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U.S. federal agents have been given new powers to seize travelers' laptops and other electronic devices at the border and hold them for unspecified periods the Washington Post reported on Friday.
Under recently disclosed Department of Homeland Security policies, such seizures may be carried out without suspicion of wrongdoing, the newspaper said, quoting policies issued on July 16 by two DHS agencies.
Agents are empowered to share the contents of seized computers with other agencies and private entities for data decryption and other reasons, the newspaper said.
DHS officials said the policies applied to anyone entering the country, including U.S. citizens, and were needed to prevent terrorism.
Denver Librarian Faces Tresspassing Charges for Sign Reading "McCain = Bush"; Asks: "Why is that offensive to Republicans?"
By Felisa Cardona | The Denver Post
Carol Kreck, who was cited for trespassing while holding a sign outside Sen. John McCain's town-hall meeting in Denver on July 7, pleaded not guilty today in Denver County Court.
The librarian and former Denver Post reporter was removed from the galleria at the Denver Performing Arts Complex while holding a sign handed to her by a protest group that read "McCain = Bush."
The area that Kreck was standing in is not a public space and that is why she was cited for trespassing.
A videotape of the incident shows a security guard telling Kreck to leave and saying that the U.S. Secret Service had asked him to remove her.
Later, a spokeswoman for the complex said the security guard was mistaken, that the Secret Service had nothing to do with it; McCain's campaign staff had asked that people holding signs be removed from the galleria.
McCain's campaign spokesman, Tom Kise, has said that is not true, that the senator has a track record of allowing opposing views at his public events and that the campaign only asked people inside the town-hall meeting not to hold signs of any kind.
Kise said the campaign never asked that people not be allowed to hold signs outside the venue and said it was the complex's own policy that was being enforced.
Kreck said she is surprised by the attention her case has received, but she wants her day in court to find out who wanted her removed.
By Dave Lindorff
A federal district judge appointed by President George W. Bush to the bench has done the right thing, ruling definitively this morning that the President’s claim of absolute immunity for his advisors from Congressional oversight and subpoena is “entirely unsupported by existing case law.”
The ruling, by Judge John Bates, is as important as much because of who issued it as it is for its impact upon Congressional investigations into presidential wrongdoing.
Certainly the ruling will open the way for Democrats in Congress to move harder to investigate the abuses of the current administration, which have been stymied by administration refusal to provide witnesses, even to come in and plead the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.
TSA ramps up program to psychologically screen airline passengers
Nick Langewis and David Edwards | Raw Story
In addition to having your bags scanned, taking off your shoes and emptying your pockets on the way to your plane, prepare to have an on-the-spot psychoanalysis as well.
The TSA is in the process of training "behavior detection officers" to seek out involuntary physical and physiological signs of "stress, fear or deception" among air passengers to help determine who to subject to additional screening at airport security checkpoints.
A House panel Wednesday voted to cite former top White House aide Karl Rove for contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena to answer questions about the dismissals of several federal prosecutors as its Senate counterpart explored punishments for an array of alleged Bush administration misdeeds.
Voting 20-14 along party lines, the House Judiciary Committee said that Rove had broke the law by failing to appear at a July 10 hearing on allegations of White House influence over the Justice Department, including whether Rove encouraged prosecutions against Democrats such as former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.
Former Democratic candidate Mike Gravel says President George W. Bush should be taken to The Hague for war crimes rather than being impeached.
In a Monday video conference with Press TV, the former Alaska senator said President Bush does not 'deserve' to be impeached for invading Afghanistan and Iraq, which has resulted in the loss of 'millions of lives'.
"An Impeachment just means you would only take away his (Bush's) presidency. Well, he is almost done (with) his presidency. What really needs to happen is that these people have to be held accountable for the crimes they have committed," the 78-year-old Libertarian said referring to the US president and Vice President Dick Cheney.
"If you impeach the president and vice president, Nancy Pelosi is going to become president; that is not going to happen," Gravel added.
By Dave Lindorff
The dramatic hearing on presidential crimes and abuses of power held on Friday by the House Judiciary Committee was both a staged farce, and at the same time, a powerful demonstration of the power of a grassroots movement in defense of the Constitution. It was at once both testimony to the cowardice and self-inflicted impotence of Congress and of the Democratic Party that technically controls that body, and to the enormity of the damage that has been wrought to the nation’s democracy by two aspiring tyrants in the White House.
