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August 16th, 2004, 09:41 AM
August 16, 2004
F.B.I. Goes Knocking for Political Troublemakers

ASHINGTON, Aug. 15 - The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been questioning political demonstrators across the country, and in rare cases even subpoenaing them, in an aggressive effort to forestall what officials say could be violent and disruptive protests at the Republican National Convention in New York.

F.B.I. officials are urging agents to canvass their communities for information about planned disruptions aimed at the convention and other coming political events, and they say they have developed a list of people who they think may have information about possible violence. They say the inquiries, which began last month before the Democratic convention in Boston, are focused solely on possible crimes, not on dissent, at major political events.

But some people contacted by the F.B.I. say they are mystified by the bureau's interest and felt harassed by questions about their political plans.

"The message I took from it," said Sarah Bardwell, 21, an intern at a Denver antiwar group who was visited by six investigators a few weeks ago, "was that they were trying to intimidate us into not going to any protests and to let us know that, 'hey, we're watching you.' ''

The unusual initiative comes after the Justice Department, in a previously undisclosed legal opinion, gave its blessing to controversial tactics used last year by the F.B.I in urging local police departments to report suspicious activity at political and antiwar demonstrations to counterterrorism squads. The F.B.I. bulletins that relayed the request for help detailed tactics used by demonstrators - everything from violent resistance to Internet fund-raising and recruitment.

In an internal complaint, an F.B.I. employee charged that the bulletins improperly blurred the line between lawfully protected speech and illegal activity. But the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, in a five-page internal analysis obtained by The New York Times, disagreed.

The office, which also made headlines in June in an opinion - since disavowed - that authorized the use of torture against terrorism suspects in some circumstances, said any First Amendment impact posed by the F.B.I.'s monitoring of the political protests was negligible and constitutional.

The opinion said: "Given the limited nature of such public monitoring, any possible 'chilling' effect caused by the bulletins would be quite minimal and substantially outweighed by the public interest in maintaining safety and order during large-scale demonstrations."

Those same concerns are now central to the vigorous efforts by the F.B.I. to identify possible disruptions by anarchists, violent demonstrators and others at the Republican National Convention, which begins Aug. 30 and is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of protesters.

In the last few weeks, beginning before the Democratic convention, F.B.I. counterterrorism agents and other federal and local officers have sought to interview dozens of people in at least six states, including past protesters and their friends and family members, about possible violence at the two conventions. In addition, three young men in Missouri said they were trailed by federal agents for several days and subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury last month, forcing them to cancel their trip to Boston to take part in a protest there that same day.

Interrogations have generally covered the same three questions, according to some of those questioned and their lawyers: were demonstrators planning violence or other disruptions, did they know anyone who was, and did they realize it was a crime to withhold such information.

A handful of protesters at the Boston convention were arrested but there were no major disruptions. Concerns have risen for the Republican convention, however, because of antiwar demonstrations directed at President Bush and because of New York City's global prominence.

With the F.B.I. given more authority after the Sept. 11 attacks to monitor public events, the tensions over the convention protests, coupled with the Justice Department's own legal analysis of such monitoring, reflect the fine line between protecting national security in an age of terrorism and discouraging political expression.

F.B.I. officials, mindful of the bureau's abuses in the 1960's and 1970's monitoring political dissidents like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., say they are confident their agents have not crossed that line in the lead-up to the conventions.

"The F.B.I. isn't in the business of chilling anyone's First Amendment rights," said Joe Parris, a bureau spokesman in Washington. "But criminal behavior isn't covered by the First Amendment. What we're concerned about are injuries to convention participants, injuries to citizens, injuries to police and first responders."

F.B.I. officials would not say how many people had been interviewed in recent weeks, how they were identified or what spurred the bureau's interest.

They said the initiative was part of a broader, nationwide effort to follow any leads pointing to possible violence or illegal disruptions in connection with the political conventions, presidential debates or the November election, which come at a time of heightened concern about a possible terrorist attack.

F.B.I. officials in Washington have urged field offices around the country in recent weeks to redouble their efforts to interview sources and gather information that might help to detect criminal plots. The only lead to emerge publicly resulted in a warning to authorities before the Boston convention that anarchists or other domestic groups might bomb news vans there. It is not clear whether there was an actual plot.

The individuals visited in recent weeks "are people that we identified that could reasonably be expected to have knowledge of such plans and plots if they existed," Mr. Parris said.

"We vetted down a list and went out and knocked on doors and had a laundry list of questions to ask about possible criminal behavior," he added. "No one was dragged from their homes and put under bright lights. The interviewees were free to talk to us or close the door in our faces."

But civil rights advocates argued that the visits amounted to harassment. They said they saw the interrogations as part of a pattern of increasingly aggressive tactics by federal investigators in combating domestic terrorism. In an episode in February in Iowa, federal prosecutors subpoenaed Drake University for records on the sponsor of a campus antiwar forum. The demand was dropped after a community outcry.

Protest leaders and civil rights advocates who have monitored the recent interrogations said they believed at least 40 or 50 people, and perhaps many more, had been contacted by federal agents about demonstration plans and possible violence surrounding the conventions and other political events.

"This kind of pressure has a real chilling effect on perfectly legitimate political activity," said Mark Silverstein, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, where two groups of political activists in Denver and a third in Fort Collins were visited by the F.B.I. "People are going to be afraid to go to a demonstration or even sign a petition if they justifiably believe that will result in your having an F.B.I. file opened on you."

The issue is a particularly sensitive one in Denver, where the police agreed last year to restrictions on local intelligence-gathering operations after it was disclosed that the police had kept files on some 3,000 people and 200 groups involved in protests.

But the inquiries have stirred opposition elsewhere as well.

In New York, federal agents recently questioned a man whose neighbor reported he had made threatening comments against the president. He and a lawyer, Jeffrey Fogel, agreed to talk to the Secret Service, denying the accusation and blaming it on a feud with the neighbor. But when agents started to question the man about his political affiliations and whether he planned to attend convention protests, "that's when I said no, no, no, we're not going to answer those kinds of questions," said Mr. Fogel, who is legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.

In the case of the three young men subpoenaed in Missouri, Denise Lieberman, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in St. Louis, which is representing them, said they scrapped plans to attend both the Boston and the New York conventions after they were questioned about possible violence.

The men are all in their early 20's, Ms. Lieberman said, but she would not identify them.

All three have taken part in past protests over American foreign policy and in planning meetings for convention demonstrations. She said two of them were arrested before on misdemeanor charges for what she described as minor civil disobedience at protests.

Prosecutors have now informed the men that they are targets of a domestic terrorism investigation, Ms. Lieberman said, but have not disclosed the basis for their suspicions. "They won't tell me," she said.

Federal officials in St. Louis and Washington declined to comment on the case. Ms. Lieberman insisted that the men "didn't have any plans to participate in the violence, but what's so disturbing about all this is the pre-emptive nature - stopping them from participating in a protest before anything even happened."

The three men "were really shaken and frightened by all this," she said, "and they got the message loud and clear that if you make plans to go to a protest, you could be subject to arrest or a visit from the F.B.I."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 16th, 2004, 09:43 AM
August 16, 2004
Suppress the Vote?

he big story out of Florida over the weekend was the tragic devastation caused by Hurricane Charley. But there's another story from Florida that deserves our attention.

State police officers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando and interrogated them as part of an odd "investigation" that has frightened many voters, intimidated elderly volunteers and thrown a chill over efforts to get out the black vote in November.

The officers, from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which reports to Gov. Jeb Bush, say they are investigating allegations of voter fraud that came up during the Orlando mayoral election in March.

Officials refused to discuss details of the investigation, other than to say that absentee ballots are involved. They said they had no idea when the investigation might end, and acknowledged that it may continue right through the presidential election.

"We did a preliminary inquiry into those allegations and then we concluded that there was enough evidence to follow through with a full criminal investigation," said Geo Morales, a spokesman for the Department of Law Enforcement.

The state police officers, armed and in plain clothes, have questioned dozens of voters in their homes. Some of those questioned have been volunteers in get-out-the-vote campaigns.

I asked Mr. Morales in a telephone conversation to tell me what criminal activity had taken place.

"I can't talk about that," he said.

I asked if all the people interrogated were black.

"Well, mainly it was a black neighborhood we were looking at - yes,'' he said.

He also said, "Most of them were elderly."

When I asked why, he said, "That's just the people we selected out of a random sample to interview."

Back in the bad old days, some decades ago, when Southern whites used every imaginable form of chicanery to prevent blacks from voting, blacks often fought back by creating voters leagues, which were organizations that helped to register, educate and encourage black voters. It became a tradition that continues in many places, including Florida, today.

Not surprisingly, many of the elderly black voters who found themselves face to face with state police officers in Orlando are members of the Orlando League of Voters, which has been very successful in mobilizing the city's black vote.

The president of the Orlando League of Voters is Ezzie Thomas, who is 73 years old. With his demonstrated ability to deliver the black vote in Orlando, Mr. Thomas is a tempting target for supporters of George W. Bush in a state in which the black vote may well spell the difference between victory and defeat.

The vile smell of voter suppression is all over this so-called investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Joseph Egan, an Orlando lawyer who represents Mr. Thomas, said: "The Voters League has workers who go into the community to do voter registration, drive people to the polls and help with absentee ballots. They are elderly women mostly. They get paid like $100 for four or five months' work, just to offset things like the cost of their gas. They see this political activity as an important contribution to their community. Some of the people in the community had never cast a ballot until the league came to their door and encouraged them to vote."

Now, said Mr. Egan, the fear generated by state police officers going into people's homes as part of an ongoing criminal investigation related to voting is threatening to undo much of the good work of the league. He said, "One woman asked me, 'Am I going to go to jail now because I voted by absentee ballot?' "

According to Mr. Egan, "People who have voted by absentee ballot for years are refusing to allow campaign workers to come to their homes. And volunteers who have participated for years in assisting people, particularly the elderly or handicapped, are scared and don't want to risk a criminal investigation."

Florida is a state that's very much in play in the presidential election, with some polls showing John Kerry in the lead. A heavy-handed state police investigation that throws a blanket of fear over thousands of black voters can only help President Bush.

The long and ugly tradition of suppressing the black vote is alive and thriving in the Sunshine State.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 17th, 2004, 12:24 AM
Fortunately none of this is going to save him in November, unless of course Kerry pulls a McGreevey, which is unlikely.

August 17th, 2004, 09:09 AM
I hope Kerry doesn't have your confidence in the outcome, or he will lose.

This election is close. A bad economy and bad war are poison to incumbents. Bush should be off the radar by now, but he's still in there. He's the one that got the "bounce" after the Dem convention, and Kerry has yet to define himself clearly as the alternative to Bush.

August 17th, 2004, 12:22 PM
August 17, 2004
Interrogating the Protesters

or several weeks, starting before the Democratic convention, F.B.I. officers have been questioning potential political demonstrators, and their friends and families, about their plans to protest at the two national conventions. These heavy-handed inquiries are intimidating, and they threaten to chill freedom of expression. They also appear to be a spectacularly poor use of limited law-enforcement resources. The F.B.I. should redirect its efforts to focus more directly on real threats.

Six investigators recently descended on Sarah Bardwell, a 21-year-old intern with a Denver antiwar group, who quite reasonably took away the message that the government was watching her closely. In Missouri, three men in their early 20's said they had been followed by federal investigators for days, then subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury. They ended up canceling their plans to show up for the Democratic and Republican conventions.

The F.B.I. is going forward with the blessing of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel - the same outfit that recently approved the use of torture against terrorism suspects. In the Justice Department's opinion, the chilling effect of the investigations is "quite minimal," and "substantially outweighed by the public interest in maintaining safety and order." But this analysis gets the balance wrong. When protesters are made to feel like criminal suspects, the chilling effect is potentially quite serious. And the chances of gaining any information that would be useful in stopping violence are quite small.

The knock on the door from government investigators asking about political activities is the stuff of totalitarian regimes. It is intimidating to be visited by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, particularly by investigators who warn that withholding information about anyone with plans to create a disruption is a crime.

And few people would want the F.B.I. to cross-examine their friends and family about them. If engaging in constitutionally protected speech means subjecting yourself to this kind of government monitoring, many Americans may decide - as the men from Missouri did - that the cost is too high.

Meanwhile, history suggests that the way to find out what potentially violent protesters are planning is not to send F.B.I. officers bearing questionnaires to the doorsteps of potential demonstrators. As became clear in the 1960's, F.B.I. monitoring of youthful dissenters is notoriously unreliable. The files that were created in the past often proved to be laughably inaccurate.

The F.B.I.'s questioning of protesters is part of a larger campaign against political dissent that has increased sharply since the start of the war on terror.

At the Democratic convention, protesters were sent to a depressing barbed-wire camp under the subway tracks. And at a recent Bush-Cheney campaign event, audience members were required to sign a pledge to support President Bush before they were admitted.

F.B.I. officials insist that the people they interview are free to "close the door in our faces," but by then the damage may already have been done. The government must not be allowed to turn a war against foreign enemies into a campaign against critics at home.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 17th, 2004, 06:32 PM
Wouldn't it have been nice if the FBI knocked on a few doors in New Jersey prior to 9/11?

August 18th, 2004, 12:20 AM
August 18, 2004
Inquiry Into F.B.I. Questioning Is Sought

ASHINGTON, Aug. 17 - Several Democratic lawmakers called on Tuesday for a Justice Department investigation into the Federal Bureau of Investigation's questioning of would-be demonstrators about possible violence at the political conventions, saying the questioning may have violated the First Amendment.

In a letter to the department's inspector general seeking an investigation, the three lawmakers said the F.B.I. inquiries appeared to represent "systematic political harassment and intimidation of legitimate antiwar protesters."

Signing the letter, which was prompted by an article on Monday in The New York Times, were Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, and two other Democrats on the panel, Jerrold Nadler of New York and Robert C. Scott of Virginia.

Officials at the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said they had not seen the letter and could not comment on its specific points. They defended the recent efforts by the bureau to question potential demonstrators around the country, saying the inquiries have been aimed solely at detecting and preventing violence at the Republican convention in New York and other major political events.

"The F.B.I. is not monitoring groups or interviewing individuals unless we receive intelligence that such individuals or groups may be planning violent and disruptive criminal activity or have knowledge of such activity," Cassandra M. Chandler, an assistant director of the bureau, said in a statement released late Monday.

After having received reports of possible violence, Ms. Chandler said, "the F.B.I. conducted interviews, within the bounds of the U.S. Constitution, in order to determine the validity of the threat information.''

"Violent acts,'' she added, "are not protected by the U.S. Constitution, and the F.B.I. has a duty to prevent such acts and to identify and bring to justice those who commit them."

In recent weeks, beginning last month before the Democratic National Convention in Boston, F.B.I. agents have contacted a number of people who have been active in political demonstrations in at least six states: Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri and New York. Many of those contacted have been active in past demonstrations, and agents have

asked whether they planned acts of violence at upcoming protests, whether they knew of anyone who did and whether they realized it was a crime to withhold such information.

Three young men in Missouri were also trailed by federal agents and subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury last month to tell what they knew of protest plans, forcing them to cancel a planned trip to Boston to participate in a demonstration there.

Officials of the F.B.I. would not say how many interviews the bureau had conducted. Civil rights advocates who have monitored the process estimated that at least several dozen people had received visits from agents at their homes and elsewhere in recent weeks. They said they were continuing to collect anecdotal information from demonstrators who had been approached by federal agents.

In a newly disclosed episode in Colorado, two college students said that an F.B.I. agent approached the faculty adviser for their campus group late last month and that the agent showed photographs of the students, Mark Silverstein, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said. The students did not want their names or college disclosed, Mr. Silverstein said, because "they're really scared out of their minds."

The inquiries were made after a legal opinion in April by the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department endorsed the constitutionality of past efforts by F.B.I. counterterrorism agents to solicit help from local police forces to gather intelligence on antiwar and political demonstrations. The opinion said any chilling of First Amendment rights was "quite minimal" and was "substantially outweighed" by concerns for public safety at big demonstrations.

Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said on Tuesday that he was troubled by the pre-emptive nature of the inquiries, which he said had deterred some demonstrators from protesting.

"This looks like it's much more about intimidation and coercion than about criminal conduct," Mr. Romero said. "It's not enough for the F.B.I. to say that there's the potential for criminal activity. That's not the legal threshold, and if that were really the case, they could investigate anybody."

Representative Conyers and his colleagues raised similar concerns in their letter. They asked the inspector general to examine internal documents at the Justice Department and F.B.I. on political protests and to determine if the inquiries "focused on actual threats of violence or merely involved legitimate political and antiwar activity."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 18th, 2004, 12:23 AM
August 18, 2004
Setbacks on Press Protections Are Seen

A ruling last week ordering a reporter for Time magazine to jail for contempt and a subpoena later issued to a reporter for The New York Times in the same case are the latest examples in what legal experts characterize as an ominous trend for journalists: the weakening of fundamental protections for the gathering and publishing of news that had been generally viewed as settled since the Watergate era.

Both the contempt citation and the subpoena were issued in a federal investigation of whether the Bush administration had illegally disclosed the identity of a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency to the syndicated columnist Robert Novak and other journalists.

These actions, along with one in which a federal judge has ordered journalists from The Times and other news organizations to identify who told them personal information about the scientist Wen Ho Lee, have threatened to undermine what reporters have long regarded as their constitutionally protected privilege to shield their sources.

At the same time, other court rulings in recent months have chipped away at another long-held legal principle, one that has enabled journalists to publish virtually everything they know without being subject to so-called prior restraint. They include a ruling that partly restricted coverage of the trials of defendants as disparate as Kobe Bryant and Frank P. Quattrone, the former investment banker.

Meanwhile, officials at the Justice Department and other federal agencies have been tightening the rules governing what journalists and the general public can access under the Freedom of Information Act. They contend that the law's emphasis on swift and often-unfettered disclosure could aid terrorists.

One agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees companies transmitting oil, electricity and natural gas, has drafted rules over the last year that could require some reporters to commit to submitting articles to the commission's lawyers for vetting before publication.

"In effect, all of these developments work to thwart the ability of the press to do a good job of bringing vital information to the American public," said Paul K. McMasters, an ombudsman of the First Amendment Center, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that tracks such cases. "Some represent a direct restriction on their ability to get information to make stories work. Others could chill sources that have helped break many major stories."

There are those, of course, who argue that at least some of the efforts to hem in the press represent a long-overdue correction. Reporters, they argue, sometimes overreach in challenging the desires of both the government and individuals to keep some information from public view.

"I fully respect the fact that much of the truth we get today is a result of hard work by journalists and any restriction on their activity has a price," said Martin London, who represented Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in a civil action in the 1970's that enjoined a celebrity photographer from following her too closely. "On the other hand, this is a balance."

Among the principles at stake in the investigation into the leak of the name of the C.I.A. official, Valerie Plame, is that of a reporter's privilege to avoid having to testify about confidential or unpublished information, unless it goes "to the heart" of a particular case and cannot be otherwise obtained.

While lower-court judges have generally upheld that principle, the reed to which they have clung - a concurrence by Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. in a Supreme Court case from 1972 known as Branzburg - has been characterized as relatively thin in several recent decisions.

In ordering the Time reporter, Matthew Cooper, jailed for refusing to name the government officials who disclosed Ms. Plame's name, Thomas F. Hogan, the chief judge of the Federal District Court in Washington, rejected the magazine's contention that the First Amendment entitled journalists to refuse to answer a grand jury's questions about confidential sources. (Mr. Cooper remains free as Time appeals the ruling.)

Thomas Penfield Jackson, a federal judge in the same district, made a similar ruling last year. In that case, he ordered two reporters from The Times - as well as reporters from The Los Angeles Times and The Associated Press, and a former CNN reporter - to testify about leaks they may have received from the personal records of Dr. Lee. Suspected of espionage in 1999, Dr. Lee has sued the government, contending that the disclosures violated his privacy rights.

A hearing in the case, in which Judge Jackson will consider whether to find the reporters in contempt, is scheduled for today.

The steep prohibition against efforts to restrain a news organization from publishing what it knows - unless it jeopardizes national security - was set forth in the Pentagon Papers case of 1971, in which The New York Times won the right to publish a secret government history of the Vietnam War.

And yet, in recent months, that doctrine, too, has suffered setbacks, however temporary. Judges have sought to balance the public's right to know against other concerns, like privacy rights and a defendant's right to a fair trial.

Some First Amendment experts believe that the next frontier for such disagreements will be the increasingly disputed territory surrounding the Freedom of Information Act, which Congress passed in 1966 to ease access to federal agencies.

A month after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Attorney General John Ashcroft rescinded a memorandum that his predecessor, Janet Reno, issued eight years earlier in which she argued for "a presumption of disclosure." Instead, Mr. Ashcroft urged federal agencies to consider "the institutional, commercial and privacy interests that could be implicated by disclosure."

That more government documents are being shielded from public view was evident in a report last spring from an arm of the National Archives and Records Administration. It calculated that the government classified 14 million new documents as national security secrets in 2003, compared with 11 million in 2002 and 9 million in 2001.

While editors and their lawyers acknowledge that many of those documents are sensitive, they worry that the government is also withholding material that is of little use to terrorists but might well reveal the failings of government or industry.

"You're going to see an increase in reporter's privilege cases, because you're going to have a lot more leaks," said Kevin M. Goldberg, a lawyer for the American Society of Newspaper Editors. "At the same time, the government is going to try to impose 'prior restraint' more, until these matters are resolved."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 18th, 2004, 09:59 AM
The F.B.I. and the Protesters (5 Letters)

Published: August 18, 2004


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Freedom of Speech and Expression

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Demonstrations and Riots

To the Editor:

Re "Interrogating the Protesters" (editorial, Aug. 17):

Absent probable cause or reasonable suspicion that a person is engaging in or will engage in criminal activity, the F.B.I.'s targeting and questioning of political protesters is antithetical to America's commitment to the First Amendment right to engage in peaceful, nonviolent protest activity. The reported F.B.I. activity interferes with and chills longstanding First Amendment freedoms.

The F.B.I. should explain what it is doing and the basis for its actions. Also, local law enforcement officials, including the New York City Police Department, should state whether they are engaging in similar tactics.

The right to protest is a fundamental right, and it should not be undermined.

Norman Siegel
New York, Aug. 17, 2004
The writer is a civil rights lawyer.

To the Editor:

Re "F.B.I. Goes Knocking for Political Troublemakers" (front page, Aug. 16): At what point did political protest - sometimes known as political expression, sometimes known as free speech - become terrorism?

Lawrence H. Pelofsky
Cooperstown, N.Y., Aug. 16, 2004

To the Editor:

Re "Interrogating the Protesters" (editorial, Aug. 17): You do not know if the activities of the protesters will be or may be used as a cover for terrorist activity.

Warren Andrews
Orlando, Fla., Aug. 17, 2004

To the Editor:

What a shame that the F.B.I. considers those who plan to exercise their First Amendment rights during the Republican convention to be troublemakers.

Joe Parris, a bureau spokesman, was right when he said that "criminal behavior isn't covered by the First Amendment." But F.B.I. agents are knocking on people's doors because they think that people might behave criminally at an event that has not yet taken place.

This is a grave violation of our basic civil liberties. And the F.B.I.'s emphasis on naming names smacks of McCarthyism.

Patricia Grossman
Brooklyn, Aug. 16, 2004

To the Editor:

I was going back and forth about whether to come to New York to protest at the Republican convention. But since I've learned that the F.B.I. has been deployed to intimidate protesters, I no longer have any doubt about what to do.

It is no longer just a matter of political protest. It is a matter of defending our constitutional rights. I'm coming to New York.

Peter Scotto
South Hadley, Mass., Aug. 17, 2004

August 19th, 2004, 12:56 PM
NYPD to Shadow 56 Protesters Believed Most Dangerous

By Marcus Solis


(New York-WABC, August 18, 2004) - An Eyewitness News exclusive -- details on the incredible lengths the NYPD is taking to keep the most radical protestors expected at the Republican Convention under control.

Police are now tracking 56 potentially dangerous people.

Marcus Solis reports from Madison Square Garden.

While international terrorism remains a concern, this operation's focus is primarily on anarchists, and how they plan to disrupt the convention. This week the NYPD began instructing officers on intelligence on this threat. They also began doling out assignments, and for hundreds of officers that means surveillance work that will begin next week. And it starts for them with a trip out of town.

The debriefings have been taking place at John Jay College and the Police Academy. Inside, the NYPD's intelligence division is outlining security plans for the upcoming Republican National Convention.

The big concern: the anarchist groups which disrupted the W.T.O conference in Seattle in 1999, and who have threatened to do the same here. Sources say the NYPD has identified 56 primary anarchists who will be followed 24 hours a day. One supervisor and six cops will be assigned to each person.

Sources say detectives are leaving this weekend for Boston, Washington D.C., North Carolina, and California to begin surveillance and tail the protestors as they travel to New York.

Sources also say the department is preparing for protestors in Central Park, convinced many demonstrators will descend on the Great Lawn on Sunday, August 29th, regardless of whether a permit is granted.

Another concern are small explosions set off in Midtown, aimed at diverting manpower away from the convention site. Police have already been holding drills where cops simulate a coordinated response called a surge.

Much of the intelligence has come from NYPD cops who have infiltrated various protest groups. Sources say for nearly two years, as many as 20 cops have been meeting with, traveling with, and secretly reporting on the activists' plans.

On Thursday, the department will demonstrate training that officers are receiving in arrest tactics. That is for uniformed officers, but the bulk of the undercover work is to be handled by the department's narcotics officers.

August 20th, 2004, 09:41 AM
August 20, 2004
Voting While Black

he smell of voter suppression coming out of Florida is getting stronger. It turns out that a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation, in which state troopers have gone into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando in a bizarre hunt for evidence of election fraud, is being conducted despite a finding by the department last May "that there was no basis to support the allegations of election fraud."

State officials have said that the investigation, which has already frightened many voters and intimidated elderly volunteers, is in response to allegations of voter fraud involving absentee ballots that came up during the Orlando mayoral election in March. But the department considered that matter closed last spring, according to a letter from the office of Guy Tunnell, the department's commissioner, to Lawson Lamar, the state attorney in Orlando, who would be responsible for any criminal prosecutions.

The letter, dated May 13, said:

"We received your package related to the allegations of voter fraud during the 2004 mayoral election. This dealt with the manner in which absentee ballots were either handled or collected by campaign staffers for Mayor Buddy Dyer. Since this matter involved an elected official, the allegations were forwarded to F.D.L.E.'s Executive Investigations in Tallahassee, Florida.

"The documents were reviewed by F.D.L.E., as well as the Florida Division of Elections. It was determined that there was no basis to support the allegations of election fraud concerning these absentee ballots. Since there is no evidence of criminal misconduct involving Mayor Dyer, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement considers this matter closed."

Well, it's not closed. And department officials said yesterday that the letter sent out in May was never meant to indicate that the "entire" investigation was closed. Since the letter went out, state troopers have gone into the homes of 40 or 50 black voters, most of them elderly, in what the department describes as a criminal investigation. Many longtime Florida observers have said the use of state troopers for this type of investigation is extremely unusual, and it has caused a storm of controversy.

The officers were armed and in plain clothes. For elderly African-American voters, who remember the terrible torment inflicted on blacks who tried to vote in the South in the 1950's and 60's, the sight of armed police officers coming into their homes to interrogate them about voting is chilling indeed.

One woman, who is in her mid-70's and was visited by two officers in June, said in an affidavit: "After entering my house, they asked me if they could take their jackets off, to which I answered yes. When they removed their jackets, I noticed they were wearing side arms. ... And I noticed an ankle holster on one of them when they sat down."

Though apprehensive, she answered all of their questions. But for a lot of voters, the emotional response to the investigation has gone beyond apprehension to outright fear.

"These guys are using these intimidating methods to try and get these folks to stay away from the polls in the future,'' said Eugene Poole, president of the Florida Voters League, which tries to increase black voter participation throughout the state. "And you know what? It's working. One woman said, 'My God, they're going to put us in jail for nothing.' I said, 'That's not true.' "

State officials deny that their intent was to intimidate black voters. Mr. Tunnell, who was handpicked by Gov. Jeb Bush to head the Department of Law Enforcement, said in a statement yesterday: "Instead of having them come to the F.D.L.E. office, which may seem quite imposing, our agents felt it would be a more relaxed atmosphere if they visited the witnesses at their homes.''

When I asked a spokesman for Mr. Tunnell, Tom Berlinger, about the letter in May indicating that the allegations were without merit, he replied that the intent of the letter had not been made clear by Joyce Dawley, a regional director who drafted and signed the letter for Mr. Tunnell.

"The letter was poorly worded,'' said Mr. Berlinger. He said he spoke to Ms. Dawley about the letter a few weeks ago and she told him, "God, I wish I would have made that more clear." What Ms. Dawley meant to say, said Mr. Berlinger, was that it did not appear that Mayor Dyer himself was criminally involved.

Paul Krugman is on vacation.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 21st, 2004, 10:27 AM
I hope Kerry doesn't have your confidence in the outcome, or he will lose.

This election is close. A bad economy and bad war are poison to incumbents. Bush should be off the radar by now, but he's still in there. He's the one that got the "bounce" after the Dem convention, and Kerry has yet to define himself clearly as the alternative to Bush.

Sure, it's possible that Kerry might get mugged or blindsided or make a dumb tactical error or not answer some smear ad until too late like Michael Dukakis, but it seems like he's got enough cash and a-b-B points racked up to balance out any missteps. In fact he'll probably roll over Bush like Clinton did in '92.

August 21st, 2004, 11:37 AM
Bush, Kerry in Statistical Tie Nationwide, CBS Poll Finds

Aug. 19 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry are statistically tied in a poll of voters nationwide conducted by CBS News.

Kerry, 60, a four-term Massachusetts senator, is supported by 46 percent of voters to 45 percent for Bush, 58, according to the survey of 835 registered voters conducted Aug. 15-18. The poll's margin of error is 3 percentage points.

Kerry's support fell since the end of the Democratic National Convention, when he led Bush, 48 percent to 43 percent, according to the poll. Independent candidate Ralph Nader was supported by 1 percent of voters in the most recent poll.

Kerry's support among independents and veterans ha also dropped, the poll found. Forty-four percent of independents now support Kerry, down from 50 percent last month. Thirty-seven percent of veterans support Kerry, the latest poll found, down from 46 percent.

Calls to the Kerry and Bush campaigns seeking comment were not immediately returned.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Nicholas Johnston in Washington at njohnston3@bloomberg.net.

What's disturbing to me:

Kerry is losing some support from veterans. He is being forced to defend his combat record against a man who hid in the National Guard. In the broader sense, the election should be about the incumbent defending his term in office against the challenger.

Tell me who is on the defensive here?

Regardless of Bush's intellectual status, the RNC is an effective campaign organization. Although the term was meaningless, look at the political points that were gained with the words sensitive war.

The danger is that there could be a momentum built where it's felt that if Kerry can't "defend" himself in a campaign, how is he going to "defend" the country.

August 21st, 2004, 01:42 PM
Like I say it's possible that he might fumble it, but since he's getting lots of high-powered help it's just not very likely. Eventually somebody is going to make him stop wearing those pink ties for instance...

August 21st, 2004, 03:53 PM
It is almost impossible to discuss these issues with you, because your statements are not based on anything. They are just attempts at being clever.

WHY do you think it is unlikely that Kerry will "fumble it," when the consensus of commentary after the convention is that he is doing just that?

WHY do you believe that eventually someone is going to make him stop wearing pink ties, and if it's obvious, why hasn't that someone done so already?

WHY do you think that the amount of cash he has will cancel out mistakes, when Bush has more cash?

WHY do you think he will roll over Bush like Clinton did in '92? Is Kerry equal to Clinton as a campaigner?

My opinions, if not correct, are at least thought out and backed by data. It's annoying to have to respond to nonesense like "pulling a McGreevey" or "pink ties."

August 21st, 2004, 04:51 PM
It is almost impossible to discuss these issues with you, because your statements are not based on anything. They are just attempts at being clever.

WHY do you think it is unlikely that Kerry will "fumble it," when the consensus of commentary after the convention is that he is doing just that?

WHY do you believe that eventually someone is going to make him stop wearing pink ties, and if it's obvious, why hasn't that someone done so already?

WHY do you think that the amount of cash he has will cancel out mistakes, when Bush has more cash?

WHY do you think he will roll over Bush like Clinton did in '92? Is Kerry equal to Clinton as a campaigner?

My opinions, if not correct, are at least thought out and backed by data. It's annoying to have to respond to nonesense like "pulling a McGreevey" or "pink ties."

Okay Zippy here's a banana for you. Let's take the swift boat stuff: yes it's a little tricky, and Kerry's never had to face a full-frontal Rove assault before, but basically he (a) served in Vietnam and Bush didn't, and (b) has impeccable credentials as a soldier and a war protester. That's tough to beat.

Also I expect to see lots more of this:

Navy Commander, Journalist, Backs Kerry on Vietnam
Sat Aug 21, 2004 12:32 PM ET
By Carol Giacomo

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - An American journalist who commanded a boat alongside John Kerry in Vietnam broke a 35-year silence on Saturday and defended the Democratic presidential candidate against Republican critics of his military service.

Weighing in on what has become the most bitterly divisive issue of the 2004 campaign for the White House, William Rood of the Chicago Tribune said the tales told by Kerry's detractors are untrue.

"There were three swift boats on the river that day in Vietnam more than 35 years ago -- three officers and 15 crew members. Only two of those officers remain to talk about what happened on February 28, 1969," he wrote in a story that appeared on the newspaper's Web site on Saturday.

"One is John Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate who won a Silver Star for what happened on that date. I am the other."

Before now, wanting to put memories of war and killing behind him, Rood had refused all requests for interviews on the subject, including from his own newspaper. "But Kerry's critics, armed with stories I know to be untrue, have charged that the accounts of what happened were overblown." he wrote.

"The critics have taken pains to say they're not trying to cast doubts on the merit of what others did, but their version of events has splashed doubt on all of us.

"It's gotten harder and harder for those of us who were there to listen to accounts we know to be untrue, especially when they come from people who were not there," he added.

Kerry, a former Navy lieutenant, is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, and his war service is essential to his ability to challenge President Bush on issues of national security and leadership in the face of the Iraq war and terrorism threats.

Increasingly, veterans opposed to Kerry and allied with Bush -- led by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth -- have tried to undermine Kerry's service record and credibility and the justification for his medals.

In the face of a new CBS poll showing Kerry's support among veterans has slipped since the Democratic convention, the Massachusetts senator has launched an aggressive counterattack.

On Friday, Kerry accused the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth of collaborating with the Bush campaign and asked the Federal Election Commission to force the group to withdraw ads challenging his Vietnam service.

Bush spent the war in the United States serving in the Texas Air National Guard. Some Democrats have accused Bush of going absent without leave from the guard, citing gaps in his attendance record.

© Reuters 2004. All Rights Reserved.

p.s. what McGreevey did was unbelievably stupid (IMHO) and at least Kerry isn't dumb enough to shit his pants in public.

August 21st, 2004, 05:16 PM
That article supports what I've been saying.

August 21st, 2004, 06:06 PM
Curious about the topic headline: "Bush" police state. I've read the threads, but still, how does any of this equate to a police state, and how does this get labeled a "Bush" police state?

Even given the fact that most successful legislation originates in the executive branch, it remains true that the legislative branch deliberated and passed compromise bills that ultimately were either signed (or vetoed) by the President.

So, wouldn't it be more logical to refer to a "police state" as being simply a "police state" rather than a "Bush" police state? Or, is that too apolitical?

August 22nd, 2004, 06:38 AM
How can any movement toward a police state be considered apolitical?

Does this trend occur as the result of the normal legislative process? If not, what name(s) would you attach to it? I think Bush, Ashcroft, and the Justice Dept fit nicely.

The topic title is relevant to the articles posted. Whether or not it is true is open for debate.

I am at fault for causing this thread to drift off-topic. Any further campaign issues should be posted here. (http://forums.wirednewyork.com/viewtopic.php?t=2717&start=15)

August 23rd, 2004, 09:20 AM
August 23, 2004
A Chill in Florida

he state police investigation into get-out-the-vote activities by blacks in Orlando, Fla., fits perfectly with the political aims of Gov. Jeb Bush and the Republican Party.

The Republicans were stung in the 2000 presidential election when Al Gore became the first Democrat since 1948 to carry Orange County, of which Orlando is the hub. He could not have carried the county without the strong support of black voters, many of whom cast absentee ballots.

The G.O.P. was stung again in 2003 when Buddy Dyer, a Democrat, was elected mayor of Orlando. He won a special election to succeed Glenda Hood, a three-term Republican who was appointed Florida secretary of state by Governor Bush. Mr. Dyer was re-elected last March. As with Mr. Gore, the black vote was an important factor.

These two election reverses have upset Republicans in Orange County and statewide. Moreover, the anxiety over Democratic gains in Orange County is entwined with the very real fear among party stalwarts that Florida might go for John Kerry in this year's presidential election.

It is in this context that two of the ugliest developments of the current campaign season should be viewed.

"A Democrat can't win a statewide election in Florida without a high voter turnout - both at the polls and with absentee ballots - of African-Americans," said a man who is close to the Republican establishment in Florida but asked not to be identified. "It's no secret that the name of the game for Republicans is to restrain that turnout as much as possible. Black votes are Democratic votes, and there are a lot of them in Florida."

The two ugly developments - both focused on race - were the heavy-handed investigation by Florida state troopers of black get-out-the-vote efforts in Orlando, and the state's blatant attempt to purge blacks from voter rolls through the use of a flawed list of supposed felons that contained the names of thousands of African-Americans and, conveniently, very few Hispanics.

Florida is one of only a handful of states that bar convicted felons from voting, unless they successfully petition to have their voting rights restored. The state's "felon purge" list had to be abandoned by Glenda Hood, the secretary of state (and, yes, former mayor of Orlando), after it became known that the flawed list would target blacks but not Hispanics, who are more likely in Florida to vote Republican. The list also contained the names of thousands of people, most of them black, who should not have been on the list at all.

Ms. Hood, handpicked by Governor Bush to succeed the notorious Katherine Harris as secretary of state, was forced to admit that the felons list was a mess. She said the problems were unintentional. What clearly was intentional was the desire of Ms. Hood and Governor Bush to keep the list secret. It was disclosed only as a result of lawsuits filed under Florida's admirable sunshine law.

Meanwhile, the sending of state troopers into the homes of elderly black voters in Orlando was said by officials to be a response to allegations of voter fraud in last March's mayoral election. But the investigation went forward despite findings in the spring that appeared to show that the allegations were unfounded.

Why go forward anyway? Well, consider that the prolonged investigation dovetails exquisitely with that crucial but unspoken mission of the G.O.P. in Florida: to keep black voter turnout as low as possible. The interrogation of elderly black men and women in their homes has already frightened many voters and intimidated elderly get-out-the-vote volunteers.

The use of state troopers to zero in on voter turnout efforts is highly unusual, if not unprecedented, in Florida. But the head of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Guy Tunnell, who was also handpicked by Governor Bush, has been unfazed by the mounting criticism of this use of the state police. His spokesmen have said a "person of interest" in the investigation is Ezzie Thomas, a 73-year-old black man who just happens to have done very well in turning out the African-American vote.

From the G.O.P. perspective, it doesn't really matter whether anyone is arrested in the Orlando investigation, or even if a crime was committed. The idea, in Orange County and elsewhere, is to send a chill through the democratic process, suppressing opposing votes by whatever means are available.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 23rd, 2004, 12:58 PM
This is an amazingly believable ad. Check it out.

Larry Colson
MN eCampaign Chairman

More links regarding Larry Colson, Bush-Cheney 2004 Minnesota eCampaign Chairman;
Minnesota Republican eCampaign Chairman, Larry Colson, a long time and ferverant GOP staff member, has developed WebVoter, a program that lets Republican activists in the state report their neighbors' political views into a central database that the Bush-Cheney campaign can use to send them targeted campaign literature and do direct calling.

Minn. GOP e-Campaign Chairman Asks Activists to Report on Neighbors

http://www.twincities.com/mld/twincities/news/state/min... |Sam|N

---Report End-08.22.04---

August 23rd, 2004, 07:57 PM
Zippy for Pres! 8)

It is almost impossible to discuss these issues with you, because your statements are not based on anything. They are just attempts at being clever.

WHY do you think it is unlikely that Kerry will "fumble it," when the consensus of commentary after the convention is that he is doing just that?

WHY do you believe that eventually someone is going to make him stop wearing pink ties, and if it's obvious, why hasn't that someone done so already?

WHY do you think that the amount of cash he has will cancel out mistakes, when Bush has more cash?

WHY do you think he will roll over Bush like Clinton did in '92? Is Kerry equal to Clinton as a campaigner?

My opinions, if not correct, are at least thought out and backed by data. It's annoying to have to respond to nonesense like "pulling a McGreevey" or "pink ties."

October 12th, 2004, 10:27 PM
An egregious move further in the direction of a police state happened years before Bush 43 arrived; i.e., in the form of more severe civil forfeiture laws.

October 26th, 2004, 04:46 PM
October 26, 2004
Web Server Takedown Called Speech Threat

Filed at 4:28 p.m. ET

Devin Theriot-Orr, a member a feisty group of reporter-activists called Indymedia, was surprised when two FBI agents showed up at his Seattle law office, saying the visit was a ``courtesy call'' on behalf of Swiss authorities.

Theriot-Orr was even more surprised a week later when more than 20 Indymedia Web sites were knocked offline as the computer servers that hosted them were seized in Britain.

The Independent Media Center, more commonly known as Indymedia, says the seizure is tantamount to censorship, and civil libertarians agree. The Internet is a publishing medium just like a printing press, they argue, and governments have no right to remove Web sites.

The case, which involves an Internet company based in Texas, photos of undercover Swiss police officers and a request from an Italian prosecutor investigating anarchists, raises questions about the circumstances under which Internet companies can be compelled to turn over data.

``The implications are profound,'' said Barry Steinhardt of the American Civil Liberties Union, calling the Indymedia activists ``classic dissenters'' and likening the case to ``seizing a printing press or shutting down a radio transmitter.''

``It smells to high heaven,'' he said.

Internet providers in the United States routinely remain silent when ordered by authorities to turn over data, though actual seizures of their servers is rare.

The Oct. 7 seizure involves a particularly vocal group -- Indymedia activists work in 140 collectives around the world from the Czech Republic to Uruguay to western Massachusetts and their sites get about 18 million page views a month --and generated intense interest in Europe, including questioning in Britain's House of Commons.

The two computers were seized from the London office of Texas-based Rackspace Managed Hosting, and while they were returned Oct. 12 and all the sites are now back up, some that didn't have back up are missing posts and photos.

The governments involved did not provide The Associated Press with a clear picture of what was sought or which country initiated the action.

Richard Allan, a Liberal Democrat, asked in Britain's Parliament last week whether the Home Office, which is responsible for domestic security, had ordered the seizure.

Home Office spokeswoman Caroline Flint said, ``I can confirm that no UK law enforcement agendas were involved in the matter referred to.''

On Friday, a motion was filed in San Antonio federal court to unseal the original order in the case.

``The significance of this is that apparently, a foreign government, based on a secret process, can have the U.S. government silence independent news sources without ever having to answer to the American people about how that kind of restraint could happen,'' said Keith Bankston, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which drafted the motion. ``Every press organization should be asking, 'Am I next?'''

The FBI issued a statement saying that, ``at the request of a foreign law enforcement agency,'' it assisted in serving Rackspace with a U.S. subpoena for Indymedia records. ``Rackspace located the Indymedia records on servers in the United Kingdom. A brief interruption of Indymedia's Internet service resulted when Rackspace copied the subpoenaed records from their servers. There is no FBI or U.S. investigation into Indymedia.''

Said one FBI source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, ``There were two different requests from two different countries that are in no way connected, except that both pertain to Indymedia.'' The requests to handle the cases came through the countries' embassies, to the Department of Justice, then to the FBI, he said.

``The FBI does not have a dog in this fight,'' the official added.

Bologna prosecutor Marina Plazzi told the AP that she had requested information about Indymedia-posted material from the United States. She stressed that her request did not seek ``the seizure of servers or hard disks.'' Plazzi is investigating an anarchist group that has made bomb threats against European Commission President Romano Prodi.

Bologna prosecutors said in a statement that they made a request to U.S. authorities for ``specific and targeted information about (the) Indymedia provider. This request concerns neither the management nor the content of the Web Site.''

``There was no reply to this request,'' the statement said. ``Any other information is bound to secrecy.''

Swiss federal justice authorities referred questions to officials at the state level in Geneva but those authorities did not respond.

At the crux of the Swiss case are photos posted on a French Indymedia site of two undercover police officers posing as protesters at an anti-globalization rally. Comments posted under the photos said they were taken because police had photographed protesters at past rallies. Swiss police have also posted images of protesters on police Web sites, labeling them ``troublemakers'' and asking the public for information about them.

In late September, Rackspace sent Indymedia an FBI notice about the photos, which were on an Indymedia site operated out of Nantes, France.

Rackspace sent the note to an Indymedia volunteer, who passed on the request to the Indymedia collective in Nantes. The Nantes collective then obscured the faces of the two Swiss officers, covering them with photos of the characters Mulder and Scully from the show ``The X Files,'' he said.

Theriot-Orr said the F.B.I agents who later visited him asked about the Nantes Indymedia operation that had posted the photos of the Swiss police officers.

A statement on Indymedia sites attributed to Rackspace said the company had complied with a ``court order pursuant to a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty'' that lets countries assist each other ``in investigations such as international terrorism, kidnapping and money laundering.''

``Rackspace is acting as a good corporate citizen,'' the statement added. ``The court prohibits Rackspace from commenting further on this matter.'' Rackspace spokeswoman Annalie Drusch refused further comment.

``If it was all about those photographs, whatever they tried to do backfired,'' Indymedia volunteer David Meieran in Pittsburgh said of authorities. ``Now they're mirrored on 300 Web sites around the world.''

``It's like trying to grab water,'' said Meieran. ``The Internet is all over the place. You can't reach in and try to grab a photograph and expect it's not going to be put up anymore.''


AP reporters Jonathan Fowler in Geneva, Marta Falconi in Rome and Ed Johnson in London contributed to this report.

(substitutes 24th paragraph to correct that an Indymedia volunteer, and not Theriot-Orr, passed the request along to Nantes.)

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press

October 26th, 2004, 05:48 PM
...and what was the content of those Indymedia sites? Or, does that matter?

October 26th, 2004, 06:00 PM
What does it matter what the content was? Why not go and look yourself? That seems to be the problem these days - no curiosity. Just sit in front of the TV and belive everything you hear. Here is the NYC Indymedia URL....


Do I agree with everything on it? No. But, it does allow for unedited commenting on every article posted. Dissent, activism, and criticism of people, policies and action by the government does not justify this.

Oh, I can't wait for PATRIOT ACT II.

October 26th, 2004, 06:55 PM
Content does matter. Freedom is different than license.

October 26th, 2004, 07:16 PM
You will have to expand on the type of content that you think matters.

