First Amendment to the US Constitution:
Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution:
Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution:
SIBEL EDMONDS TELLS SUNDAY TIMES INDIVIDUALS IN HIGH U.S. GOV'T POSITIONS TOOK MONEY IN EXCHANGE FOR NUCLEAR SECRETS
9 January 2008
Sibel Edmonds was a translator at the FBI when she overheard, in taped wiretaps, conversations that involved US officials at high levels organizing and taking bribes in exchange for dealing nuclear secrets to the black market. The Sunday Times, a London-based Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper, has now broken the story, after years of Edmonds being turned away by the US press, due to an unprecedented "state secrets privilege" gag order. The world press is taking note, while US media outlets continue to keep quiet or not investigate. [Full Story]
JUDGE RULES PART OF PATRIOT ACT UNCONSTITUTIONAL
A National Security Letter (NSL) is a secret document sent by federal investigators to an entity which is then required to pass along otherwise private information, much of which might not fit within judicial review under the protections of the Fourth Amendment. They are permitted only in cases allegedly linked to investigations of specific terror plots. Now, a federal judge has said the section of the USA PATRIOT Act that allows federal investigators to conscript individual citizens or organizations as domestic spies, in total secrecy under penalty of prosecution, violates First Amendment protections and is an assault on the Constitutional role of the judiciary. [Full Story]
ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO GONZALES RESIGNS
US attorney general Alberto Gonzales has resigned his office, according to sources in the administration. Amid accusations of political abuses and incompetence, prominent members of Congress from both parties had been calling for Gonzales to step down, for several months. A probe into his role in the firing of 8 US attorneys in December of last year, allegedly for political reasons, has called into question his leadership at the Department of Justice. [Full Story]
VOTER FRAUD & JUSTICE FIRINGS PROBES REVEAL DISAPPEARING PRESSURE GROUP, THE ACVR
The American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) was supposed to be a non-partisan NGO pushing for government action to combat what it alleged was a widespread problem with ballot fraud across the United States. When investigations revealed it was founded and operated by Republican campaign operatives, and that its allegations were largely fabricated, the organization literally disappeared from public view. And now it is increasingly difficult to find documents it published or links to information about its founders online. [Full Story]
ETHICS REFORM LEGISLATION PASSES, BILL GOES TO WHITE HOUSE FOR SIGNING
The House and Senate have both passed the conference-committee-resolved legislation to tighten constraints on donations from lobbyists and raise ethics standards in Congress. White House has criticized the legislation, though it is expected Pres. Bush will sign the bill into law. As reported by the LA Times "The measure grew out of a pledge by Democrats to 'drain the swamp' after they won majorities in both congressional chambers in last fall's elections. It passed the Senate, 83-14, after clearing the House, 411-8, earlier this week." [Full Story]
DEMOCRAT-CONTROLLED SENATE GIVES PRES. BUSH POWER TO EAVESDROP WITHOUT WARRANTS
The Democrat-controlled US Senate yesterday passed a bill that would authorize the president to not only continue, but to expand his use of extrajudicial wiretapping, a practice ruled unconstitutional last year by the Supreme Court. Analysts suggest that Democrats caved to White House rhetoric, for fear of being considered 'soft on terror'. Civil libertarians say the vote is a dark day for US Constitutional law. [Full Story]
NIGHT-TIME PHONE-CALL FROM JUSTICE AIDE ASKED US ATTORNEY TO STALL GUILTY PLEA
The investigation of the firing of 9 US attorneys late last year has the attorney general fighting off daily calls for his resignation. In each case, it appears there were political motivations for dismissing federal prosecutors whose records were generally outstanding or above average. John L. Brownlee, who was ultimately not fired, says he received a phone-call from a Justice official asking him to slow down on a guilty plea already negotiated. [Full Story]
FBI DIRECTOR TESTIMONY SUGGESTS GONZALES MISLED CONGRESS ABOUT OPPOSITION TO WIRETAPS
FBI director Robert Mueller, the top law-enforcement agent within the Justice Department, testified before that House Judiciary Committee that there was in fact a heated confrontation between senior Justice Department officials and White House aides in 2004, regarding President Bush's warrantless NSA wiretapping program. Two days earlier, AG Gonzales had told the Senate there had never been any disagreements within the administration regarding the legality of the program. Mueller testified that the crisis was so severe, he had to intervene to prevent a wave of resignations at Justice. [Full Story]
HOUSE, SENATE TO HOLD VOTES ON ETHICS REFORM
The conference committee negotiating differences between House and Senate versions of ethics reform legislation have reached agreement, and the unified bill will be presented to both houses for a final vote, before being sent to the president for signature and passage into law. Negotiators reportedly worked late into the night of 27 July in order to resolve disagreement over language limiting contributions from lobbyists. [Full Story]