The White House on Monday predicted a record deficit of $490 billion for the 2009 budget year, a senior government official told CNN.
The White House blames a faltering economy and the stimulus package for the increased budget deficit.
The White House blames a faltering economy and the stimulus package for the increased budget deficit.
The deficit would amount to roughly 3.5 percent of the nation's $14 trillion economy.
The official pointed to a faltering economy and the bipartisan $170 billion stimulus package that passed earlier this year for the record deficit.
The fiscal year begins October 1, 2008.
By Emily Bazelon, Kara Hadge, Dahlia Lithwick, and Chris Wilson | Slate
Each scandal is represented by a colored circle that encompasses the people who are implicated. As it's easy to see, many of the players here are mixed up in two, three, or more of the alleged crimes. Hence all the overlapping circles (Venn-diagram heaven!).
The best way to make sense of this legal tangle is to mouse over the title of an individual scandal, which will highlight everyone implicated. For example, the wiretapping bubble ensnares George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, David Addington, John Ashcroft, John Yoo, and Alberto Gonzales. At the same time, Ashcroft and Gonzales fall into the overlapping circle for monkey business related to DoJ hiring. Mouse over a person's name for information on how each person is involved. Mouse over the title of each circle for specifics about the particular scandal.
And if all else fails, fall back on this golden rule of wrongdoing in the White House: All roads lead to Gonzales.
There's a text only version, too.
BAGHDAD - In the flatlands north of Baghdad sits a prison with no prisoners. It holds something else: a chronicle of U.S. government waste, misguided planning and construction shortcuts costing $40 million and stretching back to the American overseers who replaced Saddam Hussein.
"It's a bit of a monument in the desert right now because it's not going to be used as a prison," said Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, whose office plans to release a report Monday detailing the litany of problems at the vacant detention center in Khan Bani Saad.
by Linda Milazzo
Those familiar with cable news television understand that several programs - even entire networks - broadcast from a particular bias. Keith Olbermann's COUNTDOWN on MSNBC is left leaning, as is Dan Abrams' VERDICT. Olbermann has become famous for his highly crafted "Special Comments" which take aim at conservatives from George W. Bush to Rudolf Giuliani. CNN has Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs - both of whom use vitriol to attack various factions of the political world. Beck goes after so-called liberals. Dobbs is an equal opportunity attacker who assaults the Bush administration, members of Congress and ethnic groups from his prejudiced perspective. FOX has an entire network, with anchors like Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, who routinely lambaste the left. Each of these pundits, or performers, are known for their ideological leanings. Those who watch their programs do so presupposing the bias they will see.
Until recently, it had seemed that most of the clearly biased shows on cable news television had been publicly outed as leaning left or leaning right. But on Friday, viewers learned there was yet another conservative Republican show, as vitriolic as FOX, airing nightly on CNN. That show is Election Center, hosted by former NBC performer, Campbell Brown. Election Center, which began airing last January with original anchor John Roberts, is billed as "the network's daily examination of news from the campaign trail that combines CNN's unrivaled field reporting and analysis with state-of-the-art broadcasting technology." It might be that providing "unrivaled reporting and analysis" on a daily basis was the original intent of CNN when Election Center first aired with John Roberts. Roberts doesn't conflate reporting with agenda. However, CNN chose a less balanced and more ideological path for the show when it brought on conservative Bush supporter, Campbell Brown, as Election Center's new anchor. If Brown's conservative leanings weren't all that obvious in the beginning, that all changed on Friday when Brown and CNN Headline News anchor, Erica Hill, virulently mocked the House Judiciary Committee for holding a hearing on impeachment. After Brown and Hill's searing attack on the Democrats, any sense of legitimacy Brown had tried to muster instantly fell away. Because of Brown and Hill's over-the-top trashing of the Congressional impeachment hearing, CNN's Election Center has devolved into the lowest form of "spin." It's lost all credibility. Witness for yourselves (in video and text) the slanted performance by CNN anchors, Brown and Hill, on a show that advertises its "unrivaled field reporting and analysis."
