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Leading Democrats Weigh In on New State Secrets Policy
By Charlie Savage | NY Times
Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York and Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont have released statements responding to the Justice Department’s new policy on the State Secrets Privilege.
The two Democrats are leading efforts in the House and Senate to enact legislation restricting when and how the privilege may be used to withhold evidence from a court or shut down a lawsuit for national security reasons, and a crucial question raised by the Obama administration’s policy is whether it will blunt desire to pass such a law.
The New York Times previewed the new policy in an article in today’s newspaper. This morning, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. signed off on the policy, and the Justice Department has released the memorandum (read it below). Read more.
The Obama administration will announce a new policy Wednesday making it much more difficult for the government to claim that it is protecting state secrets when it hides details of sensitive national security strategies such as rendition and warrantless eavesdropping, according to two senior Justice Department officials.
The new policy requires agencies, including the intelligence community and the military, to convince the attorney general and a team of Justice Department lawyers that the release of sensitive information would present significant harm to "national defense or foreign relations." In the past, the claim that state secrets were at risk could be invoked with the approval of one official and by meeting a lower standard of proof that disclosure would be harmful.
That claim was asserted dozens of times during the Bush administration, legal scholars said.
The shift could have a broad effect on many lawsuits, including those filed by alleged victims of torture and electronic surveillance. Authorities have frequently argued that judges should dismiss those cases at the outset to avoid the release of information that could compromise national security.
The heightened standard is designed in part to restore the confidence of Congress, civil liberties advocates and judges, who have criticized both the Bush White House and the Obama administration for excessive secrecy. The new policy will take effect Oct. 1 and has been endorsed by federal intelligence agencies, Justice Department sources said. Read more.
The administration has asked lawmakers to extend powers allowing the government to collect a wide range of financial and personal records, as well as monitor suspects with roving wiretaps. The methods were authorized under the USA PATRIOT Act and are set to expire at year's end. The call for renewing the PATRIOT Act provisions comes as Democratic lawmakers and civil liberties groups want to revisit its broader powers. Democratic Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin has proposed a new bill that would overhaul the PATRIOT Act and other surveillance laws to include more privacy safeguards.
Controversial Michigan filmmaker Michael Moore was escorted out of the General Motors headquarters building in Detroit 20 years ago while filming “Roger and Me.” And Sunday, when Moore once again brought a film to the Renaissance Center, compromises had to be made.
In “Roger and Me,” Moore was trying to get some one-on-one time with then GM CEO Roger Smith, but Moore was asked to leave the property when cameras followed him in.
Moore rented out four movie theaters inside the Renaissance Center to screen his new film, “Capitalism -- A Love Story.”
The film blames the economic crisis on President Reagan-era deregulation and greedy business executives who Moore said he believes undermined free enterprise by pushing for policies that benefited the richest 1 percent while hurting the lower and middle classes.
But Moore said when the leaders of the auto company realized it was his film, they told him he wouldn’t be allowed in. Read more.
By Linda Milazzo
In response to FOX's childish and embarrassing ad in the Washington Post that challenged competitors' coverage of the 9/12 teabaggers in Washington, DC, CNN is airing this equally chilidish and embarrassing ad to prove it did cover the teabaggers in Washington DC.
Oooh-oooh! Did I mention this is childish and embarrassing??
Two prisoners from Fort Hood held incommunicado at Fort
Lewis Brig, Attorneys Ask Why? | Press release
September 17th, 2009 – Fort Lewis, WA – War resister Travis Bishop is being held incommunicado, in the Northwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Lewis, and is even being denied his legal right to counsel, a violation of the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution. Attorney Legrand Jones was denied access to Bishop, on the grounds that he is on an unnamed and unobtainable "watchlist," which constitutes deprivation of counsel. Since his incarceration, Bishop's condition is unclear due to being completely cut off from the public.
Fellow incarcerated soldier Leo Church has been able to reach his lawyer, but the call was monitored by a guard, violating his attorney-client privilege.
