Sunday, April 22, 2007

Gonzo Dances the Legal Limbo

There is no "limbo" according to the Pope. However, Gonzo may see it different these days.

Or can he see at all? Will his defense be that he needed new glasses? Maybe that explains why he signed off on the torture, caste off Geneva as a Gold Standard of humanity for the world, fired some of our best U.S. Attorneys and tells Dubya anything he wanted to do was legally fine by him. He felt strongly in the presidents "unitary authority." What country was he talking about? Can't be this one...

But after all, this is counsel who has never tried a case- so its not like he's a real lawyer.

His stint on the hot seat Thursday proved that. RAW Story cited an article that said he had a total of 71 "I don't recall" "I don't know" "I don't remember." John Stewart said 45 before lunch!

Note to Dearest Readers: Prissy has some interesting projects going on to tell you about...more soon!

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Prissy likes the way these JAG's think...from Military Law Review - Volume 185 - Fall 2005 (in pdf)

EMERGENCY POWERS AND TERRORISM p. 83 In his classic concurrence analyzing separation of powers, Justice Jackson pointed out that the President is on strongest ground when he acts with congressional authorization, may or may not have constitutional powers when acting in congressional silence, and must have strong independent constitutional grounds when going against the will of Congress.

p. 84 Under that reasoning, to justify military force to perform civil law enforcement after passage of the posse comitatus legislation, the President would have to persuade a majority of the court that a genuine emergency existed sufficient to justify departure from specific congressional direction. After the experience of Korematsu, Duncan, and Youngstown, it is doubtful that anything short of imminent invasion could justify unilateral action in violation of the statute.

(bold PP)

Dubya, in America you govern, you do not rule...

A Shero steps forward! Yahoo Official takes risks warning on pet drug The first hints of trouble came with vague warnings from the outer reaches of the bureaucracy. She was "pushing too hard." She was "alarmist."

In June 2005, a Wyeth manager made a sales call at an Alabama veterinary practice, where he openly blamed (Dr. Victoria) Hampshire for the Proheart 6 recall, according to a confidential letter written by a vet there to the FDA. The Wyeth employee boasted that the company had her investigated by private detectives, and she had been "taken care of," according to the letter obtained by The Associated Press. He then predicted the drug's swift return to market.

That Wyeth manager, Glen Kimmorley, did not answer AP messages left at a home phone in his name. The Wyeth spokesman said Kimmorley "was expressing his own opinion and was not authorized to speak on behalf of the company." However, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who has been investigating Hampshire's case, says Wyeth "tried to destroy a reputation."

He added: "Her own agency sold her down the river."

Hampshire still feels edgy, less trusting, shamefully naive about corporate influence on government. Her husband, Bob Balaban — himself a senior scientist at the National Institutes of Health — says she's "not the same person." They hope for more answers from Senate investigators.

This retaliation against people trying to make something better must stop. Prissy will have to note that when she gripes at Congress.

Good grief, have Dubya's people gone feral?

Angus-Reid PollingRussians Have Good Opinion of China

More people in Russia see China as an amicable country, according to a poll by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center. 27 per cent of respondents perceive China as a friendly state and an ally, up five points since July 2005.

An additional 36 per cent regard China as Russia’s strategic and economic partner, while 21 per cent consider it an economic and political rival and a competitor.

How do they see us? Don't ask...

This is London Power lines link to cancer in new alert

The report was drawn up by scientists, electricity company bosses, the National Grid, government officials and campaigners over two years after the Health Protection Agency accepted there was a weak statistical "association" between prolonged exposure to power fields and childhood leukaemia.

But the 40 members of the panel have clashed over the final details and conclusions.

It stops short of specifically recommending a ban on new homes and schools within 60 metres of power lines, or vice versa, which could wipe a total of £2 billion off property prices across Britain and limit land for housing developments.

But the report concludes that the Government should consider such a move, stating: "We urge government to make a clear decision on whether to implement this option or not."

Channel News Asia Iraq PM to lobby for Egypt talks

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki will begin a regional tour on Sunday to drum up support for next month's international conference in Egypt aimed at quelling the raging bloodshed in Iraq.

His tour comes to the backdrop of a warning by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates to Iraqi leaders that they need to work faster to reconcile their rival factions as American support cannot be taken for granted for ever.

Coffeyville Journal, more proof evangelicals need more than God... Female teacher charged with sexual relationship with student

Marsha Mote, a 37-year-old Tyro Community Christian School teacher, was charged Tuesday at the Montgomery County, Kansas courthouse with aggravated indecent liberties with one of her 14-year-old students.