BUSH ERASES LIBBY'S PRISON SENTENCE, LEAVES FINE INTACT
Pressured for months to pardon Libby by hard-line voices in the conservative establishment, Pres. Bush opted to commute the 30-month prison sentence, leaving the former vice-presidential aide with a $250,000 fine. Libby was convicted of lying to federal prosecutors and obstruction of justice for his actions during the investigation of the leak of former CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity. [Full Story]
FMR ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL SAYS BUSH INTERVENED TO HALT MASS RESIGNATIONS OVER NSA PROGRAM
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, James Comey, former deputy attorney general, who acted as AG during Ashcroft illness in early 2004, said Pres. Bush intervened to halt a raft of resignations in protest over the policy clash. Comey reportedly had to rush to AG Ashcroft's hospital bedside to prevent White House officials from gaining authorization, despite official opposition from Justice Dept. lawyers and then acting AG Comey. [Full Story]
US SUPREME COURT RULES EPA MUST REGULATE CARBON EMISSIONS
In a lawsuit brought by 12 states, several cities and a dozen pro-environment organizations against the federal government, the US Supreme Court has handed down a narrow 5 to 4 ruling reversing Bush administration policy that avoids regulating carbon dioxide emissions. The Court says the Clean Air Act specifically authorizes the EPA to enforce such regulation in order to protect the public and effect clean air standards. [Full Story]
SENATE VOTES 94 TO 2 TO STRIP BUSH ADMIN. OF POWER TO NAME FEDERAL PROSECUTORS WITHOUT REVIEW
As calls increase in president's party, and in Congress, for the attorney general to resign, the Senate has voted overwhelmingly to strip the government of a special power to name federal proseucutors without an approval process. The investigations into whether political motivations were at play in the firing of 8 US attorneys last year let the Senate to vote 94 to 2 to oppose the special post-9/11 power. [Full Story]
ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER FIRE FOR POLITICAL DISMISSALS
Investigations by the judiciary committees in both the House and the Senate are probing the suspicious nature of the untimely dismissal of at least 8 US attorneys, for what appear to be political reasons. The White House had claimed there was not strategy to fire en masse, until it was revealed that there was in fact consultation on firing all US attorneys and replacing them with political loyalists. [Full Story]
JUSTICE DEPT. ADMITS MISTAKES IN FIRING US ATTORNEYS
The Justice Department's new performance rating system has come under fire, after the firing of 8 US attorneys was called into question. The cases were not clearly cases of underperformance, but seemed to indicate there had been political motivations for the dismissals. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has now admitted that the program was not applied properly in some of those cases and promises to improve the evaluations policy. [Full Story]
JURY FINDS LIBBY GUILTY OF LYING, OBSTRUCTION
The case was complex and convoluted, and risked jeopardizing numerous fundamental values of American liberty and jurisprudence. One reporter was sent to prison and many were subpoenaed and forced to give up their sources. But special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has said the case is now closed, though no one has been charged with the leak of classified information itself. [Full Story]
CHENEY ENDORSES TORTURE DESPITE LEGAL BANS, UPROAR PROMPTS PLEDGES NOT TO TORTURE
US vice president Dick Cheney has publicly announced his support for an explicitly banned method of torture. In a radio interview with Scott Hennen of Fargo, North Dakota, the vice president said that mock drowning is "a no brainer", claiming the procedure has been a "very important tool", despite its being specifically illegal under American law, both written and in judicial precedent, and formally banned by the Pentagon. [Full Story]
REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN BOB NEY PLEADS GUILTY TO BRIBERY, CONSPIRACY IN PROBE LINKED TO ABRAMOFF
On 13 October, Rep. Bob Ney, a Republican from Ohio, admitted he gave political favors in exchange for bribes, pleading guilty on several counts. He will now face sentencing and is expected to resign his seat in Congress, though he has not given a date. Ney is the latest political casualty of a massive corruption investigation involving convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, anti-tax hawk Grover Norquist, disgraced Texan congressman Tom DeLay, and dozens of other influential Washington figures. [Full Story]
SECRET PRISONS & COERCIVE INTERROGATIONS UNDERMINE AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Until 12 days ago, the Bush administration maintained that there were no secret CIA-run "black-sites", extralegal prison camps where accused terror suspects were held incommunicado and beyond any judicial process. On 6 September, Pres. Bush admitted to constructing and managing the prison system through the CIA, and now his government is demanding that Congress sanction a system which circumvents Constitutional law and permits "alternative" methods of coercive interrogation, presently banned under international law. [Full Story]
