

As the Reichstag Fire was followed by the Enabling Act which supplanted constitutional law with a perpetual state of emergency, we have seen Sept 11th followed by the Patriot Act, the (toothless) Detainee Treatment Act, the Military Commissions Act and the FISA Act - all of whom have continued to trade freedom and protections against the overreaching of the state for the pyrite of "Security" in a deal so naked in it's lopsidedness it would make Beelzebulb blush with envy.

Today the real threat is indeed al Qeada, albeit a far less deadly and damaging threat than the one which wiped most of New Orleans from the map, while the imagined one are those damn filthy Liberals who just about seem to be to blame for everything. Especially those mouthy Liberals who would rail against the slow loss of liberty and our national moral standing. Pity those who dare to stand firm against the juggernaut of fear and loathing, they who will become nothing more than grease upon it's wheels.

Step 2. Create a Gulag

As we've seen under Stalin once you have identified your enemies - you need a dank dark place to put them. Permanently. And of course, like a little butter to make this bitter pill go down - you need a sham kangaroo court to make your Secret Prisons and Detention Centers seem completely legitimate.

By the way, the establishment of military tribunals that deny prisoners due process tends to come early on in a fascist shift. Mussolini and Stalin set up such tribunals. On April 24 1934, the Nazis, too, set up the People's Court, which also bypassed the judicial system: prisoners were held indefinitely, often in isolation, and tortured, without being charged with offenses, and were subjected to show trials.

Today people such Abu Omar, Maher Arar and Pulitzer Prize winning AP photographer Bilial Hussein have been literally snatched off the street by U.S. forces and agents, kidnapped, transported across international lines against their will and in several cases tortured by our "allies" only to be later to have been found as Omar and Ahar have been - to be completely innocent. Most of those held at Abu Ghraib were innocent of any real charge, and had no connections to insurgents or terrorists - yet they have remained.

Meanwhile the American public has hardly lifted a voice in protest, let alone a finger. Just as they remained silent during the internment of Japanese-Americans, and the blacklisting of suspected "Pinkos" in decades past.

3. Develop a thug caste.

When leaders who seek what I call a "fascist shift" want to close down an open society, they send paramilitary groups of scary young men out to terrorize citizens. The Blackshirts roamed the Italian countryside beating up communists; the Brownshirts staged violent rallies throughout Germany. This paramilitary force is especially important in a democracy: you need citizens to fear thug violence and so you need thugs who are free from prosecution.

Today we have private military firms such as Triple Canopy, and of course Black Water. These firms not only roam the streets of Baghdad, but have already roamed the streets of New Orleans. Accountable to no one except their share-holders, these firms employ their on mercenary army with their own rules of engagement and a history of shooting civilians for sport as Triple Canopy was accused of in 2006.

WASHINGTON - Shane Schmidt was a U.S. Marine for seven years, the leader of a sniper unit. Chuck Shepard spent seven years in the U.S. Army. After leaving the military, each found his way into the legions of heavily armed private security contractors working in Iraq.

The two were working together on July 8, 2006, when they claim they witnessed what they believe was a crime. They say another American fired, unprovoked, into two Iraqi civilian vehicles. They say it started during a mission to Baghdad International Airport, when their supervisor, who was leaving Iraq the next day and was in the vehicle with them, made a troubling remark.

"He'd made a comment that he was going to kill somebody today," says Schmidt. "Kill someone."

This week after an allegedly unprovoked shooting that killed nearly a dozen innocent Iraqi civilians, Black Water was asked to leave Iraq by their prime minister - yet they remain and have continued their duties.

This new generation of Brownshirts are now all powerful and completely immune to U.S. Law and Iraqi Law as Ms. Wolf points out.

In Iraq, some of these contract operatives have been accused of involvement in torturing prisoners, harassing journalists and firing on Iraqi civilians. Under Order 17, issued to regulate contractors in Iraq by the one-time US administrator in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, these contractors are immune from prosecution.

4. Set up an internal surveillance system

Enter the Secret Police, watching everyone, hearing everything - and their most valuable agent just might be your next door neighbor.

In Mussolini's Italy, in Nazi Germany, in communist East Germany, in communist China - in every closed society - secret police spy on ordinary people and encourage neighbors to spy on neighbors.

In 2005 and 2006, when James Risen and Eric Lichtblau wrote in the New York Times about a secret state programme to wiretap citizens' phones, read their emails and follow international financial transactions, it became clear to ordinary Americans that they, too, could be under state scrutiny

Total Information Awareness, long thought dead has continued to re-emerge in new and more powerful forms. Tracking tens of millions of international domestic phone calls, emails and financial transactions without any judicial oversight. Clear and obvious violations of the FISA Law, the Pen and Trap restrictions and the 4th Amendment. No checks, no balance - just more paranoia, more fear, and more consolidation of power and influence.