Better still, have you taken the advice and checked out the website? Does that content matter? I just browsed through it, and found much of it boring. I think The Onion would be considered more subversive.

October 27th, 2004, 10:08 AM
The "problem" with Indymedia for governments and police is that it reports on government actions, it rallies dissenters to actions, and it has been very effective in gathering evidence in many high-profile court-cases of civil rights violations. It is dangerous because the government can't bring any pessure to bear on the site or content because it is truly, as the name implies, independent. To support that claim, one need only look at archives from posts and articles during the Republican Convention.

The site, as I said, offers opportunities for anyone to amend, confirm or criticize articles. The readership is, in my opinion, an astute and well-educated lot. Despite numerous lobs from right-wing nuts, the folks who truly utilize the site for news and information gathering are focused and have, through experience, learned how to identify misinformation. Independent reporting on the site has frustrated police by notifying protest groups of their rights and how to react and behave during civil disobedience arrests. It has been very effective in revealing police infiltration into activist organizations. During the Republican Convention, it was characterized as an "Anarchist" site, which it is not. It is a site more dedicated to the exercise and protection of civil rights and the environment and is a central source of communication for the anti-war and anti-globalization movements.

It was shut down and its servers confiscated because those movements are growing and their tactics and countertactics - ALL LEGAL - are frustrating police, who are used to arresting on whim, and frustrating to all levels of government because it offers critical analyses and reporting on questionable actions - such as the right of citizens to gather in peaceful protest. It is "dangerous" because it is uncensored and answers to no one.

The NRA has been very effective in fighting for their constitutional right to bear arms. The folks at Indymedia, in addition to offering an independent outlet for non-affiliated reporting, are committed to fighting for all those other rights that are facing restrictions and revocation under the current U.S. Administration and in the face of the growing power and influence of transnational corporations.

October 27th, 2004, 08:30 PM
Good discussion, here. I'll check out the site. Thanks.

December 13th, 2004, 01:28 PM
December 13, 2004

Bush Portrait Draws Fire Over Details, Not Subject


John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times Christopher Savido with his portrait of President Bush.

Artwork in an exhibition that drew thousands to the Chelsea Market for its opening last week was abruptly taken down over the weekend after the market's managers complained about a portrait of President Bush fashioned from tiny images of chimpanzees, according to the show's curator.

Bucky Turco, who organized the show, said that a market director had expressed reservations about the Bush portrait, a small colorful painting by Christopher Savido that from afar appears to be a likeness of the president but viewed up close reveals chimps swimming in a marshy landscape.

"I approached them with the idea of bringing an edgy show by emerging artists here. I showed them an issue of our magazine, and they were psyched," said Mr. Turco, publisher of Animal, a quarterly publication with offices in the market that features photographs and graphics inspired by urban culture.

Mr. Turco said that while he had cleared the work to be hung with Irwin Cohen, a director of Chelsea Market, the management took issue with the image of Bush.

"When we hung the show on Wednesday, we were asked to take down the Bush piece," he said. "I agreed but said I thought it makes a strong addition and I would re-hang it for the opening."

Mr. Turco did that, and last Thursday, the meandering hallway of the market on Manhattan's West Side filled with a gallery crowd of artists, models and rap singers. But the presence of a disc jockey and open bar created a nightclub milieu. That provoked another person who helps manage the market, Mr. Turco said.

"The party's over right now," Mr. Turco said the market worker told him before calling security to clear the crowd.

"I said, 'Let's walk and talk this over,' and when we passed Chris's painting, he flipped," Mr. Turco said. "If I didn't take the show down he was going to have me arrested, seize the art, and evict me from of my office," he said. Mr. Turco delivered a contrite letter to the market management the following day but was forced to remove the 60 art works, photos and paintings on Saturday, about a month before the show was supposed to end. The offices of Around the Clock Management were closed over the weekend and there was no response yesterday to repeated messages to a market representative.

The 23-year-old artist at the center of the controversy had been excited about the show. Mr. Savido said, "It's a portrait-slash-landscape and the monkeys just seemed to make sense. I saw one woman gave it the finger but I think it wasn't directed at the painting.""I came to New York to express myself," said Mr. Savido, 23, of Pittsburgh. "I would never have expected this censorship to happen here. I really feel powerless."

The offending painting is on display temporarily at the magazine's small gallery on East Ninth Street.

"I'm hoping to find a sympathetic gallery to put on this show," Mr. Turco said. "I don't like being censored."

Most people at the market yesterday seemed indifferent to the empty Plexiglas display panels, but Rebecca Benhayon, 23, an actress, who was reading at a cafe table yesterday, expressed disappointment. "It's the architecture and the art that make this place so interesting," she said. "Taking the show down because someone didn't like an image seems oppressive. It's un-American."

December 13th, 2004, 02:43 PM
http://workmade.com/images/Color-Savido/bushmonkey.jpg (http://workmade.com/home.html)

December 13th, 2004, 03:47 PM
I think it is kind of funny.

But it shows you just what this election has done. Before, where a picture of Clinton with a McD's fry box would have been scoffed at, but generally tolerated, even having a monkey NEXT to a picture of GWB will get people so angry they will start yelling and screaming.

December 13th, 2004, 05:32 PM
I think I'm in it.

alex ballard
December 13th, 2004, 06:00 PM
Basically, he insulted the conservatives holy leader. How shameful. :D

December 13th, 2004, 06:00 PM
I think I'm in it.
I see you! Above left eyebrow, right?

December 13th, 2004, 10:03 PM
That's it. The twinkle in Bush's eye is me laughing.



TLOZ Link5
December 13th, 2004, 11:42 PM
I'm laughing, but this is deadly serious. What on earth is next?

December 14th, 2004, 09:08 AM
You look like the twinkle in his eyebrow there zip!

But as for this issue, it is just plain sad.

The next Bush portrait should be a little more subdued in the chimp reference, but should not forget the halo that his followers keep trying to put above his head.

December 14th, 2004, 09:27 AM
I really don't think that Bush policies have anything to do with this. We had the same sort of stuff during the Clinton administration (Giuliani and the Brooklyn Museum). I would be more concerned if this happened at a mall with Wal Mart the anchor.

In my opinion, just a case of a manager who put on the wrong size underwear that morning.

December 14th, 2004, 10:07 AM
That is what I am saying.

This is not a direct Bush policy or position, but the sad state theat we are in that make these people so vehement in their views that something as innocuous as this would be treated with such vehement distain.

I mean, it's not like he took a bad painting of GWB and put elephant dung on it or anything!!!! ;)

December 22nd, 2004, 01:42 PM
It may not be Bush policies that are directly censoring this poster, but since the poster is, as the article describes, an "expression of the artist's frustrations with the current presidential administration" and it was subsequently censored, it seems fitting nevertheless.

From the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/)
December 22, 2004


New life for Bush monkey poster

Bush Monkeys by Chris Savido

A controversial portrait of President George W Bush, formed using monkey heads, has been projected on a giant billboard in Manhattan.
Chris Savido's acrylic painting, Bush Monkeys, prompted gallery managers to close down a 60-piece show at New York's Chelsea Market last week.

Anonymous donors subsequently paid for the picture to be posted over the entrance to Holland Tunnel for a month.

Some 400,000 drivers are expected to see the billboard each day.

The small painting appears to be a portrait of Mr Bush but on closer inspection is made up of monkey heads in marshes.

Managers of Chelsea Market have refused to be drawn on why the original exhibition was closed down but their decision has provoked accusations of censorship.

'Beautiful expression'

The organisers of the original exhibition, art publishers Animal Magazine, said it had been contacted by anonymous donors who wanted it to be seen by a larger audience.

"What has surprised everyone is that this image was considered controversial," Animal said in a statement.

"Bush Monkeys, by any measure, is an intelligent, civil and beautiful expression of the artist's frustrations with the current presidential administration. It is a wonderful example of responsible and effective political criticism."

The painting is now being sold on internet auction site eBay to raise money for a charity which donates money to parents of US soldiers who want to supply their children with body armour in Iraq.

The charity is close to 23-year-old Savido's heart as he says he has many friends serving in Iraq.

Money will also be raised for arts education in deprived areas.

Bidding has so far reached $4,000 (£2,067).


January 4th, 2005, 06:37 AM
Fascism Anyone? (http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/britt_23_2.htm)

January 4th, 2005, 01:05 PM
Eternal Fascism:
Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt (http://www.themodernword.com/eco/eco_blackshirt.html)

I remembered reading this...ulp... nearly 10 YEARS AGO. :shock:

TLOZ Link5
February 1st, 2005, 12:50 PM
Report: Kids wrong about Bill of Rights


WASHINGTON - The way many high school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be such a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech.

It turns out the First Amendment is a second-rate issue to many of those nearing their own adult independence, according to a study of high school attitudes released yesterday.

The original amendment to the Constitution is the cornerstone of the way of life in the U.S., promising citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly.

Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

"These results are not only disturbing, they are dangerous," said Hodding Carter, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which sponsored the $1 million study. "Ignorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nation's future."

The students are even more restrictive in their views than their elders, the study says.

When asked whether people should be allowed to express unpopular views, 97% of teachers and 99% of principals said yes. Only 83% of students did.

The results also reflected indifference, with almost three in four students saying they took the First Amendment for granted or didn't know how they felt about it. It was also clear that many students do not understand what is protected by the bedrock of the Bill of Rights.

Three in four students said flag burning is illegal. It's not. About half the students said the government can restrict any indecent material on the Internet. It can't.

"Schools don't do enough to teach the First Amendment. Students often don't know the rights it protects," Linda Puntney, executive director of the Journalism Education Association, said in the report.

The partners in the project, including organizations of newspaper editors and radio and television news directors, share a clear advocacy for First Amendment issues.

The survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, is billed as the largest of its kind. More than 100,000 students, about 8,000 teachers and more than 500 administrators at 544 public and private high schools took part in early 2004.

The study suggests that students embrace First Amendment freedoms if they are taught about them and given a chance to practice them, but schools don't make the matter a priority.

Originally published on February 1, 2005

© Copyright The New York Daily News, 2005

February 1st, 2005, 06:10 PM
When asked whether people should be allowed to express unpopular views, 97% of teachers and 99% of principals said yes. Only 83% of students did.
The study suggests that students embrace First Amendment freedoms if they are taught about them and given a chance to practice them, but schools don't make the matter a priority.

Behold the politically correct generation. This is what terms like 'hate speech' give us, a bunch of potential fascists.

October 5th, 2005, 11:14 PM
Oct. 1, 2005, 7:20PM

Bush considers changes to Posse Comitatus Act
Both right and left wary of giving domestic police power to military
Copyright 2005 Hearst News Service

WASHINGTON - The law is from a bygone era, it has a Latin name and it's never led to a prosecution, much less a conviction.


Yet the mere hint that President Bush might try to tinker with the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act is stirring opposition across the political spectrum, prompting conservative and liberal activists to line up against any move that would empower U.S. troops to shoot or arrest civilian looters in the chaotic aftermath of national disasters.

The Civil War-era law bars federal troops from carrying out law enforcement duties inside the United States during peacetime, short of suppressing an insurrection. Congress enacted the prohibition to curtail alleged excesses by Union occupation forces in former Confederate states after the Civil War.

Law up for review
Bush signaled that the law was up for review when he said in a nationally televised address from New Orleans on Sept. 15 that the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina showed "a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces."

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan later said revision or repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act was an issue that "needs to be looked at" by Congress and the administration, adding that officials are in the "early planning of discussing it."

Some of the initial impetus for changing the law stemmed from a public outcry over some hurricane victims in New Orleans exploiting the chaos to loot appliance outlets, jewelry shops and clothing stores before police, National Guard troops or active duty soldiers reached flooded areas.

Amid more recent indications that initial reports of lawlessness were exaggerated, concerns over giving federal troops wider authority have moved to center stage.

Potential for misuse
Paul Weyrich, a conservative activist who heads the Free Congress Foundation, says granting military commanders authority to carry out arrests, searches or seizures would risk potential misuse to crush political dissent.

Another reason he's against giving military commanders that power is that such a move could erode citizens' faith in the armed forces. "That would be the end of the all-volunteer military and a sure way to bring back the draft," Weyrich contends.

The American Civil Liberties Union also opposes any changes.

"We need accountability for the failed response in New Orleans rather than trying to scapegoat legal restrictions that didn't affect the outcome," says Tim Edgar, the lawyer handling national security policy issues for the organization.

"The problems in New Orleans had nothing to do with federal troops being unable to enforce the law."

That view is largely shared at the Pentagon, where Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is quietly working to slow, if not torpedo, any changes. Law enforcement is "a very narrow piece of the task of dealing with a catastrophic difficulty or problem," Rumsfeld emphasized last week.

72,000 troops deployed
Nearly 72,000 troops were deployed in Gulf Coast states in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, including 22,000 active duty troops under presidential command and 50,000 National Guard troops under the command of governors in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Outside experts see little need to revamp the law. Active duty armed forces already have authority to provide humanitarian relief and to quell insurrections with or without a state request. Military rules of engagement routinely permit U.S. troops to defend themselves if fired upon.

James S. Gilmore III, the former Republican governor of Virginia who led the Congressional Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction, says "nothing in the response to the hurricanes makes it necessary to change that law."

Michael A. Wermuth, director of homeland security issues at the Rand Corp., says wider legal authorities are unnecessary — "maybe just a little tweaking."

Old legal traditions
The law, with the Latin title that means "power of the county," draws upon the centuries-old legal traditions that empower sheriffs or other local law enforcement officers to deputize a "posse" of civilians to help enforce the law.

The act stipulates up to two years' imprisonment and fines of up to $10,000 for violations.

Even with the restrictions of the Posse Comitatus Act, a president has wide leeway to order active duty federal forces to carry out law enforcement duties under various exceptions enacted by Congress over the years and provisions of the Insurrection Act, originally adopted in 1809.

President George H.W. Bush ordered nearly 4,000 federal troops into Los Angeles in 1992 at the request of California Republican Gov. Pete Wilson to quell racial rioting after the acquittal of Los Angeles police officers in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King.

President Kennedy ordered federal troops into Oxford, Miss., in 1962 and President Eisenhower ordered federal troops into Little Rock, Ark., in 1957 to enforce federal desegregation laws.

Federal troops also have provided indirect support for civilian law enforcement actions, helping to combat illegal drug trafficking in the 1980s; and patrolling the U.S.-Mexico border in the 1990s

October 6th, 2005, 11:09 AM
GW's reply:

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4990/1180/400/BushMiddleFinger.jpg (http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4990/1180/1600/BushMiddleFinger1.jpg)

October 6th, 2005, 07:28 PM
So did someone say a president should be allowed more than 2 terms?
Once a president is elected to a 2nd term the partisan hacks all start talking this up -- it happened with Reagan, it happened (a little) with Clinton and now the bozos who have nothing better to do will talk it up again.

I think the 22nd Amendment ( http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment22/ ) was a good idea, although I'm glad it wasn't in effect when FDR was in office.

But then I wasn't alive back then ...

October 7th, 2005, 08:21 AM
To find out what the buzz is on a 3rd term for GWB, I googled <Bush "third term">.

Results = 443,000!! ( http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=bush+%22third+term%22 )

Here's a story from Fox @ June 2003 regarding a poll on the subject ( http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,88691,00.html ) :

Only 20 percent of the public supports changing the 22nd Amendment, while the more widely held opinion (75 percent) is that the Constitution should not be modified to allow for a third presidential term. Partisanship is not an issue here, as Democrats and Republicans equally oppose allowing a third term. Men are slightly more opposed to making the change than women (78 percent and 73 percent respectively). Some of Clinton’s fellow baby boomers (age 51-59) are the strongest opponents at 82 percent.

Here's a quote from one site @ Apr 3, 2005
( http://www.faulkingtruth.com/Articles/DownTheMiddle/1032.html ) :

On January 5th of this year, Congress quietly passed legislation, allowing for only a handful of the elected legislators to be able to create or change laws in time of natural disaster, contagion, attack by another nation and.......oh yes, that would include TERRORIST ATTACK! This new law, tagged the "Doomsday Legislation", contradicts the Constitution, which specifically states: “a majority of each Chamber shall constitute a quorum to do business.”

“I think the new rule is disgusting, terrible and unconstitutional,” said Norm Ornstein, of an independent, bipartisan panel called the Continuity of Government Commission which is studying the issue. “The way it was passed was deceitful and the intent behind the legislation was very foolish.”

Is this new bill truly for the preservation of our government, in times of great disaster...or is it just another dirty trick by the Republicans to keep Bush and his ideals in control of our government permanently? The fact that these people are writing this unconstitutional legislation, actually handing themselves the power to do away with the Constitution altogether, goes against the very soul of the Democracy and places us in the position of realizing a one party dictatorship.

And some input from "Doc" at @ "The Spoof", channelling Jon Stewart ( http://www.thespoof.com/editorials/index.cfm?eID=686 ) :

Can Bush please run for a third term?!" Jon Stewart

Stewart after hearing one
can only be President two terms.

John Stewart has made a desperate plea to Congress to change the limitations on the number of terms one can serve as President. Saying that once Bush is out of office "I will be just another not-so-funny Jew in Hollywood fighting for cameos in tv shows and in the sequel to Half Baked 2 (It's basically the same as the first one because no one can remember it)." Adam Goldberg was reached for comment and stated that he is crossing his fingers he does well on his new show Head Cases. Expressing concern "2008 is just around the corner and I don't think Hollywood can handle anymore Jewish character actors in an already saturated market, and there will be now sequel to The Hebrew Hammer Stewart was unavaliable for comment, though his PR manager articulated his unease to us by saying "I might not have a job come January '09. He is on Comedy Central, not HBO, a lot of us will be stand on line at the unemployment office." He asked we not use his name, in that he didn't want to be associated with the single dimension humor of The Daily Show to limit his his aspirations to break into comedy. "I unlike Jon (Stewart) believe I can go further than cameos and ripping on the President everyday for eight years on Comedy Central.

October 7th, 2005, 08:29 AM
I couldn't find the page for this, but google turned up one more interesting take on GWB / 3rd Term...

It refers to a sign carried by a protester which read:

A third term for Bush:
Twenty to life!

October 27th, 2005, 07:06 PM
Maybe this explains it ...

"I don't give a good goddamn if you want to be a cheerleader. Your father and I have decided you are going to play sports, like all the other little boys, mister sissy britches. Now get your hands off of your damned hips, you little pansy, and fetch me a scotch on the rocks!"
-- Mrs. George H. W. (Barbara) Bush, 1954


TLOZ Link5
October 27th, 2005, 07:46 PM

http://www.bettybowers.com/graphics/bushgay.gif Is President Bush a Girly Man? http://www.bettybowers.com/graphics/girlyman.gif


"Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me"

-- President Bush, May 27, 2004

January 2004. Mr. Bush wandered over during Mr. [Scot] Reid's [senior strategist to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin] chat with the Prime Minister. Mr. Reid introduced himself and shook hands with Mr. Bush.

The President chuckled. "Well, you got a pretty face," he told the surprised Mr. Reid. He wasn't done. "You got a pretty face," he said again. "You're a good-looking guy. Better looking than my Scott anyway."

-- President Bush in a coquettish bout of eye-batting homosexual diplomatic flirting January 16, 2004 The Globe and Mail

We at Baptists Are Saving Homosexuals have BASHed enough so-called "gays" with the blunt love of Jesus to know how to spot deviants across a crowded sale at Saks. Outside of Italian shoes, nothing sends up a rainbow-colored flare that you are dealing with a flaming homosexual more reliably than when a man breathlessly gushes the word "faaabulous!" When a Christian lady hears this word outside of her hair salon or florist, she instinctively reaches for the Bible tracts in her purse because she knows a nancy boy is within throwing range.

"It's been a fabulous year for Laura and me."

-- George W. Bush., three months after the World Trade Center towers went down.

Therefore, conservative Christians throughout the land have become increasingly uncomfortable as they dutifully mask each awkward pause with a flurry of polite applause and yells of "more wars!"*during President Bush's somewhat laborious attempts at speaking. While Tony Blair may have mastered the Queen's English, our President's vocabulary calls to mind any number of queens' English. Even our least vigilant Republican social commandos have noticed that Mr. Bush has been peppering his otherwise delightful litany of patriotic jingoism and pleasantly embroidered CIA-intelligence recaps with the effeminate mating call "fabulous" -- three giddy syllables that are tantamount to coyly cooing, "Hello, sailor!"

"And we'll prevail, because we're a faaabulous nation, and we're a faaabulous nation because we're a nation full of faaabulous people."

-- George W. Bush., Atlanta, GA, January 31, 2002


Indeed, it appears that everyone our prancing President runs into is simply FAB-U-LOUS!

(Not one word in quotation marks has been changed from the official transcripts. To you hellbound doubting Thomases out there (you know who you are -- and so does Jesus), if you click on the quotation, it will bring up the page on official White House website that contains the speech in which the word "fabulous" was squealed with delight.)

Official Xanax spokesperson Laura Bush ("a fabulous First Lady");

His viper-tongued mother Barbara ("a fabulous mother");

Nimble prevaricator Condoleezza Rice (an "honest fabulous person")

Chuck Berry (who -- my stars! -- did prison time for surreptitiously filming women going to the toilet), Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and Stevie Wonder ("a fabulous array of artists") -- so nice that our swishy leader had gotten over the public snub of Stevie not waving back at him!;

His whole Cabinet ("I put together a fabulous Cabinet");

House Speaker Denny Hastert & Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist ("It is a joy to work with these two fabulous Americans");

His whole administration ("I put together a fabulous team"):and

Perhaps most disconcertingly, the epitome of everything liberal (including jigger portions) Ted Kennedy ("Ted Kennedy is fabulous").


Everyone in our prissy President's acquaintance appears to be doing a "FAB-U-LOUS" job:

Again, his lovely wife Laura ("What a fabulous job she is doing");

His brother and collusive heir apparent Jeb ("He has done a fabulous job");

New York Governor Pataki ("who is doing a fabulous job");

Rudy Giuliani ("he's done a fabulous job");

Colin Powell ("he's doing a fabulous job");

Dick Cheney ("doing a fabulous job for America");

John Ascroft ("doing such a fabulous job");

Paul Wolfowitz ("doing a fabulous job");

Ari Fleischer ("done a fabulous job");

The DC Chief of Police ("you and your troops do a fabulous job"); and

Someone called Mel at Habitat for Humanity, the Jimmy Carter bastion of the lethal liberal lie that Christians should help the poor by giving them anything more than just Bible tracts ("doing a fabulous job").


And to our wildly flamboyant Commander in Chief, every organization or thing is simply "FAB-U-LOUS," girl!

The World Series ("And what a fabulous World Series it was");

Those quaint African-American people ("fabulous achievements");

Our Godly country ("America, a fabulous country");

The sound of the Washington National Cathedral Choir ("it is a fabulous way to begin a morning");

Forests, something only a liberal wouldn't strip mine ("they offer majestic beauty and fabulous recreational opportunities for all Americans to enjoy");

Afghan art, that is, that either we or the Taliban didn't destroy ("this fabulous exhibit");

Alaska ("such a fabulous state");

Being prayed for by strangers ("It's really one of the fabulous parts of the job")

The Philadelphia Boys Choir ("What fabulous music!");

The Democratic stronghold New York City ("the fabulous city called New York City");

Little League Baseball ("such a fabulous organization");

The US Military, showing a bit of a weakness for a gay niche fetish ("We've got fabulous men and women in uniform!"); and

Even the new 45 cent stamp ("fabulous!").

"I don't give a good goddamn if you want to be a cheerleader. Your father and I have decided you are going to play sports, like all the other little boys, mister sissy britches. Now get your hands off of your damned hips, you little pansy, and fetch me a scotch on the rocks!"

-- Mrs. George H. W. (Barbara)*Bush, 1954




October 27th, 2005, 07:48 PM
^ :) :)

I say "PILE IT ON"

TLOZ Link5
November 2nd, 2005, 05:30 PM
CIA uses secret prisons abroad: report
Wed Nov 2, 2005 4:38 PM ET

By Joanne Allen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The CIA has been hiding and interrogating al Qaeda captives at a secret facility in Eastern Europe, part of a covert global prison system that has included sites in eight countries and was set up after the September 11, 2001, attacks, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

The secret network included "several democracies in Eastern Europe" as well as Thailand and Afghanistan, the newspaper reported, but it did not publish the names of the European countries at the request of senior U.S. officials.

U.S. government officials declined comment on the report, which was likely to stir up fresh criticism of the Bush administration's treatment of prisoners in its declared war on terrorism since the September 11 attacks.

Russia and Bulgaria immediately denied any facility was there. Thailand also denied it was host to such a facility.

U.S. national security adviser Stephen Hadley would not comment directly, but said President George W. Bush had made clear the United States fought terrorism while respecting the law, and investigated allegations of misconduct.

"While we have to do what is necessary to defend the country against terrorists and to win the war on terror, the president has been very clear that we're going to do that in a way that is consistent with our values and that is why he has been very clear that the United States will not torture," Hadley said.

The newspaper, which said its report was based on information from U.S. and foreign officials familiar with the arrangement, said the existence and locations of the facilities were known only to a handful of American officials and, usually, only to the president and a few top intelligence officers in each host country.

The CIA has not acknowledged the existence of a secret prison network, the newspaper said.

Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden, principal deputy to Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, declined to comment when asked about the report at a news conference in San Antonio where he delivered a speech about intelligence reforms.

"I'm not here to talk about that," he said.


The Bush administration's policy toward prisoners taken in Afghanistan and Iraq has come under heavy criticism at home and abroad. Inmate abuse at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison was strongly condemned in the Muslim world and among U.S. allies while many have called for more openness about those being held at a U.S. navy base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The Bush administration also faced problems at home. Last month the Senate approved 90-9 an amendment to regulate the Pentagon's handling of detainees with rules for interrogation and treatment, despite strong White House opposition.

Democrats used the new report to attack Bush's policy toward detainees.

"I'm troubled by it," said Sen. Richard Durbin, the second ranking Democrat in the Senate. "It's another element of this administration's policy and the treatment of detainees and prisoners which I'm afraid will come back to haunt us at a future time."

Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee have pushed for more than a year for review of CIA detention, interrogation and the practice of "rendition," under which detainees are snatched from countries abroad and delivered to foreign intelligence services. Democrats say their efforts have been stymied by the Republican majority in the Senate.

"This is one more important area where we're lacking in congressional oversight," said Wendy Morigi, spokeswoman for Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia, the senior Democrat on the committee.


According to the Washington Post, the prisons are referred to as "black sites" in classified U.S. documents and virtually nothing is known about who the detainees are, how they are interrogated or how long they will be held.

About 30 major terrorism suspects have been held at black sites while more than 70 other detainees, considered less important, were sent to foreign intelligence services under rendition, the paper said, citing U.S. and foreign intelligence sources.

The top 30 al Qaeda prisoners are isolated from the outside world, have no recognized legal rights and no one outside the CIA is allowed to talk with or see them, the sources told the newspaper.

The Post, citing several former and current intelligence and other U.S. government officials, said the CIA used such detention centers abroad because in the United States it is illegal to hold prisoners in such isolation.

The paper said it was not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program at the request of senior U.S. officials who said disclosure could disrupt counterterrorism efforts or make the host countries targets for retaliation.

The secret detention system was conceived shortly after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, when the assumption was another strike was imminent, the report said.

Russia's FSB security service and Bulgaria's foreign ministry denied such facilities existed on their territory. Thai government spokesman Surapong Suebwonglee said, "There is no fact in the unfounded claims."

(Additional reporting by Trirat Puttajanyawong in Bangkok, David Morgan in San Antonio, Steve Holland in Washington)

© Reuters 2005. All rights reserved.

November 2nd, 2005, 05:50 PM
Are they sure it's the lasagna? (Perhaps the prospect of Bush's arrival ??)

Bad lasagna sours Argentina summit security

Wed Nov 2, 2005

The massive security force deployed by Argentina for an Americas-wide presidential summit this week suffered its first glitch on Wednesday -- food poisoning.

At least 70 federal police officers guarding the beach resort hotel where U.S. President George W. Bush and others will meet were overcome by diarrhea and vomiting after dining on lasagna at a nearby hotel late Tuesday, police commissioner Daniel Rodriguez told local radio.

The indisposed officers received medication and were expected to be well enough to resume their duties later in the day, Rodriguez said.

The hotel is the preferred eating grounds for the 700-strong police squad patrolling the city, but was closed by city inspectors following the incident.

The federal police are among 7,000 police and military personnel forming a fortified security ring around the top hotels for the 34-nation summit in Mar del Plata, 250 miles south of Buenos Aires, Friday and Saturday.

Protesters plan a rally Friday against Bush that will include Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona and families of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.

TLOZ Link5
November 6th, 2005, 02:36 PM
FBI mines records of ordinary Americans
Under Patriot Act, feds probe lives of residents not alleged to be terrorists
By Barton Gellman
The Washington Post
Updated: 1:04 a.m. ET Nov. 6, 2005

The FBI came calling in Windsor, Conn., this summer with a document marked for delivery by hand. On Matianuk Avenue, across from the tennis courts, two special agents found their man. They gave George Christian the letter, which warned him to tell no one, ever, what it said.

Under the shield and stars of the FBI crest, the letter directed Christian to surrender "all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person" who used a specific computer at a library branch some distance away. Christian, who manages digital records for three dozen Connecticut libraries, said in an affidavit that he configures his system for privacy. But the vendors of the software he operates said their databases can reveal the Web sites that visitors browse, the e-mail accounts they open and the books they borrow.

Christian refused to hand over those records, and his employer, Library Connection Inc., filed suit for the right to protest the FBI demand in public. The Washington Post established their identities -- still under seal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit -- by comparing unsealed portions of the file with public records and information gleaned from people who had no knowledge of the FBI demand.

Steep rise in ‘national security letters’
The Connecticut case affords a rare glimpse of an exponentially growing practice of domestic surveillance under the USA Patriot Act, which marked its fourth anniversary on Oct. 26. "National security letters," created in the 1970s for espionage and terrorism investigations, originated as narrow exceptions in consumer privacy law, enabling the FBI to review in secret the customer records of suspected foreign agents. The Patriot Act, and Bush administration guidelines for its use, transformed those letters by permitting clandestine scrutiny of U.S. residents and visitors who are not alleged to be terrorists or spies.

The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.

Issued by FBI field supervisors, national security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury or judge. They receive no review after the fact by the Justice Department or Congress. The executive branch maintains only statistics, which are incomplete and confined to classified reports. The Bush administration defeated legislation and a lawsuit to require a public accounting, and has offered no example in which the use of a national security letter helped disrupt a terrorist plot.

Records archived, shared
The burgeoning use of national security letters coincides with an unannounced decision to deposit all the information they yield into government data banks -- and to share those private records widely, in the federal government and beyond. In late 2003, the Bush administration reversed a long-standing policy requiring agents to destroy their files on innocent American citizens, companies and residents when investigations closed. Late last month, President Bush signed Executive Order 13388, expanding access to those files for "state, local and tribal" governments and for "appropriate private sector entities," which are not defined.

National security letters offer a case study of the impact of the Patriot Act outside the spotlight of political debate. Drafted in haste after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the law's 132 pages wrought scores of changes in the landscape of intelligence and law enforcement. Many received far more attention than the amendments to a seemingly pedestrian power to review "transactional records." But few if any other provisions touch as many ordinary Americans without their knowledge.

Senior FBI officials acknowledged in interviews that the proliferation of national security letters results primarily from the bureau's new authority to collect intimate facts about people who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. Criticized for failure to detect the Sept. 11 plot, the bureau now casts a much wider net, using national security letters to generate leads as well as to pursue them. Casual or unwitting contact with a suspect -- a single telephone call, for example -- may attract the attention of investigators and subject a person to scrutiny about which he never learns.

Following digital bread crumbs
A national security letter cannot be used to authorize eavesdropping or to read the contents of e-mail. But it does permit investigators to trace revealing paths through the private affairs of a modern digital citizen. The records it yields describe where a person makes and spends money, with whom he lives and lived before, how much he gambles, what he buys online, what he pawns and borrows, where he travels, how he invests, what he searches for and reads on the Web, and who telephones or e-mails him at home and at work.

As it wrote the Patriot Act four years ago, Congress bought time and leverage for oversight by placing an expiration date on 16 provisions. The changes involving national security letters were not among them. In fact, as the Dec. 31 deadline approaches and Congress prepares to renew or make permanent the expiring provisions, House and Senate conferees are poised again to amplify the FBI's power to compel the secret surrender of private records.

The House and Senate have voted to make noncompliance with a national security letter a criminal offense. The House would also impose a prison term for breach of secrecy.

Like many Patriot Act provisions, the ones involving national security letters have been debated in largely abstract terms. The Justice Department has offered Congress no concrete information, even in classified form, save for a partial count of the number of letters delivered. The statistics do not cover all forms of national security letters or all U.S. agencies making use of them.

"The beef with the NSLs is that they don't have even a pretense of judicial or impartial scrutiny," said former representative Robert L. Barr Jr. (Ga.), who finds himself allied with the American Civil Liberties Union after a career as prosecutor, CIA analyst and conservative GOP stalwart. "There's no checks and balances whatever on them. It is simply some bureaucrat's decision that they want information, and they can basically just go and get it."

‘A routine tool’
Career investigators and Bush administration officials emphasized, in congressional testimony and interviews for this story, that national security letters are for hunting terrorists, not fishing through the private lives of the innocent. The distinction is not as clear in practice.

Under the old legal test, the FBI had to have "specific and articulable" reasons to believe the records it gathered in secret belonged to a terrorist or a spy. Now the bureau needs only to certify that the records are "sought for" or "relevant to" an investigation "to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities."

That standard enables investigators to look for conspirators by sifting the records of nearly anyone who crosses a suspect's path.

"If you have a list of, say, 20 telephone numbers that have come up . . . on a bad guy's telephone," said Valerie E. Caproni, the FBI's general counsel, "you want to find out who he's in contact with." Investigators will say, " 'Okay, phone company, give us subscriber information and toll records on these 20 telephone numbers,' and that can easily be 100."

Bush administration officials compare national security letters to grand jury subpoenas, which are also based on "relevance" to an inquiry. There are differences. Grand juries tend to have a narrower focus because they investigate past conduct, not the speculative threat of unknown future attacks. Recipients of grand jury subpoenas are generally free to discuss the subpoenas publicly. And there are strict limits on sharing grand jury information with government agencies.

Since the Patriot Act, the FBI has dispersed the authority to sign national security letters to more than five dozen supervisors -- the special agents in charge of field offices, the deputies in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, and a few senior headquarters officials. FBI rules established after the Patriot Act allow the letters to be issued long before a case is judged substantial enough for a "full field investigation." Agents commonly use the letters now in "preliminary investigations" and in the "threat assessments" that precede a decision whether to launch an investigation.

"Congress has given us this tool to obtain basic telephone data, basic banking data, basic credit reports," said Caproni, who is among the officials with signature authority. "The fact that a national security letter is a routine tool used, that doesn't bother me."

‘It's all chicken and egg’
If agents had to wait for grounds to suspect a person of ill intent, said Joseph Billy Jr., the FBI's deputy assistant director for counterterrorism, they would already know what they want to find out with a national security letter. "It's all chicken and egg," he said. "We're trying to determine if someone warrants scrutiny or doesn't."

Billy said he understands that "merely being in a government or FBI database . . . gives everybody, you know, neck hair standing up." Innocent Americans, he said, "should take comfort at least knowing that it is done under a great deal of investigative care, oversight, within the parameters of the law."

He added: "That's not going to satisfy a majority of people, but . . . I've had people say, you know, 'Hey, I don't care, I've done nothing to be concerned about. You can have me in your files and that's that.' Some people take that approach."

‘Don't go overboard’

In Room 7975 of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, around two corners from the director's suite, the chief of the FBI's national security law unit sat down at his keyboard about a month after the Patriot Act became law. Michael J. Woods had helped devise the FBI wish list for surveillance powers. Now he offered a caution.

"NSLs are powerful investigative tools, in that they can compel the production of substantial amounts of relevant information," he wrote in a Nov. 28, 2001, "electronic communication" to the FBI's 56 field offices. "However, they must be used judiciously." Standing guidelines, he wrote, "require that the FBI accomplish its investigations through the 'least intrusive' means. . . . The greater availability of NSLs does not mean that they should be used in every case."

Woods, who left government service in 2002, added a practical consideration. Legislators granted the new authority and could as easily take it back. When making that decision, he wrote, "Congress certainly will examine the manner in which the FBI exercised it."

Looking back last month, Woods was struck by how starkly he misjudged the climate. The FBI disregarded his warning, and no one noticed.

"This is not something that should be automatically done because it's easy," he said. "We need to be sure . . . we don't go overboard."

‘Why do you want to know?’
One thing Woods did not anticipate was then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft's revision of Justice Department guidelines. On May 30, 2002, and Oct. 31, 2003, Ashcroft rewrote the playbooks for investigations of terrorist crimes and national security threats. He gave overriding priority to preventing attacks by any means available.

Ashcroft remained bound by Executive Order 12333, which requires the use of the "least intrusive means" in domestic intelligence investigations. But his new interpretation came close to upending the mandate. Three times in the new guidelines, Ashcroft wrote that the FBI "should consider . . . less intrusive means" but "should not hesitate to use any lawful techniques . . . even if intrusive" when investigators believe them to be more timely. "This point," he added, "is to be particularly observed in investigations relating to terrorist activities."

As the Justice Department prepared congressional testimony this year, FBI headquarters searched for examples that would show how expanded surveillance powers made a difference. Michael Mason, who runs the Washington field office and has the rank of assistant FBI director, found no ready answer.

"I'd love to have a made-for-Hollywood story, but I don't have one," Mason said. "I am not even sure such an example exists."

What national security letters give his agents, Mason said, is speed.

"I have 675 terrorism cases," he said. "Every one of these is a potential threat. And anything I can do to get to the bottom of any one of them more quickly gets me closer to neutralizing a potential threat."

Letters can’t be disclosed
Because recipients are permanently barred from disclosing the letters, outsiders can make no assessment of their relevance to Mason's task.

Woods, the former FBI lawyer, said secrecy is essential when an investigation begins because "it would defeat the whole purpose" to tip off a suspected terrorist or spy, but national security seldom requires that the secret be kept forever. Even mobster "John Gotti finds out eventually that he was wiretapped" in a criminal probe, said Peter Swire, the federal government's chief privacy counselor until 2001. "Anyone caught up in an NSL investigation never gets notice."

To establish the "relevance" of the information they seek, agents face a test so basic it is hard to come up with a plausible way to fail. A model request for a supervisor's signature, according to internal FBI guidelines, offers this one-sentence suggestion: "This subscriber information is being requested to determine the individuals or entities that the subject has been in contact with during the past six months."

Edward L. Williams, the chief division counsel in Mason's office, said that supervisors, in practice, "aren't afraid to ask . . . 'Why do you want to know?' " He would not say how many requests, if any, are rejected.

‘The abuse is in the power itself’

Those who favor the new rules maintain -- as Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, put it in a prepared statement -- that "there has not been one substantiated allegation of abuse of these lawful intelligence tools."

What the Bush administration means by abuse is unauthorized use of surveillance data -- for example, to blackmail an enemy or track an estranged spouse. Critics are focused elsewhere. What troubles them is not unofficial abuse but the official and routine intrusion into private lives.

To Jeffrey Breinholt, deputy chief of the Justice Department's counterterrorism section, the civil liberties objections "are eccentric." Data collection on the innocent, he said, does no harm unless "someone [decides] to act on the information, put you on a no-fly list or something." Only a serious error, he said, could lead the government, based on nothing more than someone's bank or phone records, "to freeze your assets or go after you criminally and you suffer consequences that are irreparable." He added: "It's a pretty small chance."

"I don't necessarily want somebody knowing what videos I rent or the fact that I like cartoons," said Mason, the Washington field office chief. But if those records "are never used against a person, if they're never used to put him in jail, or deprive him of a vote, et cetera, then what is the argument?"

Barr, the former congressman, said that "the abuse is in the power itself."

"As a conservative," he said, "I really resent an administration that calls itself conservative taking the position that the burden is on the citizen to show the government has abused power, and otherwise shut up and comply."

Links in a chain
At the ACLU, staff attorney Jameel Jaffer spoke of "the profound chilling effect" of this kind of surveillance: "If the government monitors the Web sites that people visit and the books that they read, people will stop visiting disfavored Web sites and stop reading disfavored books. The FBI should not have unchecked authority to keep track of who visits [al-Jazeera's Web site] or who visits the Web site of the Federalist Society."

Ready access to national security letters allows investigators to employ them routinely for "contact chaining."

"Starting with your bad guy and his telephone number and looking at who he's calling, and [then] who they're calling," the number of people surveilled "goes up exponentially," acknowledged Caproni, the FBI's general counsel.

But Caproni said it would not be rational for the bureau to follow the chain too far. "Everybody's connected" if investigators keep tracing calls "far enough away from your targeted bad guy," she said. "What's the point of that?"

One point is to fill government data banks for another investigative technique. That one is called "link analysis," a practice Caproni would neither confirm nor deny.

Two years ago, Ashcroft rescinded a 1995 guideline directing that information obtained through a national security letter about a U.S. citizen or resident "shall be destroyed by the FBI and not further disseminated" if it proves "not relevant to the purposes for which it was collected." Ashcroft's new order was that "the FBI shall retain" all records it collects and "may disseminate" them freely among federal agencies.

The same order directed the FBI to develop "data mining" technology to probe for hidden links among the people in its growing cache of electronic files. According to an FBI status report, the bureau's office of intelligence began operating in January 2004 a new Investigative Data Warehouse, based on the same Oracle technology used by the CIA. The CIA is generally forbidden to keep such files on Americans.

Data mining creates a ‘composite picture’
Data mining intensifies the impact of national security letters, because anyone's personal files can be scrutinized again and again without a fresh need to establish relevance.

"The composite picture of a person which emerges from transactional information is more telling than the direct content of your speech," said Woods, the former FBI lawyer. "That's certainly not been lost on the intelligence community and the FBI."

Ashcroft's new guidelines allowed the FBI for the first time to add to government files consumer data from commercial providers such as LexisNexis and ChoicePoint Inc. Previous attorneys general had decided that such a move would violate the Privacy Act. In many field offices, agents said, they now have access to ChoicePoint in their squad rooms.

What national security letters add to government data banks is information that no commercial service can lawfully possess. Strict privacy laws, for example, govern financial and communications records. National security letters -- along with the more powerful but much less frequently used secret subpoenas from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court -- override them.

‘What happens in Vegas’

The bureau displayed its ambition for data mining in an emergency operation at the end of 2003.

The Department of Homeland Security declared an orange alert on Dec. 21 of that year, in part because of intelligence that hinted at a New Year's Eve attack in Las Vegas. The identities of the plotters were unknown.

The FBI sent Gurvais Grigg, chief of the bureau's little-known Proactive Data Exploitation Unit, in an audacious effort to assemble a real-time census of every visitor in the nation's most-visited city. An average of about 300,000 tourists a day stayed an average of four days each, presenting Grigg's team with close to a million potential suspects in the ensuing two weeks.

A former stockbroker with a degree in biochemistry, Grigg declined to be interviewed. Government and private sector sources who followed the operation described epic efforts to vacuum up information.

An interagency task force began pulling together the records of every hotel guest, everyone who rented a car or truck, every lease on a storage space, and every airplane passenger who landed in the city. Grigg's unit filtered that population for leads. Any link to the known terrorist universe -- a shared address or utility account, a check deposited, a telephone call -- could give investigators a start.

"It was basically a manhunt, and in circumstances where there is a manhunt, the most effective way of doing that was to scoop up a lot of third party data and compare it to other data we were getting," Breinholt said.

Investigators began with emergency requests for help from the city's sprawling hospitality industry. "A lot of it was done voluntary at first," said Billy, the deputy assistant FBI director.

According to others directly involved, investigators turned to national security letters and grand jury subpoenas when friendly persuasion did not work.

Early in the operation, according to participants, the FBI gathered casino executives and asked for guest lists. The MGM Mirage company, followed by others, balked.

"Some casinos were saying no to consent [and said], 'You have to produce a piece of paper,' " said Jeff Jonas, chief scientist at IBM Entity Analytics, who previously built data management systems for casino surveillance. "They don't just market 'What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.' They want it to be true."

The operation remained secret for about a week. Then casino sources told Rod Smith, gaming editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, that the FBI had served national security letters on them. In an interview for this article, one former casino executive confirmed the use of a national security letter. Details remain elusive. Some law enforcement officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they had not been authorized to divulge particulars, said they relied primarily on grand jury subpoenas. One said in an interview that national security letters may eventually have been withdrawn. Agents encouraged voluntary disclosures, he said, by raising the prospect that the FBI would use the letters to gather something more sensitive: the gambling profiles of casino guests. Caproni declined to confirm or deny that account.

What happened in Vegas stayed in federal data banks. Under Ashcroft's revised policy, none of the information has been purged. For every visitor, Breinholt said, "the record of the Las Vegas hotel room would still exist."

Grigg's operation found no suspect, and the orange alert ended on Jan. 10, 2004. "The whole thing washed out," one participant said.

‘Of interest to President Bush’

At around the time the FBI found George Christian in Connecticut, agents from the bureau's Charlotte field office paid an urgent call on the chemical engineering department at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. They were looking for information about a former student named Magdy Nashar, then suspected in the July 7 London subway bombing but since cleared of suspicion.

University officials said in interviews late last month that the FBI tried to use a national security letter to demand much more information than the law allows.

David T. Drooz, the university's senior associate counsel, said special authority is required for the surrender of records protected by educational and medical privacy. The FBI's first request, a July 14 grand jury subpoena, did not appear to supply that authority, Drooz said, and the university did not honor it. Referring to notes he took that day, Drooz said Eric Davis, the FBI's top lawyer in Charlotte, "was focused very much on the urgency" and "he even indicated the case was of interest to President Bush."

The next day, July 15, FBI agents arrived with a national security letter. Drooz said it demanded all records of Nashar's admission, housing, emergency contacts, use of health services and extracurricular activities. University lawyers "looked up what law we could on the fly," he said. They discovered that the FBI was demanding files that national security letters have no power to obtain. The statute the FBI cited that day covers only telephone and Internet records.

"We're very eager to comply with the authorities in this regard, but we needed to have what we felt was a legally valid procedure," said Larry A. Neilsen, the university provost.

Soon afterward, the FBI returned with a new subpoena. It was the same as the first one, Drooz said, and the university still had doubts about its legal sufficiency. This time, however, it came from New York and summoned Drooz to appear personally. The tactic was "a bit heavy-handed," Drooz said, "the implication being you're subject to contempt of court." Drooz surrendered the records.

The FBI's Charlotte office referred questions to headquarters. A high-ranking FBI official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, acknowledged that the field office erred in attempting to use a national security letter. Investigators, he said, "were in a big hurry for obvious reasons" and did not approach the university "in the exact right way."

‘Unreasonable’ or ‘oppressive’

The electronic docket in the Connecticut case, as the New York Times first reported, briefly titled the lawsuit Library Connection Inc. v. Gonzales . Because identifying details were not supposed to be left in the public file, the court soon replaced the plaintiff's name with "John Doe."