Homeland Security: Feingold, Others, Offer PATRIOT Act Fixes
By George Loper | Loper.org
"U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Jon Tester (D-MT), Tom Udall (D-NM), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have introduced legislation to fix problems with surveillance laws that threaten the rights and liberties of American citizens. The Judicious Use of Surveillance Tools In Counterterrorism Efforts (JUSTICE) Act would reform the USA PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendments Act and other surveillance authorities to protect Americans’ constitutional rights, while preserving the powers of our government to fight terrorism.
The JUSTICE Act reforms include more effective checks on government searches of Americans’ personal records, the “sneak and peek” search provision of the PATRIOT Act, “John Doe” roving wiretaps and other overbroad authorities. The bill will also reform the FISA Amendments Act, passed last year, by repealing the retroactive immunity provision, preventing “bulk collection” of the contents of Americans’ international communications, and prohibiting “reverse targeting” of innocent Americans. And the bill enables better oversight of the use of National Security Letters (NSLs) after the Department of Justice Inspector General issued reports detailing the misuse and abuse of the NSLs. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Wednesday, September 23rd, on reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act.
“Every single member of Congress wants to give our law enforcement and intelligence officials the tools they need to keep Americans safe,” said Feingold. “But with the PATRIOT Act up for reauthorization, we should take this opportunity to fix the flaws in our surveillance laws once and for all. The JUSTICE Act permits the government to conduct necessary surveillance, but within a framework of accountability and oversight. It ensures both that our government has the tools to keep us safe, and that the privacy and civil liberties of innocent Americans will be protected. When he was in the Senate, President Obama was a strong ally on these issues, and I look forward to working with his administration to find common ground on commonsense reforms.” Read more.
Statement from Demos On Indiana Court Striking Down Voter Identification Law | Press Release
Today, the Indiana Court of Appeals struck down a controversial voter identification law. In response, Tova Andrea Wang, Senior Democracy Fellow at Demos, a national public policy center that has conducted extensive research and legal work on Voter ID and election reform, issued the following statement in support of the decision:
Numerous media outlets have reported in recent years on the coarsening of our culture. A country that once seemed to exhibit a sense of grace and humility now seems awash in people who are rude, arrogant, selfish, and dishonest.
If our overall culture has one leg in the sewer, what about our political culture? It seems to be covered in slime from head to toe, with no better example than the bogus prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.
Andrew Kreig, a Washington, D.C.-based attorney and journalist, shows in a recent piece at Huffington Post how the Siegelman prosecution showcases a political culture that is covered with muck.
Kreig focuses on a recent Justice Department filing that argues that Siegelman and codefendant Richard Scrushy have presented "no evidence" since their 2006 bribery convictions that justifies a hearing or new trial. You can almost hear Kreig's jaw hitting the floor as he writes that:
No evidence? Read more.
September 17, 2009, Pittsburgh, PA – Today, United States District Judge Gary L. Lancaster ruled today on a suit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) on behalf of groups seeking to hold peaceful demonstrations in downtown Pittsburgh where the Group of 20 Summit (G-20) will take place next week. In his decision, the judge said CodePink, one of the activist groups represented, will be allowed to use Point State Park, centrally located in downtown Pittsburgh, for several days preceding the G-20.
On the evening of Sept. 16, 2009, a protest action was staged at Goucher College in Towson, MD, just north of Baltimore City, with respect to the appearance of Karl Rove on campus, as a guest speaker. Rove, aka “Dubya’s Brain,” was a senior advisor, (2001-07), to then President, George W. Bush. He is suspected of participating in a White House-based cabal, (WHIG), which helped to launch the immoral and illegal Iraq War. Talking on camera and sharing his views of Rove was activist Max Obuszewski. He was sharply critical of Rove for his serial wrong doings, and of Goucher College, too, for giving him a venue to speak. Mr. Obuszewski used to teach a course on “Human Rights” at the Goucher College, in the “Peace Studies Program.” To say he was disappointed with Goucher in this matter would be an understatement. Obuszewski is active with the “Iraq Pledge of Resistance” group. According to a press release of the ANSWER Coalition, Rove “should be on trial,” for not only his role in pushing the Iraq War, but for also implementing “a system of torture and secret prisons; [for]racial and religious profiling; and for massive spying on the people in this country.”