5. Harass citizens' groups

And who better to watch than those peace-loving anti-war Liberals. Clearly they represent the most clear and present danger to the state (of perpetual war).

the American Civil Liberties Union reports that thousands of ordinary American anti-war, environmental and other groups have been infiltrated by agents: a secret Pentagon database includes more than four dozen peaceful anti-war meetings, rallies or marches by American citizens in it's category of 1,500 "suspicious incidents". The equally secret Counterintelligence Field Activity (Cifa) agency of the Department of Defense has been gathering information about domestic organizations engaged in peaceful political activities: Cifa is supposed to track "potential terrorist threats" as it watches ordinary US citizen activists.

That's right you too could be on the Watchlist. But of course you still have freedom of speech, just watch what you say.

6. Engage in arbitrary detention and release

Whether you are a professor Emeritus at Princeton, a U.S. Senator, a former Vice President of the United States, a humble folk singer who has converted to Islam or simply a window washer we are all now well aware that at anytime we could be arbitrarily detained, particularly while attempting to travel by air.

In 2004, America's Transportation Security Administration confirmed that it had a list of passengers who were targeted for security searches or worse if they tried to fly. People who have found themselves on the list? Two middle-aged women peace activists in San Francisco; liberal Senator Edward Kennedy; a member of Venezuela's government - after Venezuela's president had criticized Bush; and thousands of ordinary US citizens.

And we've seen more mundane but violent incidents of arbitrary detention particularly at colleges. In addition to the tasing at last weeks Kerry event, we've had other students who were a less vocal and resistant Iranian Student was singled out, profiled and then tasered into submission for refusing to provide his ID unless other students in the area were similarly questioned at such "Liberal" schools as UCLA. Quicktime Video

An incident late Tuesday night in which a UCLA student was stunned at least four times with a Taser has left the UCLA community questioning whether the university police officers’ use of force was an appropriate response to the situation.

Mostafa Tabatabainejad, a UCLA student, was repeatedly stunned with a Taser and then taken into custody when he did not exit the CLICC Lab in Powell Library in a timely manner. Community Service Officers had asked Tabatabainejad to leave after he failed to produce his BruinCard during a random check at around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Mostafa demanded that he be afforded equal treatment and equal justice while being harassed by security without probable cause - for his impudence he was tased repeatedly, even after he has already been handcuffed.

7. Target key individuals

Threaten civil servants, artists and academics with job loss if they don't toe the line. Mussolini went after the rectors of state universities who did not conform to the fascist line; so did Joseph Goebbels, who purged academics who were not pro-Nazi; so did Chile's Augusto Pinochet; so does the Chinese communist Politburo in punishing pro-democracy students and professors.

From the harassment of Ward Churchill for daring to state that the 9/11 hijackers might actually have a reasons for wanting to strike back at the World Trade Center, to the attacks to the Smearboating of John Kerry and John Murtha - those who speak out against the authoritarians have a target painted directly on their forehead. Disabling and neutralizing potential leaders stalls organization of larger movements and protests against the status quo.

Besides the Death Threat used against the Dixie Chicks for speaking out, there's the case of one elderly black minister, Rev Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, who was pulled out of line, wrestled to the ground and dog piled by Capital Police (resulting in a fracture of his leg) in the Halls of the Capital Building for having the temerity for being "one peacenik too many" while trying to enter the hearing room where Gen Petreaus was scheduled to testify just last week.

<> Youtube Video

If you have any doubts that we are rushing head-long into becoming a fascist state - this video should correct that mis-presumption.

8. Control the press

Italy in the 1920s, Germany in the 30s, East Germany in the 50s, Czechoslovakia in the 60s, the Latin American dictatorships in the 70s, China in the 80s and 90s - all dictatorships and would-be dictators target newspapers and journalists. They threaten and harass them in more open societies that they are seeking to close, and they arrest them and worse in societies that have been closed already.

As Dan Rather lawsuit has now revealed, CBS was completely manipulated by the Administration to stall the Killian Memo's story, they also attempted to block release of the Abu Ghraib story just as they had with the Secret CIA Prisons Story, the NSA Domestic Surveillance Story and the Financial Tracking Story.

In addition to pressuring the corporate media, the Administration has used sympathetic outlets such as Fox News to present uncritical stenography of their view of the world such as when Fox's Brit Hume allowed Gen Petreaus use his program to give an extended power point briefing on the Surge.

And lastly, they've actually used government agencies to generate literally fake news. Paying for favorable reporting from the likes of Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, Micheal McManus and Dave Smith - not to mention completely fake "journalists" such as Jeff Gannon/Guckert - and then used government facilities to release imitation local news reports that are then rebroadcast nationally as if actual reporters had generated them.