GENERALS, REPUBLICANS REVOLT AGAINST BUSH TORTURE POLICY
Roughly three dozen retired generals, including former Sec. of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell, have come out in opposition to the White House's latest attempt to transform the legal meaning of the Geneva Conventions ban on torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. Senate leaders, behind John McCain (R-AZ) have also joined the rebellion, passing a measure that upholds the standing definition of the Geneva constraints on coercive interrogation. [Full Story]
BUSH ADMITS TO SECRET JAILS WITH 'ALTERNATIVE' INTERROGATIONS
Pres. Bush has acknowledged the existence of a secret network of CIA-run prisons, where an "alternative set of procedures" was used to extract information given up "unwillingly" by top terror suspects. The revelation suggests that some facilities existed on European soil, renewing allegations that have long been denied by European and US officials, and provoking calls for a probe into possible human rights violations. [Full Story]
DESPITE THOUSANDS OF CIVILIAN DEATHS, FEW MURDER CASES HAVE BEEN BROUGHT IN IRAQ WAR
While prisoner abuse has been a widely reported charge, with shocking images and public outrage to keep attention on the subject, there has been relatively little similar public outrage expressed over situations where civilians have died in questionable circumstances. The Washington Post reports there has been a tendency not to investigate many such deaths, with top officials saying "in private" that there's "a tendency to consider Iraqi civilian deaths an unintended consequence of combat operations". [Full Story]
U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour has struck down a Bush administration policy loosening regulation of toxic pesticides. He found the rule change "striking in its total lack of any evidence of technical or scientific support for the policy positions ultimately adopted" and further chastised the government for failing to properly apply the Endangered Species Act. [Full Story]
WARRANTLESS NSA WIRETAPS RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL
A federal judge in Detroit ruled early yesterday that Pres. Bush's NSA surveillance program, which uses wiretaps implemented with no judicial oversight, is unconstitutional. The ruling strongly enforced the point that there are "no powers not created by the Constitution" rejecting the AG's claim that the Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force (in Afghanistan) as a legal platform for sweeping new domestic powers. [Full Story]
CIA AGENT WHOSE COVER WAS BLOWN BY WHITE HOUSE LEAK FILES SUIT AGAINST VP
In the summer of 2003, after victory had been declared in the invasion of Iraq, then career undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame's name was illegally leaked to the press by as yet undetermined government officials, effectively ending her undercover work and potentially endangering her life. Now she is filing suit against VP Cheney, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, and 10 unnamed administration officials for maliciously blowing her cover. [Full Story]
230 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Sentido is adding to its online content the transcripts of the founding documents of the republic of the United States of America. From THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE: "IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776 ... We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. —That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..." [Full Transcript]
SUPREME COURT FINDS GUANTÁNAMO DETAINEES' RIGHTS DENIED BY BUSH MILITARY TRIBUNALS
Pres. Bush's efforts to assume new powers in personally judging accused al-Qaeda co-conspirators "enemy combatants", then crafting a unique, extralegal war crimes tribunal system, where certain rights are denied the defendants, have been rejected by the Supreme Court. The Bush administration must now file criminal charges, either in civilian criminal court or before a standard military court martial. [Full Story]
ALITO BREAKS TIE, SUPREME COURT RULES 5-4 TO UPHOLD KANSAS DEATH PENALTY STATUTE
New Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito broke the tie between the other 8 justices, leading to a 5-4 majority upholding Kansas' death penalty statute. The statute was challenged by a man sentenced to death under a statutory provision which causes sentencing to default to death when juries find convicted murderers are not among the worst offenders, some of whom will not face a death sentence. [Full Story]
A new report by the human rights organization, entitled Partners in Crime, accuses 7 EU member states of collaborating in extrajudicial detentions and renditions to third countries or prison facilities where torture may be used. The report follows up on a Council of Europe investigation, headed by Swiss senator Dick Marty, which found that 14 EU states had been complicit in extralegal detentions and prisoner transfers. [Full Story]
HIGH COURT ALLOWS DEMOTION FOR DISSENT
The freedom of speech is one of the foundational rights under US constitutional law, as manifest in the First Amendment, because it affords the common citizen a protection against a basic authoritarian abuse of power. Now, the US Supreme Court has ruled 5 to 4 that public employees do not enjoy First Amendment protections while on duty. [Full Story]
THE NET WIDENS: WHAT ELSE ARE THEY MONITORING?
