20.5.06

Haditha Massacre

Death Toll Rises in Haditha Attack:

A preliminary military investigation completed in March found that on Nov. 19 insurgents attacked a Marine convoy near Haditha in Iraq's violent Anbar province with a roadside bomb, killing Marine Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, 20, of El Paso. It said insurgents then opened fire on the Marines from several locations, and during the battle, eight insurgents and 15 civilians were killed, including women and children.

But earlier this week, Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) said the incident was 'much worse' and had involved no firefight or roadside bomb that killed civilians. 'Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood,' said Murtha, who seeks a rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Hunter also indicated yesterday that new facts had emerged on the number of civilian deaths and unfolding of events, but said he would not preempt the investigation and say that murders were committed. 'I think we're going to see those [deaths] in the neighborhood of 20 or so people,' he said. A statement from his committee put the number at 'about 24.'

'The initial reports, obviously, that came up through the command didn't . . . tell the story,' he said. The military's original Nov. 20 statement said an insurgent bomb had killed the civilians and Marine."


if this somewhat familiar: murdered civilian, the initial report being 'incorrect', consider My Lai. colin powell 'investigated' My Lai...:

Initial investigations of the My Lai incident were undertaken by the 11th Light Infantry Brigade's Commanding Officer, Colonel Oran Henderson, under orders from America's Assistant Commanding Officer, Brigadier General Young. Henderson interviewed several of the soldiers involved in the incident, then issued a written report in late April claiming that approximately 22 civilians were inadvertently killed during the military operation in My Lai. The army at this time was still describing the event as a military victory resulting in the death of 128 of the enemy.

Six months later, a 21-year-old soldier of the 11th Light Infantry (The Butcher's Brigade) named Tom Glen wrote a letter accusing the Americal Division (and other entire units of the U.S. military, not just individuals) of routine brutality against Vietnamese civilians; the letter was detailed, its allegations horrifying, and its contents echoed complaints received from other soldiers. Colin Powell, then a young US Army Major, was charged with investigating the letter, which did not specifically reference My Lai (Glen had no knowledge of the events there). Powell wrote: "In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent." Later, Powell's refutation would be called an act of "white-washing" the news of My Lai, and questions would continue to remain undisclosed to the public. On May 4, 2004, Powell, then United States Secretary of State, said to Larry King, "I mean, I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they are still to be deplored."[3]

19.5.06

Jerusalem Post makes the ghost of Goebbels blush with pride!

I just sent this to the Jerusalem Post

The motivation of your paper to publish that nonsense about a new "Iranian Law" regarding wearing yellow ribbons needs to be addressed. This piece of fiction is derived, I must assume, from a single source in an extremist neoconservative newspaper in Canada. The publication upon which you rely for this fiction is beneath the level of journalistic integrity that I had assumed your paper followed. Apparently, I am incorrect about your paper.

I suggest that you are using this issue to irrationally incite your readers with propaganda that supports your papers anti-Iranian bias. It is simply incredible that you would use the evil yellow star of Nazism in such a self-serving, corrupt manner. Goebbels would be proud of your manipulation of your readers in such a way.

Shame on you for doing so. If my intuition is incorrect, I would like your paper to substantiate your shameful reporting with legitimate, well-sourced proof from at least one other source. The actual text of this new law you claim exists would be most helpful.

Or, do you know that such sources are impossible since you know the story is a crass bit of propaganda?

This is the strategy used by the Jerusalem Post: One: have the Canadian rag make something up that is vehemently anti-Semetic, yet false, regarding Iran; Two: reprint it in the Jerusalem Post; and, Three: Have the US State Dept respond.

Now, they have come full circle and the US can pick up the ball and continue the lie all day on Saturday and drop it in the talking points on Fox and on the Sunday shows...

voila, the deed is done!!!

Goebbels is smiling from his grave...


Who bombed the mosque in Samarra? Who had the most to win in doing so?

Independent Online Edition > Middle East:

But a decisive step towards sectarian civil war took place when the Shia Al-Askari shrine in Samarra was blown up on 22 February this year. Some 1,300 Sunni were killed in retaliation.