George Christian, Library Connection's executive director, is identified in his affidavit as "John Doe 2." In that sworn statement, he said people often come to libraries for information that is "highly sensitive, embarrassing or personal." He wanted to fight the FBI but feared calling a lawyer because the letter said he could not disclose its existence to "any person." He consulted Peter Chase, vice president of Library Connection and chairman of a state intellectual freedom committee. Chase -- "John Doe 1" in his affidavit -- advised Christian to call the ACLU. Reached by telephone at their homes, both men declined to be interviewed.

U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall ruled in September that the FBI gag order violates Christian's, and Library Connection's, First Amendment rights. A three-judge panel heard oral argument on Wednesday in the government's appeal.

The central facts remain opaque, even to the judges, because the FBI is not obliged to describe what it is looking for, or why. During oral argument in open court on Aug. 31, Hall said one government explanation was so vague that "if I were to say it out loud, I would get quite a laugh here." After the government elaborated in a classified brief delivered for her eyes only, she wrote in her decision that it offered "nothing specific."

Few resist national security letters
The Justice Department tried to conceal the existence of the first and only other known lawsuit against a national security letter, also brought by the ACLU's Jaffer and Ann Beeson. Government lawyers opposed its entry into the public docket of a New York federal judge. They have since tried to censor nearly all the contents of the exhibits and briefs. They asked the judge, for example, to black out every line of the affidavit that describes the delivery of the national security letter to a New York Internet company, including, "I am a Special Agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ('FBI')."

U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, in a ruling that is under appeal, held that the law authorizing national security letters violates the First and Fourth Amendments.

Resistance to national security letters is rare. Most of them are served on large companies in highly regulated industries, with business interests that favor cooperation. The in-house lawyers who handle such cases, said Jim Dempsey, executive director of the Center for Democracy and Technology, "are often former prosecutors -- instinctively pro-government but also instinctively by-the-books." National security letters give them a shield against liability to their customers.

Kenneth M. Breen, a partner at the New York law firm Fulbright & Jaworski, held a seminar for corporate lawyers one recent evening to explain the "significant risks for the non-compliant" in government counterterrorism investigations. A former federal prosecutor, Breen said failure to provide the required information could create "the perception that your company didn't live up to its duty to fight terrorism" and could invite class-action lawsuits from the families of terrorism victims. In extreme cases, he said, a business could face criminal prosecution, "a 'death sentence' for certain kinds of companies."

The volume of government information demands, even so, has provoked a backlash. Several major business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, complained in an Oct. 4 letter to senators that customer records can "too easily be obtained and disseminated" around the government. National security letters, they wrote, have begun to impose an "expensive and time-consuming burden" on business.

The House and Senate bills renewing the Patriot Act do not tighten privacy protections, but they offer a concession to business interests. In both bills, a judge may modify a national security letter if it imposes an "unreasonable" or "oppressive" burden on the company that is asked for information.

Oversight lags behind

As national security letters have grown in number and importance, oversight has not kept up. In each house of Congress, jurisdiction is divided between the judiciary and intelligence committees. None of the four Republican chairmen agreed to be interviewed.

Roberts, the Senate intelligence chairman, said in a statement issued through his staff that "the committee is well aware of the intelligence value of the information that is lawfully collected under these national security letter authorities," which he described as "non-intrusive" and "crucial to tracking terrorist networks and detecting clandestine intelligence activities." Senators receive "valuable reporting by the FBI," he said, in "semi-annual reports [that] provide the committee with the information necessary to conduct effective oversight."

Roberts was referring to the Justice Department's classified statistics, which in fact have been delivered three times in four years. They include the following information: how many times the FBI issued national security letters; whether the letters sought financial, credit or communications records; and how many of the targets were "U.S. persons." The statistics omit one whole category of FBI national security letters and also do not count letters issued by the Defense Department and other agencies.

Committee members have occasionally asked to see a sampling of national security letters, a description of their fruits or examples of their contribution to a particular case. The Justice Department has not obliged.

In 2004, the conference report attached to the intelligence authorization bill asked the attorney general to "include in his next semiannual report" a description of "the scope of such letters" and the "process and standards for approving" them. More than a year has passed without a Justice Department reply.

"The committee chairman has the power to issue subpoenas" for information from the executive branch, said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), a House Judiciary Committee member. "The minority has no power to compel, and . . . Republicans are not going to push for oversight of the Republicans. That's the story of this Congress."

In the executive branch, no FBI or Justice Department official audits the use of national security letters to assess whether they are appropriately targeted, lawfully applied or contribute important facts to an investigation.

No Patriot Act complaints sustained — yet
Justice Department officials noted frequently this year that Inspector General Glenn A. Fine reports twice a year on abuses of the Patriot Act and has yet to substantiate any complaint. (One investigation is pending.) Fine advertises his role, but there is a puzzle built into the mandate. Under what scenario could a person protest a search of his personal records if he is never notified?

"We do rely upon complaints coming in," Fine said in House testimony in May. He added: "To the extent that people do not know of anything happening to them, there is an issue about whether they can complain. So, I think that's a legitimate question."

Asked more recently whether Fine's office has conducted an independent examination of national security letters, Deputy Inspector General Paul K. Martin said in an interview: "We have not initiated a broad-based review that examines the use of specific provisions of the Patriot Act."

At the FBI, senior officials said the most important check on their power is that Congress is watching.

"People have to depend on their elected representatives to do the job of oversight they were elected to do," Caproni said. "And we think they do a fine job of it."

Researcher Julie Tate and research editor Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.
© 2005 The Washington Post Company

© 2005 MSNBC.com

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9939709/

November 6th, 2005, 04:27 PM
LMFAO .. with this Congress?????

At the FBI, senior officials said the most important check on their power is that Congress is watching.

"People have to depend on their elected representatives to do the job of oversight they were elected to do," Caproni said. "And we think they do a fine job of it."

TLOZ Link5
November 23rd, 2005, 02:58 AM
Bush Talked of Bombing Al-Jazeera, Newspaper Reports
White House Dismisses 'Outlandish' Charge Reportedly in Leaked British Memo

LONDON (Nov. 22) - A civil servant has been charged under Britain's Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking a government memo that a newspaper said Tuesday suggested that Prime Minister Tony Blair persuaded President Bush not to bomb the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera.

The Daily Mirror reported that Bush spoke of targeting Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Doha, Qatar, when he met Blair at the White House on April 16, 2004. The Bush administration has regularly accused Al-Jazeera of being nothing more than a mouthpiece for anti-American sentiments.

The Daily Mirror attributed its information to unidentified sources. One source, said to be in the government, was quoted as saying that the alleged threat was "humorous, not serious," but the newspaper quoted another source as saying that "Bush was deadly serious, as was Blair."

Blair's office declined to comment on the report, stressing it never discusses leaked documents.

In Qatar, Al-Jazeera said it was aware of the report, but did not wish to comment.

The White House said it wouldn't dignify what it called "something so outlandish" with a response.

The document was described as a transcript of a conversation between the two leaders.

Cabinet Office civil servant David Keogh is accused of passing it to Leo O'Connor, who formerly worked for former British lawmaker Tony Clarke. Both Keogh and O'Connor are scheduled to appear at London's Bow Street Magistrates Court next week.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, Keogh was charged with an offense under Section 3 of the Official Secrets Act relating to "a damaging disclosure" by a servant of the Crown of information relating to international relations or information obtained from a state other than the United Kingdom.

O'Connor was charged under Section 5, which relates to receiving and disclosing illegally disclosed information.

According to the newspaper, Clarke returned the memo to Blair's office. Clarke did not respond to calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Press Association, the British news agency, said Clarke refused to discuss the contents of the document. PA quoted Clarke as saying his priority was to support O'Connor who did "exactly the right thing" in bringing it to his attention.

Peter Kilfoyle, a former defense minister in Blair's government, called for the document to be made public.

"I think they ought to clarify what exactly happened on this occasion," he said. "If it was the case that President Bush wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera in what is after all a friendly country, it speaks volumes and it raises questions about subsequent attacks that took place on the press that wasn't embedded with coalition forces," the newspaper quoted Kilfoyle as saying.

Sir Menzies Campbell, foreign affairs spokesman for the opposition Liberal Democrats, said Tuesday that, if true, the memo was worrying.

"If true, then this underlines the desperation of the Bush administration as events in Iraq began to spiral out of control," he said. "On this occasion, the prime minister may have been successful in averting political disaster, but it shows how dangerous his relationship with President Bush has been."

Al-Jazeera offices in Iraq and Afghanistan have been hit by U.S. bombs or missiles, but each time the U.S. military said they were not intentionally targeting the broadcaster.

In April 2003, an Al-Jazeera journalist was killed when its Baghdad office was struck during a U.S. bombing campaign. Nabil Khoury, a State Department spokesman in Doha, said the strike was a mistake.

In November 2002, Al-Jazeera's office in Kabul, Afghanistan, was destroyed by a U.S. missile. None of the crew was at the office at the time. U.S. officials said they believed the target was a terrorist site and did not know it was Al-Jazeera's office.

11/22/05 12:39 EST

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.

November 23rd, 2005, 08:04 AM
^ This shouldn't come as much of a surprise given what the US did to the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade back in 1999 ...





November 29th, 2005, 11:08 AM
Miami Police Take New Tack Against Terror

Associated Press Writer
Nov 28, 2005


Miami police announced Monday they will stage random shows of force at hotels, banks and other public places to keep terrorists guessing and remind people to be vigilant.

Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and hand out leaflets about terror threats.

"This is an in-your-face type of strategy. It's letting the terrorists know we are out there," Fernandez said.

The operations will keep terrorists off guard, Fernandez said. He said al-Qaida and other terrorist groups plot attacks by putting places under surveillance and watching for flaws and patterns in security.

Police Chief John Timoney said there was no specific, credible threat of an imminent terror attack in Miami. But he said the city has repeatedly been mentioned in intelligence reports as a potential target.

Timoney also noted that 14 of the 19 hijackers who took part in the Sept. 11 attacks lived in South Florida at various times and that other alleged terror cells have operated in the area.

Both uniformed and plainclothes police will ride buses and trains, while others will conduct longer-term surveillance operations.

"People are definitely going to notice it," Fernandez said. "We want that shock. We want that awe. But at the same time, we don't want people to feel their rights are being threatened. We need them to be our eyes and ears."

Howard Simon, executive director of ACLU of Florida, said the Miami initiative appears aimed at ensuring that people's rights are not violated.

"What we're dealing with is officers on street patrol, which is more effective and more consistent with the Constitution," Simon said. "We'll have to see how it is implemented."

Mary Ann Viverette, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said the Miami program is similar to those used for years during the holiday season to deter criminals at busy places such as shopping malls.

"You want to make your presence known and that's a great way to do it," said Viverette, police chief in Gaithersburg, Md. "We want people to feel they can go about their normal course of business, but we want them to be aware."

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press

November 29th, 2005, 11:14 AM
Refusal to present ID sparks test of rights

Arvada woman said 'no' at Federal Center while on public bus

By Karen Abbott
Rocky Mountain News
November 29, 2005


Federal prosecutors are reviewing whether to pursue charges against an Arvada woman who refused to show identification to federal police while riding an RTD bus through the Federal Center in Lakewood.

Deborah Davis, 50, was ticketed for two petty offenses Sept. 26 by officers who commonly board the RTD bus as it passes through the Federal Center and ask passengers for identification.

Maria J. &#193;Vila &#169; News

Deborah Davis, of Arvada, visits
the Denver office of attorney Gail Johnson.
Federal prosecutors are reviewing whether
to pursue charges against Davis, who
refused to show identification to officers
at the Federal Center in Lakewood while
she was riding a public bus to work at
another location. She was ticketed Sept. 26

During the Thanksgiving weekend, an activist who has helped publicize other challenges to government ID requirements posted a Web site about the case, which he said had logged more than 1.5 million visitors by lunchtime Monday.
"The petty offense ticket was issued by police on the scene," Colorado U.S. attorney's spokesman Jeff Dorschner said Monday. "The status of the matter is now under review."

A decision on whether the government will pursue the case is expected in a week or two.

Davis said she commuted daily from her home in Arvada to her job at a small business in Lakewood, taking an RTD bus south on Kipling Street each morning from the recreation center in Wheat Ridge, where she left her car.
She said the bus always passed through the Federal Center and some people got off there.

Guards at the Federal Center gate always boarded the bus and asked to see all passengers' identification, she said.

She said the guards just looked at the IDs and did not record them or compare them with any lists.

When she refused to show her ID, she said, officers with the Federal Protective Service removed her from the bus, handcuffed her, put her in the back of a patrol car and took her to a federal police station within the Federal Center, where she waited while officers conferred. She was subsequently given two tickets and released.

She said she arrived at work three hours late. She no longer has that job and did not identify her former employer.

The Federal Protective Service in Colorado referred inquiries to Carl Rusnok of Dallas, a spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees the federal police. Both are part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Rusnok said the federal officers in Colorado told him the policy of checking the IDs of bus passengers and others entering the Federal Center began shortly after the April 1995 terrorist bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City.

"It's one of the multiple forms of security," Rusnok said. "The identification is one means of making sure that, whoever comes on base, that you know that they are who they say they are.

"There are a variety of other means that bad people could take to circumvent that, but that's why there are multiple layers of security," he said.

Security 'high priority'

Between 7,000 and 8,000 people work at the Federal Center in Lakewood and between 2,000 and 2,500 people visit it every day, Rusnok said.

"Security to protect the employees and the visitors is a high priority," Rusnok said.

RTD spokesman Scott Reed said federal guards only check IDs of bus passengers when the Federal Center is on "heightened alert," which may not be known to the general public.

"It's periodic," Reed said.

"That is something we don't control," Reed said. "It is Federal Center property, and the federal security controls the ID-checking process. We try to cooperate as best we can and inform the public that this will occur."
Davis is to appear before a magistrate judge in Colorado U.S. District Court on Dec. 9.

"We don't believe the federal government has the legal authority to put Deborah Davis in jail, or even make her pay a fine, just because she declined the government's request for identification," said Mark Silverstein, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, which has taken up the case.

"She was commuting to her job," Silverstein said. "She wasn't doing anything wrong. She wasn't even suspected of doing anything wrong."

"Passengers aren't required to carry passports or any other identification documents in order to ride to work on a public bus," he said.

Davis also is represented by volunteer attorneys Gail Johnson and Norm Mueller of the Denver law firm Haddon, Morgan, Mueller, Jordan, Mackey & Foreman, P.C. She also has the backing of Bill Scannell, an activist who has helped publicize other challenges to government requirements that people show identification. Scannell created a Web site during the Thanksgiving weekend about Davis' case: papersplease.org/Davis.

"This is just a basic American issue of what our country's all about," Scannell said. "It has nothing really to do with politics, and everything to do with what kind of country we want to live in."

'Rosa Parks'

Some supporters have called Davis "the Rosa Parks of the Patriot Act generation," a reference to the African-American woman who became a civil rights heroine after she refused to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man, Scannell said.

Davis said she showed her ID when a Federal Center guard asked to see it for the first couple of days she rode the RTD bus through the center. But it bothered her.

"It's wrong," she said Monday. "It's not even security. It's just a lesson in compliance - the big guys pushing the little guys around."

For a few subsequent days, she told the guards she wasn't getting off in the Federal Center and didn't have an ID. They let her stay on the bus.

Finally, on a Friday, a guard told Davis she had to have an ID the next time.
Davis said she spent part of the weekend studying her rights and e-mailing Scannell.

That Monday, when a guard asked if she had her ID with her, Davis just said, "Yes."

"And he said, 'May I see it?' " she recalled, "and I said no."

The guard told her she had to leave the bus, but she refused. Two officers with the Federal Protective Service were called.

"I boarded the bus and spoke with the individual, Deborah N. Davis . . . asking why she was refusing," wrote the first Federal Protective Service officer in an incident report posted on Scannell's Web site. The officer was not identified.

"She explained she did not have to give up her rights and present identification," the officer wrote. "I informed her she was entering a federal facility and that the regulations for entrance did require her to present identification, before being allowed access."

"She became argumentative and belligerent at this time," the officer wrote.

Eventually, one officer said, "Grab her," and the two officers took hold of her arms and removed her from the bus, Davis said.

Davis has four children, including a 21-year-old son serving in Iraq with the Army and a 28-year-old son who is a Navy veteran. She has five grandchildren.

November 29th, 2005, 12:00 PM
Attending public school during the Cold War and the height of the "evil" Soviet empire, I can say without hesitation that this country more closely resembles the Soviet Union / Totalitarian State I was taught to fear, morethan ever before. Everything I was taught to despise with relation to lack of freedoms in that system, we have implemented in this country. It really is the basis for the deep loathing I have for what this country has become and now symbolizes around the world.

December 1st, 2005, 12:25 PM
Where are the good guys when you need 'em?


December 1st, 2005, 01:18 PM

Red X is a great hero loft... ;)

These guys have no right to check everyone's ID, so long as they stay on the bus.

I hope this case gets a lot of airtime.

December 17th, 2005, 04:07 PM
"If the President does it, it can't be illegal"

Richard Milhouse Nixon
(the David Frost Interviews, 1977)

Behind Power, One Principle as Bush Pushes Prerogatives

By SCOTT SHANE (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=SCOTT SHANE&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=SCOTT SHANE&inline=nyt-per)
New York Times
December 17, 2005
News Analysis


WASHINGTON, Dec. 16 - A single, fiercely debated legal principle lies behind nearly every major initiative in the Bush administration's war on terror, scholars say: the sweeping assertion of the powers of the presidency.

From the government's detention of Americans as "enemy combatants" to the just-disclosed eavesdropping in the United States without court warrants, the administration has relied on an unusually expansive interpretation of the president's authority. That stance has given the administration leeway for decisive action, but it has come under severe criticism from some scholars and the courts.

With the strong support of Vice President Dick Cheney, legal theorists in the White House and Justice Department have argued that previous presidents unjustifiably gave up some of the legitimate power of their office. The attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, made it especially critical that the full power of the executive be restored and exercised, they said.

The administration's legal experts, including David S. Addington, the vice president's former counsel and now his chief of staff, and John C. Yoo ( http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=76367&postcount=43 ), deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel of the Justice Department from 2001 to 2003, have pointed to several sources of presidential authority.

The bedrock source is Article 2 of the Constitution, which describes the "executive power" of the president, including his authority as commander in chief of the armed forces. Several landmark court decisions have elaborated the extent of the powers.

Another key recent document cited by the administration is the joint resolution passed by Congress on Sept. 14, 2001, authorizing the president to "use all necessary and appropriate force" against those responsible for Sept. 11 in order to prevent further attacks.

Mr. Yoo, who is believed to have helped write a legal justification for the National Security Agency's secret domestic eavesdropping, first laid out the basis for the war on terror in a Sept. 25, 2001, memorandum ( http://www.usdoj.gov/olc/warpowers925.htm ) that said no statute passed by Congress "can place any limits on the president's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing and nature of the response."

That became the underlying justification for numerous actions apart from the eavesdropping program, disclosed by The New York Times on Thursday night.

Those include the order to try accused terrorists before military tribunals; the detention of so-called enemy combatants at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret overseas jails operated by the Central Intelligence Agency; the holding of two Americans, Jpse Padilla and Yaser Esam Hamdi, as enemy combatants; and the use of severe interrogation techniques, including some banned by international agreements, on Al Qaeda figures.

Mr. Yoo, now a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, declined to comment for this article. But Bradford A. Berenson, who served as associate counsel to President Bush from 2001 to 2003, explained the logic behind the assertion of executive power.

"After 9/11 the president felt it was incumbent on him to use every ounce of authority available to him to protect the American people," Mr. Berenson said.

He said he was not familiar with the N.S.A. program, in which the intelligence agency, without warrants, has monitored international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of people inside the United States. He said that he could not comment on whether the program was justified, but that he believed intelligence gathering on an enemy was clearly part of the president's constitutional war powers.

"Any program like this would have been very carefully analyzed by administration lawyers," Mr. Berenson said. "It's easy, now that four years have passed without another attack, to forget the sense of urgency that pervaded the country when the ruins of the World Trade Center were still smoking."

But some legal experts outside the administration, including some who served previously in the intelligence agencies, said the administration had pushed the presidential-powers argument beyond what was legally justified or prudent. They say the N.S.A. domestic eavesdropping illustrates the flaws in Mr. Bush's assertion of his powers.

"Obviously we have to do things differently because of the terrorist threat," said Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, former general counsel of both N.S.A. and the Central Intelligence Agency, who served under both Republican and Democratic administrations. "But to do it without the participation of the Congress and the courts is unwise in the extreme."

Even if the administration believes the president has the authority to direct warrantless eavesdropping, she said, ordering it without seeking Congressional approval was politically wrongheaded. "We're just relearning the lessons of Vietnam and Watergate," said Ms. Parker, now dean of the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law.

Jeffrey H. Smith, who served as C.I.A. general counsel in 1995 and 1996, said he was dismayed by the N.S.A. program, which he said was the latest instance of legal overreach by the administration.

"Clearly the president felt after 9/11 that he needed more powers than his predecessors had exercised," Mr. Smith said. "He chose to assert as much power as he thought he needed. Now the question is whether that was wise and consistent with our values."

William C. Banks, a widely respected authority on national security law at Syracuse University, said the N.S.A. revelation came as a shock, even given the administration's past assertions of presidential powers.

"I was frankly astonished by the story," he said. "My head is spinning."
Professor Banks said the president's power as commander in chief "is really limited to situations involving military force - anything needed to repel an attack. I don't think the commander in chief power allows" the warrantless eavesdropping, he said.

Mr. Berenson, the former White House associate counsel, said that in rare cases, the presidents' advisers may decide that an existing law violates the Constitution "by invading the president's executive powers as commander in chief."

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 typically requires warrants for the kind of eavesdropping carried out under the special N.S.A. program. Whether administration lawyers argued that that statute unconstitutionally infringed the president's powers is not known.

But Mr. Smith, formerly of the C.I.A., noted that when President Carter signed the act into law in 1978, he seemed to rule out any domestic eavesdropping without court approval.

"The bill requires, for the first time, a prior judicial warrant for all electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purposes in the United States" if an American's communications might be intercepted, President Carter said when he signed the act.

By asserting excessive powers, Mr. Smith said, President Bush may provoke a reaction from Congress and the courts that ultimately thwarts executive power.

"The president may wind up eroding the very powers he was seeking to exert," Mr. Smith said.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

December 18th, 2005, 06:56 AM
December 18, 2005

In Address, Bush Says He Ordered Domestic Spying


WASHINGTON, Dec. 17 - President Bush acknowledged on Saturday that he had ordered the National Security Agency to conduct an electronic eavesdropping program in the United States without first obtaining warrants, and said he would continue the highly classified program because it was "a vital tool in our war against the terrorists."

In an unusual step, Mr. Bush delivered a live weekly radio address from the White House in which he defended his action as "fully consistent with my constitutional responsibilities and authorities."

He also lashed out at senators, both Democrats and Republicans, who voted on Friday to block the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act, which expanded the president's power to conduct surveillance, with warrants, in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The revelation that Mr. Bush had secretly instructed the security agency to intercept the communications of Americans and terrorist suspects inside the United States, without first obtaining warrants from a secret court that oversees intelligence matters, was cited by several senators as a reason for their vote.

"In the war on terror, we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment," Mr. Bush said forcefully from behind a lectern in the Roosevelt Room, next to the Oval Office. The White House invited cameras in, guaranteeing television coverage.

He said the Senate's action "endangers the lives of our citizens," and added that "the terrorist threat to our country will not expire in two weeks," a reference to the approaching deadline of Dec. 31, when critical provisions of the current law will end.

His statement came just a day before he was scheduled to make a rare Oval Office address to the nation, at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday, celebrating the Iraqi elections and describing what his press secretary on Saturday called the "path forward."

Mr. Bush's public confirmation on Saturday of the existence of one of the country's most secret intelligence programs, which had been known to only a select number of his aides, was a rare moment in his presidency. Few presidents have publicly confirmed the existence of heavily classified intelligence programs like this one.

His admission was reminiscent of Dwight Eisenhower's in 1960 that he had authorized U-2 flights over the Soviet Union after Francis Gary Powers was shot down on a reconnaissance mission. At the time, President Eisenhower declared that "no one wants another Pearl Harbor," an argument Mr. Bush echoed on Saturday in defending his program as a critical component of antiterrorism efforts.

But the revelation of the domestic spying program, which the administration temporarily suspended last year because of concerns about its legality, came in a leak. Mr. Bush said the information had been "improperly provided to news organizations."

As a result of the report, he said, "our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk. Revealing classified information is illegal, alerts our enemies and endangers our country."

As recently as Friday, when he was interviewed by Jim Lehrer of PBS, Mr. Bush refused to confirm the report the previous evening in The New York Times that in 2002 he authorized the spying operation by the security agency, which is usually barred from intercepting domestic communications. While not denying the report, he called it "speculation" and said he did not "talk about ongoing intelligence operations."

But as the clamor over the revelation rose and Vice President Dick Cheney and Andrew H. Card Jr., the White House chief of staff, went to Capitol Hill on Friday to answer charges that the program was an illegal assumption of presidential powers, even in a time of war, Mr. Bush and his senior aides decided to abandon that approach.

"There was an interest in saying more about it, but everyone recognized its highly classified nature," one senior administration official said, speaking on background because, he said, the White House wanted the president to be the only voice on the issue. "This is directly taking on the critics. The Democrats are now in the position of supporting our efforts to protect Americans, or defend positions that could weaken our nation's security."

Democrats saw the issue differently. "Our government must follow the laws and respect the Constitution while it protects Americans' security and liberty," said Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and the Senate's leading critic of the Patriot Act.

Senator Arlen Specter, the Pennsylvania Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has said he would conduct hearings on why Mr. Bush took the action.

"In addition to what the president said today," Mr. Specter said, "the Judiciary Committee will be interested in its oversight capacity to learn from the attorney general or others in the Department of Justice the statutory or other legal basis for the electronic surveillance, whether there was any judicial review involved, what was the scope of the domestic intercepts, what standards were used to identify Al Qaeda or other terrorist callers, and what was done with this information."

In a statement, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, said she was advised of the president's decision shortly after he made it and had "been provided with updates on several occasions."

"The Bush administration considered these briefings to be notification, not a request for approval," Ms. Pelosi said. "As is my practice whenever I am notified about such intelligence activities, I expressed my strong concerns during these briefings."

In his statement on Saturday, Mr. Bush did not address the main question directed at him by some members of Congress on Friday: why he felt it necessary to circumvent the system established under current law, which allows the president to seek emergency warrants, in secret, from the court that oversees intelligence operations. His critics said that under that law, the administration could have obtained the same information.

The president said on Saturday that he acted in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks because the United States had failed to detect communications that might have tipped them off to the plot. He said that two of the hijackers who flew a jet into the Pentagon, Nawaf al-Hamzi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, "communicated while they were in the United States to other members of Al Qaeda who were overseas. But we didn't know they were here, until it was too late."

As a result, "I authorized the National Security Agency, consistent with U.S. law and the Constitution, to intercept the international communications of people with known links to Al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations," Mr. Bush said. "This is a highly classified program that is crucial to our national security."

Mr. Bush said that every 45 days the program was reviewed, based on "a fresh intelligence assessment of terrorist threats to the continuity of our government and the threat of catastrophic damage to our homeland."

"I have reauthorized this program more than 30 times since the Sept. 11 attacks, and I intend to do so for as long as our nation faces a continuing threat from Al Qaeda and related groups," Mr. Bush said. He said Congressional leaders had been repeatedly briefed on the program, and that intelligence officials "receive extensive training to ensure they perform their duties consistent with the letter and intent of the authorization."

The Patriot Act vote in the Senate, a day after Mr. Bush was forced to accept an amendment sponsored by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, that places limits on interrogation techniques that can be used by C.I.A. officers and other nonmilitary personnel, was a setback to the president's assertion of broad powers. In both cases, he lost a number of Republicans along with almost all Democrats.

"This reflects a complete transformation of the debate in America over torture," said Tom Malinowski, the Washington advocacy director of Human Rights Watch. "After the attacks, no politician was heard expressing any questions about the executive branch's treatment of captured terrorists."

Mr. Bush's unusual radio address is part of a broader effort this weekend to regain the initiative, after weeks in which the political ground has shifted under his feet. The Oval Office speech on Sunday, a formal setting that he usually tries to avoid, is his first there since March 2003, when he informed the world that he had ordered the Iraq invasion.

White House aides say they intend for this speech to be a bookmark in the Iraq experience: As part of the planned address, Mr. Bush appears ready to at least hint at reductions in troop levels.

There are roughly 160,000 American troops in Iraq, a number that was intended to keep order for Thursday's parliamentary elections.

The American troop level was already scheduled to decline to 138,000 - what the military calls its "baseline" level - after the election.

But on Friday, as the debate in Washington swirled over the president's order, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top American commander in Iraq, hinted that further reductions may be on the way.

"We're doing our assessment, and I'll make some recommendations in the coming weeks about whether I think it's prudent to go below the baseline," General Casey told reporters in Baghdad.

* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company

December 19th, 2005, 09:40 PM
December 19, 2005

Bush Says U.S. Spy Program Is Legal and Essential


WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 - President Bush offered a vigorous and detailed defense of his previously secret electronic-surveillance program today, calling it a legal and essential tool in the battle against terrorism and saying that whoever disclosed it had committed a "shameful act."

Mr. Bush said the surveillance would continue, that it was being conducted under appropriate safeguards and that Congress had been kept informed about it. He rejected any suggestion that the surveillance program was symptomatic of unchecked power in the presidency.

The president also called on the Senate to reauthorize the USA Patriot Act, whose government-surveillance powers Mr. Bush said were vital in keeping up with terrorist plots. Some of the very same lawmakers who criticized American intelligence agencies for failing to "connect the dots" before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks are now blocking renewal of the Patriot Act, Mr. Bush said.

Surveillance dominated Mr. Bush's hourlong news conference at the White House, and Mr. Bush said he fully understood the concerns of some lawmakers that civil liberties might be infringed upon. But those concerns are simply not justified, the president said.

"Leaders in the United States Congress have been briefed more than a dozen times on this program," Mr. Bush said. "And it has been effective in disrupting the enemy while safeguarding our personal liberties. This program has targeted those with known links to Al Qaeda."

The program, which Mr. Bush authorized the National Security Agency to carry out, is consistent both with Article II of the Constitution, which outlines presidential authority and responsibility, and the laws of the United States, he said, and is reviewed every 45 days or so to prevent abuses.

Mr. Bush said he had determined early on that he was on sound footing. "Do I have the legal authority to do this?" he asked rhetorically. "And the answer is, absolutely."

Democrats quickly rejected the president's rationale. "Where does he find in the Constitution the authority to tap the wires and the phones of American citizens without any court oversight?" Senator Carl Levin of Michigan said at a Capitol news conference.

Senator Russell D. Feingold of Wisconsin said, "We will not tolerate a president who believes that he is the sole decision-maker when it comes to the policies that this country should have in the war against terror and the policies we should have to protect the rights of completely innocent Americans."

Mr. Bush said he assumed that the Justice Department would try to find out who had leaked details of the program. "My personal opinion is, it was a shameful act for someone to disclose this very important program in a time of war," Mr. Bush said. "The fact that we're discussing this program is helping the enemy."

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales also spoke out today as the Bush administration mounted an all-out offensive to rebut the criticisms of Democrats. "Our position is that the authorization to use military force, which was passed by the Congress after Sept. 11, constitutes that authority," he said.

The surveillance of telephone calls and e-mail messages caused a furor when it was disclosed last week by The New York Times, because it has been conducted without warrants. But Mr. Bush noted that it has been used only to monitor communications between someone in the United States and someone else in another country - not to intercept calls between, say, Houston and Los Angeles.

"We know that a two-minute phone conversation between somebody linked to Al Qaeda here and an operative overseas could lead directly to the loss of thousands of lives," Mr. Bush said. "To save American lives, we must be able to act fast and to detect these conversations so we can prevent new attacks."

But Mr. Bush said his administration would not hesitate to intercept purely domestic messages, under warrants obtainable from a special court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, whenever necessary to combat an enemy who is quick, clever and lethal.

Mr. Bush interrupted a questioner to swat down any suggestion that, as he himself put it, he was trying to assume "dictatorial powers" in the campaign against terrorism. And with some heat in his voice he criticized those senators who have so far blocked renewal of the USA Patriot Act.

"These senators need to explain why they thought the Patriot Act was a vital tool after the Sept. 11 attacks, but now think it's no longer necessary," Mr. Bush said.

Mr. Feingold was the only senator to vote against the act four years ago. Most Democrats and several Republicans in the Senate have expressed reservations about the act in recent months, asserting that it confers too much surveillance power on law enforcement. The critics say the flaws can be corrected through more compromise and discussion.

Senator Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, the minority leader, accused Mr. Bush and Republican Senate leaders of "playing politics with the Patriot Act."

"Americans want both liberty and security," Mr. Reid said in a statement issued by his office. "They are not contradictory. We do not have to sacrifice our basic liberties in the course of strengthening national security."

But Mr. Bush was in no mood for compromise today. "I want senators from New York or Los Angeles or Las Vegas to explain why these cities are safer" without the extension, he said. Senators Reid, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles E. Schumer, both of New York, and Barbara Boxer of California, all Democrats, were among those who helped to block the legislation in the Senate last week.

"In a war on terror we cannot afford to be without this law for a single moment," Mr. Bush said.

* Copyright 2005The New York Times Company

December 20th, 2005, 12:17 AM
Letter from Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) to Vice President Cheney regarding NSA domestic wiretapping, July 17th 2003 ...




December 21st, 2005, 02:32 PM
What, the transit strike has all you guys ignoring the presidents speech on how it was legal for him to wiretap without a judge?

Even after he said it himself that that is not legal and will not be done (2004 campaign)?

There is so much going on with this and all of NYC has gone myopic!


December 28th, 2005, 11:33 AM
Not myopic -- just away on vacation.

We've been through all of this before. I've been catching up on some history -- been reading "J. Edgar Hoover: the Man and the Secrets" by Curt Gentry. Dry as a bone but also chronicles prior abuses of constitution, etc. -- all in the name of saving America. After the Church Report came out ( http://foia.state.gov/Reports/ChurchReport.asp ) all sorts of new controls were established regarding spying, etc. but the FBI / CIA are clever and know how to disregard those things and how to get away with it.

Seems this is an on-going battle between the Executive Branch (which claims it has the power to do about whatever it wants as long as it is in the "National Interest" and necessary to protect and preserve the Republic) and the Courts / Legislative Brances, which both seem to have a stronger belief in the checks and balances inherent in the Constitution.

December 29th, 2005, 01:11 PM
"Executive Discretion" run amok ...

U.S. Defends Conduct in Padilla Case

Supreme Court Asked To Overrule 4th Circuit

By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 29, 2005


A federal appeals court infringed on President Bush's authority to run the war on terror when it refused to let prosecutors take custody of "enemy combatant" Jose Padilla, the Justice Department said yesterday, as it urged the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene.

The sharply worded Justice Department filing was the latest salvo in an increasingly contentious battle over Padilla, a U.S. citizen arrested in Chicago in 2002 and initially accused of plotting to detonate a radiological "dirty bomb." Padilla was held for more than three years by the military before he was indicted last month in Miami on separate criminal terrorism charges.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit refused last week to allow prosecutors to take custody of Padilla from the military and rebuked the Bush administration for its handling of the high-profile case. The Bush administration took strong issue yesterday with the Richmond-based court's decision and appealed it to the Supreme Court.

It was another remarkable turn in Padilla's case, which has evolved into a legal spat between the executive and judicial branches of government. The dispute is especially unusual because it involves the 4th Circuit, which has been the administration's venue of choice for high-profile terrorism cases since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The 4th Circuit has given the government extraordinary latitude on national security matters, ruling for prosecutors in the cases of Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Yaser Esam Hamdi. Hamdi and Padilla are the two U.S. citizens held as enemy combatants as part of the government's campaign against terror since Sept. 11.

The Justice Department brief said the 4th Circuit had mischaracterized the events of Padilla's incarceration and engaged in "an unwarranted attack on the exercise of Executive discretion." Prosecutors accused the court of going so far as to "usurp" Bush's authority as the nation's commander-in-chief and his government's "prosecutorial discretion."

In Padilla's case, the same three-judge panel that is now drawing the government's ire strongly backed the president's authority to hold Padilla without charges or trial in an earlier ruling. That decision, like the one refusing to authorize Padilla's transfer, was written by Judge J. Michael Luttig, who was a contender to be nominated by Bush to the Supreme Court this year.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts is the Supreme Court justice who oversees cases from the 4th Circuit, but it was unclear yesterday whether Roberts would rule himself on the government's request for Padilla's transfer. The full court is considering whether to take up the merits of Padilla's detention by the military.

Padilla, a former gang member, was arrested at O'Hare International Airport in May 2002 and declared an enemy combatant by Bush a month later. Padilla has been held in a U.S. Navy brig, without charges or trial, ever since.

Attorneys for Padilla and civil liberties organizations took up his cause, saying the government could not indefinitely detain U.S. citizens captured on American soil. But the 4th Circuit ruled in September that Bush had the authority to detain Padilla and that such power is essential to preventing terrorist strikes.

In its ruling last week, the 4th Circuit questioned the government's changing rationale for Padilla's detention since the September decision, because the criminal charges do not mention a dirty bomb plot or any attack inside the United States. The court said prosecutors had left the appearance that they were trying to avoid Supreme Court review of Padilla's case and suggested that Padilla might have been "held for these years, even if justifiably, by mistake."

The charges in Miami accuse Padilla of being part of a violent terrorism conspiracy rooted in North America but directed at sending money and recruits overseas to "murder, kidnap and maim." If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.

Yesterday, prosecutors denied any attempt to avoid the Supreme Court and said they had narrowed the charges against Padilla because elaborating on the original allegations would compromise intelligence "sources or methods."

"There is nothing remotely sinister about the government's effort to pursue criminal charges that minimize evidentiary complications," the brief said, adding that "there is no basis for questioning the good faith of the government in moving forward with the indictment."

&#169; 2005 The Washington Post Company

December 30th, 2005, 12:10 PM
Folks we are in a very scary place. This administration is out to DESTROY this country.

Justice Dept. Probing Domestic Spying Leak
By TONI LOCY, Associated Press Writer
December 30, 2005

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department has opened an investigation into the leak of classified information about President Bush's secret domestic spying program, Justice officials said Friday.

The officials, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the probe, said the inquiry will focus on disclosures to The New York Times about warrantless surveillance conducted by the National Security Agency since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The Times revealed the existence of the program two weeks ago in a front-page story that acknowledged the news had been withheld from publication for a year, partly at the request of the administration and partly because the newspaper wanted more time to confirm various aspects of the program.

Catherine Mathis, a spokeswoman for The Times, said the paper will not comment on the investigation.

Revelation of the secret spying program unleashed a firestorm of criticism of the administration. Some critics accused the president of breaking the law by authorizing intercepts of conversations — without prior court approval or oversight — of people inside the United States and abroad who had suspected ties to al-Qaida or its affiliates.

The surveillance program, which Bush acknowledged authorizing, bypassed a nearly 30-year-old secret court established to oversee highly sensitive investigations involving espionage and terrorism.

Administration officials insisted that Bush has the power to conduct the warrantless surveillance under the Constitution's war powers provision. They also argued that Congress gave Bush the power to conduct such a secret program when it authorized the use of military force against terrorism in a resolution adopted within days of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The Justice Department's investigation was being initiated after the agency received a request for the probe from the NSA.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has been conducting a separate leak investigation to determine who in the administration leaked CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to the media in 2003.

Several reporters have been called to testify before a grand jury or to give depositions. New York Times reporter Judith Miller spent 85 days in jail, refusing to reveal her source, before testifying in the probe.

The administration's legal interpretation of the president's powers allowed the government to avoid requirements under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in conducting the warrantless surveillance.

The act established procedures that an 11-member court used in 2004 to oversee nearly 1,800 government applications for secret surveillance or searches of foreigners and U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism or espionage.

Congressional leaders have said they were not briefed four years ago, when the secret program began, as thoroughly as the administration has since contended.

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said in an article printed last week on the op-ed page of The Washington Post that Congress explicitly denied a White House request for war-making authority in the United States.

"This last-minute change would have given the president broad authority to exercise expansive powers not just overseas ... but right here in the United States, potentially against American citizens," Daschle wrote..

Daschle was Senate Democratic leader at the time of the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington. He is now a fellow at the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington think tank.

The administration formally defended its domestic spying program in a letter to Congress last week, saying the nation's security outweighs privacy concerns of individuals who are monitored.

In a letter to the chairs of the House and Senate intelligence committees, the Justice Department said Bush authorized conducting electronic surveillance without first obtaining a warrant in an effort to thwart terrorist acts against the United States.

Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella acknowledged "legitimate" privacy interests. But he said those interests "must be balanced" against national security.

January 16th, 2006, 05:48 PM
Report Rebuts Bush on Spying

Domestic Action's Legality Challenged

By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, January 7, 2006

A report by Congress's research arm concluded yesterday that the administration's justification for the warrantless eavesdropping authorized by President Bush conflicts with existing law and hinges on weak legal arguments.

The Congressional Research Service's report rebuts the central assertions made recently by Bush and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales about the president's authority to order secret intercepts of telephone and e-mail exchanges between people inside the United States and their contacts abroad.

The findings, the first nonpartisan assessment of the program's legality to date, prompted Democratic lawmakers and civil liberties advocates to repeat calls yesterday for Congress to conduct hearings on the monitoring program and attempt to halt it.

The 44-page report said that Bush probably cannot claim the broad presidential powers he has relied upon as authority to order the secret monitoring of calls made by U.S. citizens since the fall of 2001. Congress expressly intended for the government to seek warrants from a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before engaging in such surveillance when it passed legislation creating the court in 1978, the CRS report said.

The report also concluded that Bush's assertion that Congress authorized such eavesdropping to detect and fight terrorists does not appear to be supported by the special resolution that Congress approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which focused on authorizing the president to use military force.

"It appears unlikely that a court would hold that Congress has expressly or impliedly authorized the NSA electronic surveillance operations here," the authors of the CRS report wrote. The administration's legal justification "does not seem to be . . . well-grounded," they said.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has pledged to hold hearings on the program, which was first revealed in news accounts last month, and the judges of the FISA court have demanded a classified briefing about the program, which is scheduled for Monday.

"This report contradicts the president's claim that his spying on Americans was legal," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), one of the lawmakers who asked the CRS to research the issue. "It looks like the president's wiretapping was not only illegal, but also ensnared innocent Americans who did nothing more than place a phone call."

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the president and the administration believe the program is on firm legal footing. "The national security activities described by the president were conducted in accord with the law and provide a critical tool in the war on terror that saves lives and protects civil liberties at the same time," he said. A spokesman for the National Security Agency was not available for a comment yesterday.

Other administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the CRS reached some erroneous legal conclusions, erring on the side of a narrow interpretation of what constitutes military force and when the president can exercise his war powers.

Bush has said that he has broad powers in times of war and must exercise them to target not only "enemies across the world" but also "terrorists here at home." The administration has argued, starting in 2002 briefs to the FISA court, that the "war on terror" is global and indefinite, effectively removing the limits of wartime authority -- traditionally the times and places of imminent or actual battle.

Some law professors have been skeptical of the president's assertions, and several said yesterday that the report's conclusions were expected. "Ultimately, the administration's position is not persuasive," said Carl W. Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor and an expert on constitutional law. "Congress has made it pretty clear it has legislated pretty comprehensively on this issue with FISA," he said, referring to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. "And there begins to be a pattern of unilateral executive decision making. Time and again, there's the executive acting alone without consulting the courts or Congress."

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said the report makes it clear that Congress has exerted power over domestic surveillance. He urged Congress to address what he called the president's abuse of citizens' privacy rights and the larger issue of presidential power.

"These are absolutely central questions in American government: What exactly are the authorities vested in the president, and is he complying with the law?" Rotenberg said.

The report includes 1970s-era quotations from congressional committees that were then uncovering years of domestic spying abuses by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI against those suspected of communist sympathies, American Indians, Black Panthers and other activists. Lawmakers were very disturbed at how routinely FBI agents had listened in on U.S. citizens' phone calls without following any formal procedures. As they drafted FISA and created its court, the lawmakers warned then that only strong legislation, debated in public, could stop future administrations from eavesdropping.

"This evidence alone should demonstrate the inappropriateness of relying solely on executive branch discretion to safeguard civil liberties," they wrote. The lawmakers noted that Congress's intelligence committees could provide some checks and balances to protect privacy rights but that their power was limited in the face of an administration arguing that intelligence decisions must remain top secret.

Researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

January 19th, 2006, 07:41 AM
Congressional Agency Questions Legality of Wiretaps

By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Bush administration appears to have violated the National Security Act by limiting its briefings about a warrantless domestic eavesdropping program to congressional leaders, according to a memo from Congress's research arm released yesterday.

The Congressional Research Service opinion said that the amended 1947 law requires President Bush to keep all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees "fully and currently informed" of such intelligence activities as the domestic surveillance effort.

The memo from national security specialist Alfred Cumming is the second report this month from CRS to question the legality of aspects of Bush's domestic spying program. A Jan. 6 report concluded that the administration's justifications for the program conflicted with current law.

Yesterday's analysis was requested by Rep. Jane Harman (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee, who wrote in a letter to Bush earlier this month that limiting information about the eavesdropping program violated the law and provided for poor oversight.

The White House has said it informed congressional leaders about the NSA program in more than a dozen briefings, but has refused to provide further details. At a minimum, the briefings included the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence oversight committees and the two ranking Democrats, known collectively as the "Gang of Four," according to various sources.

"We believe that Congress was appropriately briefed," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said in a statement last night.

Bush has publicly acknowledged issuing an order after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that allowed the National Security Agency to intercept telephone and e-mail exchanges between the United States and overseas without court authorization. The cases were limited to people suspected of al Qaeda ties, Bush and his aides said.

Cumming's analysis found that both intelligence committees should have been briefed because the program involved intelligence collection activities.

The only exception in the law applies to covert actions, Cumming found, and those programs must be reported to the "Gang of Eight," which includes House and Senate leaders in addition to heads of the intelligence panels. The administration can also withhold some operational details in rare circumstances, but that does not apply to the existence of entire programs, he wrote.

Unless the White House contends the program is a covert action, the memo said, "limiting congressional notification of the NSA program to the Gang of Eight . . . would appear to be inconsistent with the law."

Also yesterday, the Electronic Privacy Information Center said it would file a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit today demanding information about the NSA spying. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed separate lawsuits Tuesday asserting that Bush exceeded his authority and violated Fourth Amendment guarantees in authorizing the NSA surveillance.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

January 19th, 2006, 11:39 AM
We Don't Need a New King George

How can the President interpret the law as if it didn't apply to him?