Historian and expert NSA researcher Matthew Aid has told Salon.com that he believes it will be revealed in time that Internet service providers and cellphone companies also cooperated with the NSA spying and data mining programs. He offered no proof, but cited past examples of NSA overreaching and the key fact that the article exposing the collaboration of 3 major telecoms failed to explore the complicity or innocence of cable, cellular and Internet companies. [Full Story]
NSA BUILDING DATABASE OF ALL PHONE CALLS MADE IN U.S.
The National Security Agency, which has been the center of a major legal controversy over its eavesdropping on law-abiding American citizens without judicial approval, has now been revealed to be collecting phone records of tens of millions of people. The effort is reportedly part of a strategy to amass a record of all phone traffic in the US, no matter its purpose. [Full Story]
GOV'T DOCUMENTS SHOW SURVEILLANCE OF FAITH-BASED HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP
New information acquired by the ACLU by way of the Freedom of Information Act, shows the FBI and the Joint Terrorist Task Force have been monitoring, infiltrating and spying on innocent, law-abiding individuals and both non-religious and faith-based activist groups whose activities are entirely peaceful and are protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. [Full Story]
GOV'T POLICY UNLAWFULLY CRIMINALIZES COMMENT ON SCIENTIFIC FACT
The global environment is, of course, a global issue, one that touches every life on the planet, and the science about it should be open and available to all. Past government policy and existing federal law mean that such scientific evidence should be readily available to the public. But now, it appears that several agencies are laboring to silence scientists who are researching climate trends and alterations. [Full Story]
COURT FILING CITES 'CONCERTED EFFORT' TO ATTACK CRITICS
Regardless of whether the president or the vice president have done anything illegal, it is now clear that they were both involved in deliberately using classified national security information to smear a critic of their Iraq policy. This contradicts statements made as recently as last week which suggest that the president opposed any such use of sensitive information for personal or political gain. [Full Story]
PRES. BUSH LINKED TO LEAK OF INFORMATION TO PRESS
As the case against Lewis "Scooter" Libby proceeds, for violating the federal law prohibiting the disclosure of the classified identities of undercover agents, he has reportedly testified to a grand jury that Pres. Bush was directly involved in the leaking of other information to the press. [Full Story]
AT&T SUED FOR VIOLATING LAW IN NSA DOMESTIC SPY PROGRAM
AT&T was once the nation's telecommunications monopoly, and abuses there led to the break-up of the Bell monopoly and the regulation of telecoms, with the intent of encouraging competition and achieving the goal of forcing providers to serve the customers first. Now, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed a lawsuit alleging that the telecommunications giant has violated federal law by assisting the government in spying on innocent Americans without any court authorization. [Full Story]
CITIZEN GOVERNMENT: HAVE YOUR SAY BEFORE CONGRESS VOTES
In an effort to prevent "earmarking", whereby language is added to a bill with the specific purpose of directing specific funds to a given project or district, Readthebill.org is calling for the US House to pass a resolution that would require that all legislation be available in full online, in its final form, for at least 72 hours before Congress votes on its passage. [Full Story]
OFFICIAL SECRECY POWER UNDERMINES FREE ENTERPRISE
In American society, it's worth asking whether secrecy in the hands of the powerful is compatible with representative democracy. There is no secrecy power in the US Constitution, and no law enacted by Congress provides such power. In the case of the Crater Coupler, the government's assertion of a right to conceal all activities related to a covert operation, under official secrecy claims, actively allowed a major company to usurp the intellectual property rights of an inventor, by stripping that individual and his partners of the constitutional right to seek redress in court. [Full Story]
In mid-December, a group of Republican senators and representatives held closed door meetings during which they crafted new language to save HMOs $22 billion over 10 years. Democrats were excluded from both meetings and not permitted to alter or remove the new language before Senate approval on 21 December. [Full Story]
Prelminary findings from the Council of Europe's investigation into human rights abuses and a secret CIA network of extralegal detention facilities report high probability that European governments knew what US forces were doing on their soil and in neighboring countries. [Full Story]
