Accusation–Attorney general-nominee led effort to kill investigation into
By Pamela Manson
December 25, 2008
A Salt Lake City lawyer who claims his brother was tortured and murdered in
a federal prison is alleging that Attorney General nominee Eric Holder played
a role in covering up the crime.
In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee members, lawyer Jesse Trentadue acknowledges
the paper trail on Holder’s actions "is scant," but claims he was
the "point man" in an effort to persuade Congress to not investigate
his brother’s death. He is asking that Holder be questioned at his confirmation
hearing next year about his alleged attempt to block efforts "to obtain
a certain measure of justice for my brother’s murder."
The Department of Justice, where Holder served as deputy attorney general under
President Bill Clinton, referred a request for comment to the Presidential Transition
Team (PTT). A statement issued by an Obama transition aide denied Trentadue’s
"Multiple independent investigations have found that Kenneth Trentadue’s
death was a suicide," the statement said. "There is simply no evidence
to support the claims in this letter."
The body of Kenneth Trentadue, who had served time for bank robbery and was
being held on an alleged parole violation, was found hanging in his cell at
the Federal Transfer Center in Oklahoma City on Aug. 21, 1995.
Several investigations by state and federal agencies ruled the death a suicide,
but his survivors believe Kenneth Trentadue was strangled with plastic handcuffs
by… Continue reading
By Thomas A. Schweich
Sunday, December 21, 2008
We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a lifelong Republican
and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy
of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense
into a striking number of aspects of civilian government. Our Constitution is
President-elect Barack Obama’s selections of James L. Jones, a retired four-star
Marine general, to be his national security adviser and, it appears, retired
Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair to be his director of national intelligence present
the incoming administration with an important opportunity — and a major risk.
These appointments could pave the way for these respected military officers
to reverse the current trend of Pentagon encroachment upon civilian government
functions, or they could complete the silent military coup d’etat that has been
steadily gaining ground below the radar screen of most Americans and the media.
While serving the State Department in several senior capacities over the past
four years, I witnessed firsthand the quiet, de facto military takeover of much
of the U.S. government. The first assault on civilian government occurred in
faraway places — Iraq and Afghanistan — and was, in theory, justified by the
exigencies of war.
The White House, which basically let the Defense Department call the budgetary
shots, vastly underfunded efforts by the State Department, the Justice Department
and the U.S. Agency for International Development to train civilian police forces,
build… Continue reading
By Jordy Yager
December 17, 2008
A crumbling economy, more than 2 million constituents who have lost their jobs
this year, and congressional demands of CEOs to work for free did not convince
lawmakers to freeze their own pay.
Instead, they will get a $4,700 pay increase, amounting to an additional $2.5
million that taxpayers will spend on congressional salaries, and watchdog groups
are not happy about it.
“As lawmakers make a big show of forcing auto executives to accept just
$1 a year in salary, they are quietly raiding the vault for their own personal
gain,” said Daniel O’Connell, chairman of The Senior Citizens League
(TSCL), a non-partisan group. “This money would be much better spent helping
the millions of seniors who are living below the poverty line and struggling
to keep their heat on this winter.”
However, at 2.8 percent, the automatic raise that lawmakers receive is only
half as large as the 2009 cost of living adjustment of Social Security recipients.
Still, Steve Ellis, vice president of the budget watchdog Taxpayers for Common
Sense, said Congress should have taken the rare step of freezing its pay, as
lawmakers did in 2000.
“Look at the way the economy is and how most people aren’t counting
on a holiday bonus or a pay raise — they’re just happy to have gainful
employment,” said Ellis. “But you have the lawmakers who are set
up and ready to get their next installment of a pay raise and go happily along
their… Continue reading
November 12, 2008
* Former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack’s support of genetically engineered pharmaceutical
crops, especially pharmaceutical corn:
* The biggest biotechnology industry group, the Biotechnology Industry Organization,
named Vilsack Governor of the Year. He was also the founder and former chair
of the Governor’s Biotechnology Partnership. http://www.bio.org/news/pressreleases/newsitem.asp?id=200…
* When Vilsack created the Iowa Values Fund, his first poster child of economic
development potential was Trans Ova and their pursuit of cloning dairy cows.
* Vilsack was the origin of the seed pre-emption bill in 2005, which many people
here in Iowa fought because it took away local government’s possibility of ever
having a regulation on seeds- where GE would be grown, having GE-free buffers,
banning pharma corn locally, etc. Representative Sandy Greiner, the Republican
sponsor of the bill, bragged on the House Floor that Vilsack put her up to it
right after his state of the state address.