Court documents filed Tuesday by Montgomery County Attorney Larry Markle accused Mote of unlawfully, feloniously and intentionally having sexual intercourse with a girl on March 1. The girl was both a student at the school and a member of the church. The incident involved penetration and is alleged to have occurred off of school and church property.

Tyro Christian Church Pastor David Bycroft stated Tuesday that he became aware of the incident on March 3 when Mote called him to her home. "Marsha admitted to having been in a compromising position with a minor," Bycroft stated. "She immediately resigned her teaching position at Tyro Community Christian School and was relieved of all of her volunteer duties at the Tyro Christian Church. I then contacted the sheriff of Montgomery County."

Mote is the wife of Tyro Christian School Associate Pastor Kevin Mote. He has taken a leave of absence.

It will, I believe, everywhere be found, that as the clergy are, or are not what they ought to be, so are the rest of the nation -- Jane Austen

WaPo Congress Skeptical of Warhead Plan Lawmakers and Experts Question Necessity, Implications of a New Nuclear Weapon

Congressional hearings over the past several weeks have shown that the Bush administration's plan to move ahead with a new generation of nuclear warheads faces strong opposition from House and Senate members concerned that the effort lacks any strategic underpinning and could lead to a new nuclear arms race.

Experts inside and outside the government questioned moving forward with a new warhead as old ones are being refurbished and before developing bipartisan agreement on how many warheads would be needed at the end of what could be a 30-year process. Several, including former senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.), suggested linking production of a new warhead with U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a move the Bush administration has opposed.

Bush eliminated the "Mutual Assured Destruction Theory" that most military strategists took into account while planning national defense. Not so much a "theory " as it is common sense. Leave it to these guys to extinct the human race. Does Prissy believe they are that stupid? YES...

The Corruption Chronicles Imprisoned Mayor Says Pay Up

A former Connecticut mayor and once-prominent Republican politician serving a lengthy federal prison sentence for child sexual abuse had the audacity to claim that the city he once headed owes him tens of thousands of dollars in personal benefits.

Former Waterbury Mayor Philip A. Giordano was convicted in 2003 of 17 counts of child abuse involving the use of city-owned equipment to set up sexual liaisons with two young girls. He was sentenced to 37 years in federal prison and now claims that Waterbury owes him $61,000 for unused vacation, sick and personal days.

Giordano, a three-term Waterbury mayor, had also served as a Connecticut state representative and was the Republican challenger against popular incumbent Senator Joseph Lieberman in 2000. The child sex charges surfaced in 2001, during a federal corruption investigation into Giordano's administration. He was accused of taking kickbacks involving city contracts, making him Waterbury's third consecutive mayor to end up in court and the second to go to prison.

Have some time to donate for a good cause without leaving your favorite chair? Comb through Freedom of Information Act documents obtained by the good folks at CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington Crew FOIA Documents


There are two separate email scandals:

- Top White House officials’ use of RNC email accounts and RNC destruction of those emails

- Five million EOP emails missing from White House (EOP) server from period 3/03 to 10/05

Times Online UK Secret memo on Iraq talks at the White House seen by 87 people

He was giving evidence for the prosecution in the trial of David Keogh, a civil servant who worked in a Cabinet Office communications centre, and Leo O’Connor, a political researcher working for a Labour MP, both of whom have pleaded not guilty to charges under the Official Secrets Act 1989 in relation to the unauthorised disclosure of the document. They face a maximum of two years in prison if found guilty.

Mr Rycroft, the first of several Downing Street witnesses expected to give evidence at the trial, said that he had stipulated at the top of his letter from Washington that “the document must only go to those who really need to see it”, and should not be copied to anyone else.

He said that he was surprised to discover that it had been given much wider circulation and had ended up on the desks of a number of officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Cabinet Office, MI6 and the Joint Intelligence Committee. A number of duty clerks and communications specialists had also seen it as part of their role to distribute it around Whitehall. All were in a position to have read the contents, Mr Rycroft said.

The prosecution accuses Mr Keogh of making an unlawful copy of the document, which had been faxed to the communications centre where he was on duty, and passing it to Mr O’Connor in the hope that it would end up in the public domain. Mr O’Connor slipped the document into a pile of papers belonging to Anthony Clarke, Labour MP for Northampton South. The MP handed it to Special Branch.

Forgive Prissy if she's mistaken, she was under the impression it was part of ones job not to allow illegal activity to occur while holding a position of public trust.

Forward Rumors Abound as Israel Levels Secret Charges Against Arab Pol

Despite the secrecy of the investigation — or because of it, according to Bishara — the case has touched off a furious political and ethnic fracas.