JUSTICE DEPT. ISSUES REPORT DEFENDING WARRANTLESS WIRETAPS
The US Justice Dept., under AG Alberto Gonzales, who advised Pres. Bush as White House Counsel, during the planning of the extrajudicial wiretaps, has issued a 42-page report that claims authorization for the wiretaps was implicit in the preliminary "Authorization for the Use of Military Force" (AUMF), passed after the attacks of 11 September 2001. Critics note a number of problems with the report and its premises. [Full Story]
FMR VP AL GORE SPEAKS ON DANGERS OF EXTRA-CONSTITUTIONAL ABUSES
Former US Vice President Al Gore gave what is being described as an historic non-partisan speech, calling for a passionate nationwide movement to defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States. Gore gave the speech in a non-partisan context, speaking at the Daughters of the American Revolution hall, with the express support and participation of Representative Bob Barr, Republican of Georgia. [Full Story]
DATA SHADOWS & IMPROBABLE CONSENT
Neither contracts nor "terms and conditions" including indemnities disclaimers, can be classified as legislation. They do not make or construct legal limits by themselves. Obvious as this may seem, it is a necessary introduction to the problem of the trade in personal information and "soft surveillance", whereby one is routinely subjected to interrogation, inspection and even physical search, not for having broken any laws or even aroused any reasonable suspicion, but simply because "that's policy". [Full Story]
PRIVACY MAY BE KEY TO ALITO'S FATE
Judge Samuel Alito, by most accounts named to become Associate Justice on the Supreme Court for his so exceedingly surpassing the ill-fated Harriet Miers in judicial experience, has tried to stay clear of the privacy issue. That is because privacy is essential in the Roe v. Wade ruling. But now, newly released documents seem to show Alito has expressed a lack of support for other constitutional privacy rights. [Full Story]
JUDGE QUITS SECRET 'SPY COURT' IN APPARENT PROTEST
Judge James Robertson —one of eleven members of the secret tribunal that hears cases related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and its sanctioned investigations— has resigned his post in protest. Judge Robertson reportedly told associates he believed Pres. Bush's order to the NSA to spy on Americans may violate federal law. [Full Story]
FEDERAL JUDGE RULES REQUIRING 'INTELLIGENT DESIGN' IN SCIENCE CLASS UNCONSTITUTIONAL
When the schoolboard for Dover, Pennsylvania, instituted a policy whereby "intelligent design" was required to be mentioned as a sort of disclaimer alternative to evolution in science classes, it sparked outcry across the state, the region and the nation. It led to all 8 members of the board being voted out of office and replaced with more moderate members of the community. [Full Story]
President Bush has announced his support for Sen. John McCain's proposed ban on cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of detainees in the "war on terror". The White House had opposed the ban, and the vice president had actively lobbied Congress to include an exception for the CIA. Sen. McCain repeatedly refused to weaken the ban, and both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly to support it as written. [Full Story]
A new AP report says political appointees at the Justice Department have overruled, without explanation, extensively researched advice from career staff at least three times, in each case apparently benefitting the political agenda of the Republican party. Two of the cases involved election laws which Justice lawyers believed would abridge the rights of minorities and the third involved a radical reduction in the penalties sought against tobacco companies. [Full Story]
The principal legal problem relating to alleged "ghost flights", secret interrogations and the policy of "extraordinary rendition" is the extralegal nature of all three techniques, designed to operate beyond the scope of ordinary legal constraints. Rendition is "extraordinary", because it evades the normal legal channels for processing criminal allegations, charges and suspects across international borders. [Full Story]
RICE STAKES OUT "NUANCED" POSITION ON ABDUCTIONS, TORTURE
Amid growing concern relating to press reports of undisclosed CIA flights through or over European nations, US Sec. of State Rice has sought to defend US policy. She affirmed that "The US does not permit, tolerate or condone torture under any circumstances", but admitted the US might make mistakes in the "war on terror", without specific reference to the alleged abduction of a German citizen who was later cleared. [Full Story]
New documents show Justice Department lawyers unanimously found the Texas Congressional redistricting plan to be illegal. But that finding was overruled by top Justice officials and the staff involved in the research and analysis "were subjected to an unusual gag rule", this according to the Washington Post. [Full Story]