Some men sacrificed their sons for their nation. George Herbert Walker Bush sacrificed his nation for his son.
In a July 15th appearance on CNN's Larry King Live, Barack Obama announced that as President he would seek the foreign policy counsel of former President Bill Clinton, former President George Herbert Walker Bush, former Bush Sr. Secretary of State, James Baker, former Bush Sr. National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft, and former George W. Bush Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Below are the video and text of Obama's pronouncement:
King: "How will you utilize the talents of President Clinton?"
Obama: "As you know, Bill Clinton's one of the smartest people out here and certainly one of the most brilliant political minds we have. He's got extraordinary relationships all across the globe and so I want him as a advisor and I would want him to be involved in implementing strategies on a range of issues -- so he's an enormous resource as all former presidents are. I mean I've said this before. I think on the foreign policy front George Bush, Sr. has a lot of wisdom to impart and his foreign policy team -- people like Jim Baker and Brent Scowcroft and Colin Powell are extraordinary thinkers. So I think you want to utilize all the talents out here and part of what I'm interested in is bringing that tradition of bipartisanship to our foreign policy back to Washington."
By Dave Lindorff
Listening to the endless stream of cars passing my house every day, and knowing, from watching them from my mailbox, that they are almost all carrying just one person, either commuting to work or running some kind of errand, I know we are headed for disaster.
Two days ago, there was a report by Agence France Presse about the ongoing destruction of the world’s remaining wetlands (60 percent have already been destroyed by man over the past century), and how they contain within them an amount of stored carbon equal to all the carbon currently in the atmosphere. Global warming and property development are drying out those remaining wetlands, causing the release of that carbon, which will more than negate even the most radical efforts at reducing carbon emissions from power plants, factories and automobiles.
George W. Bush's overall job approval has dropped to 21% as 76% of American say the national economy is getting worse according to the latest survey from the American Research Group.
Among all Americans, 21% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 72% disapprove. When it comes to Bush's handling of the economy, 17% approve and 77% disapprove.
Among Americans registered to vote, 22% approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president and 71% disapprove. When it comes to the way Bush is handling the economy, 18% of registered voters approve of the way Bush is handling the economy and 77% disapprove.
A total of 76% say the national economy is getting worse, 61% say their household financial situations are getting worse, and 68% say the national economy is in a recession. Of those disapproving of the way Bush is handling his job, 84% say the national economy is getting worse, 73% say their household financial situations are getting worse, and 79% say the national economy is in a recession.
Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Monday called on Congress to set the rules by which Guantanamo detainees will challenge their detention in civilian courts.
In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Mukasey said the recent Supreme Court ruling granting detainees court access, "left many significant questions open." He argued that those questions are best answered by lawmakers, not judges.
Evidence against terrorism suspect barred at Guantanamo trial
By Carol J. Williams | Los Angeles Times
A military judge says some statements by Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a driver for Osama bin Laden, were made in 'highly coercive' settings. It could set a standard for other cases.
WASHINGTON -- The military judge overseeing the first war crimes trial against a terrorism suspect at Guantanamo Bay agreed Monday to bar some evidence against Osama bin Laden's former driver because it was obtained in "highly coercive environments and conditions."
By Dave Lindorff
Attorney General Michael Mukasey has caught some flak for proposing, in an address to the American Enterprise Institute, that Congress should declare war on Al Qaeda.
Instead, he should be applauded for his brilliant idea.
First of all, Mukasey is admitting, whether he wants to admit it or not, that the Bush/Cheney program of capturing alleged terrorists and holding them for years as enemy combatants without charge in detention centers in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and various undisclosed locations around the globe, and of torturing many of them, are illegal actions that violate US law and International Law. So let’s give him credit for that.
On May 6th the American Strategy Program hosted an event with Philippe Sands, Professor of International Law at University College London and Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff for Colon Powell. Mr. Sands was in DC to testify to the House Judiciary Committee about the findings in his new book, Torture Team, which examines the legal implications of the Bush administration's policy of torture. Col. Wilkerson was on hand for commentary on the subject. The event was moderated by Patrick Doherty, deputy director of the American Strategy program.