Kadm Darwish Ali, a policeman from Baquba and now also a refugee, said: 'Everything got worse after Samarra. I had been threatened with death before but now I felt every time I appeared in the street I was likely to die.'

Every community has its atrocity stories. The cousin of a friend was a Sunni Arab who worked in the wholly Shia district of Qadamiyah in west Baghdad. One day last month he disappeared. Three days later his body was discovered on a rubbish dump in another Shia district. 'His face was so badly mutilated,' said my friend, that 'we only knew it was him from a wart on his arm.'

Since the destruction of the mosque in Samarra sectarian warfare has broken out in every Iraqi city where there is a mixed population. In many cases the minority is too small to stand and fight. Sunnis have been fleeing Basra after a series of killings. Christians are being eliminated in Mosul in the north. Shias are being killed or driven out of cities and towns north of Baghdad such as Baquba or Samarra itself.

CIA behind murders in Iran?

IRIB PERSIAN NEWS PAGE:

'The whole thing is planned in the disgraceful organisation, the CIA, and based on the difference between Shiites and Sunnis. They want to pit Shiites and Sunnis against each other as they did in Iraq,' said the major cleric.

Ayatollah Kashani was referring to a series of deadly attacks on Bam-Kerman road southeast of Iran last week, which claimed lives of a group of 12 civilians.

'The enemies had since triumph of the (1979 Islamic) Revolution (in Iran) overwhelmed the (Iranian) society and the world atmosphere with propaganda in the one-side road of the world media; the world people, however, do not have a mere belief in their claims because they (the enemies) are separate from their people.'

'These idiots have not identified Shiites and Sunnis well; true, Shiites and Sunnis have differences inside but they share a common culture for protection of Quran and religion and they are all unitedin their basics,' he added.

He said Muslims do differ in ideology but the core issue for them is Islam.

'Alike all its wrong doings, CIA has this time too given its money to a number of thieves and criminals to come to the road and kill a number of innocent people, thinking falsely that they had done an important task,' Kashani said.

UN tells U.S. Guantanamo should close

UN tells U.S. Guantanamo should close - Europe - International Herald Tribune: "

The United States 'should cease to detain any person at Guantanamo Bay and close the detention facility,' said the UN Committee Against Torture, a panel of 10 independent experts on adherence to the UN Convention Against Torture.

The United States should also ensure that no one is detained in secret detention facilities under its control and should disclose the existence of any such places, the report said.

The committee said it was concerned that detainees were being held for protracted periods with insufficient legal safeguards and without judicial assessment of the justification for their detention.

The committee was also concerned about allegations that the United States has established secret prisons, where the International Red Cross does not have access to the detainees.

The report also said the United States must 'eradicate' all forms of torture committed by its personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq and investigate allegations thoroughly, prosecuting any staff found guilty.

The report presented committee conclusions from a hearing earlier this month into U.S. conduct.

Four prisoners attempt suicide at Guantanamo camp

Four prisoners attempt suicide at Guantanamo camp:

Four Guantanamo prisoners tried to commit suicide on Thursday and several others attacked guards who rushed in to halt one of the attempts, a camp spokesman said.

Three took overdoses of prescription medicine they had apparently been hoarding, and the fourth tried to hang himself, said Cmdr. Robert Durand, a detention camp spokesman. None of the suicide attempts succeeded, he said.

'At this point, I have no idea of motive, no idea of any co-ordination and no idea of any intended message,' Durand said.

The attempted hanging took place in a medium-security camp where prisoners live in groups of up to 10 men in long bays lined with metal cots. When guards entered the unit, roommates 'tried to prevent them from rescuing the detainee by using fans, light fixtures and other items as improvised weapons,' Durand said.

Guards halted the attempted hanging, quelled the disturbance and moved the roommates to a maximum-security area, Durand said.