By ANDREW SULLIVAN (http://javascript<b></b>:void(0))

TIME Magazine
Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006


A somewhat legal law is a little like a somewhat pregnant woman. At first blush, it seems like an absurdity. But President Bush disagrees. In the past five years, quietly but systematically, he has been arguing that the law doesn't always apply to him. How has he done this? By attaching "signing statements" that spell out his own attitude to bills he signs.

Previous Presidents have sporadically issued signing statements, but seldom and mainly as boilerplate or spin. Until the 1980s, there had been just over a dozen in two centuries. The President's basic legislative weapon, after all, is the veto power given him by the founders. He can use the power as leverage to affect legislation or kill it. But he cannot legislate himself or interpret the law counter to Congress's intent. Signing statements were therefore relatively rare instances of presidential nuance or push-back. In eight years, Ronald Reagan used signing statements to challenge 71 legislative provisions, and Bill Clinton 105.

In five years, President Bush has already challenged up to 500 provisions, according to one tally--far, far more than any predecessor. But more important than the number under Bush has been the systematic use of the statements and the scope of their content, asserting a very broad legal loophole for the Executive. Last December, for example, after a year of debate, the President signed the McCain amendment into law. In the wake of Abu Ghraib, the amendment banned all "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of U.S. military detainees. For months, the President threatened a veto. Then the Senate passed it 90 to 9. The House chimed in with a veto-proof majority. So Bush backed down, embraced McCain and signed it. The debate was over, right? That's how our democracy works, right?

Not according to this President. Although the meaning of the law was crystal clear and the Constitution says Congress has the exclusive power to "make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water," Bush demurred.

He issued a signing statement that read, "The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power."

Translation: If the President believes torture is warranted to protect the country, he'll violate the law and authorize torture. If the courts try to stop him, he'll ignore them too. This wasn't quibbling or spinning. Like the old English kings who insisted that Parliament could not tell them what to do, Bush all but declared himself above a law he signed. One professor who specializes in this constitutional area, Phillip J. Cooper of Portland State University in Oregon, has described the power grabs as "breathtaking."

And who came up with this innovative use of presidential signing statements? Drumroll, please. Samuel Alito, Supreme Court nominee, way back in 1986. In a Feb. 5 memo, he wrote, "Since the president's approval is just as important as that of the House or Senate, it seems to follow that the president's understanding of the bill should be just as important as that of Congress."

That is, of course, a very strange idea--which is why, until then, signing statements had been sporadic and rare. Courts have always looked solely to congressional debates in interpreting laws Congress has passed. In laws with veto-proof margins, the President's view is utterly irrelevant. Alito seemed to concede that at the time, recognizing the "novelty of the procedure and the potential increase of presidential power."

Alito, of course, didn't foresee the war on terrorism. But put a war President's power together with the new use of signing statements, and Executive clout has been put on steroids. "If you take this to its logical conclusion, because during war the Commander in Chief has an obligation to protect us, any statute on the books could be summarily waived," argued Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina.

As Graham shows, this isn't a Republican-Democrat issue. It's a very basic one. A President, Democrat or Republican, has every right to act unilaterally at times to defend the country. But a democracy cannot work if the person who is deputed to execute the laws exempts himself from them when he feels like it. Forget the imperial presidency. This is more like a monarchical one. America began by rejecting the claims of one King George. It's disturbing to think we may now be quietly installing a second one.

Copyright © 2006 Time Inc.

Andrew Sullivan's blog, the Daily Dish, can be found at time.com (http://time.com/)

January 25th, 2006, 09:14 AM
Unfathomed Dangers in PATRIOT Act Reauthorization

by Paul Craig Roberts
January 24, 2006


A provision in the "PATRIOT Act" creates a new federal police force with the power to violate the Bill of Rights. You might think that this cannot be true, as you have not read about it in newspapers or heard it discussed by talking heads on TV.

Go to House Report 109-333 USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/R?cp109:FLD010:@1(hr333)) and check it out for yourself (partially quoted below).

Sec. 605 (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?&dbname=cp109&sid=cp109lxkwK&refer=&r_n=hr333.109&item=&sel=TOC_208072&) reads:

"There is hereby created and established a permanent police force, to be known as the 'United States Secret Service Uniformed Division.'"

This new federal police force is "subject to the supervision of the Secretary of Homeland Security."

The new police are empowered to "make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony."

The new police are assigned a variety of jurisdictions, including "an event designated under section 3056(e) of title 18 as a special event of national significance" (SENS).

"A special event of national significance" is neither defined nor does it require the presence of a "protected person" such as the president in order to trigger it. Thus, the administration, and perhaps the police themselves, can place the SENS designation on any event. Once a SENS designation is placed on an event, the new federal police are empowered to keep out and arrest people at their discretion.

The language conveys enormous discretionary and arbitrary powers. What is "an offense against the United States"? What are "reasonable grounds"?
You can bet the Alito/Roberts court will rule that it is whatever the executive branch says.

The obvious purpose of the act is to prevent demonstrations at Bush/Cheney events. However, nothing in the language limits the police powers from being used only in this way. Like every law in the U.S., this law also will be expansively interpreted and abused. It has dire implications for freedom of association and First Amendment rights. We can take for granted that the new federal police will be used to suppress dissent and to break up opposition. The Brownshirts are now arming themselves with a Gestapo.

Many na&#239;ve Americans will write to me to explain that this new provision in the reauthorization of the "PATRIOT Act" is necessary to protect the president and other high officials from terrorists or from harm at the hands of angry demonstrators: "No one else will have anything to fear." Some will accuse me of being an alarmist, and others will say that it is unpatriotic to doubt the law's good intentions.

Americans will write such nonsense despite the fact that the president and foreign dignitaries are already provided superb protection by the Secret Service. The na&#239;ve will not comprehend that the president cannot be endangered by demonstrators at SENS at which the president is not present. For many Americans, the light refuses to turn on.

In Nazi Germany, did no one but Jews have anything to fear from the Gestapo?

By Stalin's time, Lenin and Trotsky had eliminated all members of the "oppressor class," but that did not stop Stalin from sending millions of "enemies of the people" to the Gulag.

It is extremely difficult to hold even local police forces accountable. Who is going to hold accountable a federal police protected by Homeland Security and the president?

************************************************** ****


(a) In General- Chapter 203 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 3056 the following:`Sec. 3056A. Powers, authorities, and duties of United States Secret Service Uniformed Division

(a) There is hereby created and established a permanent police force, to be known as the `United States Secret Service Uniformed Division'. Subject to the supervision of the Secretary of Homeland Security, the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division shall perform such duties as the Director, United States Secret Service, may prescribe ... b)(1) Under the direction of the Director of the Secret Service, members of the United States Secret Service Uniformed Division are authorized to--

(A) carry firearms;
(B) make arrests without warrant for any offense against the United States committed in their presence, or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing such felony; and
(C) perform such other functions and duties as are authorized by law.

January 25th, 2006, 10:20 AM
How is this stuff not getting any play in the press?

January 25th, 2006, 10:53 AM

In Nazi Germany, did no one but Jews have anything to fear from the Gestapo?

Oh no...Godwin's Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law)

January 25th, 2006, 02:57 PM
In this case, I think the comparison is apropos. Godwin's Law is a "theory" and one that is used to dismiss the legitimate fears of people. It also distinguishes the "arbitrary use" of comparisons as opposed to what is happening in this thread. This administration is in a power grab and is thumbing its nose at Congress. The comparison to Hitler and Nazi's is the mostchilling example of Fascism and that is EXACTLY what we are headed for.

I urge readers of this thread to read the Event section and add your voice to the January 31st 8PM protest in Times Square demanding that Bush step down. How many laws have to be broken before one speaks out? How bad must it get before you say, "enough!" If we go down this path any longer, our rights and our country are doomed.

January 25th, 2006, 03:20 PM
Geez, unclench a little. It was a joke.

Maybe if Adolf unclenched...

Dammit! Godwin again.

January 25th, 2006, 03:28 PM
The only issue and question about this domestic NSA spying on peolpe receiving calls from abroad is whether the Bush administration should have gone to the FISA court to get authorization, as it's supposed according to most people's understanding of the current law. But this scandal has lo legs because FISA authorization is almost automatic. 99% of FISA requests are approved and while we can say that Bush administration should have gone that road, practically, it would not change much. It seems like that Bush's intentions were good. Let's not criticize for the sake of criticizing. As both parties are desperately looking for issues to slam on each other's heads and prove to the public that one side better than the other, we should not fall in this trap.

January 25th, 2006, 03:40 PM
It is irrelevant as to whether Fisa requests are almost always approved or not. The LAW requires the president to get the approval and he has up to 72 hours AFTER the wiretapping and spying to do it. That is the LAW. This president didn't follow the LAW.

And, I'll add, that is NOT the only issue. We have a litany of issues that would be crimes were it not for the corruption riddled majority now leading Congress. Where do we start? Leading the country into an unjust war using false evidence, the Katrina fiasco (which the administration refuses to testify on), domestic spying and wiretaps, the use of torture at Abu Ghraib, the unlawful detainment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the failure to uphold the rules of the Geneva Convention - pick one - anyone is enough. All told it is too much.

Your apologist attitude and apparent ignorance of the national crisis this country is facing is both disappointing and appalling.

January 25th, 2006, 03:52 PM
Katrina fiasco has nothing to do with the topic of this thread which is "The Bush Police State". I am not saying that Bush is a great president, but many things you mention below are your own subjective judgements and not the established facts. We are a country of the laws. If corruption were to take place in the Congress, I hope this will be investigated by the justice department or the attorney general or the special prosecutor or some other legal authorities and those who are guilty will be brought to justice. What I am saying is that we should not exaggerate the problem when the question is not whether the action in itself was illegal (NSA wiretapping) but whether the appropriate procedures were followed. And if the Bush administration broke the law as you are saying, it will be investigated. I am not saying we should just forget about it. But this whole issues has become a talking point for those who does not like the Bush administration. You see democratic leaders on TV talking about the NSA controversy as if it was the worst thing that ever happened to this country.

And saying that we live in the police state is clearly a huge oversimplification and exaggeration. I did live in the police state when I was younger (Soviet Union). Trust me, the US is no police state even with Bush as president - far from it.

January 25th, 2006, 04:32 PM
Much of what is stated here is political satire, and exaggerated. However, it is derived from actual conditions. I doubt there was much of this in the Soviet Union, since the government lacked a sense of humor.

While I don't think the U.S. is a police state, we are moving in that direction. Even if a small step, I'd rather we didn't take it.

January 25th, 2006, 04:54 PM
This is a step in the wrong direction.

It opens the door, but does not step foot into, abuse of power. there are still many baby steps that need to be taken to make the horrors become real, but they will come if there is little resistance to them.

The thing that bothers me the most about these things are several points:

1. that this was not brought up in any kind of public announcement or acnowledgement. It is like a rider on a bill, shoved between the pages to escape notice on an already controversial issue.

2. The fact that Bush and co. is still ardently denying NOt the fact that he did any of this, but that it was within his jurisprudence to do so! That, as the President, he was entitled to break the law to, ironically, "defend the constitutional rights of Americans" while actually violating those rights.

I have said this before. This deserves an impeachment. Whether he is found guilty or not is another issue, but this is something more weighty than lying to the public about an issue that had nothing to do with the case and was only brought up to deface the defendant. If people defend that as being technically appropriate, then Bush is in the same boat. there is no way to seperate these two without putting Bush at fault and he should face it.

Now if he is defended and the charges are not valid, so be it, but he should not EVER consider himself above the law.

January 26th, 2006, 12:09 AM

That news search, for "patriot act", turned up 6,270 results.

However, a news search of "patriot act" and "permanent pollice force" (wording from the act itself), turns up only FOUR results: http://news.google.com/news?sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGGL%2CGGGL%3A2005-09%2CGGGL%3Aen&q=%22patriot+act%22+%22permanent+police+force%22&btnG=Search+News

Of those four one is from Canada, the other is an Italian site on "Occupied Iraq" and the other two are US "independent" news sites.

NOT ONE result from ANY mainstream / major news outlet in the USA.

What's up with that???

January 26th, 2006, 12:17 AM
A Google news search for "patriot act" "federal police force" turns up only NINE results ............

Clearly no one is reporting this development.

January 26th, 2006, 08:47 AM
Well, write the NYP and give them a heads up!

I am sure they will go with anything controvercial. I can see the title now:



January 26th, 2006, 09:58 AM
Ninjahedge: Don't you think you're oveheating a bit about GW Bush and Iraq? Seriously, relax and enjoy life. It's too short to get so worked up about something. GW Bush will be gone in less than 3 years. They will go by fast. All of the potential candidates for 2008 look pretty decent.

January 26th, 2006, 10:06 AM
Even when Bush goes these new provisions / practices will remain.

By granting more powers to the Executive Branch the entire concept of checks and balances -- the basis of our governmental system -- is weakened.

Benjamin Franklin:

They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.

January 26th, 2006, 10:43 AM
Ninjahedge: Don't you think you're oveheating a bit about GW Bush and Iraq?

Nope. He spent our money, and our lives, and got us into a mess that will take a good 10-20 years to rectify.

How should I be happy that he has "only" 2½ years left.

I am not on a cruisade here. He is the religious panderer (who preaches to the bible belt, but does not live his own life in the same standards he is siting from his base), let him use the term cruisade....

I am saying, if he broke the law, and is indeed violating the tenets of the constitution, it is time to bring him to court and bring all of this under the lights so we can have a look see. He is an ELECTED OFFICIAL, and as such, should still be under the direction and observance of the people he is supposed to represent.

And no, that is not just the people who voted for him. It is ALL of america.

Seriously, relax and enjoy life. It's too short to get so worked up about something. GW Bush will be gone in less than 3 years. They will go by fast. All of the potential candidates for 2008 look pretty decent.

Um, "relax, your credit card is in debt up to its eyeballs!!! You have 10 years to pay them off!!!"

Come on man... Be realistic here. He screwed up and he should have to answer to it rather than getting up in front of a pre-screened audience, smiling, hunching his shoulders up, talking to us like we were idiots if we did not like him and what he was doing.

January 26th, 2006, 12:39 PM
That news search, for "patriot act", turned up 6,270 results.

However, a news search of "patriot act" and "permanent pollice force" (wording from the act itself), turns up only FOUR results: http://news.google.com/news?sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGGL%2CGGGL%3A2005-09%2CGGGL%3Aen&q=%22patriot+act%22+%22permanent+police+force%22&btnG=Search+News

Of those four one is from Canada, the other is an Italian site on "Occupied Iraq" and the other two are US "independent" news sites.

NOT ONE result from ANY mainstream / major news outlet in the USA.

What's up with that???
The creation of a "permanent police force" is not news. The first sentence of that article

A provision in the "PATRIOT Act" creates a new federal police forceis a deliberate distortion.

The Secret Service Uniformed Division has been in existence since 1922. It was under the control of the US Dept of the Treasury until 2003, when it was transferred to the Dept of Homeland Security. But now all the blogs are running with a story that a new police force has been secretly created, and it is accepted as fact.

The problems associated with expanding the powers of Homeland Security under the Patriot Act renewal are well reported.

January 26th, 2006, 01:16 PM
Come on man... Be realistic here. He screwed up and he should have to answer to it rather than getting up in front of a pre-screened audience, smiling, hunching his shoulders up, talking to us like we were idiots if we did not like him and what he was doing.

In any case, he will not be impeached for 2 simple reasons:
1) Both houses of Congress are controller by republicans and most democrats don't talk about impeachement and are not going to do it for practical reasons
2) Many of the things you can blame Bush for, are a shared responsibility between Congress and the president. After all, everyone in Congress either had access to or could request access to most intelligence information that the president used. Even NSA spying activities were known to congress. They started talking about investigation only after it got leaked to the press. And the war in Iraq, as you probably remember, was overwhelmingly supported by democrats many of whom felt that was the right thing to do after 9/11. You can say that Bush lied to the Congress about the intelligence, his administration exaggarated the threat, or went to war before they exhausted all the diplomatic means, etc. Those can be legitimate critisisms,. but not sufficient for impeachment.

So, whether you want it or not, Bush is going to be president for the next 3 years. And here in NY (thanks to the electorial system), we have no effect on who the president is, as you know.

January 26th, 2006, 03:27 PM
To stray slightly off topic, I can't help but reminsce about the years of unmitigated fury and hate coming out of the far-right about various "topics" during the Clinton years. For that matter, if you read even half of the bile coming out of the far-left during the Reagan years you would be shocked that we are all still alive today. Just an observation to file under "the more things change, the more they stay the same".

This post in no way reflects on my personal opinions of Bush, Clinton, or Reagan nor the main issues during their preidencies.

January 27th, 2006, 01:02 PM
Not sure if this had made an appearance here yet. If not it's worth a view ...

Dick Cheney's id ( http://www.answers.com/id ) exposed??????????

A video with a classic bit from "Scarface" imposed on top of Cheney.

http://www.youtube.com/w/If-Dick-Cheney-was-Scarface?v=fZjeoCLiYwE&search=bush%20dubya%20president%20cheney%20hastert %20sotu%20speech%20politics%20news%20comedy%20snl% 20humor%20adomian

February 1st, 2006, 10:21 AM
AT&T sued over NSA spy program
By Declan McCullagh
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Published: January 31, 2006, 1:11 PM PST

TalkBack E-mail Print
AT&T has been named a defendant in a class action lawsuit that claims the telecommunications company illegally cooperated with the National Security Agency's secret eavesdropping program.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in San Francisco's federal district court, charges that AT&T has opened its telecommunications facilities up to the NSA and continues to "to assist the government in its secret surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans."

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which filed the suit, says AT&T's alleged cooperation violates free speech and privacy rights found in the U.S. Constitution and also contravenes federal wiretapping law, which prohibits electronic surveillance "except as authorized by statute."

Kevin Bankston, an EFF staff attorney, said he anticipates that the Bush administration will intervene in the case on behalf of AT&T. "We are definitely going to have a fight with the government and AT&T," he said.

AT&T said Tuesday that it needed to review the complaint before it could respond. But AT&T spokesman Dave Pacholczyk told CNET News.com last week in response to a query about NSA cooperation: "We don't comment on matters of national security."

A Los Angeles Times article dated Dec. 26 quoted an unnamed source as saying the NSA has a "direct hookup" into an AT&T database that stores information about all domestic phone calls, including how long they lasted.

If the Bush administration does intervene, EFF could have a formidable hurdle to overcome: the so-called "state secrets" doctrine.

The state secrets privilege, outlined by the Supreme Court in a 1953 case, permits the government to derail a lawsuit that might otherwise lead to the disclosure of military secrets.

The 9th Circuit upheld a summary judgment on behalf of the Air Force, saying that once the state secrets "privilege is properly invoked and the court is satisfied as to the danger of divulging state secrets, the privilege is absolute" and the case will generally be dismissed.

The Bush administration also is defending a related lawsuit filed earlier this month by the American Civil Liberties Union, that says the surveillance was unconstitutional and illegal.

AT&T has 30 days to file a response, which could include a request that the case be dismissed or a motion for summary judgment.

CNET News.com's Anne Broache contributed to this report

February 3rd, 2006, 05:30 AM
Really pathetic that Oprah and her not so strung out druggie writer created such outrage and media attention but no one seemed too concerned last year when L-w hired a gay male Ho to come to White House press briefings and make sure to ask him questions with not so big words and having offical data re-written to make that little global warming problem seem not so bad. If only the Hooker had given him a bj. <sigh>

February 5th, 2006, 08:25 PM
Exclusive: Can the President Order a Killing on U.S. Soil?

Feb. 13, 2006 issue


In the latest twist in the debate over presidential powers, a Justice Department official suggested that in certain circumstances, the president might have the power to order the killing of terrorist suspects inside the United States. Steven Bradbury, acting head of the department's Office of Legal Counsel, went to a closed-door Senate intelligence committee meeting last week to defend President George W. Bush's surveillance program. During the briefing, said administration and Capitol Hill officials (who declined to be identified because the session was private), California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Bradbury questions about the extent of presidential powers to fight Al Qaeda; could Bush, for instance, order the killing of a Qaeda suspect known to be on U.S. soil? Bradbury replied that he believed Bush could indeed do this, at least in certain circumstances.

Current and former government officials said they could think of several scenarios in which a president might consider ordering the killing of a terror suspect inside the United States. One former official noted that before Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania, top administration officials weighed shooting down the aircraft if it got too close to Washington, D.C. What if the president had strong evidence that a Qaeda suspect was holed up with a dirty bomb and was about to attack? University of Chicago law professor Cass Sunstein says the post-9/11 congressional resolution authorizing the use of military force against Al Qaeda empowered the president to kill 9/11 perpetrators, or people who assisted their plot, whether they were overseas or inside the United States. On the other hand, Sunstein says, the president would be on less solid legal ground were he to order the killing of a terror suspect in the United States who was not actively preparing an attack.

A Justice Department official, who asked not to be ID'd because of the sensitive subject, said Bradbury's remarks were made during an "academic discussion" of theoretical contingencies. In real life, the official said, the highest priority of those hunting a terrorist on U.S. soil would be to capture that person alive and interrogate him. At a public intel-committee hearing, Feinstein was told by intel czar John Negroponte and FBI chief Robert Mueller that they were unaware of any case in which a U.S. agency was authorized to kill a Qaeda-linked person on U.S. soil. Tasia Scolinos, a Justice Department spokeswoman, told NEWSWEEK: "Mr. Bradbury's meeting was an informal, off-the-record briefing about the legal analysis behind the president's terrorist-surveillance program. He was not presenting the legal views of the Justice Department on hypothetical scenarios outside of the terrorist-surveillance program."

—Mark Hosenball

&#169; 2006 Newsweek, Inc.

February 6th, 2006, 11:37 AM
Oy ...

During the Senate Judiciary Committee "discussion" with AG Gonzalez today, Arlen Spector saw fit to make notice of the presence of Debra Burlingame.

Gotta give the woman credit. She knows how to play the political game. Whether her game is to the general advantage is highly questionable.

February 7th, 2006, 10:53 AM
She travels back and forth from DC. She gets into the capitol for some of the most awaited hearings. She is often a sole source for stories in the NY Times. Oh, I can't imagine she is on the Bush payroll as well.

February 7th, 2006, 11:02 AM
Since you all dislike Bush so much, who is your pick for 2008?

February 7th, 2006, 11:21 AM
Since you all dislike Bush so much, who is your pick for 2008?

I am awaiting his impeachment in 2006, nevermind who gets elected in 2008.

I am a fan of McCain (if there would be a republican) but the latest thing with him and Obama (is that the right way to spell his name?) about the supposed partisan association on the bipartisan agreement formation for the regulation of lobbiests.....

geez it gets confusing!

February 7th, 2006, 11:57 AM
Since you all dislike Bush so much, who is your pick for 2008?Undecided right now, but anybody who pimped for Cheney/Bush, and anybody who is a mouth of the Christian Conservatives, will not be getting my vote, I can promise that much.

So since you like Bush so much, who is your pick for 2008?

February 7th, 2006, 12:06 PM
In 2004, we would have been better off with

February 7th, 2006, 12:10 PM
NYatKNIGHT: Actually, I don't like Bush that much. I did not vote for him last time. I just don't have any hate for him. I am not a big fan of the war, even though I see that it it came out better and was better planned, it could have been for the good of the people of Iraq and the world. But like most reasonable people, I am not a big fan of Bush's social agenda. I believe in real freedom - from low taxes and less government intervention to the right to abortion, any kind of marriage, etc.

It seems to me that McCaid and Giuliani are the 2 stars that can rise to become the president. I think both of them would be great for the country. McCain is a hero and has unquestionable integrity. Giuliani is a provent superb manager who turned around the city that was once thought of as unmanageable, and who became the face of resiliency of New Yorkers in the face of terrorist attack. Either one would be a great choice for president. I like all the other perspective candidates much less (Clinton, Allen, etc.)

February 7th, 2006, 12:22 PM
Just from a management-skills point of view, be careful of Giuliani. A mayor can sometimes get away with not cooperating with other politicians and other branches of government, and run a city like a corporation.

In the long run, this does not work at the federal level. Giuliani would have made a terrible senator, and as president, he would be Bush with an intellect.

February 7th, 2006, 02:44 PM
Just from a management-skills point of view, be careful of Giuliani. A mayor can sometimes get away with not cooperating with other politicians and other branches of government, and run a city like a corporation.


February 7th, 2006, 02:51 PM
There's slim pickin's in the two major parties.

I think we need to draft Oprah.

February 7th, 2006, 02:56 PM
George Clooney. He'd never lose.

February 7th, 2006, 03:02 PM
There's slim pickin's in the two major parties.

I think we need to draft Oprah.

And watch our economy go into "a million little pieces" as she buys us all cars.

TLOZ Link5
February 7th, 2006, 04:19 PM
There's slim pickin's in the two major parties.

I think we need to draft Oprah.

You saw the Martin Luther King Day episode of The Boondocks too, didn't you?

February 7th, 2006, 04:30 PM
You saw the Martin Luther King Day episode of The Boondocks too, didn't you?

You want some cheese?

February 8th, 2006, 07:27 PM
Guiliani would make the current cabal look like Fascism Lite. Also, I wouldn't give him too much credit in the intellect category, in fact he seems to be of middling intelligence. His ego and closed-mindedness prevent him from ever being able to analyze an issue in it's entirety. That said, compared to Bush he would seem like a particle physicist.

TLOZ Link5
February 8th, 2006, 09:41 PM
You want some cheese?

I love cheese! :)

February 9th, 2006, 10:41 AM
Just read Giulaini's bio on Wikipedia carefully and remind yourself of his accomplishements:


February 9th, 2006, 10:48 AM
^^ No doubt the Wikipedia bio was written by Giuliani's bought + paid for aides / PR firm ...

Congressional Aides Tampering With Wikipedia

Jan. 31, 2006


Congressional aides have been tampering with the biographies of elected officials on the encyclopedia Web site Wikipedia to such an extent that three times Wikipedia has blocked the entire House computer network from accessing the site.

Wikipedia bills itself as "the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.” That editing has often taken the form of enhancing some bios and sabotaging others, the Washington, D.C., publication Roll Call reports on its "Heard on the Hill” column.

When the site’s operators find posted information that is scurrilous or wrong, they remove it. But Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales calls the more than 1,000 changes made by House staffers "vandalism.”

In one example of tampering, aides to Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass., removed references to the congressman’s broken term-limits pledge, according to Roll Call.

A story in a local newspaper prompted Meehan to write an editorial blaming an intern in his office for "updating his biography.”

In other cases there has been no way to know for certain who did the tampering, since Wikipedia can trace changes only to the House Internet protocol address, not to any specific House office.

So Wikipedia simply lists the vandalism offenses in one section of the site.

In the case of Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., someone removed references in his bio "to possible ties to Jack Abramoff and many other ... politically damaging items.”

The vandal who tampered with the bio of Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, is accused of "removing unflattering quotes.”

Those quotes were about him wanting to "nuke” Syria, according to Roll Call.

Wales said the good thing about this "bipartisan scandal” is that "we get some press attention and they look like idiots.”

&#169; 2006 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

February 9th, 2006, 10:54 AM
I just read GW Bush's bio at Wiki.

Did you know he graduated Yale, was governor of a state, and is currently president of the most powerful nation on earth?

I was so impressed, I wet myself.

February 9th, 2006, 11:13 AM
If you actually read his biography on Wikipedia you will see that it's not 100% positive - far from it. It talks about the Brooklyn museum controversy and other problems that plagued the Giuliani administration. Maybe some other articles on Wikipedia are not objective, but this is a good biography. Don't look for easy asnwers. Just read it.

February 9th, 2006, 11:17 AM
ZippyTheChimp: That means that GW entry on Wikipedia is very shallow and is probably a re-print of some official biography entry on the web. Although I see that it talks about his military service controversy. So it's not 100% positive either. It also talks about some other sdandals that happened on his watch. It's not as biased as you imply.

February 9th, 2006, 11:21 AM
You missed my point.

February 9th, 2006, 11:29 AM
ZippyTheChimp: I agree that biography of a leader may not be the best way to learn about him/her for obvious reasons. But it helps in understanding the person, his/her motives and his/her abilities. Yes, when you read that Pres Bush was a governor of Texas, it would help to know that he was able to become the governor because his family was so popular in Texas and had significant connections with local businesses, money and influence that no other canduidate had. And so on and so forth... In other words, it mises the point that GW was a silverspooner. But I think Rudy is a different kind of person who came from humble beginnings and truly succeeded in whatever he wanted to accomplish. Also, upon his graduation from NYU law school with honors, he could go into private practice and make millions, but chose a career in the public sector.

February 9th, 2006, 12:19 PM
A little reality about Rudy Giuliani:

New York's' recovery was largely due to a meteoric rise in the stock market during the 1990s.

Much of the decrease in crime can be attributed to the efforts of probably the two best police commissioners in NY history - Raymond Kelly and William Bratton. Kelly is again commissioner and crime continues to drop. Bratton is now LAPD police chief, and crime is dropping in LA.

Bratton resigned as commissioner in a well publicized feud with Giuliani over the operation of the NYPD. Giuliani was also beginning to resent Bratton's growing popularity. In an interview after he resigned, Bratton stated that as someone who came up through the ranks, he understood the importance of keeping the police force under control.

After Bratton, Giuliani appointed Safir as commissioner. That's when the NYPD began to spin out of control. The paramilitary Street Crimes Unitpumped 41 bullets into Amadou Diallo, and Rudy's response was that the police exhibited restraint.

His next choice for commissioner was Bernard Kerik, who was getting laid 4 blocks from the WTC site.

As for Giuliani's leadership after 09/11: There were proposals to extend his term as mayor several months into 2002. He could have exhibited true leadership and stated that an election was held, and city governance should move forward. Instead, he kept silent and let Bloom berg twist in the wind, until others stated the obvious.

A personal note on Giuliani's leadership: He never liked my neighborhood, simply because we did not vote for him. Two months after 09/11 we were allowed back into the neighborhood through police checkpoints to remove property from apartments. It was a raw and emotional period. I think it was the afternoon of Nov 17th, a few hundred residents attended a loosely organized memorial service at Wagner Park. It received almost no press. All the firefighters from Downtown were there, and introduced themselves. The helmets of those that were killed were displayed .

Giuliani was invited, but didn't attend, or even send a representative. The man who ran over over the city to every funeral with the tabloids in tow, couldn't walk a quarter-mile.

It is no surprise to me that this scumbag has such an affinity for GW Bush.

February 9th, 2006, 03:00 PM
But what about his lisp?

February 9th, 2006, 03:09 PM
ZippyTheChimp: I think you view of Rudy is personal and biased. There was much more to his efforts and his leadership than just the drop in crime. It was everything - the city's management was broken. Nothing worked. It was a sense of lawlessness, beauracracy, corruption... I don't know whether he had a special dislike of neighborhood, but I find it hard to believe that he cared one way or the other about your area because you did not vote for him. I think you're looking at Rudy through the lens of negativity and your view is simply biased.

February 9th, 2006, 03:27 PM
ZippyTheChimp: I think you view of Rudy is personal and biased. There was much more to his efforts and his leadership than just the drop in crime. It was everything - the city's management was broken. Nothing worked. It was a sense of lawlessness, beauracracy, corruption... I don't know whether he had a special dislike of neighborhood, but I find it hard to believe that he cared one way or the other about your area because you did not vote for him. I think you're looking at Rudy through the lens of negativity and your view is simply biased.

Spice, please site specific examples rather than a gross overview.

You seem to be reading from a PR statement and not getting down to the nitty gritty.

I think Rudolph had a sense of getting things done, but he would never admit to when he was wrong. he was a one sided politician that could take charge, good or bad, but did not like it when anyone else did, right or wrong.

Zip is a bit emotional because of the political playmastering RG did, especially on things like 9-11 which effected him more directly than others, but his points still stand there.

Although they may not all be 100% attributable to RG and his management.

February 9th, 2006, 04:53 PM
Giuliani was just what NYC and the country needed on 9/11, but before and after he left a lot to be desired. Here's an overview (biased perhaps, but let's use it to balance out Mr. Spice's one-sided view):


Some of the highlights ...


ASSOCIATED PRESS: A federal appeals court judge says that the Giuliani administration's "relentless onslaught of First Amendment litigation" has put the courts in danger of having to perform crucial government functions. Judge Guido Calabresi of the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals made the comments yesterday in a 63-page ruling questioning the rationality of the city's efforts to stop photographer Spencer Tunick from taking nude pictures in New York . . . "We would be ostriches if we failed to take judicial notice of the heavy stream of First Amendment litigation generated by New York City in recent years," the judge wrote . . . As a result of this relentless onslaught of First Amendment litigation, the federal courts have, to a considerable extent, been drafted into the role of local licensers for the city of New York," the judge said.


UPI, APRIL 3, 1982: The third-ranking official of the Justice Department says he is convinced that there is "no political repression" in Haiti. Associate Attorney General Rudolph W. Giuliani, testifying Thursday at a hearing of a class-action lawsuit seeking the release of 2,100 refugees in Government detention camps, said that repression in Haiti "simply does not exist now" and that refugees had nothing to fear from the Government of Jean-Claude Duvalier.


"Freedom is about authority." Mayor Giuliani, NY Times 3/17/94

"You don't have a right not to be identified". Giuliani- NY Times 12/17/98 "Giuliani Backs DNA Testing of Newborns for Identification"

"An exhibition of paintings is not as communicative as speech, literature or live entertainment, and the artists' constitutional interest is thus minimal." - Giuliani appeal brief 's argument against street artists having First Amendment rights, Giuliani v Lederman et al and Giuliani v Bery et al, filed with the US Supreme Court 2/24/97

"Civilization has been about trying to find the right place to put excrement." Giuliani quoted in NY Times, 10/13/99

"The whole school system should be blown up, and a new one put in its place. I feel like a prophet today." Giuliani-Daily News 4/23/99

"When they make the decision to shoot they have to shoot to kill". Mayor Giuliani on NYPD policy CBS News 9/2/99

"Let's say somebody is acquitted, and it's one of those acquittals in which the person was guilty, but there is just not quite enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt," the Mayor said. "That might be a situation in which the car would still be forfeited." - Giuliani, NY Times 2/23/99 "Police Seize Three Cars in Crackdown"

"If teachers want to put up the Ten Commandments, they should be allowed to do that," Giuliani -Associated Press 2/10/2000] .

February 9th, 2006, 07:22 PM
Thanks Lofter1, for listing those quotes. I remember many of them when they were first spoken and reading them really reminded me of how much I detested RG.

He was so hypocritical too, spouting off as Mr. Big Catholic, defending Mary's holy honor while he runs around with women and brings that floozey Judith to the same house his kids were asleep in.

His behavior after 9/11 was truly reprehensible, and I was frustrated to watch the corpo-fascist media construct for him a national image of Hero and Good Guy.

I wondered what future they have planned for him with his new fawning national fan base. While protesting at the 1st innauguration of Bush on Pennsylvania Avenue, Guiliani was in a heated booth across from us, wearing a big cowboy hat. I remember thinking to myself, gee, what a phoney ass-kissin' b-izz-astard. I'm sure he'll go far under the fascist regime...


February 9th, 2006, 08:14 PM
ZippyTheChimp: I think you view of Rudy is personal and biased. There was much more to his efforts and his leadership than just the drop in crime. It was everything - the city's management was broken. Nothing worked. It was a sense of lawlessness, beauracracy, corruption... I don't know whether he had a special dislike of neighborhood, but I find it hard to believe that he cared one way or the other about your area because you did not vote for him. I think you're looking at Rudy through the lens of negativity and your view is simply biased.You shouldn't presume what people think, because it leads you to assume what people do.

I voted for Giuliani. If you think I am making that up for the convenience of this debate, you can search my posts. I know I have stated it in the past.

I never stated that he didn't do anything. I presented you with an aspect of his personality that you might consider when voting for a president.

In an earlier post, I stated that an authoritarian approach to running a city may work, but it would fail in national politics. That is why Bush, whom you have said you don't particularly liike, is having so much trouble.

The facts I presented are true and easily verified. He was invited to a memorial service, and turned it down. He didn't refuse an extension of his term as mayor. When Bratton quit, corruption and abuse returned to the NYPD.

I know much more about Giuliani than you will ever know. My wife had contact with him during his administration. She actually said to me,

"How could you vote for that asshole?" (1996)

February 12th, 2006, 07:36 PM
OOPS!! Back to the firing range, Dick. More target practice needed ...

Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter

By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
Associated Press
February 12, 2006


Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.

Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin, was "alert and doing fine" in a Corpus Christi hospital Sunday after he was shot by Cheney on a ranch in south Texas, said Katharine Armstrong, the property's owner.

He was in stable condition Sunday, said Yvonne Wheeler, spokeswoman for the Christus Spohn Health System in Corpus Christi.

Armstrong in an interview with The Associated Press said Whittington, 78, was mostly injured on his right side, with the pellets hitting his cheek, neck and chest during the incident which occurred late afternoon on Saturday.

She said emergency personnel traveling with Cheney tended to Whittington until the ambulance arrived.

Cheney's spokeswoman, Lea Anne McBride, said the vice president met with Whittington and his wife at the hospital on Sunday. Cheney "was pleased to see that he's doing fine and in good spirits," she said.

The shooting was first reported by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. The vice president's office did not disclose the accident until the day after it happened.

Armstrong said she was watching from a car while Cheney, Whittington and another hunter got out of the vehicle to shoot at a covey of quail.

Whittington shot a bird and went to look for it in the tall grass, while Cheney and the third hunter walked to another spot and discovered a second covey.

Whittington "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself," Armstrong said.

"The vice president didn't see him," she continued. "The covey flushed and the vice president picked out a bird and was following it and shot. And by god, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good."

Whittington has been a private practice attorney in Austin since 1950 and has long been active in Texas Republican politics. He's been appointed to several state boards, including when then-Gov. George W. Bush named him to the Texas Funeral Service Commission.

McBride did not comment about why the vice president's office did not tell reporters about the accident until the next day. She referred the question to Armstrong, who could not be reached again Sunday evening.

Armstrong, owner of the Armstrong Ranch where the accident occurred, said Whittington was bleeding and Cheney was very apologetic.

"It broke the skin," she said of the shotgun pellets. "It knocked him silly. But he was fine. He was talking. His eyes were open. It didn't get in his eyes or anything like that."

"Fortunately, the vice president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there and probably more cautious than we would have been," she said. "The vice president has got an ambulance on call, so the ambulance came."

Cheney is an avid hunter who makes annual hunting trips to South Dakota to hunt pheasants. He also travels frequently to Arkansas to hunt ducks.

Armstrong said Cheney is a longtime friend who comes to the ranch to hunt about once a year and is "a very safe sportsman." She said Whittington is a regular, too, but she thought it was the first time the two men hunted together.

"This is something that happens from time to time. You now, I've been peppered pretty well myself," said Armstrong.

The 50,000-acre Armstrong ranch has been in the influential south Texas family since the turn of the last century. Katharine is the daughter of Tobin Armstrong, a politically connected rancher who has been a guest at the White House and spent 48 years as director of the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He died in October. Cheney was among the dignitaries who attended his funeral.

Associated Press writer Paul J. Weber in Dallas contributed to this report.

Copyright &#169; 2006 The Associated Press

February 12th, 2006, 07:38 PM

Watch it, kids! This is not a toy ...


Dick, you might want to check this out before your next outing ...


Shotgun Home Defense Ammunition
For home defense, a shotgun is superior to a handgun in terms of being able to stop a violent intruder as quickly as possible. A reliable, well-made, pump-action shotgun can usually be purchased for less than the cost of a handgun of comparable quality. Also, inexpensive birdshot ammunition, typically used for training applications, is about three-fourths the cost, round for round, of comparable handgun ammunition.

Most people typically choose a shotgun for home defense for one of three general reasons: 1) to minimize wall penetration to reduce the danger to innocent third parties in case of a missed shot, 2) to maximize wound trauma to stop a vicious assailant as quickly as possible, or 3) because a shotgun does not require as much skill as a handgun to put lead on target.

If you're considering a shotgun for home defense or already have one, we suggest you give some serious thought to attending a one or two day "defensive shotgun" training course from a reputable shooting school. (We have a few schools listed on our Links page.) It's one thing to be armed with a well-equipped, high-tech shotgun and premium personal defense ammunition, but if you're not a skilled shotgun operator, you're the weakest link in your last-ditch home defense weapon system.

February 12th, 2006, 07:48 PM
Duck Hunting with Dick and Antonin ...



February 12th, 2006, 07:52 PM
Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter

The shooting was first reported by the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. The vice president's office did not disclose the accident until the day after it happened.

That's one way to avoid any checks for drinks / drugs ...

http://www.psychedelicrepublicans.com/cards/images/cheney_front.jpg (http://www.psychedelicrepublicans.com/order.asp)

February 12th, 2006, 08:24 PM
Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot and wounded a companion during a weekend quail hunting trip in Texas, spraying the fellow hunter in the face and chest with shotgun pellets.

Harry Whittington, a millionaire attorney from Austin, was "alert and doing fine" in a Corpus Christi hospital Sunday after he was shot by Cheney on a ranch in south Texas, said Katharine Armstrong, the property's owner.

... Whittington has been a private practice attorney in Austin since 1950 and has long been active in Texas Republican politics. He's been appointed to several state boards, including when then-Gov. George W. Bush named him to the Texas Funeral Service Commission.
Hmmmmm ... these Texas boys are thick as thieves ...

AUSTIN – A former state funeral home regulator who said she was wrongfully fired for investigating a large funeral home chain operated by a longtime family friend of George W. Bush has settled her 2-year-old whistleblower lawsuit for $210,000.

The state will pay Eliza May and her lawyers $155,000 and Houston-based Service Corp. International will pay $55,000, said sources familiar with the agreement.

Ms. May contended in her lawsuit that she was fired in 1999 as executive director of the Texas Funeral Service Commission after SCI Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert Waltrip met with Joe Allbaugh, a top aide to Mr. Bush while he was governor, to complain about the agency's investigation of the company's homes.

After the investigation, fines totaling about $450,000 were assessed against more than 20 of SCI's affiliated funeral homes for using unlicensed embalmers. SCI has appealed, and a state hearings officer is expected to rule soon on the case.

Neither SCI, Mr. Bush nor any of the other defendants admit wrongdoing under the terms of the settlement. Attorney General John Cornyn, who was also named as a defendant as a result of a legal opinion he wrote that was favorable to SCI, represented the state in the case.

SCI spokesman Greg Bolton said only that the case has been settled to everyone's satisfaction.

"I'm told all of the parties to this litigation and their attorneys have agreed to a compromise settlement agreement, which has resulted in the dismissal of all claims," he said.

Harry Whittington of Austin, who was named presiding officer of the Funeral Service Commission after a major shakeup of agency in 1999, said his board reluctantly agreed to pay $50,000 as part of the settlement to end the 2-year-old case.

It was unclear which state agency or agencies put up the other $105,000.

Derek Howard, one of Ms. May's Austin lawyers, said he couldn't discuss terms of the agreement. "We're glad the matter has been resolved by way of settlement," he said.

Mr. Bush, Mr. Allbaugh, and the other defendants had previously denied wrongdoing.

Ms. May's lawyers had accused Mr. Bush of improperly intervening in the funeral commission investigation as a favor to his friend, Mr. Waltrip.

Mr. Waltrip served as a trustee for the George Bush Presidential Library, and SCI donated more than $100,000 toward its construction. Mr. Waltrip also contributed $45,000 to the younger Mr. Bush's gubernatorial campaigns.

While governor, Mr. Bush had dismissed the lawsuit as "frivolous" and filed a statement saying he "had no conversations with SCI officials, agents or representatives concerning the investigation or any dispute arising from it."

But Newsweek reported that Mr. Bush had briefly appeared in a meeting that Mr. Allbaugh was holding in his state office with Mr. Waltrip and SCI lawyer Johnnie B. Rogers of Austin.

Mr. Rogers was quoted by the magazine as saying that Mr. Bush addressed Mr. Waltrip, saying, "Hey, Bobby, are those people still messing with you?"

According to the magazine, when Mr. Waltrip responded "Yes," the governor turned his attention to Mr. Rogers. The magazine quoted Mr. Rogers as saying that Mr. Bush said, "Hey, Johnnie B., are you taking care of him?"

Asked about the report, Mr. Bush said he didn't remember what he said during the exchange. Mr. Rogers said he was misquoted.

Mr. Allbaugh went on to manage Mr. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign and is (*was) director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

*go here for Allbaugh's more recent escapadesrewgarding Hurricane Katrina: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_09_04.php

(September 10, 2005 -- 09:09 PM EDT // link (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/006496.php))

Another question I'm hoping someone can provide more information on.

To assist with the recovery and disposition of the victims of Katrina, FEMA has hired Kenyon Worldwide Disaster Management (http://www.kenyoninternational.com/aboutkenyon.html), a Houston-based company which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Service Corporation International (http://www.sci-corp.com/About.html) (SCI), another Houston-based corporation, which bills itself as the "dominant leader in the North American death care industry."

SCI is not only closely associated with the president (which is not surprising since the company is based in Houston), they were also at the center of what is probably the best-known scandal during Bush's six years as governor of Texas: the so-called 'funeralgate' (http://www.salon.com/news/feature/1999/08/20/timeline/) case.

What's more, Joe Allbaugh -- President Bush's Chief of Staff in Texas and later his first FEMA Director -- was the central figure in that scandal, or at least the guy whose job it was to take care of the mess SCI had gotten into.

The last we heard (http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_09_04.php#006438), you'll remember, now-lobbyist Allbaugh was in Lousiana "helping coordinate the private-sector response to the storm."

More background on the SCI (Houston's Service Corp. International) scandal (i.e.: "funeralgate") ...



And from Salon a timeline of these shenanigans: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/1999/08/20/timeline/index.html

February 12th, 2006, 10:05 PM
Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter

We need to get him out hunting with more administration officials.

February 13th, 2006, 12:45 AM
Big Brother is Watching

A letter printed in the Alibi leads to the investigation of a local VA nurse for "sedition"

By Steven Robert Allen
alibi online
Feb. 9, 2006


George W. Bush's America just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, doesn't it? Consider the case of Laura Berg—a local Veterans Affairs (VA) nurse currently represented by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorneys George Bach and Larry Kronen in a peculiar matter that seems to involve official retribution against Berg for her criticisms of the Bush administration.

On Sept. 15, 2005, the Alibi published a letter to the editor from Berg, which we've reprinted here in full (see "Wake Up, Get Real").

Whether you agree with Berg's sentiments or not, the letter would seem to consist of boilerplate griping about the Bush administration, the same kind of opinion piece that can be found every day in publications all over the country.

Here's where this story takes a turn for the weird. Although Berg has chosen not to comment at this time, Bach and Kronen say that a few days after the letter was published, VA Information Security employees seized Berg's computer at the local VA hospital where she works. At the time, she was told this action occurred because of suspicions that she'd composed the letter to the Alibi on government time, on government premises, using government equipment.

According to Bach and Kronen, on Sept. 19, 2005, Berg's American Federation of Government Employees Union representative, Thomas Driber, informed Berg that her letter to the Alibi had been sent through "VA channels" to the FBI in Washington, D.C. The attorneys say this information was confirmed by one of the union's Washington lawyers during a conference call between Driber, Berg and the union lawyer. (Multiple phone messages left at Driber's office by the Alibi were not answered.)