Dana Priest, a Washington Post writer, reported yesterday astounding revelations about the existence of a global network of secret CIA-managed prisons which appear to violate numerous provisions of international law. The so-called "black sites" are said to exist or to have existed in at least 8 countries, including in eastern Europe, a fact which has sparked outrage across the continent. [Full Story]
LIBBY CHARGED WITH PERJURY, OBSTRUCTION, RESIGNS
The office of the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, investigating the leaking of the classified identity of an undercover CIA agent, announced Friday a 5-count indictment [PDF] against Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby. Libby was charged on 1 count of obstruction of justice, 2 counts of making false statements and two counts of perjury. [Full Story]
The State Department has announced it will introduce new passports with electronic features such as Radio Frequency IDentification chips, intended to match information stored on these chips to the bearer's physical appearance, and to other information. Privacy advocates say the move is a giant leap toward a state of totalitarian interference in citizens' movements and personal information. [Full Story]
PROSECUTOR DISCOVERS CHENEY WAS LIBBY'S SOURCE
The New York Times is reporting that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has discovered, in notes from a previously unknown conversation between VP Dick Cheney and his chief of staff I. Lewis Libby, that Cheney informed Libby of the status of Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame as a CIA operative. [Full Story]
CIA MEMO COULD YIELD CLUES IN LEAK PROBE
Prosecutors have discovered a key piece of evidence in the investigation into the leaking of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame by someone in the White House in the summer of 2003. The classified memo was authored in June 2003, just after Amb. Joseph Wilson published an article debunking the administration's Iraq-Niger uranium claims. [Full Story]
ROBERTS NAMED TO REPLACE O'CONNOR ON SUPREME COURT
John Roberts, currently a judge on the DC Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, has been named by Pres. George W. Bush to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Though some believe his nomination will be less contentious than other controversial "front-runners" discussed in recent days, liberals have criticized Roberts for his stance on abortion and on the separation of church and state, and he has been called "a corporatist"... [Full Story]
WHAT THE LAW SAYS ABOUT LEAKING COVERT OP INFO
The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, the applicable federal law, states that revealing "any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information" constitutes a violation of the law and can result in $50,000 in fines and/or 10 years in prison. According to Matt Cooper, Rove told him Wilson's wife was an "agency" operative. [Full Story]
OIL GIANT MAY FACE RULING ON FORCED LABOR IN BURMA
A Burmese woman, who was beaten and thrown with her baby into a fire by regime forces who sought to relocate her to a forcible labor camp set up to build a pipeline, filed suit in U.S. court against Unocal in 1994. The Burmese dictatorship, in order to provide cheap labor for the Unocal pipeline project, ordered the relocation of the plaintiff's entire village, committing them to forced labor to fulfill the pipeline contract. [Full Story]
Rep. John Dingell testified today on the floor of the House that the new Republican-backed energy plan would grant sweeping new powers over environmental policy to the Department of Energy, pre-empting and overruling both the EPA and the local authority of states. The bill's backers say it is designed to bring down prices of gasoline and other refined petroleum-based products.
There was a notable disregard for the issue of market dynamics and the positive effect of increased competition on oil prices. Consolidation in the oil industry has coincided with an increase over the last several years of nearly 100% in prices at the pump. The long-term costs, the need for punitive taxation, are significantly reduced by clean, non-polluting energy resources, such as wind and solar-voltaic power. [Full Story]
Attorney General John Ashcroft was called to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee today, only his third visit. Senator Kennedy and others on the Committee are seeking Justice Department memoranda linked to an ongoing debate within the Bush administration regarding the use of extreme stress and torture as interrogation methods. Ashcroft today refused to submit the memoranda in question to Senate Judiciary Committe for review in conjunction with Senate investigations into the incidents of torture uncovered in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay.