18.5.06

Iraqis fleeing the 'slaughter farm'

Iraqis fleeing the 'slaughter farm':

Deaths run like water through the life of the Bahjat family. A barber. Three grocers. Four neighbors. Two men who ran a currency exchange shop. But when six armed men stormed into their sons' primary school this month, shot a guard to death, and left fliers ordering it to close, Assad Bahjat knew it was time to leave.

'The main thing now is to just get out of Iraq,' said Bahjat, standing in a room heaped with suitcases and bedroom furniture in eastern Baghdad. 'It's like we are in hell, looking for a piece of straw to grab onto,' Bahjat said. 'Even with more time, the security will not improve.'

Iraqis have been leaving Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Jordan is believed to have close to a million Iraqis, and Syrian cities also have growing Iraqi populations. But since the bombing of a shrine in Samarra sparked a sectarian rampage, crime and killing has spread further through Iraqi society, paralyzing neighborhoods and smashing families. Now, on the brink of a new, permanent government, Iraqis are expressing the darkest view of their future in three years, and larger numbers are choosing to leave.

'We're like sheep at a slaughter farm,' said a businessman, who is arranging a move to Jordan. 'Before we were 2,000, and now we are 200. We are just waiting for our time.' 'Now you feel, it is much more dangerous for yourself,' the businessman said. 'All Iraqis are talking like this.'

Judge sides with Bush Black-shirts regarding Masri torture case

Judge dismisses:

A U.S. judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against former CIA Director George Tenet by a German of Lebanese origin who says he was abducted and tortured by the American spy agency.

U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis agreed with government arguments that moving forward with the case of Khaled el-Masri would risk national security by exposing state secrets about CIA activities vital to the U.S. war on terrorism.

'While dismissal of the complaint deprives el-Masri of an American judicial forum for vindicating his claims .... el-Masri's private interests must give way to the national interest in preserving state secrets,' Ellis wrote in a 17-page ruling

This from jurist.com:
The US Supreme Court established the state secrets privilege in the 1953 case United States v. Reynolds. The government invoked the privilege in only four cases between 1953 and 1976, but it has been invoked more than 20 times since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and at least five times in the past year, counting the el-Masri case. El-Masri, a father of five, had sought $75,000 in damages, which his lawyer had suggested could be dropped in exchange for a personal apology from Tenet

ACLU Says Specter’s NSA Legislation Would Pardon Bush's Lawlessness

American Civil Liberties Union : ACLU Says Specter’s NSA Legislation Would Pardon President’s Illegal Actions; Group Calls for Inspector General Investigation: "

The Specter bill would essentially whitewash the illegal actions of the Bush administration,' said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU Executive Director. 'Congress should not move forward on any legislation until and unless it has a full understanding of the facts. President Bush has used 9/11 as a blank check to abuse his power to the detriment of the rule of law and the Constitution. What we need now is vigorous congressional oversight and a thorough investigation into the NSA’s illegal spying programs.'

Specter’s new draft would replace a bill he had previously introduced, S.2453, the National Security Surveillance Act of 2006. The new version would pardon the president for authorizing the warrantless wiretapping of Americans, in violation of current criminal and intelligence laws. Specifically, the new bill would amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the criminal code by allowing wiretapping at the direction of the president outside of those existing laws. This move would create a retroactive exception to criminal liability when warrantless wiretapping is done at the president’s direction under a claim of inherent authority.

Prodi: Iraq war was 'grave error'

CNN.com - Prodi: Iraq war was 'grave error' - May 18, 2006:

Italy's new Prime Minister Romano Prodi has said the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was a 'grave error.'

'We consider the war in Iraq and the occupation of the country a grave error,' Prodi told the upper house of parliament on Thursday as he outlined the program of his new government which was sworn in the day before.

'It has not resolved, but complicated the situation of security,' he said. Prodi, a center-left politician who prevails over a wafer-thin majority in government, was jeered by center-right senators who yelled 'shame, shame.'

Italy's center-left parties opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq three years ago, but the government of then Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi backed it and then sent in peacekeepers.