Bishara’s face was splashed across the front pages of Hebrew- and Arabic-language Israeli newspapers for days after the case was first leaked to the Arab-Israeli newspaper A-Sinara. Even the country’s embattled president did not get such extensive coverage after the initial reports that he was suspected of sexual misconduct.

Bishara has yet to be charged with wrongdoing; the investigation reportedly is ongoing. But the uproar has added a climactic element to a series of recent events that have combined to deepen mistrust between Arab and Jewish Israelis in the wake of last summer’s war in Lebanon. Various Arab political statements and initiatives have sparked Jewish fears of Arab radicalization. Jewish reactions, in turn, have sparked suspicions among Arabs of a looming crackdown on their freedom of speech.

The Bishara case has brought these mutual suspicions to a head, with many Arabs claiming that the investigation is a government attempt to silence critics, while Jewish commentators speculate that Bishara must be guilty of some act of disloyalty — typical, some charge, of his community as a whole.

Governments must understand that when they support actions coupled with secrecy and potential injustice or use devaluing methods in conducting their investigations-it will not be secret for long no matter which country or ethnic background. Nor should it be.

Zogby Zogby Poll on MSN: Most Don't Believe Stricter Gun Control Policies Will Prevent Mass Shootings Released: April 20, 2007

Two-thirds (69%) believe Virginia Tech shootings were the actions of a deranged man and could not have been prevented

Most Americans don't believe that stricter U.S. gun control policies would help prevent tragedies such as this week's shootings at Virginia Tech, a new MSN-Zogby poll shows.

While 59% don't think stricter gun control policies would help, 36% believe they could make a difference by helping to prevent future shootings. More than two in three Americans (69%) believe the recent shootings at Virginia Tech were the actions of a deranged man determined to inflict mayhem and could not have been prevented. But 16% believe stricter controls of guns and ammunition would have prevented the tragedy.

Lot's of gaps in the V Tech story...

BBC Afghanistan's bloody new year

It seems as if the Taleban's much-hyped spring offensive may have finally begun, but not in any formal sense, at least not in the contested provinces of southern Afghanistan.

There the British, American and other Nato forces remain on the front foot.

But since the country celebrated Nowruz - the Persian New Year - with picnics, dancing and kite flying competitions about a month ago, the insurgents have stepped up their attacks elsewhere.

In the past week alone, bombers have killed 25 people - most of them policemen and private security guards - in the normally peaceful northern town of Kunduz, in the Taleban's home city of Kandahar in the south and near the eastern border with Pakistan, in Khost.

Downing Record of Iraq War Lies to Air April 25 on PBS by David Swanson

Bill Moyers has put together an amazing 90-minute video documenting the lies that the Bush administration told to sell the Iraq War to the American public, with a special focus on how the media led the charge. I've watched an advance copy and read a transcript, and the most important thing I can say about it is: Watch PBS from 9 to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25. Spending that 90 minutes on this will actually save you time, because you'll never watch television news again – not even on PBS, which comes in for its share of criticism.

While a great many pundits, not to mention presidents, look remarkably stupid or dishonest in the four-year-old clips included in "Buying the War," it's hard to take any spiteful pleasure in holding them to account, and not just because the killing and dying they facilitated is ongoing, but also because of what this video reveals about the mindset of members of the DC media. Moyers interviews media personalities, including Dan Rather, who clearly both understand what the media did wrong and are unable to really see it as having been wrong or avoidable.

Lebanon Daily Star Bush claims 'direction' in Iraq 'beginning to shift'

On the ground, US troops and helicopters fought with gunmen around a Shiite mosque in western Baghdad before prayers, killing two suspected insurgents, the American military said. US troops have started building a wall around a Sunni enclave in Baghdad, part of a strategy to "break the cycle of sectarian violence" in the Iraqi capital.

Two days after attacks in Baghdad killed more than 200 people, Bush defended the operation in the capital.

"There are still horrific attacks in Iraq, such as the bombings in Baghdad on Wednesday, but the direction of the fight is beginning to shift," he said.

Bush added that the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, "reports that it will be later this year before we can judge the potential for success, but the first indications are beginning to emerge. And they show that so far the operation is meeting expectations."

Yes, Dubya is going to "break the cycle" of violence with overwhelming violence. He doesn't yet understand they want us to leave and his "methods" only work for a day, at best.

Flashback Tue, Oct. 25, 2005CIA leak illustrates selective use of intelligence on Iraq

A Knight Ridder review of the administration's arguments, its own reporting at the time and the Senate Intelligence Committee's 2004 report shows that the White House followed a pattern of using questionable intelligence, even documents that turned out to be forgeries, to support its case - often leaking classified information to receptive journalists - and dismissing information that undermined the case for war.