As if that weren't creepy enough, the attorneys say Berg made further inquiries and eventually received a response from the VA's Chief of Human Resources, Mel R. Hooker, who, in a memorandum dated Nov. 9, 2005, allegedly admitted that the VA had no evidence the letter was written on Berg's office computer. Despite this, Hooker claimed the investigation was justified because the "Agency is bound by law to investigate and pursue any act which potentially represents sedition."

The “S” Word

"Sedition" certainly sounds like a serious charge, and it is, according to Norman Cairns, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office here in Albuquerque. "Sedition is only mentioned in one section of the United States Code," Cairns says, "and the sedition that's listed there is basically a plot to violently overthrow the United States government by force. Based on the plain statutory language, sedition always seems to imply the use of force or a conspiracy to use force. The penalty is a $250,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison."

Bach and Kronen say they can't imagine how Berg's seemingly innocuous letter could amount to anything remotely resembling sedition under U.S. law.

They both believe the letter is protected speech under the First Amendment. Last week, they filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the VA for all documents pertaining to this bizarre investigation. For now, they won't speculate as to why or how this investigation was initiated. They only note that multiple people must have been involved for it to have progressed as far as it did.

When the Alibi tried to contact Hooker, Sonja Brown, the head of the VA's Public Affairs Operations, forwarded the following statement via e-mail: "While VA does not prohibit employees from exercising their freedom of speech, we do ask that such activity occurs outside government premises and not during their official tour of duty. When we have reason to believe that this policy is not being adhered to, we have the obligation to review an individual's computer activity."

This, of course, doesn't begin to answer the main concerns of Berg's attorneys. As previously noted, in the Nov. 9 memorandum, Hooker allegedly admitted they found no evidence that the letter in question was composed on a government computer, so the above statement seems to be moot. More crucially, the statement doesn't address the sedition issue. When the Alibi called Brown back to press for clarification, she refused to offer any additional insight into why the VA believed Berg's letter might potentially be seditious.

An Attack on Free Speech?

Thankfully, Berg hasn't lost her job, and her computer was returned to her the very next day. Yet Bach and Kronen believe the damage from this whole ordeal is still substantial. Berg has opted not to speak directly to the press at this time, and her attorneys haven't yet released Hooker's Nov. 9 memorandum to the public. Understandably, Berg is afraid of retribution.

"From all appearances," writes Peter Simonson, executive director of ACLU New Mexico, in a press statement released last week, "the seizure of her work computer was an act of retaliation and a hardball attempt to scare Laura into silence."

Bach says that this strange episode shouldn't surprise anyone. "This administration," he says, "has developed a culture of fear around federal employees." Kronen agrees: "It all leads people to sit back and say, 'Maybe I shouldn't do or say anything.'" For these reasons, the attorneys are demanding, at a minimum, a public apology from the VA for what they believe are tactics aimed at intimidating their employees. Meanwhile, they eagerly await the documents they've requested from the VA, in the hope that they might shed some additional light on this peculiar case.

Newscity Wake Up, Get Real

Dear Alibi,

I am furious with the tragically misplaced priorities and criminal negligence of this government. The Katrina tragedy in the U.S. shows that the emperor has no clothes! Bush and his team partied and delayed while millions of people were displaced, hundreds of thousands were abandoned to a living hell.

Thousands more died of drowning, dehydration, hunger and exposure; most bodies remain unburied and rotting in attics and floodwater. Is this America the beautiful?

The risk of hurricane disaster was clearly predicted, yet funds for repair work for the Gulf States barrier islands and levee system were unconscionably diverted to the Iraq War. Money and manpower and ethics have been diverted to fight a war based on absolute lies!

As a VA nurse working with returning OIF vets, I know the public has no sense of the additional devastating human and financial costs of post-traumatic stress disorder; now we will have hundreds of thousands of our civilian citizens with PTSD as well as far too many young soldiers, maimed physically or psychologically—or both—spreading their pain, anger and isolation through family and communities for generations. And most of this natural disaster and war tragedy has been preventable ... how very, very sad!

In the meantime, our war-fueled federal deficit mushrooms—and whither this debt now, as we care for the displaced and destroyed?

Bush, Cheney, Chertoff, Brown and Rice should be tried for criminal negligence. This country needs to get out of Iraq now and return to our original vision and priorities of caring for land and people and resources rather than killing for oil.

Katrina itself was the size of New Mexico. Denials of global warming are ludicrous and patently irrational at this point. We can anticipate more wild, destructive weather to occur as a response stress of the planet. We need to wake up and get real here, and act forcefully to remove a government administration playing games of smoke and mirrors and vicious deceit.
Otherwise, many more of us will be facing living hell in these times.

Laura Berg
&#169; 1996-2006 Weekly Alibi

February 13th, 2006, 12:56 AM
We need to get him out hunting with more administration officials.
EXCLUSIVE: First Photo of Cheney Shooting Victim (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/exclusive-first-photo-of_b_15538.html)


The above photo shows Vice President Dick Cheney speaking to reporters at the bedside of the man who he "accidentally" shot this weekend while on a hunting trip in Texas (full story (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/cheney_hunting_accident)).

A spokesman for the vice president identified the shooting victim as Harry Whittington, but sources close to the incident suggest "Harry Whittington" is a Secret Service code name for Cheney's indicted former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

"Honestly, I didn't mean to shoot Scoot-- I mean, Harry Whittington," the vice president told reporters in "Mr. Whittington's" hospital recovery room.

The shooting occurred several days after it was revealed that Mr. Libby told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald he was ordered by Vice President Cheney to leak classified national security documents to the press. The revelation could cost Cheney his job and whatever remains of his reputation amongst both Democrats and Republicans.

An EMT who attended to "Mr. Whittington" told the Huffington Post that, during the ambulance ride, he overheard Cheney mumbling, "Who's leaking now, f***ker?" and, "F***ker survived. Gotta work on my aim."

The EMT later remarked to the vice president, "Harry Whittington? That sounds like a made-up name." When contacted for clarification on Cheney's reply, the Huffington Post has learned the emergency worker has disappeared.

February 13th, 2006, 08:34 AM
Third hunter revealed in Cheney hunting party

Ron Brynaert
Raw Story
Feb. 13, 2006


The U.S. ambassador to Switzerland was the third member of a hunting party which went awry after Vice President Dick Cheney accidently shot 78-year-old Austin, Texas attorney Harry Whittington, according to a story written for the Cox news service, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) has learned.

Pamela Willeford, a former Texas education official, accompanied Cheney and Whittington as they hunted quail at the Armstrong ranch in Texas on Saturday.

Ranch owner Katharine Armstrong told the Associated Press (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/cheney_hunting_accident) that after Whittington separated from the others to gather his kills, he "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself."

Adding to the account, Willeford told Cox news service that "the sun was behind Whittington as well, possibly making him more difficult to see."

Before nominated by the President in July of 2003 to be ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Willeford spent eight years on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, a position she also gained thanks to Bush when he was Governor of Texas.

According to Open Secrets (http://www.opensecrets.org/bush/ambassadors/willeford.asp), "Willeford and her immediate family contributed a total of $23,200 to Republicans during the 2000, 2002 and 2004 election cycles, including $7,000 to the Bush campaigns and an additional $500 to the Bush-Cheney recount fund established after the 2000 election."

Brad Blog (http://www.bradblog.com/archives/00002409.htm) has more details on the incident, along with background on some of the prominent Texan Republicans that were at the scene.

Greg Mitchell of Editor and Publisher (http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001995719) discusses the media coverage and the "more than 18-hour delay in news emerging that the Vice President of the United States had shot a man."

Excerpts from the story written by Robert Elder of the Austin American-Statesman (http://www.statesman.com/), and Cox Washington bureau writer Ken Herman:


Just before sunset Saturday, 78-year-old Harry Whittington pulled off "a double" -- bringing down two quails with two successive blasts from his shotgun.

One of Whittington's hunting companions, Vice President Dick Cheney, wasn't as accurate.

A few minutes later, Cheney accidently shot Whittington, an Austin lawyer, according to Pamela Willeford, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, who was hunting with the pair on the 50,000 acre Armstrong Ranch in South Texas.

"He is just doing great," said Willeford, who visited Whittington Sunday. "As my husband said, he has a twinkle in his eye...It was scary, but fortunately he is going to be just fine. He is anxious to get on home."


At the time of this writing, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) was unable to find any newspapers that have picked up the Cox news story, as it appears that Ambassador Willeford's name has been left out of all of the media reports, so far.




Embassy Row


Pamela Willeford
$23,200 to the GOP*


Texas education official Pamela Willeford received one of the world’s most coveted diplomatic posts when President Bush nominated her to serve as ambassador to Switzerland in July 2003. A longtime Bush family friend, Willeford replaced Mercer Reynolds III (http://www.opensecrets.org/bush/ambassadors/reynolds.asp), who had stepped down to serve as finance chairman of Bush’s reelection campaign.

The posting to Bern was not the first honor Willeford had received from Bush. In 1995 then-Governor Bush appointed her to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and two years later he elevated her to chairwoman. Willeford also serves as president of the Breckenridge-based * Pico Drilling Co. She partnered with First Lady Laura Bush to begin the annual Texas Book Festival in 1996.


* Pico Drilling Co LTD
1255 County Road 113
Albany, TX, 325-762-2373

Pico Drilling Co LTD
Black Ranch
Albany, TX, 325-762-3596


USDA "Farm Subsidy" Payments ...

Pico Drlg Co Ltd received payments totaling $146,644.00 from 1995 through 2004


Pam Willeford received payments totaling $16,565.00 from 1995 through 2004


February 13th, 2006, 08:39 AM
James and Sarah Brady Comment on the Vice President's Hunting Mishap


To: National Desk

Contact: Peter Hamm of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 202-289-5792

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -- James and Sarah Brady made comments today related to Vice President Cheney's reportedly accidental shooting yesterday in Texas.

"Now I understand why Dick Cheney keeps asking me to go hunting with him," said Jim Brady. "I had a friend once who accidentally shot pellets into his dog - and I thought he was an idiot."

"I've thought Cheney was scary for a long time," Sarah Brady said. "Now I know I was right to be nervous."

http://www.usnewswire.com/ (http://releases.usnewswire.com/redir.asp?ReleaseID=60875&Link=http://www.usnewswire.com/)

© 2006 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770

February 13th, 2006, 08:45 AM
More Questions Raised About Delay in Reporting Cheney Misfire

By Greg Mitchell
Editor & Publisher
February 12, 2006


NEW YORK The more than 18-hour delay in news emerging that the Vice President of the United States had shot a man, sending him to an intensive care unit with his wounds, grew even more curious late Sunday. E&P has learned that the official confirmation of the shooting came about only after a local reporter in Corpus Christi, Texas, received a tip from the owner of the property where the shooting occured and called Vice President Cheney's office for confirmation.

The confirmation was made but it is not known for certain that Cheney's office, the White House, or anyone else intended to announce the shooting if the reporter, Jaime Powell of the Corpus Christ Caller-Times, had not received word from the ranch owner.

One of Powell's colleagues at paper, Beth Francesco, told E&P that Powell had built up a strong source relationship with the prominent ranch owner, Katharine Armstrong, which led to the tip. Powell is chief political reporter for the paper and also covers the area where the ranch is located south of Sarita, about 60 miles from Corpus Christi. Armstrong did not notify reporters at larger papers in Dallas, Houston, Austin or other cities.

Armstrong called the paper Sunday morning looking for Powell, who was not at work. When they did talk, Armstrong revealed the shooting of prominent Austin attorney Harry Whittington, who is now in stable condition in a hospital. Powell then called Cheney's office for the confirmation around midday. The newspaper broke the story at mid-afternoon--not a word about it had appeared before then.

The Cheney spokesman Powell spoke with, Lea Anne McBride, would not comment on whether the White House would have ever released the information had the Caller-Times not contacted them.

"I’m not going to speculate," McBride said, according to Powell. "When you put the call into me, I was able to confirm that account."

Francesco, at the Corpus Christi paper, said she felt it was a bit odd that her newsroom had not received any information about the shooting since "we often call law enforcement in area, even on weekends. We checked in and didn’t hear anything about it."

While E&P was first to raise the question about the delay Sunday afternoon, Frank James, reporter in the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau, put his own spin on it later in the day, asking, "How is it that Vice President Cheney can shoot a man, albeit accidentally, on Saturday during a hunting trip and the American public not be informed of it until today?"

Indeed, others raised questions as well. "There was no immediate reason given as to why the incident wasn't reported until Sunday," The Dallas Morning News observed. "The sheriff's office in Kenedy County did not respond to phone calls Sunday."

The president, who was at the White House over the weekend, was informed about the incident in Texas after it happened Saturday by Chief of Staff Andrew Card and Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and was updated on Sunday, press secretary Scott McClellan said.

But neither the White House nor the vice president's staff announced the shooting. The Washington Post reported late Sunday that Cheney's office did not make a public announcement.

Asked by The New York Times why it did not make the news known, Cheney spokeswoman McBride said, "We deferred to the Armstrongs regarding what had taken place at their ranch."

Armstrong said later, according to The Associated Press, that everyone at the ranch was so "focused" on Whittington's health Saturday that it wasn't until Sunday she called the Caller-Times to report the accident.

In an odd disparity, Armstrong told the Houston Chronicle that Whittington, 78, was "bruised more than bloodied" in the incident and "his pride was hurt more than anything else." Yet he was airlifted to a hospital and has spent more than a day in an intensive care unit.

The Chronicle also reports Monday that hunting accidents are amazingly rare in Texas. In 2004, it said, the state's 1 million-plus hunters were involved in only 29 hunting-related accidents (19 involving firearms), four of which were fatal.

The delay in announcing the shooting "will likely be the main question asked of the White House about the apparent accidental shooting of a 78-year-old man during a Texas hunting trip by the vice president," the Tribune's James wrote on the Washington bureau's blog at the newspaper's site.

"When a vice president of the U.S. shoots a man under any circumstance," the reporter noted, "that is extremely relevant information. What might be the excuse to justify not immediately making the incident public?

"The vice president is well-known for preferring to operate in secret....Some secrecy, especially when it comes to the executing the duties of president or vice president, is understandable and expected by Americans.

"But when the vice president's office, or the White House, delays in reporting a shooting like Saturday's to the public via the media, it needlessly raises suspicions and questions of trust. And it may just further the impression held by many, rightly or wrongly, that the White House doesn't place the highest premium on keeping the public fully and immediately informed."

In another bit of intrigue, The New York Times reported late Sunday that Whittington was commissioner of the state's Funeral Service Commission. In 1999, George W. Bush, then governor of Texas, named Whittington to head the Commission, which licenses and regulates funeral directors and embalmers in the state. "When he was named," The Times revealed, "a former executive director of the commission, Eliza May, was suing the state, saying that she had been fired because she investigated a funeral home chain that was owned by a friend of Mr. Bush.

"The suit was settled in 2001, but the details were not disclosed."

© 2006 VNU eMedia Inc (http://www.vnuemedia.com/). All rights reserved.

February 13th, 2006, 09:49 AM
A 28 gauge shotgun, of the type Cheney was using; per CNN report / interview with owner of the ranch where the shooting took place Whittington was appoximately 30 yards from Cheney when he was shot (well within the range of fire for maximum effect) ...




Info on 28 gauge range-of-fire ( http://www.progressivefarmer.com/farmer/outdoor/article/0,24672,1112682,00.html ):

The 28-gauge is a great choice for young shooters, recoil-conscious shooters, small-framed shooters and—as I learned when recovering from a shattered shoulder—shooters with damaged shoulders. Also, as more shooters become concerned with eye damage from sharp recoil, the 28-gauge is a logical choice.

Good to 35 Yards. It surprises many shooters that the 28-gauge delivers a consistent pattern out to 35 yards. On a percentage basis, the 28-gauge will put as much of its pattern into a 30-inch circle at 35 yards as a 12- or 20-gauge will. This makes the 28-gauge ideal for small-game hunting within that distance.

February 13th, 2006, 10:17 AM
where's The Police Report???

February 13th, 2006, 12:21 PM
Cheney Shoots Guy (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/al-franken/cheney-shoots-guy_b_15543.html)

Al Franken
Huffington Post
Feb. 13, 2006


Over the weekend, Vice President Dick Cheney shot a man in Texas.

Asked why he shot the man, the Vice President said, "Just to watch him die."

Seriously, it was an accident. There is nothing funny about the Vice President of the United States shooting a guy.

You know who's doing a "there but for the grace of God go I?" Scalia.

Bush is confused. He thinks Wittington is just fine. He thought he read a headline saying "Wittington Dodges Bullet."

Now, I imagine that Cheney and the President have hunted together. What would have happened if Cheney had shot the President? I think if he shot Bush this way, Bush isn't 78 and he's in pretty good shape, and he's kinda macho. I think he would've gotten up and shot Cheney back. And I think they would've started blasting each other like in a Tarrantino movie.

By the way, Cheney shouldn't be allowed to hunt again, should he? You get one of these, right? I mean he came very close to killing the guy.

Anyway, be sure to listen to the Al Franken Show (http://shows.airamericaradio.com/alfrankenshow/) tomorrow - noon to three EST. And Vice President Cheney will be our special guest.

And guess what?

He's bringing his shotgun!

February 13th, 2006, 01:18 PM
I hate Cheney.

But in all fairness this COULD have been an accident.

benefit of the doubt, but it should go as a warning for any who choose to go hunting with him in the future.

Always keep him in front of you.

Irony just does not say enough here.

February 13th, 2006, 02:10 PM
The Repugnants made a HUGE issue of Michael Schiavo allegedly waiting FOUR hours to report that his wife, Teri, had falln unconscious. Where is the outrage over 18 hours of silences, crime-scene tampering, etc. that took place by the Cheney thugs. It is my understanding that all gun-relate injuries myst be reported to police immediately by hospitals. WHERE IS THE POLIICE REPORT?

February 13th, 2006, 07:09 PM
where's The Police Report???
Next best thing:

See Dick. Run!

First official report released in Cheney hunting accident

2 Page "Hunting Accident and Incident Report Form" here: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0213061cheney1.html

February 13th, 2006, 07:44 PM

CNN is reporting that Cheney was hunting WITHOUT the necessary license!!

The VP failed to pay the $7.00 for the required STAMP!!!!!

lawbreaker :mad:

February 13th, 2006, 10:42 PM
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thenewswire/archive/ap/cheneyqual.jpg (http://dickcheneyquailhunt.cf.huffingtonpost.com/)
From huffingtonpost.com

Play The Dick Cheney Quail Hunting Game... (http://dickcheneyquailhunt.cf.huffingtonpost.com/)

February 14th, 2006, 09:41 AM
And from the Repugniks ...

http://michellemalkin.com/archives/images/huntride.jpg (http://www.cafepress.com/huntwithcheney.47628082)

February 14th, 2006, 02:02 PM
White House Finds Humor in Hunting Mishap

Associated Press Writer
Tue Feb 14, 10:56 AM ET

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/cheney_hunting_accident;_ylt=AlvcCGPF0SDevM1uUR0Ks Hqs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

WASHINGTON - The White House has decided that the best way to deal with Vice President Dick Cheney (http://search.news.yahoo.com/search/news/?p=Dick+Cheney)'s shooting accident is to joke about it.

President Bush's spokesman quipped Tuesday that the burnt orange school colors of the University of Texas championship football team that was visiting the White House shouldn't be confused for hunter's safety wear.

"The orange that they're wearing is not because they're concerned that the vice president may be there," joked White House press secretary Scott McClellan, following the lead of late-night television comedians. "That's why I'm wearing it."

The president's brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, took a similar jab after slapping an orange sticker on his chest from the Florida Farm Bureau that read, "No Farmers, No Food."

"I'm a little concerned that Dick Cheney is going to walk in," the governor cracked during an appearance in Tampa Monday.

Cheney, an experienced hunter, has not been joking or saying anything publicly at all about the accident Saturday, when he accidentally sprayed a hunting partner with shotgun pellets when aiming for a quail.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department issued a report Monday that found the main factor contributing to the accident was a "hunter's judgment factor." No other secondary factors were found to have played a role.

The department gave Cheney and the victim, prominent Republican attorney Harry Whittington, warning citations for breaking Texas hunting law by failing to buy a $7 stamp allowing them to shoot upland game birds. A department spokesman said warnings are being issued in most cases because the stamp requirement only went into effect five months ago and many hunters weren't aware of it.

Cheney's office said Monday night in a statement that Cheney had a $125 nonresident hunting license and has sent a $7 check to cover the cost of the stamp. "The staff asked for all permits needed, but was not informed of the $7 upland game bird stamp requirement," the statement said.

The state's report said Whittington was retrieving a downed bird and stepped out of the hunting line he was sharing with Cheney. "Another covey was flushed and Cheney swung on a bird and fired, striking Whittington in the face, neck and chest at approximately 30 yards," the report said.

Whittington remained in stable condition Tuesday at Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial. He was moved from intensive care to a "step-down unit" Monday after doctors decided to leave several birdshot pellets lodged in his skin rather than try to remove them. The hospital planned a news conference for 1 p.m. EST Tuesday.

Katharine Armstrong, owner of the ranch where the shooting occurred, said it happened toward the end of the hunt, when it was still sunny but as darkness was encroaching and they were preparing to go inside. She said Whittington made a mistake by not announcing that he had walked up to rejoin the hunting line, and Cheney didn't see him as he tried to down a bird.

Armstrong said she saw Cheney's security detail running toward the scene. "The first thing that crossed my mind was he had a heart problem," she told The Associated Press.

She said Cheney stayed "close but cool" while the agents and medical personnel treated Whittington, then took him by ambulance to the hospital.
Later, the hunting group sat down for dinner while Whittington was being treated, receiving updates from a family member at the hospital. Armstrong described Cheney's demeanor during dinner as "very worried" about Whittington.

Pamela Willeford, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland, another member of the hunting party, told The Dallas Morning News for a story in Tuesday's editions that she and Cheney didn't realize Whittington had picked up a bird and caught up with them.

Willeford said she has hunted with Cheney before and would again.

"He's a great shot. He's very safety conscious. This is something that unfortunately was a bad accident and when you're with a group like that, he's safe or safer than all the rest of us," she said.

But the accident raised questions about Cheney's adherence to hunting safety practices and the White House's failure to disclose the accident in a timely way.

Several hunting safety experts interviewed agreed it would have been a good idea for Whittington to announce himself. But every expert stressed that the shooter is responsible for avoiding other people.

Bush was told about Cheney's involvement in the accident shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday — about an hour after it occurred — but the White House did not disclose the accident until Sunday afternoon, and then only in response to press questions.

Facing a press corps upset that news had been withheld, press secretary Scott McClellan said, "I think you can always look back at these issues and look at how to do a better job."

Copyright &#169; 2006 The Associated Press.

February 14th, 2006, 02:05 PM
Uhhhh, maybe this will stifle those laughs coming from the White House ...

Hunter Shot by Cheney Has Heart Attack

Feb. 14, 2006

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060214/ap_on_re_us/cheney_whittington;_ylt=AvtdXkxhY4xqHA0GDKxjn7qs0N UE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

The 78-year-old lawyer who was shot by Vice President Dick Cheney in a hunting accident has some birdshot lodged in his heart and he had a "minor heart attack," a hospital official said Tuesday.

Peter Banko, the hospital administrator at Christus Spohn Hospital Corpus Christi-Memorial, said Harry Whittington had the heart attack early Tuesday while being evaluated.

He said there was an irregularity in the heartbeat caused by a birdshot pellet, and doctors performed a cardiac catheterization. Whittington expressed a desire to leave the hospital, but Banko said he would probably stay for another week.

Whittington, a prominent Republican attorney from Austin, was accidentally sprayed with shotgun pellets when Cheney was aiming for a quail Saturday.

Whittington had initially been placed in intensive care. He had been moved to a "step-down unit" Monday after doctors decided to leave several birdshot pellets lodged in his skin rather than try to remove them.

A Texas Parks and Wildlife Department report said Whittington was retrieving a downed bird and stepped out of the hunting line he was sharing with Cheney. "Another covey was flushed and Cheney swung on a bird and fired, striking Whittington in the face, neck and chest at approximately 30 yards," the report said.

The wildlife department issued a report Monday that found the main factor contributing to the accident was a "hunter's judgment factor." No other secondary factors were found to have played a role.

Copyright &#169; 2006 The Associated Press

February 15th, 2006, 06:18 PM
Cheney Accidentally Shoots Fellow Hunter

Cheney Shoots Three Presidents in Oval Office Mishap (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-martin/cheney-shoots-three-presi_b_15730.html)

Steve Martin
Huffington Post
Feb. 15, 2006


Vice President Dick Cheney, while hunting wild geese in the Rose Garden, accidentally shot President Bush twice, once in the heart and once in the head. "I didn't really shoot the President twice," said Cheney. "The second time I shot him, I was president. It wasn't until my third shot, where I accidentally shot my own foot, that I had shot the president twice. I was officially injured and unable to govern, when Dennis Hastert came in, and stepped on the butt handle of the rifle causing it to swing up like a rake and shoot his hair off. I guess I'm officially responsible for that too, meaning I shot the acting president for a total of three occupants of the oval office. I'm not proud, but it is a record."

February 16th, 2006, 09:41 AM
Enough of the distraction ...

God Bless Sen. Byrd; He ain't no saint and has a sketchy past, but at least he acts like a Senator who understands the separation of powers:

In heated speech, veteran senator seeks NSA probe

RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/)
Feb. 15, 2006


Senator Byrd delivered a scathing indictment of the President’s secret wiretapping operation, RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) has learned. The speech follows.


Mr. President, in June of 2004, 10 peace activists outside of Haliburton, Inc., in Houston gathered to protest the company's war profiteering. They wore paper hats and were handing out peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, calling attention to Haliburton's reported overcharging on a food contract for American troops in Iraq.

Unbeknownst to them, they were being watched. U.S. Army personnel at the top-secret Counterintelligence Field Activity or CIFA, saw the protest as a potential threat to national security.

CIFA was created 3 years ago by the Defense Department. Its official role is "force-protection", that is, tracking threats and terrorist plots against military installations and personnel inside the United States. In 2003, then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz authorized a fact-gathering operation code-named TALON, which stands for Threat and Local Observation Notice, that would collect "raw information" about "suspicious incidents" and feed it to CIFA.

In the case of the peanut butter demonstration, the Army wrote a report on the activity and stored it in its files. Newsweek magazine has reported that some TALON reports may have contained information on U.S. citizens that has been retained in Pentagon files. A senior Pentagon official has admitted that the names of these U.S. citizens could number in the thousands.

Is this where we are heading in the land of the free? Are secret government programs that spy on American citizens proliferating? The question is not, "Is Big Brother watching?" It is "How many Big Brothers have we?"

Ever since the New York Times revealed that President George W. Bush has personally authorized surveillance of American citizens without obtaining a warrant, I have become increasingly concerned about dangers to the people's liberty. I believe that both current law and the Constitution may have been violated -- not once, but many times -- and in ways that the Congress and the people may never know because of this White House and its penchant for control and secrecy.

We cannot continue to claim that we are a nation of laws and not of men if our laws and, indeed, even the Constitution of the United States itself, may by summarily breached because of some determination of expediency or because the President says "trust me."

The Fourth Amendment reads clearly, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The Congress has already granted the Executive Branch rather extraordinary authority with changes in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act that allow the government 72 hours after surveillance has begun to apply for a warrant.

If this surveillance program is what the President says it is, a program to eavesdrop upon known terrorists in other countries who are conversing with Americans, then there should be no difficulty in obtaining a warrant within 72 hours. One might be tempted to suspect that the real reason that the President authorized warrantless surveillance is because there is no need to have to bother with the inconveniences of probable cause. Without probable cause as a condition of spying on American citizens, the National Security Agency could and can, under this President's direction, spy on anyone and for any reason. We have only the President's word, his "trust me", to protect the privacy of the law-abiding citizens of this country. And one must be especially wary of an Administration that seems to feel that what it judges to be a good end, always justifies any means. It is, in fact, not only illegal under our system, but morally reprehensible to spy on citizens without probable cause of wrongdoing. When such practices are sanctioned by our own President, what is the message we are sending to other countries which the United States is trying to convince to adopt our system? It must be painfully obvious to them that a President, who can spy at will on any citizen, is very unlike the model of democracy that the Administration is trying to sell abroad.

In the name of "fighting terror" are we to sacrifice every freedom to a President's demand? How far are we to go? Can a President order warrantless house-by-house searches of a neighborhood, where he suspects a terrorist may be hiding? Can he impose new restrictions on what can be printed, broadcast, or even uttered privately, because of some perceived threat to national security? Laughable thoughts? I think not. For this Administration has so traumatized the people of this nation -- and many in the Congress -- that some will swallow whole whatever rubbish that is spewed from this White House, as long as it is in some tenuous way connected to the so-called war on terror.

And the phrase, "war on terror," while catchy, certainly is a misnomer. Terror is a tactic used by all manner of violent organizations to achieve their goals.

It has been around since time began, and will likely be with us on the last day of planet earth. We were attacked by Bin Laden and by his organization Al Qaeda. If anything, what we are engaged in should, more properly, be called, a war on the Al Qaeda network. But, that is too limiting for an Administration that loves power as much as this one. A war on the Al Qaeda network might conceivably be over some day. A war on the Al Qaeda network might have achievable, measurable objectives, and it would be less able to be used as a rationale for almost any government action. It would be harder to periodically traumatize and terrorize the U.S. public, thereby justifying a reason for stamping secret on far too many government programs and activities. Why hasn't Congress been thoroughly briefed on the President's secret eavesdropping program, or on other secret domestic monitoring programs run by the Pentagon or other government entities? Is it because keeping official secrets prevents annoying Congressional oversight? Revealing this program in its entirety to too many members of Congress could certainly have unmasked its probable illegality at a much earlier date, and may have allowed members of Congress to pry information out of the White House that the Judiciary Committee could not pry out of Attorney General Gonzales, who seems genuinely confused about whom he works for -- the public or his old boss, the President.

Attorney General Gonzales refused to divulge whether or not purely domestic communications have also been caught up in this warrantless surveillance, and he refused to assure the Senate Judiciary Committee and the American public that the Administration has not deliberately tapped Americans' telephone calls and computers or searched their homes without warrants. Nor would he reveal whether even a single arrest has resulted from the program.
And what about the First Amendment? What about the chilling effect that warrantless eavesdropping is already having on those law-abiding American citizens who may not support the war in Iraq, or who may simply communicate with friends or relatives overseas? Eventually, the feeling that no conversation is private will cause perfectly innocent people to think carefully before they candidly express opinions or even say something in jest.

Already we have heard suggestions from the Attorney General and others that Freedom of the Press should be subject to new restrictions. And who among us can feel comfortable knowing that the National Security Agency has been operating with an expansive view of its role since 2001, forwarding wholesale information from foreign intelligence communication intercepts involving American citizens, including the names of individuals to the FBI, in a departure from past practices, and tapping some of the country's main telecommunications arteries in order to trace and analyze information.

The Administration could have come to Congress to address any too cumbersome aspects of the FISA law in the revised Patriot Act which the Administration proposed, but they did not, probably because they wished the completely unfettered power to do whatever they pleased, the laws and the Constitution be damned.

I plead with the American public to tune-in to what is happening in this country. Please forget the political party with which you may usually be associated, and, instead, think about the right of due process, the presumption of innocence, and the right to a private life. Forget the now tired political spin that, if one does not support warrant-less spying, then one may be a bosom buddy of Osama Bin Laden.

Focus on what's happening to truth in this country and then read President Bush's statement to a Buffalo, New York audience on April 24, 2004:

"Any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires -- a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we're talking about chasing down terrorists, we're talking about getting a court order before we do so." That statement is false and the President knew it was false when he made it because he had authorized the government to wiretap without a court order shortly after the 2001 attacks.

This President, in my judgement, may have broken the law, and most certainly has violated the spirit of the Constitution and the public trust.

Yet, I hear strange comments coming from some members of Congress to the effect that well, if the President has broken the law, let's just change the law. That is tantamount to saying that whatever the President does is legal, and the last time we heard that claim was from the White House of Richard M. Nixon. Congress must rise to the occasion here and demand answers to the serious questions surrounding warrantless spying. And Congress must stop being spooked by false charges that unless it goes along in blind obedience with every outrageous violation of the separation of powers, it is soft on terrorism. Perhaps we can take courage from The American Bar Association which on Monday, February 13, denounced President Bush's warrantless surveillance, and expressed the view that he had exceeded his Constitutional powers.

There is a need for a thorough investigation of all of our domestic spying programs. We have to know what is being done, by whom, and to whom. We need to know if the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act has been breached, and if the Constitutional rights of thousands of Americans have been violated without cause. The question is, can the Congress, under control of the President's political party conduct the type of thorough, far-ranging investigation which is necessary? It is absolutely essential that Congress try, because it is vital to at least attempt the proper restoration of the checks and balances. Unfortunately, in a congressional election year, the effort will most likely be seriously hampered by politics.

I want to know how many Americans have been spied upon. I want to know how it is determined which individuals are monitored and who makes such determinations. I want to know if the telecommunications industry is involved in a massive screening of the domestic telephone calls of ordinary Americans.
I want to know if the United States Post Office is involved. I want to know if the law has been broken and the Constitution has been breached.

Lord Acton once observed that, "Everything secret degenerates, even the Administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity."

The culture of secrecy which has deepened since the attacks on September 11 has presented this nation with an awful dilemma. In order to protect this open society are we to believe that measures must be taken that in insidious and unconstitutional ways close it down? I believe that the answer must be an emphatic "no."

February 16th, 2006, 10:12 AM
Conservatives also express clarity on this issue ...

No Checks, Many Imbalances

By George F. Will (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/email/George+F.+Will/)
Washington Post
Feb. 16, 2006


The next time a president asks Congress to pass something akin to what Congress passed on Sept. 14, 2001 -- the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) -- the resulting legislation might be longer than Proust's "Remembrance of Things Past." Congress, remembering what is happening today, might stipulate all the statutes and constitutional understandings that it does not intend the act to repeal or supersede.

But, then, perhaps no future president will ask for such congressional involvement in the gravest decision government makes -- going to war. Why would future presidents ask, if the present administration successfully asserts its current doctrine? It is that whenever the nation is at war, the other two branches of government have a radically diminished pertinence to governance, and the president determines what that pertinence shall be.

This monarchical doctrine emerges from the administration's stance that warrantless surveillance by the National Security Agency targeting American citizens on American soil is a legal exercise of the president's inherent powers as commander in chief, even though it violates the clear language of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which was written to regulate wartime surveillance.

Administration supporters incoherently argue that the AUMF also authorized the NSA surveillance -- and that if the administration had asked, Congress would have refused to authorize it. The first assertion is implausible: None of the 518 legislators who voted for the AUMF has said that he or she then thought it contained the permissiveness the administration discerns in it. Did the administration, until the program became known two months ago? Or was the AUMF then seized upon as a justification? Equally implausible is the idea that in the months after Sept. 11, Congress would have refused to revise the 1978 law in ways that would authorize, with some supervision, NSA surveillance that, even in today's more contentious climate, most serious people consider conducive to national security.

Anyway, the argument that the AUMF contained a completely unexpressed congressional intent to empower the president to disregard the FISA regime is risible coming from this administration. It famously opposes those who discover unstated meanings in the Constitution's text and do not strictly construe the language of statutes.

The administration's argument about the legality of the NSA program also has been discordant with its argument about the urgency of extending the USA Patriot Act. Many provisions of that act are superfluous if a president's wartime powers are as far-reaching as today's president says they are.

And if, as some administration supporters say, amending the 1978 act to meet today's exigencies would have given America's enemies dangerous information about our capabilities and intentions, surely FISA and the Patriot Act were both informative. Intelligence professionals reportedly say that the behavior of suspected terrorists has changed since Dec. 15, when the New York Times revealed the NSA surveillance. But surely America's enemies have assumed that our technologically sophisticated nation has been trying, in ways known and unknown, to eavesdrop on them.

Besides, terrorism is not the only new danger of this era. Another is the administration's argument that because the president is commander in chief, he is the "sole organ for the nation in foreign affairs." That non sequitur is refuted by the Constitution's plain language, which empowers Congress to ratify treaties, declare war, fund and regulate military forces, and make laws "necessary and proper" for the execution of all presidential powers . Those powers do not include deciding that a law -- FISA, for example -- is somehow exempted from the presidential duty to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed."

The administration, in which mere obduracy sometimes serves as political philosophy, pushes the limits of assertion while disdaining collaboration. This faux toughness is folly, given that the Supreme Court, when rejecting President Harry S Truman's claim that his inherent powers as commander in chief allowed him to seize steel mills during the Korean War, held that presidential authority is weakest when it clashes with Congress.

Immediately after Sept. 11, the president rightly did what he thought the emergency required, and rightly thought that the 1978 law was inadequate to new threats posed by a new kind of enemy using new technologies of communication. Arguably he should have begun surveillance of domestic-to-domestic calls -- the kind the Sept. 11 terrorists made.

But 53 months later, Congress should make all necessary actions lawful by authorizing the president to take those actions, with suitable supervision. It should do so with language that does not stigmatize what he has been doing, but that implicitly refutes the doctrine that the authorization is superfluous.

© Copyright (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/interact/longterm/talk/copy.htm?nav=globebot) 2006 The Washington Post Company

February 16th, 2006, 10:23 AM
I know it's a distraction, but this is too good to pass up ...


Hear it Here: http://cheneyplaysfolsom.cf.huffingtonpost.com/

Vice President Dick "Buckshot" Cheney kept his word to the inmates at California's maximum security Folsom State Prison. He played a one hour set with his band "Dickie and The Trigger Happy Birdie Killers".

The set received a luke warm reception until Cheney launched into his new, as yet unreleased, single "Go **** Yourself". During the guitar solo the Vice President thrilled the assembled audience by producing a rifle and opening fire. "He seems angry. Very angry" one inmate said "I mean, I always thought that the American people didn't like to vote for angry people but...Man, that dude is angry!" I managed to obtain a tape of the performance and am proud to present it here....


TLOZ Link5
February 16th, 2006, 03:01 PM

An ode to Cheney:
No. 2 with a bullet!

Over the weekend, Vice President Cheney accidentally shot his hunting pal and fellow millionaire, Harry Whittington. We wish Mr. Whittington a speedy recovery. And we wish Mr. Cheney a new hobby. Unlike Annie Oakley of "Annie Get Your Gun" fame, apparently —

(Sung to the tune of Irving Berlin's "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun.")

I'm quick with the buckshot
And you all know the upshot:
Yes, there's blood when the day is done
But here's what is scary —
I meant to hit John Kerry
Oh, you can't trust a Dick with a gun.

When I'm giving orders
Or hiding from reporters
You can bet that I'm having fun!
But when it comes to aiming,
Just call me "Auntie Maim-ing"
Oh, you can't trust a Dick with a gun.

With a gun, with a gun,
No, you can't trust a Dick with a gun.

When I was a draftee,
I thought of something crafty:
I told them I had to run.
But now that I'm grown up,
I like to see things blown up
And I may shoot a male on the trail like a quail
So you can't trust a Dick with a gun.

If I go out shootin',
I'm just like Vladdy Putin:
I turn red as the setting sun
But when blood starts a-spurtin',
It ain't at Halliburton
No, you can't trust Dick with a gun.

I'm tough as a marlin
With someone else's darlin'
When the war I insist be won.
But it hurts me a fair spot
To see a millionaire shot,
No, you can't trust a Dick with a gun.

With a gun, with a gun.
No you can't trust a Dick with a gun

If you seek reduction
In weps of mass destruction
I believe I can find you one.
Okay, I'm confessin':
It's my sweet Smith & Wesson
'Cause I shoot like a coot and I start wars to boot!
No, you can't trust a Dick with a gun.

Originally published on February 14, 2006

Copyright New York Daily New 2006

February 19th, 2006, 09:42 AM
Hunting for Camaraderie With Shotguns and Friends

Companions Say Pastime Gives Cheney a Timeout

By Peter Baker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 19, 2006


As they flew toward South Carolina for a campaign event in 2002, Lindsey O. Graham had a quiet moment to talk with Vice President Cheney aboard Air Force Two. As Graham recalls the encounter, he quizzed the vice president about the stresses of his high office.

"How do you keep your sanity in this job?" Graham asked.

Simple, Cheney answered. "Hunting."

Long before the shot heard 'round the world, Cheney took refuge from the burdens of leadership with an intricately crafted, Italian-made shotgun, Texas snake boots, a blaze-orange vest and the camaraderie of his fellow hunters. Stalking game birds through marshlands on horseback or from a truck, he has escaped the Washington political wars for days at a time.

The vice president's accidental shooting of a 78-year-old lawyer in Texas has thrown a spotlight on Cheney's hunting forays as never before. Hardly a casual outdoorsman posing for election brochure pictures, Cheney proves to be a serious practitioner of the sport who in five years in office has traveled to lodges throughout the country -- Texas, South Dakota, Georgia, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Arkansas and Louisiana. Some of those "undisclosed locations" he has been at since Sept. 11, 2001, turn out to have plenty of quail, ducks, pheasant or even, yes, doves.

"The whole point of it is to get away," said Graham, now a Republican senator from South Carolina and a regular Cheney hunting partner. "It is a tremendous release for this man. Getting out and getting away, that keeps him balanced."

Cheney, an intense, seemingly dour man, spoke of the satisfaction almost wistfully in his interview with Fox News Channel last week, perhaps recognizing that it may be more problematic to continue pursuing his avocation after the shooting accident Feb. 11. "It's brought me great pleasure over the years," he said. "I love the people that I've hunted with and do hunt with. Love the outdoors. It's part of my heritage, growing up in Wyoming. It's part of who I am."

It hasn't always been. Although Cheney has fished avidly most of his life and hunted occasionally as a boy, friends say he only picked up hunting seriously about a decade ago while he was chief executive of Halliburton Co. in Texas. "He had to have a way to relieve himself but also to take advantage of some business opportunities," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), another frequent hunting partner.

Since becoming vice president in January 2001, Cheney has continued to mix work and pleasure in these trips, at least in his choice of companions.

Besides Graham and Chambliss, Cheney has gone hunting with a variety of other politicians, including Republican Sens. John Thune (S.D.), Trent Lott (Miss.) and Jim DeMint (S.C.), South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), former treasury secretary Nicholas F. Brady and former senators Phil Gramm (R-Tex.) and Zell Miller (D-Ga.).

Although associates say Cheney does not use hunting trips as an explicit fundraising vehicle, he has brought along prominent business figures, including Ohio billionaire Leslie H. Wexner, whose retail empire includes such chains as Limited Stores, Express, Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret.

Katharine Armstrong, whose family owns the Texas ranch where the shooting accident occurred, is a registered lobbyist. And of course, Cheney's most famous hunting partner before Harry Whittington was Justice Antonin Scalia, a fact that sparked controversy because the Supreme Court was ruling in a case involving Cheney and Scalia declined to recuse himself.

Yet several hunting companions say the trips include more political gossiping and storytelling than horse-trading. While women sometimes come along, such as Armstrong and Pamela Pitzer Willeford, the U.S. ambassador to Switzerland who was also at the Texas ranch a weekend ago, Lynne Cheney does not seem to be a regular on these trips. But the famously taciturn vice president reportedly opens up after a day in the open.

"It's a completely different person," Graham said. "When he's in a meeting, he's the ultimate sit-back-and-listen guy. I've been in meetings with him when he seldom uttered a word. . . . But when he gets out into the field, he relaxes and it shows."

Added Chambliss, "He's a pretty loose guy when he has the chance to kick back. It's not that he's bubbling over by any means, but he's willing to share his experiences."

While Cheney pays any hunting fees or lodging expenses if charged, taxpayers invariably pick up much of the cost of Cheney's hunting hobby. As with his predecessors, the government pays for Secret Service agents, military aides and the rest of the entourage that travels with vice presidents wherever they go, as well as the expense of Air Force Two. But it is not clear how much that costs. The budget lists $1 million for the vice president's annual travel, including his official duties, but the figure is rounded to the nearest million, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

On a typical two-day hunting trip, as described by companions, Cheney rises as early as 4:30 a.m. and receives his morning national security briefing before heading to breakfast or sometimes a pre-breakfast hunt. While he and his partners often ride horses, a dog master supervises the pointers or other hunting dogs that track down the quail or other birds. Once a dog smells one, he stops flat in his tracks. Watching the dogs, some Cheney associates say, is as much fun as the shooting.

"You get quite a thrill," said former senator Alan K. Simpson (R-Wyo.), a Cheney friend and hunting partner. "Sometimes you don't even shoot. It's just amazing. There's a lot to it. It's not romantic for me, but it's very satisfying. Not the killing. Sometimes I don't get a thing. Just the joshing, the talking, the outrageous babble you have out there."

Cheney naturally favors some of the country's most exclusive and remote hunting ranges, such as the Armstrong Ranch, the 50,000-acre private spread in south Texas where he wounded Whittington, or places such as the Paul Nelson Farm in South Dakota, where the owners boast of a separate gun cleaning room with four cleaning stations furnished with compressed air and individual boot dryers.

At a lodge in Georgia, Cheney would shoot as many as a dozen birds a day, the state limit. While Cheney sometimes hunts pen-raised birds, Chambliss said he has only hunted wild bird with the vice president. Sometimes they cook the birds for dinner, other times not. Chambliss said he likes to serve Cheney fried chicken, rice and gravy and collard greens. "At night," Graham said, "you sit there and relive the hunt and talk about everything under the sun." Or most everything; Graham, who last year fought Cheney on legislation banning torture, said they leave disagreements behind.

Although many hunters drink as part of the ritual, Cheney's partners insist that he does not. The vice president said he drank a single beer for lunch the day of the accident, hours before he shot Whittington by mistake. Regular partners said even that is rare and that any alcohol is usually reserved for the end of the day after hunting is over.

Despite the blast of birdshot at Whittington, Cheney's friends described him as a careful, accurate gunman. He's "an excellent shot," Lott told reporters last week, adding mischievously, "He never shot me." Lott also noted that Cheney "looks the part," a virtual Field & Stream model in his hunting garb.

Chambliss called Cheney an "over and under" shooter, meaning he fires his shotgun twice when a covey of quail flushes. "If you kill two birds in a covey rise, you are an excellent shot," Chambliss said. "I saw him kill three birds on a covey rise" -- two with one shot and a third with the other.

Chambliss, who spoke with Cheney after a meeting with senators last week, said the vice president seemed distressed over the Whittington accident. "He said, 'You know, I've never felt so bad about anything in my life,' " Chambliss recalled. "He was really emotional about it."

Research editor Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

February 19th, 2006, 09:44 AM
The hits just keep comin' ... another one shootin' to the top :



February 19th, 2006, 10:02 PM
I don't know if anyone else had a chance to see it, but the film "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days" is provocative and disturbing. The parallels between the title character's trial and execution under the Nazi's and the Bush Administration's statements and decrees would give anyone pause. It is a film based on a true story. Powerful stuff. Anyone else catch it?