Italy has about 3,000 troops in Iraq in peacekeeping roles and Prodi reiterated his intention to pull them out, a plan that had been in the works under his predecessor.

John Conyers: No Rush to Impeachment

No Rush to Impeachment:

Conyers outlines a nuanced approach to take the impeachment out of the reupublican tool-kit for 2006...an interesting approach...

As Republicans have become increasingly nervous about whether they will be able to maintain control of the House in the midterm elections, they have resorted to the straw-man strategy of identifying a parade of horrors to come if Democrats gain the majority. Among these is the assertion that I, as the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, would immediately begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush.

I will not do that. I readily admit that I have been quite vigorous, if not relentless, in questioning the administration. The allegations I have raised are grave, serious, well known, and based on reliable media reports and the accounts of former administration officials.

...

So, rather than seeking impeachment, I have chosen to propose comprehensive oversight of these alleged abuses. The oversight I have suggested would be performed by a select committee made up equally of Democrats and Republicans and chosen by the House speaker and the minority leader.

The committee's job would be to obtain answers -- finally. At the end of the process, if -- and only if -- the select committee, acting on a bipartisan basis, finds evidence of potentially impeachable offenses, it would forward that information to the Judiciary Committee. This threshold of bipartisanship is appropriate, I believe, when dealing with an issue of this magnitude.

One-party rule has dug our nation into a deep hole over the past six years. The Judiciary Committee needs to fully implement the recommendations of the Sept. 11 commission, strengthen laws against wartime fraud, ban trade with state sponsors of terrorism, increase funding for community policing and protect government whistle-blowers. Most important, before we have another presidential election, I believe we need to pass laws protecting the integrity of our electoral system -- the very foundation of our democracy.

17.5.06

Bush Turns to the Usual Suspects: Big Military Contractors

Seeking to Control Borders, Bush Turns to Big Military Contractors - New York Times:

Now, how did these people know that the Senate would pass that bill today, hmmmm?

The quick fix may involve sending in the National Guard. But to really patch up the broken border, President Bush is preparing to turn to a familiar administration partner: the nation's giant military contractors.

Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, three of the largest, are among the companies that said they would submit bids within two weeks for a multibillion-dollar federal contract to build what the administration calls a 'virtual fence' along the nation's land borders.

Using some of the same high-priced, high-tech tools these companies have already put to work in Iraq and Afghanistan — like unmanned aerial vehicles, ground surveillance satellites and motion-detection video equipment — the military contractors are zeroing in on the rivers, deserts, mountains and settled areas that separate Mexico and Canada from the United States.

US soldiers as war criminals: Iraqi Civilians deliberately murdered

KRT Wire | 05/17/2006 | Pentagon report said to find killing of Iraqi civilians deliberate:

A Pentagon report on an incident in which U.S. Marines shot and killed more than a dozen Iraqi civilians last November will show that those killings were deliberate and worse than initially reported, a Pennsylvania congressman said Wednesday.

'There was no firefight. There was no IED (improvised explosive device) that killed those innocent people,' Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., said during a news conference on Iraq. 'Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them. And they killed innocent civilians in cold blood. That is what the report is going to tell.'

Murtha's comments were the first on-the-record remarks by a U.S. official characterizing the findings of military investigators looking into the Nov. 19 incident. Murtha, the ranking Democrat on the Defense Appropriations subcommittee and an opponent of Bush administration policy in Iraq, said he hadn't read the report but had learned about its findings from military commanders and other sources.

...

After CNN broke the news of the initial investigation in March, military officials told Knight Ridder that the civilians were killed not in the initial blast but were apparently caught in the crossfire of a subsequent gun battle as 12 to 15 Marines fought insurgents from house to house over the next five hours. At that time, military officials told Knight Ridder that four of the civilians killed were women and five were children. Subsequent reporting from Haditha by Time and Knight Ridder revealed a still different account of events, with survivors describing Marines breaking down the door of a house and indiscriminately shooting the building's occupants.