The FBI is investigating as a possible hate crime an incident in which a woman was beaten to the ground in front of her child at the entrance to a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Morrow, Georgia, south of Atlanta.
Troy Dale West Jr., of Poulan, Georgia, is facing charges including misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct after allegedly beating Army reservist Tashawnea Hill, 35, after the two had words at the entrance of the Morrow, Georgia, restaurant the evening of September 9.
Hill, an African-American, told police that West, 47, yelled racial epithets at her as the attack took place.
"He did punch me with a closed fist repeated times. My head is still hurting today. I have knots on my head," Hill told CNN Wednesday night, adding she also was kicked.
Police said witnesses confirmed her account.
The FBI has "initiated an investigation in the matter to determine if a civil rights violation occurred," the agency said in a statement.
Because the alleged incident happened in full view of Hill's 7-year-old daughter, the Clayton County district attorney's office added a felony charge of cruelty to children.
"[The woman's daughter] was visibly upset the night of the attack," according to Capt. James Callaway of the Morrow Police Department, who said he was on the scene shortly after the alleged attack.
A police report of the incident said Hill's daughter was "crying uncontrollably and her body [was] shaking/trembling" from witnessing the attack. Read more.
Lynching Victim Emmett Till's Casket to go to Smithsonian
By Don Babwin | Black News
The glass-topped casket that displayed lynching victim Emmett Till's disfigured body to the world and became a rallying point for the civil rights movement is headed to the Smithsonian Institution, Till's family announced Friday.
"Hopefully, when this casket, when it's on display at the Smithsonian, young boys and young girls from all over the world are going to see it and it's going to inspire them to fight for those who are too weak to fight for themselves," said Simeon Wright, Till's cousin.
At the South Side church where Mamie Till-Mobley insisted in 1955 on opening the casket that held the remains of her 14-year-old son - and allowed photographs to be taken and published - Wright said her message of what racism looks like still needs to be told.
"Fifty years from now someone will tell the story ... that they murdered him, threw him in the Tallahatchie River, would they believe it without the casket?" asked Wright. He was 12 and was with Till the night the black teenager was pulled from his bed in Mississippi and murdered for whistling at a white woman.
Lonnie Bunch, the director of the Smithsonian's planned National Museum of African American History and Culture, where the casket will be displayed, said he knows of no other casket of a specific American put on display this way at the Smithsonian. He called it a key artifact from the civil rights movement that helps tell the story of what is both one of the darkest chapters in U.S. history and a moment that helped change it.
"Part of the responsibility of a national museum is to help people to remember, and through this donation we will ensure that future generations will remember how the death of a child, a mother's courage, helped to transform America," Bunch said. Read more.
By David Swanson
The U.S. Department of Justice says that alcohol plays a pivotal role in two-thirds of all cases of violence against an intimate (a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend), and blames alcohol for contributing to 100,000 sexual assaults against young people every year. That's right, alcohol hurts more people than al Qaeda.
Of course, alcohol does not always lead every consumer of it to violence. Most people who drink alcohol don't hurt anyone. But a large percentage of those who do get violent have been drinking alcohol. Should we ban it? We tried that once with miserable results, and we've banned other substances with equally bad outcomes.
From Toronto to Pittsburgh to Jay Leno, "Capitalism" Marches On
It hasn't quite hit me that "Capitalism: A Love Story," my new film, will be opening in theaters in New York and L.A. just one week from tomorrow. And everywhere else on October 2nd. Is it already the fall?
Having spent the last year and a half living pretty much under the radar and quietly putting together this movie for you, it is heartening, to say the least, to read the early reviews where Time Magazine called it "Moore's magnum opus," the Los Angeles Times has declared it my "most controversial film yet," and Variety has said that "Capitalism: A Love Story" is "one of Moore's best films." Wow. Honestly, I didn't know what to expect, considering this film is an all-out assault against the racket polite people like to call "Wall Street."
