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Criminal Prosecution and Accountability
A US federal appeals court on Friday upheld a refusal to hear the case of a Lebanese-born German man who says he was tortured by the CIA, citing national security reasons.
Khaled el-Masri claims was detained by the CIA for several months in 2004 on suspicion of links to terrorism.
Masri, 43, filed suit in December 2005 saying he had been snatched while on a trip in Macedonia, taken to Afghanistan, jailed, beaten and harassed before being set free without charge after five months.
Brussels - The United States will reject any request by Italy to extradite CIA agents for the first criminal trial over controversial U.S. "renditions" of terror suspects, a U.S. government lawyer said on Wednesday.
A Milan judge earlier this month ordered 26 Americans, most of them thought to be CIA agents, to stand trial with Italian spies for kidnapping a Muslim cleric and flying him to Egypt, where he says he was tortured.
The U.S. government and military has undergone a series of jolting expansions in the Bush years. We got, for instance, a second Defense Department called the Department of Homeland Security. We got a military command for North America called United States Northern Command. More than anything else, however, while we already had an "imperial presidency," we also got an add-on -- an imperial vice-presidency, a new form of shadow government in the United States, a startlingly unbound, constitutionally unmandated new institutional power.
By Ewen MacAskill in Washington and Michael Howard in Baghdad, Guardian Unlimited
A US soldier was sentenced to 100 years in prison yesterday for one of the worst known cases involving US troops in Iraq - the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl and the killing of her father, mother and sister.
The horrific slaying of Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and her family happened in Mahmoudiya, around 20 miles south of Baghdad, on March 12 last year.
From ABC News
Justin Rood Reports:
Could a guilty verdict for a former aide bring further criminal scrutiny of Vice President Dick Cheney?
"Yes," said Sol Weisenberg, a former deputy independent counsel to former Whitewater special prosecutor Kenneth Starr.
As a federal jury deliberates the fate of former Cheney chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, several watchers agree. If the jury decides Libby knew he was lying to investigators, it could spur investigators to explore further whether Cheney was involved in conspiring to obstruct justice, they believe.
By Larry C Johnson
Boy, what a difference six years makes. The Wall Street Journal online edition shed crocodile tears today over the suffering of poor Scooter Libby. The Journal lamented:
The trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is the closest version of a Red Queen trial this country has had in a long time. One says that knowing it might start a stampede from past defendants laying claim to the most upside-down prosecution. . . . The trial of Scooter Libby in Washington, the national capital of illogic, has been exemplary. In December 2003, the prosecutor purports a crime has been committed by revealing a "covert" CIA agent's identity to the press--despite knowing then what the outside world learned nearly three years later--that the revealer of the agent was a State Department official, Richard Armitage. With the "whodunnit" solved on day one, the prosecution follows the Red Queen's script by taking the nation on a useless, joyless ride through the opaque looking-glass of Washington journalism.
In his final argument in the Scooter Libby trial, the prosecutor charged that there was a cloud hanging over the vice president.
By Sidney Blumenthal, The Guardian
On Tuesday, I observed the closing arguments at the federal courthouse in Washington in the case of United States v I Lewis Libby. The prosecution's systematic presentation of the evidence supporting the five-count indictment of perjury and obstruction of justice did not foreshadow the dramatic accusation about Vice President Dick Cheney that was to come at the day's end. "This case is about lying," deputy prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg dryly began. It was, he explained, about how Scooter Libby learned that former ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert CIA operative, and about whom Libby spoke with about the revelation and what he said.
By Agence France-Presse
US officials failed to sideline dozens of domestic spying lawsuits on Tuesday as a federal judge ordered the war on terror-connected cases to proceed despite a pending appeal.
San Francisco District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker issued a brief written ruling that allowed evidence-gathering to commence conditionally despite protests by government lawyers.
By Jason Leopold, www.truthout.org
For the first time since the investigation into the leak of a covert CIA operative began more than three years ago, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has suggested that Vice President Dick Cheney was behind the effort to unmask the officer, the wife of a vocal critic of the administration's Iraq policy.
During closing arguments Tuesday in the obstruction of justice and perjury trial of former vice presidential staffer, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald told jurors that "there is a cloud over the vice president. ... a cloud over the White House over what happened," according to a copy of the transcript of Fitzgerald's statements.
By Murray Waas, National Journal
In the fall of 2003, as a federal criminal probe was just getting underway to determine who leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame to the media, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the then-chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, sought out Cheney to explain to his boss his side of the story.
The explanation that Libby offered Cheney that day was virtually identical to one that Libby later told the FBI and testified to before a federal grand jury: Libby said he had only passed along to reporters unsubstantiated gossip about Plame that he had heard from NBC bureau chief Tim Russert.