Twenty-three people were killed in the incident, relatives of the dead told Knight Ridder.The uncle of one survivor, a 13-year-old girl, told Knight Ridder that the girl had watched the Marines open fire on her family and that she had held her 5-year-old brother in her arms as he died. The girl shook visibly as her uncle relayed her account, too traumatized to recount what happened herself."I understand the investigation shows that in fact there was no firefight, there was no explosion that killed the civilians on a bus," Murtha said. "There was no bus. There was no shrapnel. There was only bullet holes inside the house where the Marines had gone in. So it's a very serious incident, unfortunately. It shows the tremendous pressure these guys are under every day when they're out in combat and the stress and consequences."

Murtha, who retired as a colonel after 37 years in the Marine Corps, said nothing indicates that the Iraqis killed in the incident were at fault.

Bowing To The Police State

TomPaine.com - Bowing To The Police State:

Former CIA, Ray McGovern:
The executive branch is “walking all over the Congress at the moment,” complained Sen. Arlen Specter, R.-Pa., last week to the Senate Judiciary Committee which he chairs. Unlike Roberts and Hoekstra, Specter seems genuinely troubled at the president’s disdain for the separation of powers and particularly his end-run around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which prohibits eavesdropping on American citizens without a court warrant.

But when Specter meets a stonewall, he caves. He may ask telephone company CEOs why they surrendered records to the government, but—illegal eavesdropping or no—Specter will likely remain a spectator, as Pat Roberts greases the skids for Big Brother Gen. Michael Hayden, architect and implementer of eavesdropping on Americans in violation of FISA, to become the next director of the CIA. Hayden’s disingenuousness in his testimony before the intelligence committees has been clear, but the committee chairmen are as much to blame for winking at it.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department has told Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D.-N.Y., that it is stopping its months-long investigation into who approved the NSA’s eavesdropping-on-American-citizens initiative (now euphemistically dubbed “the terrorist surveillance program”). Justice explained to Hinchey that the NSA would not grant Justice department investigators the appropriate security clearances to investigate the NSA program. Kafka would smirk.

Bush's black-shirts give permission to phone companies to lie about their activities

As reported on Think Progress, the Fuhrer has given permission to Negroponte to permit the phone companies involved in the NSA wire-tapping programmes to lie to their holders, and the public:


Assignment of Function Relating to Granting of
Authority for Issuance of Certain Directives

Memorandum for the Director of National Intelligence

By virtue of the authority vested in me by the
Constitution and laws of the United States, including
section 301 of title 3, United States Code, I hereby
assign to you the function of the President under
section 13(b)(3)(A) of the Securities Exchange Act of
1934, as amended (15 U.S.C. 78m(b)(3)(A)). In
performing such function, you should consult the heads
of departments and agencies, as appropriate.

You are authorized and directed to publish this
memorandum in the Federal Register.

(Presidential Sig.)B

THE WHITE HOUSE,

Washington, May 5, 2006.
What this memorandum means is that the phone companies can violate the following portion of the SEC regulations. With the Fuhrer's memorandum, and Negroponte's permission, the phone companies were 'covered' for lying to the public and their shareholders over the past several days with their denials of their participation in the programme:

US CODE: Title 15,78m. Periodical and other reports:

With respect to matters concerning the national security of the United States, no duty or liability under paragraph (2) of this subsection shall be imposed upon any person acting in cooperation with the head of any Federal department or agency responsible for such matters if such act in cooperation with such head of a department or agency was done upon the specific, written directive of the head of such department or agency pursuant to Presidential authority to issue such directives. Each directive issued under this paragraph shall set forth the specific facts and circumstances with respect to which the provisions of this paragraph are to be invoked. Each such directive shall, unless renewed in writing, expire one year after the date of issuance.

US in secret alliance with Somali war lords fighting Islamic militia

Telegraph | News | US in secret alliance with Somali war lords fighting Islamic militia:

Bush crime family expands into Somalia
America is secretly returning to the scene of one of its greatest military debacles as it backs an alliance of secular warlords engaged in war-torn Somalia's recent eruption of fighting.