9. Dissent equals treason

Cast dissent as "treason" and criticism as "espionage'. Every closing society does this, just as it elaborates laws that increasingly criminalize certain kinds of speech and expand the definition of "spy" and "traitor".

It has been quite common for anyone who criticizes the tactics of the Bush Administration to be labeled as "Traitor" or "Aider and Abetter". I have documented this in detail here and here - noting that time and time again, whether it's Ann Coulter, Melanie Morgan, Rush Limbaugh, Tom Delay, Dennis Hastert, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney or George Bush himself - the language of "treason" is always not far from the tip of their tongue.

Naomi argues that this salty rhetoric is not just a reflex, not just a political pose, it's meant by quite literally those who invoke it. Eventually we will see an American Citizen tried for Treason simply because they said the "wrong thing" at the wrong time. (Arguably, it may have already occurred with one particular attorney of a terrorism client whose name I don't currently recall) But then again, maybe there won't even be a trial, maybe they'll simply be deemed an "Enemy Combatant" with no evidence, hearing or access to Habeas Corpus and disappear into our modern day Gulags. And if it did happen, how would we even know?

10. Suspend the rule of law

Final stop, all aboard on this well paved road to hell.

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 gave the president new powers over the national guard. This means that in a national emergency - which the president now has enhanced powers to declare - he can send Michigan's militia to enforce a state of emergency that he has declared in Oregon, over the objections of the state's governor and it's citizens.

This of course is in direct violation of the Posse Commitatus act which restricts the ability of the Federal Government to use Military forces against it's own citizens. In effect, Posse Commitatus has now been nullified, just as Habeas Corpus and the War Crimes Act had been previously.

There is now literally nothing standing in the way of Martial Law other than the President making a determination that he will or will not invoke it.

He can do this any time he feels like. Congress granted him this power, just as they granted him the authority to invade Iraq and the eviscerate FISA. This happened on Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid's watch, not when the Republicans had control of Congress and considering how incredibly ineffective they've been so far at ending the War they helped start in Iraq, once we cross this rubicon the likelihood of our ever coming back remains extremely remote.

This has been like a bolder rolling down the hill toward our Constitution for the past 30 years, ever since Nixon resigned and many Presidential "powers" were severely curtained by oversight and laws intended to protect the public from the abuse of power by the government such as FISA.

Now it's at full speed - and we will not manage to stop it on a "dime". Even if we do manage to recognize the danger in time, even if we do manage to muster a million man human chain of activists, journalists (and a few genuinely brave politicians) to stand in the way of this behemoth and either slow it down or change it's inevitable course toward full-on fascism, we won't do so without taking casualties.

We aren't leaving this fight without putting some skin in the game. We will have setbacks, as we have this week with the failure of the Webb "Dwell Time" amendment, the collapse of Habeas yet again, Reid-Feingold going down in flames only to have Levin-Reed bar-b-qued right beside it. Congress is simply not going to be able to end this war with a snap of their fingers or by attempting the disastrous strategy of cutting of the funding for the troops.

That ain't gonna happen, largely because we have yet to recognize exactly what it is we are truly fighting against. It's not just about the War, it's much, much more than that.

But we have to keep pushing, we have to keep fighting - as Naomi points out so clearly - we are headed directly down a incredibly dark and dangerous path. We can't say "It'll never happen here" - because even our own relatively recent history with McCarthyism proves this simply isn't true. I can happen, it has happened and now it's happening again. Back then it was just the ravings of one lone lunatic in the Senate, but today it's much worse. It's not just the President or the most extreme wingnuts in his party, it's the Democrats too - those who continue to cower and collapse when the pressure is applied, those who condemn MoveOn for simply saying the same type of thing that has been said about General Batiste, General Eaton and General Zinni when they dared to criticize the President's repeated failure after failure after failure. They are indeed "aiders and abettors" but not to al Qaeda, they have aided the rise of a New American Fascism. An America that is Patriotic as all get-out and rotten to the core.

Yes, it's happened before, it can happen to again - but only if we let it. Only if we're too busy with Brittany flashing her shaven poontang all over town or this nonsense of OJ stealing his own sh*t back to really Pay Attention, then stand and be counted as a personal defender of freedom. It's not just the job of the soldiers - it's our job as well and we have to take it back. Spread the word, spread the truth. It's won't be easy, it won't happen tomorrow, people won't listen, they won't believe, they won't respond - they'll ridicule us as being extremists and moonbats (heck, they already do) - it might take 20 or more years, but we have to do it and keep doing it.

The future of our Democracy really and truly is at stake.


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