New airport security devices "see" through clothing
By Jon Hilkevitch | Chicago Tribune
Potentially embarrassing "graphic" full-body scans to begin in the fall at O'Hare
Air travelers in Chicago will soon be literally exposed to a revealing full-body scan before boarding planes.
The new procedure, which is sure to make some passengers blush and others burn in anger over what critics call a virtual reality strip-search, is part of a "security evolution" at airport passenger checkpoints around the country.
It comes amid continuing concerns that Al Qaeda-trained suicide bombers are potentially only one plane ticket away from a U.S. attack, according to the nation's top transportation security official.
A US soldier wound up on the "Do Not Fly" list and the TSA refused to call the Army to clear him. Instead, his mom got him cleared for future flights. Video link doesn't seem to work.
A measure seeking to commemorate President Bush's years in office by slapping his name on a San Francisco sewage plant has qualified for the November ballot.
The measure certified Thursday would rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant.
Supporters say the idea is to commemorate the mess they claim Bush has left behind by actions such as the war in Iraq.
Local Republicans say the plan stinks and they will oppose it.
The United States and Iraq have agreed to seek "a general time horizon" for deeper reductions in American combat troops in Iraq despite President George W. Bush's once-inflexible opposition to talking about deadlines and timetables.
Iraqi officials, in a sign of growing confidence as violence decreases, have been pressuring the United States to agree to a specific timeline to withdraw U.S. forces. The White House said Friday that the timeframe being discussed would not be "an arbitrary date for withdrawal."
Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki talked about the timing issue as part of discussions over a broader security agreement to keep American troops in Iraq after a U.N. mandate expires on Dec. 31.
Katherine Tiedemann is a Program Associate with the New America Foundation's Nuclear Strategy & Nonproliferation Initiative.
By Dave Lindorff
I was injured thanks to the government’s ridiculous airport security program last week on a US Air flight from Chicago to Philadelphia. I also saw how pointless the whole thing is, if the supposed goal is really to prevent airline hijackings.
First, my injury. Because of a silly fear that I might blow up a plane with explosives tucked into my running shoes, I, along with everyone else in the security checkpoint line at O’Hare, including two-month-old babies wearing little booties, had to doff my footwear. Clad in just socks, I tried to maneuver my way around a metal counter that held those plastic trays carrying my laptop, my shoes, my belt and change and keys, and my carry-on bag, and in the process my unprotected big toe hit a sharp piece of metal protruding from the table.
by Linda Milazzo
Today on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, responded to a viewer who asked why she took the impeachment of George W. Bush off the table. Pelosi's response (below in video and text), is categoric proof of her incompetence, dereliction of duty, disdain for the Constitution and disregard for the people of this nation. It underscores why she should NOT continue as Speaker of the House and why she should NOT be reelected in November.
By not going forward with her Constitutionally mandated requirement to impeach George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for their high crimes and misdemeanors, Mrs. Pelosi has cemented her legacy and secured her "BUT" forever. Let me be clear - I don't mean the double "TT" derriere kind of "BUTT." I mean the single "T" conjunction kind of "BUT." The proviso. The disclaimer. The tiny word that will ever be the prefix to her legacy. The "BUT" her grandchildren will hear from those who know history and politics - and who care about humanity - when they mention that Pelosi is their grandmother. The "BUT" like:
"BUT" wasn't your grandmother the one who wouldn't impeach George W. Bush?
"BUT" wasn't your grandmother the one who let Bush get away with murder?
"BUT" why did your grandmother do that?"
Note: Wolf Blitzer's complete, exclusive interview with Speaker Pelosi will air this Sunday evening; check your local listings for time and channel.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Bush "a total failure" on Thursday, among the California Democrat's harshest assessments to date of the president.
"God bless him, bless his heart, president of the United States -- a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the economy, on the war, on energy, you name the subject," Pelosi told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an exclusive interview.
Contaminated US Site Faces 'Catastrophic' Nuclear Leak
ONE of "the most contaminated places on Earth" will only get dirtier if the US government doesn't get its act together - clean-up plans are already 19 years behind schedule and not due for completion until 2050.
More than 210 million litres of radioactive and chemical waste are stored in 177 underground tanks at Hanford in Washington State. Most are over 50 years old. Already 67 of the tanks have failed, leaking almost 4 million litres of waste into the ground.