Memories of the disastrous 1993 intervention in Somalia, which climaxed in the shooting down of two Black Hawk helicopters and the deaths of 18 US soldiers, depicted in the film Black Hawk Down, still haunt the US military and the American heartland.

But amid escalating concerns that al-Qa'eda sympathisers are seeking to make Somalia a base for Islamist terrorism, it emerged yesterday that America is once again playing warlord politics, siding with a secular alliance of warlords against Islamic militias.

Such an approach backfired badly in the 1990s when American forces took sides and became embroiled in factional politics. However, a senior US administration official told The Daily Telegraph yesterday: 'The president is not going to allow Somalia to become a safe haven for terrorists.'

An estimated 130 people, most of them civilians, were killed and 300 injured after the latest surge in fighting between militia loyal to hard-line Islamic courts and forces allied to the alliance of powerful businessmen and warlords.

Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.: Enough Of The War - And Enough Of Lieberman

courant.com | Enough Of The War - And Enough Of Lieberman:

Iraq is a war based on falsehood for which thousands of young Americans have been killed and wounded. It is a policy mistake that has drained the life's blood of financial resources from all our endeavors here at home. It is the issue that shapes all other issues.

Ned Lamont has taken a clear stand on exiting this insanity. Sen. Joe Lieberman has made staying the course the cornerstone of his term. In his TV advertisements, Sen. Lieberman belatedly pleads for a civil dialogue on the war issue. How do you dialogue on a mistake based on a lie? A candid and wise man would have admitted his error and moved on in a new direction. Not so the incumbent senator.

Ned is challenging Sen. Lieberman for the Democratic nomination this week in Hartford. I know Ned from the years when we were fellow townsmen in Greenwich. Indeed, I appointed him chairman of the Investment Advisory Council to the state pension fund - a volunteer job - when I was governor. He is a highly qualified, idealistic individual.

EEF Judge denies ATT request to return documents

USATODAY.com - Judge seals documents in NSA spying suit:

Secret documents that allegedly detail the surveillance of AT&T Inc. phone and e-mail lines under the Bush administration's domestic spying program can be used in a lawsuit against the telephone giant, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, but the records will remain sealed.

U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker rejected a bid by AT&T to return the records given to the privacy advocate Electronic Frontier Foundation by a former AT&T technician. But Walker said the records would remain under seal until it can be determined whether they reveal trade secrets.

'The best course of action is to preserve the status quo,' Walker said.

The hearing is the first in a lawsuit challenging the administration's secretive domestic surveillance program.

The suit, filed by EFF in U.S. District Court here, accuses AT&T of illegally cooperating with the National Security Agency to make communications on the company's networks available to the spy agency without warrants.

'They are asking this court to suppress evidence of AT&T's criminal activity,' EFF lawyer Maria Morris said in arguing that the records remain part of the case.

Bush campaign official goes to prison for Election Day phone-jamming plot

FormerGOP official sentenced to 10 months for phone-jamming - Boston.com:

Former Republican National Committee official James Tobin was sentenced to 10 months in prison Wednesday for his role in an Election Day phone-jamming plot against New Hampshire Democrats.

Tobin, of Bangor, Maine, was found guilty in December on two felony telephone harassment charges. He also was fined $10,000, followed by two years probation. The judge rejected a request from Tobin's lawyers for a six-month sentence of home confinement and community service.

U.S. District Judge Steven McAuliffe said Wednesday he was impressed by the letters and testimony about Tobin's many acts of kindness toward friends and family, but wished Tobin "had a better sense of how serious this was."

The phone jamming was not just a dirty trick, he said. "It was a direct assault on a free and fair electoral system. ... We'll never know if the wrong people are sitting in government because of this effort.

Specter bends over again to appease the extremists

Specter strikes NSA deal

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and conservative members of his panel have reached agreement on legislation that may determine the legality of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance program, GOP sources say.

Specter has mollified conservative opposition to his bill by agreeing to drop the requirement that the Bush administration seek a legal judgment on the program from a special court set up by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978.