The Justice Department has indicated that the Obama administration is in support of renewing a pair of controversial sections of the USA Patriot Act that expire later this year. The provisions that will expire in December include Section 206, that allows "roving" wiretaps so FBI agents can tap multiple phones or computers (with court authorization) that a specific person (target) may use.
Another expiring provision, Section 215, is the so-called "library provision," which allows investigators to obtain business records with approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
And the final provision which was nicknamed the "Lone Wolf" authorization, allows intelligence gathering of people not suspected of being part of a foreign government or known terrorist organization. Read more.
A bipartisan group of 91 former state attorneys general are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal by former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.
The former Democratic governor is appealing his federal bribery conviction. The former attorneys general, in a brief filed Thursday, said the case raises important free speech issues.
In court papers, the former attorneys general said it was not against the law for Siegelman to appoint former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to a hospital regulatory board after Scrushy arranged for $500,000 in donations to Siegelman's campaign for a statewide lottery.
They said there was no agreement between the governor and Scrushy concerning the appointment.
"This case concerns the criminalization of conduct protected by the First Amendment - the giving and receiving of campaign contributions," the group's amicus brief said. Read more.
Charles Darwin film 'too controversial for religious America'
A British film about Charles Darwin has failed to find a US distributor because his theory of evolution is too controversial for American audiences, according to its producer.
By Anita Singh | Telegraph UK
Creation, starring Paul Bettany, details Darwin's "struggle between faith and reason" as he wrote On The Origin of Species. It depicts him as a man who loses faith in God following the death of his beloved 10-year-old daughter, Annie.
The film was chosen to open the Toronto Film Festival and has its British premiere on Sunday. It has been sold in almost every territory around the world, from Australia to Scandinavia.
However, US distributors have resolutely passed on a film which will prove hugely divisive in a country where, according to a Gallup poll conducted in February, only 39 per cent of Americans believe in the theory of evolution.
Movieguide.org, an influential site which reviews films from a Christian perspective, described Darwin as the father of eugenics and denounced him as "a racist, a bigot and an 1800s naturalist whose legacy is mass murder". His "half-baked theory" directly influenced Adolf Hitler and led to "atrocities, crimes against humanity, cloning and genetic engineering", the site stated.
The film has sparked fierce debate on US Christian websites, with a typical comment dismissing evolution as "a silly theory with a serious lack of evidence to support it despite over a century of trying". Read more.
OpedNews Journalist and Protesters Charged With Criminal Conspiracy After Arrest At "Army Experience Center"
By Linda Milazzo
Philadelphia, PA, September 13, 2009: Six members of various anti-war groups, including World Can't Wait and Military Families Speak Out, and an OpedNews journalist, were arrested on Saturday, September 12, 2009, at approximately 3pm (ET) at a protest organized to shut down The Army Experience Center, located in Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, PA. They were released early Sunday morning and charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Failure To Disperse. Their arraignment is scheduled for September 23, 2009 at 11:30am (ET) at Philadelphia Municipal Court,1301 Filbert Street.
Massey Morgan Rd Julian, WV 6AM ish 9-9-09 | Press Release
I was filming a Chain & Tube Lock Down Blockade of the road which leads to Massey Energy Regional Headquarters as the first workers of the day arrived.
Most of you probably don't know this, but the US military (using well over 15 million of your hard-earned dollars) has recently opened up a center for teenagers to have "the army experience" by playing video games and going through "simulations" of Humvees and "operation centers." It's called The Army Experience Center (AEC), and it's a 14,500 square foot recruiting tool located in the Franklin Mills Mall in northeast Philadelphia. It's something that the military industrial complex - excuse me, I mean the army - wants to replicate across the country.
Today I went to a protest in front of the AEC that was meant to shut it down for the day and hopefully lead to it shutting down for good. Go below the fold to see what happened, how I might be on national television, and some pictures.::::::::Crossposted to Docudharma.com, Dailykos.com, and Greenchange.org
The AEC is just what it sounds like - a rather disgusting military recruiting tool that exists to deceive kids into thinking that war is nothing more than a video game. I'm 16, and I can see how something like this would appeal to friends of mine. If it was just an arcade, I could have a fun time in there. But it's not just an arcade - it is a huge piece of propaganda that doesn't acknowledge the harsh realities of war. Like giving recruiters VIP access to high schools isn't enough, here is yet another attempt by the minions of the military industrial complex to militarize our culture and the nation's youth.