February 21st, 2006, 01:29 AM
The penchant for secrecey exhibited by this administration is pathological ...

U.S. Reclassifies Many Documents in Secret Review

By SCOTT SHANE (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/scott_shane/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
NY Times
Feb. 21, 2006


WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 — In a seven-year-old secret program at the National Archives, intelligence agencies have been removing from public access thousands of historical documents that were available for years, including some already published by the State Department and others photocopied years ago by private historians.

The restoration of classified status to more than 55,000 previously declassified pages began in 1999, when the Central Intelligence Agency and five other agencies objected to what they saw as a hasty release of sensitive information after a 1995 declassification order signed by President Bill Clinton (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/bill_clinton/index.html?inline=nyt-per). It accelerated after the Bush administration took office and especially after the 2001 terrorist attacks, according to archives records.

But because the reclassification program is itself shrouded in secrecy — governed by a still-classified memorandum that prohibits the National Archives even from saying which agencies are involved — it continued virtually without outside notice until December. That was when an intelligence historian, Matthew M. Aid, noticed that dozens of documents he had copied years ago had been withdrawn from the archives' open shelves.

Mr. Aid was struck by what seemed to him the innocuous contents of the documents — mostly decades-old State Department reports from the Korean War and the early cold war. He found that eight reclassified documents had been previously published in the State Department's history series, "Foreign Relations of the United States."

"The stuff they pulled should never have been removed," he said. "Some of it is mundane, and some of it is outright ridiculous."

After Mr. Aid and other historians complained, the archives' Information Security Oversight Office, which oversees government classification, began an audit of the reclassification program, said J. William Leonard, director of the office.

Mr. Leonard said he ordered the audit after reviewing 16 withdrawn documents and concluding that none should be secret.

"If those sample records were removed because somebody thought they were classified, I'm shocked and disappointed," Mr. Leonard said in an interview. "It just boggles the mind."

If Mr. Leonard finds that documents are being wrongly reclassified, his office could not unilaterally release them. But as the chief adviser to the White House on classification, he could urge a reversal or a revision of the reclassification program.

A group of historians, including representatives of the National Coalition for History and the Society of Historians of American Foreign Relations, wrote to Mr. Leonard on Friday to express concern about the reclassification program, which they believe has blocked access to some material at the presidential libraries as well as at the archives.

Among the 50 withdrawn documents that Mr. Aid found in his own files is a 1948 memorandum on a C.I.A. scheme to float balloons over countries behind the Iron Curtain and drop propaganda leaflets. It was reclassified in 2001 even though it had been published by the State Department in 1996.

Another historian, William Burr, found a dozen documents he had copied years ago whose reclassification he considers "silly," including a 1962 telegram from George F. Kennan, then ambassador to Yugoslavia, containing an English translation of a Belgrade newspaper article on China's nuclear weapons program.

Under existing guidelines, government documents are supposed to be declassified after 25 years unless there is particular reason to keep them secret. While some of the choices made by the security reviewers at the archives are baffling, others seem guided by an old bureaucratic reflex: to cover up embarrassments, even if they occurred a half-century ago.

One reclassified document in Mr. Aid's files, for instance, gives the C.I.A.'s assessment on Oct. 12, 1950, that Chinese intervention in the Korean War was "not probable in 1950." Just two weeks later, on Oct. 27, some 300,000 Chinese troops crossed into Korea.

Mr. Aid said he believed that because of the reclassification program, some of the contents of his 22 file cabinets might technically place him in violation of the Espionage Act, a circumstance that could be shared by scores of other historians. But no effort has been made to retrieve copies of reclassified documents, and it is not clear how they all could even be located.

"It doesn't make sense to create a category of documents that are classified but that everyone already has," said Meredith Fuchs, general counsel of the National Security Archive, a research group at George Washington University. "These documents were on open shelves for years."

The group plans to post Mr. Aid's reclassified documents and his account of the secret program on its Web site, www.gwu.edu (http://www.gwu.edu/)/~nsarchiv, on Tuesday.

The program's critics do not question the notion that wrongly declassified material should be withdrawn. Mr. Aid said he had been dismayed to see "scary" documents in open files at the National Archives, including detailed instructions on the use of high explosives.

But the historians say the program is removing material that can do no conceivable harm to national security. They say it is part of a marked trend toward greater secrecy under the Bush administration, which has increased the pace of classifying documents, slowed declassification and discouraged the release of some material under the Freedom of Information Act.

Experts on government secrecy believe the C.I.A. and other spy agencies, not the White House, are the driving force behind the reclassification program.

"I think it's driven by the individual agencies, which have bureaucratic sensitivities to protect," said Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists, editor of the online weekly Secrecy News. "But it was clearly encouraged by the administration's overall embrace of secrecy."

National Archives officials said the program had revoked access to 9,500 documents, more than 8,000 of them since President Bush took office. About 30 reviewers — employees and contractors of the intelligence and defense agencies — are at work each weekday at the archives complex in College Park, Md., the officials said.

Archives officials could not provide a cost for the program but said it was certainly in the millions of dollars, including more than $1 million to build and equip a secure room where the reviewers work.

Michael J. Kurtz, assistant archivist for record services, said the National Archives sought to expand public access to documents whenever possible but had no power over the reclassifications. "The decisions agencies make are those agencies' decisions," Mr. Kurtz said.

Though the National Archives are not allowed to reveal which agencies are involved in the reclassification, one archivist said on condition of anonymity that the C.I.A. and the Defense Intelligence Agency were major participants.

A spokesman for the C.I.A., Paul Gimigliano, said that the agency had released 26 million pages of documents to the National Archives since 1998 and that it was "committed to the highest quality process" for deciding what should be secret.

"Though the process typically works well, there will always be the anomaly, given the tremendous amount of material and multiple players involved," Mr. Gimigliano said.

A spokesman for the Defense Intelligence Agency said he was unable to comment on whether his agency was involved in the program.

Anna K. Nelson, a foreign policy historian at American University, said she and other researchers had been puzzled in recent years by the number of documents pulled from the archives with little explanation.

"I think this is a travesty," said Dr. Nelson, who said she believed that some reclassified material was in her files. "I think the public is being deprived of what history is really about: facts."

The document removals have not been reported to the Information Security Oversight Office, as the law has required for formal reclassifications since 2003.

The explanation, said Mr. Leonard, the head of the office, is a bureaucratic quirk. The intelligence agencies take the position that the reclassified documents were never properly declassified, even though they were reviewed, stamped "declassified," freely given to researchers and even published, he said.

Thus, the agencies argue, the documents remain classified — and pulling them from public access is not really reclassification.

Mr. Leonard said he believed that while that logic might seem strained, the agencies were technically correct. But he said the complaints about the secret program, which prompted his decision to conduct an audit, showed that the government's system for deciding what should be secret is deeply flawed.

"This is not a very efficient way of doing business," Mr. Leonard said. "There's got to be a better way."

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

February 23rd, 2006, 02:46 PM
Who would ever have thought that old Dick Cheney could give so much entertainment value??

Click below for a medley of appropriate hits ...


The Cheney Shooting Soundtrack... (http://cheneysoundtrack.cf.huffingtonpost.com/)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thenewswire/archive/ap/cheney-hunt-video2.jpg (http://cheneysoundtrack.cf.huffingtonpost.com/)

February 23rd, 2006, 02:57 PM
I don't know if anyone else had a chance to see it, but the film "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days" is provocative and disturbing.

I guess you enjoy watching movies that validate your exterme views. It's like you're waiting for someone to agree with you. I think we have to be clear that we live in a democracy and Bush was democratically elected (alberit, with some issues the 1st time) and his actions are limited by 2 other vocal and efficient branches of government (the congress and the courts). We also happen to have a free press here that puts pressure on Bush and anybody else to be more open even if their natural instinct is to be strict. Making any parellels with Germany in the 30s is simply ridiculous. I think you would benefit from watchnig movies that present a different view (i.e., an independent, logical and non-partisan view).

February 23rd, 2006, 03:32 PM
1. Bush was most certainly NOT democratically elected.

2. The two other branches of government are no longer functional in that they are not providing the checks to executive power that they once did. That's the whole problem, and here you are spouting the opposite.

3.Your statement about us having a free press is not true. In recent decades healthy competition has been destroyed by media consolidation. News divisions are being held to increasingly high pressures to maximize profits the same way entertainment does. Fox is so popular because it tells certain Americans exactly what they want to hear, comfort food for the masses and a propaganda tool of the regime.

4. Parallels with Nazi Germany are no longer deniable, and should no longer be taboo. We are in the midst of the ascendancy of Fascism here in the good ole' US of A. The forms may change, but the spirit is the same.

5. I shall have to watch "Sophie Scholl: The Final Days" promptly!

February 23rd, 2006, 03:47 PM
1. Bush was most certainly NOT democratically elected.

2. The two other branches of government are no longer functional in that they are not providing the checks to executive power that they once did. That's the whole problem, and here you are spouting the opposite.

3.Your statement about us having a free press is not true. In recent decades healthy competition has been destroyed by media consolidation. News divisions are being held to increasingly high pressures to maximize profits the same way entertainment does. Fox is so popular because it tells certain Americans exactly what they want to hear, comfort food for the masses and a propaganda tool of the regime.

1. According to our standard and our laws he was elected democratically. The 1st time there was a dispute that was resolved by the supreme court. You may say that the decision was politically motivated, but the supreme court called "supreme" for a reason. You may not like the electoral system that we have, but this is the system on the books right now. Clearly, more than 50% voted for GW Bush in the 2nd election

2. This is your assessment. I doubt too many scholars agree with you. Just like many Americans, you may not like the Congress or feel that the Congress does not do a good job. But the members of this body are elected and the congress makes many things happen in this country, including appropriations for the war, budet approvals, etc. All bills and laws are made in the Congress. This branch as an enormous power. Don't underestimate it.

3. There has never been such variety of voice available to the general public. You talk about consolidation of the traditional media. But forget to mention blogs and the internet sources. Millions of Americans get their news from non-traditional media. Please show me another country where there's a wider selection of newspapers and magazines. Here in New York, we have 5 major newspapers - New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, NY Post, Daily News and NY Sun all owned by different companies. You can add many smaller newspapers like free AM NY, NY Observer, etc. And don't forget cable TV, satellite and terrestial radio. I think we have a lot of free choices in this country. Virtually all scandals and problems that Bush's administration has experienced in the last 5 years were brought down by the media. And did you watch the comedyu coverage of the Cheney shooting accident on late night shows? This can't happen anywhere else, except maybe UK...

February 23rd, 2006, 04:07 PM
There is plenty of information backing up my conviction that he was never rightfully elected. The Supreme Court had no jurisdiction to even take the case. It was for the Florida Supreme Court to decide, and they ruled to resume the count. The Supreme Court stepped in illegally and halted it. It goes against the very electoral college that you mention, and of which I am not crazy but would accept if only it was done by the book.

You doubt many agree with me?? It is a common concern of political conversations everywhere, it's not just me making this stuff up. I do not underestimate the constitutional powers of the Legislative Branch, I maintain that they are being dismissed and minimized by the actions of the current Executive branch.

Virtually none of the REAL Bush scandals have been properly exposed by the media in the USA. How do you explain the minimal coverage here of the Downing Street Memo, among a zillion other things, compared to the coverage in other countries? Finally, and this is the most important point for you to think about.... one shouldn't confuse the number of voices with the variety of what is being said.

February 23rd, 2006, 04:14 PM
Citing the number of daily newspapers in New York doesn't prove much.
The Greeks are famously well-read, and Athens has 18 daily newspapers.

February 23rd, 2006, 04:16 PM
MidtownGuy: Again, Supreme Court called "supreme" for a reason. You can think they had no authority, but they have the legal right to decide this issue. It's the top court in the land. You may disagree with its decision, but under the law, no one can challenge their decision - they have the final say. I feel that either way, the other side would be very unhappy. In any case, the argument was about a very small percentage of votes. Let's just say - if Bush got even 49% of the votes, he has gotten very close to victory. It's not like he got 5% of the vote and Supreme Court called him a winner. Let's be realistic - we are talking about such a small percentage that it's below the margin of error for any poll (way less than 1% of the votes casted in one state - Florida). And Bush clearly won in the 2nd election after the war.

Again, our democracy is not always perfect. Regarding all the other "real Bush scandals". I read about the Downing street memo and heard about it many times on the news channels. I am sure if you do a search for it online, you will find a lot of info on that. The media in all democracies is market-driven. So, if people don't care about this issue (and most people don't), it's not going to make any waves in the media. It was a huge scandal in the UK, but the Blair government survived it and won the election after it happened.

February 23rd, 2006, 04:22 PM
NO, you are wrong. Constitutionally they do not have final say in the matter of Florida's election. As I said, that is reserved for the FLORIDA Supreme Court. Please research this. It is commonly misunderstood.

In their written decision they actually come out and say that this should NOT serve as precedent.

February 23rd, 2006, 04:51 PM
NO, you are wrong. Constitutionally they do not have final say in the matter of Florida's election. As I said, that is reserved for the FLORIDA Supreme Court. Please research this. It is commonly misunderstood.

In their written decision they actually come out and say that this should NOT serve as precedent.

While the US Supreme Court was not required to agree to review the case (and I believe that it should not have done so), there is no question that the Court's jurisdiction extended to the dispute. The case did not involve the mere interpretation of Florida's election laws but whether Florida's actions and the decisions of its courts violated the U.S. Constitution. The Court, which always has the final word on federal constitutional issues, said that they did. The Renchberg Court was not fond of extending the reach of the Bill of Rights, and the fact that it did just that in this case probably explains its stated wish to limit the scope of its ruling to the unique facts of the case.

February 23rd, 2006, 05:16 PM
The whole "recount" thing is BS.

Once an election is that close a re-election should be held with only the two contending candidates. This should be held whenever the decision falls within the margin of error.

Just like a tennis match, you have to beat your opponent by more than one lucky shot.

As for the comparison to Germany in the 30's, we do have some frightening similarities, but the animal is different.

keep this metaphor in mind. The wolf and the Tiger are two different animals. They both have ears, eyes, fur and a tail, but they are still different creatures.

But they both have teeth and claws that could ruin your day if you are not careful.

We should recognize the teeth and claws of this particular regime and stop worrying about whether it can be called a tiger, a wolf or an alligator even.

February 23rd, 2006, 05:25 PM
there is no question that the Court's jurisdiction extended to the dispute.

There are many who question several aspects of the rulings. Books have been written on this, so it's sort of hard to hash it all out here on this forum, but here is just one excerpt from "Bush v Gore: What Were They Thinking?" by David A. Strauss, one of so many publications that question what happened, and the merits of granting certeriori to a case that should have been sent back to Florida. Anyway, here it is:

On December 9, the Court, by the same vote of 5-4 that would ultimately decide the case, issued a stay of the Florida Supreme Courtís second decision. [11] The effect of the stay was to stop the counting of the ballots ordered by the Florida Supreme Court. The Supreme Courtís standard rule for granting a stay of a lower courtís order is that the party seeking the stay must demonstrate a substantial probability of success on the merits, and the ìbalance of equitiesîóthe harm faced by the petitioner if the stay is denied, compared to the harm to the respondent if the stay is grantedómust favor the petitioner. [12]

By that measure, the stay seems impossible to justify. To begin with, it is not clear that the harm to Governor Bush should have carried any weight at all. Justice Scalia, in an opinion defending the stay, explained that ì[t]he counting of votes that are of questionable legality . . . threaten[s] irreparable harm to [Governor Bush], and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election.î [13] . The premise of this argument is that there is a legitimate interest in suppressing truthful informationóinformation about what the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court would have disclosedóin order to protect the President of the United States from political harm. Ordinarily it is a fundamental principle of our system of freedom of expression that the government cannot limit what people hear about politics because it mistrusts their ability to evaluate that information rationally. The majorityís apparent conclusion that then-Governor Bush had a legitimate interest in suppressing certain information may not be wholly unsupportable, but it is at least problematic.

But if one accepts the possible political damage to Governor Bush as a legitimate harm, the potential harm to Vice President Gore was vastly greater. Had Vice President Gore prevailed on the merits in the Supreme Court, the stay might easily have deprived him of his victory, by preventing the counting of the ballots before the electors were to cast their votes on December 18. [14] It is true that the failure to grant a stay might have inflicted political damage on a Bush Presidency; but granting a stay might have wholly deprived Vice President Gore of the Presidency.

There is only one circumstance in which the balance of equities might have favored Governor Bush: if a majority of the Supreme Court had already decided how it was going to rule. If there had been any chance that the Vice President would win in the Supreme Court, the stay was indefensible. But if it were a foregone conclusion that the Florida Supreme Courtís decision would be reversed, even the administrative expense of counting might justify a stay. In addition, if five Justices has already made up their minds that they were going to rule in favor of Governor Bush, the stay, however, controversial, ensured that they would not be in the awkward position of reversing an apparent Gore victory. The hypothesis that best explains ththe majorityís decision to grant a stay despite the imbalance in the equities and the questionable nature of Governor Bushís interest is that the majority knew, when it granted the stay, how the case would come out.

That, too, is not necessarily a reason to criticize the Justices. It is probably pretty common for Justices to know, from reading the certiorari petition, how they will vote in a case. But this was not a run of the mill case presenting a slight variant on a subject that the Justices have thought about dozens of times. The Florida Supreme Courtís decision in Bush v Gore concerned a state election law statute with which the Justices surely had no prior familiarityóeven from Bush v Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, which concerned an entirely different state statute. Governor Bushís arguments also drew on broader aspects of Florida election law and Florida administrative law; he argued, for example, that the Florida Supreme Court should have required deferred to the decisions of the county canvassing boards even though the contest statute did not say that explicitly. The equal protection argument that was the basis of the majorityís opinion depended on a detailed familiarity with the facts about the various recounts that had been underway, as well as an assessment of what was ìpracticable.î [15]

The Florida Supreme Court issued the opinion at 4:00 p.m. on December 8. [16] The United States Supreme Court granted the stay at 2:45 p.m. on December 9. [17] In less than 23 hours, five Justices evidently had decided that Governor Bush was sure to prevail, because in view of the harm to the Vice President, the stay could not possibly be justified if there had been any doubt. The Justices reached this decision even though they had little or no prior familiarity with the state law involved, and even though they were acting on the basis of a very hastily prepared stay application and opposition. It is hard to resist the conclusion that they knew all along what they were going to do.


that's only one, there's also "Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000" by Alan Dershowitz.

February 23rd, 2006, 05:27 PM
It isn't BS, it's the law Ninja.

February 23rd, 2006, 05:46 PM
The question you raised and inaccurately answered, MG, is whether the Supremes had jurisdiction to hear and decide the case (which they did), not whether the majority's decision was sound, questionable, corrupt or made while 2 of the 5 were higher than the top of the Washington Monument.

February 23rd, 2006, 05:54 PM
I should not have used the word jurisdiction then, I agree.

The Florida Election was marred not just by the Supreme Court question. It was the entire sabotage of the voting process that took place not just on election day, and after election day, but before election day by Republicans. Death by a thousand duck bites. And therein lies the evil brilliance. Any one thing is too hard to prove and seems unlikely to have had a big enough effect, but when you add them all together what is supposed to be a fair election was sabotaged.

February 24th, 2006, 08:57 AM
It isn't BS, it's the law Ninja.

Oh, I get it.

The law can never BE BS.

Double BS.

February 24th, 2006, 09:12 AM
...And Bush clearly won in the 2nd election after the war.
Not so clear ...

Watchdog Group Questions 2004 Fla. Vote

Associated Press Writer
Thu Feb 23, 3:53 PM ET


An examination of Palm Beach County's electronic voting machine records from the 2004 election found possible tampering and tens of thousands of malfunctions and errors, a watchdog group said Thursday.

Bev Harris, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org, said the findings call into question the outcome of the presidential race. But county officials and the maker of the electronic voting machines strongly disputed that and took issue with the findings.

Voting problems would have had to have been widespread across the state to make a difference. President Bush won Florida — and its 27 electoral votes — by 381,000 votes in 2004. Overall, he defeated John Kerry by 286 to 252 electoral votes, with 270 needed for victory.

BlackBoxVoting.org, which describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizens group, said it found 70,000 instances in Palm Beach County of cards getting stuck in the paperless ATM-like machines and that the computers logged about 100,000 errors, including memory failures.

Also, the hard drives crashed on some of the machines made by Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems, some machines apparently had to be rebooted over and over, and 1,475 re-calibrations were performed on Election Day on more than 4,300 units, Harris said. Re-calibrations are done when a machine is malfunctioning, she said.

"I actually think there's enough votes in play in Florida that it's anybody's guess who actually won the presidential race," Harris added. "But with that said, there's no way to tell who the votes should have gone to."

Palm Beach County and other parts of the country switched to electronic equipment after the turbulent 2000 presidential election, when the county's butterfly ballot confused some voters and led them to cast their votes for third-party candidate Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore. The Supreme Court halted a recount after 36 days and handed a 537-vote victory to Bush.

Palm Beach County election officials said the BlackBoxVoting.com findings are flawed, and they blamed most of the errors on voters not following proper procedures.

"Their results are noteworthy for consideration, but in a majority of instances they can be explained," said Arthur Anderson, the county's elections supervisor. "All of these circumstances are valid reasons for concern, but they do not on face value substantiate that the machines are not reliable."

Sequoia spokeswoman Michelle Shafer disputed the findings, saying the company's machines worked properly. Sequoia's machines are used in five Florida counties and in 21 states.

"There was a fine election in November 2004," Shafer said.

She said many of the errors in the computer logs could have resulted from voters improperly inserting their user cards into the machines. The remaining errors would not affect the vote results because each unit has a backup system, she said.

Jenny Nash, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State, which oversees elections, said she was not aware of the report and had no comment.

Harris said one machine showed that 112 votes were cast on Oct. 16, two days before the start of early voting, a possible sign of tampering. She said the group found evidence of tampering on more than 30 machines in the county.

However, Harris said it was impossible to determine what information was altered or if votes were shifted among candidates.

Copyright &#169; 2006 The Associated Press.

February 24th, 2006, 10:49 AM
The law is often BS.

Oh, I get it.

The law can never BE BS.

but, still, you shouldn't always twist or add to my words. NEVER is your word, so you only get what is coming out of your own mouth. Can you please stop twisting what i say. I am going to start putting "BS" after every one of your posts too.

February 24th, 2006, 11:12 AM
MidtownGuy: It's turned into a long legalistic discussion. All polls indicate that Bush got more than 50% of the votes in the 2nd election. It's not like he got 3% and was elected. This is not Combodia. I think it's healthy that as a soociety we love to critisize this country and our system of government. But we have to remember that objectively and comparatively, it's a pretty good one. I don't think we can expect GW Bush - like Putin or Chavez - to hang on beyond his 2 terms in office. That's another great thing about this system - even if the president is bad, he is gone in at most 8 years.

February 24th, 2006, 11:33 AM
All that may be true, but you can't judge the government by where it stacks up in comparison with others.

If you bother involving the courts, then the only thing that matters is the law.

February 24th, 2006, 11:37 AM
The law is often BS.

but, still, you shouldn't always twist or add to my words. NEVER is your word, so you only get what is coming out of your own mouth. Can you please stop twisting what i say. I am going to start putting "BS" after every one of your posts too.

Would you rather me stop abbreviating?

Instead of responding to my comment about the law stating that elections can be decided by an unconfirmed vote that is, in addition, well within the margin of error, you simply state that that is the law.

So were a lot of other things, and simply saying that it is the law is not enough to counter the suppositions presented that not only is it bullcrap but it is also fundamentally unconstitutional.

If you cannot confirm it was genuinely by the will of the people, then it is NOT by the will of the people, no matter what judge rules on what law.

Sometimes court decisions are not based on the entirety of law, but just on the questions presented at the time of inquiry.

February 24th, 2006, 11:40 AM

It's not like he got 3% and was elected.

The Supreme Court halted a recount after 36 days and handed a 537-vote victory to Bush.

Then you agree that this was not a valid ruling?

February 24th, 2006, 01:19 PM
... All polls indicate that Bush got more than 50% of the votes in the 2nd election. It's not like he got 3% and was elected...

All polls or the actual votes cast?

Here are the February headlines from Black Box Voting, a non-partisan organization tht works toward ensuring that voting is equitable to voters across the country and that every vote gets counted:


2-23-06: Someone accessed 40 Palm Beach County voting machines Nov 2004
The internal logs of at least 40 Sequoia touch-screen voting machines reveal that votes were time and date-stamped as cast two weeks before the election, sometimes in the middle of the night.

2-21-06: An open letter to Bruce McPherson and the citizens of the United States
As California goes, so goes the nation. While a $4 billion company and the California secretary of state flaunt the law, an honest citizen is charged with a felony and may face jail time. His crime? Releasing documents describing Diebold's criminal acts.

2-17-06: Election family tree: Who got us into this and how did they meet each other?
As we unravel the family tree responsible for the current elections mess, to our surprise it looks like some of these people are in fact legally related. This article exposes some of the ties, family and otherwise. Let's open the closet and look at some of the underpinnings of today's secret elections:

2-11-06: Voting machine examiners chickening out on Senate investigation
Key witnesses have notified the California Senate Elections Committee that they will refuse to show up at the hearing on how certification is being done. They don't want to be questioned.

2-6-06: Landes takes e-voting to Supreme Court
Lynn Landes is a gutsy American woman following the example of the sufragettes, who fought battles for basic voting civil rights that seemed unwinnable. That is, until they won.

2-6-06: Diebold agrees to waive proprietary claims to GEMS database files
"Hello. We just received a letter in today's mail from the Division of Elections stating that Diebold has agreed to waive its proprietary rights to the GEMS database files," wrote Kay Brown, Alaska Communications Director for the DNC. There is one minor point of contention left concerning the public accessibility of the usernames of the election staff who use GEMS. We feel that's public record.

2-5-06: What protects your personal information once it enters e-elections?
UPDATED 1:37 PST Feb. 6: Do companies like Choicepoint have a vested interest in making sure elections become computerized? You be the judge -- here are the kinds of databases that are and will be created with new e-elections technology:

- Massive computerized statewide voter registration databases
- Voter identification cards and voter biometrics
- VoteRemote-style electronic signature databases
- Electronic poll check-in databases
- And proposed by some companies, databases for electronic verification of your vote

2-2-06: Embezzler Jeff Dean remote accessed Calif. counties for 2000 election
So much for the "people and procedures" security defense. From Oct. 2004 trial transcript:

Attorney: [in Aug. 2000] "What were you doing down in California at that point?"

Jeffrey Dean: "I was trying to get the connection -- I was installing computer hardware, printing hardware, and trying to get the computer or the internet connections between a number of California counties and the server in Mountlake Terrace [Dean's Washington offices] operational.

2-1-06: Voting system examiners blocked from telling what they know?
Voting system examiners in several states have reportedly been prohibited from revealing voting system flaws to the public due to nondisclosure agreements they signed with the vendors.

With the future of democracy is at stake, just what agreements were signed by examiners like Steve Freeman (CA), Brit Williams (GA, MD, VA), Paul Craft (FL), Doug Jones (IA), and David Jefferson (CA)?

February 24th, 2006, 03:50 PM
We are dealing with radicals who possess no morals.

February 24th, 2006, 03:58 PM
Then you agree that this was not a valid ruling?

I cannot say whether it's valid or invalid. I know that it was made by the supreme court and that GW Bush was elected again (albeit with a very small margin) to a second term and he is the president at the moment. I will leave it to legal experts and historians to figure out what was appropriate and valid. My personal opinion is that someone would be unhappy either way. And I don't see any reason why it makes sense to discuss this now. I think the best approach in life and in politics is to look forward into the future. That is something we can change and improve.

February 24th, 2006, 04:04 PM
All polls or the actual votes cast?

So you're implying that the vote was rigged (or at least there's a good chance of that) and Bush was elected illegally. I don't know whether all of these allegations are true or not. Certainly thwe democrats and DNC had enough money and legal power to challenge any particular vote or present the allegations you presented in court - that's how those issues should be resolved. There were many independent exit and other polls made on the election day. They would indicate to me that even if we assume that there was some vote rigging, it was very small because poll after poll showed Bush having at least the same number of votes as Kerry. Kerry was ahead for a short period of time after the first debate. Before that debate where Kerry was great and Bush terrible, Kerry was far behind. That would inidcate to any logical person that Kerry was a weak candidate on all levels.

Just because the group that you cited in the previous posts calls itself "non-partisan", does not make it so. And again, I don't think there's any reason to discuss this now. It's a bit late in the game, isn't it? In the latest polls, Kerry is way behind even in the potential democratic primary. What a loser.

February 24th, 2006, 04:06 PM
Spice, saying that people would not be happy either way is a valid assertion, but it is like that with just about everything and can't really be used as a good arguement for or against any one action.

It is kind of like the memorial thing. Just because some people yell about the footprints does not make it the best, or most feasable choice over the long run.

What we are looking at now is something that could have been stopped a long time ago if we had just implimented means to prevent this kind of thing once it was apparent what kind of controversy it raised. But we didn't.

Idle side question. In all fairness. How do you think we would have handled the situation if Gore (the Gore that ran, not the one that lost and subsequently went diametrically opposed to the one that evolved in Bush after his win) were elected?

I am not looking for a better/worse comparison, but what do you think would have been different?

I think that the 9-11 attack would still have happened, but it might have had a bit more warning (Gore would have been less adverse to looking at the things the Clinton Admin left behind). I don't think we would have gone to war in Iraq, but we still would be in Afghanistan.

I think Gore would be receiving a lot of flak over not being able to secure the entire country, and we would have still gotten a lot of resistance from insurgants, but I think the overall $$ would have been much less.

I am not sure what would have happend with the budget, although I think taxes would have remained where they were, causing the limited recovery we had to be a little more subdued....

Aside from that, any other differences? I am not looking for a better/worse comparison, but more of an analysis of the difference that would have been made....

February 24th, 2006, 04:34 PM
Ninjahedge: The more I observe Gore the less I like him - as a person and as a polititian. I think it's very difficult to speculate and understand what would happen if Gore were president. Maybe he would be one of the best presidents in our history, would deal with terrorism efficiently and did everything else better than Bush. It's tough to say. Like many people, I looked at both GW Bush and Gore (and later, at Bush and Kerry) as 2 silverspooners - people that had a very comfortable life from the beginning, got where they are only because they happened to have rich and influential families. Gore, Kerry and Bush - all of them - never had to struggle or really work hard to get to where they are (unike, say, Clinton or Guiuliani). They were just proxies for the policies of their parties. They were the candidates that would advance what their large party machines wanted. People with real guts and powerful life stories (like McCain) did not succeed back then.

The truth is that presidents come to the White House with loads of other people that often play an important role behind the scenes. What would Bush be without Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and other staffers? What would Clinton be without his powerful team of people? We don't know what Gore team would look like and where he would lead the country.

I liked Bush's initial resolve after 9/11 to crash and destroy terrorists. I don't think the democrats as a party would be as resolute. But Iraq and the runaway government spending are a whole other story. That's where - using Pat Buchanan's words - "the right went wrong"

February 24th, 2006, 06:35 PM
So you're implying that the vote was rigged (or at least there's a good chance of that) and Bush was elected illegally.

I'm not only implying it. I am making the accusation outright. The 2000 and 2004 elections were stolen through a variety of methods.

How was this done? Simple...

Vote suppression/voter intimidation and deception. Shortages of voting locations and ballot forms. Foreign monitors barred from polls. Unmatched exit polls/actual results - actual results always skewed to Republicans. Masses of e-Voting "glitches". Computers lost votes. Presidential votes miscast on e-Voting machines throughout the US. More recorded votes than voters. Republicans gained 128.45% in Florida counties using optical scan voting machines while Democrats lost 21% - some districts showed gains of over 400% while one, Liberty County, gained over 700% for Republicans.Warren County officials locked down the county administration building on election night and blocked anyone from observing the vote count as the nation awaited Ohio's returns. Bush had 'incredible' vote tallies. 7% turnout reported in Cleveland precinct. In Cuyahoga County different towns had the exact same number of "extra" votes. And on, and on...

source: http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/2004votefraud.html

There were many independent exit and other polls made on the election day. They would indicate to me that even if we assume that there was some vote rigging, it was very small because poll after poll showed Bush having at least the same number of votes as Kerry.

First, the implication here is that even if the law was broken, it is "okay." I don't think I need to comment on that. It reveals alot.

While that settles in with people whio have an interest in his subject, here is the list of 65 MEDIA REPORTS relating to voting irregularities in Florida in 2004 Elections:


Here is the list of 86 MEDIA REPORTS relating to voting irregularities in Ohio in 2004 Elections:


Here is the list of 21 MEDIA REPORTS relating to voting irregularities in Pennsylvania in 2004 Elections:


Here is the list of 20 MEDIA REPORTS relating to voting irregularities in Wisconsin in 2004 Elections:


Here is the list of 19 MEDIA REPORTS relating to voting irregularities in Washington in 2004 Elections:


Here is the list of 16 MEDIA REPORTS relating to voting irregularities in South Carolina in 2004 Elections:


Kerry was ahead for a short period of time after the first debate. Before that debate where Kerry was great and Bush terrible, Kerry was far behind. That would inidcate to any logical person that Kerry was a weak candidate on all levels.

Some people are loathe to read anything that contrasts with their world view, but I invite you to read this report.

Exit Polls and Voter Fraud: A User-Friendly Explanation



Electronic voting machines were supposed to save us from the nightmare of hanging chads. The day after the election, a lot of Americans learned for the first time that most of these machines are owned by private companies who refuse to divulge exactly how they work; that computer security experts have been highly critical of them; that they’ve already experienced serious failures, and that many of them leave no paper trail for backup.(1) Since then, online forums have been jammed with claims that the vote was electronically hijacked. Right now, the mainstream media is looking the other way, but members of Congress have already launched an investigation. And it all started with exit polls, those pesky little interviews done with voters right after they cast their ballots.

Exit polls actually consist of a long list of questions about a voter’s choices and the various factors that influenced those choices. They provide a wealth of information for political strategists, and have long been considered an accurate gauge of the American electorate, as they poll actual voters, and are not influenced by assumptions or guesswork. And they have a good record of picking winners. In some countries, election monitors have even used them to help measure the validity of official election results.

In the U.S., exit polls are now done by an outfit called the National Election Pool, which is financed by a consortium of big media outlets. The media receive the numbers throughout the day, analyze them, and use the results to start calling election winners almost as soon as the polls close. Later, the data is made public.

But this year, a couple of remarkable things happened. One, the results were leaked early, and spread throughout the internet. Two, the exit polls said John Kerry won. In the wee hours of the morning, the poll numbers were revised to better match the official election results. (How and why is another story.) But by then the damage was done. Accusations flew that the polls were right, and the electronic voting systems had been compromised.

Were the exit polls really that far off? Here’s what happened:

Over the course of election day, several successive sets of exit polls were released by various websites, covering the swing and semi-swing states. The information was somewhat spotty, as not all polls were available for all states. The numbers also got a little mixed up, and they differed from one site to the next, but not by much. As one editor at Slate.com put it: “In some states the sources disagree about the specific margin by which a candidate leads, but never about which candidate is out front.” After the polls closed, CNN posted exit poll data on its website.

A look at how the polls differed from the official results in each swing state should make things pretty clear. Note that we’re looking at original numbers here, not the revised data now posted on major news sites.

First off, we have to throw out New Hampshire, which Kerry won by one point. Early polls showed him with an unrealistic 17 point lead , and while it later dropped to 10, that’s still an improbable lead for a state that Bush won in 2004. Sadly, the numbers for New Hampshire are too unreliable to analyze properly. But here are the other states, with percentage points rounded off:

In Arkansas, the polls had Bush up by 7-9 points, depending on which numbers you use. He won by 9 points.

In Missouri, Bush closed up 5-8 points. The official result: Bush by 8 points.

On the Kerry side, we have Maine, a state where they still use paper ballots, and even count 35% of them by hand. It’s hard right now to get the exit poll numbers for this state, but they seem to have matched Kerry’s 8 point victory pretty well. So far, so good.

Moving over to Iowa, things get a little more interesting. Here we see Kerry either tied, or up by 1-2 points, all day. But in the official tally, Bush gains 2 points. Not a big shift, but enough to win a state that he lost in 2000.

In Colorado, the exit poll numbers fluctuate a little more widely throughout the day. But Bush is always leading. The final polls show him up 1-3 points. He wins by 5, another gain of at least two points.

Wisconsin is just the opposite: Kerry leads all day and ends with a 3-5 point advantage. But he wins by just one point, another shift of at least 2 points--again in Bush’s direction.

In Louisiana, exit polls give the President a whopping 11-13 point lead. But he does a little better still, winning by 15.

In hotly-contested New Mexico, Kerry is slightly ahead all day, ending with a slim 1-2 point lead. When the votes are counted, though, Bush comes from behind and wins by one point. The 2-3 point shift gives Bush another state that he lost in 2000.

Up in Michigan, Kerry maintains a solid lead all day, ending 4-6 points ahead in the polls. But he wins by a single point, a 3-5 point gain for Bush.

Minnesota produces some unrealistically high pro-Kerry numbers early on, but by the evening they have settled down, possibly because of corrective steps taken by the polling company. Kerry ends up with a 6-10 point lead--again, depending on which numbers you use. He wins by 3; another gain of at least 3 points for Bush.

What is going on here? Republicans have said that these numbers fall within a certain margin of error, that the sample size may be too small, and so on. This is nonsense. Random fluctuations would not all benefit the same candidate. Executives of the company that ran the exit polls have offered up their own excuses: the pollsters couldn’t get too close to the voting machines (so what?), and Bush supporters just didn’t want to speak up (since when?). If there was some inherent flaw in this year’s polls that produced a 2 to 3 point skew for Kerry, it has yet to be explained.

And it gets worse.

In West Virginia, the polls show Bush trouncing Kerry by 9 points. When the votes are counted, Bush is up by 13, having picked up another 4 points.

A far closer race occurs in Nevada, where the candidates run neck and neck all day, with the lead shifting between them. It’s a good test for Nevada’s new all-electronic voting system, which produces a voter-verifiable paper record in case of recounts. Kerry ends the day just barely up by one point in the polls, but Bush wins by 3. Another impressive gain of 4 points for Bush, and, incidentally, just enough of a margin of victory to keep Nevadans from asking for a recount.

Pennsylvania, like Minnesota, starts off with some out-of-whack numbers in the morning, but then settles down. By the end of the day, Kerry has a solid 7 point lead. He wins, but only by 2 points--a disturbing 5 point jump for Bush.

In the crucial state of Ohio, we see Kerry with a steady lead all day. When the polls close, all eyes are on Ohio, and the unauthorized numbers on the internet have Kerry ahead by 2 points. Then CNN posts exit poll data showing Kerry up by a good 4 points. Somehow, Bush pulls off a mysterious 6 point gain and wins by 2 points.

North Carolina is a real beauty. It was a pro-Bush state, but Democrats had hoped to swing it their way by having favorite son John Edwards on the ticket. It didn‘t work. Bush was ahead in the polls all day, and ended with a strong 4 point lead. Amazingly, though, he ended up winning the state by 12 points, an inexplicable gain of 8 points.

Meanwhile, down in Florida, 1.6 million more people were voting for President than had done so in 2000, the year that Bush and Gore essentially tied. Exit polls showed more new voters were going for Kerry, as predicted, and far fewer voting for Nader this time. Not surprisingly, Kerry was slightly ahead all day and ended with a 2 point lead. But of course, Bush won. And not by one or two points, as he did in Ohio and New Mexico. In Florida, where vote-tallying machines have been seen counting backwards, Bush gained a full 7 points on his exit polls and beat Kerry by 5 points.

Detailed mathematical analyses of these and other data are now available on the web, but you get the idea.

What does it all mean? It means that Kerry conceded too soon. These figures by themselves may prove nothing, but they raise a tremendous red flag. And now analysts are identifying voting patterns in Florida that border on the impossible.(2) Of course, computerized theft is certainly not the only means of manipulating the vote. Muckraking journalist Greg Palast has written an excellent piece on how plenty of Kerry’s supporters in Ohio and New Mexico had their votes trashed the old-fashioned way.(3) It’s also now apparent that the initial, frenzied attempts to link exit poll discrepancies to states without paper trails was misguided. Most states use a combination of voting methods, both electronic and manual. But even paper ballots are usually counted electronically, and the data is transmitted to central computers, often over phone lines. It’s a system that computer experts from Stanford, MIT and Johns Hopkins have criticized as weak and easily corrupted.(4)

What needs to be done? First, we need to shake off the notion that widespread voter fraud could never happen in America. Computer hacking may be a relatively new phenomenon, but crooked elections are not. And corruption is as old as politics. Then, we have to discover the truth. As traumatic as it may seem, we need manual recounts, wherever possible, in Ohio, New Mexico, Iowa, Nevada, and Florida. We need to have computer security experts examine every aspect of the electronic voting system for signs of tampering. With the evidence that’s coming in now, we may well need a full-scale criminal investigation in Florida.

What are the chances of any of this happening before the electoral college meets to crown George Bush? Not so good. The Democratic National Committee has stuck its head in the sand, for reasons that have a lot to do with politics and little to do with the good of the country. John Kerry, who promised to make every vote count, amassed an army of lawyers and 50 million dollars to pay for recounts and legal expenses. Then he packed up his tent and went home. He told the people who worked long and hard for him that he wanted to put his arms around them all, but many are now asking why he doesn’t fight for them instead. After all, Nader and Cobb can ask for recounts, but somebody has to pay for them.

Still, whatever happens in the next few weeks, this issue is not going to die. MoveOn is starting to step up, and actions are being taken on the local level in many states. A group called Black Box Voting (5) is filing Freedom of Information acts across the country to get computer logs, and is seeking more volunteers and more money.

The fight goes on, because this is not just about just about who wins today. It’s about ensuring the integrity of the American electoral system. Republicans will blame it all on conspiracy nuts and sore losers, but it doesn’t matter. In the digital age, we have to make e-voting secure and honest, or we can kiss democracy goodbye.

Sean Sabatini is an antiwar activist and writer who lives in Nevada. He can be reached at lasvegasantiwar@cox.net

Just because the group that you cited in the previous posts calls itself "non-partisan", does not make it so.

Like the Swift Boat Veterans. However, facts are facts and you yourself have stated in another thread....

...I believe in science and technology first and foremost.

So how does one who believes in Science and Technology argue with the facts and evidence?

... And again, I don't think there's any reason to discuss this now. It's a bit late in the game, isn't it?

Of course, let's just put this nasty little subject away, now that they have perpertrated it twice. This subject should be in the forefront of political discussion from now until 2008.

... In the latest polls, Kerry is way behind even in the potential democratic primary. What a loser.

The subject wasn't the current standings. The subject was election fraud and vote rigging in the past. I'm no fan of Kerry, so I'll share in the glee here.

February 24th, 2006, 06:58 PM
Mr. Spice, that comment about the exit polls confirms it, you just don't know what you are talking about, on this issue at least.
I thought everybody knew Kerry was ahead in exit polls, it's what stirred up a lot of suspicions in the first place, since exit polls have historically been so accurate.

You said something about just looking to the future, something we can change. Oh yeah, the old "just move on".Well, how do you propose to change anything in the future if people don't properly understand what happened already? Elections were stolen. If we don't get you and others to understand that, they can steal the next one. Apparently we're doomed when "just move on" is the mantra.

February 24th, 2006, 07:05 PM
Science and technology? Well then, there is still hope. I invite you to do a bit of delving into this Diebold thing. What you may find could be very disturbing to you considering that the basis for these concerns are quite scientific and

I do not subscribe to crackpot theories. This is serious stuff, being rigorously documented.

February 24th, 2006, 09:24 PM
Watchdog Group Questions 2004 Fla. Vote

By BRIAN SKOLOFF, Associated Press Writer
Thu Feb 23, 2006 3:53 PM ET

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - An examination of Palm Beach County's electronic voting machine records from the 2004 election found possible tampering and tens of thousands of malfunctions and errors, a watchdog group said Thursday.

Bev Harris, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org, said the findings call into question the outcome of the presidential race. But county officials and the maker of the electronic voting machines strongly disputed that and took issue with the findings.

Voting problems would have had to have been widespread across the state to make a difference. President Bush won Florida — and its 27 electoral votes — by 381,000 votes in 2004. Overall, he defeated John Kerry by 286 to 252 electoral votes, with 270 needed for victory.

BlackBoxVoting.org, which describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit citizens group, said it found 70,000 instances in Palm Beach County of cards getting stuck in the paperless ATM-like machines and that the computers logged about 100,000 errors, including memory failures.

Also, the hard drives crashed on some of the machines made by Oakland, Calif.-based Sequoia Voting Systems, some machines apparently had to be rebooted over and over, and 1,475 re-calibrations were performed on Election Day on more than 4,300 units, Harris said. Re-calibrations are done when a machine is malfunctioning, she said.

"I actually think there's enough votes in play in Florida that it's anybody's guess who actually won the presidential race," Harris added. "But with that said, there's no way to tell who the votes should have gone to."

Palm Beach County and other parts of the country switched to electronic equipment after the turbulent 2000 presidential election, when the county's butterfly ballot confused some voters and led them to cast their votes for third-party candidate Pat Buchanan instead of Al Gore. The Supreme Court halted a recount after 36 days and handed a 537-vote victory to Bush.

Palm Beach County election officials said the BlackBoxVoting.com findings are flawed, and they blamed most of the errors on voters not following proper procedures.

"Their results are noteworthy for consideration, but in a majority of instances they can be explained," said Arthur Anderson, the county's elections supervisor. "All of these circumstances are valid reasons for concern, but they do not on face value substantiate that the machines are not reliable."

Sequoia spokeswoman Michelle Shafer disputed the findings, saying the company's machines worked properly. Sequoia's machines are used in five Florida counties and in 21 states.

"There was a fine election in November 2004," Shafer said.

She said many of the errors in the computer logs could have resulted from voters improperly inserting their user cards into the machines. The remaining errors would not affect the vote results because each unit has a backup system, she said.

Jenny Nash, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of State, which oversees elections, said she was not aware of the report and had no comment.

Harris said one machine showed that 112 votes were cast on Oct. 16, two days before the start of early voting, a possible sign of tampering. She said the group found evidence of tampering on more than 30 machines in the county.

However, Harris said it was impossible to determine what information was altered or if votes were shifted among candidates.


February 25th, 2006, 10:47 AM
NO, YES, NO: Alaska Now Refuses Release of 2004 Election Data Citing Security Concerns!

New from States - Alaska
By Brad Friedman, The Brad Blog
February 25, 2006

State's Top Security Officer Refuses Public Record Release of Diebold GEMS Database Files

The Latest Chapter in the Rollercoaster Battle to Audit Puzzling 2004 Poll Numbers Continues

This article appeared on The Brad Blog. It is reposted here with permission of the author.

A bizarre story concerning Alaska's 2004 Election has taken yet another even more bizarre turn this week, The BRAD BLOG has learned. A long-standing public records request for the release...