Instead, Specter agreed to allow the administration to retain an important legal defense by allowing the court, which holds its hearings in secret, to review the program only by hearing a challenge from a plaintiff with legal standing, said a person familiar with the text of language agreed to by Specter and committee conservatives.

Conservative Republicans who pushed for the change say that it will help quell concerns about the measure’s constitutionality and allow the White House to retain a basic legal defense.

CIA Officials confrim Rendition ot EU Black-sites

EUobserver.com:
CIA officials have corroborated reports that extraordinary renditions - transfers of prisoners from one country to another bypassing due judicial rule - have taken place on European soil with the blessing of EU governments.

A delegation from the European Parliament committee investigating allegations of US kidnappings and secret prison camps in Europe, on Wednesday (17 May) reported the information after a recent visit to the US.

'More than one source in the CIA...told us that between 30 and 50 people have been transported by extraordinary rendition,' Italian Socialist MEP and committee rapporteur Giovanni Claudio Fava told reporters in Strasbourg.

Professor Tribe: Bush stomps on Fourth Amendment

Bush stomps on Fourth Amendment - The Boston Globe:

THE ESCALATING controversy over the National Security Agency's data mining program illustrates yet again how the Bush administration's intrusions on personal privacy based on a post-9/11 mantra of ''national security' directly threaten one of the enduring sources of that security: the Fourth Amendment ''right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.'

The Fourth Amendment's guarantee against unconstrained snooping by Big Brother -- made bigger by an onrush of information-trolling technology that few foresaw in 1979 -- is bipartisan. It is a guarantee that cannot tolerate the pretense that numbers called from a private phone, unlike the conversations themselves, are without ''content." That pretense is impossible to maintain now that the technology deployed by NSA enables the agency to build a web with those numbers that can ensnare individuals -- all individuals -- just as comprehensively and intimately as all-out eavesdropping.

...

The legal landscape, too, has changed decisively since the court's majority opined that Americans have no expectation of privacy in the numbers they call. Rejecting the accuracy of that description even decades ago, Congress, which was more vigorous then in its protection of privacy, enacted statutes reassuring us that our phone records would not be shared willy-nilly with government inquisitors without court orders. So it can no longer be said, if it ever could have been, that our ''expectations of privacy" about whom we call are groundless or that we ''consent" to reconstruction of our telephone profiles by using one of the phone companies that, unbeknownst to us, have agreed to share such information (although, we're told, not the content of every call) with NSA on demand.

Privacy apart, this president's defiance of statutes by the dozens is constitutionally alarming. But the matter goes deeper still. Even if Congress were to repeal the laws securing telephone privacy, or if phone companies found loopholes to slip through when pressured by government, the Constitution's Fourth Amendment shield for ''the right of the people to be secure" from ''unreasonable searches" is a shield for all seasons, one that a lawless president, a spineless Congress, and a complacent majority of citizens -- who are conditioned to a government operating under a shroud of secrecy while individuals live out their lives in fishbowls -- cannot be permitted to destroy, for the rest of us and our children.

16.5.06

Snooping on Reporters?

Snooping on Reporters?:

Watergate legend Carl Bernstein slammed such an approach by investigators, but showed optimism that it would not result in sources drying up.

'If indeed it is being done -- which would be totally consistent with the draconian and disingenuous policies of this presidency in regard to press and the war in Iraq -- it is one more offense against the truth by President Bush and his administration,' Bernstein said. 'There are always going to be decent people in institutions like the CIA, when they see indecent or untruthful actions, who will respond with decent actions, who are interested in truthfulness as being an essential element of real national security.

'There will always be courageous reporters who won't be intimidated, and courageous public servants who see the press as a last resort to call attention to official lies and disinformation.'

Europe Shames US Congress

village voice > news > Liberty Beat by Nat Hentoff:

CIA war crimes in Europe are now under official investigation there, but not here
There will be more of the findings of this long-needed Detainee Abuse and Accountability Project in future columns, but to begin: 'The DAA Project has documented over 330 cases in which U.S. military and civilian personnel are credibly alleged to have abused or killed detainees. (Emphasis added.)