By Larry C Johnson
Sorry to again beat what some of you may believe is a dead horse, but a reporter from a major news organization told me today that they are still arguing in his/her newsroom about whether Valerie Plame was covert. The journalist who told me this is a talented, smart person but is still confused about the terms "covert", "cover", and "non-official cover". So here's my gift to confused journalists.
By Brian Beutler, www.rawstory.com
This weekend, RAW STORY interviewed Marcy Wheeler, one of the blogosphere’s most tireless observers and analysts of the CIA leak investigation and the I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Trial.
In the interview, she revealed that she believes that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will press forward with his investigation, and that his ultimate target is Vice President Dick Cheney: "I’m not entirely convinced that Fitzgerald’s done. I used to be conservative on that, believing that he was done. But there are little snippets of hints that he’s not."
From Brent Budowsky
February 18, 2007
To: Robert Kaiser, Washington Post
Mr. Kaiser, I am forwarding below the note I wrote to Messrs. Graham and Hiatt about Outlook's Victoria Toensing piece today.
With all due respect, I have long admired your work, but that piece today was the most egregious attempt at jury tampering that I have ever seen in this or any other town.
I spent six years at the core of the group writing the CIA Identities Law with its original sponsor, Senator Lloyd Bentsen. Setting aside my great differences with both Editorial and Op Ed pages at the Post on this case and Iraq in general, this piece was different. It was a clear attempt to influence the jury, after the defense rested and before the jury is given the case.
Published on Thursday, February 15, 2007
by the Associated Press
by John Heilprin
A House committee will investigate and request documents on a real estate deal involving the government's top environmental prosecutor and ConocoPhillips' top lobbyist, and legal agreements between the government and the oil company.
The inquiry by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee was announced hours after The Associated Press reported that the prosecutor, Sue Ellen Wooldridge, bought a $1 million vacation home on Kiawah Island, S.C., with ConocoPhillips Vice President Donald R. Duncan, nine months before agreeing to let the company delay a halfbillion-dollar pollution cleanup. It was one of two proposed consent decrees Wooldridge signed with ConocoPhillips just before resigning last month.
The Associated Press
Thursday 15 January 2007
The FBI is investigating whether Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons failed to properly report gifts or payments from a software company that was awarded secret military contracts when he was in Congress, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
Investigators are looking at whether federal contracting rules were violated or whether gifts or payments were offered in exchange for official acts by Gibbons, the newspaper said.
By Colleen Barry, Associated Press
Milan, Italy - A judge Friday indicted 26 Americans and five Italians in the abduction of an Egyptian terror suspect on a Milan street in what would be the first criminal trial stemming from the CIA's extraordinary rendition program.
The judge set a trial date for June 8, although the Americans, who have all left the country, almost certainly will not be returned to Italy.
CAMP PENDLETON (Reuters) - A U.S. Marine offered a guilty plea to conspiracy charges on Tuesday in connection with the April 2006 killing of a 52-year-old Iraqi grandfather in the village of Hamdania.
Lance Cpl. Robert Pennington, 22, entered the plea at a hearing and became the fifth man to plead guilty in the death of Hashim Ibrahim Awad. His plea must still be accepted by a military judge during a two-day hearing at Camp Pendleton that will conclude with Pennington's sentence.
Civilian Sentenced in Afghan Beating
By ELIZABETH DUNBAR, Associated Press
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The first American civilian to be charged with mistreating a detainee during the wars prompted by the Sept. 11 attacks was sentenced Tuesday to nearly 8 years in prison for beating a man in Afghanistan who later died.
Former CIA contract employee David Passaro, 40, was accused of hitting Afghan detainee Abdul Wali with a flashlight and kicking him in the groin during a two-day interrogation at a remote military base in July 2003. Wali died within 48 hours of the interrogation, after complaining of abdominal pain and an inability to urinate.
By Chitra Ragavan, US News & World Report
A federal judge has ruled that a CIA agent identified only as "Doe," allegedly fired after he gathered prewar intelligence showing that Iraq was not developing weapons of mass destruction, can proceed with his lawsuit against the CIA. The judge has ordered both parties to submit discovery requests-evidence they want for their case-to be completed by March 15, according to the CIA agent's lawyer and a spokesman for the Justice Department, which is defending the CIA in court.
By Associated Press
Washington - Sworn testimony in the perjury trial of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has shone a spotlight on White House attempts to sell a gone-wrong war in Iraq to the nation and Vice President Dick Cheney's aggressive role in the effort.
Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald rested his case against Cheney's former chief of staff on Thursday in a trial that has so far lasted 11 days. The defense planned to begin its presentation Monday.