The State of the Union speech was one of a number of instances in which Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and their aides ignored the qualms of intelligence professionals and instead relied on the claims of Iraqi defectors and other suspect sources or, in the case of Niger, the crudely forged documents.

Like the Niger allegation, almost all of the administration's claims that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had to be ousted before he could develop nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, use them against America or give them to al-Qaida terrorists have turned out to be false. No such weapons or programs have been found, and several official inquiries have concluded that there was no cooperation between Iraq and al-Qaida.

The indictments that may come in the CIA leak case this week aren't expected to delve into the administration's use of intelligence. The Senate Intelligence Committee agreed to examine the issue in 2004, when it reported on the spy agencies' errors, but it hasn't done so.

Word Yard The U.S. attorney purge and Watergate

U.S. attorneys are prosecutors who have enormous latitude and power to go after potential wrongdoing. They operate under the Justice Department’s direction but they have a tradition of independence, and both parties agree that they should be insulated from political pressure. They are political appointees — not political operatives.

The evidence continues to mount that the purged attorneys — loyal Republicans and Bush appointees all — were fired because (a) they weren’t aggressively pursuing an agenda of “cracking down on election fraud” that was a cornerstone of Karl Rove’s long-term strategy and (b) Rove wanted to ease them out so some of his young-turk up-and-comers could pad their resumes before the Bush administration sinks into its terminal mire.

At this point it sounds like we’re just dealing with some ugly political hardball. But as Josh Marshall (whose site has been a font of reporting and insight on this story from the beginning) has argued, the whole “election fraud” dimension has fouler partisan implications.

“Cracking down on electoral fraud” is a GOP code phrase; in practice, it means finding ways to keep poor and minority voters away from the polls. Two lengthy New York Times pieces — yesterday’s and today’s — have chronicled how little fire there is behind the GOP “election fraud” smoke. Gonzales and Rove kept pushing their U.S. attorneys to trump up election fraud cases, even as impartial or bipartisan investigations poking into these charges kept coming up empty.

From Project on Government Accountability, interesting book The Art of Anonymous Activism: Serving the Public While Surviving Public Service Navy Commander Relieved of Post

The Navy gave no details on why Rankin's commander, Capt. Scott Stearney, lost confidence in his abilities. Stearney leads Carrier Air Wing 7, which includes Rankin's squadron.

"It's inappropriate to discuss the details because an investigation is ongoing. It's an internal situation," Aandahl said. "There could be a (criminal) charge. It's possible."

Aandahl said the loss of confidence in ability to command could be triggered under a broad range of scenarios from bad judgment to inappropriate conduct. For now, he said, Rankin will remain with the Eisenhower strike group, patrolling the Gulf and adjoining Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean.

The Eisenhower is currently visiting a port in the Persian Gulf that Aandahl declined to name.

Reuters Congress set to defy Bush on Iraq war

Bush has promised to veto any bill setting dates for removing U.S. combat soldiers from the Iraq war, now in its fifth year.

But when a Democratic-controlled panel of Senate and House of Representatives members meets on Monday to iron out differences between their respective bills, the product is expected to contain 2008 withdrawal dates.

Many lawmakers have been speculating those dates might be nonbinding, as sketched out by a Senate-passed bill.

"The longer we continue down the president's path, the further we will be from responsibly ending this war," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who on Thursday said the war in Iraq was "lost."

Tell congress "End the War" or be replaced!

UK Sunday Times Al-Qaeda‘planning big British attack’

Another plot could be timed to coincide with Tony Blair stepping down as prime minister, an event described by Al-Qaeda planners as a “change in the head of the company”.

The report, produced earlier this month and seen by The Sunday Times, appears to provide evidence that Al-Qaeda is active in Iran and has ambitions far beyond the improvised attacks it has been waging against British and American soldiers in Iraq.

There is no evidence of a formal relationship between Al-Qaeda, a Sunni group, and the Shi’ite regime of President Mah-moud Ahmadinejad, but experts suggest that Iran’s leaders may be turning a blind eye to the terrorist organisation’s activities.

The intelligence report also makes it clear that senior Al-Qaeda figures in the region have been in recent contact with operatives in Britain.

Quotes of the Day

A conservative is a man who believes that nothing should be done for the first time.-- Alfred E. Wiggam

Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself. Lao Tzu, The Art of War

Man's enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself.--Lao Tzu

The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it. – John Hay, 1872

We have it in our power to begin the world again. -- Thomas Paine in "Common Sense" (1776)