* Vilsack has a glowing reputation as being a schill for agribusiness biotech
giants like Monsanto. Sustainable ag advocated across the country were spreading
the word of Vilsack’s history as he was attempting to appeal to voters in his
presidential bid. An activist from the west coast even made this youtube animation
). The airplane in this animation is a referral to the controversy that Vilsack
often traveled in Monsanto’s jet.
*Vilsack is an ardent support of corn and soy based biofuels, which use as
much or more fossil energy to produce them as they generate, while driving up
world food prices and literally starving the poor.…
Court Rules Patriot Act’s “National Security Letter” Gag
Provisions Unconstitutional (12/15/2008)
ACLU Hails Victory In Challenge To Government’s Power To Silence NSL Recipients
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; email@example.com
NEW YORK — A federal appeals court today upheld, in part, a decision
striking down provisions of the Patriot Act that prevent national security letter
(NSL) recipients from speaking out about the secret records demands. The decision
comes in an American Civil Liberties Union and New York Civil Liberties Union
lawsuit challenging the FBI’s authority to use NSLs to demand sensitive and
private customer records from Internet Service Providers and then forbid them
from discussing the requests. Siding with the ACLU, the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Second Circuit found that the statute’s gag provisions violate the First
“We are gratified that the appeals court found that the FBI cannot silence
people with complete disregard for the First Amendment simply by saying the
words ‘national security,’” said Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the
ACLU National Security Project. “This is a major victory for the rule of
law. The court recognized the need for judicial oversight of the government’s
dangerous gag power and rejected the Bush administration’s position that the
courts should just rubber-stamp these gag orders. By upholding the critical
check of judicial review, the FBI can no longer use this incredible power to
hide abuse of its intrusive Patriot Act surveillance powers and silence critics.”
The appeals court invalidated parts of the statute that wrongly placed the… Continue reading
December 14, 2008
The Sunday Times
As a convoy of blue-and-white United Nations trucks loaded with food waited
last night for Israeli permission to enter Gaza, Jindiya Abu Amra and her 12-year-old
daughter went scrounging for the wild grass their family now lives on.
“We had one meal today – khobbeizeh,” said Abu Amra, 43, showing
the leaves of a plant that grows along the streets of Gaza. “Every day,
I wake up and start looking for wood and plastic to burn for fuel and I beg.
When I find nothing, we eat this grass.”
Abu Amra and her unemployed husband have seven daughters and a son. Their tiny
breeze-block house has had no furniture since they burnt the last cupboard for
“I can’t remember seeing a fruit,” said Rabab, 12, who goes
with her mother most mornings to scavenge. She is dressed in a tracksuit top
and holed jeans, and her feet are bare.
Conditions for most of the 1.5m Gazans have deteriorated dramatically in the
past month, since a truce between Israel and Hamas, the ruling Islamist party,
Israel says it will open the borders again when Hamas stops launching rockets
at southern Israel. Hamas says it will crack down on the rocket launchers when
Israel opens the borders.
The fragile truce technically ends this Thursday, and there have been few signs
it will be renewed. Nobody knows how to resolve the stalemate. Secret talks
are under way through Egyptian intermediaries, although both… Continue reading
by Nat Hentoff
December 10, 2008
Since I live in the Village, my Congressman is Jerrold Nadler, a civil libertarian
for all seasons. Unlike many of his Democratic colleagues, he has never been in
fear of being targeted as "soft on terrorism" for opposing the Bush-Cheney
war on the Bill of Rights. Nadler certainly does not underestimate the jihadists:
The 9/11 attacks exploded in his district.
In The Almanac of American Politics, Michael Barone describes Nadler’s reaction
to that day of terror: Securing "$20 billion for the cleanup and eventual
rebuilding, he spearheaded numerous actions on behalf of affected families .
. ." but "Nadler remained true to his civil libertarian views. He
vigorously opposed the USA Patriot Act and the Iraq War Resolution." And
since 2007, he has chaired the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights,
and Civil Liberties.