Senators believe that at least 3 memoranda being withheld contemplate the unconstitutionality of anti-torture treaties, and may assert that torture should be used in certain circumstances. [Full Story]
The US House today considered a proposed Constitutional Amendment permitting the appointment of Representatives to replace any who may have perished in an attack killing at least 100 elected Representatives. The proposed Amendment would establish a process whereby House Members themselves would specify an appointment to serve temporarily in their stead, in the eventuality that they perish in an attack killing at least 100 Members. [Full Story]
The Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate is now seeking to push a business-sponsored bill through the Senate, in order to forbid citizens from filing class-action suits before state courts. The purpose of the bill, as envisioned by its backers, is to impede the freedom of citizens to access the judicial system in order to seek redress for wrongs committed against them. By predetermining that a certain type of lawsuit can only occur in federal courts, the Republican sponsors are hoping that judges favorable to their political interests will reject suits that are unfavorable to their supporters in the corporate world. [Full Story]
The state of Maine has passed an Anti-Sweatshop Purchasing law requiring that all companies selling textiles in Maine follow international human rights-based code of conduct, inform public of location of factories, allowing consumers to choose lawful, ethical manufacturers over less scrupulous ones.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE TESTIFIES UNDER OATH
National Security Adviser, Condoleezza Rice, testified under oath today, before the Commission investigating the 9/11 attacks and intelligence activities during the years prior to the attacks. The testimony came only after months of stalling by the White House. Dr. Rice repeatedly asserted that there were no clear indications of imminent terrorist attack during the months prior to 9/11, but she admitted that the administration had been warned there were Al Qaeda cells operating in the US and under investigation. [Full Story]
SCALIA REFUSES TO RECUSE SELF IN CHENEY CASE
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has again refused repeated calls for his recusal in a case before the Court, which involves his personal friend, Vice President Dick Cheney. The uproar over conflict of interest was prompted by a controversial hunting trip, during which Justice Scalia allegedly received a number of "gifts" from the litigant, Cheney, including transportation in Vice-Presidential aircraft, special security protection, and ground transport. [Full Story]
NEW VOTING MACHINES FAIL TO VERIFY, LACK SECURITY
Since the 2000 presidential election, and the revelation of flaws in the Florida process, the nation has moved toward new balloting techniques. Today, an article in the New York Times reported that a "Red Team" security test conducted for Maryland's legislature revealed troubling security gaps in the state's new electronic voting system. The test demonstrated a wide range of rudimentary tactics that could be used to taint or even steal an election. Over 100,000 votes were lost in Florida's 2002 elections, "due to a software error". VerifiedVoting.org recommends a Google News search for "electronic voting", to locate a wide range of newspaper reports on the subject. [Full Story]
FBI WANTS NAMES IN LEAK PROBE
According to NBC News, the FBI has requested that certain senior officials in the Bush administration "to release reporters from confidentiality", freeing them to confirm whether they were the source for the leak of the name of an undercover CIA agent last year, without violating their journalistic ethics. Some media professionals are worried, saying the move is without precedent. Experts further indicate there is likely no legal support for the request, as courts routinely recognize source-protection privilege as belonging to the journalist, not the source.
WISCONSIN GOVERNOR WANTS INQUIRY INTO DRUG PRICING CRISIS
Governor Jim Doyle of Wisconsin today said in the Democratic radio address that he had asked AG Ashcroft to investigate certain drug companies for anti-trust violations, after they threatened to undersupply the Canadian market in order to drive up prices. He spoke about the crisis facing seniors who cannot afford high-priced prescription drugs and who cannot get coverage, and criticized the recent legislation passed by Congress as doing nothing to help seniors.
HOMICIDES UNSOLVED IN LARGE NUMBERS
ABC News reports today that fewer murders are being solved across America today than just a few years ago. As many as 400 murders that occurred in Baltimore in the last 3 years reportedly remain unsolved. Critics say that murderers need to be treated like "urban terrorists", and that the war on terrorism and new security provisions should not be allowed to divert resources and obstruct domestic investigations.