OpedNews Journalist and Six Protesters Arrested At "Army Experience Center" In Philadelphia (Updated 9/13/09)
By Linda Milazzo
UPDATED - 9/13/09: The six women, including OpedNews journalist Cheryl Biren, and one man, who has now been identified as Richard Marini of World Can't Wait, arrested yesterday at the Army Experience Center, were released early this morning, September 13, 2009. All were charged with Criminal Conspiracy and Failure to Disperse. Their arraignment is scheduled for September 23, 2009 at 11:30am (ET).
Philadelphia, PA, September 12, 2009: Six members of various anti-war groups, including World Can't Wait and Military Families Speak Out, and an OpedNews journalist, were arrested today at approximately 3:00pm (ET) at a protest organized to shut down The Army Experience Center, located in Franklin Mills Mall in Philadelphia, PA.
On Aug. 27, holdover officials from the Bush Justice Department filed 226 pages arguing that former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and his co-defendant have presented no evidence since their 2006 bribery convictions that justifies a hearing or new trial.
As too often in the past, DoJ officials look like they're exaggerating to block justice and to protect themselves. By seeking to imprison Siegelman for 20 additional years, DoJ clearly seeks to end public debate about Alabama’s most prominent Democrat. He held that distinction for years, at least until he narrowly lost re-election in 2002 following still-mysterious Election night switches of 6,000 votes out of his column in a rural county after polls closed.
The all-out federal criminal prosecution launched against Siegelman in 2004 remains the centerpiece of unresolved evidence that Karl Rove used DoJ to target Democratic officials nationwide. In-depth public scrutiny of the DoJ's high-ranking prosecution teams risks revelations about similar problems in hundreds of other disputed DoJ investigations that altered the nation’s political map during the Bush years.
In the long run, however, DoJ risks even more – including public confidence that it's protecting our rights to fair elections and trials – if it shirks its responsibility to endorse a full hearing to clear the air.
Obama appointee previews the imminent preventive detention debate
By Glenn Greenwald | Salon
By all accounts, the White House is going to unveil its proposal for indefinite detention within the next four to eight weeks, and it has begun dispatching proponents of that scheme to lay the rhetorical groundwork. In The Washington Post today, one of the proposal's architects -- Law Professor Robert Chesney, a member of Obama's Detention Policy Task Force -- showcased the trite and manipulative tactics that will be used by advocates of indefinite detention to win support for their radical program [anyone doubting that detention without trials is radical should recall that Obama's own White House counsel Greg Craig told Jane Mayer back in February that it's "hard to imagine Barack Obama as the first President of the United States to introduce a preventive-detention law"; New York Times reporter William Glaberson wrote that "Obama's detention policy "would be a departure from the way this country sees itself"; Sen. Russ Feingold warned that it "violates basic American values," "is likely unconstitutional," and "is a hallmark of abusive systems that we have historically criticized around the world"; The New York Times' Bob Herbert said that "Americans should recoil as one against the idea of preventive detention"; and the Obama policy's most vigorous Congressional proponents are Tom Coburn and Lindsey Graham]. Salon.
DOJ Paralegal Whistleblower Dissed & Dismissed - Exclusive Interview!
Tamarah Grimes, Justice Department Paralegal: Why This Whistleblower Was Dissed & Dismissed
By Andrew Kreig | KNOW | Estrin Report
As federal prosecutors prepared in 2006 for the corruption trial of Alabama’s former Gov. Don Siegelman, Justice Department paralegal Tamarah Grimes thought she was progressing well in her career. She was past beginner stage after three years at the Middle District U.S. Attorney’s office helping prepare federal cases in the state capital of Montgomery. Indeed, she was the government’s top in-house paralegal in one of the country’s most important federal prosecutions, which targeted an iconic former governor along with one of their state’s richest businessmen.