A bizarre story concerning Alaska's 2004 Election has taken yet another even more bizarre turn this week, The BRAD BLOG has learned.

A long-standing public records request for the release of Election 2004 database files created by Diebold's voting system had been long delayed after several odd twists and turns, including the revelation of a contract with the state claiming the information to be a "company secret."

But while it finally appeared as though the state had agreed to release the information (after reserving the right to "manipulate the data" in consultation with Diebold before releasing it), the state's top Security Official has now -- at the last minute -- stepped in to deny the request. The grounds for the denial: the release of the information poses a "security risk" to the state of Alaska.

The state Democratic party has been attempting since December of last year to review the Diebold GEMS tabulator data files from the 2004 election in order to audit some of the strange results discovered in the state, including a reported voter turnout of more than 200% in some areas.

"At this point," Democratic Party spokesperson Kay Brown told the Anchorage Daily News in January, "it's impossible to say whether the correct candidates were declared the winner in all Alaska races from 2004."

March 3rd, 2006, 01:31 PM
FEMA critic's shirt gets him tangled up in ticket

By Laura Parker, USA TODAY
Fri Mar 3, 7:57 AM ET

Ridiculing the Federal Emergency Management Agency is high art in the Gulf Coast areas where Hurricane Katrina hit last year.

Many parade floats in New Orleans' Mardi Gras were decorated in themes that skewered the relief agency.

George Barisich, president of the United Commercial Fisherman's Association, has been selling anti-FEMA T-shirts since last fall, a reflection of his frustration with the federal government's response to the storm that left him homeless and unemployed.

But on Feb. 1, when he handed a shirt to a fellow Katrina victim as he was picking up canned goods at a charity's relief tent, Barisich found himself in trouble with the government.

He was cited by a group of Homeland Security officials for selling a T-shirt on federal property - in this case, near a FEMA center in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Chalmette, La.

Barisich, 49, says he didn't sell the shirt, which said: "Flooded by Katrina! Forgotten by FEMA! What's Next, Mr. Bush?" He says he gave it away.

The government is sticking to its guns. "If we ignored this violation, you could have potentially 20 to 30 people standing out in front of the (FEMA) center, obstructing things," says Dean Boyd, a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokesman. "We've got a duty and a job under the law."

Boyd says the message on Barisich's shirt isn't the issue. Barisich says he intends to fight the $75 ticket in court.

Word of Barisich's plight is circulating around battered St. Bernard Parish, where 22,000 of the 26,000 homes were destroyed by flooding. Larry Ingargiola, the local emergency operations chief, calls it "totally ridiculous."

"I've tried to work with them," he says of the federal government. "But some of the rules they've got down here are unbelievable. For God's sake, everybody knows George. They're pushing the buttons a little bit too far."

Barisich says he was ticketed after six DHS officers gathered at his truck. Boyd says he can't confirm the number. Barisich says he was told he would be arrested if he did not take the ticket. "I said, 'Do you really want to arrest me? Am I the only one here who thinks this is asinine? You're harassing a person who just lost everything.' "

Barisich's extended family lost 14 of its 17 houses in St. Bernard. Three of his fishing boats vanished. Two other boats survived but can't get to sea because they're in a canal filled with debris and silt. And he doesn't have enough cash to rebuild his oyster beds.

He says he'll fight the ticket because "if you do something wrong, you pay for it. If you didn't, you don't ever say you did."

March 3rd, 2006, 01:45 PM
Elections were stolen. If we don't get you and others to understand that, they can steal the next one. Apparently we're doomed when "just move on" is the mantra.

I do know that most exit polls confirmed the results - generally. I think the best idea for anyone running for president is to gather massive public support where he/she can beat the opponent soundly. When you have terrible candidates like Kerry and Gore, you cannot really complain about the stolen elections. In the 2004 election, Bush got about 3% more votes across the country (obviously, it's not that important under our electoral college system). Kerry won in Pennsylvania even though most experts expected him to lose there. He lost in New Hampshire even though most experts expected him to win the state. The fact of the matter that Kerry's image did not sit well with most people. If you look at the election results, Bush did surprisingly well in the predominantly democratic states like New York and California. We all know that Bush was a bad candidate. The only reason that he did so well was that Kerry was just plain terrible. All this talk about voter intimidation, IMHO, is a pile of you know what. The US is no Pakistan. Eveyone who is registered to vote can go to the polling place and vote. And the effort to get the vote out was huge on both sides.

March 3rd, 2006, 02:02 PM
Just look at the election results in New Jersey - one of the most moderate states in this country where people are strongly pro-choice and predominantly democratic:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._presidential_election%2C_2004%2C_in_New_Jerse y

If Kerry could not win a sizeable majorty in New Jersey, he iz a zero as a democratic candidate.

March 3rd, 2006, 02:17 PM
Mr. Spice the body of your posting has become static and repetitive. You might want to create a signature so as to save the effort of retyping this stuff. The posts here are talking about political issues, voting rights issues and infringement on civil rights. Your droning about John Kerry is beginning to render your commentary and your posts irrelevant to the discourse.

The fact is that George W. Bush is in the White House, legally or, as I think, illegally. It is fair to assume that posts regarding politics and the state of the nation will focus on him as the President or the leader of a non-violent coup d'etat. Each post on Bush does not need to be countered with a statement on Kerry, who, by the way, still won the votes of nearly half the electorate - even with the Republican / Diebold criminals siphoning off the votes as documented herein.

So, create a thread on Kerry if you want to keep discussing him and spare us your repeated attempts to pull poltical threads off topic. It is easy to see that you have an agenda in these forums that is being displayed through your repetitive statements (a la Fox News) and your refusal to answer directly and questions posed to you (see: Bush & Co). The posting that appears under your username could read like ballon talk from any caricature of a Republican Conventioneer. You might save yourself the time and just link us to www.RNC.org each time you post.

March 3rd, 2006, 02:27 PM
Although I agree BR, be nice man!!!

He is only slightly off topic, although he does continue to drone on about Kerry and how the election was close and how we should just ignoore everything because it was close.

Spice, deal with the facts here. Did Bush, or anyone connected or sympathetic to the party, manipulate election results? What about the points raised?

We all know who won and who he raced against, but that is not the question. The question was, and is, was the vote tampered with, how COULD it be tampered with, and how can we prevent this in the future from ANY future candidate?

March 3rd, 2006, 02:31 PM
I'll answer for him:


March 3rd, 2006, 02:52 PM
Mr. Spice the body of your posting has become static and repetitive.

Do you really think your posts are any better or more objective or less repetive? They seem all the same to me. To me all you're saying equates to "bish stole slection, bush is evil, deficits are bad, war in Iraq is crime, Kerry should have won, blah blah blah" And I find it relevant to the discussion that Kerry was a bad candidate and could hope for at best a slight advantage in the election. It seems silly (ridiculous and childish) to scream about the stolen election when the candidate that you root for was clearly unpopular, clearly weak and was clearly losing the battle. When someone is winning or losing at the margin of error, that person is not exactly in a strong position either way.

March 3rd, 2006, 02:56 PM
We all know who won and who he raced against, but that is not the question. The question was, and is, was the vote tampered with, how COULD it be tampered with, and how can we prevent this in the future from ANY future candidate?

I don't think there was any significant tamepring with the vote. Thousands of highly paid attorneys were in a stand-by mode, especially during the 2004 elections willing and ready to challenge any impropriety. Many critical polling places were attended by democratic and reopublican vote observers. I would bet that any improprieties that ocurred would not affect the final results. You may 100 articles where people claimed otherwise. But if Kerry's team thought that there was a chance that they could question the election result, they would. This time, the margin of victory was significant enough in Ohio.

March 3rd, 2006, 03:08 PM
Spice, that is only if they thought they could have at the time of the election.

You know that as well as I do. Sometimes decisions are not based on what iscorrect or incorrect, but on the time at which they are made.

Kerry did not have enough proof to do anything at that point. It has taken a few years for all this stuff to come out as it is, but you have not addressed any of the specifics in your denial of their veracity as a whole.

I think this is an issue, and I do believe that its actual scale is being amplified by political factions interested in deposing/discrediting the current administration. But that does not change the possibility that some of what they are saying is true and needs to be investigated and dealt with before if becomes as serious as some in the radical fringe say it is now.

March 4th, 2006, 11:12 AM
When someone is winning or losing at the margin of error, that person is not exactly in a strong position either way.

Like Bush in 2004.

March 4th, 2006, 11:13 AM
An Overland High School teacher who criticized President Bush, capitalism and U.S. foreign policy during his geography class was placed on administrative leave Wednesday afternoon after a student who recorded the session went public with the tape.

In the 20-minute recording, made on an MP3 player, teacher Jay Bennish described capitalism as a system "at odds with human rights." He also said there were "eerie similarities" between what Bush said during his Jan. 28 State of the Union address and "things that Adolf Hitler used to say."

The United States was "probably the single most violent nation on planet Earth," Bennish also said on the tape.

Bennish, who has been part of Overland's social studies faculty since 2000, did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday. Cherry Creek School District officials are investigating the incident, but no disciplinary action has been taken, district spokeswoman Tustin Amole said.


March 4th, 2006, 11:21 AM
Don't know if this guy should have been removed, but if you listen to the tape it sure sounds like he was on a tirade -- not really "teaching", but more like venting ...

March 4th, 2006, 01:57 PM
When does speaking the truth become punishable venting? Usually only when that truth goes against the prevailing beliefs. These kids are propagandized with the opposite idea, USA as world savior, day in and day out. A little balance in their day, in this case in the form of one teacher's stated opinion, prompts analysis and deep thought on the part of the students.
God forbid they should deal with different viewpoints IN A SOCIAL STUDIES CLASS for crying out loud! They're hearing things in his tirade they don't usually hear. They are forced to mentally process the new and "threatening" thoughts.
Sounds like part of a challenging and thought provoking education to me.

March 4th, 2006, 03:54 PM
An odd story with some strange twists (007 in Malibu?) ...

Ferrari Case Takes New Twist With Possible Tie to Bus Agency

The trail leads to a nonprofit operating out of a Monrovia repair shop.

More puzzling is its police force and 'anti-terrorism' unit.


Hans Laetz / Malibu Times

By Richard Winton and David Pierson, Times Staff Writers
LA Times
March 3, 2006


As sheriff's detectives investigate last week's crash that destroyed a $1-million Ferrari, they are now looking into an obscure nonprofit organization that provides disabled people with transit in the San Gabriel Valley.

The car's owner, a former video game executive from Sweden, told Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies at the scene of the Feb. 21 accident in Malibu that he was deputy commissioner of the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority's police anti-terrorism unit, detectives said Thursday.

A few minutes after the crash, two unidentified men arrived at the scene, flashing badges and saying they were from "homeland security," according to Sheriff's Department officials.

Deputies allowed the men into the accident scene, where they spoke to Stefan Eriksson before leaving, Sgt. Phil Brooks said.

Sheriff's officials on Thursday said they now want to question them.

"We would like the public's help with any information about these men or the crash," Brooks said.

They are also looking into the transit organization to see what connection, if any, it has to the case. Brooks said detectives believe the two men from "homeland security" received their badges from the transit authority.

No one was injured when the rare Ferrari Enzo traveling 162 mph smashed into a power pole on Pacific Coast Highway. But the case continues to generate interest because the Ferrari is one of only 400 built, and detectives have struggled to understand what happened.

Eriksson told investigators he was a passenger in the Ferrari and that the driver was a man named Dietrich, who fled from the scene. But officials have been skeptical, noting that Eriksson had a bloody lip and the only blood found was on the driver's side airbag.

On Thursday, Brooks said detectives now doubt initial reports that the Ferrari was racing a Mercedes SLR. Detectives had interviewed a second man who said he was a passenger in a Mercedes SLR that he said was racing the Ferrari at the time.

"There was no Mercedes SLR," Brooks said. "Simply, there was a Ferrari with two people in it. One of these men was driving."

Just as murky is Eriksson's connection to the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority.

The organization is a privately run nonprofit that has agreements with Monrovia and Sierra Madre to provide bus rides for disabled residents.

On its website, the San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority lists its address as 148 E. Lemon Ave. in Monrovia. The location is Homer's Auto Service, an auto repair shop.

A transit authority bus was parked in one of its driveways, but nothing on the storefront indicated it was a headquarters for the agency. Inside, a young woman, who declined to give her name, said she was a dispatcher for the transit authority. She telephoned someone she said was an agency official, who declined to be interviewed.

According to the website, the organization also has its own police department with a chief, detectives and marked police cruisers. Sheriff's investigators said Eriksson told deputies that he was deputy commissioner of the department's anti-terrorism unit.

But Monrovia Police Chief Roger Johnson said he found that the department is less than meets the eye.

"I don't know if they have a police department to go with the website," he said.

In a brief interview, transit authority board member Yosuf Maiwandi said Eriksson had helped the police department's anti-terrorism unit with camera technology for the paratransit vehicles.

Eriksson's civil attorney, Ashley Posner, is chairman of the transit authority board. Posner declined to comment; Eriksson's criminal attorney did not return calls seeking comment.

Officials in cities where the agency does business said they didn't know why a small transit authority needs a police department.

"We do not see the need for a ground transportation system for handicapped and disabled folks to have a police agency," Monrovia City Manager Scott Ochoa said. "We warned them that if the police agency operated with them in the city of Monrovia, it would jeopardize their [transit] agreement with us."

It remains unclear how Eriksson, who lives in a gated Bel-Air estate, came to work with the transit agency.

Alan Deal, spokesman for the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, said he has never heard of the transit authority's police department. Most police agencies are part of the commission, which governs training standards for officers in the state.

But Deal said some specialized departments are not members, and there are provisions in state public utilities law that allow for transit police agencies to be run by private transit providers.

Sheriff's Sgt. Brooks said Eriksson voluntarily gave a DNA swab, which will be used to determine whether his blood was on the driver's side airbag.

Eriksson had a blood-alcohol level of 0.09% — just over the 0.08% limit — and could face drunk driving charges if he was the driver, Brooks said.

Another mystery is the Glock ammunition magazine found near the crash. Brooks said detectives believe it's connected to the crash but don't know how.

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times

March 4th, 2006, 10:45 PM
Getting away from the side-course ^ and back to the meat ...

White House Trains Efforts on Media Leaks

Sources, Reporters Could Be Prosecuted

By Dan Eggen (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/email/Dan+Eggen/)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 5, 2006


The Bush administration, seeking to limit leaks of classified information, has launched initiatives targeting journalists and their possible government sources. The efforts include several FBI probes, a polygraph investigation inside the CIA and a warning from the Justice Department that reporters could be prosecuted under espionage laws.

In recent weeks, dozens of employees at the CIA, the National Security Agency and other intelligence agencies have been interviewed by agents from the FBI's Washington field office, who are investigating possible leaks that led to reports about secret CIA prisons and the NSA's warrantless domestic surveillance program, according to law enforcement and intelligence officials familiar with the two cases.

Numerous employees at the CIA, FBI, Justice Department and other agencies also have received letters from Justice prohibiting them from discussing even unclassified issues related to the NSA program, according to sources familiar with the notices. Some GOP lawmakers are also considering whether to approve tougher penalties for leaking.

In a little-noticed case in California, FBI agents from Los Angeles have already contacted reporters at the Sacramento Bee about stories published in July that were based on sealed court documents related to a terrorism case in Lodi, according to the newspaper.

Some media watchers, lawyers and editors say that, taken together, the incidents represent perhaps the most extensive and overt campaign against leaks in a generation, and that they have worsened the already-tense relationship between mainstream news organizations and the White House.

"There's a tone of gleeful relish in the way they talk about dragging reporters before grand juries, their appetite for withholding information, and the hints that reporters who look too hard into the public's business risk being branded traitors," said New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, in a statement responding to questions from The Washington Post. "I don't know how far action will follow rhetoric, but some days it sounds like the administration is declaring war at home on the values it professes to be promoting abroad."

President Bush has called the NSA leak "a shameful act" that was "helping the enemy," and said in December that he was hopeful the Justice Department would conduct a full investigation into the disclosure.

"We need to protect the right to free speech and the First Amendment, and the president is doing that," said White House spokesman Trent Duffy. "But, at the same time, we do need to protect classified information which helps fight the war on terror."

Disclosing classified information without authorization has long been against the law, yet such leaks are one of the realities of life in Washington -- accounting for much of the back-channel conversation that goes on daily among journalists, policy intellectuals, and current and former government officials.

Presidents have also long complained about leaks: Richard Nixon's infamous "plumbers" were originally set up to plug them, and he tried, but failed, to prevent publication of a classified history of the Vietnam War called the Pentagon Papers. Ronald Reagan exclaimed at one point that he was "up to my keister" in leaks.

Bush administration officials -- who complain that reports about detainee abuse, clandestine surveillance and other topics have endangered the nation during a time of war -- have arguably taken a more aggressive approach than other recent administrations, including a clear willingness to take on journalists more directly if necessary.

"Almost every administration has kind of come in saying they want an open administration, and then getting bad press and fuming about leaks," said David Greenberg, a Rutgers University journalism professor and author of "Nixon's Shadow." "But it's a pretty fair statement to say you haven't seen this kind of crackdown on leaks since the Nixon administration."

But David B. Rivkin Jr., a partner at Baker & Hostetler in Washington and a senior lawyer in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, said the leaking is "out of control," especially given the unique threat posed by terrorist groups.

"We're at the end of this paradigm where we had this sort of gentlemen's agreement where you had leaks and journalists were allowed to protect the leakers," Rivkin said. "Everyone is playing Russian roulette now."

At Langley, the CIA's security office has been conducting numerous interviews and polygraph examinations of employees in an effort to discover whether any of them have had unauthorized contact with journalists. CIA Director Porter J. Goss has spoken about the issue at an "all hands" meeting of employees, and sent a recent cable to the field aimed at discouraging media contacts and reminding employees of the penalties for disclosing classified information, according to intelligence sources and people in touch with agency officials.

"It is my aim, and it is my hope, that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information," Goss told a Senate committee.

The Justice Department also argued in a court filing last month that reporters can be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act for receiving and publishing classified information. The brief was filed in support of a case against two pro-Israeli lobbyists, who are the first nongovernment officials to be prosecuted for receiving and distributing classified information.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said last month that he is considering legislation that would criminalize the leaking of a wider range of classified information than what is now covered by law. The measure would be similar to earlier legislation that was vetoed by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and opposed by then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft in 2002.

But the vice chairman of the same committee, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.), complained in a letter to the national intelligence director last month that "damaging revelations of intelligence sources and methods are generated primarily by Executive Branch officials pushing a particular policy, and not by the rank-and-file employees of the intelligence agencies."

As evidence, Rockefeller points to the case of Valerie Plame, a CIA officer whose identity was leaked to the media. A grand jury investigation by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald resulted last year in the jailing of Judith Miller, then a reporter at the New York Times, for refusing to testify, and in criminal charges against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who resigned as Vice President Cheney's chief of staff. In court papers, Libby has said that his "superiors" authorized him to disclose a classified government report.

The New York Times, which first disclosed the NSA program in December, and The Post, which reported on secret CIA prisons in November, said investigators have not contacted reporters or editors about those articles.

Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of The Post, said there has long been a "natural and healthy tension between government and the media" on national security issues, but that he is "concerned" about comments by Goss and others that appear to reflect a more aggressive stance by the government.

Downie noted that The Post had at times honored government requests not to report particularly sensitive information, such as the location of CIA prisons in Eastern Europe.

"We do not want to inadvertently threaten human life or legitimately harm national security in our reporting," he said. "But it's important . . . in our constitutional system that these final decisions be made by newspaper editors and not the government."

In Sacramento, the Bee newspaper reported last month that FBI agents had contacted two of its reporters and, along with a federal prosecutor, had "questioned" a third reporter about articles last July detailing the contents of sealed court documents about five terrorism suspects. A Bee article on the contacts did not address whether the reporters supplied the agents with any information or whether they were subject to subpoenas.

Executive Editor Rick Rodriguez said this week he could not comment based on the advice of newspaper attorneys. Representatives of the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, which is conducting the inquiry, also declined to comment.

CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise Dyck declined to discuss details of the leak investigations there but said they were being conducted independently of the White House and were not aimed at pressuring journalists.

In prosecuting a former Defense Department analyst and two pro-Israel lobbyists for allegedly spreading sensitive national security information about U.S. policy in the Middle East, the Bush administration is making use of a statute whose origins lie in the first anxious days of World War I.

The Espionage Act makes it a crime for a government official with access to "national defense information" to communicate it intentionally to any unauthorized person. A 1950 amendment aimed at Soviet spying broadened the law, forbidding an unauthorized recipient of the information to pass it on, or even to keep it to himself.

Lawyers for American Israel Public Affairs Committee staff members Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman say the vagueness of the statute makes the Justice Department's prosecution of their clients unconstitutional. One count of the indictment specifically charges them with passing "classified national defense information" to a member of the media in 2004.

The Justice Department said "there plainly is no exemption" for the media under the Espionage Act, but added, "a prosecution under the espionage laws of an actual member of the press for publishing classified information leaked to it by a government source would raise legitimate and serious issues and would not be undertaken lightly, indeed, the fact that there has never been such a prosecution speaks for itself."

Staff writer Charles Lane and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Washington Post Company

March 5th, 2006, 12:19 PM
I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

George W. Bush

AP: Thousands of Federal Cases Kept Secret

Associated Press Writers
Sun Mar 5, 6:50 AM ET

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060305/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/secret_justice;_ylt=ArQ1UsyabAvP8XjzqR2H7vms0NUE;_ ylu=X3oDMTA3ODdxdHBhBHNlYwM5NjQ-

Despite the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of public trials, nearly all records are being kept secret for more than 5,000 defendants who completed their journey through the federal courts over the last three years. Instances of such secrecy more than doubled from 2003 to 2005.

An Associated Press investigation found, and court observers agree, that most of these defendants are cooperating government witnesses, but the secrecy surrounding their records prevents the public from knowing details of their plea bargains with the government.

Most of these defendants are involved in drug gangs, though lately a very small number come from terrorism cases. Some of these cooperating witnesses are among the most unsavory characters in America's courts — multiple murderers and drug dealers — but the public cannot learn whether their testimony against confederates won them drastically reduced prison sentences or even freedom.

In the nation's capital, which has had a serious problem with drug gangs murdering government witnesses, the secrecy has reached another level — the use of secret dockets. For hundreds of such defendants over the past few years in this city, should someone acquire the actual case number for them and enter it in the U.S. District Court's computerized record system, the computer will falsely reply, "no such case" — rather than acknowledging that it is a sealed case.

At the request of the AP, the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts conducted its first tally of secrecy in federal criminal cases. The nationwide data it provided the AP showed 5,116 defendants whose cases were completed in 2003, 2004 and 2005, but the bulk of their records remain secret.

"The constitutional presumption is for openness in the courts, but we have to ask whether we are really honoring that," said Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor and now law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "What are the reasons for so many cases remaining under seal?"

"What makes the American criminal justice system different from so many others in the world is our willingness to cast some sunshine on the process, but if you can't see it, you can't really criticize it," Levenson said.

The courts' administrative office and the Justice Department declined to comment on the numbers.

The data show a sharp increase in secret case files over time as the Bush administration's well-documented reliance on secrecy in the executive branch has crept into the federal courts through the war on drugs, anti-terrorism efforts and other criminal matters.

"This follows the pattern of this administration," said John Wesley Hall, an Arkansas defense attorney and second vice president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. "I am astonished and shocked that this many criminal proceedings in federal court escape public scrutiny or become buried."

The percentage of defendants who have reached verdicts and been sentenced but still have most of their records sealed has more than doubled in the last three years, the court office's tally shows.

Of nearly 85,000 defendants whose cases were closed in 2003, the records of 952 or 1.1 percent remain mostly sealed. Of more than 82,000 defendants with cases closed in 2004, records for 1,774 or 2.2 percent remain mostly secret. And of more than 87,000 defendants closed out in 2005, court records for 2,390 or 2.7 percent remain mostly closed to the public.

The court office also found a sharp increase in defendants whose case records were partly sealed for a limited time. Among newly charged defendants, the numbers in this category grew from 9,999 or 10.9 percent of all defendants charged in 2003 to 11,508 or 12.6 percent of those charged in 2005.

But the AP investigation found, and court observers agree, that the overwhelming number of these cases sealed for a limited time involve a use of secrecy that draws no criticism: the sealing of an indictment only until the defendant is arrested.

AP's investigation found a large concentration of both kinds of secrecy at the U.S. District Court here: limited sealing of records and extensive sealing that continues even after the courts are done with a defendant.

"When the sentences are sealed, that's a con on the community," said Lexi Christ, a Washington defense lawyer for a man acquitted in a crack cocaine case.

In that case, all the defendants' names became public when the indictment was unsealed. But all other records for six defendants who pleaded guilty remained sealed more than two years after the public trial in which two of the drug dealers were convicted.

One of the cooperating witnesses admitted to seven murders and testified in open court against co-defendants who had committed fewer, Christ said. But like the others who pleaded guilty and cooperated, that witness' plea deal and sentence were sealed.

"Cooperating witnesses are pleading guilty to six or seven murders, and the jury doesn't know they'll be sitting on the Metro (subway) next to them a year later. It's a really, really ugly system," Christ said.

Prosecutors argue that plea agreements must be sealed to protect witnesses and their families from violent retaliation. But Christ said that makes no sense after the trial when the defendants know who testified.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press found the U.S. District Court here has 469 criminal cases, from 2001-2005, that are listed by this court's electronic docket as "no such case." An AP survey over a shorter period found similar numbers here and got oral acknowledgment from the clerk's office that the missing electronic docket numbers corresponded to sealed cases. However, these figures include an unknown number of sealed indictments that will be made public if arrests are made.

"That's horrifying," said Loyola's Levenson. "When I was a prosecutor from 1981 to 1989, I never heard of secret dockets."

No matter how few turn out to be almost totally sealed after the defendant's case was completed, "it's still significant," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee and a pioneer in campaigning against court secrecy.

"The Supreme Court has said that criminal proceedings are public," Dalglish added. "In this country, we don't prosecute and lock up convicts and have no public track record of how we got there. That violates the defendants' rights not to mention the public's right to know what it's court system is doing."

Although Justice Department does not keep comprehensive nationwide statistics on secrecy in federal prosecutions, it does track how often prosecutors ask permission from headquarters to hold a secret court proceeding, like an arraignment, hearing, trial or sentencing.

The department estimates it got 100 such requests from October 2000 though October 2004, Justice Department spokesman Bryan Sierra said.

Another 100 arrived during the 12 months that ended October 2005, he said.

Sierra said the large recent increase occurred because the department sent a memo to all federal prosecutors in 2004 reminding them they need Washington's approval before requesting or agreeing to secret courtroom proceedings. Filing of secret papers in cases doesn't require such permission.

On the Net: Reporters Committee: http://www.rcfp.org/

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press

March 7th, 2006, 01:32 AM
Don't want none of those artsy types comin' into the country ...

Irish Oscar winning film's star tells of airport detention

Irish Examiner
March 6, 2006


The star of Ireland’s newest Oscar winning film today told about the heavy handed tactics of US immigration officials who refused him entry to America to attend the awards.

Ruaidhri Conroy, who starred in action short Six Shooter, said he was barred from entering the States because he overstayed a visa by two days in 1998.

During his day-long detention in Los Angeles airport, the award winning actor was offered only crisps, crackers and processed noodles to eat.

Conroy claimed he had never been made to feel so unwelcome.

“I was escorted onto the plane by four officers and they said if you behave we won’t handcuff. They were very heavy,” he said.

Directed by renowned playwright Martin McDonagh, dark comedy Six Shooter picked up the gong for Best Live Action Short Film.

Conroy, who had a seat reserved at the 78th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood for the ceremony, revealed how he spent 22 hours in custody at Los Angeles’ LAX airport before being sent home.

“I came up with my passport and my little immigration form and they just said they wanted to talk to me about my stay there in 1998 – I was over in New York doing a play written by Martin as well actually,” he told RTE Radio.

“They said I had overstayed on a visa, and I didn’t think very much of it.”

US immigration officials questioned Conroy about his visits to America, his parents, and warned him he might not make it into the country.

“They asked what age I was, all sorts of ridiculous questions,” he said. “And then took me into a cell, a bare cell, and put me up against the wall and searched me, went through my bag, took an inventory of all my valuables and took all my fingerprints again.”

Conroy told the officers he had travelled to the States to attend the Oscars.

“I said that from the beginning, but I don’t think that impressed them very much to be honest. I think that egged them on more to keep me out of the country rather than keep me in,” he said.

“They weren’t very nice people to be honest, they weren’t very welcoming.”

He went on: “I don’t think I’ve felt so unwelcome anywhere in my life and I think they just thought that I am a young man saying I am going to the Oscars that they may have got a certain satisfaction from preventing that happening.

“You were treated like a criminal basically.”

Conroy was best known for his role as Tito in Into the West. His latest film, Six Shooter, which also stars Brendan Gleeson, has already been shown twice on RTE television and is due to be aired on Channel 4 on Wednesday.

© Thomas Crosbie Media 2006.

March 7th, 2006, 01:05 PM
What an embarassing disgrace!

March 10th, 2006, 12:39 PM
Retired Supreme Court Justice hits attacks on courts and warns of dictatorship

RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/)
March 10, 2006

http://rawstory.com/news/2006/Retired_Supreme_Court_Justice_hits_attacks_0310.ht ml

Via NPR. Rush transcript by RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/).
Listen to the audio report here (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5255712).

Supreme Court justices keep many opinions private but Sandra Day O’Connor no longer faces that obligation. Yesterday, the retired justice criticized Republicans who criticized the courts. She said they challenge the independence of judges and the freedoms of all Americans. O’Connor’s speech at Georgetown University was not available for broadcast but NPR’s legal correspondent Nina Totenberg was there.

Nina Totenberg: In an unusually forceful and forthright speech, O’Connor said that attacks on the judiciary by some Republican leaders pose a direct threat to our constitutional freedoms. O’Connor began by conceding that courts do have the power to make presidents or the Congress or governors as she put it “really, really angry.” But, she continued, if we don’t make them mad some of the time we probably aren’t doing our jobs as judges, and our effectiveness, she said, is premised on the notion that we won’t be subject to retaliation for our judicial acts. The nation’s founders wrote repeatedly, she said, that without an independent judiciary to protect individual rights from the other branches of government those rights and privileges would amount to nothing. But said O’Connor as the founding fathers knew statutes and constitutions don’t protect judicial independence, people do.

And then she took aim at former GOP house leader Tom DeLay. She didn’t name him, but she quoted his attacks on the courts at a meeting of the conservative Christian group Justice Sunday last year when DeLay took out after the courts for rulings on abortions, prayer and the Terri Schiavo case.

This, said O’Connor was after the federal courts had applied Congress’ onetime only status of Schiavo as it was written. Not, said O’Connor, as the congressman might have wished it were written. This response to this flagrant display of judicial restraint, said O’Connor, her voice dripping with sarcasm, was that the congressman blasted the courts.

It gets worse, she said, noting that death threats against judges are increasing. It doesn’t help, she said, when a high-profile senator suggests there may be a connection between violence against judges and decisions that a senator disagrees with. She didn’t name him, but it was Texas senator John Cornyn who made that statement, after a Georgia judge was murdered in the courtroom and the family of a federal judge in Illinois murdered in the judge’s home. O’Connor observed that there have been a lot of suggestions lately for so-called judicial reforms, recommendations for the massive impeachment of judges, stripping the courts of jurisdiction and cutting judicial budgets for punishing offending judges. Any of these might be debatable, she said, as long as they are not retaliation for decisions that political leaders disagree with.

I, said O’Connor, am against judicial reforms driven by nakedly partisan reasoning. Pointing to the experience of developing countries and former communist countries where interference with an independent judiciary has allowed dictatorship to flourish, O’Connor said we must be ever-vigilant against those who would strongarm the judiciary into adopting their preferred policies. It takes a long of degeneration before a country falls into dictatorship, she said, but we should avoid these ends by avoiding these beginnings.

Nina Totenberg, NPR News, Washington.

March 11th, 2006, 05:30 PM
Now the Executive Branch is turning their FBI dogs on College Professors ...

Pomona College Professor Gets a Visit from the U.S. Gestapo (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seery/pomona-college-professor-_b_17062.html)

Huffington Post; March 9, 2006

Update: FBI Responds to HuffPost Exposé (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seery/update-fbi-responds-to-h_b_17137.html)

Huffington Post; March 11, 2006

Score another for the blogosphere -- all the folks who responded vociferously. Tonight the Los Angeles Office of the FBI released a statement (see below (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seery/update-fbi-responds-to-h_b_17137.html#statement)) in an attempt to explain its ham-fisted interrogation (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-seery/pomona-college-professor-_b_17062.html) of Pomona College Professor Miguel Tinker Salas and his students. Pomona College President David Oxtoby also released a statement saying that earlier in the afternoon he received a phone call from the agent in charge of the Los Angeles FBI office, who reportedly "apologized" for the disruption to the college community.

(Note that the written statement includes no such apology.)

I'm not sure this FBI statement clears the air. The point isn't simply that their goonish emissaries were inept in their interviewing methods. What "information" were they seeking? Who authorized it? Why in the world was the FBI Joint Task Force on Terror investigating a matter remotely concerning democratic Venezuela (where's the yellow cake connection)? How could the Dudley Do-Right career agents at the FBI be so duped or goaded into having their domestic operations so blatantly hijacked and transparently politicized? Why exactly would a terror task force be seeking information about Professor Tinker Salas's personal life?

The claim that "no intimidation was intended" smacks of complete disingenuousness (read: lying): A professional law enforcement official in the Los Angeles area doesn't just go around "routinely" asking persons for their immigration status, especially if such officials have no clear business doing so (i.e., the Sheriff's department ain't the INS). Why would they even raise that issue in Professor Tinker Salas's case? Why make a special trip out to Claremont to ask such questions? The FBI must think we are arrant fools: Of course the whole affair was meant to have a demonstration effect.

But Professor Tinker Salas called them on it, and the FBI and the Sheriff's offices became bombarded with citizen and media inquiries. The interviewing agents weren't merely seeking "information" -- they were seeking inappropriate information, and to make a point. And they were asking Professor Tinker Salas's students about what he was teaching in the classroom -- that was NOT "routine information"-gathering. The objectionable part of their sordid activity WASN'T the "timing and location" of the interview -- that was bad enough -- but the problem was also the CONTENT of their probe. The FBI statement completely sidesteps the most important issues, an exercise in misdirection.

Note that the FBI statement comes on the same day that the Los Angeles Times published a front-page article (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-uslatin10mar10,1,4354425.story?coll=la-headlines-world) on the U.S. administration's attempt to block Hugo Chavez's growing influence.

Copyright 2006 © HuffingtonPost.com, LLC

March 11th, 2006, 05:36 PM
U.S. More Intent on Blocking Chavez

Venezuela's leader seeks to rally opposition to Washington as elections near in the region.

By Paul Richter, Times Staff Writer
LA Times
March 10, 2006


WASHINGTON — The Bush administration is stepping up efforts to counter leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as he builds opposition to U.S. influence in Latin America.

U.S. diplomats have sought in recent years to mute their conflicts with Chavez, fearing that a war of words with the flamboyant populist could raise his stature at home and abroad. But in recent months, as Chavez has sharpened his attacks — and touched American nerves by increasing ties with Iran — American officials have become more outspoken about their intention to isolate him.

Signaling the shift, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Congress last month that the United States was actively organizing other countries to carry out an "inoculation strategy" against what it sees as meddling by Chavez.

U.S. officials believe Chavez uses his oil wealth to reward governments that share his anti-American views and to foment change in those that don't.

"We are working with other countries to make certain that there is a united front against some of the things that Venezuela gets involved in," said Rice, who called Venezuela a "sidekick" of Iran.

Rice leaves today on an eight-day trip to Latin America, Indonesia and Australia, including a stop in Chile for the inauguration of President-elect Michelle Bachelet. Rice said pointedly Thursday that she did not plan to see Chavez, who is expected to attend the inauguration Saturday...

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times

March 11th, 2006, 05:50 PM
Hmmm, let's see ...

Rice is looking "for ways to resume military assistance to Latin American nations" (despite a US law that says NO WAY).

But since when does this administration let a little thing like The Law get in their way??

This must be part of the US economic incentive to Venezuela's neighbors. The aim: To choke Chavez (aka the "Innoculation Strategy" mentioned above) because Venezuela uses economic incentives to forge allegiances.

Is Latin America becoming the newest War Front?

U.S. Rethinks Latin America Aid Cutoff

By STEVEN R. WEISMAN (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/steven_r_weisman/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
NY Times
March 12, 2006


SANTIAGO, Chile, March 11 — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/condoleezza_rice/index.html?inline=nyt-per) indicated Saturday that the United States would look for ways to resume military assistance to Latin American nations cut off from aid programs because of their refusal to shield Americans from the International Criminal Court.

Officials traveling with Ms. Rice said that in meeting with President Evo Morales of Bolivia, she had emphasized the importance of cooperating on efforts to combat drugs in spite of his vow to end coca plant eradication programs. The newly installed Bolivian leader favors the legal cultivation of coca, the plant used to manufacture cocaine, but says that he opposes cocaine and has agreed to let American antidrug officials remain in the country.

Eliminating or reducing military assistance to countries like Chile and Bolivia that are seeking to combat terrorism or drug trafficking is "sort of the same as shooting ourselves in the foot," Ms. Rice told reporters on Friday as she traveled here for the inauguration of Michelle Bachelet as the new president of Chile.

Ms. Rice said, however, that the Bush administration had limited flexibility in restoring aid because a law enacted by Congress required the cutoff of military aid to countries that did not exempt American citizens from being brought before the court.

At least 30 countries have declined to enact such an exemption, including 12 in Latin America and the Caribbean, among them Bolivia, Chile and Mexico.

At the time the American law was adopted, the Defense Department supported it on grounds that American military officials based overseas might be brought before the court. More recently, administration officials said that Defense Department officials had come to be concerned about the loss of military cooperation with key allies.

Although the law allows President Bush to apply a waiver to cutting off military assistance, State Department officials said that the administration was concerned that once some waivers were granted, other countries would demand them as well.

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

March 11th, 2006, 05:58 PM
Meanwhile, at the other end of South America ...

Once Exiled, Bachelet Now Chile's Leader

NY Times
March 11, 2006


VALPARAISO, Chile (AP) -- Michelle Bachelet, a single mother who was tortured under Chile's military dictatorship, was sworn in as the country's first female president on Saturday and promptly fulfilled a key campaign promise by naming women to half her Cabinet posts.

The inauguration made Bachelet the first directly elected Latin American woman president who was not the widow of a powerful politician.
Bachelet said her inauguration ''was not only the change from a great president to a woman president. It's about putting an entire government to your service.''

Bachelet, who suffered prison, torture and exile under Chile's military dictatorship, took her oath at the crowded Hall of Honor of Chile's Congress in this port city near Santiago, applauded by most of the leftist leaders who have come to power in South America in recent years.

In her first official act as president, Bachelet swore in her 20-member Cabinet of 10 men and 10 women. She has promised to have equal numbers of men and women in some 300 decision-making posts.

''I want a government in which citizens will have an active participation, a government at the service of people,'' she said. ''We want Chileans to feel that their voice is important and is listened to.''

She plans legislation that would require political parties to include a certain percentage of women in their lists of candidates in congressional and municipal elections.

Bachelet met privately with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/condoleezza_rice/index.html?inline=nyt-per), as well as leftist presidents Nestor Kirchner (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/nestor_kirchner/index.html?inline=nyt-per) of Argentina, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil, and Hugo Chavez (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/hugo_chavez/index.html?inline=nyt-per) of Venezuela.

Rice told Chile's state television that she expects relations with the United States to remain as close under Bachelet as they were under her predecessor and fellow socialist, Ricardo Lagos.

Bachelet appeared relaxed during the ceremony as she repeatedly waved her right hand in response to greetings from some people in the stands. The 54-year-old president smiled broadly when someone shouted, ''We love you, Michelle!''

At times, the exuberance of Bachelet's supporters burst through the solemnity. A group of mostly young people in the stands chanted, ''Ole, Ole, Ole, Michelle, Michelle, Michelle!''

Bachelet is seen as somewhat more to the left of Lagos, although equally supportive of the strict fiscal discipline and free-market economic policies considered successful in Chile.

She is also expected to maintain Lagos' foreign policy, including close ties with the United States. The relations even survived Chile's opposition, as a member of the United Nations (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/u/united_nations/index.html?inline=nyt-org) Security Council, to the invasion of Iraq.
Washington has agreed to sign a free trade accord with Chile, its first with a South American country.

Chavez, a close friend of Cuban President Fidel Castro (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/fidel_castro/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and a strong, frequent critic of the United States, saluted Bachelet's inauguration.

''South America has changed,'' he said. ''A worker is president of Brazil -- there comes Lula; an Indian is president of Bolivia; a woman is president of Chile, and in Venezuela, a revolutionary soldier, which is what I am.''

The election of Bachelet, a separated mother of three, has excited women's rights activists in Chile and abroad.

''There is no doubt that the United States has leaders of Bachelet's caliber to put up for high-office,'' said Marie C. Wilson, president of the White House Project, a nonprofit U.S. group that works for the advancement of women.

Bachelet is the daughter of an air force general who was tortured and died in prison for opposing the 1973 military coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/augusto_pinochet/index.html?inline=nyt-per).

Then a 22-year-old medical student, she herself was briefly imprisoned and tortured along with her mother before being forced into exile.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press (http://www.ap.org/)

March 11th, 2006, 06:07 PM
Leftist Fiesta in Chile for Bachelet Inauguration

Jorge Silva/Reuters
A country known as stodgy and conservative has just elected a Socialist and agnostic woman as president.

March 11, 2006


VALPARAISO, Chile (Reuters) - Michelle Bachelet, Chile's first female president, was sworn in on Saturday before a who's who of Latin America's resurgent leftist leadership, and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/condoleezza_rice/index.html?inline=nyt-per).

Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, Argentina's Nestor Kirchner, Uruguay's Tabare Vazquez, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/hugo_chavez/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and Bolivia's Evo Morales were among more than two dozen heads of state at the inauguration in the coastal city of Valparaiso, home to Chile's Congress.

"In Latin America, you have a laborer becoming president, that's Lula; an Indian, Evo, has arrived; a socialist woman; and a soldier -- that's me, a revolutionary soldier -- building a new South American project that is vital for the salvation of our people,'' Chavez said as he arrived at Congress.

Bachelet, a medical doctor and former defense minister, is the fourth consecutive leader from the center-left coalition that has ruled Chile since the country returned to democracy in 1990 after the 17-year Augusto Pinochet (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/p/augusto_pinochet/index.html?inline=nyt-per) dictatorship.

"This time it's not just about change from a great president like Ricardo Lagos to a woman president,'' Bachelet told the people of Casablanca, a town outside Valparaiso, hours after donning Chile's presidential sash.

"It is about having a government at your service ... where men and women have the same opportunities.''

Bachelet, only the second elected female leader in South America, is expected to continue Lagos' successful mix of liberal social policies, fiscal discipline and free-market economic policies that have brought Chile prosperity and made it one of the most stable nations in the region.


Chile, the biggest copper producer in the world, is experiencing an economic boom thanks to high prices for metals. Consumers are spending freely and the government, enjoying a budget surplus, is building highways and infrastructure.

Bachelet is at the pragmatic end of the different strains of leftism in power in Latin America. Chile is one of the most U.S.-friendly nations in the region, although it has parted ways on some issues such as the war in Iraq.

The free-market styles of Brazil and Chile contrast with the price controls and populism of Kirchner, while no leader has joined Chavez's self-styled revolution and anti-U.S. discourse, although Morales is critical of U.S. drug policy in Bolivia.

Speaking to reporters traveling with her to Chile, Rice said her attendance at the inauguration reaffirmed America's strong relationship and friendship with the Chilean people.

"I think it is good to remember that it has now almost been 20 years that the United States has been a friend and supporter of democracy in Chile. We actually helped with the transition to democracy in Chile,'' she said.

The United States, alarmed by the socialist government of democratically elected Salvador Allende in the early 1970s, also supported the Pinochet government.

Rice said Bachelet and her family were a symbol of what the Chilean people had gone through to reach where the country was today. Bachelet's father, an air force general, died after being tortured during military rule.

Bachelet and her mother lived in exile after they were imprisoned briefly in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship.

"It's a story of tragedy and then of triumph,'' said Rice. ''This journey for Chile was a difficult one.''

Copyright 2006 Reuters Ltd. (http://www.online.reuters.com/)

March 15th, 2006, 09:09 AM
PACIFISM!! Don't worry, we'll stop that! I'm sure the Constitution says something against it ...

FBI Took Photos of Antiwar Activists in 2002

By Dan Eggen (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/email/dan+eggen/)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 15, 2006


An FBI agent in Pittsburgh photographed members of an antiwar activist group in 2002, according to documents released yesterday by the American Civil Liberties Union, which said the disclosure marks the latest incident in which the FBI has monitored left-leaning groups.

An FBI report from November 2002 indicates that an agent photographed members of the Thomas Merton Center as they handed out leaflets opposing the impending war in Iraq. The report called the group a "left-wing organization advocating, among many political causes, pacifism."

The same memo notes that one of the leaflet distributors "appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent" but that no other participants appeared to be from the Middle East.

"All we were doing was handing out leaflets, which is a perfectly legal way to spend an afternoon," said Tim Vining, the center's former executive director, who said he participated in the Nov. 24, 2002, protest monitored by the FBI.

"All we want to do is exercise our First Amendment rights . . . Is handing out fliers now considered a terrorist activity?"

The FBI said in a statement that the agent was "acting with all appropriate investigative authorities" as part of an ongoing terrorism probe. The photos were destroyed once the agent determined that a person under investigation was not in attendance at the event, the FBI said.

The incident is the latest disclosure by the ACLU involving antiwar protesters, environmental groups and religious organizations that have been monitored by FBI agents or other anti-terrorism investigators.

Another memo from February 2003 said the center was "opposed to the United States' war with Iraq" and described its Web site and activities. That letter was a draft that was never included in an investigative file, the FBI said.

Heavily censored documents from 2005 also refer to information about the center from an unidentified source. An FBI official said those reports were from a separate probe that did not involve terrorism.

&#169; Copyright (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/interact/longterm/talk/copy.htm?nav=globebot) 2006 The Washington Post Company

March 22nd, 2006, 08:37 PM
March 22, 2006

Longtime A.P. Correspondent Ousted From Job in Vermont

The longtime chief correspondent for The Associated Press in Vermont has been forced out of his job, stunning the state's journalists and politicians.

Christopher Graff, 52, a writer who was in charge of The A.P.'s Vermont bureau in Montpelier, was told Monday he no longer had a job. The move came after he put a partisan column on the wire, and as the news agency is consolidating some of its bureaus across state lines.

Mr. Graff, a 27-year A.P. employee and host of "Vermont This Week" on Vermont Public Television for more than a decade, said he could not discuss the matter because he had signed a nondisclosure agreement. But speaking of news articles yesterday about his losing his job, he said, "It's a little like reading your obituary prematurely."