GUANTÁNAMO DETAINEES INCLUDE CHILDREN AND ELDERLY
C-SPAN's Washington Journal reports (in reference to prior media revelations and caller's inquiry) that children are among those being held incommunicado at Guantánamo Bay. At least one elderly man, over 90 years of age, was released earlier this year, when the military said he had been cleared of terrorist involvement. Joseph Onek of the Constitution Project said that cases are pending that argue for legal and humanitarian rights for detainees and that refute the government's claim that the American military base in Cuba cannot be considered "American soil".
FEDERAL APPEALS COURT RULES CITIZENS CANNOT BE LABELLED "ENEMY COMBATANTS"
In the case of José Padilla, an American citizen held without charges and without access to counsel for 18 months, a federal appeals court has ruled that President Bush does not have the authority to declare American citizens "enemy combatants" or to revoke their constitutional rights to due process under the 5th Amendment. Padilla is alleged to have been plotting a "dirty bomb" attack against the United States, but the government has so far provided no evidence to a civilian court of law, and has not charged the suspect with the alleged crime. The court gave the government 30 days to charge the suspect or release him.
MASSACHUSETTS STATE SUPREME COURT FORBIDS BAN ON GAY MARRIAGE
The Massachusetts State Supreme Court has ruled that the state cannot prevent homosexual couples from having access to the legal institution of marriage. In the ruling, the justices said that the state constitution "forbids the creation of second-class citizens". The ruling is seen by many on both sides of the debate as foreshadowing similar rulings throughout the country. Conservative opponents of such an interpretation of the law have been pushing for a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage nationwide. The ruling was lauded by the Anti-Defamation League as a manifestation of America's moving closer to the founding principle of equal rights.
ALABAMA SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE REMOVED FROM OFFICE
The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court was stripped of his office today, after testifying that under no circumstances would he acknowledge the federal court order forbidding him to place to Ten Commandments in state's highest courthouse or from referring to God as the highest law while exercising his duties. He was removed not for his religious position, but for having violated a federal court order, infraction which was seen as a threat to the integrity of the entire judicial system. There is speculation he will run for office again, possibly attempting to return as Chief Justice or to seek the Governorship of Alabama.
ANTI-SMOKING LAW PROMOTES "TOBACCO PRODUCTS"
Today the New York Times reported that the Bloomberg ban on smoking in New York eateries contains one exception: that five days per year be set aside for "sampling tobacco products". The provision was allegedly achieved by former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who lobbied for the exception.
CONSTITUTIONAL FREEDOMS vs EXECUTIVE CAPRICE
The Federal Communications Commission has been debating regulations that prevent concentration among media entities. FCC Chairman Powell has stated his inclination to remove these regulations, which would permit an unprecented concentration among information sources. Not only could the same company own television and print properties in the same market, but a single corporation might be enabled to acquire more than one of the major television networks, reducing market competition and the de facto freedom of the press, to an all-time low.
It is widely believed that this move would pose a dire threat to basic Constitutional rights, and would severely impair the ability of the People to have access to the mechanisms of information distribution.
NEW IMPEACHMENT REGIME: IS CONGRESS OBLIGED?
Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, a staunch proponent of Constitutional rights, due process and the rule of law, as well as an anti-war activist, has told the National Press Club that the House of Representatives has a Constitutional obligation to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president as a result of several policies which he says violate the fundamental meaning of the Constitution's provisions regarding Executive authority. Supporters of the president have responded by defaming Mr. Clark and his organization, but have not successfully explained away the Constitutional questions.
Mr. Clark was particularly critical of media coverage of the issue. He stated that 250,000 Americans have signed petitions calling for impeachment to proceed, but that concentration of media interests, along with ties to politically-interested industry, dampen the journalistic urge to cover such stories thoroughly. The story stands as a challenge to the media and to the government to make contact with the People directly, and to address serious issues about respect for the basic freedoms of the Bill of Rights.
COURT FACES QUESTIONS OF BASIC FREEDOM
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments regarding a Texas law banning "sodomy" and homosexual sex, even within the confines of private homes. The issue raises serious questions about the fundamental rights granted by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It is often asserted that the fundamental right to privacy stems from the First Amendment right to exercise freedom of expression, of assembly, and to worship as one pleases.
The First Amendment clearly protects the interests of dissenters and marginal groups, but there are other Amendments which may more precisely recognize and enshrine the right to one's privacy. [Keep Reading]