By Amy Goldstein and Carol D. Leonnig, Washington Post
Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus testified in court this morning that then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, not I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was the first person to tell him that a prominent critic of the Iraq war was married to undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.
Testifying as the first defense witness at Libby's perjury trial, Pincus for the first time publicly disclosed the confidential source inside the White House who told him in 2003 that the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV worked at the CIA on matters relating to weapons of mass destruction.
By Associated Press
By MATT APUZZO - Robert Novak, who triggered an FBI investigation in 2003 by revealing the identity of a CIA operative in his syndicated column, is among witnesses that lawyers said were ready to testify Monday in the perjury and obstruction trial of former White House aide I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby.
The former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney is charged with lying and obstructing the investigation into how Novak and others learned the identity of Valerie Plame, whose husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was a prominent critic of the Bush administration's Iraq war policy.
Role of the Big Guys Is Becoming Clear in Plame Case
By Joe Conason, Truthdig
At long last, the fog of mystification generated by the Bush administration and the Washington media is lifting, so that everyone can see clearly why I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby is on trial and why his prosecution is important. Whether or not the jury eventually finds the former White House aide guilty of perjury, the evidence shows that his bosses, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, have misled the public from the very beginning about the vengeful leaking of Valerie Plame Wilson’s CIA identity.
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 (NNN-BERNAMA) -- The Kuala Lumpur War Crime Commission chaired by former Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad heard nine charges against US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Australian Prime Minister John Howard for the sufferings of the people in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.
Some in the defense team believe the prosecutor's presentation has been strong and persuasive and therefore would open both Cheney and Libby up to a grilling when they were cross-examined, which would not help sway the jury, the source with knowledge of the discussions said.
It was the expectation of the defense team to put both Libby and Cheney on the stand to help buttress its case, the source said.
By Associated Press
ROME - The Foreign Ministry on Thursday urged the United States to cooperate on judicial matters after a court indicted a U.S. soldier for the fatal shooting of an Italian intelligence agent at a checkpoint in Baghdad. Spc. Mario Lozano, a member of the New York-based 69th Infantry Regiment, was indicted Wednesday for murder and attempted murder in the death of Nicola Calipari, who was shot in 2005 on his way by car to Baghdad‘s airport shortly after securing the release of an Italian journalist who had been kidnapped.
Reservist accused of reaping thousands in kickbacks from bogus reconstruction contracts
BY WAYNE WOOLLEY, New Jersey Star-Ledger
Army Reserve Lt. Col. Debra Harrison returned to New Jersey after 17 months in Iraq with a Purple Heart and vivid descriptions of at least two brushes with death in the combat zone.
By David Corn, The Nation
After jurors in the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby perjury trial on Wednesday heard the defendant--on tape--cite Meet the Press host Tim Russert as his alibi, the alibi, using crutches, hobbled into the Washington courtroom and shot a hole in Libby's cover story.
For three days, the jury had been listening to audio tapes of Libby's two appearances before a grand jury in March 2004, when Libby repeatedly claimed that in July 2003, before the leak appeared that outed Valerie Wilson as a CIA officer, he knew nothing about her until Russert told him that "all the reporters knew" she worked at the CIA. Libby acknowledged to the grand jurors that weeks earlier Vice President Dick Cheney had told him that Valerie Wilson was a CIA employee, but he said that he had completely forgotten this and had learned about her "anew" when Russert passed him this gossip during a phone call. It's an essential part of Libby's tale. When the FBI and a grand jury were looking for administration officials who had leaked information on Wilson to reporters--and Libby was a potential target--Libby told the Bureau and the grand jury that he had not disclosed any information gathered from official sources; he had only shared with a few reporters a rumor he had picked up from Russert. And you can't prosecute a guy for spreading gossip. Again and again, during his grand jury testimony, Libby pointed to Russert: he told me, and, boy, was I surprised.
David Corn, www.tompaine.com
David Corn is the Washington editor of The Nation and the co-author, along with Michael Isikoff, of Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War. He is covering the I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby trial for The Nation.
Criminal trials are not designed to produce truth. They produce winners and losers. The prosecution and defense each present a version of reality—which can be highly selective—and a jury decides which side is more convincing. Consequently, anyone who expected the trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby to yield new information about the CIA leak scandal and clarify what happened has reason (so far) to be disappointed. The trial—which is at the halfway point—has probably raised (or intensified) more questions than it has answered.
Libby told grand jury he was ordered to leak intelligence
By Greg Miller, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON · Former White House official I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby told a grand jury in 2004 that Vice President Dick Cheney was upset by an ambassador's public questioning of the Iraq war and that President Bush, Cheney and Libby were involved in a plan -- kept secret from other senior White House officials -- to leak previously classified intelligence to reporters to counter the criticism.