In that subcommittee, and on the floor of the House, he fought Bush (and some
Democrats) in order to give "enemy combatants" their habeas corpus
rights. (The Supreme Court has agreed.) And, unlike many Democrats, he has worked
to narrow the very definition of "enemy combatant," which is especially
important. Under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, voted for by too many
Democrats, anyone held as a captured "detainee" in a military prison
can be charged with giving "material support" to the enemy and can
be locked up indefinitely. American citizens have also been held on this charge–which
could include giving money to a charity they weren’t aware… Continue reading
Wednesday, 10 December 2008
by Michael Collins
An Amendment -
The president shall
not have the right to
grant pardons or
(Wash. DC) The prospect of the criminal in
chief, George W. Bush, issuing pardons to his
co-conspirators is repugnant to all citizens who’ve paid any
degree of attention over the last eight years.
neglected his duty prior to 911 resulting in a devastating
attack on the nation.
He started an illegal war based on
lies that caused injury and death to tens of thousands of
U.S. soldiers and the deaths of over 1.2 million Iraqi
He ordered the illegal wire tapping of
citizens, a clear violation of law.
He stopped scientific
research causing the suffering unto death of those with
illness and injury that could have been healed during his
The list goes on. Bush ruled like a tyrant with the
wisdom of an adolescent sociopath.
Right now this man who
should have been impeached and subsequently jailed for his
crimes is planning last minute pardons and acts of clemency
for his friends, co-conspirators, and others who meet his
deviant criteria for release from legal
Highly motivated citizens and legislators are
seeking legal precedents and rationales to stop Bush from
pardoning his collaborators.
Hopefully, their efforts, one
of which is impeachment, will meet with success. Allowing
those who attacked the people to walk away free after the
death, destruction and ruin they’ve caused… Continue reading
December 2, 2008
And everyone understands that staging troops within the U.S. to “help out with civil unrest and crowd control” increases the danger of overt martial law.
But no one is asking an obvious question: Does the government’s own excuse for deploying the troops make any sense?
As the Washington Post writes:
Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000
troops to domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years —
“would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant
defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center
for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities
may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted “a fundamental change in military
culture,” he said.
But homeland defense is doing nothing to
stop the creation of new terrorists or to prevent bad guys from attacking.
If They Wanted to Stop Terrorism . . .
And the Department of Homeland Security, instead of protecting vulnerable targets, has instead randomly made up lists which include kangaroo centers, petting zoos and ice cream parlors as high-priority terrorist threats. And the administration is refusing to fill important positions at DHS so that our security can be protected.
The government is… Continue reading
December 1, 2008
The US Department of Defense plans to deploy 20,000 troops nationwide by 2011
to help state and local officials respond to terror or nuclear attacks and emergencies,
The Washington Post said Monday.
Citing Pentagon officials, the newspaper said the plan calls for three rapid-reaction
The first 4,700-strong unit, built around an active-duty combat brigade, is
based at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and is already available for deployment, according
to General Victor Renuart, commander of the US Northern Command, it said.
Two additional groups will later join nearly 80 smaller National Guard and
reserve units made up of about 6,000 troops to support local and state authorities
nationwide, The Post said.
They will all would be trained to respond to domestic chemical, biological,
radiological, nuclear, or high-yield explosive attacks.
The newspaper said that civil liberties groups and libertarians had expressed
concern that the plan could undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old
law restricting the military’s role in domestic law enforcement.
Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to
domestic response — a nearly sevenfold increase in five years — “would
have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable,” Paul McHale, assistant
defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month noted by
the Post. But the recognition that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in
a catastrophe [Hurricane Katrina might be used as an example] prompted “a
fundamental change in military culture.”
“The Pentagon’s plan calls for three rapid-reaction forces to be ready
for emergency response by September 2011,” the Post added.…
November 29, 2008
by Sherwood Ross
In violation of its pledge to the United Nations not to recruit children into
the military, the Pentagon “regularly target(s) children under 17,”
the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) says.
The Pentagon “heavily recruits on high school campuses, targeting students
for recruitment as early as possible and generally without limits on the age
of students they contact,” the ACLU states in a 46-page report titled
“Soldiers of Misfortune.”
This is in violation of the U.S. Senate’s 2002 ratification of the Optional
Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Pentagon recruiters are enrolling children as young as 14 in the Junior Reserve
Officer Training Corps(JROTC) in 3,000 middle-, junior-, and high schools nationwide,
causing about 45 percent of the quarter of million students so enrolled to enlist,
a rate much higher than in the general student population. Clearly, this is
the outcome of underage exposure.
