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Archive for December, 2008

L.A. Times Editorial Page Calls Bush Reign “Lawless”

The paper’s editorial page has hammered away at the Bush administration over time. Today is no different. Do you agree?


By The Los Angeles Times
Editorial Page

Whatever its other legacies, the Bush administration will be remembered for its contemptible disregard for the law in the post-9/11 war on terrorism. From the wiretapping of Americans without a court order to the waterboarding of suspected terrorists to the refusal to abide by the requirements of the Geneva Convention, many of the administration’s policies can fairly be described as lawless.
But were they also criminal? Should officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, be put on trial, either in a court of law or in a forum like South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission? As the Bush administration nears its end, calls for such a reckoning are coming from civil libertarians and some supporters of President-elect Barack Obama. Some even argue that President Bush should be indicted.
This editorial page has been uncompromising in its criticism of the Bush administration’s flouting of international and domestic law. The administration was wrong to evade courts in seeking warrantless surveillance of Americans, wrong to establish the Guantanamo Bay detention center, heinous in its acceptance of torture. But we are wary of either the criminal prosecution of administration officials or some South-Africa-style process.

Read More

Battle in Motown to Force a Reporter to Reveal Sources Continues

The battle to force a reporter to disclose sources continues in Detroit. Here’s the latest.

By ED WHITE
Ex-Prosecutor Convertino

Ex-Prosecutor Convertino

Associated Press Writer
DETROIT — A lawyer asked a judge Tuesday to declare a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter in contempt for refusing during a court-ordered deposition to reveal unnamed sources who leaked information about a terrorism prosecutor.
A lawyer for former federal prosecutor Richard Convertino asked that reporter David Ashenfelter of the Detroit Free Press be fined $500 to $5,000 per day until he divulges who in the U.S. Justice Department helped him with a 2004 story about an ethics investigation.
Ashenfelter, 60, invoked the First Amendment and the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during a deposition Dec. 8. Two federal judges had ordered him to comply with a subpoena for information.
“It is important that Mr. Ashenfelter’s defiance come to a very rapid end,” Convertino’s attorney, Stephen Kohn, said in a filing in federal court.
“This discovery dispute has gone on for nearly 18 months, during which time Mr. Ashenfelter has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to make frivolous and unfounded arguments whose only purpose is to cause delay and drive up costs,” Kohn said.
For Full Story
Read Convertino’s Motion

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Is TSA Airport Screening Over the Top or Not?

NY Man Pleads To Providing Satellite Feeds to Hezbollah

It’s obvious that Javed Iqbal wasn’t supplying transmission feeds of Seinfeld. The feds found no humor in this programming.

CNN NEWS SERVICES
A Staten Island man pleaded guilty Tuesday to providing satellite television transmission services to the Lebanese militant movement Hezbollah, which the United States has branded a terrorist organization, legal authorities said.
In exchange, Javed Iqbal, also known as John Iqbal, received thousands of dollars, according to Lev L. Dassin, acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Dassin said Iqbal admitted he had provided material support and resources to Hezbollah’s television station, Al Manar, which means ”The Beacon.”
Hezbollah uses the station to attract support, including raising funds and recruiting volunteers for attacks, according to the criminal complaint against Iqbal and statements he made in federal court.

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Obama Report Says Nothing Offered to Gov. Blagojevich For Senate Seat

One of the worst kept secrets has been the Obama generated report on the his team’s contact with Gov. Blagojevich. On Tuesday the report was finally released.

By Jill Zuckman and John McCormick
Chicago Tribune
WASHINGTON – A report issued by Barack Obama’s transition concluded that the president-elect had no contact with Gov. Rod Blagojevich or his office and no one acting on Obama’s behalf tried to offer any “quid pro quo” arrangement to benefit the governor in exchange for filling the vacant Senate seat with a candidate of Obama’s choosing.
The report was put together by attorney Greg Craig following Blagojevich’s arrest for engaging in a scheme to sell the vacant U.S. Senate seat, as well as other state appointments and services.
Craig said Obama, his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, and his adviser, Valerie Jarrett, all submitted to interviews with U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald last week. Craig said neither Jarrett nor David Axelrod, another senior adviser, had any contact with Blagojevich or his office.
The report did say that Dr. Eric Whitaker, a close friend of Obama’s, was approached “by a member of the Governor’s circle” for information.Obama has portrayed himself as taking a hands-off approach to the governor’s decision about who to appoint to his Senate seat. In fact, the report noted that he was very much interested in who would succeed him in the Senate.
For Full Story
Read Full Report

Afghan Farmer Uses Digital Recorder To Help DEA Convict Taliban Member in U.S. Court

It’s a story of high tech meets low tech in a far off land. The story ended well for the DEA.

By Del Quentin Wilber
Washington Post Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — The Afghan farmer didn’t even know how to work the recording device tucked in his vest pocket when he approached a member of the Taliban who was plotting to launch a rocket attack on a U.S. air base. But if he was nervous about helping the Americans, the farmer didn’t show it.
“What is the target?” he asked as the two men stood in a field on the outskirts of their Afghan village, according to transcripts of the recordings. “Do they want to shoot the foreigners or the local people?”
“The Americans are infidels, and Jihad is allowed against them,” replied Khan Mohammed, the Taliban associate. “If we have to fire toward the airport, we will do it, and if not the airport, wherever else they are stationed.”
The farmer, who was working for U.S. federal agents stationed in Afghanistan, secretly recorded Mohammed more than 10 times using a digital audio device and a tiny video camera shielded in his traditional vest.
For Full Story

Fed Law Enforcement Officers Assoc. Asks Bush to Pardon 2 Border Patrol Agents

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON – The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA) has fired off a letter to President Bush asking him to pardon or commute the sentence of two Border Patrol agents who shot a drug trafficker in the buttocks in 2005 near the El Paso-Mexico border.
“As you are aware, former U.S. Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean were convicted of federal violations related to a shooting incident with a known drug dealer, ” wrote J. Adler, president of the 26,000 member association, in a letter dated Dec. 19. “Although found guilty by a jury, their case is a classic example of the flaws in our justice system.”
The two agents were patrolling the Texas-Mexico border in 2005 when they stopped a man who had 743 pounds of marijuana in his vehicle. The man ran and the agents said they thought he had a gun. They fired their guns and the man was shot and wounded in the buttocks. The man later filed a complaint against the agents.
The two agents were convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Some Congress members have supported a campaign to free them.
Adler wrote in his 2 1/2 page letter that the two former agents are “family men who are now serving an inordinate period of jail time for a crime that, for the average criminal, would have met the federal guidelines for probation. To keep these two men incarcerated any longer violates the tenets of fairness, justice and the spirit of the law our system was founded upon.”

Read Letter

Reaction to Ft. Dix Terrorism Trial Convictions