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Justice Dept. Refuses to Give Obama Team Classified Legal Opinions Linked to CIA and NSA Programs

No surprise, the Bush administration is reluctant to share classified legal opinions from the Office of Legal Counsel with the Obama team. The big question is: how can they really justify it?

Joe Palazzolo
Legal Times
WASHINGTON — A senior Justice Department official said Tuesday that “99.8 percent” of the department’s work with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team has gone smoothly. The 0.2 percent snag: The department has reservations about granting the team’s request to review classified legal opinions related to secret CIA and National Security Agency programs.
In a roundtable discussion with reporters last week, Attorney General Michael Mukasey declined to discuss specific requests made by transition staff regarding opinions issued by the Office of Legal Counsel, the arm of the Justice Department that provides legal advice to the president and all other executive branch agencies.
The Justice official said the dispute over access to the NSA and CIA opinions has made its way up to Williams & Connolly’s Gregory Craig, who earlier this month was named to be Obama’s White House counsel. Craig was expected to meet with current White House counsel Fred Fielding to discuss the issue, the official said. It’s unclear whether such a meeting has already taken place. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Justice official said the department was reluctant to provide the opinions to Obama’s team without permission from the two intelligence agencies whose activities they address. At the roundtable, Mukasey said OLC opinions are issued at the request of other agencies with their “own equity or interest in the information.”

For Full Story

Adovocate Group in Fla. Accuses ICE of Using Excessive Force During Raids

Did ICE agents use excessive force? An advocacy group says yes.

BY TRENTON DANIEL
Miami Herald
MIAMI— A coalition of immigrant advocates is demanding that the U.S. attorney’s office in Miami investigate the arrests of dozens of Mexicans and Guatemalans taken into custody as undocumented immigrants last month during a raid targeting a separate group of alleged sex-trade traffickers in Homestead.
The advocates, along with local community leaders, say the 42 Mexicans and 35 Guatemalans — who were not involved in sex-trade trafficking — were rounded up Nov. 19 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. They accused ICE agents of using excessive force when they took the foreign nationals into custody.
For Full Story

Late Nite Comics Give it to Gov. Blagojevic

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lDLGXxB9Ek

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Responds to Rumors About “Senate Candidate No. 5”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ve5ERlavHCs

By Jon Perkins
ticklethewire.com

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. admitted Wednesday that he is “Candidate 5” in the criminal complaint against embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but vociferously denied offering the governor a bribe either personally or through an emissary for the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Jackson said that he met with the Democratic governor for 90 minutes Monday and expressed interest in in Obama’s Senate seat, but did not offer anything of value in exchange for the position. Blagojevich is quoted in a 76-page criminal complaint as saying that an associate of “Senate Candidate 5” said the candidate was willing to raise $500,000 for future political campaigns provided “Senate Candidate 5” secured the position.
Jackson, a Chicago-based Democrat, said at a Washington news conference that he “did not initiate nor authorize anyone, at any time, to promise anything to Gov. Blagojevich on my behalf. I never sent a message or an emissary to the governor to make an offer or to propose a deal about the U.S. Senate seat.”
He said he would fully cooperate with the investigation being conducted by Chicago’s U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who had no immediate comment on Jackson’s statements.

ABC Says Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is “Senate Candidate No. 5” in Governor Scandal

There’s still plenty blanks to fill in in this sizzling case.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr./official photo

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr./official photo

Chicago Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., is the anonymous “Senate Candidate No. 5” whose emissaries Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich reportedly offered up to $1 million to name him to the U.S. Senate, federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News.
The politician says he is not a target of the Blagojevich investigation.
According to the FBI affidavit in the case, Blagojevich “stated he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided ROD BLAGOJEVICH” with something “tangible up front.”
Jackson said this morning he was contacted Tuesday by federal prosecutors in Chicago whom he said “asked me to come in and share with them my insights and thoughts about the selection process.”
Read More

Gov Blagojevich: Narcissistic, Vengeful and Profane?

In many instances, when politicians like ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer and ex-Sen. John Edwards step over the line, the word “narcissistic” surfaces. Not surprising, it’s popped up again in this case.

By SUSAN SAULNY
New York Times
CHICAGO – Little in Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s background prepared the people of Illinois for the man who was revealed in the criminal complaint that dropped like a bombshell here on Tuesday. Delusional, narcissistic, vengeful and profane, Mr. Blagojevich as portrayed by federal prosecutors shocked even his most ardent detractors.
“I almost fell over,” said Cindi Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and a frequent critic of the governor. “I was speechless and sickened. In all of the millions of indictments I’ve read over the last years, I can’t remember anything as vile as this.”
Mike Jacobs, a Democratic state senator and former friend of the governor, suggested that Mr. Blagojevich may have lost his grip on reality.
“I’m not sure he’s playing with a full deck anymore,” Mr. Jacobs said. “I think he brought a lot of this on himself. He’s so gifted, but so flawed in a number of fundamental areas. It’s like he dared the feds to come get him.”
for Full Story

Sec. Chertoff Advises Not to Change Homeland Security Immediately

Michael Chertoff

Michael Chertoff

Many critics are calling for major changes in the Department of Homeland Security.  But Sec. Michael Chertoff’s Advice is : Don’t — at least not right away.

By GREGG CARLSTROM
Federal Times
WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has some advice for his successor: Don’t tinker with the Homeland Security Department. At least not right away.
“I would stop reorganizing,” he said in an interview last week. “Every time there’s a reorganization, it sets you back a year. People don’t know where they’re going to go, what their future is, what their job description is going to be.”
Last week, President-elect Barack Obama named Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as his choice to head the Homeland Security Department.
Chertoff applauded the choice; he said he would encourage her to wait two years and then decide on any organizational changes.
“If she then decides she wants to tweak things, you know, that’s fine, but she needs to have the experience,” he said.
For Full Story

Read ticklethewire columnist James G. Huse Jr.’s column on Changing Homeland Security

In Illinois Gov. Scandal the Question is: Who is “Candidate 5”

Gov. Blagojevich/state photo

Gov. Blagojevich/state photo

No question, with a scandal of this magnitude  there will be many many more questions in coming weeks….like who was “Candidate 5” mentioned in the charging papers? Inquiring minds want to know.

By Ben Protess
ProPublica

The FBI’s arrest today of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has brought a new figure into our political lexicon: “Senate Candidate 5.”
The FBI recorded Blagojevich last week saying to an adviser that “Candidate 5” might raise money for Blagojevich and even give him “some (money) up front, maybe” in exchange for being appointed to replace Obama, according to today’s criminal complaint (PDF) filed by the United States Attorney’s office in Chicago.
Blagojevich has the sole power to appoint Obama’s replacement under the state constitution. Blagojevich allegedly analogized this power to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to the highest bidder, telling an adviser, “I’ve got this thing and it’s [expletive] golden…I’m just not giving it up for [expletive] nothing.”
For Full Story

Read Criminal Complaint

Read U.S. Attorney’s Press Release

Excerpt From Charges: Gov. Calls Obama a MotherF–

Brazen Words Left Agents Shocked (Washington Post)

Morning Arrest: Government Asks is This a Joke? (Chicago Tribune)

Union Officials Allegedly Acted as Go-Between (Washington Post)