In some cities, such as Los Angeles, high school administrators have been enrolling
reluctant students involuntarily in JROTC as an alternative to overcrowded gym
classes! In Lincoln high school, enrollees were not told JROTC was involuntary.
In Buffalo, N.Y., the entire incoming freshman class at Hutchinson Central Technical
High School, (average age 14), was involuntarily enrolled in JROTC. In Chicago,
graduating eighth graders (average age 13) are allowed to join any of 45 JROTC
“Wartime enlistment quotas (for Iraq and Afghanistan) have placed increased
pressure on military recruiters to fill the ranks of the… Continue reading
By Jeremy Scahill
November 20, 2008
Click here to view this guide as a single page.
U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith people place in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts will be fruit of a tree with many roots. Among them: his personal politics and views, the disastrous realities his administration will inherit, and, of course, unpredictable future crises. But the best immediate indicator of what an Obama administration might look like can be found in the people he surrounds himself with and who he appoints to his Cabinet. And, frankly, when it comes to foreign policy, it is not looking good.
Obama has a momentous opportunity to do what he repeatedly promised over the course of his campaign: bring actual change. But the more we learn about who Obama is considering for top positions in his administration, the more his inner circle resembles a staff reunion of President Bill Clinton’s White House. Although Obama brought some progressives on board early in his campaign, his foreign policy team is now dominated by the hawkish, old-guard Democrats of the 1990s. This has been particularly true since Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in the Democratic primary, freeing many of her top advisors to join Obama’s team.
"What happened to all this talk about change?" a member of the Clinton foreign policy team recently asked the Washington Post. "This isn’t lightly flavored with Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time."
Amid the… Continue reading
For Immediate Release
November 20, 2008
Graphic showing the buckling of WTC 7 Column 79 (circled area), the local failure
identified as the initiating event in the building’s progressive collapse.
Credit: NIST Building and Fire Research Laboratory
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today released its
final report on the Sept. 11, 2001, collapse of the 47-story World Trade Center
building 7 (WTC 7) in New York City. The final report is strengthened by clarifications
and supplemental text suggested by organizations and individuals worldwide in
response to the draft WTC 7 report, released for public comment on Aug. 21,
but the revisions did not alter the investigation team’s major findings
and recommendations, which include identification of fire as the primary cause
for the building’s failure.
The extensive three-year scientific and technical building and fire safety
investigation found that the fires on multiple floors in WTC 7, which were uncontrolled
but otherwise similar to fires experienced in other tall buildings, caused an
extraordinary event. Heating of floor beams and girders caused a critical support
column to fail, initiating a fire-induced progressive collapse that brought
the building down.
In response to comments from the building community, NIST conducted an additional
computer analysis. The goal was to see if the loss of WTC 7′s Column 79–the
structural component identified as the one whose failure on 9/11 started the
progressive collapse–would still have led to a complete loss of the building
if fire or damage from the falling debris… Continue reading
By Joaquin Sapien
November 19, 2008
Whether it’s relaxing pollution control standards for power plants or
allowing loaded weapons into national parks, the Bush Administration is scrambling
to approve or change as many federal rules as it can before it hands off power
to President-elect Barack Obama. This surge of “midnight regulations”
presents a thorny question for the next administration: What can it do to void
rules it thinks should be undone?
An Obama spokesman told ProPublica that the transition team can’t comment
on the new administration’s strategy yet. However, John Podesta, a leading
member of the transition team, has said Obama will use his “executive
authority without waiting for congressional action” to reverse many of
But that authority has its limits.
While executive orders and rules that are not yet in effect can swiftly be
reversed or altered by Obama’s appointees or his own executive orders,
rules that go into effect before he takes office will be extremely difficult
to undo. Rescinding a rule would require the new administration to re-start
the rule-making process, which can take years and prompt legal challenges. Another
strategy that has been talked about lately — getting Congress to disapprove the rules through the Congressional Review Act — carries political risks and has been used only once before.
“The problem with what the Bush administration is doing is that these rules are extremely cumbersome to adopt, and they are every bit as cumbersome to undo,” said David Vladeck, an administrative law… Continue reading
October 13, 2008
by Philip Brewer
Financial panics used to be quite ordinary. In the century or two prior to
the great depression, there was a panic every 15 or 20 years. Since the great
depression we haven’t had a classic financial panic, until now. There’s
a thing or two that we can learn from panics past to help us survive the current
To begin with, there’s a reason why we haven’t had financial panics
for the past 75 years–fiat currency.