Jack Stokes, a spokesman for The A.P. in New York, confirmed that Mr. Graff was "no longer with the company" and said The A.P. did not discuss personnel issues.

Candace Page, a longtime reporter and former managing editor of The Burlington Free Press, said: "The phone lines were burning up around the state. He's certainly a solid journalist and I can't imagine why The A.P. would fire him."

Emerson Lynn, editor and publisher of The St. Albans Messenger, said one clue to Mr. Graff's departure might have been The A.P.'s having told him this month that it was inappropriate for him to have posted a column by Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, on the wire.

Mr. Lynn said that for the last two years, The A.P. had prepared a package of articles about Sunshine Week, in which media organizations advocate openness in government. Senator Leahy had written a column highly critical of the Bush administration on the matter for the American Society of Newspaper Editors.

The column said, for example, that "the foundations of our open government are under direct assault from the first White House in modern times that is openly hostile to the public's right to know."

On March 8, Mr. Graff posted Mr. Leahy's column on an advance wire that carries material that can be used at a later date. He had attached an editor's note saying Mr. Leahy "was asked by the American Society of Newspaper Editors for his thoughts on the status of the right to know for use in Sunshine Week, organized by media organizations and other groups to combat government secrecy and bring attention to the public's right to know."

The A.P. removed the column from the advance wire within an hour and advised newspapers not to run it.

Mr. Lynn said Mr. Graff called him and told him he had been criticized for posting a column that The A.P. said had compromised the integrity of the wire service.

Mr. Lynn said Mr. Graff was surprised because he had posted a similar column from Senator Leahy last year during Sunshine Week and had not heard any criticism and because Senator Leahy had held a hearing last year on the matter and Walter Mears, a former A.P. executive editor and vice president, had testified.

Mr. Mears was speaking in favor of a bill sponsored by Senators Leahy and John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, to force the government to respond more quickly to requests under the Freedom of Information Act. The bill is still pending.

Mr. Graff's departure from The A.P. comes as critics of all ideological stripes have been scrutinizing the media closely for signs of what they perceive as political bias. Mr. Graff's departure was first reported Monday on a blog of The Rutland Herald and The Times Argus.

The media in Vermont, one of the most liberal states in the country, came under particular assault from conservatives in 2000 when Vermont became the first state to consider same-sex civil unions.

Mr. Lynn said he and other journalists in the state were angry that The A.P. had refused to explain what had happened and were worried that Vermont was being left with weakened news reporting.

Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

March 23rd, 2006, 10:50 AM
Specter Takes Senate Lead on Eavesdropping
By KATHERINE SHRADER, Associated Press Writer

A vocal Republican critic of the Bush administration's eavesdropping program will preside over Senate efforts to write the program into law, but he was pessimistic Wednesday that the White House wanted to listen.

"They want to do just as they please, for as long as they can get away with it," Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pa., said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think what is going on now without congressional intervention or judicial intervention is just plain wrong."

Specter was one of the first Republicans to publicly question the National Security Agency's authority to monitor international calls — when one party is inside the United States — without first getting court approval. Under the program first disclosed last year, the NSA has been conducting the surveillance when calls and e-mails are thought to involve al-Qaida.

Earlier this month, Senate Intelligence Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., expressed interest in handling NSA legislation.

But Specter will stay in the spotlight.

The Senate Parliamentarian last week gave Specter jurisdiction over two different bills that would provide more checks on the Bush administration's warrantless surveillance program.

One bill, written by Specter, would require a secretive federal intelligence court to conduct regular reviews of the program's constitutionality. A rival approach — drafted by Ohio Sen. Mike DeWine (news, bio, voting record) and three other Republicans — would allow the government to conduct warrantless surveillance for up to 45 days before seeking court or congressional approval.

Specter said the House and Senate intelligence committees could have had authority over the program under the 1947 National Security Act, which lays out when the spy agencies must tell Congress about intelligence activities.

But, Specter said, the committees haven't gotten full briefings on the program, instead choosing to create small subcommittees for the work.

"The intelligence committees ought to exercise their statutory authority on oversight, but they aren't," Specter said. "The Judiciary Committee has acted. We brought in the attorney general. We had a second hearing with a series of experts, and we are deeply involved in it."

Specter added that his words should not be seen as critical of Roberts, but rather the administration for not briefing the full committees.

Roberts was known to be unhappy that his committee was bypassed.

An aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the issue's political sensitivity, said all members of the Intelligence Committee have been briefed on the program's general outline, and seven members of an intelligence subcommittee have been fully briefed on the details.

The aide said Roberts plans to hold more sessions, and he will likely demand that Specter refer any legislation passed by Judiciary Committee to the intelligence panel for review.

Specter's bill would require the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to provide a broad constitutional review of the surveillance activities every 45 days and evaluate whether the government has followed previous authorizations that are issued.

DeWine, however, wants to give the administration as much as 45 days to operate without a court warrant. If at any point the attorney general has enough information to go to the intelligence court, he must.

Under that approach, Specter said the administration can still "roam and roam and roam, and not find anything, and keep roaming. ... I think that's wrong."

Specter plans to hold a hearing on Tuesday about the bills. He said his plan is to pass both out of the Judiciary Committee and allow the full Senate to consider them as soon as May.

"I think my position will prevail," Specter said, noting that he will have Democratic support.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press.

March 23rd, 2006, 11:02 AM
"The column said, for example, that "the foundations of our open government are under direct assault from the first White House in modern times that is openly hostile to the public's right to know."

On March 8, Mr. Graff posted Mr. Leahy's column on an advance wire that carries material that can be used at a later date. He had attached an editor's note saying Mr. Leahy "was asked by the American Society of Newspaper Editors for his thoughts on the status of the right to know for use in Sunshine Week, organized by media organizations and other groups to combat government secrecy and bring attention to the public's right to know."

The A.P. removed the column from the advance wire within an hour and advised newspapers not to run it."

So what? AP is a private, independent organization. They are the source of news for many newspapers in the country. They want to preserve their image as totally unbiased and neutral in reporting the news. Even if what he said was true, they don't want their journalists to make those kinds of statements just to make sure that their clients - left-leaning and right-leaning newspapers and magazines have no doubt that their reporting is objective. I bet they have certain rule of conduct or standard practices for their journalists that prohibits them from presenting from making those kinds of public statements. That journalist can have his own show on TV or publish his own op-ed article and say whatever he wants or just create a blog.

March 23rd, 2006, 11:17 AM

http://contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/dept.%20of%20homeland%20security%20shoots%20down%2 0movie%20script_22_03_06

A Los Angeles screenwriter (http://contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/dept.%20of%20homeland%20security%20shoots%20down%2 0movie%20script_22_03_06#) is claiming that the Department of Homeland Security has informed him that he may not use the agency's name "or any of the Department's official visual identities" in the script for his film (http://contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/dept.%20of%20homeland%20security%20shoots%20down%2 0movie%20script_22_03_06#), Lady Magdalene, despite the fact that the film presents a positive image of the DHS. The writer, J. Neil Schulman, said Tuesday that he had received a notice from Bobbie Faye Ferguson, director of the NHS's office of multimedia, informing him that his "project does not fit within the DHS mission and that it is not something we can participate in."

In response, Schulman wrote to Ferguson that he had already received assistance from a special agent of the NHS's air marshal service while he was preparing his screenplay and that the agency's notice to him now represents a violation of his First Amendment rights. "Merely the claim that you have the power to restrict such official images is chilling to the process of writing and producing a movie -- and certainly to an independent film in pre-production with a start date for principal photography only six weeks away," Schulman wrote.

Copyright Contactmusic.com Ltd 2005

March 24th, 2006, 02:56 PM
Bush shuns Patriot Act requirement
In addendum to law, he says oversight rules are not binding
By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | March 24, 2006

WASHINGTON -- When President Bush signed the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act this month, he included an addendum saying that he did not feel obliged to obey requirements that he inform Congress about how the FBI was using the act's expanded police powers.

The bill contained several oversight provisions intended to make sure the FBI did not abuse the special terrorism-related powers to search homes and secretly seize papers. The provisions require Justice Department officials to keep closer track of how often the FBI uses the new powers and in what type of situations. Under the law, the administration would have to provide the information to Congress by certain dates.

Bush signed the bill with fanfare at a White House ceremony March 9, calling it ''a piece of legislation that's vital to win the war on terror and to protect the American people." But after the reporters and guests had left, the White House quietly issued a ''signing statement," an official document in which a president lays out his interpretation of a new law.

In the statement, Bush said that he did not consider himself bound to tell Congress how the Patriot Act powers were being used and that, despite the law's requirements, he could withhold the information if he decided that disclosure would ''impair foreign relations, national security, the deliberative process of the executive, or the performance of the executive's constitutional duties."

Bush wrote: ''The executive branch shall construe the provisions . . . that call for furnishing information to entities outside the executive branch . . . in a manner consistent with the president's constitutional authority to supervise the unitary executive branch and to withhold information . . . "

The statement represented the latest in a string of high-profile instances in which Bush has cited his constitutional authority to bypass a law.

After The New York Times disclosed in December that Bush had authorized the military to conduct electronic surveillance of Americans' international phone calls and e-mails without obtaining warrants, as required by law, Bush said his wartime powers gave him the right to ignore the warrant law.

And when Congress passed a law forbidding the torture of any detainee in US custody, Bush signed the bill but issued a signing statement declaring that he could bypass the law if he believed using harsh interrogation techniques was necessary to protect national security.

Past presidents occasionally used such signing statements to describe their interpretations of laws, but Bush has expanded the practice. He has also been more assertive in claiming the authority to override provisions he thinks intrude on his power, legal scholars said.

Bush's expansive claims of the power to bypass laws have provoked increased grumbling in Congress. Members of both parties have pointed out that the Constitution gives the legislative branch the power to write the laws and the executive branch the duty to ''faithfully execute" them.

Several senators have proposed bills to bring the warrantless surveillance program under the law. One Democrat, Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin, has gone so far as to propose censuring Bush, saying he has broken the wiretapping law.

Bush's signing statement on the USA Patriot Act nearly went unnoticed.

Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, inserted a statement into the record of the Senate Judiciary Committee objecting to Bush's interpretation of the Patriot Act, but neither the signing statement nor Leahy's objection received coverage from in the mainstream news media, Leahy's office said.

Yesterday, Leahy said Bush's assertion that he could ignore the new provisions of the Patriot Act -- provisions that were the subject of intense negotiations in Congress -- represented ''nothing short of a radical effort to manipulate the constitutional separation of powers and evade accountability and responsibility for following the law."

''The president's signing statements are not the law, and Congress should not allow them to be the last word," Leahy said in a prepared statement. ''The president's constitutional duty is to faithfully execute the laws as written by the Congress, not cherry-pick the laws he decides he wants to follow. It is our duty to ensure, by means of congressional oversight, that he does so."

The White House dismissed Leahy's concerns, saying Bush's signing statement was simply ''very standard language" that is ''used consistently with provisions like these where legislation is requiring reports from the executive branch or where disclosure of information is going to be required."

''The signing statement makes clear that the president will faithfully execute the law in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. ''The president has welcomed at least seven Inspector General reports on the Patriot Act since it was first passed, and there has not been one verified abuse of civil liberties using the Patriot Act."

David Golove, a New York University law professor who specializes in executive power issues, said the statement may simply be ''bluster" and does not necessarily mean that the administration will conceal information about its use of the Patriot Act.

But, he said, the statement illustrates the administration's ''mind-bogglingly expansive conception" of executive power, and its low regard for legislative power.

''On the one hand, they deny that Congress even has the authority to pass laws on these subjects like torture and eavesdropping, and in addition to that, they say that Congress is not even entitled to get information about anything to do with the war on terrorism," Golove said.

© Copyright 2006 Globe Newspaper Company.

March 24th, 2006, 11:14 PM
That the Congress, Democrats and Republicans both, are sitting by and letting Bush pull this kind of extra-legal BS is nothing short of shameful.

Nearly every member of the Legislative Branch has now joined the Executive Branch in trashing the separation of powers inherent to our system of government.

Add this to the Congress' abrogation of their Constitutional duty regarding the pursuit of War and what we end up with is a complete imbalance of our governmental system.

March 28th, 2006, 08:14 AM
Fairfax Co. Takes Part in Unusual Wastewater Experiment

WTOP 103.5 FM
Mar 27th - 9:20am


FAIRFAX, Va. - Fairfax County is taking part in an unusual White House drug study.

Wastewater from communities throughout the Potomac River Basin is being tested for the urinary byproducts of cocaine.

"Apparently, they're able to ascertain how many people may be using illicit drugs, in this case cocaine, with such studies," Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerry Connolly tells WTOP.

Earlier this month, county workers collected five days worth of water samples at the pollution control plant in Lorton. The samples were sent to a lab in Rockville, Md., to be analyzed for the traces of the main urinary byproduct of cocaine.

"It does not indicate that we have an unusual drug problem in Fairfax County," Connolly says. "I'll be interested, obviously, in the results. It's kind of an unusual study and an unusual request. Obviously, we're prepared to cooperate with any endeavor to try to make sure the use of illicit drugs is discouraged in our community."

White House officials believe the wastewater testing will lead to a more accurate index of how many people use drugs than traditional survey research.

(Copyright 2006 by WTOP and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

March 28th, 2006, 08:20 AM
I had a dream that I registered as a user on this forum and posted my strong thoughts about our Great President Bush, yet I awoke to see those posts had vanished. Could it have been a dream? Or maybe just a forum that deletes anything that encompasses free thought? I wonder....

A Republican that supports the war against terror:eek:

March 28th, 2006, 09:22 AM
Hello GoBUSH. Welcome to the forum.

Chances are you clicked on the wrong button. Stuff happens.

Re-Post your comments.

But as a newbie to the forum please be aware that itis greatly appreciated when posters back up opinions with links to info ... however biased that info might appear.

By the way, how is that "war against terror" going?

Does that "war" go after all-things-terror (i.e.: the boogeyman in the closet or under the bed, overweight people in spandex shorts, Chinese officials who imprison those who dissent) or is it selective? ;)

March 28th, 2006, 03:43 PM
Bit by bit my friend. Rome was not built in a day. One terrorist regime at a time Lofter. So no, BUSH can't go after every one, but two madmen out of commission in 4 years isn't bad is it? I don't have a link to give you, but that shouldnt make my points any less valid. Free thought is free thought. I think the war on terror is going well. Have you perhaps become too soft since its been 5 years since we have had a 9-11 type attack on us? Thats the real fear: we get soft and then let our guards down and BOOM we get slammed again.:eek:

March 28th, 2006, 04:26 PM
Do you live in New York City?

March 28th, 2006, 04:34 PM
Hi GoBush. Welcome to WNY.

...but two madmen out of commission in 4 years isn't bad is it?

What two are you talking about? Have some people died in the administration and the media failed to report it?

...I don't have a link to give you, but that shouldnt make my points any less valid. Free thought is free thought.

Not having a link to back up an opinion is fine. Just understand that if forum members attempt to assert a "truth" that is in fact a "lie." They will find resistence in this forum. Your support of Bush isn't an isolated opinion on this forum. Hope you make meaningful contributions.

...I think the war on terror is going well.

Obviously, if you think it is going well, you understand the objectives and goals of this war. I don't. How do you know it is going well. What indicators do you look at? What is the goal of this war? How will we know when we have won? Do you judge it by dead Iraqis? In which case, with more dying in year three than year two or one, it is going well:


The civilian death toll has risen inexorably for the entire duration of the US-led military presence in Iraq following the initial invasion. That is the grim reality uncovered by ongoing tracking of media reports by the Iraq Body Count project (IBC).

Figures released by IBC today, updated by statistics for the year 2005 from the main Baghdad morgue, show that the total number of civilians reported killed has risen year-on-year since May 1st 2003 (the date that President Bush announced “major combat operations have ended”):

*6,331 from 1st May 2003 to the first anniversary of the invasion, 19th March 2004 (324 days: Year 1)

*11,312 from 20th March 2004 to 19th March 2005 (365 days: Year 2)

*12,617 from 20th March 2005 to 1st March 2006 (346 days: Year 3).

In terms of average violent deaths per day this represents:

*20 per day in Year 1
*31 per day in Year 2 and
*36 per day in Year 3.

Source: http://www.iraqbodycount.net/
(You can find the names, ages and occupations of the dead there as well.)

Or, do you judge it by dead Americans and American casualties:

Casualties in Iraq
The Human Cost of Occupation
Edited by Michael Ewens :: Contact American Military Casualties in Iraq

Date Total In Combat

American Deaths Total In Combat
Since war began (3/19/03): 2323 1865
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03) (the list) 2186 1766
Since Capture of Saddam (12/13/03): 1856 1559
Since Handover (6/29/04): 1457 1231
Since Election (1/31/05): 887 753

American Wounded Official Estimated
Total Wounded: 17269 18000 - 48100
Latest Fatality March 25th, 2006

Source: http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/

...Have you perhaps become too soft since its been 5 years since we have had a 9-11 type attack on us? Thats the real fear: we get soft and then let our guards down and BOOM we get slammed again.:eek:

The only city to get attacked by foreign terrorists was New York City. Everyone here living in the city experienced the attack live - not through the lenses of Cable or Broadcast News with "experts" explaining what was happening. We were here. We responded. We celebrated the rescue workers. We mourned the dead. We put this city (and the country) back on its feet.

No one here has become "soft." I think what is soft is this president's war on terror. It is hard to make an argument to the nation that our very security is at stake and we must "take the fight" to the enemy, when he has failed to provide the most basic body armor and vehicle armor to troops and cut staffing and funding to guard our borders. If security is such a big deal and George W. Bush is doing a great job, explain the 12 million illegal aliens in this country today?

While you think anti-war people are soft, I would accuse you of being callously indifferent to the suffering of our troops. You are in a solid minority, if you believe this is all worth it:

Iraq drives Bush's rating to new low
Americans pessimistic on war as president launches new push
Tuesday, March 14, 2006; Posted: 10:45 a.m. EST (15:45 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Growing dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq has driven President Bush's approval rating to a new low of 36 percent, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released Monday.

Only 38 percent said they believe the nearly 3-year-old war was going well for the United States, down from 46 percent in January, while 60 percent said they believed the war was going poorly.[/b][/color]

Nearly half of those polled said they believe Democrats would do a better job of managing the war -- even though only a quarter of them said the opposition party has a clear plan for resolving the situation.

Pollsters quizzed 1,001 adults Friday through Sunday for the poll; most questions had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Fifty-seven percent said they believe the March 2003 invasion of Iraq was a mistake,near September's record high of 59 percent. That question had a sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 points.

Bush's approval rating of 36 percent is the lowest mark of his presidency in a Gallup poll, falling a percentage point below the 37 percent approval he scored in November. The previous CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, conducted February 28-March 1, put his job approval at 38 percent.

Sixty percent of those surveyed in the latest poll said they disapproved of his performance in office, the same figure as in the last poll.

Certain about Iraq
The poll found Bush's fortunes are tied to Iraq, where more than 2,300 U.S. troops have been killed.

Two-thirds of those surveyed told pollsters that history will remember Bush most for the March 2003 invasion that toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and the battle against a persistent insurgency that followed the Hussein regime's collapse.

Bush launched his latest effort to shore up support for the war Monday, accusing Iran of providing explosives used to attack American troops and telling an audience at George Washington University that U.S. forces were "making progress" against insurgents.

He also praised Iraqis for averting civil war despite the sectarian violence that came after February's bombing of the al-Askariya mosque in Samarra, a revered Shiite Muslim shrine.

"The situation in Iraq is still tense, and we're still seeing acts of sectarian violence and reprisal," Bush said. "Yet out of this crisis, we've also seen signs of a hopeful future."

With congressional elections approaching, public discontent with the war appeared to be taking a toll on Bush's fellow Republicans.

Only 32 percent polled over the weekend said they thought Bush had a clear plan for handling the situation in Iraq, while 67 percent said he did not.

Only 25 percent said Democrats had a clear plan -- but 48 percent said Democrats would do a better job managing the issue, while 40 percent favored Republicans.

Democrats enjoy lead
Those figures, along with weakened support for GOP handling of the battle against terrorism, have given Democrats a 16 percentage point lead over Republicans when registered voters are asked which party they will support in November.

Democrats drew the support of 55 percent of the registered voters questioned, while 39 percent said they would be voting Republican in the fall. That question had a sampling error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

Republicans held a 4-point advantage over Democrats on dealing with terrorism, 45 to 41 percent. And despite increasing optimism about economic conditions, Democrats held a strong lead over the GOP, 53-38 percent, when asked which party would better manage the economy.

To make the case for war, Bush and other top officials said the invasion of Iraq was necessary to strip the country of illicit stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. U.S. inspectors later concluded that Iraq had dismantled its weapons programs under U.N. sanctions in the 1990s, though it had concealed some weapons-related research from the United Nations.

The latest poll found 51 percent of Americans believed the administration deliberately misled the public about whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, while 46 percent disagreed. That question had a sampling error of 4.5 percentage points as well.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/03/13/bush.poll/
__________________________________________________ ______________

Finally, what exactly are you fearful of? What are you afraid to let your guard down against? How do you determine who is letting their guard down? I'm not threatened by Arabs and the muslims in my community are alright by me. I work with Iraqis, Koreans and Iranians. Who exactly is your enemy and how do you recogize them?

We don't delete contentious posts in these forums we contest them with FACTS. Can you address these facts and address them in the same paragraph you write to bolster your argument that the war on terror is "going very well?"

Truly, welcome to the board. Let's discuss this. Bring the facts.

March 29th, 2006, 01:15 AM
The 2 madmen are (drumroll please):

Saddam Insane and
Osama Bin Hurtin'.


Well, I don't doubt that innocent Iraqis have died in this war. Innocent civilians, sad as it is, die in EVERY WAR. It isn't a BUSH THING. War is ugly indeed.

Be careful when trying to use the word "TRUTH" in Politics. "TRUTH" and "FACTS" really = OPINION. Unless it is a proven, PROVEN FACT. I don't challenge your "war dead" counts. But once again, it is a WAR. That's why they call it WAR. People die.

You think, I am sure, that we had no business in Iraq? You would have been happy if Hussein was still in power? How about the Iranian President that feels that Israel should be wiped off the map and is building nuclear weapon capabilities? Are you ok with him staying in power?

One thing you fail to realize is we are a world power and we DO INTERVENE when civil injustices are being committed against innocents by their dictator ruler. My guess is you think we should just "butt out." We enjoy great freedoms here; in fact we are SPOILED with our freedoms that others can only hope to one day enjoy. Oh, George is fun to pick on, I know. But are you saying that he should have left Hussein in charge? A man whom the war tribunal will find did in fact gas his own people and rape countless women while he dined on fresh fruits, meats and wines while being driven from castle to castle? Are you okay with that? I am NOT.

You said "How will we know when we have won?" Well, I think we will know when the Iraqi Police have things in order, there is a government in place, people have more rights & freedoms and there are less insurgenst as they will have been wiped out. We will know when George starts withdrawing troops as the country of Iraq stabilizes. Once again, and I hate to disappoint yoo, I have no LINKS. But what is a link? An article written by someone like you and me with an opinion, perhaps with a journalism degree from Harvard? The FACTS that you cherish and use to substantiate your argument are helpful but are not the letter of of law. They are also open to interpretation.

I do not doubt that George's rating are LOW. He sticks by his guns and wishes to see his vision out of a free Iraq that is peaceful and good to its people.

England was also attacked by foreign terrorists last July 7. This should be an example to you that Al Qaeda is just waiting around the corner, Brooklyn. They are waiting for that window. George's team works covertly to thwart the next attack and you don't read about it in the papers so you give him no props. Remember Richard Reid? The shoe bomber? He was not shy about a 2nd attack shortly after 9/11 and had we not tightened security up there would have been many more like it.

Unless you can get into George's mind, and you can't, then you cannot be certain that he invaded IRAQ for the sole purpose of self-gain. You must consider a margin of error on your opinion. Perhaps he really hates terrorists? Have you considered that possibility? Have you acknowledged him for ANYTHING?

I have seen him say silly things, as most Presidents have. He has made blunders - as most have. But I believe he tries his best to thwart future attacks and he hates injustices committed on the weak and innocent.

Brooklyn, does it bother you if US Troops die in the hills of Afghanistan while hunting for Osama? Do you want him dead? Would it make you happy? It'd make me happy. As a New Yorker it'd make me jump for joy. I would be sad if more US Troops died. But it IS what they signed up for; To fight and defend freedoms & death is a possibility and they know that. So stop blaming George. He isn't murdering the US Troops.


March 29th, 2006, 07:14 AM
Well, I don't doubt that innocent Iraqis have died in this war. Innocent civilians, sad as it is, die in EVERY WAR. It isn't a BUSH THING. War is ugly indeed.

One thing you fail to realize is we are a world power and we DO INTERVENE when civil injustices are being committed against innocents by their dictator ruler.
Then you should have no trouble accepting the premise that the world is ugly indeed. We do not have the resources to fight injustice everywhere. Why are you not standing up and calling for military intervention in Korea, ruled by a despot no better than Hussein?

Well, I think we will know when the Iraqi Police have things in order, there is a government in place, people have more rights & freedoms and there are less insurgenst as they will have been wiped out. We will know when George starts withdrawing troops as the country of Iraq stabilizes.
A tired argument that no one believes anymore. The most likely scenario is that the Kurds will become fed up with the sectarian violence and just form their own country in the north, and the rest of Iraq will be reduced to civil war.

Just as evidence is emerging that Bush planned this war before Iraq was perceived as a terrorist threat (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4849744.stm) and used political opportunism to sell it to America during a time of emotional stress, it seems that while violence in Iraq is escalating, there are plans to reduce US troop levels (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/26/politics/26cnd-rice.html?_r=1&oref=slogin), countering Bush's claim to "stay the course" and leave withdrawal to a future president. Wars begun on a political strategy end the same way.

England was also attacked by foreign terrorists last July 7. This should be an example to you that Al Qaeda is just waiting around the corner, Brooklyn. They are waiting for that window. George's team works covertly to thwart the next attack and you don't read about it in the papers so you give him no props. Remember Richard Reid? The shoe bomber?We are actually spending money to manufacture terrorists in Iraq as, whether true or not, the US gets blamed for every violent incident. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4854450.stm) Hundreds of billions of dollars are diverted to Iraq, so we don't have the resourses to protect our own borders. (http://www.ktsm.com/story_news.sstg?c=1796)

Unless you can get into George's mind, and you can't, then you cannot be certain that he invaded IRAQ for the sole purpose of self-gain.
But I believe he tries his best to thwart future attacks and he hates injustices committed on the weak and innocent.
So you've gotten into Bush's mind? What's it like in there?

March 29th, 2006, 10:15 AM
Remember Richard Reid? The shoe bomber? He was not shy about a 2nd attack shortly after 9/11 and had we not tightened security up there would have been many more like it.
Security measures that you cite failed to stop Reid from boarding a plane, despite the presence of "explosives" in his shoes.

Reid was thwarted by passengers & crew ( source (http://http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,203478,00.html) ) :

Richard Reid, a British passenger on the Boeing 767, was trying to light a fuse protruding from his shoe, witnesses say. According to the FBI, packed in the sole were enough high explosives to blow a hole in the fuselage of the aircraft. But the attempted bombing was foiled. Two flight attendants struggled with the tall, unkempt man after one of them noticed the sulfurous smell of a lighted match. Danison remembers one of the attendants crying, "Oh, my God! Somebody help me!" and then calling for "water, contact solution, anything you have." Passengers passed cups and glasses back to the scene. One of the attendants poured a bottle of water over Reid, who was then restrained with passengers' belts and sedated with drugs from the onboard medical kit. For the rest of the tense flight—the captain had warned that Reid might have accomplices onboard—passengers and crew guarded their prisoner, one of them keeping a grip on his long ponytail.

March 29th, 2006, 11:13 AM
Saddam Insane and Osama Bin Hurtin'.

This humor falls flat with me.

Be careful when trying to use the word "TRUTH" in Politics. "TRUTH" and "FACTS" really = OPINION. Unless it is a proven, PROVEN FACT.

A "fact" is a "fact" - period.

You think, I am sure, that we had no business in Iraq?

Business as in business transactions? It is a FACT that we did. Our business in Iraq was set forth and encouraged by George HW Bush. He supported Saddam Hussein and armed him with the exact weapons his son said were a danger to this country. Rumsfeld has had very pubic business dealings in Iraq. Dick Cheney's Halliburton was working in Iraq and continues to work in Iran. The Iran contracts were executed when he was head of the company. So, the US had "business" in Iraq. I just don't think we have any right to be there. I think the government memos being released from the British government provide ample proof that this war is a sham.

You would have been happy if Hussein was still in power?
This might surprise you, but Saddam Hussein had ZERO impact on my life. He neither made me happy nor sad.

How about the Iranian President that feels that Israel should be wiped off the map and is building nuclear weapon capabilities?
The U.S. government has a warped policy in the middle east that blindly supports every illegal and violent action by Israel. The US has block resolutions against that state that have been unanimous amongst UN Member states. Israel has been allowed to develop and maintain nuclear weapons. It has unilaterally attacked its neighbors in the region before. I find the Iranian leader's words inflammatory, not threatening. We can probably expect alot more of it as long as we allow Israel to continue to dictate our Middle East policies.

Are you ok with him staying in power?

Well, let's see... He was elected by the Iranian people. He doesn't impact my day to day life. Iran has been at peace for the last 20 years, despite our rhetoric about it being a "terrorist state." Yes, I'm OK with him staying in power.

One thing you fail to realize is we are a world power and we DO INTERVENE when civil injustices are being committed against innocents by their dictator ruler. My guess is you think we should just "butt out."

Oh brother, here we go with someone making their fifth post on these boards making a post that presumes to state what I know. That's weak in and of itself. But looking at your statement, you seem to think that the US should be judge, jury and executioner in regards to countries ruled through dictatorships. In doing so, that would make the US a world dictatorship or a fascist state. If we explore the injustices committed by dictatorships against civilians in recent history, we will see that the most brutal dictatorships were not only supported by US administration, they were INSTALLED by the US. Dictatorships supported by the US:

Country Dictator Dates
Chile Gen. Augusto Pinochet 1973-1990
Argentina Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla 1976-1981
Indonesia Suharto 1965 coup against left-leaning Sukarno, 1975 support of East Timor genocide, etc.
Guatemala Armas, Fuentes, Montt 1954-
Iran The Shah of Iran
Ayatollah Khomeini was on the CIA payroll in the 1970s in Paris
Egypt Sadat, Mubarak 1978-today
Iraq Saddam Hussein
Nicaragua Anastasio Somoza & sons 1937-1979
Paraguay Stroessner. US supported throughout (state.gov says US has supported Paraguayan development since 1942) ($142M between 1962 and 1975) 1954-1989
Bolivia Col. Hugo Banzer overthrew elected leftist president Juan Jose Torres 1970-
Angola Jonas Savimbi/UNITA (didn't actually win his revolution, but killed or displaced millions) 1975-1989
Zaire Mobutu
Saudi Arabia Saud family
Kuwait a monarchy
Panama Noriega was US-supported for years
Haiti Papa Doc, Baby Doc
Dominican Republic Trujillo, a military dictator for 32 years with US support for most of that time; Belaguer, Trujillo's protege, installed after US Marines intervened to put down an attempt to restore the democratically elected government of Juan Bosch 1930-61, 1965-78
El Salvador 1980s
Nepal monarchy since 1948
Cuba Fulgencio Batista pre-Castro
Brazil Gen. Branco overthrew elected president Goulart with US support 1965-67
Uzbekistan Kamirov "The Boiler", $150M from the Bush administration for an air base. 1965-67
Libya Mohammar Quadafi 2004-present

We enjoy great freedoms here; in fact we are SPOILED with our freedoms that others can only hope to one day enjoy.

You sound like a George W. Bush pep rally speech and, honestly, it makes you sound as "intelligent" as him. Again, speak for yourself and lose the "we," unless you want to list the specific people who have authorized you to speak for them.

But are you saying that he should have left Hussein in charge?


A man whom the war tribunal will find did in fact gas his own people and rape countless women while he dined on fresh fruits, meats and wines while being driven from castle to castle? Are you okay with that?

Saddam did not gas "his own people" he gassed the Kurds in northern Iraq, who have been agitating for a separate state. As you stated, war is ugly. Why suddenly do you take a stand on casulaties when your opening salvo said "war is ugly." But, while we are condemning the use of chemical weapons, please tell me what you think of the Pentagon's admission that they used white phosphorus ib Fallujah - a gas that literally melts the skin off human beings. Also, while we are talking about Saddams callous indifference by wining and dining while citizens were being killed, please tell me what you think of our president having more vacations than any other president in modern history - while we are at war. How about Condi Rice shopping for thousand dollar shoes and going to see a Broadway show while people were drowning in Katrina. How about Dick Cheney hunting and drinking while our men and women are dying in Iraq. If Saddam is a monster, what are they?

You said "How will we know when we have won?" Well, I think we will know when the Iraqi Police have things in order, there is a government in place, people have more rights & freedoms and there are less insurgenst as they will have been wiped out. We will know when George starts withdrawing troops as the country of Iraq stabilizes. Once again, and I hate to disappoint yoo, I have no LINKS.

Actually you could just supply us with a link to FoxNews or Rush Limbagh or just post one of the president's pep rally speeches. I would argue you do not have a link because you are someone who doesn't read very much and therefore relies entirely on what you favorite entertainers on cable news networks tell you.

But what is a link? An article written by someone like you and me with an opinion, perhaps with a journalism degree from Harvard?

The FACTS that you cherish and use to substantiate your argument are helpful but are not the letter of of law. They are also open to interpretation.

Well, here we have another window into your news sources. The FACTS I post are FACTS. I have no idea where your brain shortcircuits to by talking about "FACTS" and "letter oft he law." It is a statement that neither makes sense, addresses any part of this conversation, nor bolsters what you have to say. You reliance and understanding of facts is as dubious and dangerous as Bush's. Some facts like Saddam has no WMDs, There was no connection between Saddam and 9/11, and The US was facing an imminient threat from Iraq, are verifiable and the complete disregard for facts has killed thousands - including Americans. But, you don't care about facts. It is easy to understand why you and unedicated people like you don't give a damn about our troops and support the killing of civilians.

England was also attacked by foreign terrorists last July 7. This should be an example to you that Al Qaeda is just waiting around the corner, Brooklyn.

Actually, there has been no trial to date in England. As in the Spain bombing, this was initially attributed to Al-Qaeda (whatever that flash word means today), However, I think you missed the articles in all of the newspapers and on the news stations that reported that there was NO CONNECTION to Al-Qaeda in the Spain bombing. Al-Qaeda is not waiting around the corner. It is a b.s. name given to a b.s. group. If they are waiting around the corner, why didn't they attack during the northeast black out two summers ago? Why not attack during this past summer in the midst of our worst hurricane season in a century. They strike when the CIA and Cheney tells them to.

Remember Richard Reid? The shoe bomber? He was not shy about a 2nd attack shortly after 9/11 and had we not tightened security up there would have been many more like it.

Yes, I remember him. Do you remember his public trial where we heard testimony? Gee, neither do I. No one will ever know what that was about or if he really posed a credible threat. But, I see the Bushies have you running scared. Your "scared of your own shadow" reaction is the "Mission Accomplished" this administration touted so quickly.

Perhaps he really hates terrorists? Have you considered that possibility? Have you acknowledged him for ANYTHING?

I acknowledge that he has put this country in a hole by givig tax breaks to the rich, while overseeing the largest budget increases in history. I acknowledge that he is willing to spend a billion dollars a day in Iraq, but has no money for healthcare, education, tuition or affordable housing. I acknowledge that he wouldn't be able to count to five with his hands tied behind his back. I acknowledgethat he is the WORST president in modern history and you and your grandchildren, ignorant as you are, will sadly be worse off for it - paying down this debt for the next three decades.

I have seen him say silly things, as most Presidents have. He has made blunders - as most have.

Here's your chance,GOBush. Give me some silly quotes from other presidents.

But I believe he tries his best to thwart future attacks and he hates injustices committed on the weak and innocent.

Brooklyn, does it bother you if US Troops die in the hills of Afghanistan while hunting for Osama? Do you want him dead? Would it make you happy?

Killing people gives me no joy. I believe in justice and, after the very fortunate release of the Osama tape beforet he 2004 elections, I know Osama will never be captured. He is on the CIA payroll and, as you know, George HW Bush has extensive ties to the Bin Laden family. So, no, Osama will not be caught. If he is, I would like to see him publicly tried. But it will never happen. As far as troops go, I mourn every death - the same deaths you shrug your shoulders when you say, "war is ugly." You seem to think it is okay to kill people. I don't.

Overall, you are unable to get very deep into the discussion. It is disappointing, but totally expected. Most people who have this wide-eyed, irrational support for this criminal in the White House are just poor suckers who turned on the news the morning of 9/11 and never questioned anything. Very unfortunate. I'm more scared of Americans like you than Osama Bin Laden. You are more dangerous.

March 29th, 2006, 11:35 AM
Three-foot posts. Tsk, tsk.

March 30th, 2006, 01:04 AM
"I am in St. Petersburg, Fla. soaking up the sun right now.
I will be back in five days and promise to crush the infidels."


April 7th, 2006, 08:48 AM
It's 2006. Do you know where your kids are?

Teens charged under terror law

Four accused of plotting to kill classmates at South Jersey high school

Daily Record


CAMDEN (AP) -- Four teenagers accused of plotting to kill about 25 people in a lunch-period massacre at Winslow Township High School were charged today with terrorism, a crime no one has ever been convicted of in New Jersey.

The boys, between the ages of 14 and 16, were arrested Wednesday after police heard about the alleged plot from administrators at the school, where three of the teens are students. Authorities did not release their names because of their ages.

The boys initially were charged only with low-level crimes and were not eligible to be moved to adult court. Authorities said the teens planned to target students, and teachers and others.

The terrorism charge and other charges added Thursday -- two counts each of conspiracy to attempt murder -- are serious enough that prosecutors could ask a judge to move the case from family court to adult criminal court, where the penalties could be much stiffer.

Prosecutors have 30 days to consider whether to request moving the case; no decision on that was made by Thursday afternoon.

The four boys -- including a 15-year-old from Hammonton whose arrest Wednesday night had not been announced -- appeared together in family court. Superior Court Judge Angelo DiCamillo ordered them held until the state Department of Human Services could complete thorough psychological and psychiatric evaluations.

DiCamillo said the court counselors who had interviewed the teens Wednesday recommended they not be released to their parents' care until a full picture of their mental conditions could be learned.

Public defenders for the teens argued that they should have been able to go home with their parents. "My client is rather frail and vulnerable," public defender Ruth Ann Mandell, who was representing a 14-year-old, told the judge. "No one was hurt in this case."

Authorities said the boys did not have any weapons to carry out the alleged plot. But one law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the teens attempted to buy a handgun.

DiCamillo on Thursday also disclosed that some of the teens charged have had brushes with the law in the past. Two of them were charged with fighting while they were still in elementary school; both cases were diverted out of the court system.

The 14-year-old was charged Wednesday with grabbing a girl by the neck and threatening to kill her.

The father of one of the 15-year-old boys said after the hearing Thursday that the charges were a mistake. "I think it's just kids hanging out together and having a little wild time, that's all," he said.

State judiciary spokeswoman Winnie Comfort said no one in New Jersey has been convicted of terrorism, a charge lawmakers created four years ago in response to the Sept. 11 attacks. Under the statute, people convicted of the crime in adult court must be sentenced to at least 30 years in prison and are not eligible for parole for 30 years.

Prison sentences that long would be far steeper than those meted out to three teenagers in another Camden County town, Oaklyn, after they pleaded guilty in a case in which they were caught with guns, ammunition and swords in 2003. Each of them received a prison sentence between four and 10 years.

Copyright ©2006 dailyrecord.com

April 7th, 2006, 09:16 AM
Gonzales suggests that Bush has the authority to order warantless wiretapping of calls, emails

Published: Thursday April 6, 2006

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales suggested for the first time on Thursday that the president might have the legal authority to order wiretapping without a warrant on communications between Americans that occur exclusively within the United States, the NEW YORK TIMES reports Friday. Excerpts:

"I'm not going to rule it out," Gonzales said when asked about that possibility at a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

The attorney general made his comments, which critics said reflected a broadened view of the president's authority, as President Bush offered another strong defense of his decision to authorize the National Security Agency to eavesdrop without warrants on international calls and e-mail messages to or from the United States.

Bush, in an appearance in North Carolina, told a questioner who attacked the program that he would "absolutely not" apologize for authorizing it.

"You can come to whatever conclusion you want" about the merits of the program," Bush said. "The conclusion is I'm not going to apologize for what I did on the terrorist surveillance program."

At the House hearing, Gonzales faced tough questioning from Democrats and Republicans but declined to discuss many operational details.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Wisconsin Republican who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee and one of the administration's staunchest allies, accused the administration of "stonewalling."

April 7th, 2006, 09:18 AM
Ranking Democrat on House Intelligence Committee calls Bush 'leaker-in-chief'

Published: Thursday April 6, 2006

Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, released the following statement upon learning of former Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff "Scooter" Libby's grand jury testimony alleging President Bush authorized the declassification and disclosure of portions of the 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq.

"If the disclosure is true, it's breathtaking. The President is revealed as the Leaker-in-Chief.

"Leaking classified information to the press when you want to get your side out or silence your critics is not appropriate.

"The reason we classify things is to protect our sources - those who risk their lives to give us secrets. Who knows how many sources were burned by giving Libby this 'license to leak'?

"If I had leaked the information, I'd be in jail. Why should the President be above the law?

"The President has the legal authority to declassify information, but there are normal channels for doing so. Telling an aide to leak classified information to the New York Times is not a normal channel. A normal declassification procedure would involve going back to the originating agency, such as the CIA, and then putting out a public, declassified version of the document.

"I am stunned that the President won't tell the full the Intelligence Committee about the NSA program because he's allegedly concerned about leaks, when it turns out that he is the Leaker-in-Chief."

April 7th, 2006, 10:37 AM
Ranking Democrat on House Intelligence Committee calls Bush 'leaker-in-chief'

Jane Harman has never been a fan of pres. Bush. I would think we should treat her statements with a grain of salt?

We need to wait untill the investigation is comlpete and the trial is over so we can draw logical and objective conclusions about those who are guilty and GW's involvement.

April 7th, 2006, 11:13 AM
Why do you believe that a trial will reveal the truth on this?

According to Libby's court submission he got the word from Cheney who got the word from Bush. How to refute that? Cheney and Bush would have to testify. But undoubtedly they will claim Executive Privilege and refuse to appear as witnesses. So the information void will remain.

I'd be surprised if any of the "declassification" was put into writing -- although if Libby was smart he would have memorialized the saga at the time. Still, it will be his word against the word of those who are not speaking.

Plus Libby will be on trial for lying to investigators -- so a jury will be asked to determine the truthfulness of a liar. If Libby lied to the prosecutors about one instance why would he not be lying about the chain of leaking?

Endgame: The public will not know what went down.

April 7th, 2006, 12:10 PM
Why do you believe that a trial will reveal the truth on this?

According to Libby's court submission he got the word from Cheney who got the word from Bush. How to refute that? Cheney and Bush would have to testify. But undoubtedly they will claim Executive Privilege and refuse to appear as witnesses. So the information void will remain.

I know everyone on this forum will disagree with me on this, but I don't think we should care about this matter too much at this point. I know some people will get red-faces and scream "how can you not care about this kind of abuse by the current administration?" I would argue that we have bigger "fish to fry" like budget deficits, war in iraq, intelligece failures and fight against terrorism, entitlement crisis that is bound to happen soon (social security and medicaid/medicare expenses are going to be exploding as baby-boomers retire), school quality and reform, etc.

In other words, this is a good topic for talk radio, but I doubt most Americans have this issue on the top of their priority list. This issue will not make or break any candidate or any election.

April 7th, 2006, 12:43 PM
So if he killed a man in his past it is not important to deal with it now because it does not relate to anything current?

Come on MS.

I don't think there should be a witch burning here, but if he WAS turning guys into newts, then we should treat him appropriately.

April 7th, 2006, 01:25 PM
...I doubt most Americans have this issue on the top of their priority list. This issue will not make or break any candidate or any election.
It's not on the "top", but it is just part of the continuing erosion of the image that Bush / Rove et al have so strenuously attempted to create of a Good Ole Boy who can be trusted. The de-construction of GWB is something that nearly 65% of Americans now seem to be clearly aware of.

Bush ain't no candidate. Cheney ain't no candidate. But those who try to align themselves too closely to this Administration could easily be tainted by the stench of dissembling that is coming out of the WH -- latest POLLS (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060407/ap_on_el_ge/troubled_republicans;_ylt=AmfV5dajNgyceA2YQc9rsBqs 0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b2NibDltBHNlYwM3MTY) show that only 36% approve of Bush's "job performance" (the lowest of his Presidency) and that barely 30% want the GOP to maintain control of Congress.

April 7th, 2006, 01:26 PM
He risked national security for political gain. Period. That in itself is newsworthy, even though there are unfortunately bigger fish to fry. I think the administration should be called out on all their BS, as the Republicans have done and would do to any Democrat for far less serious, or even made up, offenses.

April 7th, 2006, 01:28 PM
It's not on the "top", but it is just part of the continuing erosion of the image that Bush / Rove et al have so strenuously attempted to create of a Good Ole Boy who can be trusted. The de-construction of GWB is something that nearly 65% of Americans now seem to be clearly aware of.

Bush ain't no candidate. Cheney ain't no candidate. But those who try to align themselves too closely to this Administration could easily be tainted by the stench of dissembling that is coming out of the WH -- latest POLLS (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060407/ap_on_el_ge/troubled_republicans;_ylt=AmfV5dajNgyceA2YQc9rsBqs 0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3b2NibDltBHNlYwM3MTY) show that only 36% approve of Bush's "job performance" (the lowest of his Presidency) and that barely 30% want the GOP to maintain control of Congress.

I totally agree and I am glad it's in the news so all perspective voters know about this and can make a judgement about anyone who defends this kind of behavior on the republican side.

April 7th, 2006, 04:48 PM
This is the most criminal and corrupt regime ever to hold power in this country. At this point, anyone who still supports them is scum. Members of my family included.

April 7th, 2006, 05:09 PM
This is the most criminal and corrupt regime ever to hold power in this country. At this point, anyone who still supports them is scum. Members of my family included.

Why don't you talk to the members of your family? :)

April 7th, 2006, 07:03 PM
Actually, there's one member of my family that supports Bush, and that's the one I had in mind when I said that.;)

Every family's got at least one nutcase, I guess.

April 9th, 2006, 05:39 AM
people complain about police states, spying, the war, but then they go out and vote for conservatives. take new york city for example. its supposed to be one of the more liberal cities in the u.s., but it has a conservative mayor. california is supposed to be a liberal place but has a conservative governor.

April 9th, 2006, 11:36 AM
Considering that we had Giuliani before Bloomberg you'd have to say that NYC is swinging back to the left -- stuck in center for now, which in some ways is A-OK.