'These cases involve more than 600 U.S. personnel and over 460 detainees. . . . These numbers are conservative. . . . Only 54 military personnel—a fraction of the more than 600 U.S. personnel implicated in detainee abuse cases—are known to have been convicted by court-martial. . . . Many sentences have been for less than a year, even in cases involving serious abuse.'

A crucial finding: 'No U.S. military [superior] officer has been found accountable for criminal acts committed by subordinates under the doctrine of command responsibility [that] a superior is responsible for the criminal acts of subordinates if the superior knew or should have known that the crimes were being committed and failed to take steps to prevent them or to punish the perpetrators.'

At the top of the United States chain of command is the commander in chief, the president. Homicides, as this report documents, have been committed on his watch.

72 members of Congress support CCR challenge to warrantless spying

CCR:

On May 11, 2006 the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) welcomed support from 72 Members of Congress who filed amicus briefs in support of its challenge to warrantless spying, which asserts that the NSA Program is illegal and requests an injunction to bar further spying on Americans (CCR v. Bush). The filing comes amidst new disclosures that the NSA Program has collected tens of millions of phone call records, amassing information about “the calls of ordinary Americans” with the cooperation of several telephone companies, according to an article in today’s USA Today.

15.5.06

Feds Monitoring Reporters' Calls

ABC News Reports: Feds Monitoring Reporters' Calls:

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito of ABC News reported on the networks 'The Blotter' web site this morning that a senior federal law enforcement official had informed them that 'the government is tracking the phone numbers we call in an effort to root out confidential sources.'

This source quipped: 'It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick.'

The two journalists added: 'We do not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

'Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation. One former official was asked to sign a document stating he was not a confidential source for New York Times reporter James Risen.

'Our reports on the CIA's secret prisons in Romania and Poland were known to have upset CIA officials. People questioned by the FBI about leaks of intelligence information say the CIA was also disturbed by ABC News reports that revealed the use of CIA predator missiles inside Pakistan.

Chavez: Imprison 'genocidal' Bush

CNN.com - Chavez: Imprison 'genocidal' Bush - May 15, 2006:

The leftist leader made his remarks on Monday at a joint news conference with London Mayor Ken Livingstone after a reporter for the BBC likened some comments of his to Bush's phrase, first delivered shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, 'You are either with us or against us in the fight against terror.'

At that, Chavez erupted in anger about being 'compared to the biggest genocide person alive, in the history of humanity, the president of the United States -- killer, genocidal, immoral -- who should be taken to prison by an international court. I don't know to what you are referring when you compare me to President Bush.'

He added: 'Have I invaded any country? Have Venezuelans invaded anything? Have we bombarded a city? Have we had a coup d'etat? Have we used the CIA to kill a president? Have we protected terrorists in Venezuela? That's Bush!'

14.5.06

The few, the proud, the severely mentally ill...

'Hartford Courant': U.S. Sending Mentally Unstable Troops into Battle:

U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported for Sunday editions.

The Hartford Court, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evcuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.

Twnety-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year, the highest rate since the war started, the newspaper said.

Notes Are Said to Reveal Close Cheney Interest in a Critic of Iraq Policy

Notes Are Said to Reveal Close Cheney Interest in a Critic of Iraq Policy - New York Times:

Mr. Cheney's notes were cited in a prosecution brief in the case against the vice president's former chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr. The entries were made on a copy of an Op-Ed article by Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador, that was published in The New York Times on July 6, 2003. The leak case involves the disclosure that Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie, was a C.I.A. officer.

'Those annotations support the proposition that publication of the Wilson Op-Ed acutely focused the attention of the vice president and the defendant — his chief of staff — on Mr. Wilson, on the assertions made in his article, and on responding to those assertions,' said the legal papers filed Friday by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel in the case.

In neat writing above the text of the column, prosecutors say, Mr. Cheney wrote: 'Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an Amb. to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?'