But just a year later, the prosecution’s all-out effort to convict Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy brought Grimes to a career crisis.
In July 2007, Grimes stepped forward to allege that her colleagues had violated basic legal protections to ensure a fair trial. She claimed, for example, that prosecutors had communicated with jurors. Also, she said pro-conviction jurors had privately strategized by email outside the jury room to obtain guilty verdicts -- all without required notification to the defense. Moreover, she complained of sexually offensive comments by colleagues, particularly in an off-site prosecutors’ office that was entirely devoted to what they called “The Big Case.”
Even though she used federally authorized procedures for such complaints, stepping forward turned her career dream into a nightmare. What follows is her story, including a year of federal threats to prosecute her on what she calls false claims that she taped a colleague.
"I have always considered myself to be a moderate Republican,” she said. “I believe in the U.S. Constitution, and that what happened in Montgomery with the Siegelman/Scrushy prosecution is a travesty of justice." Read more.
- The writ alleges that the CIA has blocked defense counsel's attempts to explore Binalshibh's treatment when he was in the agency's custody and the effects of that treatment on his mental health.
Two military psychiatrists found that Binalshibh has a "delusional disorder," and he has been given psychotropic medicines at the military prison, according to court papers. The writ also alleges that the government has arbitrarily denied Binalshibh's attorneys expert assistance and access to medical records. The lawyers also quote one of the military judges in the case, who said in a ruling that the military commission is part of a system "in which uncertainty is the norm and where the rules appear random and indiscriminate."
Military attorneys for Ramzi Binalshibh, an alleged conspirator in the Sept. 11 attacks, have filed an emergency writ with a federal court in an attempt to stop hearings in their client's case at a military commission at Guantanamo Bay.
In a sweeping brief filed late Wednesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the Navy lawyers asked that the commission be found unconstitutional, arguing that "nothing about this case bears any resemblance to the orderly and regular criminal process that occurs in federal and state courts."
Attorneys for Binalshibh acknowledged that the motion was unusual and the prospects for success uncertain, but they said they felt compelled to act to draw attention to the fact that hearings continue at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, despite President Obama's order that proceedings at the military base be temporarily halted. Obama has vowed to close the military base by January. Read more.
Debbie Sumner prefaces a note from Granny D:
You may know Granny D (Dennis Kucinich does), Any way you can
help her get the word out about public funding legislation? This was
recently sent out through her group PACE (Public Action for Clean
I'm now reading your book Daybreak, and I agree with John Nichols
that you are our modern day Thomas Paine. Thank you for making sure
we're aware of what's been happening and that we need to keep pushing
Congress to fulfill its responsibilities. Granny is still pushing at
P. O. Box 492
Dublin, NH 03444
September 4, 2009
In September the Supreme Court of the U.S.A. will try again to decide
if corporations are persons and, if so, would have all the rights of a
person; and could send as much cash as they consider effective to
candidates running for office. I HOPE THEY DECIDE AGAINST CHANGING
OUR LAWS FORBIDDING CORPORATIONS FROM USING THEIR HUGE TREASURIES TO
INFLUENCE THE OUTCOME OF ELECTIONS.
The coalition's report also covers the final year of the Bush administration, noting some modest signs of improvement on the issue of government secrecy. The number of pages of newly classified material declined from 37.2 million in 2007 to 31.4 million last year.
Three privacy groups scored President Obama on privacy issues. They are:
- Privacy groups: Obama has more work to do - Obama administration's policies on surveillance and medical privacy get low grades by Grant Gross.
U.S. President Barack Obama's administration received mixed grades from privacy groups after more than seven months in power, with the groups saying Obama has done little to change a surveillance-state environment created under former President George Bush.
- Obama Gets Failing Grades From Privacy Advocates by Jenna Staul
- Report: Obama administration improves openness by the Associated Press
President Barack Obama's policies on secrecy get higher grades for openness than those of President George W. Bush, yet there's still room for improvement, says a coalition of public-interest groups....The country elected a president who promised the most open, transparent and accountable executive branch in history but "the record to date is mixed," says the report by OpenTheGovernment.org, a group of 75 public-interest groups.