Panics used to begin when people decided to get their hands on actual, physical gold. That could happen for a lot of different reasons. Often it was because there had been inflation–banks issuing bank notes far in excess of the gold they had on deposit–and people decided that they didn’t trust their bank. Sometimes, though, it happened without any particular malpractice by the banks, simply because there was a demand for gold someplace else–an economic boom in Europe or South America could drain gold from the United States or vice versa.
Since issuing banknotes was literally printing money, the temptation to go overboard was immense, and individual banks that did so used to collapse all the time. A prudent bank, though, could be modestly profitable and a great boon to its community, but in a panic, even prudent banks would fail. (You could, in theory, create a panic-proof bank that held enough gold to pay off every banknote, but it would be a money-losing… Continue reading
November 12, 2008
Gerald Celente has been a leading trend forecaster for years:
“When CNN wants to know about the Top Trends, we ask Gerald Celente.”
~ CNN Headline News
“A network of 25 experts whose range of specialties would rival many
~ The Economist
“Gerald Celente has a knack for getting the zeitgeist right.”
~ USA Today
“There’s not a better trend forecaster than Gerald Celente. The
man knows what he’s talking about.”
“Those who take their predictions seriously … consider the Trends Research
~ The Wall Street Journal
“Gerald Celente is always ahead of the curve on trends and uncannily
on the mark … he’s one of the most accurate forecasters around.”
~ The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Mr. Celente tracks the world’s social, economic and business trends
for corporate clients.”
~ The New York Times
“Mr. Celente is a very intelligent guy. We are able to learn about trends
from an authority.”
~ 48 Hours, CBS News
“Gerald Celente has a solid track record. He has predicted everything
from the 1987 stock market crash and the demise of the Soviet Union to green
marketing and corporate downsizing.”
~ The Detroit News
“Gerald Celente forecast the 1987 stock market crash, ‘green marketing,’
and the boom in gourmet coffees.”
~ Chicago Tribune
“The Trends Research Institute is the Standard and Poors of Popular Culture.”
~ The Los Angeles Times
“If Nostradamus were alive today, he’d have a hard time keeping up with
Gerald Celente.”… Continue reading
November 11, 2008
While it is fitting that our nation reserves a special day to honor the sacrifice and commitment of our warriors, it also serves to highlight how we, as a country, have fallen short of caring for our veterans, reintegrating them back into our communities, and demanding that our military be used responsibly and only as a last resort. Over 1.7 million men and women of the U.S. military have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many of them now struggle to cope with physical and emotional injuries, with family relationships strained because of prolonged separation, and with finding employment during an economic recession.
Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War know that in order to truly honor our veterans, we must listen to them, not just on Veterans Day, but on the other 364 days as well. It is for each other, our military brothers and sisters, and for our country that IVAW works every day to share our experiences, to challenge the predominant narrative of war as heroic and glorious, and to expose people to the brutal reality and true human costs of modern warfare.
Over the past four and a half years, IVAW has been working to transform our military experiences into a force for positive change. Be it at Winter Soldier this past March, Winter Soldier on the Hill in May, or at regional Winter Soldier events in Rochester, NY, Seattle, WA, Madison, WI, and others, IVAW has been dedicated to making… Continue reading
By Felisa Cardona
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated: 11/06/2008 05:34:24 PM MST
the ACLU’s letter to the Office of the Independant Monitor (PDF) .
video from the August, 2008 standoff between DNC protesters and police at
15th & Court in Downtown Denver.
video of protesters getting sprayed with pepper spray, from the August, 2008
When a Jefferson County deputy deployed pepper spray into a crowd during the
first night of the Democratic National Convention, he did not know that his
targets were undercover Denver police officers.
During a melee that occurred Aug. 25 between protesters, police and bystanders
near Civic Center Park, undercover Denver detectives staged a struggle with
a police commander in order to get out of the crowd undetected.
A Jefferson County deputy, unaware of the presence of undercover police, thought
that the commander was being attacked and deployed the pepper spray, according
to a police use-of-force report obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union
The report does not say whether the pepper spray used on the undercover police
officers was the first deployment or whether the melee already was underway.
About 106 people were arrested during the incident that took place at 15th
Street and Court Place.
Denver police have testified during court trials that they deployed officers
to the area that night because they had gathered intelligence that anarchists
had planned to gather in Civic Center Park, then move toward the 16th Street… Continue reading